Why Food Sovereignty rather than Food Security?
(This discussion is taken from the Alliance for African Food Sovereignty announcement of its formation.)
In 2001, the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), an international organization, defined their objective of achieving food security as:
a situation that exists when all people, at all times, have physical, social and economic access to sufficient, safe and nutritious food that meets their dietary needs and food preferences for an active and healthy life.
The US government uses a similar statement. While this objective sounds good, it has been misused to justify policies that only prioritize yield and the delivery of food to consumers by any means. Food security, has become divorced from consideration of how that food is produced and by whom, i.e., ‘food justice’ and ‘food sovereignty.’ “Food security” is misused to encourage the industrialization and corporatization of agriculture, food aid, the use of genetically modified seeds, the shifting of food production from diverse crops for local markets to monocultures for export and the liberalization markets where small producers are put out of business by subsidized imports.
For example, “Food Security: is the stated objective of the most recent Green Revolution in Africa being aggressively promoted by the Alliance for a Green Revolution in Africa (AGRA). AGRA promotes expensive , subsidized fertilizers, pesticides and hybrid seeds, which are not economically and environmentally sustainable. AGRA puts the private sector in charge of seed supply and replaces local and public seed systems.
Policies based on “Food Security” have failed to protect consumers around the world from soaring food prices. Under Food Security practices prescribed by the US and other governments, businesses and the FAO, world hunger is actually growing. Under the Food Security doctrine, food has become a commodity for maximizing profits for a few rather than a source of nutrition for the people as mandated by Food Sovereignty. Never before was the inequity of the global food system more starkly evident than during the Food Crisis of 2007-2008. As people around the world starved, agribusiness and commodity traders reported record profits.
It is clear that the doctrine of food security on its own has failed to meet the needs of the people for a source of nutrition and is destroying our environment. Real food security must be based on food sovereignty, the people’s truly democratic, just and sustainable, supreme control over their food and agriculture.
This model of food sovereignty, not food security, is what is needed, one that works with farmers and consumers, communities, soils and biodiversity, on which actual food production depends. Instead of focusing only narrowly on food production like the doctrine of Food Security, Food Sovereignty serves all elements—farmers, communities, ecosystems, climate, markets and consumers—involved in food and agriculture. It is a holistic approach, mutually enhancing at every level, bringing coherence, justice and environmental and economic sustainability to food and agriculture.
(Alliance for Food Sovereignty in Africa)