The necessity of transforming the current patterns of food production and consumption towards, healthy, sustainable and people-centred food systems has been highlighted today – World Food Day – so we can meet the global challenges of food insecurity, malnutrition and hunger.
World Food Day serves as a an important reminder that billions of people around the world are denied their right to food on a daily basis. According to the most recent figures released from the Food and Agricultural Organisation there are almost 850 million hungry people in the world today, the vast majority from developing countries. The number of people in the world who lack essential vitamins and minerals needed for a healthy body number up to 2 billion. 6 million children die every year from hunger, malnutrition and undernourishment.
The right to food is a fundamental human right that protects all human beings are to live in dignity without fear of hunger, malnutrition and food insecurity. It is essential to the enjoyment of all other rights; people who are never sure of where their next meal will come from, whose every ounce of energy is consumed in the struggle to feed themselves or their children, scarcely have time to worry about whether they can vote or whether their freedom of expression is guaranteed. You cannot eat the right to vote.
However, it is also clear that education, a functioning democracy, access to information and the freedom to demand ones rights are essential elements in ensuring that all people enjoy the right to food. Where there is a deficit of these rights, people often go hungry. According to development economist Amartya Sen, famines almost never happen in functioning democracies. Food security, democracy and the realization of fundamental economic, social, cultural, political and civil rights go hand in hand.
The world is faced with a food crisis of unprecedented proportions. Global food prices continue to rise, land grabs by large corporations and states in developing countries are contributing to the monopolization of land for commercial purposes, and farmers are struggling to survive and adapt to the impacts of climate change.
There now exists the paradoxical situation that for every hungry person in the developing world there is an overweight or obese person in the developed world. While hunger and malnutrition persist, the rates of diabetes, heart disease and other obesity related illness are increasing steadily.
The right to food is not about charity, it is about ensuring that all people have the means and the capacity to provide enough healthy and nutritious food for themselves.
Mary Robinson, founder of the Mary Robinson Foundation for Climate Justice, speaks about the importance of securing the Right to Food for all: