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Cambridge University Press
Online publication date:
May 2022
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Book description

The food industry is a notoriously complex economic sector that has not received the attention it deserves within legal scholarship. Production and distribution of food is complex because of its polycentric character (as it operates at the intersection of different public policies) and its dynamic evolution and transformation in the last few decades (from technological and governance perspectives). This volume introduces the global value chain approach as a useful way to analyse competition law and applies it to the operations of food chains and the challenges of their regulation. Together, the chapters not only provide a comprehensive mapping of a vast comparative field, but also shed light on the intricacies of the various policies and legal fields in operation. The book offers a conceptual and theoretical framework for competition authorities, companies and academics, and fills a massive gap in the competition policy literature dealing with global value chains and food.


'This book is an invaluable contribution to the analysis of politically important, complex and often ignored competition issues related to the global food value chain. It discusses the intellectual property regime of fertilizers and seeds, the imbalance in negotiating power along the chain that have exploitative and exclusionary effects, the horizontal concentration reinforced by mergers and the role of international trade and cartels in a number of agricultural inputs, as well as the abuses of buying power by large scale retailers. It analyzes why competition law enforcement has largely failed to deal with those issues and provides a powerful and thought provoking invitation to rethink both the goals and the instruments we use. In short, it is a must read.'

Frederic Jenny - President, OECD Competition Committee

'This collection is a ground-breaking exploration of a quiet global economic transformation by way of Global Value Chains epitomized by the food industry. Chapter by chapter, it paints a large canvass revealing new sources of power and describes how the gains are allocated (from vulnerable to powerful, from developing to developed countries).  This comprehensive book will surely prod major rethinking of the traditional paradigms of antitrust analysis to account holistically for the new global realities.'

Eleanor Fox - Walter J. Derenberg Professor of Trade Regulation at New York University School of Law

'Global Food Value Chains and Competition Law has a reach that goes far beyond the specialized technical focus suggested by its title. It deals with a subject of vast practical importance: food security for humanity. It asks how the world's population can be fed under a regime that prevents commercial intermediaries from seizing the lion's share of the gains of this most indispensable form of trade. It explores the ways in which producers in the food-producing economies can be fairly and attractively remunerated without putting the rest of the world on its knees. Competition and competition law represent only the surface of a solution. The countries that feed the world must be helped to turn their agricultural systems into departments of the knowledge economy, based on advanced science, technology, and practice, to enhance productivity without compromising nature. And the countries that consume the food must become their partners in this transformation. The commercial intermediaries and the financial interests associated with them must be put in their place. And national governments must step forward to give a decisive example of how the world can govern itself, through cooperation among sovereign states, without world government.'

Roberto Mangabeira Unger - Roscoe Pound Professor of Law, Harvard Law School

'A really fascinating collection of different point of view, in a very complex and fast evolving area of law. The authors however maintain an impressive theoretical consistency and interdisciplinary ambition. This is legal scholarship at its prime.'

Ugo Mattei - The Alfred and Hanna Fromm Distinguished Professor Emeritus University of California Hastings. Professor of Civil Law, University of Turin, Italy

'This book is essential reading for anyone interested in the next frontier of competition policy. A phenomenal amount of economic activity, production and international trade takes place in the context of Global Value Chains. As antitrust increasingly intersects with geopolitics, a rigorous understanding of GVCs becomes vital to both antitrust scholarship and anti-monopoly campaigning. The GVC concept also contains an intriguing possibility: it allows us to think of dominance beyond the confines of an artificial domestic market. In so doing, it opens up the possibility for an entirely different way of thinking about corporate power, extraction of value and competition, at home and abroad. This book is the first such treatise to integrate GVC thinking into competition law.'

Michelle Meagher - Co-Founder at Balanced Economy Project; author of Competition is Killing Us - How Big Business is Harming Our Society and Planet - and What To Do About It

'This important volume advances our understanding of food markets by providing an analytical framework and empirical analysis that interfaces global value chains and competition law and economics.'

Professor Imraan Valodia - Dean, Faculty of Commerce, Law and Management, University of the Witwatersrand, Johannesburg, and Director: Southern Centre for Inequality Studies (SCIS)

'As Seneca, the Stoic philosopher of imperial Rome, expressed in 'The brevity of life', food is confirmed to be the mirror of reality. By observing the way in which man relates to the meal, in fact, useful information is gathered on human values, juridical and non-juridical. In this perspective, I would like to recommend the reading of this collective book to nourish not the body, as we usually do, but the individual sensitivity and knowledge of a topic that has already a seminal importance and it will have more and more. Indeed, in the incoming years, we will be forced to face traditional and new legal and economic issues, for example, in governing the food value chain or in financing the agriculture as much as other issues of paramount importance for the human being that this book already considers, analyzes and tries to solve giving deeply technical solutions.'

Guido Alpa - Professor of Civil Law at the Faculty of Law of the University of Rome La Sapienza

'To stress the importance of this collective book, I would like to use the words of President John F. Kennedy who, in his Remarks at the Opening Session of the World Food Congress (June 4, 1963), paraphrased the idea of another President of the United States, Franklin Roosevelt, who '… at the launching of the first World Food Congress, declared that freedom from want and freedom from fear go hand in hand, and that is true today'. The relevance of food and its value chains, not merely at a national level but at a global one, is in the public eyes and this relevance is increasing year by year. Therefore, it is thanks to practical and technical works, such as Global Food Value Chains and Competition Law, that we can clearly understand the actual and future trends of a sector that have the utmost importance on the life of each single living being.'

Ettore Maria Lombardi - Professor of Private Law, University of Florence

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