From Covid 19 to War in Ukraine: Anatomy of the Global Food Crisis in 2022

by Hilal Elver*

In March 2020 the world was shut down along with much of the global economy to avoid the spread of the powerful virus COVID-19. Suddenly, the so-called “efficient” global food supply chains were dismantled, harvests were left in the soil, food workers returned to their homes, the major organizing principle of supply and demand balance all but disappeared, and quite simply, the global food market as we knew it came alarmingly close to collapse. COVID-19 arrived at a time that food production was historically high, and prices low, but constraints on the movements of people and goods left many people without food, and global food systems entered an unusual stalemate. These results were not entirely unpredictable, but the world was unprepared to cope with the challenge. This was true in many countries and regions in both the Global North and Global South. As a result, the number of hungry people has increased by 150 million since the outbreak of the pandemic.

While the world was still struggling with many variants of Covid-19, and full recovery is not yet in sight, the February 24, 2022, invasion of Ukraine by the Russian Federation brought about a further deterioration in global food trade as these two countries happened to be major players in the global grain market.  Today’s food markets are heavily reliant on international food trade. Since the early 1990s, nearly a quarter of all food produced crosses international borders. The high dependency on global grain imports for the food security of many countries in the Middle East and Africa is causing a severe food crisis in many parts of the world.

FAO State of Hunger and Malnutrition Report 2022

On July 6, 2022, in the middle of multiple unresolved crises, the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), World Food Program (WFP), International Fund for Agriculture Development (IFAD) (Those three are called UN Rome-based institutions), World Health Organization (WHO), and United Nations Children Fund (UNICEF) published their annual flagship report on progress toward ending hunger, achieving food security, and improving nutrition. The major message of the State of Food Security and Nutrition in the World Report (SOFI) was that “the world is moving in the wrong direction” to end hunger, food insecurity, and all forms of malnutrition. The SOFI 2022 report projects that nearly 670 million people, or 8% of the world’s population, will be affected by hunger in 2030, instead of the “zero hunger” target Nr. 2 of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDG) that were adopted by the United Nations in 2015. SOFI assesses the relevance of conflicts, including the most recent war in Ukraine, along with climate extremes and economic shocks. Additionally, for the first time, the report adds growing inequalities as major drivers of food insecurity and malnutrition.

Continue reading “From Covid 19 to War in Ukraine: Anatomy of the Global Food Crisis in 2022”

A Science and Policy Interface in Global Food Governance:

 The High Level Panel of Experts of the World Committee of Food Security

by Hilal Elver*

Global food insecurity is a highly complicated, persistent, and multi-dimensional issue that involves multiple sectors, various players, and policy domains (McKeon 2021). It appears in various ways in the different regions of the world, and it has a vast variety of interdependent underlying structural causes that are also linked to other global issues. In times of massive crises, the international community focuses on establishing effective food governance (McKeon 2015).  The sudden spike of food prices in 2007-2008 created major political uprisings in many developing countries. At that time, improving global food governance became a central focus of international discussions. As a result, in 2009, the Committee of the World Food Security (CFS) (originally created in 1974 as a UN intergovernmental body) was reformed and renewed to serve as a forum for review and follow up for food security policies. Since then, CFS is widely seen as the “foremost inclusive international and intergovernmental platform”for food security and nutrition globally.

Continue reading A Science and Policy Interface in Global Food Governance:

Food waste management in the US, UK and Japan

by Minako Kageyama Tanaka

This is the second of three blog posts by Minako Kageyama Tanaka* on food waste in the US, the UK, and Japan.

Food recovery hierarchy commonality and difference

How do the three countries tackle the food waste issue? The US, the UK and Japan articulate their food waste reduction strategies in their food recovery hierarchies. These hierarchies showcase available food waste reduction and recycling approaches and nudge people to take action in the order of least environmental impacts. Although the recovery steps in the three countries are not the same, the countries share many approaches. For example, all three countries start their hierarchy with the reduction of food waste sources. Redistribution of surplus to people and animals comes next, and recycling is the countries’ third preferable action.

However, each government’s recovery hierarchy differs slightly in its types of methods and actions. For instance, Japan is the only country among the three that specifically mentions using digestates for mushroom beds in its hierarchy. And the UK is the only country that sets landspreading in its hierarchy. These examples highlight these countries’ intentions to promote such recycling methods. 

Continue reading “Food waste management in the US, UK and Japan”

The problem of food waste in the US, the UK, and Japan

by Minako Kageyama Tanaka

This is the first of three blog posts by Minako Kageyama Tanaka* on food waste in the US, the UK, and Japan.

Food waste in the world

Many people pay attention to what they eat, but not to what they did not eat. According to an estimate released by the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), one-third of the edible part of food is wasted every year, which amounts to 1.3 billion tons per year. Given that between 720 and 811 million people are facing hunger and 2.37 billion people lack access to sufficient food, the amount of food waste is enormous. Besides, wasting food means wasting resources spent on food production and the supply chain.

To change the global consumption and production patterns in the food industry and its supply chain, the United Nations (UN) has set responsible consumption and production as one of the sustainable development goals (SDGs) and calls for actions to “halve per capita global food waste at the retail and consumer levels and reduce food losses along production and supply chains, including post-harvest losses” by 2030. The global society has only eight years left to achieve that goal.

Continue reading “The problem of food waste in the US, the UK, and Japan”

Commentary – It is Time for the United States to Learn About the Right to Food.

by Hilal ElverMichael T. RobertsDiana R.H. Winters, and Melissa Shapiro

Cross-posted on HilalElver.org

On US Election Day 2021, the state of Maine voted in favor of a constitutional “right to food”—a historic development for a country that has long refused to recognize the human right to food.

Will the US finally acknowledge that this right actually exists?

