The New Politics of Food Security

Speaker: Prof Michael Winter # Director of the Centre for Rural Policy Research, University of Exeter

27th Sep 2010

15:30 - 17:00

1.06, Old Surgeons' Hall, High School Yards


This paper examines the rapid (re-)emergence of food security as a UK policy issue, considering in particular the implications for the politics of agriculture. I argue that a global prioritisation of food production does not necessarily translate into a new national productivism in either practice or political rhetoric in the UK. A simple return to 'dig of victory' is compromised by other pressures on land use, notably energy; by thirty years of a 'consumer countryside'; and by public concerns over biodiversity, climate change, and agro-food sustainability. 'Obvious' technological solutions to the challenges of food security, such as genetic modification, remain contested. I suggest that the agri-environmental consensus forged in the the 1980s has broken down as a result of the new politics of food security but that no new settled agro-food politics has yet emerged.


Michael is a rural policy specialist and a rural social scientist with particular interests in applying inter-disciplinary approaches to policy-relevant research and in direct engagement in the policy process. Within the University he is a member of the management boards for three research centres/themes: Climate Change and Sustainable Futures; Sport, Leisure & Tourism; and Egenis. He is a member of DEFRA's Science Advisory Council, Defra's Panel of Agricultural & Environmental Economists; SWRDA's Panel of Economists; and the National Ecosystem Assessment Expert Panel. He is a Commissioner for the Commission for Rural Communities, President of Devon Rural Network and a vice-President of Devon Community Council. He is former trustee/director of the BBSRC North Wyke Research centre and former Chair of the South West Rural Affairs Forum. In 2000, he was a member of the Committee of Inquiry into Hunting with Dogs in England and Wales chaired by Lord Burns.. He is on the editorial board of the International Journal of Sustainable Agriculture. His current research interests, among others, focus on rural policy analysis and governance with a specific focus on regionalism; sustainable agro-food systems and food security; climate change and rural land use; the historical and contemporary sociology of west country agriculture; & farmer environmental attitudes and decision-making, particularly in the context of diffuse pollution and water quality.