Last week, United Nations special rapporteur on the right to food, Hilal Elver, made a powerful proclamation, citing the rise of ultra-processed foods as a human right concern and stating that policymaking spaces should be free of industry influence.
Highlights (from Associated Press):
- “Elver said that the rise of industrial food production combined with trade liberalization has allowed large corporations to flood the global market with cheap, nutrient-poor foods that force poor people to choose between economic viability and nutrition, effectively violating their right to adequate food.”
- “Within the human rights framework, states are obliged to ensure effective measures to regulate the food industry, ensure that nutrition policymaking spaces are free from private sector influence and implement comprehensive policies that combat malnutrition in all its forms,” she said.
- “Elver said she was particularly concerned by aggressive marketing strategies to promote junk food to children and developing countries. And she called on governments to move away from industrial food systems and embrace more sustainable systems based on ecological balance.”
More details via New Food Economy:
- “Poverty and inequality are drivers of obesity and micronutrient deficiency, in addition to undernutrition. Low-income populations are particularly vulnerable to obesity. Processed foods tend to be highly accessible and relatively cheap and can be stored for long periods without spoiling. . . . Unable to afford healthier food options, individuals may become overreliant on poor-quality foods, essentially being forced to choose between economic viability and nutrition and exposed to ‘double malnutrition.”
- “While recognizing that companies play a big role in fighting malnutrition, there is a danger in giving corporations unprecedented access to policymaking processes, which may produce conflicts of interest at several levels unless governed properly.”