Evolution of Agrifood System in China Since the 1980s: A Food Regime Perspective

Monday, 16 July 2018: 18:00
Oral Presentation
Jingsong LI, Zhejiang University, China
This research adopts the ‘food regime’ concept to analyse the evolution of agrifood system in China since the 1980s, in order to justify different trajectories for potential transitions. Driven by internal and external pressures, China has experienced the farming land reforms, the privatization of agrifood sectors since the mid-1990s, and the agricultural structural adjustments and associated institutional arrangements (such as intellectual property laws) in accordance with the Agreement on Agriculture of the WTO since 2001; and all these changes have consistently led to an agro-industrial regime. Meanwhile, evidence also shows that, in the last two decades the role of corporate in China has become increasingly important in food trade and food retail sectors, which means that to a certain degree a neo-liberal, corporate food regime has come into being. Given the fact that, recently exposed food scandals and the pollution from agriculture have caused the erosion of consumers’ trust on food industries and the industrial farming patterns, the ‘quality turn’ of the society indicates an emerging ‘hybrid’ value systems and new dimensions of food regimes. The new dimensions have different emphasis, such as environment, nutrition and public health. As contradictory relations and conflicting values within food regimes might produce crisis, transformation, and transition to successor regimes (McMichael 2009), these divergent and sometimes competing claims on agrifood system bring the opportunities for change. However, the direction of regime change depend largely on the power relations among interest groups. To further explore the trajectories for potential transitions, the analysis thus focuses on the changing narratives on agrifood in China and the dialogues/negotiations with international communities, and the consistency and contestation among those narratives and dialogues.