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Engaging with consumer organizations for the realization of the right to adequate food

News - 10.06.2019

10 June 2019, Rome- Consumers have the power to bring changes, and with adequate capacity on how to address human rights in their demand, the effects of such impact can greatly multiply.  So, in light of the collaboration between the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) and Consumers International (CI), a global federation of consumer rights groups, efforts are being conducted to increase empowerment of consumers in order to fulfill the right to food (RTF).

In the coming month, FAO will analyze how the role and responsibilities of consumer organizations is key to positively affect this human right. FAO will be producing a Consumers’ Guide to the RTF, which will target consumer organizations and their networks, globally and across regions.

Consumers, just like everyone else, have the right to adequate food, and their demands, awareness and education should be shaped by the understanding of what constitutes healthy nutritional habits and sustainable diets. Juan Carlos García y Cebolla, FAO Right to Food Team leader, pointed out: “They need to be better aware of what having the right to adequate food means and what they can do to contribute to its realization”. Otherwise, their actions could be counter-productive, he added.

Consumers are affected by choices of decision-makers and policy-makers that can expose them to food hazards, unsafe food handling, and low standards for food processing along the value chain.  They act as a counterbalance to the views of countries and industry, while providing a public perspective. Well organized consumer groups can place growing pressure on governments worldwide to protect people from poor quality foods, ensuring the enjoyment of the RTF of present and future generations.

There is an increasing need to manage food demand and change people’s unhealthy and inadequate dietary preferences according to their socio-economic and cultural, as well as traditional, contexts and habits. This is a core issue that prevents the full realization of the right to food and an area where consumer organizations have a great role to play.

Recognition of consumers as a solution to achieve Zero Hunger

Hence, consumers are a vital part of the Agenda 2030 and critical to the achievement of the  Sustainable Development Goals which are grounded in human rights. Food safety and consumer protection are key elements set forth by the RTF Guidelines which touch on a number of interrelated and interdependent human rights such as the right to water and sanitation, the right to health, the right to education, and the right to information and freedom of expression. The RTF Guidelines encourage states to empower citizens with the necessary knowledge and skills to secure their right to food. Specifically, Guidelines 9 highlight the important correlations between Food safety and consumer protection.

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