Food Right

Many women, men and children affected by chronic undernourishment suffer from what the UN Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) calls ‘extreme hunger’. This means that their daily ratio of calories is well below the minimum necessary for survival. Many people die on a daily basis from starvation. Malnutrition, also called the ‘hidden hunger’, refers to inadequate intake of calories, proteins or nutrients. Thus, malnutrition necessarily encompasses undernourishment; however it stretches beyond the latter since it might be that a person receives enough calories but not enough nutrients. Malnutrition is quieter than famine – in the sense that it does not attract the attention of the media – but it has no less tragic implications for those suffering of this disease. Malnutrition heightens vulnerability to other illnesses and almost always has serious physical and mental effects – the lack of brain cell development, inadequate growth. Serious malnutrition can also be hereditary, as many malnourished mothers give birth to malnourished babies. A vicious circle ensues. The right to food is a human, legal and clearly defined right which gives rise to obligations of states to reduce both chronic undernourishment and malnutrition. The right to food is a human right. It protects the right of all human beings to live in dignity, free from hunger, food insecurity and malnutrition. The right to food is not about charity, but about ensuring that all people have the capacity to feed themselves in dignity.