Revolution Reconsidered: Evolving Perspectives on Livestock Production and Consumption
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Over the last two decades much has been written about the on-going re-structuring of the global food system and its regional, national and local manifestations (McMichael 1993; Goss et al. 2000; Busch and Bain 2004; Konefal et al. 2005; Thompson and Scoones 2009). Often associated with processes of globalisation and driven by corporate interests, this restructuring is evident in both incremental and radical transitions in relation to scale, concentration, governance, sourcing strategies and technology. In some places these changes have engendered a degree of resistance in the form of new interest in ‘local food’, quality, social and environmental certification, provenance and food sovereignty. These transitions have had and will continue to have important implications for rural livelihoods, poverty, food security, social justice and the environment in both the developed and developing worlds. Like other parts of the food system, the production, processing, distribution, sale and consumption of meat and livestock products have been affected by these processes of restructuring. With a particular focus on the developing world, ongoing and projected transitions in the consumption and production of livestock products have been termed the ‘Livestock Revolution’ (LR) (Delgado et al. 1999c). In a nutshell the LR highlights accelerated growth in demand for livestock products in parts of the developing world, tied to human population growth, rising incomes, continuing urbanisation and changing food preferences. The notion of the LR – with its promise of diet diversity, better nutrition and health, and also economic opportunities for small-scale producers – is one of the most powerful ideas to emerge in the areas of food, nutrition and agricultural development over the last decade. This paper takes a critical look at the state of the debate around the LR, with a particular focus on sub-Saharan Africa. In the next section we explore the argument as it was originally put forward. We then trace how this has been developed and critiqued in the 15 years since it was first presented. The last section before a brief conclusion introduces the notion of pathways as developed by the STEPS Centre, and argues that it provides a useful lens through which to understand the poverty, social justice and sustainability implications associated with changes in the livestock sector.
CitationSumberg, J. and Thompson, J. (2013) Revolution Reconsidered: Evolving Perspectives on Livestock Production and Consumption, STEPS Working Paper 52, Brighton: STEPS Centre
Is part of seriesSTEPS Working paper;52
- ESRC STEPS Centre