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The Right to Food and Buyer Power


Ganesh,  Aravind
Department II, Max Planck Institute Luxembourg, Max Planck Society;

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Ganesh, A. (2010). The Right to Food and Buyer Power. German Law Journal, 11, 1190-1244.

Modern global food supply chains are characterized by extreme levels of concentration in the middle of those chains. This paper argues that such concentration leads to excessive buyer power, which harms the consumers and food producers at the ends of the supply chains. This paper argues that the harms suffered by farmers are serious enough as to constitute violations of the international human right to food as it is expressed in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Political Rights, and further argues that world competition law regimes cannot ignore these human rights imperatives. To a certain extent, these right to food imperatives can be accommodated under existing consumerist competition law theories by the interpretive mechanism of conform-interpretation. However, when one bears in mind the truly global scale of modern food supply chains, it becomes obvious that conform-interpretation of competition law with human rights norms will not suffice. Instead, it must be acknowledged that the protection of a minimum level of producer welfare congruent to those producers’ right to a minimum adequate level of food must find a place among the aims of any credible theory of competition law. Moreover, current doctrines of extraterritorial jurisdiction of competition control must also be revised.