Declaration «Food in the World»

II World Conference on Bioethics (Gijón, Spain, 2002)

We, the participants in the Second World Conference on Bioethics:

Shocked at the immense number of people dying of starvation and malnutrition each year, which constitutes an ongoing global emergency of enormous scale;

Alarmed at the threat to global prosperity, security and stability posed by the deep fault line that divides human society between the rich and the poor and the ever-increasing gap between the developed and developing worlds;

Disappointed by the current rate of reduction in the number of undernourished people in the world of only six million per year, which means that the World Food Summit target, as reaffirmed by the Millennium Declaration, of reducing the number of the undernourished by half by 2015 will not be attained;

Concerned at the ever decreasing emphasis placed on food, agriculture and rural development by Official Development Assistance and International Financial Institution budgets and programs;

Desirous of a humane, democratic equitable and caring global society that respects the human dignity of every person ;

Recalling the important recent agreements reached under the auspices of the United Nations, including the negotiation and adoption of the Cartagena Protocol on Biosafety and the International Treaty on Plant Genetic Resources for Food and Agriculture and aware of the current efforts for the development of guidelines for the realisation of the Right to Food and an international Code of Conduct on Biotechnology; and,

Recognising the importance of ethics in all aspects of sustainable development and in particular issues affecting food and agriculture;

CALL UPON governments and civil society to:

Justice, Equity and the Right to Food for All

Maintain the right of everyone to have access to safe and nutritious food that is indivisible from the right to life;

Effectively implement the fundamental human right of the right to food, both at the national level and internationally, through the development of a set of voluntary guidelines to support countries' efforts to achieve the progressive realisation of the right to adequate food under the auspices of FAO, and by taking due account of the right of everyone to adequate food in WTO negotiations on the Agreement on Agriculture;

Urgently develop strategies to mitigate the devastating impact of HIV/AIDS, which has already killed some 7 million agricultural workers since 1985 in the 25 worst hit African countries alone, that threatens to fatally undermine efforts at sustainable agricultural development and food security;

Ensure adequate access to clean water and effective sanitation as a critical component of nutritional security and a safe working environment to agricultural producers;

Ensure ethical food trade through the provision of fair wages to agricultural workers and more, generally, labour welfare, according to the ILO Conventions and the UN Charter of Rights for Children;

Recognise the risks to human dignity and other basic human rights concepts posed by failure to preserve the right of the recipients of international food aid to make an informed choice regarding that food;

Recognise that equality of rights for all, without distinction as to sex, race, origin, language, religion or economic status is fundamental in addressing the economic, social, political and humanitarian problems that undermine food security;

Implement Farmers' Rights, as provided for in the International Treaty on Plant Genetic Resources for Food and Agriculture, as a fundamental element in ensuring sustainable livelihoods for smallholder farmers throughout the world, which are essential for the conservation and sustainable development of the agricultural biological diversity that is the basis of all food security;

Globalization and Sustainable Development

Take into account the interdependency of the world's regions in agricultural production and to reaffirm the integrity of the global common goods that are the basis of this production;

Recognise that monopolies on key global resources, through mechanisms such as intellectual property rights, do not automatically contribute to poverty reduction and may undermine the equality of access to resources and information that is critical to global food security;

Support and encourage the rapid ratification and effective implementation of the International Treaty on Plant Genetic Resources for Food and Agriculture to ensure continued conservation and sustainable use of the raw materials of agriculture while also ensuring free access to these materials for all;

Recognise the seriously adverse effects of the current world trading system on the poorest countries, which have limited market access for their agricultural produce, while being flooded with subsidised products from the world's richest countries;

Recognise that economic globalisation continues to pose a severe threat to cultural diversity, local knowledge systems and institutions and social organisation that are essential for the maintenance of globally significant biological diversity for food and livelihood security and ecosystem health.

Make all efforts to ensure that the world's poor and marginalised, and particularly those in developing countries, are assisted in meeting the challenges of the process of economic globalisation and that they are not excluded from, or prejudiced by, it;

Commit themselves to effective multilateral approaches to the world's problems and pursuant to this commitment ensure harmony in the development and implementation of international agreements in all sectors;

Food and Agricultural Biotechnologies

Recognise that new food and agricultural biotechnologies are powerful instruments with great potential in agricultural development but that may also pose new risks and that consequently must be subject to internationally accepted regulatory mechanisms;

Support and encourage the rapid ratification and effective implementation of the Cartagena Protocol on Biosafety as an important element of international regulatory approaches to biotechnology;

Oppose monopoly domination of new biotechnologies, that frequently leads to the development of inappropriate technologies that do not take into account the real situation and needs of the the world's poor, whom they may further marginalise;

Support and encourage the further development of a comprehensive Code of Conduct on Biotechnology aimed at maximising the benefits and minimising the risks of new biotechnologies;

Implement farmer and consumers'right to choose to produce and consume organic agriculture products by protecting organic fields from GMO contamination;

Reaffirm the important role of Codex Alimentarius, the International Plant Protection Convention and the Office International des Epizooties to provide effective, science-based, internationally-accepted standards of food safety, plant and animal health;