•  
 

Development Law Magazine - Issue #2 of 2017



Click here to subscribe


In this issue:


Food safety in schools: Is this sufficiently regulated?

Through the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, Governments committed to “end hunger and ensure access by all people, in particular the poor and people in vulnerable situations, including infants, to safe, nutritious and sufficient food all year round” by 2030. School food and nutrition programmes are crucial in taking steps towards meeting this Goal, as well as in fulfilling children’s rights, in particular their right to food, to education, and to health1.

In developing countries, school meals are key in the fight against hunger and malnutrition. They are proven to increase enrolment rates and reduce absenteeism and drop-outs. They can also stimulate healthy eating habits and prevent childhood obesity. Linking school food and nutrition programmes with local small-scale farmers can produce synergistic impacts: fresh and seasonal products contribute to better nutritional outcomes and institutional procurement boosts the local economy, thereby improving people’s livelihoods.

The success of school food and nutrition programmes depends on a wide variety of factors, including the existence of an adequate legal and regulatory framework. School food and nutrition legislation plays a vital role by recognizing access to food at school as a legal right, defining clear institutional responsibilities, establishing coordination mechanisms among the different stakeholders, giving a concrete basis for budget allocation, and providing a framework for enforcement, monitoring, transparency, participation and accountability. However, many countries do not yet have comprehensive legal frameworks.

Schools are responsible for the overall safety of students, yet preventable foodborne illness outbreaks and food poisoning remain frequent problems. Salmonella, E.coli, and Hepatitis A are some of the most frequent pathogens and can cause severe stomach cramps, diarrhoea, and vomiting, leading to hospitalizations and even fatal outcomes. These outbreaks may be attributed to i) improper storage and holding temperatures, ii) contamination by a food handler due to illness or poor personal hygiene, iii) unsafe drinking water, and iv) food obtained from unsafe sources. Regrettably, food safety regulations are often weak or non-existent, and food safety is often neglected in school food and nutrition programmes and legislation. The tools are not, therefore, always available to help schools to guarantee the health of students and staff.

Based on its research in this sector, the Development Law Branch, LEGN, has found that the most effective legal frameworks are those that integrate the various objectives of a school food and nutrition programme, in order to ensure nutritious and safe meals at school “from farm to fork”.

Food safety legislation should be underpinned by the principles of "farm to fork" and "science-based risk assessment". It should further enable food safety control, including in schools. Legal frameworks for school food should take into consideration food safety legislation to ensure that those responsible for verifying and monitoring food safety in schools meet legal requirements for food safety. Legislation should also clarify the responsibilities of operators for the handling, storage, and preparation of foodstuffs, and facilitate food safety training and certification. The role of the national authorities at central and local levels should ensure appropriate monitoring and enforcement along the food production chain.

The challenge is now to effectively assist countries to achieve these objectives, and to improve coordination between their educational institutions and health and food safety authorities.

LEGN is currently supporting countries in the analysis of legislation relevant to school food and nutrition. In addition, LEGN is collaborating with the FAO Food Safety and Quality unit and the Nutrition Division to identify realistic and practical solutions to improve food safety in school food and nutrition programmes and to equip them with sustainability through legislation.


1. International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights (1976), and Convention on the Rights of the Child (1990).


Les signes de qualité liée à l’origine géographique: un atout croissant pour les agriculteurs des pays du Sud

Depuis plusieurs années, le Service Droit et Développement (LEGN) accompagne les pays membres de la FAO dans la promotion de dispositifs juridiques ayant pour objet la protection des signes de qualité liée à l’origine géographique. Bien que le potentiel offert par cet outil de droit soit encore peu exploité dans les pays en voie de développement, les travaux dans ce domaine sont croissants. Ils constituent une composante essentielle des services juridiques offerts par LEGN aux pays demandeurs, couvrant ainsi toutes les étapes de la chaîne alimentaire, depuis la production primaire jusqu’à la consommation finale.

Selon l’article 22.1 de l’Accord sur les Aspects du droit de propriété intellectuelle liés au commerce (ADPIC), les indications géographiques sont «des indications qui servent à identifier un produit comme étant originaire du territoire d'un Membre, ou d'une région ou localité de ce territoire, dans les cas où une qualité, réputation ou autre caractéristique déterminée du produit peut être attribuée essentiellement à cette origine géographique».

Les indications géographiques de provenance sont un support de commercialisation qui permet au marchand d’un produit de viser une clientèle spécifique et de fixer un prix supérieur à celui d’un produit ordinaire. Informant l’acheteur sur l’origine géographique d’un produit et l’incitant alors à le préférer, elles permettent de distinguer un produit par une qualité spécifique liée à son origine géographique. Par ailleurs, les indications géographiques peuvent être également un moyen de valoriser les produits locaux, d’augmenter la valeur ajoutée sur un produit et ainsi limiter l’exode rural en fixant les populations dans leur région. Les indications peuvent alors contribuer à la valorisation des produits de la diversité biologique. Ainsi, elles contribuent, à travers un seul outil, à plusieurs objectifs du développement durable.

