The Special Rapporteur on the Right To Food, Olivier de Schutter (Belgium) appeared before the Human Rights Council to present his latest report and for members of the Council to respond. The Rapporteur referred to concerns raised in his report about malnutrition not being just a lack of food but of consuming the wrong kinds of foods. He argued for a right to food rich in nutrients and diversity and criticized the globalization of food as being responsible for both malnutrition and obesity.
He had also reported on visits to China, Madagascar, South Africa and Mexico, and these members of the Council responded first. The Chinese and South African representatives were very critical and argued that the Rapporteur had his facts wrong. Similarly, the US criticized the reporting for incomplete economic and social analysis and incorrect policy prescriptions. The EU was perhaps gentler in suggesting that there were positive benefits from private sector interventions to improve nutrition. In general, the rest of the discussion focused on how countries were addressing efforts to improve nutrition, while a number of interventions, including one from the WHO, also focused on the specific benefits of breast-feeding for healthy nutritional development. There is a draft resolution on the right to food presented by Cuba that is being discussed this week. The resolution has been introduced before, and it does include a very broad array of proposals, many of which are very general. We will continue to report on this.