Lay then the axe to the root and teach governments humanity. Thomas Paine, 1737-1809
Core arguments The book has shown clear tensions in the policy framework that shapes food systems. These are the Food Wars. The Productionist paradigm that dominated the 20th century is under stress. It cannot cope with the complexity of demands for change in relation to both human and environmental health, and at the same time remain economically or societally viable. The two emerging paradigms – the Life Sciences Integrated and Ecologically Integrated paradigms – offer increasingly coherent versions of modernisation and vie for the attention of policymakers, supply chains and the public. The terrain is fissured by the competing demands and evidence from business, government and civil society. As ever, the relationship between evidence and policy formulation is problematic and politicised. A period of experimentation is underway in which new solutions to the various crises outlined in the book are being proposed by the corporate sector, suppliers, NGOs and social movements, who vie to win the battle for consumer culture and state attention. They compete over where the public interest lies. A feature of the Food Wars is where and how to draw the line between individual, sectoral and public interest. Currently, the likely ‘winner’ in the paradigmatic struggle to replace Productionism is the Life Sciences Integrated paradigm. It offers a new vision of major change within the tradition that Productionists like. The Life Sciences Integrated paradigm is itself fractured, with some seeing this as a technical fix on a new scale, while others think eco-systems really do require completely new protection. Life Science dominance is also vulnerable to rising bodies of evidence about food’s impact on society, not just health and eco-systems. Social divisions are massive within and between societies. Geopolitics is putting this under further strain. This and
rising externalised costs, together with the realisation that their own lives and health are at stake, may alter the preparedness of consumers to act, not just think, like citizens with a long-term commitment to ecological sustainability, which is the core of a new ecological public health. The Food Wars look set to continue, but the actors, positions and evidence which may shape their outcome become ever clearer.