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Brazil adopts a new Policy on Food Security and Nutrition

News - 02.09.2010

On 25 August 2010, Brazil adopted a Policy on Food Security and Nutrition of Brazil (Decree 7.272) that firmly establishes the right to food in Brazil's food and nutrition efforts. The Policy is part of the efforts undertaken in view of the implementation of the Food and Nutrition Security Law (LOSAN) of 2006. It establishes the framework and principles for the development of a National Food and Nutrition Security Plan. The right to food is firmly anchored in the Policy.

Several provisions are relevant for the human right to adequate food:

1) The right to food is explicitly mentioned as overall objective of the policy (... to guarantee the human rights to adequate food on the entire national territory). Moreover, the directive principles of the Policy include training and education on the right to food, the support to initiatives that promote the right to food at international level and in international negotiations, and the monitoring of the realization of the human right to food.

2) The specific objectives of the Policy include the development of programs and activities that respect, protect, promote and provide the human right to adequate food, including claim mechanisms.

3) Claims mechanisms (instrumentos de exigibilidade) for the right to food are very prominent in this Policy. Among others, Brazil's Food and Nutrition Security Council (CONSEA) is requested to make proposals in this respect; federal government programs and activities need to integrate such claims mechanisms and state level authorities are requested to do the same in their own programs. With respect to the municipal level, the claims mechanisms foreseen by the decree are rather political mechanisms and the right to food is guaranteed through participation of and monitoring by social groups.

4) States, the federal district and municipalities can become part of the national food and nutrition security system. One of the criteria for decentralized entities to become members of the system is the acceptance of the engagement to respect and promote the human right to adequate food.

5) A lot of emphasis is given to social participation of food insecure groups, if necessary, by providing financial means to make such participation possible. 
The focus on the most vulnerable groups, as well as the principles of equity, transparency, information and facilitated access to information are reflected in the Policy, which explicitly requests the assessment of the situation of the most vulnerable groups, including the availability of disaggregated data related to the social status, race and gender.

6) The Policy will be implemented through the National Food and Nutrition Security Plan. It establishes some of the issues to be covered by the first plan, such as cash transfer schemes, family agriculture (small scale farming), access to land and access to water, and the food security of indigenous people and quilombolas.

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This is an important milestone for the implementation of the right to food in Brazil. The Policy establishes the right to food in all federal programs related to food security and nutrition (such as the Fome Zero program). Most importantly, it now introduces the right to food into the work of decentralized entities (states, federal district and municipalities). The Policy is innovative with respect to claims mechanisms. These can be judicial, quasi-judicial, political and administrative. The international Seminar on claims mechanisms organized by FAO, CONSEA and the Ministry for Social Development and Fight against Hunger (MDS) in Brasilia in October 2009 played an important role to clarify concepts, raise awareness about the different types of mechanisms and their practical implications, and thus to facilitate the consensus on this issue as reflected in the Policy (The report of this seminar is available at: http://www.planalto.gov.br

It is rewarding to see this central element of a human rights approach so strongly reflected in the Policy, which thus plays a pioneer role also at international level. Another innovative element is that the Policy provides orientation for Brazil's position in international fora and negotiations. This is an important step to achieve policy coherence at national and international levels.

To read the text of the Decree containing the Policy on Food Security and Nutrition (available only in Portugese for the moment), please click here: http://www.planalto.gov.br/ccivil_03/_ato2007-2010/2010/decreto/d7272.htm

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