I have had the privilege of being the point person for Grassroots International on our U.S-based advocacy work on food and farm policy issues. A large part of this work is done in conjunction with our allies in the US Working Group on the Global Food Crisis, where Grassroots is a member of the ad hoc steering committee I have been working to raise the voices of Grassroots’ partners, like the Via Campesina, in the policy solutions put forward for consideration in Washington. Among the strategies for which our partners, and we, advocate is a transition away from large-scale industrialized fossil-fuel-dependent agriculture toward a more earth and people friendly model of sustainable agriculture. This is not only good for people; it is also good for the planet.
Today the global climate change talks that originated at the earth Summit in Rio some 17 years ago, get off the ground again in Copenhagen. More social movement activists will be at this climate change discussion than at any other of the previous treaty talks. Among those who will be there holding educational side events, street actions and pressing for change are our partners from the Via Campesina whose press announcement states: “If we consider production, processing and transportation, the whole food chain could be responsible for up to half of all global greenhouse gas emissions.”
However official negotiators, and in fact our own Congressional delegation, do not yet seem ready to acknowledge the impact of our current food and agricultural system on global warming– and the need to radically change our food policies to roll back climate change. Some of our colleagues from the US Working Group on the Global Food Crisis, like our friends from the Institute for Agriculture and Trade Policy (IATP), are sending large delegations to Copenhagen. IATP has prepared and released a fantastic series of articles and videos on the important inter-relationship between agriculture and climate change.
It is precisely because of the crucial relationship between agriculture and climate change and the global food crisis that Grassroots International has joined our colleagues of the US Working Group on the Global Food Crisis in calling for the senate to block Obama’s a appointment of Islam Siddiqui, the current Vice President for Science and Regulatory Affairs with CropLife America, a pesticide and biotechnology trade group known for aggressively pursuing and protecting the interests of agribusinesses corporations like Monsanto, Syngenta, DuPont and Do, as the US trade representative (USTR) to the WTO for agriculture. The potential confirmation of Siddiqui as USTR for agriculture is a manifestation of the influence that corporate agriculture and biotech firms have upon our national policies – policies that also affect billions of people across the globe. According to our colleagues at the Pesticide Action Network North America (PANNA), “Siddiqui is a perfect example of the “revolving door” between Big Ag and government. He is too beholden to corporate interests to serve the best interests of people, farmers, workers and the environment.”
It is amazing that while on the campaign trail President Obama vowed to “stand up to corporate mega-farm lobbyists who have long had too much influence over rural and agriculture policies.”
PANNA and many of our allies are calling upon their supporters to take action to stand up against corporate mega-farm lobbyists and block the confirmation of Obama’s appointee from Big Ag during this week. If you want to do you part just follow this link.