En droit, les indications géographiques peuvent se décliner en deux types : l’appellation d’origine protégée (AOP) et l’indication géographique de provenance (IGP). L’AOP permet aux producteurs de mentionner l’origine d’un produit lorsqu’ils parviennent à établir que certaines propriétés du produit sont essentiellement ou exclusivement dues à la spécificité du milieu géographique revendiqué. Tout l’ensemble du processus de production doit avoir lieu dans la région indiquée dans le label. Une expertise doit établir un lien objectif entre les facteurs géographiques et les particularités du produit. L’objectivité de cette démonstration fait toute la difficulté du mécanisme et, par conséquent, la valeur particulière de ce droit. Par contre, ce lien est «moins objectif» pour l’IGP. Il suffit qu’un maillon de la chaîne de production (production, transformation) soit localisé dans l’endroit de l’origine géographique pour que le lien soit établi.

La protection de ces droits nécessite la réunion de trois facteurs essentiels: un cahier des charges, un dispositif institutionnel chargé de l’homologation et de la certification et l’enregistrement international des titres. Le cahier des charges dispose des conditions que doivent respecter les producteurs pour bénéficier du droit. Le dispositif institutionnel enregistre et contrôle l’application du cahier des charges. Enfin, la protection internationale confère au titulaire d’un droit une exclusivité sur la commercialisation des produits portant le label protégé dans tous les pays où ce droit est enregistré. Un cadre juridique spécifique doit garantir la crédibilité et l’efficacité de ce mécanisme de protection.

Les indications de provenance constituent un atout important pour les agriculteurs des pays du Sud du fait qu’elles confèrent une valeur ajoutée à leurs produits. La protection des indications géographiques de provenance est au cœur de l’actualité. L’Union Africaine voit dans ses travaux actuels vers l’adoption d’une stratégie africaine pour les indications géographiques un pas en avant vers la réalisation des objectifs fixés par la Déclaration de Malabo.

Quant à elle, la FAO continue d’appuyer techniquement ses pays membres dans l’établissement de mécanismes pour la protection des signes de qualité liée à l’origine géographique, tel qu’actuellement pour l’ananas pain de sucre du Bénin.


AMR and the environment

Antimicrobial resistance (AMR) has been garnering high level attention across the globe for the past decade1. As countries adopt National Action Plans (NAPs) to coordinate their responses and begin to address the threats posed by AMR, the environment has emerged as a hotspot for AMR. In the food and agriculture sectors, there are a multitude of potential drivers for AMR which can be released into the environment through numerous pathways if certain critical points lack the appropriate controls, such as waste disposal from the pharmaceutical industry and feed mills, farms (including manure of treated animals), livestock businesses and others. In addition to waste disposal as an entry point to the environment, potential drivers for AMR could also enter into waterways as a result of wastewater discharge and runoff from farms; enter into the soil, and subsequent uptake by crops, as a result of using greywater or black water for irrigation; enter into agricultural products as a result of manure used as fertilizer; enter into groundwater by leaching; and even enter into the air through bioaerosols from agriculture and composting.

Legislation has a significant role to play as a mechanism to introduce various requirements to contain and minimize the development and spread of AMR in the environment. An example would be the requirement of conducting an environmental impact assessment or creating a waste management plan as a pre-condition for authorization to introduce a veterinary medicine into the market. Environmental impact assessments might also be required for the authorization of feed mills, laboratories, farms, or other livestock businesses (markets, slaughterhouses or other animal gathering facilities) to operate. Such regulatory mechanisms enable a government to ensure facilities have appropriate means to address the risks posed by AMR. Regulatory requirements could be included in general environmental protection, waste management or water laws, as well as in sector-specific legislation addressing, among other things, animal production, aquaculture, veterinary pharmaceuticals or feed.

There still remain key knowledge gaps in the understanding of the dynamics of AMR and the environment. Therefore, the regulatory responses to combat AMR that have to date been identified are by no means exhaustive. On the issue of AMR and legislation, the strength of linkage between science and law will be vital in creating an effective response that is both driven by sound science and responsive to new scientific breakthroughs.

The Development Law Branch of the Legal Office (LEGN) is part of the FAO interdepartmental working group supporting the Organization’s work on AMR, as well as part of the sub-group on AMR and the environment. Within this framework, LEGN pursues the identification of potential regulatory solutions to combat the development of resistance, as well as its spread into the environment, with a view to supporting countries in developing appropriate regulatory frameworks to minimize AMR. LEGN is currently preparing a legislative study to assist countries to revise their regulatory frameworks in AMR-related areas.


