Université de Strasbourg

Fellows seminar - The right to healthy and sustainable food

October 11, 2022
From 12:00 until 14:00
MISHA, Strasbourg

By Élisabeth Lambert, 2020 Fellow

The question about the existence of a right to healthy and sustainable food in Europe is not easy to answer. Not only because we may have difficulties in agreeing on what healthy and sustainable food is. But also because this topic lies at the intersection between our individual freedom to decide what to eat/drink, the freedom of the industry to produce and trade goods, those freedoms to be combined with growing public health and environmental interests.

After introducing the distinction between a legitimate interest in, and a subjective right to, healthy and sustainable food, defining what a human-rights based approach is and giving a historical perspective of the European approach in comparison with non-European perspectives, Élisabeth Lambert will use case studies to explain why acknowledging a right to healthy and sustainable food has been so challenging. Examples will be provided from Eastern and Western countries to deduce common lessons and differences. Some of the results concern the importance of national initiatives, even isolated ones, and of producing scientific knowledge, the detrimental role played by some supra-national institutions (notably the European Union) and the very complex and variable influence of the industry from one State to another. Thus, it would be a serious mistake to underestimate the very different food cultures and legal systems in the various European countries. Élisabeth Lambert will conclude by explaining why the human-rights approach has added value, and should be promoted in connection with the current support that is given to the right to a healthy and sustainable environment.


France 2030