GLOBAL VIEWS OF LOCAL FOOD SYSTEMS: The Agrarian Limits of the Food Movement


  • Rami Zurayk American University of Beirut



Food Systems, Food Movement


First paragraphs:

Food was on the cover of the May 2014 issue of National Geographic magazine. Inside the glossy monthly's international edition, an attractively illustrated article entitled "A Five-Step Plan to Feed the World" by Jonathan Foley ran alongside a full-page commercial by giant multinational company Syngenta, famous for its sale of seeds and agrochemicals and for its biotechnology and genomic research. The advertisement depicted an African woman farmer in the middle of a (GMO?) corn field with the caption: "She can feed a hungry world. We are going to help her do it." Here was a poignant and graphic representation of the discourse of the Second Green Revolution (SGR): the corporate world claiming to be reaching out to help its historic victims, the smallholders in the Global South.

Indeed, the Second Green Revolution, which aims to bring Africa into the realm of the industrial food producing nations, is not happening in the same way as its predecessor. This time, transnational corporations (TNCs) have joined forces with academic research centers and with big philanthropy to bring to Africa the latest in industrial capitalist farming, including high-yielding varieties and the accompanying technological package (see for example Rockefeller Foundation, 2006) for which they hold intellectual property rights. The interests of the Neoliberal Triad (TNCs–big philanthropy–academia) have become so intertwined in terms of funding, research and development, epistemic dominance, corporate social responsibility, and tax evasion that it now acts like a single organism — a hydra of sorts. For the purpose of penetrating the African continent, where lands and resources are still plentiful, the Triad is harnessing all its capabilities. These include the projection of a positive media image....


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Author Biography

Rami Zurayk, American University of Beirut

Rami Zurayk is professor at the Faculty of Agricultural and Food Sciences at the American University of Beirut, Lebanon. He studied at the American University of Beirut and at Oxford University. His research addresses issues at the nexus of food, landscapes, and livelihoods. He is an active member of Lebanese civil society and a founder of Slow Food Beirut. He can be contacted at

Rami Zurayk portrait



How to Cite

Zurayk, R. (2014). GLOBAL VIEWS OF LOCAL FOOD SYSTEMS: The Agrarian Limits of the Food Movement. Journal of Agriculture, Food Systems, and Community Development, 4(3), 19–22.

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