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Radical UN Report Promotes Democratic Control of Food and an End to Corporate Domination

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A new report submitted to the United Nations Human Rights Council on the "Right to Food" took aim at the entire basis on which food is produced and distributed on a global scale. Reflecting the type of progressive analysis of our food system from experts like Vandana Shiva and Michael Pollan, report author Olivier De Schutter called for an undermining of large agribusinesses and an infusion of democratic control.

Although the report's recommendations are revolutionary, news of its release went largely unreported in the major U.S. media.

De Schutter, the U.N. special rapporteur on the right to food, spent six years visiting more than a dozen countries and concluded that the world's entire food system should be rebuilt, starting with the promotion of local, sustainable farming so that ordinary people have control over what they can grow and eat. This certainly does not sound radical to those of us in U.S. cities where there has been a rapid expansion of farmers markets and an explosion in backyard farming. But in poor American communities and in poor countries as a whole, it is a radical notion for food to be grown locally, sustainably and democratically.

The world's food system is controlled by a handful of giant corporations, the majority of which are based in the U.S., such as ConAgra, Cargill and PepsiCo. These companies are a bottleneck through which most of the world's food is forced, in order to feed most of the world's people. Not only is this method environmentally unsustainable given its overreliance on chemical fertilizers, pesticides and fossil fuels, but it is also inefficient at actually feeding people. The World Food Programme estimates that there are 842 million hungry people worldwide.     


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