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Trade and Environment Review 2013

Wake up before it is too Late - Make Agriculture Truly Sustainable now for Food Security in a Changing Climate

image of Trade and Environment Review 2013
The 2013 report warns that continuing rural poverty, persistent hunger around the world, growing populations, and mounting environmental concerns must be treated as a collective crisis. Urgent and far-reaching action is needed before climate change begins to cause major disruptions to agriculture, especially in developing countries. The report cites a number of trends that collectively suggest a mounting crisis, including increasing food prices, increased fertilizer use, and a decline in the agriculture growth rate. But most important of all are the persistent problems with hunger, malnutrition, and access to food. Almost 1 billion people currently suffer from hunger, and another 1 billion are malnourished, even though current global agricultural production already provides sufficient calories to feed a population of 12 to 14 billion.

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The importance of international trade and trade rules for transforming global agriculture

Reforms of the international trade regime require a significant reduction or removal of harmful subsidies currently provided mainly by developed countries, while at the same time allowing special treatment and safeguard mechanisms for developing countries in order to promote their smallholder farmers' livelihoods. Such reforms, coupled with policies in support of sustainable small-scale agriculture in developing countries, would improve local production for enhancing food security. There is also a need for regulatory measures aimed at reorganizing the prevailing market structure of the agricultural value chain, which is dominated by a few multinational corporations and marginalizes smallholder farmers and sustainable production systems. Policies that increase the choices of smallholders to sell their products on local or global markets at a decent price would complement efforts to rectify the imbalances. In addition, a shift to more sustainable and ecological agricultural practices would benefit smallholder farmers by increasing productivity while strengthening their resilience to shocks, such as climate change, and reducing the adverse impacts of conventional agricultural practices on the environment and health. The trade policy framework should therefore support such a shift.

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