RSPB Scotland's Anna Brand explores the link between our natural environment and our right to food.

Petition to Scottish Parliament calls for human rights on food

What would you say if someone asked you: does everyone in Scotland have a right to eat? Most of us would probably agree; in Scotland, and across the world, food is a basic human right.

But what does this have to do with nature?

The ‘right to food’ means that everyone has a right to be able to access adequate, healthy and sustainable food.

And in fact, food and our natural environment are deeply linked. How food is produced, transported to the supermarket, eaten and wasted, are some of the biggest things that affect nature. How we produce food affects how wildlife fares in the countryside. When 70% of Scotland is farmed, nature-friendly farming and crofting makes a big difference. What we choose to eat as individuals also has an impact. Are we conscious of where our food comes from, how it was produced and how it got here? Globally, we also waste about 1/3 of the food produced. Wasted food releases greenhouse gas emissions, and means we use land unnecessarily to produce food that is never eaten. This leaves less space for wildlife. Here in Scotland, we need to do our bit to change this.

The right to food is about more than making sure that people have enough to eat, although that in itself is crucial. It’s about everyone having a right to food that doesn’t damage their environment. And it’s about ensuring that we protect the right to food for future generations: that we don’t do damage today which jeopardises the ability of our children and grandchildren to feed themselves. And that is not simply a distant possibility; already we are seeing challenges because of climate change. So tackling our environmental problems is also a matter of securing our right to food.

That’s why we’re part of the Scottish Food Coalition and are campaigning to transform our whole food system to be sustainable, fair and healthy. One part of this is ensuring the right to good, healthy, nature-friendly food for everyone in Scotland.

We’d encourage you to add your name to the petition, and make sure our decision-makers take food seriously. You can find out more here: 

  • This petition is only ok in so far as it goes. But it needs so much more. People need to realise the huge challenges we are facing with a view to food security. Our soils are exhausted from 70+ years of abuse with chemical fertilizers and pesticides. Farming methods need to be changed drastically. We need to go back to old methods. Wilding needs to happen on a big scale. And i am not talking about reintroducing big predators. I am talking about the example set by organic farmers and the Estate at Knepp. Every garden needs a wild area, every verge, every park in the land needs a wildflower area. Lawns need to be a thing of the past. They are just green deserts where the wildlife we need cannot thrive. People need to know these things.