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A Rights-Based Approach to
the Global Food Crisis

Timothy A. WiseHow has the global food crisis, following price spikes in 2007-8, impacted food-insecure developing countries? And what policies are proving effective in increasing food security and resilience to climate change? Since 2013, Timothy A. Wise has focused on these questions.

With a prestigious fellowship from the Open Society Institute, Wise traveled widely, in Africa and Latin America, to research a book on the ways in which U.S. policies distort global corn markets and how those distortions ripple out into the developing world. (Read the fellowship announcement.)

The research extended the policy analysis he and co-author Sophia Murphy advanced in their 2012 report, “Resolving the Food Crisis,” which identified key issues needing attention:

  • Land grabbing, for biofuels and other industrial agricultural production, and attempts by national governments to better manage their land and natural resources.
  • The policy debate over investment in high-input industrial-scale agricultural development versus climate-resilient smallholder farming.
  • Biofuels impacts on land use and food production in developing countries.
  • Financial speculation from still-deregulated commodities markets.
  • High and volatile food prices, and efforts to curb volatility with food reserves and other national policies.

Wise wrote extensively during the fellowship on a rights-based approach to the global food crisis, focusing on the need to address the structural causes of food insecurity. This research will be included in a forthcoming book on the subject.

Publications and Multimedia
Below are links to Wise’s work since mid-2013. To get updates on new work, subscribe online (check only "Agriculture" as an interest to receive only Wise's pieces) or send an email to with the subject line "subscribe agriculture."

See Global Food Crisis for the full range of Wise’s work on trade and agricultural development.

Seeds of Climate Resilience in Mozambique, Timothy A. Wise, Food Tank, April 17, 201

Securing Land Rights in Zambia, Timothy A. Wise, Food Tank, April 3, 201

What Value are Value Chains for Small-Scale Farmers?, Timothy A. Wise, Food Tank, February 16, 2017

A Progressive Agenda for Renegotiating NAFTA, Timothy A. Wise,, November 22, 2016

Land Grab Update: Mozambique, Africa Still in the Crosshairs, Timothy A. Wise, Food Tank, October 31, 2016

Seed Sovereignty and Climate Adaptation in Malawi, Timothy A. Wise, Food Tank, July 19, 2016

Looking for Food in All the Wrong Places, Timothy A. Wise, Food Tank, June 24, 2016

Commentary on 'Farming for a Small Planet: Agroecology Now', Timothy A. Wise, Great Transition Initiative, April 2016

Two Roads Diverged in the Food Crisis: Global policy takes the one more travelled, Timothy A. Wise, Canadian Food Studies, Vol. 2, No. 2 (2015)

Mandating Food Insecurity: The Global Impacts of Rising Biofuel Mandates and Targets, Timothy A. Wise and Emily Cole, GDAE Working Paper No. 15-01, February 24, 2015

On the December 2015 WTO Summit:
For previous articles on food security and the WTO, click here

WTO takes a wrong turn for development, Timothy A. Wise and Biraj Patnaik, Down To Earth, February 23, 2016

Don't buy the spin: The WTO talks in Nairobi ended badly and India will pay a price, Biraj Patnaik and Timothy A Wise,, December 24, 2015

‘Outstanding Doha issues’ are still a priority, Timothy A. Wise, Letter to Financial Times, December 22, 2015

US cynical positions designed to create deadlock, Timothy A. Wise, The Standard, December 18, 2015

Defending the Right to Food at the World Trade Organization, Biraj Patnaik and Timothy A. Wise, Food Tank, December 18, 2015

Dumping Responsibility on Third World Farmers Yet Again, Timothy A. Wise, The Wire, December 13, 2015

India’s time to lead at the WTO, Timothy A. Wise and Sachin Kumar Sharma, Down To Earth, December 12, 2015

Africa and the WTO - the Perils of Weakening the Development Agenda, Biraj Patnaik and Timothy A. Wise, AllAfrica, October 9, 2015 (Also available in French)

Destruction of US credibility at WTO, Timothy A. Wise and Biraj Patnaik, Live Mint, September 8, 2015

