Manuel Eggen / Policy Officer

FIAN / Human Rights / Right to Food / Food Sovereignty

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Concerns: Challenges regarding climate change, the right to food and food sovereignty are huge in Belgium. Since 1980 we have lost 68 % of our farms and the remaining farms are getting bigger and bigger and increasignly dependent on agrobusiness. Agriculture represents less than 1 % of our GDP, still it contributes more than 12 % to our GHG emissions. If we add the whole food chain, including the food industry, packaging, transport, distribution, waste, … the food system represents more than one third of our GHG emissions.
The agrobusiness is bad for the planet. It is also bad for the people. Today half of the population in Belgium is overweight and 15 % is obese, mainly because of junk food promoted by the food industry.
In contrast to this ugly picture, new agroecological practises and short supply chains between peasants and eaters are emerging everywhere.
Changes and actions:
At personal level I try as much as possible to stop shopping at supermarkets. I purchase most of my food from small local producers and from a food coop.
I built a passive house made of straw and wood in a co-housing project with 5 other families. Together we started to cultivate a small garden, we planted some fruit trees, and raise some chickens (for eggs).
We try as much as possible to save energy and preserve natural resources: we collect rainwater, we have dry toilets, solar panels, etc.
Difficulties:
These changes require a new way of life and more free time, which is difficult to find in our overbusy society.
When we started our co-housing project we experienced lots of administrative burdens and even resistance from the neighbouhood, simply because our project was a bit out of the box. We need more flexibility to facilitate those kind of innovative and collective projects.
At professional level, working for an NGO I experience the power of corporate lobby that prevent a profound change in society.
Changes required:
I think school and education are key. We must move from an individualist and competitive education system to one that promotes collaboration.
At policy level we need to adopt clear rules to better regulate the activities of the most polluting companies.
And finally let’s call a spade a spade : as long as we are dominated by the neoliberal economic agenda, we won’t be able to solve the problem

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