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Wednesday, October 17, 2007

World Food Day 2007: The right to food

Manila Bulletin, October 16, 2007

Led by the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), WFD 2007 and TeleFood have adopted the theme "The Right to Food" to demonstrate the increasing recognition by the international community of the important role of human rights in eradicating hunger and poverty, and hastening and deepening the sustainable development process.

The right to food as a human right was first recognized at the Universal Declaration of Human Rights in 1948. It was incorporated in the International Covenant on Economic, Social, and Cultural Rights that was adopted in 1966 and ratified by 156 states. As a universal right, it emphasizes that every woman, man and child, must have access at all times to food, or to means for the procurement of food, that is sufficient in quality, quantity, and variety to meet their needs, is free from harmful substances, and is acceptable to their culture. The definition recognizes the right to food as being intricately related to other human rights, i.e., right to education, right to work, right to health, freedom of assembly and association. It also puts forward that "hunger and malnutrition are caused not just by a lack of available food, but also by poverty, income disparities, and lack of access to health care, education, clean water, and sanitary living conditions."

World Food Day was established by FAO’s Member Countries at the organization’s 20th General Conference in November, 1979. October 16 was the date chosen, to coincide with FAO’s anniversary.

As we observe World Food Day this year, governments and civil society groups are urged to undertake initiatives to ensure that every individual, regardless of gender, age, color, or creed, enjoys adequate food on a sustained basis. Initiatives in this regard are not only a moral imperative and an investment with high economic returns. They are also the realization of a fundamental human right