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Food for all 

Food is an essential need. To ensure that there is enough food for all, for everyone to be ‘food secure’, means that food must be available and affordable.  

What is food security?

Food security exists when all people, at all times, have physical and economic access to enough safe and nutritious food to meet their dietary needs and food preferences for an active and healthy lifestyle. World Food Summit, 1996

The amount and quality of the food available can be affected by factors such as climate, disasters, war, population size, agricultural practices, social status and trade. Whilst the cost of food is affected by shortages which result in increased prices which only richer people can afford.  These price increases may be artificially raised by traders to increase their profits. People also need to have the means to prepare food to obtain the full nutritional benefit.

Food shortages can exist in wealthy countries such as the UK, where 13 million people live below the poverty line. Every day people in the UK go hungry for reasons ranging from redundancy to receiving an unexpected bill on a low income and Foodbanks such as the Trussell Trust provide three days emergency food aid.  

Globally there are almost one billion people who do not get enough healthy food to eat regularly and as a result suffer from malnutrition, ill health and a shorter life expectancy. They may go into debt as their savings are used up and be unable to afford healthcare, education and energy to heat their homes as more of their income is needed to buy basic food. In the UK during 2012-13 foodbanks fed 346,992 people nationwide, the numbers using food banks are increasing each year and families have to choose between eating or heating.  

Share the world’s resources www.sharing.org  

What can be done? 

There has been a concern for many years that food production, processing, distribution, marketing and retailing has been in the hands of a small number of large corporations. These corporations dominate most aspects of the global food system wiping out competition and giving them enormous power to control markets and pricing, and enabling them to influence food and agricultural regulations.  

This imbalance has led to the development of a movement across the globe which emphasises the importance Food Sovereignty.  

What is food sovereignty? 

Food sovereignty puts the people who produce, distribute and consume food at the centre of decisions on food systems and policies, and not the markets and corporations. Movements of people across the world are fighting for food sovereignty.

La Via Campesina

is the largest social movement in the world bringing together more than 200 million small and medium-scale farmers, landless people, women farmers, indigenous peoples, migrants and agricultural workers from 70 countries. 

The six pillars of food sovereignty:  

Food for people: The right to food which is healthy and culturally appropriate is the basic legal demand underpinning food sovereignty. It should not be seen as a commodity to be traded or speculated on for profit.  

Values food providers: Food sovereignty asserts food providers’ right to live and work in dignity and not to suffer violence, marginalisation and racism from corporate landowners and governments.  

Localises food systems: Food must be seen primarily as sustenance for the community and only secondarily as something to be traded. Under food sovereignty, local and regional provision takes precedence over supplying distant markets, and export-orientated agriculture is rejected.  

Puts control locally: Food sovereignty respects the rights of local food providers and places control over territory, land, grazing, water, seeds, fish and fish populations on them. They can use and share them in socially and environmentally sustainable ways which conserve diversity. Privatisation of such resources, for example through intellectual property rights regimes or commercial contracts, is explicitly rejected.  

Builds knowledge and skills: Food sovereignty calls for appropriate research systems to support the development of agricultural knowledge and skills and rejects technologies, such as genetic engineering, that undermine food providers’ ability to develop and pass on knowledge and skills needed for localised food systems.  

Works with nature: Food sovereignty requires production and distribution systems that protect natural resources and reduce greenhouse gas emissions, avoiding energy-intensive industrial methods that damage the environment and the health of those that inhabit it.   

So according to WDM, the World Development Movement, the difference between Food sovereignty and Food security is that: 

Food sovereignty goes beyond the concept of food security that the big aid donors and neoliberal international institutions prefer. Food security simply aims to ensure that people have sufficient food to eat. It is not concerned about how this food is produced, nor the means by which people might attain this fundamental right. By contrast, food sovereignty requires not just that everyone is properly fed, but that the food system that feeds us is just and sustainable. 

World Development Movement www.wdm.org.uk