Will the WTO fast-track trade at the expense of food security?, Timothy A. Wise and Jeronim Capaldo, Al Jazeera, July 24, 2014

Land Grabs and Land Rights:
Securing Land Rights in Zambia, Timothy A. Wise, Food Tank, April 3, 2017

Trading Away Land Rights, Rachel Thrasher and Timothy A. Wise, Triple Crisis Blog, October 14, 2015

History Repeats as Farce: Giving Away Land Without Consultation in Mozambique, Timothy A. Wise, Food Tank, May 19, 2015 [Available in Portuguese]

The Great Land Giveaway in Mozambique, Timothy A. Wise, Dollars & Sense, March/April edition [Available in Portuguese]

What Happened to the Biggest Land Grab in Africa? Searching for ProSavana in Mozambique, Timothy A. Wise, Food Tank, December 20, 2014

“Land grabs” and Responsible Agricultural Investment in Africa, Timothy A. Wise, Triple Crisis Blog, August 4, 2014

Picking up the pieces from a failed land grab project in Tanzania, Timothy A. Wise, GlobalPost, June 27, 2014

Genetically Modified food controversy:
The GM Labeling Law to End All Labeling Laws, Timothy A. Wise, Food Tank, August 17, 2015

World Health Organization: GM-Crop Herbicide a Probable Carcinogen, Timothy A. Wise, Food Tank, March 25, 2015

The War on Genetically-Modified-Food Critics: Et tu, National Geographic?, Timothy A. Wise, Food Tank, February 27, 2015

Monsanto Meets its Match in the Birthplace of Maize, Timothy A. Wise, Triple Crisis BlogMay 12, 2014 (Also in Spanish from Via Organica)

Mexico and Monsanto: Taking Precaution in the Face of Genetic Contamination, Timothy A. Wise, Food Tank, May 21, 2014 (Also in Spanish from Via Organica)

High risks, few rewards for Mexico with Monsanto's maize, Timothy A. Wise, Al JazeeraMay 27, 2014 (Also in Spanish from Via Organica)

Small-scale agriculture:
To Feed the World in 2050 We Have to Change Course, Timothy A. Wise and Kristin Sundell, Christian Science Monitor (Originally published by Food Tank), October 17, 2014

Feeding the World: The Ultimate First-World Conceit, Timothy A. Wise, Triple Crisis Blog, October 7, 2014

To end hunger, global policy can't be 'business as usual', Timothy A. Wise, Global Post, March 24, 2014

Malawi's paradox: Filled with both corn and hunger, Timothy A. Wise, Global Post, February 25, 2014

Most African leaders not making promised investments in agriculture, Timothy A. Wise, Global PostFebruary 6, 2014

Why it's dangerous to trust corporations to lead the fight against world hunger, Timothy A. Wise, Global PostJanuary 31, 2014

WTO Ministerial in Bali:
Battle Won, The War Goes On, Timothy A. Wise, BW | Business World, January 7, 2014

Right to food wins 'defensive battle' in World Trade Organization deal, Timothy A. Wise, Global Post, December 8, 2013

10 signs of US hypocrisy on India's food security programme, Timothy A. Wise, Firstpost, December 6, 2013

US opposition to ambitious Indian program a 'direct attack on the right to food, Timothy A. Wise, Global Post, December 3, 2013

NAFTA's 20th anniversary:
How beer explains 20 years of NAFTA’s devastating effects on Mexico, Timothy A. Wise, Global PostJanuary 2, 2014

El TLCAN: El arte de entregar los valores, Timothy A. Wise La Jornada del Campo, November 16, 2013

The World Food Prize:
Commentary: And the prize goes to ... genetically modified foods, Timothy A. Wise, Global Post, October 23, 2013

The Committee on World Security decision on Biofuels:
Fiddling in Rome while our food burns, Timothy A. Wise and Marie Brill, Al Jazeera, October 17, 2013

Committee on World Food Security: Biofuels Intervention, Timothy A. Wise, presentation of Civil Society Mechanism intervention, October 8, 2013 (See related open letter to the Committee on World Food Security)

Changing Course to Feed the World in 2050, Timothy A. Wise and Marie Brill, GDAE Globalization Commentary, from Triple Crisis Blog, October 3, 2013

Can We Feed the World in 2050? A Scoping Paper to Assess the Evidence, Timothy A. Wise, GDAE Working Paper 13-04, September 2013. (A related ActionAid report is also available)

See additional research on biofuel policies


2017 Food Tank Summit  Backstage Interview at 2017 Food Tank Summit in Boston
On April 1, 2017, Timothy A. Wise served as a featured speaker on a panel, "The True Cost of Food", at the 2017 Food Tank Summit in Boston. Wise followed up on his speaking role with an interview led by Food Tank. Read recent articles Wise has written for Food Tank here.

