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Food sovereignty or the human right to adequate food: which concept serves better as international development policy for global hunger and poverty reduction?

Listed author(s):
  • Tina Beuchelt


  • Detlef Virchow
Registered author(s):

    The emerging concept of food sovereignty refers to the right of communities, peoples, and states to independently determine their own food and agricultural policies. It raises the question of which type of food production, agriculture and rural development should be pursued to guarantee food security for the world population. Social movements and non-governmental organizations have readily integrated the concept into their terminology. The concept is also beginning to find its way into the debates and policies of UN organizations and national governments in both developing and industrialized countries. Beyond its relation to civil society movements little academic attention has been paid to the concept of food sovereignty and its appropriateness for international development policies aimed at reducing hunger and poverty, especially in comparison to the human right to adequate food (RtAF). We analyze, on the basis of an extensive literature review, the concept of food sovereignty with regard to its ability to contribute to hunger and poverty reduction worldwide as well as the challenges attached to this concept. Then, we compare the concept of food sovereignty with the RtAF and discuss the appropriateness of both concepts for national public sector policy makers and international development policies. We conclude that the impact on global food security is likely to be much greater if the RtAF approach predominated public policies. While the concept of food sovereignty may be appropriate for civil society movements, we recommend that the RtAF should obtain highest priority in national and international agricultural, trade and development policies. Copyright Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2012

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    Article provided by Springer & The Agriculture, Food, & Human Values Society (AFHVS) in its journal Agriculture and Human Values.

    Volume (Year): 29 (2012)
    Issue (Month): 2 (June)
    Pages: 259-273

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    Handle: RePEc:spr:agrhuv:v:29:y:2012:i:2:p:259-273
    DOI: 10.1007/s10460-012-9355-0
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    1. Walden Bello, 2008. "How to Manufacture a Global Food Crisis," Development, Palgrave Macmillan;Society for International Deveopment, vol. 51(4), pages 450-455, December.
    2. Miguel A Altieri & Clara I Nicholls, 2008. "Scaling up Agroecological Approaches for Food Sovereignty in Latin America," Development, Palgrave Macmillan;Society for International Deveopment, vol. 51(4), pages 472-480, December.
    3. Sophia Murphy, 2008. "Globalization and Corporate Concentration in the Food and Agriculture Sector," Development, Palgrave Macmillan;Society for International Deveopment, vol. 51(4), pages 527-533, December.
    4. Stiglitz, Joseph E. & Charlton, Andrew, 2007. "Fair Trade For All: How Trade Can Promote Development," OUP Catalogue, Oxford University Press, number 9780199219988.
    5. Antoine Bouët & Jean-Christophe Bureau & Yvan Decreux & Sébastien Jean, 2005. "Multilateral Agricultural Trade Liberalisation: The Contrasting Fortunes of Developing Countries in the Doha Round," The World Economy, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 28(9), pages 1329-1354, September.
    6. Peter Rosset, 2008. "Food Sovereignty and the Contemporary Food Crisis," Development, Palgrave Macmillan;Society for International Deveopment, vol. 51(4), pages 460-463, December.
    7. Antoine Bouët & Simon Mevel & David Orden, 2007. "More or Less Ambition in the Doha Round: Winners and Losers from Trade Liberalisation with a Development Perspective," The World Economy, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 30(8), pages 1253-1280, August.
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