Is Access to Food a Human Right?

Friday, August 13, 2010

India's economy is on the rise, but with an estimated 421 million people living in poverty, its levels of malnutrition are still staggeringly high. The governing Indian National Congress Party is pushing to enshrine the right to food in the country’s constitution and expand the existing entitlement so that every Indian family would qualify for a monthly 77-pound bag of grain, sugar and kerosene.

We want to hear from you: Should government guarantee the basics of human survival? What would you make a basic human right?

Chris Jochnick, a lawyer and a director at Oxfam America, explains that the right to food is an economic right, even if it's hard to enforce. Raj Patel is a fellow at the Institute for Food and Development Policy and author of "Food Rebellions: Crisis and Hunger for Justice." He explains the difference between social and economic rights, like the right to food, and and civil and political rights.


Chris Jochnick and Raj Patel

Produced by:

Samantha Fields

Comments [5]

Gebre Kedan from Canada

It's already enshrined in the UN Charter, the rights of ALL to adequate food, health, housing, education and recreation - the very basics of life. The lack of political will by world governments to adequately distribute and SHARE the world's pie, should be abhorred and strongly condemned, as we witness almost 3 million deaths annually, in a world with a 10% surplus of food per capita. And we have the GALL to say we are men!!!

Aug. 15 2010 11:27 AM
Kathleen from Massachusetts

Food absolutely is a human right. It's recognized in international agreements that the US helped write over 50 years ago. The fact that not every country can feed all its people right now is irrelevant to food being a human right. Governments -- including ours -- should be judged according to how quickly and effectively they are working to feed everyone.

Aug. 13 2010 09:51 AM
Mike Moxcey from Fort Collins, CO, USA

Rights exist only in the human realm and have nothing to do with biological reality. The salmon has no more right to life or to get upstream than the grizzly has to eat the salmon.

We can state we have a right to food (which is a good idea), but we cannot guarantee it, especially given the limited size of the planet and another 'right' that people think they have--the right to reproduce and have as many children as possible.

Aug. 13 2010 09:16 AM
Jake from Nassau County

How about my right not to support the ever-increasing children of irresponsible people ?

How about a corresponding responsibility not breed what you cannot feed ?

How about my right to green spaces and clean air, which the population explosion is destroying ?

Aug. 13 2010 08:37 AM
paulb from Brooklyn

I don't see how there can be any sort of legitimate "right" to anything that has to be provided to you. A legal initiative to end hunger in a country is a good thing but it shouldn't be framed or legislated as something that doesn't make logical sense. America's founders had a respect for language--something that governments in the 20th century have completely lost track of.

Aug. 13 2010 06:16 AM

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