Original Research

Access to adequate nutrition as a global bioethical principle: An uninvited retrospective discourse with UNESCO

Adriaan L. Rheeder
In die Skriflig/In Luce Verbi | Vol 57, No 1 | a2891 | DOI: https://doi.org/10.4102/ids.v57i1.2891 | © 2023 Adriaan L. Rheeder | This work is licensed under CC Attribution 4.0
Submitted: 25 July 2022 | Published: 09 February 2023

About the author(s)

Adriaan L. Rheeder, Unit of Reformational Theology and the Development of the South African Society, Faculty of Theology, North-West University, Potchefstroom, South Africa


During the development of the Universal Declaration of Bioethics and Human Rights (UDBHR), discussions were held with various non-Christian religions (Buddhism, Hinduism, Islam and Confucianism), as well as the Roman Catholic faith tradition around the content of the UDBHR, while the Protestant faith tradition was glaringly uninvited. If a Protestant delegation had been invited to the discussions on the development of the UDBHR in 2003, representatives could have indicated that the food ethics of UDBHR (access to adequate nutrition) are firmly grounded on biblical principles. Participants in the discussion could have indicated on the basis of a covenantal perspective that scarce, contaminated and toxic food or food that harbours no nutritional value is held by Scripture to be a reality, and that the calling of the church is to promote the availability of sufficient, safe and nutritious food. Along with this, interlocutors could have taken the discussion further to indicate that these matters could be supported from an Old Testament, as well as New Testament perspective (Christological and pneumatological).

Contribution: From a broad Protestant standpoint, it would therefore be fair to claim that this global bioethical principle (access to adequate nutrition) should not only be supported but must also be actively promoted, locally and globally, not only by civil society and the state, but also by the church. Adequate and healthy food is the message of the kingdom of Christ.


safe food; nutrition; hunger; food ethics; global bioethics; human rights; UNESCO


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