/** headlines: 106.0 **/
** Topic: Asian NGOs Issue Food Security Declaration **
** Written 11:25 PM Dec 3, 1995 by econet in cdp:headlines **
/* Written 9:31 PM Nov 29, 1995 by paninfopubs in haz.pesticides */
/* ---------- "PANUPS: Food Security Declaration" ---------- */
P A N U P S - Pesticide Action Network North America Updates Service
In September 1995, a broad range of sustainable agriculture, consumer, development and women's non-governmental organizations (NGOs) met in Bangkok, Thailand, to formulate food security strategies at a conference organized by the Asian NGO Coalition for Agrarian Reform and Rural Development (ANGOC). Participants expressed concern that food insecurity and scarcity continue to exist in Asia despite the region's economic growth, and issued a declaration in preparation for the UN Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) World Food Summit 1996.
The Declaration, "Food for All," examines key elements of food security, emphasizing that access to nutritious food is best assured when it is locally produced, processed, stored and distributed. The Declaration further states that food security implies an array of social, economic and environmental goals, including incorporation of women into decision-making processes, just distribution of land and production assets, adequate food safety standards and enforcement, and the right of communities to make informed choices regarding healthful eating patterns. Food security requires agricultural systems that maintain farmworker health, biological diversity, farmers' access to genetic resources, soil fertility and watershed protection.
Participants at the ANGOC conference identified unequal distribution of wealth, power and resources as major barriers to food security. Other constraints include commodification of food; environmental degradation; trade agreements that encourage cash cropping rather than food production; and misguided agricultural research, which is often carried out by international agricultural research institutions without farmer participation. The NGO Declaration points out that Green Revolution technologies, promoted by international agricultural institutions, have displaced indigenous knowledge of agriculture and nutrition.
The Declaration also provides an agenda for local, national and international policy changes to improve food security. For example, it requires that poor rural communities be given access to and control over land for food production through agrarian land reform and assistance from capacity-building organizations such as seed banks. Agricultural trade policies under GATT must be changed to prevent cheap imported foods from destroying markets for local production, and intellectual property rights systems must be reformed to take into account farmers' rights. The central role of women to long-term food self-sufficiency also must be recognized, and women's access to land, extension services and technological expertise must be ensured.
The NGO signatories call for follow-up action to the Declaration in light of the upcoming World Food Summit, which will convene in Rome, November 1996, with the aim of renewing the commitment of world leaders to eradicating hunger and malnutrition and achieving food security for all. According to FAO, there is an emerging consensus among world leaders that international policies and strategies must be developed to address the underlying causes of hunger. FAO hopes that the Summit's high visibility will raise awareness among public and private sector decision makers, as well as in the media and public, and will help mobilize resources for dealing with all dimensions of worldwide food security.
According to FAO, almost 800 million people in developing countries face chronic malnutrition and 192 million children under age five suffer acute or chronic protein and energy deficiencies. FAO classifies almost 90 nations as low-income food-deficit countries (LIFDCs), of which 23 are in Asia and the Pacific.
Sources: Terompet, No.3, Vol.3, 1995; "World Food Summit," FAO press release, No.3, August 1995.
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