1. For background on antimicrobial resistance and the role of FAO and LEGN, see Development Law Service Newsletter, September 2016, issue #3


The importance of legal and regulatory frameworks in ensuring sustainable forest conversion

Up to 40% of deforestation in developing countries is associated with intensive commercial farming, which requires vast tracts of land. This percentage rises to 73% in tropical areas where, in order to carry out intensive production of a single crop such as soya or oil palm, natural forests must be cleared. As conversion processes are generally irreversible, it is crucial that such activities be appropriately managed by Governments. A comprehensive legal and regulatory framework for forest conversion, which should include the recognition and protection of land use rights including customary land use rights, reduces the risk of illegal and unsustainable large-scale clearing activities. Such a legal and regulatory framework will also assist Governments to meet their commitments under Agenda 2030, in particular, SDG Targets 2.3 and 5.a.

In order to better understand how forest conversion is shaped by existing legal and regulatory frameworks, the legal regimes of two countries of the Congo basin region were analysed by the Development Law Branch of the FAO Legal Office during 2016. The legal analysis addresses the existence of 1) National Land Use Plans (NLUP); 2) frameworks for “land use change” of forested areas, and; 3) Clearance permit systems.

The study found that the absence of NLUPs, the primary purpose of which is to allocate national lands to different uses or to set clear responsibilities in that regard, prevents full knowledge of the location of all forest areas and leaves forest conversion activity ungoverned by an overarching legal framework. For example, forest exploitation permits may be issued that overlap with existing titles, or with other permits issued by different ministries, in contradiction with other laws that govern the specific forest areas concerned. In light of this lesson, LEGN considers that, where they have not already done so, Governments could be encouraged to develop NLUPs, to provide a strategic framework to inform land development and support coherence in the actions of the various concerned national and local authorities.

In addition, the study showed that the absence of registration or conditional registration mechanisms for customary land tenure, or limited enforcement of those mechanisms that exist, opens the possibility of granting forest exploitation permits to third parties on land traditionally used by local communities/indigenous peoples. This creates the potential for land disputes and social tensions. Thus, the study showed that, for the purpose of equitable and sustainable development, mechanisms to address customary land tenure rights are key.

The analysis of sector-specific legislation related to forestry or agriculture, which in these countries was adopted prior to the onset of large-scale forest clearing, also revealed some important lacunae, both in the area of land use change and forest clearing permits. For example, in one of the countries studied, whilst selective logging activity in forest areas is well regulated, via the granting of permissions to establish ‘Non-Permanent Forest Estates’, the clearance of forests and their conversion to other use, i.e. agriculture, is not regulated and farming activities are not subject to permits. This significantly increases the risk of illegal forest clearance activities and the non-sustainable use of forests. A number of lessons can be drawn from this, the most important of which is the importance of cross-sectoral approaches, from regulatory and institutional perspectives, to ensure that the strength of certain mechanisms in certain areas is not undermined by the absence or weakness of relevant mechanisms in others. This, once again, supports the need to develop NLUPs and to carefully adhere to them.

A more in-depth legal paper/legislative study on this will be soon available at http://www.fao.org/legal/publications/en/ .


Ecosystem Approach to Fisheries (EAF)- A New Tool for Law and Policy Makers

In 2016, FAO published the “How-to Guide on legislating for an Ecosystem Approach to Fisheries”.

As we know, the EAF concept originated several decades ago with the gradual realisation that, for greater effectiveness, conventional fisheries management approaches needed to incorporate ecosystem considerations, including the human/social component. For example, the use of competitive TAC (Total Allowable Catch) mechanisms have been shown to cause a race to fish and the over-exploitation of resources, without producing significant economic and social benefits.

FAO defines the EAF as an approach that “strives to balance diverse societal objectives, by taking into account the knowledge and uncertainties about biotic, abiotic and human components of ecosystems and their interactions and applying and integrated approach to fisheries within ecologically meaningful boundaries1 . The Guide is a practical tool for law and policy makers to facilitate the incorporation of EAF principles and approaches into national legal and policy frameworks on fisheries management.

This Guide is important because, whilst none of the principles and approaches that underpin the EAF are new (they all originate in earlier instruments, agreements and declarations, most notably the 1995 FAO Code of Conduct for Responsible Fisheries), their concrete implementation by countries still lags behind.

The Guide is innovative because it takes the research on how to legislate for an ecosystem approach to fisheries one step further: it identifies 17 key “minimum components” for legislating for EAF and it operationalises them into concrete drafting steps, which can serve as a checklist against which countries can work on their own legal and policy frameworks. Examples of national legislation and policies are also given, to serve as inspiration. Indeed, whilst noting some overall challenges, the Guide helps to dispel a common myth that implementing EAF is difficult, as it shows how this goal can be furthered in a practical way.

