Vanderbilt Journal of Transnational Law

First Page



International bodies and nation-states attending international meetings on the subject have agreed that there is a "right to food." The first Millennium Development Goal, in which members of the United Nations General Assembly agreed to halve the number of persons without adequate food by the year 2015, complements this right to food. Many persons believe that the right to food--especially at the national level--is linked to national food self-sufficiency. Opponents of this view argue that self-sufficiency is economically irrational in many territories. Others believe that for many countries, particularly nations in sub-Saharan Africa, a government's obligation to ensure food security can be achieved only through markets open to basic food imports, combined with some local production and probably with biotechnology. While this belief in the need for markets that are open to food imports as well as local production is the prevailing view, the experience of Mexico under the North American Free Trade Agreement has created some concern for the viability of this system. The Mexican market has opened to U.S. feed corn imports, which would normally lower the price. However, prices for maize have escalated as maize becomes a feed stock of choice in the fight against climate change, driving up demand. This brief article considers a few of the legal and policy issues connected with trying to balance the right to food and the commitment to free trade.