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Article

Продовольственная безопасность: российский контекст

From the mid-2000 the specter of hunger and shortages began to fade away. Paradoxically, in that context, the concept of “food security” became a central reference in political discourses. Simultaneously, the negotiations for Russia’s accession to the WTO were conducted. This concept appeared earlier in the 1990’s on the marginal wings of the political spectrum, in the political programmes of the communist party, struggling against liberalization programmes and transition policies. However, during the 1990’s, it has been keeping a low visibility and had no concrete legal prospects. Furthermore, the concept in itself does not belong to the lexicon of Russian agriculture and food policies. It emerged from the debate organized in the arenas of International Organizations, such as the FAO earlier in the 1970’s. The aim of this article is to unfold this paradox and to demonstrate how this concept circulated from the arenas of international public debate to specific domestic contexts and how it has been reformulated and translated by actors. Based on a constructivist epistemology, demonstrating the process of social and political construction of the economy, this research shows how public policies and reforms in the agricultural sector have been designed and discussed. Agriculture has been a major issue of public debate, agrarian lobby groups being very active in lobbying against liberalization, and WTO accession. They deeply shaped the global perception of Russian agriculture as a specific sector requiring enhanced state regulation and support. However, this perspective has not always been validated by state officials. We start from a review of the literature drawing the broad spectrum of available definitions for the concept of food security. We argue that according to the political balance of power, the concept’s content of food security has been substantially modified since 1990: during the transition period, social instability does not allow to adopt restrictive food policies. The context dramatically evolves in the 2000’s, when both trade liberalization processes and a sharp increase in food production legitimizes food security as a core component of National security.