Published: 03/05/2002

Access to adequate, safe and nutritious food is a fundamental human right, yet an estimated 820 million people are living in hunger. The agricultural workers who help feed the world are often unable to feed themselves, are twice as likely to die at work than workers in any other sector, and generally stand outside all systems of legal protection for their rights, health and welfare. Food processing workers are engaged in a constant battle to defend their unions, their employment and working conditions, their health and safety.

The growing power of transnational corporations in the food sector is changing the way we produce and eat, as a handful of companies seek to extend their control over seeds, water, chemical inputs, processing and even the genetic foundations of the world food system. Current WTO rules strengthen corporate influence, and the “Doha Development Round” of negotiations could take us further down this road.

A new IUF publication, entitled The WTO and the World Food System: A Trade Union Approach, investigates the globalization of agriculture and the WTO from a trade union standpoint, beginning with an analysis of their impact on workers and the fundamental rights which the IUF is committed to defending. It looks at the connections between global trade and investment regulations, corporate control of food and agriculture, hunger and poverty, export dependency and debt. We publish it to promote international solidarity and a common agenda for a world food system that guarantees the right of all to adequate, safe and nutritious food while protecting and advancing the rights and livelihood of workers engaged in food production.

The WTO and the World Food System: A Trade Union Approach, is available in English, French, German, Spanish and Swedish. Unions and other organizations in the OECD countries may purchase copies of the 28-page booklet at the following rates: 1-10 copies, CHF 5 per copy; 11-99 copies, CHF 4 per copy; and quantities of 100 and over, CHF 3 per copy. Unions and other organizations outside the OECD should contact the secretariat for more information on obtaining copies.