In 2017, 78.7% of the Swiss people voted to enshrine the concept of ‘food security’ in the Federal Constitution. Originally prompted by agricultural interest groups for reasons of protectionism and then revamped by the Swiss Parliament, the new article 104a includes a wide array of demands for food policy, including protection of agricultural land, local production, conservation of natural resources and their effective use, responsiveness to market demand, and trade relations contributing to sustainable development. As a one-of-its-kind constitutional norm on food security, the now four-year-old article still raises questions about its precise scope and normative content. In particular, it is often said that the norm is largely symbolic. We shed light on these developments by examining the emergence of the norm and embedding it in the broader international discourse on food policy. We show that Switzerland’s understanding of food security is greatly flawed, as it seeks to secure its own access to goods without regard to their environmental footprint and effect on human rights abroad. In line with Switzerland’s climate and human rights commitments, we propose new ways to interpret food security, including moving away from market needs, distinguishing foodtypes based on whether they thwart food security in the long term, paying attention to food security elsewhere, and giving effect to considerations of distributive justice.
54. Food security and symbolic legislation in Switzerland: a false sense of security?
Pages: 349 - 355
Published Online: June 13, 2021