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A Crisis of Empty Promises

June 2008

Our partners in Guatemala have told us: the current food crisis will continue unless we guarantee the land, water and seeds rights of communities necessary to grow food. The same message is being echoed in Brazil, Mexico and many neighborhoods in the U.S.

In two separate statements, Guatemala’s National Peasant and Indigenous Coordination (CONIC) and Brazil’s Small Producers Movement (MPA) put forth food sovereignty as a solution to the crisis: the right of communities to produce food for local markets and for consumers to have access to local healthy foods. Both organizations denounce the expansion of industrial agriculture and growing control of agribusinesses for contributing to the hunger of urban and rural communities.

CONIC’s press release “Denying Production of Staple Foods for Local Consumption is Also an Act of Terrorism” and the MPA’s open letter “We Want to Produce Food: Campaign Against Multinational Agribusinesses and In Defense of Peasant Agriculture” (both attached to this post) denounce the failures of economic policies that favor industrial agriculture and neglects rural families.

This week, policy makers tried to ignore those claims during an emergency meeting in Rome organized by the United Nations’ Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO). Governments and multilateral agencies continue to defend free trade policies and expansion of agro-fuels and industrialization of agriculture.

In an interesting article, the geographer Ariovaldo Umbelino questions if there is a food crisis or a crisis of empty neo-liberal promises. Indeed, this week’s meeting in Rome was full of the same empty promises: Genetically modified seeds, agro-fuels and industrial agriculture. This formula will not guarantee a dignified future to peasants and indigenous people. Neither does industrial agriculture offer a healthy solution for consumers in urban areas. The experiences of working families in Ohio and Oaxaca bear similarities. Free trade policies and industrial agriculture represent empty dinner plates and lack of jobs.

As the food crisis creeps into our own neighborhoods, we hope that you’ll join Grassroots in demanding a real solution – food sovereignty.

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