Food Security

, Volume 7, Issue 2, pp 383–391 | Cite as

Food security and trade: reconciling discourses in the Food and Agriculture Organization and the World Trade Organization

  • Arild Aurvåg FarsundEmail author
  • Carsten Daugbjerg
  • Oluf Langhelle
Original Paper


A contested issue in the international debate on food security is the role of trade in safeguarding food security at the global and national level. This paper explores how the issue of food security and trade has been discursively framed in two international organizations, the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) and the General Agreement on Trade and Tariffs World Trade Organization (GATT/WTO), from 1945 to 2014. We argue that there are identifiable shifts in FAO’s positions on food security and trade in the 1980s and 1990s towards trade liberalization as advocated by the WTO. The official view of the WTO secretariat and many of its member states (proponents of trade liberalization in agriculture) is that trade liberalization is both necessary and conducive for food security. The FAO has adopted this discourse. Although this is the dominant discursive framing, counter-framings of the food security - trade problem has played an important role in the deadlock of the Doha Round negotiations. We consider how this may influence the global food trading regime.


Discourses analysis Trade Food security WTO FAO Food sovereignty 



An earlier version was presented at the IPSA World Congress, Montreal, 19–24 July 2014. We thank Frode Veggeland and the two anonymous reviewers of this journal for constructive and helpful comments. This article forms part of the research project ‘Food Security and Trade Policy Making’. Funding from the Norwegian Research Council’s BIONÆR program is gratefully acknowledged.

This paper was part of a workshop sponsored by the OECD Co-operative Research Programme on Biological Resource Management for Sustainable Agricultural Systems.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht and International Society for Plant Pathology 2015

Authors and Affiliations

  • Arild Aurvåg Farsund
    • 1
    Email author
  • Carsten Daugbjerg
    • 2
  • Oluf Langhelle
    • 3
  1. 1.Department of Media, Culture and Social SciencesUniversity of Stavanger and International Research Institute of StavangerStavangerNorway
  2. 2.Crawford School of Public PolicyThe Australian National UniversityCanberraAustralia
  3. 3.Department of Media, Culture and Social SciencesUniversity of StavangerStavangerNorway

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