Governments and corporations argue that genetically modified food is necessary to feed the hungry masses but food rights provide a better solution.
All over the world we are now hearing the call for clean drinking water to be a basic human right (which is vital). We also regularly hear talk of new water wells in Africa, water pollution and all these very important topics in media. Yet the question begs to be asked: If water is very clearly a human right, then why not healthy food? And if healthy food is a right, what about the right to farm on land without being indebted to multinational companies like Monsanto?
Internationally, farmers who have farmed family land for hundreds of years are being taken over, forced into debt and modern agricultural methods. In this process we see a huge number of farmers committing suicide, and at the same time, we see people starving. I can see no bigger question in relation to food; if food is a human right, then certainly the right to grow it must be as well.
The public discussion never seems to go into food as a right; all that’s discussed is the push for mass growth of crops like wheat, soy and corn that will grow anywhere due to bio-engineering. Recently however, I spent a bit of time talking to an old friend about GM foods, water rights and a bunch of other nerdy food things. The discussion hinged on the idea of food as a right, and more importantly, what kind of food… On one side you have a group of NGOs, politicians and governments pushing GM crops to create a world without hunger. On the other side you have people talking about small scale, sustainable, organic farming being the answer.
Although these arguments do not even address the problem of the reason for hunger in the first place, which is distribution, not quantity. It’s time we asked ourselves if the the problem is actually a food shortage, or is it more likely poor distribution? Once this is discussed, the talk around GM foods may not even be necessary. Furthermore, if we begin to see that, not just food, but the right to grow clean, safe, healthy food is a human right, we would get to the bottom of the problem much faster.
While there does not seem to be a whole lot of discussion around this, the fine folks at the Australian Food Sovereignty Alliance are consistently working on these issues. You can check out their recently released ‘People’s Food Plan’ here: www.australianfoodsovereigntyalliance.org.
Adam Taylor – Coordinator of Alfalfa House Food Co-Op, Newtown.