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Commentary Seeking common ground for food system transformation

By Alison Blay-palmer, Wilfrid Laurier, Irena Knezevic and Andrew Spring


While theoretically the terms food sovereignty and food security are often very differently nuanced, in practice they commonly provide valuable and complementary foundations for food system transfor-mation. Our goal is to illuminate spaces where food is/has been a lever for change through a combination of food security and food sovereignty initiatives that resulted in shifts with the potential for structural transformation. We provide examples from municipal, regional, national and global scales that illuminate synergistic and fluid relationships between the two concepts and how they are/can be used to activate change. These spaces reveal that the two terms complement, rather than undermine each other, as they often (though not always) represent similar rather than competing values. Keywords food security, food sovereignty, food system transformation ‘Comparing food security and food sovereignty discourses ’ provides an important and thoughtful account of the interconnected emergence of food sovereignty and food security (see also Andree et al., 2014a; Wittman et al., 2010). As Jarosz explains, the way these terms are operationalized and what they set into motion are situation depen-dent and contingent. Within this context, the bulk of the paper unravels, ‘[t]he oppositional nature of the two terms ’ (Jarosz, 2014: 170). This com-mentary also recognizes the need for vigilance as terms are frequently co-opted and twisted in direc-tions that violate founding principles. We agree it is unacceptable that food security in some contexts is synonymous with support for technological inter-ventions, including corporate-dominated biotechnol-ogy, as the preferred way to ‘feed the world’, which does not protect small farmers, fishers and small-scale processors, peasants or consumers (Marsde

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Year: 2016
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