The concept of ‘Food Security’ reigns supreme as the practical means of achieving access to food (Madeley, 2000)[i]. The term is largely a United Nations construct, originating from the institution’s Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) formed in 1945.
The organisation defines food security as when “all people, at all times, have physical and economic access to sufficient, safe and nutritious food to meet their dietary needs and food preferences for an active and healthy life”.[ii]
Despite the problems associated with food aid (see text), the FAO decided food security would be best achieved with unilateral cooperation; hence the 1996 Rome Declaration on World Food Security where participating states reaffirmed “the right of everyone to have access to safe and nutritious food, consistent with the right to adequate food and the fundamental right of everyone to be free from hunger”.[iii]
This spawned the Millennium Development Goal Target 3, to ‘halve, between 1990 and 2015, the proportion of people who suffer from hunger’.
More recently, the concept of ‘Food Sovereignty’ has gained prominence. The term, which refers to the right to produce food on one’s own territory, was coined by the NGO La Vía Campesina in 2002. This includes the right of peoples to sustain themselves and define their own agricultural, labour, fishing, food and land policies which are ecologically, socially, economically and culturally appropriate to their circumstances.[iv]
It defines seven principles of food sovereignty which are: the right to food, agrarian reform, protecting natural resources, reorganising food trade, ending the globalisation of hunger, social peace, and democratic control. As Jefferson Boyer states, the notion of “food sovereignty was a direct attack on official food security, especially its eschewal of local production.”[v]
[i] John Madeley (2000) Hungry for Trade, London: Zed Books.
[ii] FAO (2005) Food and Agriculture Organisation [on-line] www.fao.org (accessed 25th June 2009).
[iii] Rome Declaration, [Ref required ???]
[iv] La Vía Campesina, www.viacampesina.org accessed 29 June 2009.
[v] Jefferson Boyer (April 2010) ‘Food security, food sovereignty, and local challenges for transnational agrarian movements: the Honduras case’, the Journal of Peasant Studies, vol. 37, no. 2, 319-351.