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International Journal of Food Science and Technology 2010, 45, 1345–1352

1345

Original article Debates on food security and agrofood world governance
´ Humberto Gonzalez*
Espana 1359, Col. Moderna, Guadalajara, Jal. 44190, Mexico ˜ (Received 30 March 2007; Accepted in revised form 10 March 2010)

Summary

Mechanisms of global governance, developed in response to initiatives adopted bythe FAO to combat hunger and confront food crises, are the result of wide ranging historical debates using three basic criteria for justification: the scientific, the political-ideological, and the ethical. On the basis of these criteria, certain forms of understanding and acting on agriculture, health and nutrition at global level have come to be accepted as valid. Currently the debate and theresulting proposals are based on the recognition of food as a universal human right.
Food and Agriculture Organization, food security, governance, right to food.

Keywords

Since the creation of the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization in 1945, its principle concern has been to combat hunger and prevent food crises throughout the world by improving agriculture, livestock-raising andfishing. The original proposal of the organisation was to tackle the problem of hunger through actions co-ordinated worldwide and not just through measures taken by the governments of the national states suffering from its effects. The Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) has been able to bring parties together on a global scale and has had a pre-eminent position in the definition of worldagriculture and food policies. Phillips & Ilcan (2003, 437) propose that the predominance and strengthening of agrofood world governance by the FAO can be explained by the establishment of mechanisms entailing three things: (i) the elaboration and dissemination of valid forms of knowledge that conceptualise food and agriculture problems at the international, national, local and domestic levels, and can thenbe used as references for more specific analyses; (ii) the development of forms of communication and of social interaction, and networks of relationships, that make it possible to develop distinct types of co-ordination, regulation and cooperation between governments and public and private organisations; and (iii) as a result of these new ways of working together, the development of programs andplans of action that have an impact on the international food and agriculture situation. As we shall see, these mechanisms of governance are the result of a large number of proposals debated in the institutional framework of the FAO and outside it. Proposals have had to justify themselves in accordance
*Correspondent: E-mail: hgc@ciesas.edu.mx

with conventions or ‘justification regimes’ that aresocially recognised as valid by those taking part in the debate, when claiming or refuting the fitness of a proposal, a criticism or a disagreement (Boltanski & ´ Thevenot, 1999, 363–364). We may consider the justification regimes to be the criteria that have been agreed on for determining whether a proposition is true or false, correct or incorrect, just or unjust. Social actors, whetherindividuals, groups or institutions, present their arguments in accordance with the justification criteria recognised by their counterparts; they may suggest equivalences and parallels between one justification regime and another in order to validate their arguments, or they may incorporate new justification criteria; they may, also, participate in different forums and present their arguments according to thejustification ´ regime that is valid in each (Boltanski & Thevenot, 1999, 363–364). In this article, I propose that three wide ranging debates on world food security (FS) can be identified, each with its own justification regime: these being the scientific, the political- ideological, and the ethical. Application of the first criterion has led to a re-evaluation of the extent to which scientific...
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