Food Is Different: Why we must get the WTO out of Agriculture Author: Peter M. Rosset

Published by : Zed Books

ISBN: 9781842777558

About the Book

Why does our global food system give us expensive, unhealthy and bad-tasting food, where we pay more for packaging and long-distance shipping than we do for the food itself? Why do farmers and peasants from around the world lead massive protests each and every time the World Trade Organization (WTO) meets?

Peter Rosset explains how the runaway free trade policies and neo-liberal economics of the WTO, American government and European Union kill farmers, and give us a food system that nobody outside a small corporate elite wants.

This essential guide sets out an alternative vision for agricultural policy, taking it completely out of the WTO’s ambit. Food is not just another commodity, to be bought and sold like a microchip, but something which goes to the heart of human livelihood, culture and society.

‘Food is Different makes the case, with clarity and passion, for rebuilding the global food system beyond the unequal and devastating consequences of the WTO ‘free trade’ regime. Rosset guides us through the thicket of rules and regulations, explaining their irreversible impact on social and ecological sustainability and engaging us with a powerful and compelling catalogue of alternatives, captured in the concept of “food sovereignty.”‘ – Philip McMichael, Cornell University

‘Food is Different comes at a time where the WTO is being criticized and discredited by both governments and civil society, and it brings to the fore the real alternatives being proposed by social movements all over the world. This is a timely publication that gives voice and expression to those who have none.’- Paul Nicholson, European Farmers Coordination (CPE) and La Via Campesina.

‘Peter Rosset eloquently illustrates that good is the basis of human existence and that it intertwines the lives of farmers, consumers and the environment. Food is Different should be read by all who are willing to build food sovereignty on a local, regional and global level as well as by those who believe the current WTO system is working – it will change their minds.’- Andrianna Natsoulas, Food and Water Watch


Prologue: Speak the Truth: Exclude the WTO from Agriculture, by Lee Kyung Hae

Foreword: Farmers Around the World Lose out Under the WTO, by George Naylor

Introduction: What is Food? Trade versus Development?

  1. Trade Negotiations and Trade Liberalization
  2. Key Issues, Misconceptions, Points of Disagreement and Alternative Paradigms
  3. Dumping and Subsidies: Unravelling the Confusion
  4. The Impact of Liberalized Agricultural Trade
  5. Alternatives for a Different Agriculture and Food System

Conclusion – Another Food System is Possible

Special Topics:

  1. How the WTO Rules Agriculture
  2. Government Negotiating Blocs
  3. Where European and American Family Farmers Stand
  4. Where Peasant and Family Farm Organizations Stand
  5. Food from Family Farms Act: a Proposal for the 2007 US Farm Bill
  6. For a Legitimate, Sustainable and Supportive CAP
  7. People’s Food Sovereignty Statement

About the Author

Peter Rosset is a food rights activist and agro-ecologist. He is based in Chiapas, Mexico, where he is a researcher at the Centro de Estudios para el Cambio en el Campo Mexicano (Center for Studies of Rural Change in Mexico), and co-coordinator of the Land Research Action Network ( He is also Global Alternatives Associate of the Center for the Study of the Americas and is a Visiting Scholar in the Department of Environmental Science, Policy & Management of the University of California. His previous books include: The Case for GM-Free Sustainable World (2003); Sustainable Agriculture and Resistance: Transforming Food Production in Cuba (2002); and World Hunger: Twelve Myths (1998), among others.