+420794026409 +2348035820593

Daily Archives: January 17, 2019

What Does a Declaration on the Rights of Peasants Mean for Food Security? – Food Security and Food Justice

What Does a Declaration on the Rights of Peasants Mean for Food Security? – Food Security and Food Justice

On 17th December 2018, the UN General Assembly passed a Declaration that aims to protect the rights of all rural populations including peasants, agricultural workers and indigenous peoples. One right it has specifically recognised is the right to adequate food alongside rights to land and water. This is because there is mounting evidence, according to the FAO, that shows there is disproportionate suffering from hunger and poverty in rural areas. They also say that this declaration is expected to have a positive impact on the livelihoods of family farmers who produce over 70% of the world’s food.

The process was started by a small group of countries led by Bolivia and inspired by La Via Campesina, under the recognition that contributions of people working in rural areas to development, conservation and improvement of biodiversity constitute the basis of food and agricultural production throughout the world. It was also recognised that ensuring the right to adequate food and food security is fundamental to attaining internationally agreed development goals and that the concept of food sovereignty has been used in many regions to designate the right to define food and agriculture systems as well as the right to healthy and culturally appropriate food produced through ecological and sustainable methods.


The main universal source for the right to food is the International Covenant on Economic, Cultural and Social Rights where it is found within Article 11 but not solely focused on. It is given as one part of a right to an adequate standard of living which is the same way it is worded in the Declaration of Human Rights. At least in ICESCR it is expanded upon within the same article as everyone having the right to be free from hunger which means countries should take measures to improve methods of production, conservation and distribution of food by making use of technical and scientific knowledge, by spreading knowledge of nutritional principles, and by developing or reforming agrarian systems so as to achieve the most efficient development and utilisation of natural resources. There is nothing about land-use rights but the mention of agrarian systems could have been utilised for peasants and food security, but it is not explicitly for this purpose. The Committee on Economic, Cultural and Social Rights also clarified issues with Article 11 such as the right to adequate food being realised through physical and economic access to adequate food or means for its procurement, which is the definition of food security.

Elsewhere, had peasant movements wished to frame their struggles on a basis of the right to food, they could not have used the Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, even if they were indigenous, because the right to food does not exist within it. It gives indigenous peoples rights over the use of their traditional lands and is convinced that this will enable them to maintain and strengthen institutions, cultures and traditions. This could be interpreted as including agricultural methods but at most this is a weak link, and obviously not one that peasants were utilising nor one that helps their food security.

The New Declaration:

The Right to Food is found in Article 15 and grants those working in rural areas the right to adequate food and the right to be free from hunger. Differently to the right to food in previous documents, this Declaration includes the right to produce food as well as the right to adequate nutrition, both of which are vital for food security in rural areas as is the right to determine their own food and agriculture systems. Also positive for food security are the obligations placed on governments;

to ensure peasants have physical and economic access at all times to sufficient and adequate food that is produced and consumed sustainably and equitably, respecting their cultures, preserving access to food for future generations and that ensures a mentally and physically fulfilling and dignified life in response to their needs

to take measures to combat malnutrition in rural children through primary healthcare, technology, education, provision of adequate nutritious food to the children and to women during pregnancy and lactation.

Another article in the new Declaration provides peasants with the right to seeds meaning that they have;

The final point there is the most important and marks an amazing shift in food security as family-farmed produce will be more sustainable and accessible due to a new ability to keep their seeds. The recognition of these rights at the international level was necessary to overcome the imbalance of rights pertaining to seeds and to reaching a decent level of food security and sovereignty as well as sustainable agriculture goals.

The Future:

This Declaration hopefully marks the beginning of positive change for peasants and other rural workers because there is now a mechanism of rights specifically for their use. It is important that the Declaration includes the right to food because it has been noted in the past that peasant movements were making use of human rights in their struggles but not the right to food, even though it existed in other international instruments. The inclusion of the right to food, and the right to seeds, in the Declaration should mean that peasant movements will utilise it now as it has been drafted in a way that is useful for them. This should improve food security in rural areas for those who produce 70% of the world’s food and, in turn, food security for those receiving their produce.

Share this:

Meat and Sustainability – Food Security and Food Justice

Meat and Sustainability – Food Security and Food Justice

Over the past few years, the consumption of meat has been soaring to great numbers. Meat is among the most consumed foods in the world with the per capita meat consumption increasing by 20kg from 1961. But have you ever asked yourself what impact eating this meat has on the environment?

