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A food regime analysis of the ‘world food crisis’


  • Philip McMichael



The food regime concept is a key to unlock not only structured moments and transitions in the history of capitalist food relations, but also the history of capitalism itself. It is not about food per se, but about the relations within which food is produced, and through which capitalism is produced and reproduced. It provides, then, a fruitful perspective on the so-called ‘world food crisis’ of 2007–2008. This paper argues that the crisis stems from a long-term cycle of fossil-fuel dependence of industrial capitalism, combined with the inflation-producing effects of current biofuel offsets and financial speculation, and the concentration and centralization of agribusiness capital stemming from the enabling conjunctural policies of the corporate food regime. Rising costs, related to peak oil and fuel crop substitutes, combine with monopoly pricing by agribusiness to inflate food prices, globally transmitted under the liberalized terms of finance and trade associated with neoliberal policies. Copyright Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2009

Suggested Citation

  • Philip McMichael, 2009. "A food regime analysis of the ‘world food crisis’," Agriculture and Human Values, Springer;The Agriculture, Food, & Human Values Society (AFHVS), vol. 26(4), pages 281-295, December.
  • Handle: RePEc:spr:agrhuv:v:26:y:2009:i:4:p:281-295
    DOI: 10.1007/s10460-009-9218-5

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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Harvey, David, 2005. "The New Imperialism," OUP Catalogue, Oxford University Press, number 9780199278084.
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    1. Ríos Núñez, Sandra & Benítez Jiménez, Diócles & Soria Re, Sandra, 2015. "Cadenas agroalimentarias territoriales. Tensiones y aprendizajes desde el sector lácteo de la Amazonía ecuatoriana," REVISTA LECTURAS DE ECONOMÍA, UNIVERSIDAD DE ANTIOQUIA - CIE, issue 84, pages 179-208, November.
    2. Bellemare, Marc F., 2012. "As You Sow, So Shall You Reap: The Welfare Impacts of Contract Farming," World Development, Elsevier, vol. 40(7), pages 1418-1434.
    3. Lauren C. Ponisio & Paul R. Ehrlich, 2016. "Diversification, Yield and a New Agricultural Revolution: Problems and Prospects," Sustainability, MDPI, Open Access Journal, vol. 8(11), pages 1-15, November.
    4. repec:rvr:journl:2016:12094 is not listed on IDEAS
    5. repec:eee:enepol:v:107:y:2017:i:c:p:289-299 is not listed on IDEAS
    6. Otero, Gerardo & Pechlaner, Gabriela & Liberman, Giselle & Gürcan, Efe, 2015. "The neoliberal diet and inequality in the United States," Social Science & Medicine, Elsevier, vol. 142(C), pages 47-55.
    7. Robbins, M.J., 2013. "Locating food sovereignty: geographical and sectoral distance in the global food system," ISS Working Papers - General Series 557, International Institute of Social Studies of Erasmus University Rotterdam (ISS), The Hague.
    8. Jason Konefal, 2015. "Governing Sustainability Transitions: Multi-Stakeholder Initiatives and Regime Change in United States Agriculture," Sustainability, MDPI, Open Access Journal, vol. 7(1), pages 1-22, January.
    9. Lyndal-Joy Thompson & Stewart Lockie, 2013. "Private standards, grower networks, and power in a food supply system," Agriculture and Human Values, Springer;The Agriculture, Food, & Human Values Society (AFHVS), vol. 30(3), pages 379-388, September.
    10. Hirsch, Darya & Meyer, Christian & Klement, Johannes & Hamer, Martin & Terlau, Wiltrud, 2016. "Urban AgriCulture and Food Systems Dynamics in the German Bonn/Rhein-Sieg Region," International Journal on Food System Dynamics, International Center for Management, Communication, and Research, vol. 7(4).
    11. Baines, Joseph, 2014. "The Ethanol Boom and the Restructuring of the Food Regime," Working Papers on Capital as Power 2014/03, Capital As Power - Toward a New Cosmology of Capitalism.
    12. David Meek, 2016. "The cultural politics of the agroecological transition," Agriculture and Human Values, Springer;The Agriculture, Food, & Human Values Society (AFHVS), vol. 33(2), pages 275-290, June.
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    14. André Magnan, 2012. "New avenues of farm corporatization in the prairie grains sector: farm family entrepreneurs and the case of One Earth Farms," Agriculture and Human Values, Springer;The Agriculture, Food, & Human Values Society (AFHVS), vol. 29(2), pages 161-175, June.
    15. Bush, Ray & Martiniello, Giuliano, 2017. "Food Riots and Protest: Agrarian Modernizations and Structural Crises," World Development, Elsevier, vol. 91(C), pages 193-207.
    16. repec:spr:agrhuv:v:34:y:2017:i:3:d:10.1007_s10460-017-9774-z is not listed on IDEAS
    17. repec:spr:agrhuv:v:35:y:2018:i:1:d:10.1007_s10460-017-9812-x is not listed on IDEAS
    18. Francisco Martinez-Gomez & Gilberto Aboites-Manrique & Douglas Constance, 2013. "Neoliberal restructuring, neoregulation, and the Mexican poultry industry," Agriculture and Human Values, Springer;The Agriculture, Food, & Human Values Society (AFHVS), vol. 30(4), pages 495-510, December.
    19. Wang, Ruoyu & Bowling, Laura C. & Cherkauer, Keith A. & Cibin, Raj & Her, Younggu & Chaubey, Indrajeet, 2017. "Biophysical and hydrological effects of future climate change including trends in CO2, in the St. Joseph River watershed, Eastern Corn Belt," Agricultural Water Management, Elsevier, vol. 180(PB), pages 280-296.
    20. Ann Hill, 2015. "Moving from “matters of fact” to “matters of concern” in order to grow economic food futures in the Anthropocene," Agriculture and Human Values, Springer;The Agriculture, Food, & Human Values Society (AFHVS), vol. 32(3), pages 551-563, September.
    21. Eckart Woertz & Martin Keulertz, 2015. "Food trade relations of the Middle East and North Africa with tropical countries," Food Security: The Science, Sociology and Economics of Food Production and Access to Food, Springer;The International Society for Plant Pathology, vol. 7(6), pages 1101-1111, December.
    22. Jaye de la Cruz, R., 2012. "Land title to the tiller. Why it’s not enough and how it’s sometimes worse," ISS Working Papers - General Series 534, International Institute of Social Studies of Erasmus University Rotterdam (ISS), The Hague.
    23. repec:eee:jfpoli:v:74:y:2018:i:c:p:117-125 is not listed on IDEAS


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