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UN calls new politics of food on the agenda

afrol News, 6 April - The President of the United Nations General Assembly today called for "a new politics of food" emanating from the bottom up and based on the right to sustenance further sounding a warning that one billion people worldwide are on the verge of starvation.

"We need to have an approach to food production that is multi-functional, that has a concern for the poor and their right to food, a concern for the earth and its right to life, a concern for communities and their right to self-governance," Miguel D’Escoto said, as he opened a dialogue on the topic taking place in New York.

The discussion brought together economists, agro-ecologists, human rights specialists and other experts to discuss necessary changes in the world’s agricultural production from the perspective of the right to food, as the food crisis among the world’s poorest continues, Mr D’Escoto said.

Every six seconds a child dies of malnutrition, according to a statement issued today by the UN Special Rapporteur on the right to food, Olivier de Schutter, who affirmed: "The global food crisis is far from being abated."

Mr de Schutter, who reports to the Human Rights Council in an independent, unpaid capacity, explained that the poor will inevitably be hit by more price volatility, climate-related events and the effects of the economic crisis.

He called for a redesign of food production and trade to ensure that it serves development, the right to food and the plight of agricultural workers.

Agreeing with the Special Rapporteur that the present time presented an opportunity to profoundly reorient food policies, Mr D’Escoto said it was important to see the food crisis as directly linked to the financial crisis, the energy crisis and climate change.

He advocated an end to "the dominance of industrialised food corporations," calling for people-oriented food systems at the local, regional and international levels.

Today’s General Assembly discussion follows the Madrid High-Level Meeting on Food Security for All, held on 26 and 27 January, in which Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon called the right to food "a basis for analysis, action and accountability" in dealing with the food crisis.

It also precedes a possible world summit on global food security planned for November of this year.

A top UN human rights official cautioned last month that despite the falling food prices worldwide, the global food crisis has not ended, emphasising the need to view the issue through the very basic right to adequate food.

Navi Pillay told the Geneva-based Human Rights Council that it must target its work towards helping the most marginalised segments of society.

The Commissioner told the council that steps to alleviate hunger and promote the right to food have yet to be translated into concrete action to help those most impacted by the crisis.

She voiced particular concern for the situation of the rural and urban poor, landless or small-scale farmers and households headed by women.

Ms Pillay maintained that any successful strategy to defeat hunger should involve stronger institutions with better accountability, sustainable investments in agricultural production and research, and targeted support to small-scale farmers and the poor.

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