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.