The right to food is recognized as a fundamental human right in the
Universal Declaration of Human Rights, the International Covenant on
Economic Social and Cultural Rights, and the United Nations Convention
on the Rights of the Child. Notwithstanding the obligation of states to
respect, protect, and fulfill this right, the Food and Agriculture
Organization of the United Nations (FAO) reports that 1.02 billion people
are chronically undernourished worldwide-a figure that represents onesixth
of humanity. While fifteen million of the world's food insecure
people are located in the Global North, the remaining billion reside in Asia,
Africa, Latin America, the Pacific, and the Caribbean.
The food crisis of 2008 propelled the issue of food security from the
margins to the center of public debate, and focused the world's attention
on the need for sustainable and equitable food production and distribution
systems. From 2006 through 2008, skyrocketing food prices plunged an
additional 115 million people into the ranks of the malnourished and
provoked food riots across the globe. The immediate causes of the food
crisis included adverse weather, high oil prices, rising worldwide meat
consumption, growing demand for grain-based biofuels, and financial
speculation in global commodity markets. Curiously, high food prices
coincided with bumper cereal harvests in major food-producing nations
and with hefty profits by the transnational corporations that dominate
global food and agro-chemical markets. The FAO's 2009 report on global
commodity markets pointed out that the food crisis was provoked
primarily by escalating demand (notably demand for grain-based biofuels)
rather than shrinking supply. Indeed, the world's food supply has kept
pace with population growth for several decades. There is currently
sufficient food to meet global nutritional needs, but many households are
simply too poor to purchase the food that is available.
Gonzalez, Carmen G.
"The Global Food Crisis: Law, Policy, and the Elusive Quest for Justice,"
Yale Human Rights and Development Journal:
2, Article 4.
Available at: http://digitalcommons.law.yale.edu/yhrdlj/vol13/iss2/4