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Abstract 

This article critiques the notion of food security through trade promoted by suprastate organizations like the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization, the World Bank, and the World Trade Organization. We use and refine the food-regime perspective to contest this unwritten rule of the neoliberal food regime. Rather than “mutual dependency” in food between “North” and “South,” as argued by Philip McMichael, however, we show that food dependency has been stronger on basic foods in developing countries, while advanced capitalist countries' dependency has been mostly on luxury foods. Also, the more that developing countries become dependent on food imports and exports, the more they will be importing the “world food price” for the relevant commodities. Food-price inflation will more adversely affect their working classes, which spend larger shares of their household budgets on food. Our empirical focus is on food dependency in emerging nations—Brazil, China, India, Mexico, and Turkey—in comparison with long-standing agricultural exporting powerhouses, the United States and Canada. Using longitudinal data from FAOSTAT, we show that food security in the neoliberal food regime can best be characterized as “uneven and combined dependency.”