Maine is officially the first US state to recognize a right to food. On Election Day this year, more than 60% of voters agreed that Maine should amend the state constitution “to declare that all individuals have a natural, inherent and unalienable right to grow, raise, harvest, produce and consume the food of their own choosing for their own nourishment, sustenance, bodily health and well-being.” Put simply, those in Maine will have agency over how they procure their food within the bounds of food safety laws and quality controls. The “right to food” amendment, which was proposed by Rep. Billy Bob Faulkingham (R-Winter Harbor) and received bipartisan support, was welcomed by a diverse constituency comprising small farmers, libertarians, liberals and those who believe that local producers should not have to compete with corporate food interests.

 Observing how Maine practically applies the “right to food” amendment in furtherance of the stated objective is critical. It will be necessary for Maine legislators to work closely with other state agencies to ensure that emerging programs and policies do not violate federal and state laws. It is also important for future decision-making to involve open consultation and participation from civil society and private sector. Being a trailblazer means that the path forward is not always clear; but those who have already dismissed the historic amendment as an empty promise or inoperable language are missing the point: Maine’s constitutional amendment is a transformative step towards the United States’ formal recognition of the human right to food.

Continue reading “Commentary – It is Time for the United States to Learn About the Right to Food.”

Study Food History and Culture in Italy With UCLA Next Summer

Aaahhh, travel. Let’s dream of July in Rome, experiencing Italy’s food culture and learning Italian food history through the concept of terroir. Study this complex food culture with Robin Derby, Professor of History, UCLA, and Michael Roberts, Executive Director of the Resnick Center for Food Law & Policy, observing sustainable food production, tasting local cuisine, and learning about the emergence of international food governance through the twentieth century. Click here for more information.

The Honey Wars

If you’ve ever tried to buy a jar of manuka honey, you know the price is anything but sweet.  This is because of the honey’s purported health and aesthetic benefits, which have caused its price to skyrocket.  The New York Times recently published an article about a dispute between New Zealand and Australia regarding when honey can be branded “manuka,” and by whom.  Find this fascinating read here.

 

The Resnick Center and The Promise Institute at UCLA Law Host UN Food and Agriculture Organization Director-General José Graziano da Silva

by Diana R. H. Winters

On February 15, 2019, the Resnick Center for Food Law and Policy and The Promise Institute for Human Rights at UCLA Law hosted the UN Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) Director-General José Graziano da Silva, who gave a talk titled, “A Global Perspective on Regulating and Promoting Nutrition.”  We were honored to host the Director-General for this important presentation.

In his talk, Graziano da Silva emphasized the critical need for regulation regarding healthy food.  He explained that while there are regulations regarding food safety, global entities have entirely failed to regulate for the nutritional value of food.  The world is grappling with a crisis of malnutrition—a broad concept that includes obesity as well as hunger—and this crisis is exacerbated by the failure of regulation.  Malnutrition costs the world economy between three and five billion dollars a year, which is approximately 3% of the global economy.  This problem must be seen as a public issue, Graziano da Silva said, not an individual one, and it is critical that countries find a way to work together.  This is the foremost challenge the FAO faces.

Graziano da Silva was introduced by Hilal Elver, the Global Distinguished Fellow at the Resnick Center for Food Law & Policy, and the United Nations Special Rapporteur on the Right to Food.  The video recording of the entire event can be found here.

The Resnick Center hosts the Director General of the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations – 2/15

This is sure to be a fantastic event.

 

UCLA Law’s Resnick Center for Food Law and Policy and the Promise Institute for Human Rights invite you to a very special reception for and talk by José Graziano da Silva, the Director General of the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations, on February 15, 2019, at UCLA Law School.  The Director General will speak on the Right to Food and the Global Agenda to Reverse Hunger and Malnutrition, and will be introduced by Hilal Elver, Global Distinguished Fellow at the Resnick Center and the Special Rapporteur on the Right to Food, United Nations Human Rights Council.

Date:     February 15, 2019

Time:     1:00-1:30pm, Reception [Shapiro Courtyard, UCLA Law;                                                               1:30-3:00pm, Presentation [Room 1457, UCLA Law]

Please RSVP to: resnickcenter@law.ucla.edu

 

Daily Parking permits for Lot 2 and Lot 3 are available for purchase at the Information Kiosk on Westholme Ave. and Hilgard Ave.
Short-term, pay-by-space parking is available at selected entrances to Lot 2 and Lot 3 and by the Law School Building along Charles E. Young Drive East.

Notes from South Korea

by Michael T. Roberts

On August 28, 2018, I participated in a roundtable discussion and spoke at a conference in South Korea sponsored by the National Food Safety Information Service (NFSI). As best as I can tell, this conference was the first in South Korea. The roundtable provided an excellent opportunity for me to listen first-hand to concerns about food regulation in South Korea.  The conference included academics working with NFSI as well as South Korean government officials. My assigned topic at the conference was Consolidation of Food Safety Regulation: Historical and Contemporary Considerations. My presentation addressed the current Trump proposal on June 21, 2018, to consolidate the administration of food safety regulation into the USDA and to rename FDA to Federal Drug Administration. This issue is very pertinent to South Korea, where there exists a high degree of fragmentation of food safety regulation.

NFSI is funded by the South Korean government. The organization comprises experts (mostly PhDs) who work closely with the Korean FDA and other agencies with jurisdiction over food safety regulation in Korea. I enjoyed getting to know officials of NFSI: Yun-Hee Chung, the President; Joohyung Lee, the Department Manager; and Soyoung Gwon, a Principal Researcher.

I very much appreciated the gracious hospitality of our hosts and look forward to further interaction with NFSI and others in South Korea in the pursuit of good governance of food.

 

 

 

 

 

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