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Food: commodity, human right or common good? Implications for hunger eradication
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Food: commodity, human right or common good? Implications for hunger eradication



Our body compulsory demands food, water and air to keep its vital functions and yet their economic nature is rather diverse with food mostly considered a private good, water suffering an accelerated ...

Our body compulsory demands food, water and air to keep its vital functions and yet their economic nature is rather diverse with food mostly considered a private good, water suffering an accelerated privatization process and air so far considered a global common good. Food has evolved from a common good and local resource to a national asset and then to a transnational commodity as the commodification process is rather completed nowadays. Cultivated food is fully privatized and this consideration means that human beings can eat food as long as they have money to but it or means to produce it. With the dominant no money-no food rationality, hunger still prevails in a world of abundance. In order to provide a sound foundation for the transition towards sustainable food systems, the very nature of food as a pure private good is contested and subsequently reversed in this paper, proposing a re-conceptualisation of food as a common good, a necessary narrative for the redesign of the dominating agro-industrial food system that merely sees food as a tradable commodity. This aspirational transition shall lead us to a more sustainable, fairer and farmer-centred food system. The idea of the commons is applied to food, deconstructing food as a pure private good and reconstructing it as an impure commons that can be better produced and distributed by a hybrid tri-centric governance system compounded by market rules, public regulations and collective actions. Several food-related elements are already considered as common goods (i.e. fish stocks, wild fruits, cuisine recipes, agricultural knowledge, food safety regulations and unpatented genetic resources) as well as food’s implications (hunger eradication) and benefits (public health and good nutrition). Should food and be consider as a commons, the implications for the governance of the global food system would be enormous, with examples ranging from placing food outside the framework agreements dealing with pure private goods, banning financial speculation on food commodities or preparing international binding agreements to govern the production, distribution and access of food to every human being.



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  • El año 2011 la FAO inició un proceso de revisión de su metodología para la estimación del número de personas subnutridas. Este proceso implicó no sólo la revisión de la metodología que hasta 2010 estuvo vigente, sino la incorporación de información reciente y de mejor calidad para dicho cálculo. Por lo tanto, las cifras de subnutrición o hambre contenidas en esta presentación no son comparables con las publicadas por la FAO en años anteriores.
  • El hambre afecta a 868 millones de personas en el mundo, 49 millones de las cuales se encuentran en América Latina y el Caribe. Esto implica que un 8,3 % de la población de la región no ingiere las calorías diarias necesarias para llevar una vida sana.  

Food: commodity, human right or common good? Implications for hunger eradication Food: commodity, human right or common good? Implications for hunger eradication Presentation Transcript

