Biodiversity and the Right to Food

07 Nov 2007

The right to food, theme of World Food Day 2007, was the topic of a meeting organized by the Agriculture Section of the Piedmont Regional Authority and Slow Food.

It was an opportunity to once again state that every human being has the right to have access to sufficient food—food which is adequate from a nutritional point of view and also culturally acceptable, so everyone can lead a healthy and active life.

Creating the conditions so everyone can eat with dignity and not just be fed is not just a moral and political imperative but an obligation for us all.

The FAO directives of 2004 require governments (and also other institutions and organizations operating in countries where people suffer from hunger) to consider their citizens not as passive recipients of charity, but people with a right to benefit from an environment able to feed them and, if this is not possible, to receive aid with dignity.

Today there are 854 million people in the world suffering from hunger. Our planet is able to feed its entire population, it can in fact produce food for 12 billion people!

For some time Slow Food and the Piedmont Regional Authority have been working together on practical projects for defending and recovering food biodiversity and gastronomic traditions. We have some impressive prospects available to combat malnutrition.

Defending biodiversity means conserving the plant and animal heritage without which we are exposed to enormous risks in the face of climate change or the development of new diseases. But it also means defending small-scale models of agriculture and food production which implement sustainable practices with low environmental impact.

This makes a decisive contribution towards food self-sufficiency, because production is first for people’s own needs and then for the local community, with only surpluses being sold or traded. These models of agriculture, which derive from traditional practices, also allow the poorest communities to receive an adequate diet.

Hunger is not inevitable and people in developed countries can also contribute in a virtuous way through their behavior and the food choices they make: in a globalized world we must all assume our fair share of responsibility.

First printed in La Stampa on October 28, 2007

Adapted by Ronnie Richards

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