Grassroots International partner Aldo Gonzalez from the Union of Organizations of the Sierra Juarez of Oaxaca (UNOSJO) joined us in the San Francisco Bay Area at the end of January for a week of meetings, conferences and public events. Aldo was on a panel about migration and human rights at the International Human Rights Funders Group semi-annual conference on January 26 along with our colleagues Colin Rajah and Catherine Tactaquin from the National Network for Immigrant and Refugee Rights. He also participated in a public event organized by Grassroots International and our ally the Oakland Institute. Almost a 100 people joined us for a panel and discussion about The Global Food Crisis and Local Solutions at the Mission Cultural Center for Latino Arts in San Francisco. Other speakers included Anuradha Mittal of the Oakland Institute; Marcia Ishii-Eitemann of the Pesticide Action Network-North America; and Nikhil Aziz and Lilian Autler of Grassroots International. The panelists talked about the root causes of the global food crisis and how local communities around the world are creating solutions.
- Marcia gave an overview of the 2008 UN International Assessment of Agricultural Science and Technology for Development (IAASTD) and its conclusion that small-scale, agro-ecological farming will be more effective at meeting today’s challenges – including hunger and global warming – than the energy-, water- and chemical-intensive paradigm of industrial agricultural production.
- Anuradha spoke about some of the national and international government policies and corporate agendas – trade liberalization, crop subsidies, land grabs, and the imposition of chemical fertilizers, pesticides and genetically engineered seeds – that exacerbate poverty and the food, water, energy and climate crises that we face as a planet.
- Aldo described how UNOSJO is working on the ground in Oaxaca with indigenous Zapotecs to preserve native corn varieties, promote agroecology, and defend communal resources as an example of how local communities are mobilizing against harmful policies and providing viable solutions.
The audience responded with heartfelt commentaries and hard questions about how concerned citizens can resist in the face of such powerful corporate and government interests. What can we do? How can we push for changes in our food system? The panelists acknowledged that it is a daunting task, but also gave a number of concrete suggestions that included strengthening local food networks and getting involved in the upcoming government hearings on corporate concentration and anti-trust enforcement in the food and agriculture sectors.
And of course supporting the work of Grassroots International and our partners and allies is an important way to make a difference in the fight for a more just and sustainable world.