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A Brazilian Perspective on Food and Energy Sovereignty

#Articles & Analysis#Food Sovereignty
February 2008


A partner press release from Via Campesina.

There is no doubt that Planet Earth is gravely ill due to the destructive actions of corporate and financial capitalist elites, responsible for global environmental destruction and climactic changes, as well as the privatization of all forms of life. We stand at a crossroads: we either change the paradigm of current civilization or human and planetary life will be destroyed.

Our movement is about creating a new civilization based on a harmonious relationship between humanity and nature, in which consumerism and the logic of the market do not prevail, because they devastate natural resources, concentrate wealth and power in the hands of few and generate poverty and social inequality. We struggle for a society based on social and environmental justice, on equality, and on solidarity among the peoples, based on ethical values coherent with a society returned to the sustainability of all forms of life.

Given this, our position is as follows:

  1. We defend the use of land, water, sunlight, soil, subsoil and biodiversity in a way that conserves them and uses them sustainably with the priority of producing foods and providing work and a high quality of life.
  2. We affirm sovereign peoples’ rights over territories and their future use. Food and energy sovereignty is the right of the people to control food and energy production to meet their needs.
  3. Energy production cannot in any way substitute for or put at risk the production of food. Agrofuels should only be produced in a diversified way that complements food production.
  4. The policies that govern agrofuel production cannot be determined by market logic or according to the bottom line of the oil, automobile or agribusiness companies.
  5. We reject and fight against any kind of monoculture and propose a limit on the size of rural properties and a limit on the areas allocated for the production of agrofuels in each settlement, municipality or region.
  6. We reaffirm the need for a true agrarian reform and of a democratization of access to land as a means of guaranteeing food and energy sovereignty. The current model of agribusiness is a process of continual land concentration.
  7. Food and energy sovereignty are based on principles of agro-ecology and the needs of the local and regional economy. We fight against the unsustainable and marginalizing model of agribusiness, one of the principal causes of climate change because of the transformation in land use, the devegetation and massive usage of agricultural poisons and genetically modified seeds, as well as the mechanization and planetary-scaled transportation of commodities.
  8. Agrofuels ought to be produced to guarantee the energy sovereignty of the people and not for export or to supply the rich countries to generate profit for agribusiness for the large private companies and transnational corporations.
  9. We fight against foreign capitalist control over the economy, the land, natural resources and the sources of energy of Brazil.
  10. We struggle for a sustainable and diversified energy model. Agrofuels are one of the alternatives for greater efficiency and a source of renewable and sustainable energy.
  11. We defend an energy system that is democratic and decentralized, that reflects social needs and the characteristics and potentialities of local and regional places. We propose a form of production and management composed of small cooperative, community and family-based factories and workshops under the control of farmers and workers.
  12. We struggle for a new system of transportation that integrates different forms (river transport, railroads, buses) and prioritizes high quality public and collective transportation, instead of an unsustainable and irrational system dependent on oil that prioritizes individual transportation needs.
  13. The current model of production of agrofuels degrades Brazilian ecosystems and their vegetation, principally in the Amazon and Cerrado regions, putting pressure and expanding the agricultural frontiers. Given this situation, we affirm the sovereignty of all peoples and traditional communities in their territories. No more deforestation in all the ecosystems of Brazil.
  14. The role of family farming ought to be defined by its sovereignty and autonomy. For that reason, we are against the system of integrating farmers and agrofuel companies, which are only interested in exploiting their labor. We defend public policies that guarantee credit, technical assistance and favorable conditions so that rural workers and farmers produce agrofuels on a small-scale.
  15. We demand that the Brazilian state stimulate, standardize and ensure a policy of energy sovereignty in our country. To achieve that requires public institutions, policies and instruments of social regulation that guarantee an effective role for the State, to generate a process of production and marketing of agrofuels in Brazil.


We the 500 signatories of this letter, participants in the First National Popular Conference on Agro-energy, representing movements composing Via Campesina, environmentalists, unions and pastoral groups.

Endorsers of the Proposal:

Leonardo Boff – Theologian
Roberto Requão – Governor of Paraná
Adriano Beyanon – Professor at the National University of Brasilia
Pastor Werner Fuchs

First Nacional Popular Conference on Agro-Energy.
Curitiba, Paraná, Brasil. October 31, 2007

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