Ms. Josie Fernandez, Regional Director of Consumers International Regional Office for Asia and the Pacific
(on behalf of the President of Consumers International, Mrs. Erna Witoelar)
Consumers International, on behalf of 220 consumer organizations in 95 countries all over the world, welcomes the opportunity to address the Heads of State and Government at this historic occasion of the World Food Summit. For Consumers International the right to food is a fundamental consumer right; therefore, we wish to express support for this initiative of the World Food Summit. For consumer organizations the right to food encompasses seven basic principles which are outlined in the consumer manifesto for the World Food Summit. These rights must be given substance in and beyond the World Food Summit in order to achieve food security for all.
The first of these rights is the right to have enough food at all times. This means that people must have the right to adequate food to feed themselves properly at all times. Therefore, the eradication of poverty is the basic requirement for eliminating world hunger. Consumers International calls for governments to ensure the availability of adequate food supplies that are economically and physically accessible to all consumers. Simultaneously, governments must improve the access of the poor, especially women, to productive resources such as land and credit. Government measures must be aimed at supporting local food production. In this context, Consumers International expresses its concern over the growing cooperative monopoly over food and the resources to produce food.
Secondly, Consumers International wants to stress the right to save food. Consumers must be protected against foods and food production processes which are hazardous to health and life. Therefore, we call upon governments to assure access to clean and potable water and sanitation for all; provide sufficient guarantee of the safety of all food products and food production processes; apply the precautionary principle when it comes to the setting of standards on the use of additives, veterinary drugs and pesticides; put in place adequate food standards, inspection standards and appropriate penalties on microbiological and chemical contamination in foodstuffs; make food processing companies observe good hygiene practices, including equipment and sufficient training for employees in the food processing sector.
Thirdly, consumers have the right to be informed about food; this means the right to the facts needed to make an informed choice or decision about food. Consumers International, therefore, calls for governments to adopt strict standards that guarantee sufficiently clear, adequate and reliable information on food products and food production processes and prevent misleading claims and advertising and labelling.
Fourth, consumers should be guaranteed the right of redress on food issues. Consumers are entitled to a fair settlement of just claims on food issues.
Fifth, consumers should be guaranteed the right to consumer education on food.
Sixth, consumers have the right to a healthy environment. The physical environment should enhance consumers' quality of life and should be preserved for future generations.
Finally, consumers have the right to be heard on food issues. Consumers, especially women consumers, and their organizations have the right to advocate their interest with a view to full democratic participation in the policy designing, planning, implementation, monitoring and evaluation of local, national and international food policies. Therefore Consumers International calls for governments to set legislative frameworks, control and implementation mechanisms related to the six fundamental rights outlined above.
In conclusion, Consumers International calls for governments to implement policies in order to achieve the noble target they set for themselves in the Rome Declaration and Plan of Action.