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Rhoda Grant MSP: The Right to Food #HumanRightsDay

On 10th December the United Nations celebrates Human Rights Day.  The day that commemorates the adoption of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights in 1948.  In 1976 the UK government also ratified the UN’s International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights (ICESCR) which sets out the right to food.  The right to food means that government should take steps to ensure people have access to food and food security.  Unfortunately, too many people in Scotland are living in food poverty and going hungry.  In 2021, that is unacceptable. That is why I have lodged a bill proposal to enshrine the right to food and tackle food inequality.

My bill will enshrine a right to food in law, placing responsibility on the Scottish Government to make this a reality.  Access to food is a basic human right that has been denied to too many people in Scotland.  The Covid-19 pandemic has exacerbated the problem and made it even more important that urgent action is taken to address this.

The proposed bill would place duties on the Scottish Government to ensure that food is accessible for all, as well as being adequate and nutritious.  Whilst I welcome the Scottish Government’s commitment to include the right to food in its Human Rights Bill, I note that there is no set date for the introduction of this legislation.  The Scottish Government chose not to include the right to food as part of its Good Food Nation bill. I believe there is a need to enshrine the right to food in Scots law and to place a direct responsibility for driving and overseeing this right upon the Scottish Government.

At the moment my bill is out to consultation until February 2022.  I welcome views from far and wide.  If you would like to read the consultation document and feed in your views please complete the survey on my website at www.rhodagrant.org.uk.

Next week, Tuesday 14th December at 6pm, I am hosting an event to discuss my bill proposals and will be joined by Sarah Woolley (BFAWU) and Ian Byrne MP.  You can find more about the event here

We desperately need to end the reliance on food banks and it’s in the government’s hands to do this by ensuring that everyone has enough money to feed themselves and their families.  The right to food is a human right and although it’s a right present in international law, by specifying it in Scot’s law, we make that right more enforceable and place the onus on the Scottish Government to ensure that we have a fair, healthy and sustainable food system.  No one should be going hungry in 2021. Let’s make sure we make the Scottish Government listen and act to eradicate food poverty for good.

Rhoda Grant is the Labour MSP for the Highlands and Islands Region

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