Knowledge for better food systems

Special issue of Development: Nutrition

Volume 57.2 of Development - the quarterly journal of the Society for International Development - was produced in the lead-up to the Second International Conference on Nutrition (ICN2). It explores the relationship between nutrition, food security and sustainable agriculture.

This journal issue argues that nutrition is a multidimensional issue and is deeply embedded in many domains of life and it emphasizes the human right approach to adequate food and nutrition. It offers an overview of the nutrition debate as well as a close-up analysis of local practices and alternatives. The authors - Vandana Shiva, Olivier de Shutter, Jomo Kwame Sundaram, Tim Lang, Flavio Valente, Cinzia Scaffidi, Xaviera Cabada, Andrea Ferrante, Michael Krawinkel and others- speak from diverse experiences and perspectives, but all agree that nutrition is a culturally, politically, economically and ecologically embedded challenge.


Contrary to the dominant approach to treat nutrition as a technical matter and delink it from its intimate relations with the nature of food systems and its broader social, economic and political determinants, Development 57.2 argues that nutrition is a profoundly political issue. Not only because of its deep implications on people's rights, livelihoods and health, but also because of the consequences that choosing among alternative paths to nutrition may have on the nature and pattern of globalization.

The nutrition debate reflects in itself a serious struggle unfolding today: on one side a food system dominated by the influence of corporations and international agreements privileging uneven terms of trade and finance, and corporate grabbing of land and other resources, over human rights; on the other side,  a small-scale and family food production system - based on food sovereignty, women's empowerment, biodiversity, ecological principles and  economic pluralism  - that is getting increasingly weakened and impoverished despite it being responsible for feeding the 70 % of world's population.

Read more here and see the editorial of this edition: “Re-embedding Nutrition in Society, Nature and Politics” Stefano Prato and Nicola Bullard here. For the full table of content, see here.

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While some of the food system challenges facing humanity are local, in an interconnected world, adopting a global perspective is essential. Many environmental issues, such as climate change, need supranational commitments and action to be addressed effectively. Due to ever increasing global trade flows, prices of commodities are connected through space; a drought in Romania may thus increase the price of wheat in Zimbabwe.

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