Date of Award


Document Type

Open Access Thesis

Degree Name

Master of Arts in Leadership (MAL)




Until recent decades, food was produced entirely by organic methods by farming communities who depended on adapting seeds within specific ecosystems and local ecological knowledge. This traditional approach to agriculture generated a wealth of vital genetically diverse seeds and plants. Since 1960, peasant communities have contributed 1.9 million varieties of plants to the world's seed banks. In today's food economy, one and half billion peasant farmers continue to rely on seed saving, local ecological knowledge and produce 70% of the world's food. The remaining thirty per cent of food produced by the agribusiness approach to farming that emerged in the last century. This approach operates on an industrial model and is dependent on producing a limited variety of crops, corporate-owned seed and synthetic fertilizers, and expanding access to markets globally. Despite the proven leadership of peasant agriculture as custodians of agricultural diversity, in a global economy shaped by the organizing principles of the agribusiness approach to agriculture, peasant farming communities on every continent are struggling to retain access to land and the right to food and seed sovereignty. This paper will explore the complex web of factors that shape today's food economy.


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