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Food is a right, not just a need

How is it possible to combine a lifetime spent serving the law with an acute personal passion for social issues and, in particular, the situation of women? Devoting herself to the right to food is the new challenge taken on by Livia Pomodoro, leading a new centre for food policy and recently nominated as a member of the BCFN Advisory Board

By Livia Pomodoro, President of the Milan Center for Food, Law and Policy

A while ago, I was given the chance to write for an important national newspaper and I remember very clearly having stated my willingness to collaborate on one condition: I would write about food and everything connected to food and nutrition. We weren’t able to reach an agreement, but I stood my ground. Despite being most well-known for my work as a juvenile judge, as well as former President of the Court of Milan, I have been captivated by this issue for some years and carried out work which I now have the pleasure of sharing with the BCFN, which has asked me to be part of its Advisory Board.
I believe that “eat well, eat less, food for all”, the slogan chosen for the upcoming BCFN Forum to be held in Milan on 1 December, perfectly encapsulates a complicated and multi-faceted issue, and I am entirely convinced that the right to food is the most essential of all fundamental rights.

After the EXPO, the challenge continues
My work and interest in everything to do with food and the right to food is closely linked to the Milan Center for Food Law and Policy (MCFLP), of which I am President, which was founded to continue the legacy of Expo 2015. I always saw the Expo as a fantastic opportunity, but I also strongly believe that the energy behind such an important project was not fully capitalised upon. Nonetheless, it was such an amazing experience that it could not be left to gather dust once the crowds drifted away, and therefore we decided that it was essential to maintain this intangible legacy driven by our passion for humanity.
The good of mankind is not embodied simply in the fundamental right to food, but also in everything connected to food such as environmental sustainability, the security and suitability of what ends up on our plate, our ability to understand where injustices lie, and behaviour which is profitable for some while being harmful for others. This is why both the MCFLP and the BCFN have a responsibility which is much greater than that of other initiatives – it is a fundamental responsibility.

A basket of common interests
In order to achieve our objectives, we nurtured international relationships developed during the world Expo. We have worked on numerous projects for the future, now also shared with the BCFN. With the MCFLP we created a network of crucial partners including interested companies and businesses as well as Italian and foreign universities and institutions such as ministries. I like to think that in recent years we have developed a “basket of common interests” and not just a simple network of partners: I want to build an extremely strong emphasis on the link that binds all members of the group in the interests of mankind. We are all working on the same broad challenges, with various responsibilities in identifying what we believe is the right direction and we can implement integrated research and targeted projects to scientifically evaluate the problems in different areas: for instance, agricultural policies regarding women – which I call “invisible farmers” because in many countries they can work the land but they cannot own it (and they do not even have the rights to the revenue generated). When we proposed the slogan “no food without rights”, we wanted to highlight that regulations and laws are a key issue: the end goal is to work with all our partners to build a multilateral convention of the basic rules on the right to food. We have the duty and the right to work together for a common objective and the upcoming International Forum on Food and Nutrition will reiterate this undeniable necessity. I am convinced that the MCFLP and the BCFN can make a significant contribution thanks to their extensive experience and knowledge.

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