The Food and Agricultural Organization (FAO) of the United Nations defines food security as access by all people, at all times, to sufficient, safe and nutritious food to meet their dietary needs and food preferences for an active and healthy life. Three key components to food security according to FAO are:
Thanks to the “green revolution,” continuing productivity gains from biotechnology and advances in production technology, sufficient food is at least theoretically available to feed the world’s population. All too often, however, artificial trade policy barriers low incomes, and inadequate transportation, storage and marketing systems block food from flowing to people in need.
In every part of the world, adverse weather periodically affects food production. Agricultural trade is a common-sense, efficient safety net. For example, the droughts and fires that occurred in Australia in 2008 and 2009 made that country unable to fulfill many grain delivery contracts it had signed. Through international trade, the U.S., Ukraine and other countries stepped in to make up the shortfall. This occurs routinely; no country is immune from weather events, and all countries benefit from the trade safety net. Some countries have no alternative to trade.
The affordability of food is a major concern around the world. People in developed countries devote less than 20 percent of their income to food – in the United States, less than 10 percent – while in developing countries, more than half of household income is often spent on food. Better availability and more choice through trade can significantly reduce costs to consumers in the developing world.
Agricultural trade advances peace around the world because it fosters food security, socio-political stability, national security and enduring international partnerships. Economic integration, interdependency, and systems of mutual advantage through trade are powerful incentives for global political cooperation.