Hungry for Trade

How the poor pay for free trade

Posted: 9 May 2002

Author: John Madeley

Author Info: Zed Books, London, 2000, £9.99pb

He begins with the débâcle of the WTO Conference in Seattle in 1999. That provides a base for his argument that the fundamental need of our time for the poor of the world is food security. Far from increasing food security, the liberalisation of trade has undermined it.


The poorest nations of our world are losing out to the richest in the balance of trade. The poorest farmers are being forced away from food production for local needs to producing for First World markets at cheap prices. The major international corporations are tying up the control of food trade through patenting, and the way in which they are using the development of GM foods. John Madeley's demolition job on the structure of international trade and finance, and the work of WTO, is convincing - much more convincing than the optimism of the British Government's recent White Paper on globalisation. This is only the beginning of a long road of fresh thought and understanding. The task is to begin to construct achievable alternatives. This book finds hope in the processes of permaculture in agriculture, which has demonstrated its capacity to deliver for the poorest farmers of the world. It also places confidence in the development of the fair-trade movement. These are, however, small signs of what is possible. People of good will and vision in international politics, finance and trade need to join together with the poor and with the NG0s to seek new solutions. Macro as well as micro answers are needed quickly, if the gap between rich and poor is to stop growing ever wider. That is an urgent moral and spiritual challenge to us all. This book needs to be widely read.

Reviewer: Reverend John Gladwin

Reviewer Info: The Rt Revd John Gladwin is the Bishop of Guildford in England, UK.

This review first appeared in the London-based Church Times, 23 February 2001.