However, whilst extremely useful in furthering the overall goal of sustainable and responsible fisheries use and management, the Guide is not intended to replace parallel legislative reviews or gaps assessment exercises, as several of its elements overlap with other sustainable development/use frameworks and with elements of general fisheries legislation review.

The Guide is available at: http://www.fao.org/3/a-i5966e.pdf


1. FAO 2003. Fisheries Management. The ecosystem approach to fisheries. FAO Technical Guidelines for Responsible Fisheries. No. 4, Suppl. 2. P. 11-12. Rome, FAO


An important step forward: a new Model Law on Family Farming is adopted by the ‘PARLATINO’

On 3 December 2016, the General Assembly of the Latin American and Caribbean Parliament (the PARLATINO) approved a “Model Law on Family Farming”, representing the culmination of a process that began in 2012 which saw the adoption by the PARLATINO of the Framework Law on the Right to Food, Food Security and Food Sovereignty and the declaration of 2014 as the “International Year of Family Farming”. The Model Law is the first of its kind and constitutes a breakthrough as it puts family farming at the centre of Governments' agricultural, environmental and social policies.

The Model Law on Family Farming is based on the “Declaration on Family Farming” approved by PARLATINO in 2015.

The PARLATINO is an institution representing 23 national parliaments of Latin American and the Caribbean countries. Whilst the laws it approves are not binding on its Member States, they serve as a reference point, with the capacity to influence the countries’ agendas. Through these laws, the PARLATINO encourages legislative harmonization, a mainstay for integration and cooperation among the legislators of the region.

Family farming1 is recognized by the Model Law as key in providing the entire population of a country with healthy and nutritious food, ensuring environmental sustainability and the preservation of biodiversity. Moreover, it seeks to improve the quality of life of the families that depend on family farming, to guide the coordinated action of competent institutions and to contribute to the realization of the right to adequate and sufficient food.

The text, which is set out in 31 Articles and organized in 8 Chapters, creates a legal framework for States to guarantee the preservation, promotion and development of family farming. Its guiding principles are: sustainability, empowerment, participation, transparency and the preservation, promotion and development of family farming. Its ultimate objectives are, amongst others, to contribute to food security, poverty reduction, regularization of land tenure, development of sustainable agriculture systems and coordination of policies and programs. The Model Law provides that a State should create a register of family farmers and provide them with technical assistance. It also requires that each State establish a central coordinating body for the implementation of a national policy on family farming and related programmes. Other salient features of the Model Law include a monitoring system which, through the collection of data, allows the country to assess the progress made and verify its compliance with norms and principles, and provisions on the representation and participation of civil society.

The development of the Model Law demonstrated the importance of cross-sectoral approaches, involving all stakeholders, in the making of legislation. In this case, a multidisciplinary team of FAO specialists in agriculture, economics, public policies and law assisted the PARLATINO in this effort. Furthermore, this process was supported by political and technical actors such as the Specialized Meeting of Family Farming of the Common Market of the South MERCOSUR (“REAF”), the Parliamentary Fronts against Hunger of Latin America and the Caribbean, the Hunger Free Latin America and Caribbean initiative and the Hunger Free Mesoamerica Program.

The Model Law – currently only available in Spanish – will be translated into different languages and distributed by the PARLATINO to legislative bodies of its Member States. The latter should then be in a position to focus their efforts on promoting rural development policies and programmes, with an emphasis on women, youth and indigenous peoples, the insertion of products from family farming in national and international markets, and the implementation of a register to assess the status and evolution of family agriculture at national and regional level.

In addition, a video and a written systematization of the process are being prepared in both Spanish and English to be shared with regional institutions and stakeholders. This can also be used by other regions, thus improving the possibilities for knowledge sharing through South-South cooperation mechanisms. The full Spanish text of the model law can be found here: http://www.parlatino.org/pdf/leyes_marcos/leyes/ley-agricultura-familiar.pdf

 


1. “Agricultura familiar: Es el modo de vida y trabajo agrícola practicado por hombres y mujeres de un mismo núcleo familiar, a través de unidades productivas familiares. Su fruto es destinado al consumo propio o al trueque y comercialización, pudiendo provenir de la recolección, agricultura, silvicultura, pesca, artesanía o servicios, en diversos rubros, tales como el hortícola, frutícola, forestal, apícola, pecuario, industrial rural, pesquero artesanal, acuícola y de agroturismo.” (Article 5, Model Law on Family Farming, Parlatino).

“Family farming: is the way of life and agricultural work practiced by men and women of the same household, through family production units. Family farming products are destined either for self-consumption or for barter and commercialization. They can be produced from harvesting, agriculture, silviculture, fisheries, handicrafts or services, in different sectors, such as: horticulture, fruticulture, forestry, apiculture, livestock, rural industry, artisanal fishing vessels, aquaculture and agro-tourism.” [unofficial translation]