Food has emerged as one of the more contested concerns of the 21st century. Global change scientists have mobilized concern over the Earth's limited resource base, and the trade-offs among food provisioning with other ecological services and processes. In many developing nations, chronic problems of food security have been made more acute by rising global fuel prices, production failures in distant regions, and international transactions in valuable land and water resources. In more industrial contexts, the concept of "local" and "natural" food is increasingly fetishized by the middle class, reflecting a rejection of a global food system viewed as opaque, unhealthy, and unethical -- although the choices of these consumers also have significant implications for resource use and distribution in distant regions. Control over resources necessary for sustaining local production has found a voice in the international food sovereignty movement, in which communities of activities in disparate geographic regions have mobilized to advocate for alternative national and international governance arrangements for food systems. Together these movements highlight the political dimensions of the diversity of values, priorities and interests associated with food globally, and the potential for conflict and adverse outcomes when existing governance arrangements do not account for or enable this diversity.
This panel will focus on the cross-scalar and cross-space dimensions of the global food system, highlighting both the challenges of and potential solutions for sustainable food system governance. We would like to focus on how public and private actors define the relationship between the scale of a food problem and the scale or scales at which a political solution is to sought for this problem. Papers could use or critically review one or more the following subjects or concepts: multi-level governance, subsidiarity, legitimacy; complex decision-making processes, scale framing; food democracy, food sovereignty.