Humans are omnivorous animals that can consume both plant and animal products. We changed from gatherers to hunter gatherers. After the experience of the Ice Age it is probable that humans wanted to create some feeling of security by controlling what plants were growing and which animals were available. This led to agriculture, which has continually improved and altered the way in which food is obtained.
In societies where the availability of food has risen above subsistence levels and beyond staple foods, food is also sold pre-prepared for immediate consumption in restaurants and other similar retail premises. In industrial societies, meals often contain a higher proportion of food of animal origin.
At the start of the 21st century, a two-tier structure has arisen, with a few international food processing giants controlling a wide range of well known food brands; with a populous number of small local or national food processing companies.
Food is now traded on a global basis. The variety and availability of food is no longer restricted by the diversity of locally grown food or the limitations of the local growing season. Between 1961 and 1999 there has been a 400% increase in worldwide food exports. Some countries are now economically dependant on food exports, which in some cases account for over 80% of all exports.
In 1994 trade liberalisation began when over 100 countries became signatories to the Uruguay Round of the General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade which included an agreement to reduce subsidies paid to farmers. This is underpinned by the WTO enforcement of agricultural subsidy, tariffs, import quotas and settlement of trade disputes that cannot be bilaterally resolved. Where trade barriers are raised on the disputed grounds of public health and safety, the WTO refer the dispute to the Codex Alimentarius Commission, which was founded in 1962 by the United NationsSource | Copyright