"We already know today that most of the problems that are to be addressed via Golden Rice and other GMOs can be resolved in a matter of days, with the right political will." Hans Herren, Director General, The International Centre of Insect Physiology and Ecology, Kenya; winner of the World Food Prize 1995
Food is a Right, rules India's Supreme Court: Summarized
From an article by J. Venkatesan in The Hindu, online edition of India's National Newspaper [via Food Rights Watch: Focus on Trade and Human Rights]
NEW DELHI, AUG. 20. The Indian Supreme Court today maintained that it was the primary responsibility of the Central and State Governments to ensure that the foodgrains overflowing in FCI facilities reached the many starving people and not be wasted by being dumped in the sea or eaten by rats.
The Court made this observation based on reports of starvation deaths though the Food Corporation of India facilities had stocks of over 50 million tons of foodgrains.
At one point, the Bench observed that even if the foodgrains had to be given free, it should be done as no person should be deprived of food merely because he had no money. Attorney-General Soli J. Sorabjee termed it a "horrendous state of affairs" adding there was something radically wrong with the system and sought time from the court for formulation of a mechanism to provide food to the destitute.
The discussion consisted mainly of identifying access to food as a human right. The petitioner raised three basic questions: "Does the right to life mean that people who are starving and who are too poor to buy foodgrains ought to be given foodgrains free of cost by the state from the surplus stock lying with the state particularly when it is reported that a large part of it is lying unused and rotting?"
"Does not the right to life under Article 21 of the Constitution include the right to food? Does not the right to food, which has been upheld by the apex court, imply that the state has a duty to provide food especially in the situations of drought to people who are drought-affected and are not in a position to purchase food?"
The court was informed about the ineffective implementation of the food-for-work scheme. It was alleged that hardly 10 per cent of the total number of those who approached for work under the scheme, were allowed to work. Under the scheme, 50 per cent of wages were paid in foodgrains and the remaining in cash. Mr. Justice Hegde said in Orissa, the FCI godowns had more grain stocks than actually required by the State and yet people were dying of starvation.
The court expressed unhappiness over the bureaucratic functioning of the FCI and the inaction of both the Central and State Governments to come to the rescue of the starving people. The Bench, which had earlier ordered notice to the Center and six States, said the court's anxiety was that the poor, destitute and weaker sections of society should not suffer from hunger and die from starvation. Mere schemes without implementation were of no use and what was important was that food should reach the needy, the Bench said. It adjourned the hearing till September 3 for passing interimdirections.
"Concerning the future, for the world as a whole there is enough, or more than enough, food production potential to meet the growth of effective demand." Food and Agriculture Organisation of the UN