Last week, India’s Supreme Court ruled that the right to life guaranteed under the country’s constitution also includes the right to safe food.
“Enjoyment of life and its attainment, including right to life and human dignity encompasses, within its ambit availability of articles of food, without insecticides or pesticides residues, veterinary drugs residues, antibiotic residues, solvent residues, etc,” reads the Oct. 22 judgment in response to a petition for an independent committee to evaluate the harmful effects of soft drinks on human health.
The bench of Justices K. S. Radhakrishnan and Dipak Misra went on to state that “any food article which is hazardous or injurious to public health is a potential danger to the fundamental right to life guaranteed under Article 21 of the Constitution of India.”
The court also directed the Food and Safety Standards Authority of India to “gear up their resources” and “conduct periodical inspections and monitoring of major fruits and vegetable markets” to find out if they conform to the Prevention of Food Adulteration Act.
The announcement came as Olivier De Schutter issued his final report to the U.N. General Assembly after six years as Special Rapporteur on the right to food.
“Treating food as a human right brings coherence and accountability,” De Schutter said in a statement about the report. “It helps to close the gaps by putting food security of all citizens at the top of the decision-making hierarchy, and making these decision-making processes participatory and accountable.”
Scientist and environmental activist Dr. Vandana Shiva told Food Safety News that the Supreme Court judgment is a reminder of “the anti-people policy being pushed by the executive under the corrupt influence of the bad food system” and noted that “citizens will have to work to translate the order into action.”© Food Safety News