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George Naylor Reports from the Forum on Food Sovereignty and Agrofuels

August 2007

George Naylor, President of the National Family Farm Coalition sent us a note from the Via Campesina’s International Forum on Agrofuels and Food Sovereignty. The forum, which features farmer and peasant activists from around the world, is taking place today and tomorrow in Mexico City. The race to convert acres from food to fuel crops in Mexico, Brazil and the United States has many, including us here at Grassroots, concerned. We fear that pursuing the industrial scale agrofuel model will worsen hunger, speed up destruction of the natural environment and the fertility of farmland and destroy local communities and ways of life that, once gone, can never be brought back. (Read this report about the myth of biofuels from our partners and allies in Brazil. )

We’re looking forward to hearing from George and the others at the forum not just about their concerns, but also about the hopeful message of food sovereignty. By prioritizing local production of food, preserving biodiversity and land fertility, protecting resources and preserving communities and the rural way of life we can integrate production of agrofuels into diverse, agro-ecological, community-based family farming and peasant agriculture to build sustainable livelihoods for all.

George writes:

Hi, I’m on another learning experience. The agrofuels craze (an activist from Brazil tells me they won´t use the term biofuels because bio means living) is about to break out in Mexico.

I’m attending a forum held by progressive grassroots farm and peasant organizations to get ahead of the craze. The government has announced its intention to bring 15 million hectares into production. And of course they claim this will be so important to alleviating rural poverty.

Well, those of us from Brazil and the United States know it’s a lot more complicated than that. Tomorrow we will be expressing our concerns. We have had cheap fossil fuel and cheap food fuel at the farm gate for so long. I think it’s clear that whatever happens, as long as there’s no public policy to value the environment or the hard work put into any kind of agriculture production (or concerns for land tenure), it won’t be family farmers or peasants that gain from the agrofuel craze. I’ll report back more on what I hear from farmers in Mexico, Europe, and Brazil after tomorrow’s meeting.

 –George Naylor

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