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Abstract

The notion of multifunctional agriculture has been actively researched from diverse disciplines including economics, ecology, sociology, and geography since emerged out of the Uruguay Round in the 1990s. In particular, the economics approach represents an attempt to tailor the concept of multifunctional agriculture to market-oriented WTO trade regime. The economics approach has been fundamentally troubled by the lack of concord among WTO member countries on the question of what constitutes multifunctional agriculture. Upon examining how differently the notion of multifunctional agriculture is perceived across the US, the EU, the Cairns group, the LDCs, and the developed food-importing countries (the G10), this article theorizes that multifunctional agriculture connotes different contents in different countries/regions that are determined by their particular agricultural problems, which are in turn shaped by the cultural, ecological and economic characteristics unique to each country. The theorizing undertakes to overcome the Euro-centrism that has dictated the discourse of multifunctional agriculture since the Uruguay Round Agreement on Agriculture (URAA). This article fills an important gap in the literature of social sciences concerning the concept of multifunctional agriculture by explicitly recognizing the wide diversity of contemporary agricultural problems across countries.

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