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Bury the corporate food system!

Below is an article from Grassroots International partner, the Via Campesina, in preparation for the International Day of Peasants’ Struggles. The Via is an international movement which brings together millions of peasants, small and medium-size farmers, landless people, women farmers, indigenous people, migrants and agricultural workers from around the world. It defends small-scale sustainable agriculture as a way to promote social justice and dignity and strongly opposes corporate driven agriculture and transnational companies that are destroying people and nature. 

Bury the corporate food system!
Peasant agriculture can feed the world!

The dominant corporate food system has failed. The promises of the 1996 World Food Summit, echoed by the Millennium Development goal of reducing hunger by 2015, will not be fulfilled.  Today hunger and food insecurity are increasing. Roughly one billion people currently suffer from hunger, another billion are malnourished — lacking important vitamins and minerals — and yet another billion are over-fed. One global food system = 3 billion victims!  Food policies implemented over the last 20 years have been heavily biased against peasant agriculture, which nevertheless continues to feed more than 70% of the people of the world.  Land, seeds and water have been privatized and handed over to agribusiness. This has pushed members of rural communities off the land and into the cities, leaving fertile land behind for transnational companies to grow agrofuels, biomass or food for export to consumers in wealthy countries.  Neoliberal policies are based on the assumption that the invisible hand of the market will divide the pie in an efficient and fair way. And in Davos this year the governments of the world talked about concluding the Doha round of WTO negotiations in July 2011 precisely in order to save the world from recurrent food crises. In reality the current, endemic food crisis, shows that more liberalization of agricultural markets does not help to feed the world, rather it deepens hunger and pushes peasants off the land, so the governments are wrong.  What has happened is that food has massively entered speculative markets, especially since 2007. In these markets food items are commodities in which investors can suddenly invest billions, or withdraw them, inflating bubbles that later burst, spilling misery everywhere. Food prices are high, out of the reach of poor consumers, but the prices farmers get are low, making them ever poorer. Large traders, supermarkets, and speculators keep increasing their profits from people’s hunger.  The time has come to radically change the corporate food system. La Via Campesina, a movement representing more than 200 million farmers around the world – women and men – proposes Food Sovereignty as a effective and fair way to produce and distribute food in every community, every province, and every country.  Implementing food sovereignty means defending small scale farming, agroecology and local production whenever possible. It requires that governments support this new paradigm by giving farmers access to land, water, seeds, credit and education, and by protecting them from cheap imports, creating public or farmer-owned stocks and managing production.  Defending food sovereignty would provide livelihoods to billions of people and reduce poverty, the majority of which is a rural phenomenon. Of the 1.4 billion people who suffer from extreme poverty in the developing countries today, 75 per cent live and work in rural areas.  Local food production and direct sales from farmers to consumers guarantee that food remains outside of the capitalist monopoly game. It makes it less subject to speculation. Moreover, sustainable farming allows the environment and the soil to regenerate, protecting biodiversity and people’s health. It is also more resilient to climate change and helps stop global warming.  This is what La Via Campesina will defend during the World Bank-IMF meeting in April, the G20 – Agriculture in June, the Committee on World Food Security in October and the WTO summit in December 2011.  Join our Global Day of Action!The 17th of April is a special day. People around the world celebrate the struggle of peasants and rural people to survive and continue feeding the world. This day commemorates the death of 19 farmers in Brazil, assassinated in their struggle for land and dignity.  Every year, more than a hundred actions and events take place around the world, defending a new food system based food sovereignty, justice and equality. Wherever you are, whoever you are, you are invited to join the celebration: organize an action, a mobilization, a farmer’s market, a film screening, a picture exhibition, a talk, a party, a special radio or TV program…  And let us know what you are organizing in advance. Send us posters, videos, pictures, articles. We will publish them on Subscribe to our special mailing list by sending a blank message to this address: Read our new publication: « Sustainable Peasant and Family Farm Agriculture Can Feed the Word »


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