The great quinoa debate: does supplying western markets with exotics deny local people their staples?

Chris Smaje analyses the furore created by an article by Joanna Blythman on the damaging effects of quinoa exports and suggests “we need social statisticians . . . . [to gather and analyse], data about social practices such as farming in order to be able to answer the kind of questions that [agricultural economists pose] and therefore to interrogate the often lazy claims of journalists, politicians and thinktanks in support of preconceived notions about social welfare. [We also]. . . . need philosophers (or at least thinkers) to pose deeper questions about social welfare than is provided by simplistic assumptions about market integration and economic benefit. We need a more nuanced understanding than current economic models typically provide about the benefits or otherwise of global market integration in the food system.”

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