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The transition towards local, ecological and diverse food systems is a social, economic and democratic imperative
- Save grow and reproduce traditional seed varieties to safeguard biodiversity. They need to be saved not as museum pieces in germplasm banks, but in living Seed Banks as a basis of a health care system
- Grow Gardens of Health , also at urban level, which favour the diffusion of nourishing varieties.
- Create and support local food economies, farmers markets, CSAs biodistricts.
- Create links between Schools, Hospitals, health care centres and local organic fresh, diverse food systems.
- Create poison free zones, communities, farms and food systems
- Demand labelling of chemicals and GMOs on the basis of fundamental right to know.
- Organise to demand that public money and taxes stop subsidising unhealthy food systems that create a burden of disease for us and shift all public support including policy to health promoting agriculture and food. To not co-operate with laws that force unhealthy agriculture and food system
Government Actions – Local, regional, national, international
- Local governments should take back their right to protect public health on the principle of subsidiarity and promote healthy local food economies
- Regional governments should promote biodiverse local agriculture and bioregional food and health policies
- National governments should be guided in all policies and laws to give primacy to the health of their citizens and future generations
- Governments should support appropriate policies to promote access to quality fruit and vegetables, the cost of which is often prohibitive despite recommendations for consumption, for the more vulnerable members of the population.
- Public subsidies should be redirected from health-damaging systems to systems based on agroecology and biodiversity conservation, which provide health benefits and protect common goods.
- Governments should ban the use of contaminating chemicals and instead defend biodiversity and promote agroecology.
- National and regional governments should put in place policies to assess the damage caused by chemicals and apply the polluter pays principle and the precautionary principle in respect of pesticides and food additives[i]. Moreover, Public Research should shift from promoting chemicals and contaminants to promoting biodiversity and agroecology, and assessing the harm of chemicals and putting in place polluter pays principle.
- All policies related to agriculture food, nutrition and health need to be integrated on the basis of interconnectedness between what are seen as separate sectors.
- Rules of trade and free trade agreements should be revisited on the basis of environment and health impact of agriculture and food systems, and reclaim food nutrition and health sovereignty of their citizens.
- Institutions at all levels should lead the transition to healthy agriculture and food systems by declaring organic, pesticide and poison free regions.
- Citizen participation to create food democracy and healthy agriculture food systems should be considered essential at all levels.
Changes in the International Trade Rules and Systems: Responsibility of the United Nations and its relevant bodies
(a) The UN is a global declaratory, regulatory, and articulator of global policy. A high priority of the UN should be given to work on a comprehensive, global treaty to minimise the adverse impacts of the use of chemicals, and other practices that is dangerous to health and environmental protection, with great sensitivity to biological diversity, offering a framework that is grounded in applicable human rights principles;
(b) The goals of this treaty are as follows:
- identify and remove relevant double standards among countries, especially those that are detrimental to countries which are most food insecure and possess weaker knowledge and regulatory systems;
- generate policies to reduce pesticide use worldwide and develop a framework for the banning and phasing out of highly hazardous and toxic pesticides as a matter of urgency;
- promote agro-ecology and related approaches as an alternative production method to the current reliance on monoculture based industrial agriculture with its major use of chemical inputs;
- impose strict liability on pesticide producers that refuse to follow voluntary guidelines.
(c) To reach these ambitious goals, awareness and encouragement of various non-binding documents is an essential step toward transforming agriculture for the benefit of human health: use of various existing tools established by the UN, such as the UN Decade of Action on Nutrition, as well as NGOs and academic networks to create a “master plan for nutrition” with a time frame and budgetary targets specifically tailored to meet national needs. The UN can make great contributions to the attainment of ambitious nutrition targets and ensuring the right of every person to adequate food and nutrition by using its convening and coordinating position in global level.
(d) UN should encourage States to adopt an initiative similar to the WHO Framework Convention on Tobacco Control to regulate the food and beverage industry and protect individuals from the negative health and nutrition effects of highly processed foods.
(e) UN agencies and programs must establish coordinated transparency and accountability mechanisms, with sensitivity to relevant stakeholder perspectives, to ensure that the multitude of existing nutrition targets are implemented in a way that is coherent, harmonised, mutually reinforcing, and avoids gaps, with clear timelines and indicators to assess progress, and responsive to democratic values of participation and interaction.
(f) International regulations need to be articulated and implemented to curb the unchecked actions of powerful transnational economic actors that have led to the flooding of global markets with “junk food” and many kinds of processed foods not consistent with international nutrition standards. In this regard, negotiations within the Human Rights Council to establish a legally binding instrument to regulate the activities of transnational corporations is very much welcomed, and consistent with the spirit and realisation of the Manifesto.
(g)Implementation of the UN Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights, to ensure corporate responsibility of the food and nutrition industry, as well as developing and enforcing the rights of victims of human rights violations, with full respect to extra-territorial obligations of states and other relevant actors.
(h) International trade and investment agreements should be re-evaluated to ensure they do not undermine health and nutrition policies. For example, food taxes, tariffs and other market restrictions or incentives that justifiably form part of national nutrition policies should be exempted from WTO rules and should not lead to penalties for violating trade agreements.
(i) Recognizing the particular vulnerability of women, and especially girls, to malnutrition, the international human rights framework must protect a woman’s general right to adequate food and nutrition.The empowerment of women should firmly be embedded within nutrition strategies[ii].
[i] Diamanti-Kandarakis, E. et al, “Endocrine-disrupting chemicals: an endocrine society scientific statement”, Endocrine Reviews, 2009, vol. 30, pp. 293-342.
[ii] Paragraphs from UN SR on right to food reports UN: A/71/282 and A/HRC/34/48. Reproduced with the author’s permission