With each person across the world consuming around 43 KGs of meat per year, this means that every other year over ten million animals die. However, as much as slaughtering these animals is benefiting the environment and maintaining a balance, the demand for meat has caused the rearing of more livestock. Therefore, this has had a great impact on the environment and the atmosphere in general because meat mainly comes from animals.

The linkbetween meat and the environment

Meat comes from animals which are mostly herbivorous, meaning that they have to eat plants to grow. The product is a type of food, making it a major basic necessitythat we as human beings require to survive. It helps with the development of our body and makes certain that we have the necessary energy to live, work, play, interact and function or operate our daily routines. Without food, chances are that we would be non-existencebecause we have to eat to live.

The link between meat and the environment is mainly seen in where it is gotten from. Meat is from animals which are either taken care of by people or from the forests. However, these animals require food too and most of them eat plants that grow from the soil. Plants are responsible for the production of foods such as beans, maize, peas, vegetables, and fruits among others while animals are responsible for foods such as milk, eggs, and meat. With the growing population of the world, the demand for food has been growing significantly. Plants require soil to grow and based on the over-cultivation of most lands, there has to be additional fertilizers and chemicals to help the plants grow. Most of these chemicals, despite them being effective for plant production are impactful to the environment in regards to the soil that they are put in, the air, and also water. For instance, fertilizers contain nitrogen-basedgases which are a threat to the Ozone layer and a contributive element of the greenhouse effect. It is no doubt that the food system contributes around 20-30% of the global human-made greenhouse gas emissions that deplete the Ozone layer.

Impact of extensive meat consumption

Regions that have a lot of livestock have experienced devastating impacts on their atmosphere. In regions such as Australia, livestock rearing contributes to around 40% of the Greenhouse emission gasses hindering the sustainability of the earth. With these continuing trends, the lives of those that will come after are under threat and there will have to be other sources of food production since the ground might be too much affected. As discussed within the module, the consumption patterns DRIVE production sees mainly the use of land where it begins from the input of fertilizers, manure and pesticides to land use through farming and then later on to the transport, processing, food preparation and waste disposal. These later stages also contribute around 5-10% of the global GHG emissions while the input stages contribute to around 14.5%. With these values, farming and food production by itself is a threat to the sustainability of the earth in the long run.

The demand for meat is evidently clear to come from the rising population across the globe and this is limiting the biodiversity aspect greatly. The rise in population is causing an increase in the demand forfood more so the resource-intensive foods such as meat and this haveled to increasedbiodiversity losses. Meat comes mainly from animals such as cows, sheep, and goat among others. The animals require plant material to survive and as such, leading to the agricultural expansion in areas that were not cultivated before. The creation of new land is often used to feed livestock and also plant crops, factors that are leading to encroachment of land and fragmentation of the ecosystems (FCRN Foodsource, 2019). Over the last 40 years, forinstance, the pressures from cultivation, pasture, infrastructure, and forestry have been driving biodiversity low impacting the sustainability of the earth. Livestock also producesmethane gas which is a contributive agent to the GHG gases that impact the sustainability of the earth. This is another example of how the food system is impacting the sustainability of the earth in general.

What can be done?

Meat is a fraction of the various foods that are available to human beings. Furthermore, studies have proved that eating meat frequently can be unhealthy. Therefore, instead of having to overgraze and rear a lot of livestock that will impact sustainability, we can focus on planting more trees to counter the gasses produced by these animals. Trees are essential in removing Carbon from the air and other gases and as such, this can make certain that there arelesser GHG emissions.

Additionally, there ought to be some creation of awareness about sustainability. Adopting the sustainability intensification strategy that focuses on addressing the impact that the food system, inclusive of cattle rearing has had on climate change. With the rising global population and the demand for food, which is both, directly and indirectly, impacting climate change, sustainable intensification has been considered as being effective to some degree or angle. With sustainable intensification, the focus is mainly on “simultaneously raising yields, increasing the efficiency with which inputs are used and reducing the negative environmental effects of food production” (Foresight, 2011). The increase in yield will cover for the increase in demand forfood while the increase in efficiency and reduction in the negativeeffects of food production will cater tothe reduction in GHG emissions. It is a modern way of farming that is more directed towards the realizationof sustainability.

As a people, we owe it to our future generations to take care of the environment and that will not happen if we continue to keep more and more livestock. We have to focus on building up sustainability in any way possible because the state at which the earth is right now, it is deteriorating fast.

Share this: