Market-Based Solutions Insufficient to Meet Food Security Needs Equitably



Dear Friends and Colleagues

Market-Based Solutions Insufficient to Meet Food Security Needs Equitably

Governments are facing an existential crisis with respect to food security. As the world increasingly looks to market-based solutions to meet local and global food security needs, it has seen a weakening of the public sector. These two trends have had an enormous influence on the creation of a modern food system that is harming the health of people and planet.

A new paper questions the increasingly dominant belief that market-based solutions are sufficient for ensuring local and global food security and emphasizes the need for a revitalized public sector. The author stresses that it is incumbent upon governments to provide more than just an enabling environment for markets and the private sector; they must play an active role in protecting public interest.

Trade and intellectual property rights (IPR) regimes are both tools of the market. They were not designed to address food security but affect what the world eats. The paper concludes that trade liberalization and globally harmonized IPRs are insufficient means for ensuring global food security, particularly for the world’s least secure populations including small-scale farmers.

The author points out that markets do not consider access to those most in need, distribution, research priorities, inequality, or justice. She reminds us that the market itself is a creation of government and the public sector must set the rules and parameters under which it operates in order to promote the needs of all in society: "It is the role of the public sector to attend to those most in need and to provide goods and services necessary for resilient and healthy food systems". Determining the appropriate role for government means asking where and when markets should determine the allocation of goods and services and, most importantly, where and when they should not. It is about negotiating the appropriate roles and boundaries of the public and private sectors.

The full paper can be accessed from: is entitled: "Reinvigorating the Public Sector: The Case of Food Security, Small-scale Farmers, Trade, and Intellectual Property Rules".

With best wishes,

Third World Network
131 Jalan Macalister
10400 Penang
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