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Food Security vs. Food Sovereignty

November 30, 2012

One of the most common questions I get in discussing food sovereignty is how it differs from food security.

On the one hand, the distance between the two is quite large. Food security refers only to the availability of food, regardless of the type, method or location of production, and so on. According to the Food and Agriculture Organization,

Food security exists when all people, at all times, have physical and economic access to sufficient, safe and nutritious food that meets their dietary needs and food preferences for an active and healthy life.

Food sovereignty is a broader concept. According to the 2007 Declaration of Nyéléni, food sovereignty encompasses

The right of peoples, communities, and countries to define their own agricultural, labour, fishing, food and land policies which are ecologically, socially, economically and culturally appropriate to their unique circumstances. It includes the true right to food and to produce food, which means that all people have the right to safe, nutritious and culturally appropriate food and to food-producing resources and the ability to sustain themselves and their societies. Food sovereignty means the primacy of people’s and community’s rights to food and food production, over trade concerns.

Food sovereignty is thus embedded in larger questions of social justice and the rights of farmers and indigenous communities to control their own futures and make their own decisions.

The difference between food security and food sovereignty is important. As Windfuhr and Jonsen describe it in their 2005 book, Food Sovereignty: Towards Democracy in Localised Food Systems, “food security is more of a technical concept, and the right to food a legal one, food sovereignty is essentially a political concept.”

For my part, I’d argue that food sovereignty emphasizes local control and self-sufficiency, while food security emphasizes reliance on the global economy based on liberalized agricultural markets.


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  1. drbausman permalink

    Reblogged this on Sril Group.

  2. Thanks to you I understand the difference between food security and food sovereignty now. So I guess patents on crops and gen manipulation fits to food sovereignty?

    • regarding your question GMOs actually represent the antithesis of food sovereignty. why? because of the patenting system which protects transnational corporations’ rights over GM seeds, and consequently over farmers and the food system. GMs mean corporations decide what gets produced, how and at what price – the complete opposite of sovereignty.

  3. I have learn a few excellent stuff here. Definitely value
    bookmarking for revisiting. I surprise how a lot attempt you put to make this sort of fantastic informative web site.

Trackbacks & Pingbacks

  1. Food Security vs. Food Sovereignty « drbausman's Blog
  2. Food Security vs. Food Sovereignty: what is the difference, and why does it matter? | Exopermaculture
  3. Food sovereignty: the next big idea | Science on the Land
  4. Ran Prieur: “Conflicts [in Ukraine and Venezuela] seem to be about repression vs democracy, or left vs right, but I think they’re about food.” | Exopermaculture
  5. Food security vs. food sovereignty | URBANAG
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  7. Seeds of Suspicion: Feed the Future, Afrika and Genetically-Modified Foods | SRDC International

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