`UN, WHO and WTO Call for Action Amid Threats to Food Supply

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UN, WHO and WTO Call for Action Amid Threats to Food Supply

Apr. 3, 2020
Costas Vasilopoulos

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Three global orga­ni­za­tions issued a rare com­mon state­ment warn­ing of a pos­si­ble world­wide under­sup­ply of food as a result of trade and export pro­hi­bi­tions enforced in the wake of the novel coro­n­avirus pan­demic.

We must ensure that our response to COVID-19 does not unin­ten­tion­ally cre­ate unwar­ranted short­ages of essen­tial items and exac­er­bate hunger and mal­nu­tri­tion.- UN, WHO, WTO Joint State­ment

As coun­tries move to enact mea­sures aim­ing to halt the accel­er­at­ing COVID-19 pan­demic, care must be taken to min­i­mize poten­tial impacts on the food sup­ply or unin­tended con­se­quences on global trade and food secu­rity,” Qu Dongyu, head of the Food and Agri­cul­ture Orga­ni­za­tion (FAO) of the UN, Tedros Adhanom Ghe­breye­sus, direc­tor-gen­eral of the WHO, and Roberto Azevedo, direc­tor of the WTO, said in their joint dec­la­ra­tion.

They called for the facil­i­ta­tion of trans­port of goods for the sake of cit­i­zens, as expe­ri­ence has shown that trade bar­ri­ers and export bans can harm peo­ple and coun­tries — espe­cially the most vul­ner­a­ble.

Uncer­tainty about food avail­abil­ity can spark a wave of export restric­tions, cre­at­ing a short­age in the global mar­ket,” the state­ment read. Such reac­tions can alter the bal­ance between food sup­ply and demand, result­ing in price spikes and increased price volatil­ity,” the three lead­ers wrote.

We learned from pre­vi­ous crises that such mea­sures are par­tic­u­larly dam­ag­ing for low-income, food-deficit coun­tries and to the efforts of human­i­tar­ian orga­ni­za­tions to pro­cure food for those in des­per­ate need.”

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The orga­ni­za­tions high­lighted the need to pro­tect pro­duc­ers and work­ers of the food sec­tor to min­i­mize the spread of the dis­ease within this sec­tor and main­tain food sup­ply chains.”

Con­sumers, in turn, and espe­cially the most vul­ner­a­ble, must con­tinue to be able to access food within their com­mu­ni­ties under strict safety require­ments,” the dec­la­ra­tion under­lined, while infor­ma­tion on food pro­duc­tion, con­sump­tion and avail­able stocks should be read­ily avail­able to pre­vent panic-buy­ing and food-hoard­ing prac­tices.

The state­ment con­cluded with an appeal to every­one to con­tribute to achiev­ing food avail­abil­ity amid the coro­n­avirus lock­down mea­sures.

Now is the time to show sol­i­dar­ity, act respon­si­bly and adhere to our com­mon goal of enhanc­ing food secu­rity, food safety and nutri­tion and improv­ing the gen­eral wel­fare of peo­ple around the world,” the direc­tors appealed.

We must ensure that our response to COVID-19 does not unin­ten­tion­ally cre­ate unwar­ranted short­ages of essen­tial items and exac­er­bate hunger and mal­nu­tri­tion.”


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