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WTO Collapse Creates Opening for Food Sovereignty

July 2006

The Via Campesina, a global movement of family farmers, agricultural workers, landless, fisherfolk and indigenous peoples, brought their message of food sovereignty to Pascal Lamy, Director General of the World Trade Organization. The very fact that Lamy agreed to meet with them demonstrates that their members have hugely affected the outcome of the WTO negotiations. Among social movements, including labor and environmental circles, there is a growing sentiment that the global food system should serve the needs of the producers, workers and communities most connected to it.

While the Via Campesina is making global leaders hear this message of food sovereignty, Grassroots International is bringing this message, in conjunction with the National Family Farm Coalition, to the U.S. where movement building for rights to land, water, food and seeds are sorely needed. Today, we are lifted by this new global political opportunity.

Via Campesina Press Release:

(Geneva, 27 July 2006)–On July 24, 2006, the social movements La Via Campesina, Friends of the Earth, the World March of Women, the World Forum of Fish Harvesters and Fishworkers sent a delegation to the headquarters of the WTO in Geneva to express their satisfaction at the collapse of the negotiations.

The following day, representatives of La Via Campesina and the fisherfolk organisation agreed to take part in a meeting with Pascal Lamy, Director General of the WTO, in the institution’s building.

Mr. Lamy did not hide the fact that the process of Doha was in a dead end, and that the WTO had entered a phase of hibernation. Mrs. Yoon Geum Soon (La Via Campesina – Korea) and Mr. José Bové (La Via Campesina – France) pointed out the unprecedented crisis striking the agricultural sector since the Marrakech agreement in 1994. Trade liberalisation of agricultural produce has resulted in a price fall for the majority of agricultural produce and in an impoverishment of rural populations. The result has been an increase of poverty, precariousness and migrations.

During the meeting, La Via Campesina reaffirmed the proposal it has been defending since 1996: the recognition of the right to food sovereignty. It is the only credible alternative to solve this un precedented economic and social crisis. The representatives of the peasant’s movement explained their struggle for the creation of an international system regulating agricultural markets based on co-operation, dialogue, responsibility and the respect of people and human communities.

A important number of civil society organisations have decided to work together in order to organise the World Forum on Food Sovereignty in Mali, February 2007. The forum’s objective is to reaffirm the right to food sovereignty and to define a collective strategy to obtain its recognition at international level.

For more information: Jean-Marc Deslfilhes + 41 77 4328630;

La Via Campesina is the international movement of peasants, small and medium sized producers, landless, rural women, indigenous people, rural youth and agricultural workers active in 56 countries in Asia, Africa, Europe and the Americas.

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