Dr. Palma looks at some of the policies that have an impact on food security and she provides an example of how multilevel governance operates in practice; with special emphasis on WTO regulations from the Agreement on Agriculture.

In this chapter, Dr. Palma looks at some of the policies found in precepts with special emphasis on WTO regulations from the Agreement on Agriculture that have an impact on food security and provides an example of how multilevel governance operates in practice. The jumping-off point of this analysis is that achieving food security is taking a predominant role in both national and international agendas. It is a challenge to ensure food supply for a growing population, but especially when people are still suffering from hunger and malnutrition. However, undernourishment and malnourishment are not the only concerns when it comes to food security. In a world where famines and undernourishment are causes of poverty, crucial questions arise as to how to address food security. The discussion on food security is anchored in three dimensions: food production, food trade and investment in food. The interplay of these dimensions in the battle against food insecurity, from a regulatory standpoint, is complex. To ensure food security, policies have been targeted across all the relevant areas, namely food availability, accessibility, utilization, and stability. Some of the discussion examines how food production policies increase yield by optimizing productivity per area, reducing waste, and having governmental support for farming policies and technologies. What is important to note that farmers and consumers have different interests, which leads them to support different agendas in trade liberalization. Parts of the policies contribute to food security but some may actually appear as obstacles. Important is that such layers of governance are taken into account when drafting public policies. In balance, trade regulation plays a crucial role that should be considered when drafting public policies across the governance layers. Even though regulations cannot benefit all groups equally, the minimum principle would be that they do not expressively harm other groups by creating situations of a disadvantage as seen in the Costa Rican rice case. For instance, the WTO aims to have a balanced playing field for all member countries, where countries that ‘have the means’ to subsidize are given stronger limits and countries that do not have the means are given more flexibility. The WTO also recognizes that liberalization is not the only avenue towards food security and that it will not automatically lead to a recovery of the food production in poor countries, but that liberalization should be accompanied by other internal policies, especially those concerning income distribution and farmer support without bias. In the example of Costa Rican rice, the situation is now that poor consumers are affected and the only way forward would be to transform national food security policies that are obsolete. Since subsidies are present in other economies and even the closest deals at trade development rounds have not come to a good port, the national policies are meant to cope with this imbalance and take advantage of the free trade agreements in place, so that benefits can reach all groups with a strong national food security strategy. Given the actual situation, then for the case of Costa Rica and in order to take advantage of rice prices, free trade, and consumers’ food security, price liberalization seems to be the way forward.