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UK charity urges new food system to battle hunger

17/10/11

(Reuters) – UK anti-poverty charity War on Want appealed Monday for a new food system which favours small growers in the struggle against world hunger.

In a report entitled “Food Sovereignty: Reclaiming the global food system,” it said it had formed partnerships with farmers’ groups across the world to promote “food sovereignty” as an alternative to an approach which it said had contributed to hunger among hundreds of millions of people.

Food sovereignty requires agrarian reform in favour of small producers and the landless, and the reorganisation of global food trade to prioritise local markets and self-sufficiency.

Food sovereignty stands in marked contrast to the ‘food security’ model that has dominated official reactions to the world hunger crisis, said John Hilary, Executive Director of War on Want.

“The UK government, in particular, has championed an extreme variant of the food security approach, based on the myth that free trade and global markets will meet the needs of populations who are no longer able to produce their own food,” Hilary said.

“The price spikes, food riots and record hunger levels of recent years show the urgent need for a paradigm to replace this failed approach.”

Hilary told Reuters in a telephone interview that agrarian reform was needed to give more control of production to small growers and to reduce reliance of growers on new seed varieties being developed by multinational corporations.

He said local communities should develop their own seed banks to guarantee growers’ access to seeds.

“The scandal of global hunger is testament to the failure of the capitalist food system,” Hilary said in the report.

“The time for food sovereignty has come.”

(Reporting by David Brough; editing by James Jukwey)

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