GFT - SYNTHESIS - The uneasy relationship between international trade and agriculture


  • Kim Burnett



international trade, agriculture


In his 2006 book, Food is Different, Peter Rosset posited we “get agriculture out of the [World Trade Organization] WTO”. This contention, which is the rallying cry for the Food Sovereignty movement, is that the WTO should not have any purview over agriculture and by extension food systems. Getting the WTO out of agriculture encompasses not only dismantling the 1994 Agreement on Agriculture, which governs both global food trade and extends to national food policies, but also nullifying the entire suite of WTO agreements that apply to various aspects of agriculture, including the Agreement on Trade-Related Intellectual Property Rights (TRIPS), and the Agreement on Trade-Related Investment Measures (TRIMS) (see Burnett & Murphy, 2014). For activists, policymakers, and scholars who take a firm stance of resistance to the WTO, there is no room for compromise with the institution. From this standpoint, the WTO cannot be transformed into a legitimate space to govern international food trade. The underlying concerns motivating much global civil society resistance to agriculture being governed under the WTO are well documented in the papers in this collection and were discussed at length by participants at the workshop in Waterloo.

Author Biography

Kim Burnett

Kim Burnett is a SSHRC funded Global Political Economy doctoral candidate with the University of Waterloo’s Global Governance program. Her research focuses on the governance of agricultural production and trade, examining Fair Trade and Food Sovereignty strategies for changing existing structures of food and agricultural trade. Kim worked in the private, public and non-profit sectors prior to her graduate studies, was a research fellow with Oxfam America in 2009, has held contracts as a consultant with Oxfam America, World Vision and the Quaker United Nations Office and co-chaired the Canadian Food Security Policy coalition in 2013. She recently published an article with Geopolitics on Fair Trade and Food Sovereignty responses to governance opportunities after the global food crisis, co-authored a forthcoming article with Sophia Murphy in Journal of Peasant Studies on the place for trade in Food Sovereignty and co-authored with Jennifer Clapp a chapter on agricultural trade in the Routledge Handbook of Global Economic Governance.




How to Cite

Burnett, K. (2015). GFT - SYNTHESIS - The uneasy relationship between international trade and agriculture. Canadian Food Studies / La Revue Canadienne Des études Sur l’alimentation, 2(2), 107–114.