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Minister Sargent welcomes World Food Day

Mr. Trevor Sargent T.D., Minister of State at the Department of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food today welcomed World Food Day, which is observed on October 16th, the anniversary of the founding of the Food and Agriculture Organisation of the United Nations. Minister Sargent said that: "The aim of World Food Day is to raise awareness about hunger and poverty in the developing world. A specific theme is dedicated to World Food Day and this year's theme is 'the Right to Food'."

With the sponsorship of the Department of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food, Gorta (the Freedom From Hunger Council of Ireland) is hosting Ireland's annual World Food Day Conference. Minister Sargent stated that "The choice of 'the Right to Food' as the theme for 2007 World Food Day demonstrates increasing recognition by the international community of the important role of human rights in eradicating hunger and poverty. The right to Food will also be impossible to guarantee unless we stabilise climate chaos." The 'Right to Food' concept also presents a significant challenge to Governments worldwide to ensure communities are self reliant in food production especially with world human population growing by 85 million per annum and the impending reality of peak of oil production worldwide.

During the Irish EU presidency in 2004, extensive work was undertaken on the negotiation of the Voluntary Guidelines for the Right to Food and they were adopted in the second half of 2004. These guidelines provide the agreed principles and the practical guidance needed for concrete steps to be taken by States for the realisation of the right to food. World Food Day highlights that food and water security is at the heart of global security and is the most basic human right.

He added that: "the right to food is a universal right. It means that every person - woman, man and child must have access at all times to food, or to means of the procurement of food, that is sufficient in quality, quantity, and variety to meet their needs, is free from harmful substances and is acceptable to their culture."

By recognizing 'the Right to Food', governments must respect, protect and fulfil this right. In order to achieve the World Food Summit objective and Millennium Development Goal number one of reducing hunger by half by 2015, urgent efforts are needed to give a voice to the hungry and to strengthen governments' capacity to meet their obligations.

Minister Sargent stressed that 'the right to food must be realised for all'.

16 October, 2007

Note for Editors:

World Food Day is a global initiative lead by the Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) of the United Nations. It was started in 1980 and is held in more than 150 countries around the world around October 16th. (This is the date on which FAO was established in 1945). The aim of World Food Day is to raise awareness about hunger and poverty in the developing world. Every year a different theme is selected for World Food Day. This year's theme is 'the Right to Food'.

The Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) of the United Nations was founded in 1945 with a mandate to raise levels of nutrition and standards of living, to improve agricultural productivity, and to better the conditions of rural populations. Since its inception, FAO has worked to alleviate poverty and hunger by promoting agricultural development, improved nutrition and the pursuit of food security. FAO is one of the largest specialised agencies in the United Nations system and the lead agency for agriculture, forestry, fisheries and rural development.

Date Released: 16 October 2007