  • HAMBRE Y MALNUTRICIÓN ENAMÉRICA LATINA Y EL CARIBEDatos de hambreFood as a Commodity, HumanRight or Common Good?Implications for Hunger EradicationJOSE LUIS VIVERO POLPhD Candidate in Food GovernanceUniversité Catholique de Louvain, Belgium
  • 2PRIMUM VIVERE DEINDEPHILOSOPHARE#4. The 5th dimension: FOOD AS A COMMONS#2. 3 APPROACHES, 5 DIMENSIONS to Food#1. The FAILURE of the Global Food System#3. The RIGHT TO FOOD is progressing
  • 1 000919898867 868656054504940506070808009001 0001990-1992 1999-2001 2004-2006 2007-2009 2010-2012Mundo (Eje izquierdo) América Latina y el Caribe (Eje derecho)MillionsFuente: FAO.Evolution of Hunger figures in the world and in LACbetween 1990-1992 y 2010-2012.
  • 62.3 BILLION MALNOURISHEDPEOPLE – WE EAT BADLY3.1 million children die of hunger-relateddiseases2.8 million people die of overweight-related diseases868 MILLION HUNGRY
  • HUNGER DAMAGES THEBRAINMalnourished childbrainWell nourishedchild brain
  • 8STUNTINGduringfirstthreyearsisIRREVERSIBLEWell-nourishedchildneuroneMalnourishedChild Neurone
  • 9165 million stuntedchildren19 million severelywasted childrenHunger is largestcontributor (45%) to childmortality1.4 BILLION OVERWEIGHT300 MILLION OBESE
  • 10WASTEDFOOD (33%)1.3 billiontonnes (to feed600 millionhungry people)
  • The food industry is the 2nd biggest: A BIG CAKE(10% GDP & 5 trillion USD in 2009)
  • 12PlanetaryBoundariesClimate ChangeOil PeakRadical changeUK GovIAASTDBusiness as usualIncrease productivityImprove access
  • ANALYTICAL FRAMEWORKFood dimensionsApproaches to food systems
  • Food dimensionsCommodityHumanRightCommonsHumanNeedCulture
  • Food as a commons Food as a commodity
  • 16“FOOD AND NUTRITION SECURITY exists when…”Technocrats, technicians, official statements, consensusTwin track approach (production & acces to food)No questioning food is a commodity:ACCESS IS THE MAIN ISSUEOFICIALDEFINITIONWorld Food Summits1996 & 2002Foto: FAO
  • 17THE RIGHT TO FOODis a right (duties andentitlements).States must respect,protect & fulfillAs a legal approach, itdoes not question theproprietary rights,specially the privateproperty right (a sacredpillar of capitalism).ICESCRis a bindingagreementfor 156statesJusticiableFoto: Jorge Salamanca
  • Food Security Laws in LAC18NameinitialdraftApprovalYearCivil society participation JusticiabilityArgentinaNational Nutritionand Food ProgrammeLaw2002 2003In the National Food andNutrition Commission NoBrazil Food Security Law 2005 2006High participation in NationalFood Security Council(CONSEA)NoEcuadorFood SovereigntyLaw 2008 2009In the National FoodSovereignty ConferenceNoGuatemalaNational Food &Nutrition SecuritySystem Law2003 2005In the FNS National Council(decision making) andINCOPAS (Consulting Group)NoHondurasFramework Law onFood Security andSovereignty2007 2011Participation in the NationalCouncil with decision makingpowerNoNicaraguaFood and NutritionSovereignty andSecurity Law2001 2009Participation on the NationalCommission for Food andNutrition Sovereignty andSecurityAdministrative &judicialmechanisms arementionedVenezuelaOrganic Law forSecurity &Sovereignty of theAgriculture and FoodSector2007 2008Mentioned in terms ofdecentralised agencies focusingon agricultureNo
  • Latin America is at the forefrontof the Right to Food in the world• 17 countries have laws or drafts in Parliaments• 7 countries have Food Security Laws + México DF• Active and demanding Civil Society• Human Rights Procuradurias producing nationalreports (Guatemala, El Salvador, Colombia)• Constitutional amendments: Ecuador (2009),Brasil (2010), México (2012). El Salvador &Colombia are coming19
  • 20What is FOOD SOVEREIGNTY?#2. WORK IN PROGRESS,weak academic/UN support#4. Alternative to theindustrial oil-dependant foodsystem#1. RECENTCONCEPT(1996) quicklyevolving,formulated byVía Campesina#3.Commonparadigm ofCIVIL SOCIETYCIVIL & someSTATESBolivia, Venezuela,Ecuador, Nicaragua,Honduras, CostaRica, El Salvador,Rep DomFoto: Alessandra Ferrandes
  • 21EVOLUTIONFrom an anti-establishment andcombative position toa viable alternative totackle current flawsof the post-industrialfood system, plushunger, climatechange and energyIDEOLOGICAL & propositive: the ONLY option BFoto:IanMackenzieFoto:F
  • Producers andConsumersshall regain control ofthe national foodsystems.Producing andcomsuming food is acultural issueNo to TNC controlover our food(Henry Kissinger)Foto: Jose Luis Vivero
  • 23Food is not a COMMODITY suchas screws (ergo OUT of WTO)
  • Private & Common Goods:Rivalry & Excludability24
  • 25De-constructingFood-relatedElements:everything iscommons butcultivated foodand copyrightedpatents
  • 261. Cultivated Foodis a private goodCompletlyproduced byprivate means:privatelandholdings,copyrighted seedsand agro-chemicals,machineries
  • 272. Traditional agricultural knowledgeFotos:JoseLuisVivero
  • 283. Science-basedagricultural knowledgeby national institutionsPublic copyrightsUniversitiesNationalResearchInstitutionsFoto: Argonne National Laboratory
  • 294. Cuisine, recipes &national gastronomyFoto:CarlaBq
  • 305. Edible wild plantsand animals
  • 316. GeneticResources for Foodand AgricultureSeeds are commonsPatents preventinnovation (Benkler,2006)Fashion world and topcuisine are ratherinnovative withoutpatenting systemsITPGRFA made seedsa global commongoodFoto:Edd.ie
  • 327. Food safety considerations(Codex Alimentarius)Foto:LianneMiltonFoto:MarianoBonora
  • 338. Goodnutrition &publichealth
  • 349. Extreme food pricefluctuationsFoto: Megan Morgavan
  • 35What if food isconsidered acommons…Banning futures tradespeculationControlling landgrabbing, landevictionsBinding Food TreatiesLegislating collectiverightsAvoiding biopiracy,patenting of life forms,Minimising copyrightedagricultureCombating oligopoliesof agri-food chains
  • Tri-centric Governance of Food Systems36CIVIC COLLECTIVEACTIONS
  • Fuente FAO: http://www.fao.org/worldfoodsituation/wfs-home/foodpricesindex/es/1. La Agricultura en un contexto globalFood is a human right and a commons!And I thank you for your time and interest
  • 40I am more than happy to exchangewith anyone interested in hungereradication & food as a commonsAny comment is welcomed@joselviveropoljoseluisviveropolhttp://hambreyderechoshumanos.blogspot.comhttp://hungerpolitics.wordpress.comJose Luis ViveroPoljoseluisvivero@gmail.com