The Right to Nutrition

24 Mar 2005

Hunger is global problem. But the initiative to fight hunger as a government priority —as is happening in Brazil — is revolutionary and could be decisive in promoting actions that will have a tangible effect on the problem.

In a speech at the meeting of World Leaders for Action Against Hunger and Poverty at the United Nations building in New York City at the end of last year, President Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva said that the hunger is a social problem that needs to be treated as a political problem and urgently.

“This meeting aims to bring together the efforts of nations, peoples and society around a common objective: to fight hunger and poverty, problems that are still afflicting many men, women and children throughout the world. The fact that we, the leaders of more than 50 nations are addressing the problem, already raises our hopes. It is a strong and tangible gesture in the direction of a world alliance against hunger and poverty.”

Lula pointed out that Brazil is doing its bit and declared that the Zero Hunger Project is a mandatory objective that his government is pursuing with determination.

“We have combined emergency measures with structural solutions, mobilizing all the resources available”.

He also mentioned the Bolsa Família program, which already assists 5 million poor families, the equivalent of more than 20 million people, tax cuts on food items of popular consumption and the scheme to finance family agriculture, along with the implementation of a new program of agrarian reform.

“We are working with civil society to accomplish the goals of the millennium.”

Lula said that the challenge to fight hunger is so gigantic that it takes humility to recognize that no ready solutions or magic formulas.

“The worst answer to the drama of the hunger is to give no answer at all. I appeal to governments, social organizations, unions and companies to reaffirm and broaden their commitment by constituting a vigorous global partnership to defeat poverty.”

“In Brazil, your struggle is against an international problem”, declared Debbie Field, director of Food Share Toronto. She called attention to the need to view food as collective resource, not only a commodity.
“This concept can rupture the perverse chain that creates the paradox of hunger: a lot of food production along with 1.1 billion people suffering from hunger in the world. The problem is that, except for Brazil, people don’t worry about hunger. There is no other country in the world where the Secretary of Social Development shows such commitment and the president himself highlights the problem in his opening speech, as president Lula did.”

The president of Brazil’s Food and Nutrition Safety National Council (CONSEA), Chico Menezes, subsequently made a presentation of the government’s and Brazilian society’s pledge to end hunger in the country at the meeting of The Committee on World Food Securityat the FAO headquarters, in Rome, Italy.

The Committee World Food Security examined trends and perspectives of global food security and aspects of the right to adequate food, such as availability, access and stability.

The members of the Committee, representing several countries, analyzed the recommendations formulated by their predecessors and the opinions of member states.

They also debated Brazil’s proposal for the creation of a special forum to evaluate and examine the results achieved in the implementation of the World Food Summit Plan of Action.

Homero Vianna is the leader of the Slow Food Belo Horizonte Convivium, a member of the Slow Food Award jury, and events organizer for the Ópera Comunicação agency in Belo Horizonte

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