Document Type


Publication Date

Summer 1978

Published In

International Organization


The market-oriented focus of the global food regime, as it functioned from the late 1940s to the early 1970s, has proved inadequate. Preoccupation with perfecting markets led food policy makers to underemphasize the need for increased production in the Third World. It also led them to exaggerated attention to short-term surplus disposal and too little concern about scarcity. The regime emerged from a context in which unilateral actions and domestic considerations prevailed. This resulted in regime pathologies in which mutually beneficial international food solutions were not reached and multilateral coordination to analyze and solve food problems was discouraged. Such regime inadequacies cumulated over time; while they did not cause the food "crisis" of 1973-74, they blunted international responses to it. Reform of the global food regime is needed to (1) raise priorities accorded to rural modernization in Third World countries, (2) increase attention to malnutrition and chronic hunger, (3) provide resources for development, and (4) structure and stabilize the market so as to provide security of supply and income. The legitimacy of multilateral forums and processes also must be enhanced.


This work is freely available courtesy of Cambridge University Press.