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Consumers help make agrifood systems transformation a reality

News - 03.12.2021

3 December 2021, Rome- Consumers, with the support of consumer organizations, can be key to ensuring human rights for all people are met, according to a new report launched by the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO).

The publication, which explores the link between consumer organizations and the realization of the right to adequate food, highlights that consumers are part of the solution for the sustainable transformation of agri-food systems.

Consumer organizations represent millions of people, including communities in least developed countries and in conflict zones, and have the capacity to monitor issues like price surges, unfair and unsafe food practices and inappropriate marketing to children.

They are fundamental partners in the design and implementation of policies on food security and nutrition, and their demands should be heard when decisions are taken.

 “While there has been significant progress since the turn of the century to fulfil the right to food, because of the global pandemic and with hunger and poverty on the rise, perhaps now more than ever, it is time to revisit the ideals of universal food rights”, Benjamin Davis, Director of the Inclusive Rural Transformation and Gender Equality Division at FAO, states in the foreword. “It is time to engage more and more actors into the demands for a sustainably developing world which leaves no one behind and respects the human rights of all”, he adds.

The report seeks to support the work of consumer organizations from a human rights perspective. Consumer organizations place pressure on both governments and the private sector for more stringent consumer protection, including from poor quality and hazardous foods and exploitative and unfair business practices. They also work to promote healthy diets and better labelling of foods, and raise awareness on fair trade and decent work, among others.

They inform consumers on their rights and responsibilities, connecting with civil society organizations, governments and international organizations. This all helps to drive the right to adequate food. With their work, consumer organizations can demonstrate to consumers that their actions, beyond their individual consumption, have impacts and can improve the human rights of others.

Achievements worldwide

The report is released together with Consumer Organizations in Action, a collection of the good practices on food issues of consumer organizations, members of Consumers International, from around the world.  

This snapshot of experiences aims to foster networks of consumer organisations, and partnerships between them and other stakeholders, including academics and parliamentarians. For instance, it showcases how consumer organizations in Thailand have successfully campaigned for the ban of trans fats, in Mexico for a sugar tax on beverages, and in Côte d’Ivoire against the illegal dumping of low quality foods such as damaged rice.

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