Tim Lang, professor of food policy at Thames Valley University The trouble that erupted at the G8 in Genoa last weekend appeared initially to have nothing to do with the modern food world. Food began to globalise millennia ago and certainly five centuries ago when the Old World discovered' and colonised the New. Spices, potatoes, tomatoes, rice, wheat, fruits­ the list is endless of foods that have been moved around the world. Fortunes were made (and lost) in the process. And yet the new world of food, with its global brands and astonishing corporate control, sits at the heart of the challenge posed by the tens of thousands of peaceful demonstrators at Genoa (tarring them with the violent few is like blaming good companies for bad ones). For the past two decades, there has been a restructuring of food trade rules to facilitate cross-border exchange and market take-over. Primarily, this has happened, not at the global level, but at the regional. Here in Europe, this is symbolised by the 1987 Single Market. Similar processes are happening elsewhere: NAFTA linking Canada, the US and Mexico; Mercosur in Latin America; APEC linking the East and Western seaboards of the Pacific. Globally, the 1994 General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade (GATT) committed signatory nations (all bar China, but it too is joining) to liberalise food and agriculture. This is a bonanza for brands but threatening for poor farmers and countries living by exporting. Commodity prices have plummeted, debts have risen; and as a result inequalities within and between nations are at unprecedented levels. Hunger stalks nearly 1 billion people. The food industry needs to think carefully about its 21st century role. Is it going to carry on going for global growth or help re-localise food supply chains? Can it act as corporate citizen, not greedy consumerist? Questions for us all. {{NEWS }}