The problem of hunger isn’t really the lack of food, but the inequality between the rich and poor
After having participated in the Right to Food forum in Mexico, Olivier De Schutter, argued that “taxing food doesn’t seem to be a solution for combating the economic crisis”. He also said that “35 percent of the world’s children who die each year –equivalent to about 6.5 million – die as a result of malnutrition or related causes.”
In 2000, 189 countries ratified the eight Millennium development goals, the first of which was to reduce the number of persons afflicted by hunger and poverty by half by the year 2015. According to an FAO report (The state of food insecurity in the world (SOFI 2002), FAO, 2002), there has been little progress, and these goals will continue to be an unrealized dream unless words become concrete actions. In order for this to become a reality by 2015, the number of persons suffering from hunger must be decreased by 24 million each year, as of that date, which is a rate ten times faster than the one reached since the early nineties.
The United Nations Special Rapporteur on the right to food, Olivier De Schutter, noted in the Right to Food forum in Mexico, that: “there are 2.4 billion malnourished people in the world, which circumstances is also a breeding ground for infections and illnesses”. Additionally, he reported that “35 percent of the world’s children that die each year –equivalent to about 6.5 million– die as a result of malnutrition or related causes. Nevertheless, many people today consume junk food because, in spite of being poor in nutrients, they provide energy and are cheaper than healthy food”.
De Schutter commented that “throughout the XXth century, it was believed that, in order to end world hunger, food production should be increased; however, this is an incorrect assessment. The true problem is not low production and the lack of food, but the inequality between the rich and the poor”.
Last Tuesday, the UN representative argued that “legislating for the right to food is one more step in the strategy for confronting the challenge of feeding communities”. “That tactic entails identifying vulnerable communities and monitoring policies that rural communities and poor inhabitants of urban areas need since the problem of hunger is political, not technical”.
“We have to end discrimination, focus efforts on social programs, eliminate political barriers blocking the right to food and improve coordination of government institutions so that people have access to food”, he stated.
Dr. Olivier De Schutter is Professor of Law at the Catholic University of Louvain (UCL) in Belgium and at the College of Europe (Natolin) in Warsaw, Poland. Among other distinctions, he holds a Masters in Law from Harvard University, a degree (“cum laude”) from the International Institute of Human Rights in Strasbourg, France and a Ph.D. in Law from the University of Louvain. Dr. De Schutter has taught International and European Human Rights Law and Legal Theory at numerous universities in New York, France, Portugal, Benin and Puerto Rico.
(Source Diario La Jornada, Mexico, September 17, 2009, www.jornada.unam.mx/)
*(Translation provided by Iuslingua LLC)*