Whose Justice is it Anyway? Mitigating the Tensions Between Food Security and Food Sovereignty

Journal of Agricultural and Environmental Ethics 33 (1):1-14 (2020)
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This paper explores the tensions between two disparate approaches to addressing hunger worldwide: Food security and food sovereignty. Food security generally focuses on ensuring that people have economic and physical access to safe and nutritious food, while food sovereignty movements prioritize the right of people and communities to determine their agricultural policies and food cultures. As food sovereignty movements grew out of critiques of food security initiatives, they are often framed as conflicting approaches within the wider literature. This paper explores this tension, arguing that food security is based on a particular model of justice, distributive justice, which limits the sovereignty and autonomy of communities as food producers and consumers. In contrast, food sovereignty movements view food security as a necessary part of food sovereignty, but ultimately insufficient for creating food sustainable communities and limiting wider harms. Rather than viewing food security and food sovereignty as in conflict, we argue that food sovereignty’s justice framework both encompasses and entails justice claims that guide food security projects.

Author Profiles

Esme G. Murdock
San Diego State University
Samantha Noll
Washington State University


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