International Planning Studies Sustainable agriculture, food supply chains and regional development: Editorial introduction

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International Planning Studies Sustainable agriculture, food supply chains and regional development: Editorial introduction
  This article was downloaded by: [Universiti Putra Malaysia]On: 01 November 2012, At: 20:09Publisher: RoutledgeInforma Ltd Registered in England and Wales Registered Number: 1072954Registered office: Mortimer House, 37-41 Mortimer Street, London W1T 3JH, UK International Planning Studies Publication details, including instructions for authors andsubscription information: Sustainable agriculture, food supplychains and regional development:Editorial introduction Terry Marsden a , Jon Murdoch a & Kevin Morgan aa Department of City and Regional Planning, Cardiff University, Glamorgan Building, King Edward VII Avenue,Cardiff, CF10 3WA, UKVersion of record first published: 18 Apr 2007. To cite this article: Terry Marsden, Jon Murdoch & Kevin Morgan (1999): Sustainableagriculture, food supply chains and regional development: Editorial introduction, InternationalPlanning Studies, 4:3, 295-301 To link to this article: PLEASE SCROLL DOWN FOR ARTICLEFull terms and conditions of use: article may be used for research, teaching, and private study purposes. Anysubstantial or systematic reproduction, redistribution, reselling, loan, sub-licensing,systematic supply, or distribution in any form to anyone is expressly forbidden.The publisher does not give any warranty express or implied or make anyrepresentation that the contents will be complete or accurate or up to date. Theaccuracy of any instructions, formulae, and drug doses should be independentlyverified with primary sources. The publisher shall not be liable for any loss, actions,claims, proceedings, demand, or costs or damages whatsoever or howsoever causedarising directly or indirectly in connection with or arising out of the use of thismaterial.  International Planning Studies, Vol. 4, No. 3, 1999 295 Sustainable Agriculture, Food Supply Chains andRegional Development: Editorial Introduction TERRY MARSDEN, JON MURDOCH & KEVIN MORGAN Department of City and Regional Planning, Cardiff University, Glamorgan Building, KingEdward VII Avenue, Cardiff CF10 3WA, UK Introduction In the North Atlantic and West European economies the agriculture and foodsectors are being radically reshaped by a number of processes, most notably theglobalization and regionalization of national economies, the redefinition of thepolitical and regulatory environment, and the restructuring of demand andsupply chains for food products associated with the growing concerns oversafety, health and the environment. Moreover, many consumers are concernedwith the specific attributes of 'quality' and in the particular provenance, srcinsand local conditions of production and supply (e.g. organic production, localappellation etc.). Furthermore, and partly conditioned by the revision of agricul-tural and regional development policy structures, agricultural activities areincreasingly meshing with various forms of rural diversification, includingtourist development, environmental protection, and other forms of non-farmemployment. Taking these conditions as a starting point, the papers contained inthis issue address, from different national contexts, new and emerging trends infood supply chains. They examine how, and to what extent food chains areembedded within wider rural and regional economic development trends.The gradual reform of rural and agricultural policy structures, and thedevelopment of new forms of market orientation (the gradual and unevenderegulation of protectionist policies, for instance), put a stronger emphasisupon creating more effective local and regional production and value-addedsupply chains which may be able to create positive 'defences' for rural regionsagainst the prevailing trends of globalization and further industrialization ofmarkets. Moreover, new forms of consumer consciousness may provide oppor-tunities for expanding value-added supply chains in terms of the foods,environments and other economic and social benefits they might deliver.It is alleged that regional strategies for food production and supply chainmanagement are emerging throughout the EU. These trends, however, raise aseries of new questions for both the reconceptualization of agro-food andempirical research. These include: What is the character of the emerging strate-gies at local, regional and national levels, and what is the impact upon broaderaspects of rural and regional development? What are the common factors ofconstraint and opportunity? What types of institutions and social organizationsare required to foster these chains? What role can the state and development 1356-3475/99/030295-07 © 1999 Taylor & Francis Ltd    D  o  w  n   l  o  a   d  e   d   b  y   [   U  n   i  v  e  r  s   i   t   i   P  u   t  r  a   M  a   l  a  y  s   i  a   ]  a   t   2   0  :   0   9   0   1   N  o  v  e  m   b  e  r   2   0   1   2  296 T. Marsden et al.agencies play in facilitating innovation in the food sector? Are there waysin which different interested parties (e.g. government officials, developmentagencies, researchers, extension workers and producers) can best work togetherto develop sustainable strategies? Which types of food supply chain bestgenerate sustainable local and regional benefits?The set of papers