Feeding Illusions Presentation Feeding Illusions: Agribusiness, Family Farmers, and the Future of Food
On December 5, 2016, Timothy A. Wise spoke at The Fletcher School to present his research on small-scale food production in developing countries.

Wise interviewed on The Real News NetworkTrump's Hypocrisy on NAFTA
On October 2, 2016, the Real News Network interviewed Timothy A. Wise on "Trump's Hypocrisy on NAFTA." Wise argues that Trump's call for import taxes could lead to trade wars and that his commitment to high profits is at odds with his plans to keep jobs in the US.

GMO Debate Image Mega-regional Trade Agreements: Health & Food
On April 29, 2016,Timothy A. Wise participated in day-long conference at the New School in New York on "Rules, Rights and Resistance: The Battle over the TPP and TTIP Mega-regional Trade Agreements." Wise spoke about the relationship between trade agreements and food and agriculture.

GMO Debate ImageGMOs: Global Risk or Global Solution
Timothy A. Wise was in Los Angeles April 19, 2016, to participate in the Oppenheim Lecture Series: "GMOs: Global Risk or Global Solution?".
 The talk was covered by IoES News and City Watch on April 21, 2016.

Timothy A. WiseWhy America is Moving Away from the WTO
The Real News Network interviewed Timothy A. Wise on December 16, 2015 on the World Trade Organization's 10th ministerial meeting in Nairobi, Kenya.

The Real News Network InterviewGMO Anti-Labeling Law Heads to Senate After House Approval
The Real News Network interviewed Timothy A. Wise on the ongoing battle over GM food. (October 5, 2015)

National Geographic video on When Food Is FuelWhen Food Is Fuel
Biofuel production is booming, up fivefold in a decade. Investment in biofuel technologies creates more renewable fuels and jobs, but producing fuels like corn-based ethanol diverts land and water resources from food crops. Biofuels can also drive up the cost of corn that is used for food, especially in developing countries that rely on imports of the grain. GDAE's Timothy A. Wise contributed research to this National Geographic video. (September 15, 2014)

Timothy A. Wise presents to Open Society FoundationAddressing the Global Food Crisis: Maize, Food Security, and Climate Change
GDAE Researcher and Open Society Fellow Timothy A. Wise is examining the effects of U.S. policies in Latin America and Africa. This podcast and PowerPoint offer observations from his research so far, which has taken him to Mexico, Rome, Iowa, South Africa, Bali, Ethiopia, and Malawi. This recording was made at the Open Society Foundation on February 10, 2014.

Timothy A. Wise on the legacy of NAFTA What is the legacy of NAFTA?
Timothy A. Wise was a guest on the KALW radio show "Your Call" to mark the 20th anniversary of The North American Free Trade Agreement between Canada, Mexico and the US. The show discusses how NAFTA has affected the lives of millions of American, Canadian and Mexican workers. And asks: What has been NAFTA's Effect on Jobs, Migration, and the Environment? (January 13, 2014)

Timothy A. Wise on the Real News Network20 Years on, Mexico is NAFTA's Biggest Lie
Timothy A. Wise explains that the numbers expose the official distortions around NAFTA's failed promises ( January 3, 2014)

Read more on Wise’s work on the Global Food Crisis
Read more on Wise's work on Food Security and the WTO

The Global Development and Environment Institute’s Globalization and Sustainable Development Program examines the economic, social and environmental impacts of economic integration in developing countries, with a particular emphasis on the WTO and NAFTA's lessons for trade and development policy. The goal of the program is to identify policies and international agreements that foster sustainable development.

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