Friday, January 21, 2011

UN Human Rights Declaration on Food

The UN Human Rights Declaration guarantees our right to adequate food, but this most certainly doesn't simply guarantee that we won't go to bed hungry.  Let's take a closer look:

8. The Committee considers that the core content of the right to adequate food implies:

  • The availability of food in a quantity and quality sufficient to satisfy the dietary needs of individuals, free from adverse substances, and acceptable within a given culture;
  • The accessibility of such food in ways that are sustainable and that do not interfere with the enjoyment of other human rights.
    9. Dietary needs implies that the diet as a whole contains a mix of nutrients for physical and mental growth, development and maintenance, and physical activity that are in compliance with human physiological needs at all stages throughout the life cycle and according to gender and occupation. Measures may therefore need to be taken to maintain, adapt or strengthen dietary diversity and appropriate consumption and feeding patterns, including breast-feeding, while ensuring that changes in availability and access to food supply as a minimum do not negatively affect dietary composition and intake.

    10. Free from adverse substances sets requirements for food safety and for a range of protective measures by both public and private means to prevent contamination of foodstuffs through adulteration and/or through bad environmental hygiene or inappropriate handling at different stages throughout the food chain; care must also be taken to identify and avoid or destroy naturally occurring toxins.

    11. Cultural or consumer acceptability implies the need also to take into account, as far as possible, perceived non nutrient-based values attached to food and food consumption and informed consumer concerns regarding the nature of accessible food supplies.

    12. Availability refers to the possibilities either for feeding oneself directly from productive land or other natural resources, or for well functioning distribution, processing and market systems that can move food from the site of production to where it is needed in accordance with demand.

    13. Accessibility encompasses both economic and physical accessibility

The principal obligation is to take steps to achieve progressively the full realization of the right to adequate food. This imposes an obligation to move as expeditiously as possible towards that goal
15. The right to adequate food, like any other human right, imposes three types or levels of obligations on States parties: the obligations to respect, to protect and to fulfil. ... The obligation to respect existing access to adequate food requires States parties not to take any measures that result in preventing such access. The obligation to protect requires measures by the State to ensure that enterprises or individuals do not deprive individuals of their access to adequate food. The obligation to fulfil (facilitate) means the State must pro-actively engage in activities intended to strengthen people’s access to and utilization of resources and means to ensure their livelihood, including food security. 
19. Violations of the right to food can occur through the direct action of States or other entities insufficiently regulated by States. These include: the formal repeal or suspension of legislation necessary for the continued enjoyment of the right to food; denial of access to food to particular individuals or groups, whether the discrimination is based on legislation or is pro-active; 

What do you think?  In your opinion, do grocery store eggs, produced by hens that never see the light of day, provide you with adequate nutrition as guaranteed by the UN?

Are you comfortable that those eggs are free from adverse substances and that proper steps have been taken to prevent contamination?

Do people with accessibility issues, especially if they buy their groceries at convenience stores because there is no grocery store within a 20 minute walk, enjoy sufficient access to healthy nutrients? 

And lastly, shouldn't our municipal leaders, just like our national leaders, be open to the possibilities for feeding ourselves directly from our own productive land in sustainable ways that do not interfere with the enjoyment of other human rights as guaranteed by the United Nations?

For more on this, you might wish to read about CLUCK founder Paul Hughes legal challenge on this very subject:  Link to Trial Brief

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