The Right to Food as a Human Right

The right to adequate food should not be defined in a narrow sense which equates it with a minimum amount of calories, proteins and other specific nutrients.

According to the UN Special Rapporteur on the Right to Food, Olivier De Schutter :

The right to food is the right to have regular, permanent and unrestricted access, either directly or by means of financial purchases, to quantitatively and qualitatively adequate and sufficient food corresponding to the cultural traditions of the people to which the consumer belongs, and which ensure a physical and mental, individual and collective, fulfilling and dignified life free of fear”.

Olivier De Schutter calls on States in a recent report to take urgent measures to help small agricultural producers, which are crushed by an agribusiness chain which is increasingly concentrated in the hands of multinationals, which are bulk buyers of agricultural commodities and also act as retailers. Small producers are in a weak position to negotiate their prices and often suffer from abuses on the part of buyers.
States should therefore come to the aid of small producers and encourage the multinationals to change their prices and practices, which are becoming increasingly restrictive. His report proposes 7 ideas for improving the situation of family producers. They include for instance reinforcing the labour rights of agricultural workers, creating co-operatives or even putting in place public authorities entrusted with buying harvests at profitable prices for producers and re-selling these at affordable prices to the population at large.

See also a 2008 World Bank report
on agriculture for development.