26 Nov 2012

Academic suggests better scrutiny of trade deals to ensure food sovereignty

4:25 pm on 26 November 2012

A Monash University academic, Dr Jagjit Plahe says Pacific Island countries should take a closer look at free trade agreements before entering into them.

Dr Plahe's research in the region has found freer international trade is moving Pacific countries away from creating food sovereignty for their citizens.

Dr Plahe says most developing nations sign up to international trade treaties in order to be part of a bigger market, but they must also give up a lot.

"Vanuatu acceeded to the WTO [World Trade Organisation] under very onerous terms. The kind of terms they agreed to were not even agreed to by Australia. So a very small country with 200,000 people is agreeing to these terms where they are actually relinquishing their control over agriculture."

Dr Plahe says the study's wide cross section of interviews found agreement that local people should be able to feed themselves, have the rights to resources and have more of a say in agricultural policies, particularly those related to trade.