April 14, 2007
“Nestlé’s fundamental purpose is to meet the needs of its customers and consumers for quality food products that offer value for money. By doing this successfully, we generate long term, sustainable economic results and development for all those with a stake in the business. With factories located in more than 80 countries, and with Nestlé companies in virtually every country in the world, the effects of our business development are felt by economies around the globe.” Nestlé Sustainability Review, 2006
As food transnational corporations become increasingly powerful, governments have a responsibility to ensure that their business activities do not have a negative impact on the right to food. Regulation takes place in general at a national level in the country where the corporation is operating. There is some scope in certain countries to hold a corporation accountable for its impact elsewhere. What is currently lacking is a global regulatory system capable of holding transnational corporations to account through new or reformed international institutions. This chapter argues that national governments collectively have a human rights obligation to put such a system in place. While acknowledging the positive contribution of business, it explores how the power of food transnational corporations has grown to the point that it is necessary for nation states to take collective action as the global community to hold them to account and why initiatives such as the United Nation’s Global Compact are inherently unable to do so. It examines efforts by UN bodies, governments and regional authorities, such as the European Parliament, to introduce regulations to protect the right to food and the current lack of progress. In examining how progress could be made the chapter discusses how relevant standards should be set, arguing this should be through UN bodies with a health remit in consultation with relevant parties, not as a negotiation with...
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