Individual Paper: Food Security in Egypt
The Double-edged Sword of the Growth Narrative
This paper aims to demonstrate that growth-oriented agricultural strategies lead to population health problems by analyzing the nutrition transition in Egypt. The country, located in the so-called Fertile Crescent, is an agricultural country by excellence. Whereas Egypt was once the bread basket of the Roman Empire, it became, in the last decades, the biggest wheat importer worldwide. The proactive politics aiming to accelerate the liberalization process of Egypt from the 1960s onwards led to a clear quantitative increase in terms of daily caloric intake due to a strong rise in productivity and a higher production of food. However, the dynamics of the financialization of the global food system and the exacerbated role of transnational agrifood companies in food production and retail chains brought about the development of a new burden for food security. On the one hand, the globalization and the integration of the agrifood system brought down the relative price of food and reinforced the access to food, efficiently combatting undernourishment. On the other hand, the liberalization process dramatically altered the type and the quantity of food available to consumers.
The Egyptian nutrition transition that occurred illustrates the role and impact of the growth narrative on the link between poverty and obesity. The abundant and affordable nutrient-poor food as well as high fat and carbohydrate-rich foodstuffs shifted the consumption habits of the Egyptian population and led to the dramatic rise in obesity rates and consequent increased mortality rates caused by diet related chronic diseases. Far from being an irrational decision of consumption, obesity is thus a direct consequence of the growth fetish, which led among others to the reorganization of a domestic food system and its dramatic consequences. Re-framing the concept of food security is therefore a necessity in order to question the implications of the dynamics of power within the neoliberal globalized food system. Consequently, degrowth, due to its multi-dimensional approach, can be considered as an adequate framework capable of addressing this issue in order to improve food security.
Start time: 11:15
Room: Nöjesteatern (Theater)
Track: Expanding Geographies of Degrowth