in this issue begin to address these questions; and they startto explore alternative regional and rural development responses to the growingcrises and risks that are inherent in the globalized and industrialized model offood supply. The Spatialization of Food and the New Food Governance In this introduction, we want to provide something of a synthesis of ideas andarguments which are in the process of development by a group of us at Cardiffrelating to the reconceprualization of agro-food in the context of the discoursesof sustainable development. In particular we want to consider the significance ofspace in the development of food supply chains and make some points ofconnection between agriculture, food and regional and spatial development. Thearguments fall into two main parts here, dealing first with the question ofsustainable development and agriculture, and second with the question of a newregionalist perspective on agro-food.Goodman and Watts provide a useful starting point:the changing bases and forms of capitalist competition constitute bothcause and effect in the dialectics of globalisation ... political economicchange at the regional level is mediated by inherent structures, creatingcomplex patterns, spatially and temporally differentiated. This terri-torial endogeneity, its frictions and resistances, imparts highly specificcharacteristics to local/global relationships that are occluded by totalis-ing analyses of globalisation. (Goodman & Watts, 1997, p. 10)Despite this recognition, it is now something of a truism to argue that modernagro-food studies have tended to be somewhat restrictive in their treatment ofthe varied social and political spheres on which food issues now impact. Foodconsumption concerns and the inadequate incorporation of nature in analysesare two key areas which the agro-food literature has had considerable difficultyin grasping. In addition, we also want to argue here that the spatial developmentof food, both in itself, and in relation to a range of other rural and urban factorshas been largely under-theorized (mainly due to the separation of agriculturefrom other economic activities).Global food chains have, to a large extent, not been examined as spatialphenomena, even though broad patterns of uneven development have beenidentified (see Goodman & Watts, 1997). Nevertheless, ever since Kautsky (1899)identified the distinctive features of agrarian capital accumulation (wherebyagricultural accumulation was linked directly to centralization of land holding),the assumption has been that rural space becomes simply the passive platformfor the workings of the industrial agricultural/food system (see Goodman et ah, 1987; Marsden, 1997). While this is increasingly not the case, we perhaps shouldnot be surprised by the diminished spatial sensitivity of agro-food studies giventhe wider and historically dominant spatial extent of the industrial model ofagro-food, its ability to transfer foods rapidly over long distances and its powerto apply technological innovations (usually from the distant laboratory) to    D  o  w  n   l  o  a   d  e   d   b  y   [   U  n   i  v  e  r  s   i   t   i   P  u   t  r  a   M  a   l  a  y  s   i  a   ]  a   t   2   0  :   0   9   0   1   N  o  v  e  m   b  e  r   2   0   1   2  Editorial Introduction 297 significantly reconfigure agrarian and rural space. Even the relatively recent riseof corporate retailing in the UK, for instance, has been based upon applying asort of 'national grid' of food supply, distribution and consumption whichconstantly tries to 'iron out' the specificities of production and consumption;standardizing food goods for a standardized set of spaces. Following andresearching the dominant agro-food industrialized complex then has tended toforce the scholar away from some of the central and underlying questions aboutthe difference space can or could make under different prevailing conditions.While scholars have tended to practise a sort of 'surface globalization' intracing the expansive reach of the industrial agro-food complex, it is also evidentthat state and institutional structures have, up until quite recently, assumed aglobal and national perspective on agro-food. For instance, regional develop-ment authorities have tended to exclude agricultural and food issues from theirremits, leaving their national Ministries and the European Commission toadminister policy. Regional policy frameworks have tended to ignore agricultureand rural development, as they have prioritized industrial manufacturing(largely seen as an urban-based activity). Also, largely because of the post-war'settlement' made between the functions of agricultural and planning policy (inthe UK at least) planning has tended to exclude agricultural and food concerns.Indeed, it has been a major intended or unintended function of much ofplanning to create fixed boundaries around its intervention systems in wayswhich exclude what has become a highly nationalized and internationalizedsystem of agro-food regulation. As the papers in the issue suggest, theseexclusionary systems should now be amended in line with the complex condi-tions that are evident 'on the ground'.There are several important reasons why we need at this critical juncture toreconsider the combined corporate, scholarly and institutionalized 'spatial blind- ness' to agro-food. These are associated, in a broad sense, with what we can callthe emergence of a new period of 'food governance and