Politics of Food: Food Policy HFA 4U/C
Learning Goals: • Distinction between food as a right and food as a commodity • Key policies that affect food production and supply throughout the world • Global environmental, and health issues related to food policy • The distinction between food security policies and food insecurity policies • Responses to local and global food security issues
Food: Right Vs. Commodity • We learned that access to food is a human right. • However sometimes food is seen as a commodity – a product that can be sold to make a profit • When food is considered a right, action is taken to ensure the components of that right, ie: access, availability, adequacy, acceptability, and agency. • When food is considered a commodity action is taken to increase production and success is measured by the amount of food produced.
Food Becomes a Commodity When: • 1. Producers are motivated by profit more than perceived value of foods • 2. There is more money to be made key crops will be used for animal or fuel production, rather than feeding hungry people • 3. The market economy of supply and demand can lead to hoarding of agricultural commodities in order to increase profits • 4. Food price levels often rise far above many people’s means, resulting in lack of adequate nutrition
What are Food Policies? • A policy is a definite method of action or a set of principles that guides and determines present and future decisions. • Policies can be determined by individuals, groups, business, institutions, political parties and governments. • Corporate Food Policies: • - relate to the type of food produced ie: organic or local, processed or not. • - the treatment of employees • - locations and support of local communities • - environmental commitments
Corporate Social Responsibility • This describes corporate social responsibility, voluntary initiatives concerned with issues such as the environment, human rights, and community and international developments. • It demonstrates commitment by businesses to behave ethically and contribute to economic, development, improving the quality of life of the employees and their family’s as well as the community and society as a whole.
Public Food Policies • Decisions made by elected officials are considered public policies. • Food Policies affect how food is produced, processed, distributed, purchased, and recycled • Food Policies are created by families, groups, businesses, institutions and governments • Policies have a powerful influence on agricultural practices, food served in schools, food safety, importing and exporting, trade agreements, and international aid. • They impact more importantly what people eat!
Reflect • How did the PPM 150 policy impact your nutrition here at school?
The Changing Nature of Food Policy • Food policies reflect social and environmental conditions: • Historically food policy was often created by ministries of agriculture and fisheries with supporting roles played by ministries of health and social services. • Now food policy is also created by ministries of trade and industry, ministries of the environment and competition authorities. • When trade policy becomes more important food becomes a commodity. • Policies tend to favour large multinational and transnational corporate agribusinesses that have the power to lobby for rules favourable to large scale industrial style food production and to producing food for exports.
International Free Trade Agreements • NAFTA - North American Free Trade Agreement • WTO – World Trade Organization • AoA – Agreement on Agriculture • These agreements can block a countries ability to set its own laws and regulations about food and agriculture. The result is that small farmers often get pushed out of the market place.
Trade Liberalization • Over the years countries around the world have developed policies to limit trade in order to protect the livelihood of their own people. This was done by protecting domestic industries from competition of larger foreign producers. • The limitations put in place included: • Tariffs: fees that raise the price of goods coming into a country • Quotas: physical limits on the number of goods that can be brought into the country • Non-Tariff Barriers: regulation and legislation that make it hard for foreign competitors to sell goods in another country. • NAFTA was one movement in liberalizing trade in the early 1980’s • WTO was established in 1995 to open up markets to promote international trade • WTO levelled the playing field • AoA has three many components, market access, domestic support, and export subsidies. • Subsidies can benefit a society, but they can also be damaging. They can help smaller owner/operators, yet they are often tied to larger outputs which creates competition and favours larger corporations.
Food Aid or Dumping? • Food Aid: gifts of food commodities by foreign governments and donors to recipient governments. • Dumping: exporting subsidized or cheap food to poorer nations, or sending it as food aid, thus undercutting local farmers who cannot compete. • Pause & Think: In your opinion which type of aid is more appropriate, sending surplus food to countries in need, or sending money so that the food can be purchased from local growers and producers?
Policies for Food Security • We have looked at the continuum for food security and the three levels of strategies possible for solving food security issues – Ranging from short term such as food banks and soup kitchens, through to capacity building efforts such as education and new agricultural techniques to those that redistribute the decision making power and change the food system itself.
