Joshua Muldavin’s Synopsis

Agrarian Change and Food Security in the New Era of Land Grabs: The Case of Environmental Policies in the Eastern Himalaya of China.
The “new” global food crisis is largely framed in broad technological terms that fail to acknowledge the highly differentiated contexts of food (in)security around the world. Technological problem framing rarely addresses the root causes of chronic food insecurity and therefore the solutions generated don’t reach the most vulnerable peoples. Access to food and the entitlements that enable people to procure it are essential aspects of food insecurity. Analyzing the complex interrelationships that result in changes in land use and access to resources is therefore important to integrate in ongoing assessments of both the problems of global food insecurity and potential solutions. Through assessing the relative strength of private and collective institutions, as well as continued privatization of commons, food security questions can be socially and economically contextualized within varied biophysical contexts. Land grabs are one critical component of this issue, continuing and expanding historical processes of enclosure, dispossession, primitive accumulation, and surplus extraction with or without formal appropriation of land. This paper examines empirical evidence of the impact of China’s land use and environmental policies upon the food security of remote upland farming communities in the eastern Himalayas. The case studies are from a National Science Foundation-funded comparative analysis of an international project in Baoshan County, Yunnan Province, China, and a similar project in the West Garo Hills of northeastern India. The analysis provides insights for the discourse on global food security, as well as an assessment of the role of land grabbing, and provides potential pathways for policy reforms at all scales

Raj Patel’s synopsis

To combat climate change and hunger, a number of governments, foundations, and aid agencies have called for a “New Green Revolution.” Such calls obfuscate the dynamics of the Green Revolution. Using Arrighi’s analysis of capital accumulation cycles, it is possible to trace a Long Green Revolution that spans the twentieth and twenty-first centuries. Such an analysis illuminates commonalities in past and present Green Revolutions, including their bases in class struggles, modes of governance—particularly in the links between governments and philanthropic institutions—and the institutions through which truths about agricultural change were produced and became known. Such an analysis also suggests processes of continuity between the original Green Revolution and features of twenty-first century agricultural change, while providing a historical grounding in international financial capital’s structural changes to help explain some of the novel features that accompany the New Green Revolution, such as “land grabs,” patents on life, and nutritionism.

Ivette Perfecto’s synopsis

Agroecology has been described as a science, a practice and a movement. In this talk I will discuss how these three aspects of agroecology contribute to food security and, more importantly, to food sovereignty. With a focus on the Global South and on small-scale farmers, I will make the argument that agroecology is one of the cornerstones of food sovereignty.  I will also discuss the influence of high-level documents such as the International Assessment on Agricultural Knowledge, Science and Technology form Development (IAASTD), on raising the profile of agroecology worldwide and how the global campesino movement, La Via Campesina,  have adopted agrecology in their struggle for food sovereignty. 

Tattfoo Tan’s synopsis

S.O.S. (Sustainable. Organic. Stewardship.) is a multifaceted and yearlong horticulture and cultivation project that includes social, cultural, and artistic practices. By acknowledging the shortage of food on the global scale, we should look at how we eat, what we eat, and how we can grow our own food. We must understand the origin of our food and the labor and politics that are involved in growing these perishable items that have such a direct affect on our health and well-being.