polities', at least atregional, national and European levels, whereby food-related matters (associatedwith production, consumption, health, risk, cuisine development, environment,economic redevelopment, social welfare and entitlements) is becoming re-em-bedded in different ways in the body-politic of nation-states. Food becomes ahighly political and cultural good as well as a material commodity. One featureof these emergent, nascent forms of 'meta-governance' is the emergence of a newset of spatial relationships, not only in redefining notions of comparativeadvantage between regions, but in redefinitions of economic, social and politicalspaces. Space in this sense is playing new active and reactive roles in there-orientation of agro-food governance, and it is increasingly questioning thesalience of earlier territorial assumptions. We outline some of the dimensions ofthese new spatial relationships before focusing on what they may mean forregional development and other types of policy strategies. Space and Sustainability in the Agro-food Sector As Buttel (1997) reminds us, there is no such thing as a global agro-eco-system(defined as a globally functioning system which create feedbacks and interac-tions in one place as a result of stimuli in another). Agricultural processes andpractices are inherently local and regional, and the environmental risks associ-ated with them tend to be spatially bounded (rather than atmospheric or global).    D  o  w  n   l  o  a   d  e   d   b  y   [   U  n   i  v  e  r  s   i   t   i   P  u   t  r  a   M  a   l  a  y  s   i  a   ]  a   t   2   0  :   0   9   0   1   N  o  v  e  m   b  e  r   2   0   1   2  298 T. Marsden et al.This has meant that many of the risks associated with agro-food activity cancontinue to be conveniently hidden from transnational and regional view, anddistances can be created which shield populations from their harmful effects. Inshort, environmental effects can be isolated.As a result, industrial agriculture and agro-food can continue to undertakeenvironmentally destructive activities without them becoming too widely appar-ent, and without there being a necessarily cumulative effect. The consequence ofthis is that agro-environmental destruction can uphold the industrial agro-foodsystem for long time periods.Nevertheless we have been made painfully aware over the past two decadesthat similarities across space in the experience of environmental risk can putpressure upon food industries for technological innovations in agro-food so asto mask, patch up or rationalize and legitimize these problems. These tend to begeneric technologies (e.g. genetically modified organisms) to solve regionallydefined or local problems. Here we see that the technologies tend to compensatefor the contradictions of modern industrial agro-food, providing short-term andmedium-term stabilization which then allows new vectors of capital accumula-tion and rationalization to take place (Drummond & Marsden 1999).These technologies, of course, may eventually lead to new problems but thekey feature which justifies their development is that they allow enhanced output(which is seen to be legitimate) at the very same time as many of the bio-physicalsystems are undergoing degradation; and the inherent quality of the produce atfinal consumption starts to fall. As Buttel argues:Augmentation of aggregate output (at national and especially at globallevel) thus serves to mask the extent to which long-term agro-ecologicalsustainability (especially as expressed in terms of the quantity andquality of the land resource base and of the eco-system services thatthese agro-eco-systems can provide) is being compromised. (Buttel,1997)It is important to recognize that these conditions are framed by a particular setof regulatory systems which give priority to increases in the intensity of outputfrom the land resource and the particular global exploitation and genericmanipulation of local natures and agro-ecological systems. As Drummond &Marsden (1999) show in relation to the sugar industries in the Caribbean andAustralia, such regulatory systems have to be regularly revised in order for themto continue to counter the unsustainable nature of these developments. This alsohas socio-political implications in that output increases and a long-term declinein commodity prices leads civil society, scientists and policy makers to believethat immediate sustainability concerns are unwarranted and costly. In short,food is seen as a cheap commodity and gains public support for that reasonalone. Alternatives are seen as 'too expensive'. However, the true social andenvironmental costs are occluded by the very globalized and generic nature ofthe industrial food system. Environmental space is lost in the vertical chains ofstandardized production and supply. As a result of the interaction between thehighly spatialized nature of agro-ecological processes and the 'masking effects'of technological innovation, global, regional and local ecological crises aremanaged in ways which tend to sustain the unsustainable.The disparities between the agro-ecological versus the industrial conceptionsof nature and agricultural space focus attention upon the dynamic tensions and    D  o  w  n   l  o  a   d  e   d   b  y   [   U  n   i  v  e  r  s   i   t   i   P  u   t  r  a   M  a   l  a  y  s   i  a   ]  a   t   2   0  :   0   9   0   1   N  o  v  e  m   b  e  r   2   0   1   2
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