This panel discussion was a valuable examination of how globalization is transforming the world agricultural system.

“Food supply and food security are essential to wellbeing. Globalization is changing how the system works, and creating new challenges for policy makers. If globalization is to improve food supply and food security, especially for the poor, then it is essential to get policy right,” says Dr. Peter Ibbott, Associate Professor of Economics and Finance.

Over thirty students turned out during exam week to participate in a panel discussion on Tuesday, April 24 in Vitali Student Lounge Extension. Students from Huron, Brescia and Western attended also.

Each of the three panelists took 20 minutes to explain his or her research.

First up was Dr. Jennifer Clapp. She explained that 70% of people are fed by local food systems but that 75% of the resources go to global agriculture. In other words, we are spending the most money and time feeding only 30% of the population.

Another concern is that developing countries have large amounts of imports each year that dwarf the amount they export. This is a result of the country’s specialization in one item.

‘We need to nurture local food systems and work at the global scale to have just food trade policies, and better financial rules that do not just focus on the economic impact” argued Dr. Clapp.

Dr. Clapp holds a Canada Research Chair in Global Food Security and Sustainability in the School of Environment, Resources and Sustainability at the University of Waterloo. Her research focuses on the global governance of problems that arise at the intersection of the global economy, the environment, and food security.

The second panelist to present was Dr. James Scott who came from across the pond to attend this discussion. Dr. Scott is a Lecturer in International Politics in the Department of Political Economy at Kings College London in the UK. He works primarily on trade governance, particularly with regard to developing countries in the World Trade Organisation.

He spoke about the agreement on agriculture of the World Trade Organization. This treaty was negotiated during the Uruguay Round and entered into effect in 1995.

The third panelist, Adam Sneyd is an Associate Professor in the Department of Political Science at University of Guelph.

He conducts research on the political economy of commodities and development. His research also aims to better understand the new challenges that various commodity-dependent African countries face in the areas of sustainability and development.

During his talk, Prof. Sneyd discussed the politics associated with the term “responsibility” in Cameroon’s commodities sector. “Responsibility is not just governance. But also how different actors present their work as responsible.” Prof. Sneyd explained that an organization may define its work as responsible because it is legally compliant. He argues that responsibility has a moral component and a democratic component. These have performance dimensions: organizations can ask ‘how well are we performing on our responsibility targets?’

Following the panelists’ remarks, Dr. Erin Hannah moderated a question and answer period. Many students asked thought-provoking questions about the role of cotton in biotechnology, the state’s responsibility regarding food security, and our responsibility as consumers in all of this.