Geoff Tansey

Food is a key to avoiding World War III


Food-WWIIIIt is a mistake to talk about a book you plan to write. Well, rather foolishly, when I set up this website some years ago, I wrote that I was thinking of writing a book provisionally entitled Food is a Key to Avoiding World War 3. My mistake. Life has intervened - and I haven't been able to do that. Now Australian author and science writer Julian Cribb has written a book that covers much of the ground I would have needed to. 

His book Food or War takes a long look at how conflict over food, land and water runs through human history. He ends this dismal tale with a range of proposals to help humanity avoid what has been a recurring feature of human life – these conflicts leading to destructive wars. You can hear an interview on my blog with Julian in which he discusses the bleak history of the links between food and war and suggests what might be done to avoid them.

Part of the life that has intervened has been the creation of the Food Systems Academy website. This is an open education resource with a broad range of talks about different aspects of the food system – including one by Prof Paul Rogers 'The crucial century, 1945-2045: Transforming food systems in a global context'. In this he puts the challenges of transforming food systems in a global, human security context and argues that food is at the centre of the third great transition humankind has to go through.

When I wrote The Food System with Tony Worsley in the early 1990s he was in Australia. We did not meet again after spending a month together working on the synopsis in 1990. Thereafter, we swapped drafts over JANET – the joint academic network and precursor to the Web – and the book was published in 1995. With the more recent book, The Future Control of Food, we had several consultation meetings with a first draft that led to a restructuring of the book before it’s publication in 2008. Since I started this website and then that of the Food Systems Academy, a new way of sharing ideas and experience has grown enormously – blogging.

Rather than work on another book I have been blogging, as curator of the Food Systems Academy, as well as tweeting occasionally. I use interviews and conversations with a wide range of people as part of a process that contributes to helping shift the agenda towards the transformation of food systems which need to be part of that third great transition that will make for a fairer, safer, healthier world. I still think how humanity manages the food system is a key to avoiding future conflicts.


Sign up

Please sign up for my blog and follow my Tweets.

page and/or


Please contact me if you have any queries.

Please note, I will only respond to or take note of feedback from people using their own name and any relevant affiliation.



Listen to Paul Rogers' opening remarks to the roundtable I convened at the Agriculture, Food and Human Values Society in 2011. Paul is professor of Peace Studies at the University of Bradford and provides a broad context within which looking at how today's food system faces huge challenges. This a precursor to his talk for the Food Systems Academy.

Watch video