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Bittersweet harvests for global supermarkets

Challenges in Latin America's agricultural export boom

Chronicles the benefits and shortcomings of trade and structural adjustment policies promoted throughout Latin America and the Caribbean by the World Bank, the U.S. Agency for International Development, and other multinational agencies during the 1980s.

Executive Summary

Thanks to liberalized trade and development strategies with Latin America and the Caribbean, U.S. grocery stores now offer exotic fresh produce such as mangoes, raspberries, and snowpeas virtually year round. While this boom in "non-traditional" agroexports is yielding impressive economic returns for South American producers, it is also exacting a price: farm workers' failing health, social and economic inequity, and environmental degradation.

Bittersweet harvests is the first book to chronicle in detail both the benefits and shortcomings of trade and structural adjustment policies promoted throughout Latin America and the Caribbean by the World Bank, the U.S. Agency for International Development, and other multinational agencies during the 1980s. In some ways, the authors show, these policies have indeed succeeded. But they have also contributed to major social, economic, and environmental problems that, if left unchecked, could reverse important gains. Drawing on empirical research and face-to-face discussions with small farmers, farmworkers, and government policymakers in Latin America, Bittersweet harvests includes specific recommendations for guiding non-traditional agroexport policies onto a more sustainable path.

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