Photo Credit: Flickr: IITA

As the global food system becomes more integrated, urban populations grow, and incomes continue to rise around the world, the issue of food safety is drawing greater and greater attention, according to a new brief from the Global Panel on Agriculture and Food Systems for Nutrition.

Food price volatility and extreme price shocks have serious implications for politics, agriculture, climate, and food and nutrition security, according to a new book published by the Center for Development Research (ZEF) and the International Food Policy Research Institute (IFPRI), with support from the CGIAR Research Program on Policies, Institutions, and Markets (PIM).

Photo credit: IFPRI/David Popham

This post was originally posted on the blog. By: Sara Gustafson, IFPRI

Photo Credit: Flickr: Frank Doyle

Markets play a crucial role in global agricultural development and food security, and well-functioning markets require effective, transparent regulations to ensure agricultural safety, quality, and economic efficiency. The World Bank’s 2016 Enabling the Business of Agriculture report examines the current state of agricultural and agribusiness regulations across the globe and provides some important lessons.

The USDA’s latest World Agricultural Supply and Demand Estimate was released this week, citing larger-than-predicted US surpluses for corn and wheat. Increased competition from Canada and South America have slowed US exports of those commodities by 25 million bushels, the lowest since 1971-1972. These 25 million bushels have also pushed US wheat ending stocks to the largest volume since 2009-2010. For corn, US ending stocks increased by 35 million bushels this month.

Photo Credit: Flickr: WTO

Today’s global food and agriculture landscape is, in many ways, unrecognizable from what it was even at the start of the 21st century. From the widespread use of staple food crops for biofuel production to increased market volatility to growing threats from climate change, food security worldwide faces many new challenges. Add to that a burgeoning global population and complicated (and sometimes distortionary) national and international trade policies, and it becomes clear that policymakers need new, more coordinated options to ensure a food-secure future.

International trade has grown significantly over the past 60 years; the WTO (2008) estimates that between 1950 and 2007, the rate of growth of world trade in real terms was 6.2 percent, compared to 3.8 percent growth in global GDP. The impact of increased world trade cannot be measured simply in terms of economic activity, however; issues like gender equity, health, and nutrition (all key aspects of societal wellbeing) are also affected.

International agricultural trade has been a major headline recently, but as the latest WTO Ministerial Conference proves, disagreement about the best way to conduct such trade remains widespread.

Photo Credit: Flickr: WTO

On December 19, the 159 members of the WTO concluded the 10th WTO Ministerial Conference with the signing of a new international trade agreement, the Nairobi Package. The agreement contains several important outcomes on the issue of agriculture and represents the first major achievement by the WTO on this issue since the end of the Uruguay Round talks and the birth of the organization in 1995.

BY: David Laborde and Eugenio Díaz-Bonilla, IFPRI

Export subsidies for agriculture have been a contentious issue. A particular anomaly in the multilateral trading system framework is that while export subsidies in industrial products have been banned under WTO rules, they are still allowed for agricultural products, including some that are rather industrialized, such as dairy and meat products.