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Agriculture and Food in Crisis: Conflict, Resistance, and Renewal

Magdoff and Tokar’s book is a healthy and inspiring antidote to the ‘business as usual’ propaganda of the mass media—a recipe for resistance. As this book reminds us, if we want to survive and eat and live in a sustainable world, we’re going to have to mobilize and fight the powers that be.”

—Ronnie Cummins
Founder and International Director
Organic Consumers Association

“The contributors to this collection, a set of global thought-leaders on the subject, alert us to the connections between widespread ecological crises, human exploitation, and the way we eat…But against this disparate array of complex, global, and often covert dynamics, this volume also speaks of hope, introducing us to new thinking, new language, new possibilities, and redoubling the imperative to resist facile, flawed, deterministic mythologies about industrial efficiency and ‘human progress.’”

—Ricardo J. Salvador
Program Officer, W.K. Kellogg Foundation

“The Monsantos get richer as the poor get hungrier while farmers get replaced by machines, genetic engineering, chemicals, and corporations. The logic of industrial monocropping and its destruction of our lives and Mother Nature will only be reversed by revolutionary change based on renewing agrarian values and gaining the type of information found in this book.”

—George Naylor
past president of the National Family Farm Coalition

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The failures of “free-market” capitalism are perhaps nowhere more evident than in the production and distribution of food. Although modern human societies have attained unprecedented levels of wealth, a significant amount of the world’s population continues to suffer from hunger or food insecurity on a daily basis. In Agriculture and Food in Crisis, Fred Magdoff and Brian Tokar have assembled an exceptional collection of scholars from around the world to explore this frightening long-term trend in food production. While approaching the issue from many angles, the contributors to this volume share a focus on investigating how agricultural production is shaped by a system that is oriented around the creation of profit above all else, with food as nothing but an afterthought.

As the authors make clear, it is technically possible to feed to world’s people, but it is not possible to do so as long as capitalism exists. Toward that end, they examine what can be, and is being, done to create a human-centered and ecologically sound system of food production, from sustainable agriculture and organic farming on a large scale to movements for radical land reform and national food sovereignty. This book will serve as an indispensable guide to the years ahead, in which world politics will no doubt come to be increasingly understood as food politics.

Contents
Agriculture and Food in Crisis: An Overview by Fred Magdoff and Brian Tokar
1. Food Wars by Walden Bello and Mara Baviera
2. The World Food Crisis in Historical Perspective by Philip McMichael
3. Sub-Saharan Africa’s Vanishing Peasantries and the Specter of a Global Food Crisis by Deborah Fahy Bryceson
4. Origins of the Food Crisis in India and Developing Countries by Utsa Patnaik
5. Free Trade in Agriculture: A Bad Idea Whose Time is Done by Sophia Murphy
6. Biofuels and the Global Food Crisis by Brian Tokar
7. The New Farm Owners: Corporate Investors and the Control of Overseas Farmland by GRAIN
8. The Globalization of Agribusiness and Developing World Food Systems by John Wilkinson
9. The Battle for Sustainable Agriculture in Paraguay by April Howard
10. Fixing our Global Food System: Food Sovereignty and Redistributive Land Reform by Peter Rosset
11. From Food Crisis to Food Sovereignty: The Challenge of Social Movements by Eric Holt-Giménez
12. Do Increased Energy Costs Offer Opportunities for a New Agriculture? by Frederick Kirschenmann
13. Reducing Energy Inputs in the Agricultural Production System by David Pimentel
14. Agroecology, Small Farms, and Food Sovereignty by Miguel A. Altieri
15. The Venezuelan Effort to Build a New Food and Agriculture System by Christina Schiavoni and William Camacaro
16. Can Ecological Agriculture Feed Nine Billion People? by Jules Pretty

Fred Magdoff is professor emeritus at the University of Vermont and adjunct professor at Cornell University. He has written extensively on soil fertility, ecological approaches to agriculture, and political economy, and is co-author of The ABCs of the Economic Crisis (with Michael D. Yates) and The Great Financial Crisis (with John Bellamy Foster).

Brian Tokar is a long-time activist and author, and current director of the Institute for Social Ecology based in Plainfield, Vermont. He is the author of Toward Climate Justice, The Green Alternative, and Earth for Sale and lectures widely on a variety of environmental and political topics.

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