The forgotten history of food security in multilateral trade negotiations

Matias Margulis

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Food security emerged as a major source of political deadlock in the WTO Doha Round negotiations. Concerns about food security only intensified at the WTO following the 2008 Global Food Crisis, with the Bali and Nairobi Ministerials revealing polarized views between the US and India on the financing of public food stockholding. These "food fights" at the WTO have attracted significant international media, civil society and scholarly attention. In this article, I argue that inter-state disagreement on food security is not new or specific to the Doha Round but instead has been a recurrent phenomenon in the multilateral trade system for decades. Employing an historical approach, I show that food security has repeatedly been an item of negotiation in successive GATT negotiating rounds and has been steadily codified in international trade law over time. Today, food security is deeply integrated into the rules of the trade regime, making the WTO an important yet largely unacknowledged institution in global food security governance.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)25-57
Number of pages33
JournalWorld Trade Review
Issue number1
Early online date2 Nov 2016
Publication statusPublished - 31 Dec 2016


  • Food security
  • WTO
  • GATT
  • multilateral trade negotiations
  • Doha Round
  • Agreement on Agriculture

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