Agricultural Subsidies’ Effect on Obesity and Food Security

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Agricultural subsidies have been in use by most industrialized nations of the world since the 1920s (Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia). These subsidies are meant to keep food prices stable, increase income from food exports and stabilize farm income. This is done by direct payments in the form of grants to farmers, usually based on how much and what kind of product they produce. Trade barriers implemented by developed nations also subsidize farm products indirectly (Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia). The current subsidy policies of the European Union, the United States, and other developed nations have had devastating effects worldwide. The use of agricultural subsidies is a major cause of the current obesity epidemic and undermines farmers of the third world, eventually leading to agricultural instability and distorted market values.

In just two and a half decades the rate of obesity in the United States has more than tripled. In 1985 less than ten percent of Americans were obese. As of July 2011, 33.8 percent of adults and 17 percent of children are obese ( Center for Desase Control). This is a disturbing trend that is being directly influenced by the use of agricultural subsidies. Many notable politicians, journalists, economists, and nutritionists have argued that the removal of agricultural subsidies would be a good first step to fighting the obesity epidemic because they make fattening foods cheap and abundant (Alston, Rickard and Okrent). The act of paying farmers to overproduce has also changed the demographic that is obese. Before the industrial revolutions food was far too expensive to be able to afford enough to become obese. Being overweight was both a luxury and a symbol of one’s wealth. Today obesity has become b...

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... third world will continue to be unable to compete in the world markets and in many cases not even be able to feed themselves without relying on food grown thousands of miles away.

Works Cited

Center for Desase Control. Center for Diease Control "U.S. Obesity Trends". 21 July 2011. 18 November 2011.

Alston, Julian M., Bradley J. Rickard and Abigail M. Okrent. "Farm Policy and Obesity in the United States." 2010. Choices. 10 October 2011.

Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia. Agricultural Subsidies. 2011. 14 October 2011.

Elinder, Liselotte Schafer. "Obesity, hunger and agriculture: the damaging role of subsidies." Brish Medical Journal (2005): 1333-1336.

Gonzalez, Carmen G. "Institutionalizing Inequility: The WTO Agreement on Agriculture, Food Security and Developing Countries." Columbia Journal of Enviromental Law (2002): 431-487.
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