Policies Continued • Changing the system in the long term involves making long term policy changes that will improve food security. • This work is being done by international peasant and farm worker groups, policy councils, social justice networks and coalitions. • System redesign and policy change is considered to be the MOST effective strategy for attacking the core issues of poverty, food-system sustainability and promotion the connection between health, the community and the environment.
Food Sovereignty • Many groups have concerns about trade liberalization and the resulting factors such as globalization. • They believe that the capacity of the market and of the countries of the world to address food needs has been curtailed by the policies of the World Trade Organization and the resulting trade agreements. • The concern being that the “new” food policies bind countries to the interests of transnational corporations who are viewing food as a commodity. • They suggest food sovereignty, which means local communities have control and command of their developing food production, circulation and consumption systems.
Food Sovereignty Rights: • Define their own agricultural, labour, fishing, food, land, and water management. • Safe, nutritious, and culturally appropriate foods; to food producing resources to sustain themselves and their society. • Protect and regulate domestic production and trade and prevent the dumping of unnecessary food aid within domestic markets. • Choose their own level of self-reliance on food. • Manage use and control of life-sustaining resources: land, water, seeds, livestock and wider biodiversity. • Unrestricted by intellectual property rights and free from GMO’s • Produce and harvest food in an ecologically sustainable manner, through low external input production.
Six Pillars of Food Sovereignty • 1. Focusses on Food for the People • 2. Values Food Provides • 3. Localizes Food Systems • 4. Puts Control Locally • 5. Builds Knowledge and Skills • 6. Works with Nature
Food Sovereignty in Canada • Industrialization of the food system and polices that reduce local control does not support the food sovereignty system. • The Peoples Food Policy Project: to create Canada’s first comprehensive federal food policy based on care and respect for humans and the natural world. • Food Policy Councils: at the local level communities, cities, and provinces are establishing these councils to promote programs aimed at improving local food security – these program s involve stakeholders from within the food system and they run forums for food issues in order to coordinate action.
Local Example • The Toronto Food Policy Council (TFPC) formed in 1991 and is a recognized world leader they were the first city in North America with a staffed food policy council, they fund student nutrition programs and focus on food and hunger action, health, agricultural land planning and urban development. The TFPC also allows for two members to be from the TYFPC the Toronto Youth Food Policy Council to allow them to have a voice.
Voting with Your Fork • Voting with your form is a term that has been developed to describe a way for people to advocate change. • By being selective about the items you choose to purchase and consume you are able to express opinions, both positive and negative.
Country of Origin Labelling (COOL) • If you want to support Canadians by buying locally grown food you can look for COOL products.
Genetically Modified Food Concerns • Many people are concerned about the potential environmental and health impacts of GMO’s you can express concern or discontent by voting with your fork. • It is important that you know the products you are putting in to your body and what impacts these may have on you.
Fair Trade • Many consumers are concerned about the welfare and fair treatment of food producers, and labourers in other countries. • Fair Trade Labelling Organizations International (FLO) was established in 1997 – it guarantees that products sold with the fair trade logo conform to fair trade practices and
Under Fair Trade Agreement • - Generally less money producers and workers • - Less money goes to middlemen and more to the workers • - Usually are independent farmers • - The producer is paid a fair price that covers the cost of production but also allows them some income. • - Children are not exploited as cheap labourers • - Women’s work is properly valued and rewarded • - Encouraged environmentally sustainable practices • - Responsible methods of production
Fair Trade in Canada • In Canada Fair Trade Canada, formerly known as TransFair Canada independently audits and certifies fair trade goods. • - Chocolate and Coffee are two popular fair trade products.
Slow Food • This is a global grassroots organization with supporters in 150 countries around the world who vote with their forks by linking the pleasure of good food with the commitment to their community and environment. • Slow Food was founded in 1989 to counteract peoples dwindling interest on where the food they eat comes from, how it tastes and how peoples choices impact the rest of the world. • Slow food has been described as eco-gastronomy based on the premise that cultivating taste leads to appreciation of foods and a desire to protect placed and foods from homogenization of the global food system.
Slow Food has Three Main Components: • Good: a fresh flavourful seasonal diet that satisfies the senses and is part of our local culture. • Clean: food production and consumption that does not harm the environment, animal welfare or our health. • Fair: accessible prices for consumers and fair conditions and pay for small scale producers. • Slow Food promotes the right of all people to choose what makes up our daily diet.