Disentangling the consensus frame of food security

Published on
January 3, 2014


Candel, J.J.L., Breeman, G.E., Stiller, S.J. & Termeer, C.J.A.M. (2014). Disentangling the consensus frame of food security: the case of the EU Common Agricultural Policy reform debate. Food Policy, 44: 47-58.


This article addresses which food security frames can be identified in the Common Agricultural Policy (CAP) post-2013 reform process, and which actors deploy particular food security frames. The concept of frames refers to relatively distinct and coherent sets of meaning attributed to a concept, such as food security. The article shows that in the European Union (EU) food security is a consensus frame which can be broken down in six conflicting and overlapping sub-frames and which has complicated the debates about the future of the CAP. We demonstrate that during the CAP-reform debates of 2009–2012 a variety of food security arguments were deployed by a broad range of stakeholders, who attached different meanings and made different claims about the relationship between the CAP and food security. Inductive frame analysis reveals that the consensus frame of food security can be broken down into six conflicting and overlapping sub-frames: (1) the productionist frame, (2) the environmental frame, (3) the development frame, (4) the free trade frame, (5) the regional frame, and (6) the food sovereignty frame. Each of these frames was invoked by a specific group of stakeholders, whereby the productionist and environmental frames were deployed most often. The European Commission, meanwhile, invoked various frames at the same time in its communications. As a result of these various framings of the relationship between the CAP and food security, a clear political vision on this relationship is lacking. We conclude that politicians and policymakers may need to develop a coherent vision on what food security entails, and on how the CAP could contribute to both European and global food security.


  • Common Agricultural Policy;
  • Food security;
  • Framing;
  • Consensus frame;
  • European Union;
  • Food policy