Ven. Bhikkhu Bodhi
The April 2015 issue of Against the Grain, the online bulletin of GRAIN, an international organization that supports small farmers in their struggle for social justice, features a report titled “Reform in Reverse: Laws taking Land Out of Small Farmers’ Hands.” The report details the changes in laws and land policies that in recent years have been gaining momentum in Asia, to the detriment of small-scale agriculture. Traditionally, Asia’s agricultural base has consisted of small farmers, who are among the most efficient and productive in the world, able to produce 44 % of the world’s cereals. This agricultural system, however, is being undermined from within by an agenda that puts the profit of large agribusiness corporations above the well-being of millions of small farmers and the populations they feed.
Ven. Bhikkhu Bodhi
A new report from the UN’s Special Rapporteur on the Right to Food maintains that the right to food, poverty alleviation, and the reduction of global carbon emissions can all be facilitated by transitioning from the industrial model of agriculture to an agro-ecological system that benefits small-scale producers.
Middle-class Americans take it for granted that whatever hardships we face in life, we can always count on food appearing on the table. Supermarkets feature well-stocked shelves, restaurants bustle with business, and the choice of cuisines available to us would even dazzle Old World aristocrats. But the great majority of the world’s peoples don’t enjoy such blessings. For them, the task of feeding their families is a challenge they face anew each day. Chronic hunger and malnutrition afflict close to 850 million people; another billion subsist on sub-standard diets; and billions more spend a huge portion of their income, even as much as half, on their humble meals of rice, wheat, or corn.
The International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights recognizes the right to food as integral to a satisfactory standard of living, affirming “the right of every individual, alone or in community with others, to have physical and economic access at all times to sufficient, adequate and culturally acceptable food that is produced and consumed sustainably, preserving access to food for future generations.” Yet too often this right is neglected or trampled upon. To remedy this situation, in 2000 the UN Commission on Human Rights established the post of UN Special Rapporteur on the Right to Food. Since 2008, this position has been held by Olivier De Schutter, who has spent the past six years seeking ways to ensure that the right to food is fully realized. His final report, issued in March, documents his conclusions and recommendations. Though written in the cool, impersonal language of the policy expert, the report conveys a truly bold message with transformative implications for the future of the global food system.
Posted in Food security, Global Hunger, News item, Politics & food justice
Tagged agro-ecology, Bhikkhu Bodhi, Climate change, food justice, Global hunger, Olivier De Schutter, right to food, sustainable agriculture, UN Rapporteur on Right to Food, Via Campesina
A new report by the Natural Resources Defense Council takes a close look at one significant – and eminently solveable – world hunger problem: the wasting of food at every step of our food supply. The report, “Wasted: How America Is Losing Up to 40 Percent of Its Food from Farm to Fork to Landfill” (PDF file), also illustrates the interdependence of our food supply, our use of energy, and our impact on the environment.
Dana Gunders, report author and an NRDC food and agriculture project scientist, treats the reader to a detailed description of America’s food waste problem and practical solutions. The report traces our systems of food production, processing, distribution, consumption and disposal, identifying inefficiencies and losses at each step of these interlinked systems. (The report is worth reading even if only for its patient walk-through of the realities of the food system in the United States.) Continue reading