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Should ‘The Right to Food’ Be Enshrined in Scots Law?

An MSP in the Scottish Parliament is hoping to have a Bill taken forward which would see the Right to Food incorporated into Scots Law.

Elaine Smith MSP, Labour, has called on the Scottish Parliament to seize the chance to end hunger once and for all in Scotland.

On Thursday, 11th of February 2021, Elaine Smith lodged the final proposal for her Right to Food Member’s Bill which seeks to enshrine the UN-recognised human right to food in Scots Law.

You can view the proposed Bill and the consultation document here: Proposed Right to Food (Scotland) Bill

With inequality and poverty being exacerbated by the pandemic, Elaine Smith has said that the time has come to take radical action to end hunger in Scotland once and for all.

Elaine Smith said: 

“No one should be going hungry in Scotland in 2021.

“It’s high time that Parliamentarians tackled this issue head-on. My proposal to enshrine the UN-recognised Right to Food in Scots Law would be a significant step forward in the fight against food poverty and provide a legal right to food.

“The pandemic has exacerbated the inequalities in our society. That’s why radical action such as this is necessary to halt spiralling inequality.”

Elaine Smith’s proposed bill has wide support from the third sector and from the Trade Union movement.

STUC General Secretary, Rozanne Foyer said:

“It should be unthinkable that in 2021 tens of thousands of people in Scotland are forced to rely on food banks to feed themselves and their families.

“Let’s be clear, Scotland is not suffering a food shortage. However, a lack of fair work and decent housing, a punitive and inadequate welfare system, and years of cuts to public services means too many people simply don’t have sufficient income to buy food.

“By incorporating the right to food into Scots law, Elaine Smith’s Bill could help address the underlying causes of rising food bank use rather than relying on charities to respond to food poverty.”

Over 250 organisations and individuals took part in a consultation exercise about the proposed Bill.

“The majority of the respondents were supportive of the proposal. This support was expressed by both individuals and organisations.” 93% of those taking part wanted the Right to Food enshrined in Scots Law.

Pete Ritchie, Director of Nourish Scotland, said: 

“It’s hugely encouraging to see widespread support for putting the right to food into Scots law.  COVID-19 coupled with the uncertainties of Brexit have put even greater strain on a food system long plagued by high-levels of food insecurity, diet-related illness, a lack of resilience in our supply chains, and production practices that harm our natural world.  

“We need to reframe the thinking around our food system because inaction across successive political generations has led to the problems we are seeing now. The right to food provides a coherent framework for rights-based food policy, enabling a system-wide approach.

“We want a food system that works for everyone in Scotland.  We are glad this issue is being given greater recognition on the political agenda and we look forward to working with the parties as this Bill progresses. We hope the resounding support outlined in this consultation will inform discussions going forward.” 

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