Friday, January 23, 2009

Access to Food as a Universal Human Right?

Another interesting question, which was brought up in class, is whether or not access to food should be considered a universal human right. If the answer is yes, this brings up serious questions about implementation. What quality of food/ degree of nourishment would fulfill this right? Should these minimum requirements be continually adjusted in light of increasing standards of living? What recourse, globally, would there be for those who were deprived of access to adequately nourishing food? I suppose one of the problems here in terms of general acceptance of the notion of access to food as a human right is that it deals with a much more tangible, consumable kind of resource than the kinds of things which we traditionally think of as being rights.

Actual implementation of a system to ensure that access to food would be guaranteed brings up a whole slew of other problems. In the US we have malnourishment and hunger despite the fact that there is an enormous amount of food which is wasted before it even hits the supermarkets. Why isn’t that food, much of it having been rejected in light of the average consumer’s supposedly inherent preference for unblemished produce, made available to those who need it here? Wouldn’t that be more effective than a can drive? Despite a general awareness of the issue of hunger, we can't even seem to adequately address food access here in the US where relief would be fairly easy (after all, a lot of produce is rejected after it reaches distribution centers). It certainly seems that access to food should be a priority, even if one might not agree that it should be a universal human right, but even after dealing with the specific problem of defining what "adequate access to food/nourishment" is, how can we enforce it, especially internationally?

1 comment:

  1. The answer to your question really lies on speculation of what future cultures will hold as morally right which is impossible to know. But judging by how things are now the gap may increase or decrease but it certainly will be one that will take decades to correct if not longer. And even with an international effort can hunger really be cured or even alleviated on a large scale? There are always those who deprive others even when others try to say otherwise.
    Since food is considered a commodity that holds a value its hard to see it as a given item doesn't seem plausible. However its is similar to other things we consider human rights so why shouldn't it be a right. How can we put a price on a human life and still put a price on something that they need to sustain that human life. But since it cost money to produce it is only fair to charge for it. So how can we pay to grow it then give it away. Our current economic system does not allow this to happen. No matter the cause someone always has to get paid to provide the food. Can the government really support a food subsidiary program that just gave food to the needy? Is this too much of a burden especially when a considerable portion of that food may go overseas? So trying the world food problem has to be a global effort in order for all the major countries. But certainly on a country wide basis the government could organize a system that would work but would have to be carefully orchestrated.
    Internationally enforcement of adequate needs is near impossible because there are so many countries that would not allow any sort of enforcement agency to find these hungry people. And then the question is who would enforce it? An international coalition would have to be appointed which also creates the problem of more revenue to fund the coalition. So where would the money come from? Here the question of world hunger is an issue but at the same time the bigger question is where is the money to solve world hunger?