Today, it’s time to look at a possible solution. One which can even solve many more problems we are facing in the world today.
The United Nations have introduced the notion of food security to describe the state they want to achieve, being simply that everyone has enough food. The peasants – as we have seen yesterday, they are often the ones which suffer most from the global food market – have another proposition. They speak about “food sovereignty“. It includes many more elements. It means not caring only about producing enough food, but also including social and environmental concerns and the question about who takes decisions concerning food and the production of food.
Food sovereignty has been introduced by La Via Campesina and the international peasant movement. They are one of the most important social movements in the world today. Their discourse is offering us real alternatives to the globalized, neoliberal system we have today. La Via Campesina gives voice to small farmers, farm workers, indigenous people, landless peasants and rural women and youth. The peasant movement is also an important actor within the World Social Forum.
Back to food sovereignty, I find the following description quite emblematic:
For an agriculture with peasants; For fishing with fisherfolk; For livestock with pastoralists; For territories with indigenous people; For wholesome food for all consumers; For labor with workers’ rights; For a future with youth in the countryside; For food sovereignty with women; For a healthy environment for all.
That’s how the report Towards a Green Food System starts off. The report tries to explain “how food sovereignty can save the environment and feed the world”. That is already a quite promising subtitle. Basically, the main idea is caught up in the Declaration from the Nyéléni 2007 Forum for Food Sovereignty which “affirms that we are long overdue for a food system that puts those who produce, distribute, and consume food at the heart of food systems and policies rather than the demands of markets and corporations.”
Food sovereignty means coming back to the local, coming back to conserving seeds, to subsistence farming but also promoting eco-friendly technologies for food production and sustainable management of resources: “Food sovereignty advocates believe that yields high enough to feed the planet can be accomplished through agroecology rather than chemical additives; emphasizing biodiversity, intercropping, local markets, organic cultivation; and prioritizing agriculture for food over fuel production. Instead of promoting genetically modified crops, the emphasis should be on preserving our abundant biodiversity. In particular, seeds—the very lifeblood of agriculture—must remain biodiverse and ecologically appropriate, controlled not by corporations but by family farmers.”
Back in the time, our ancestors knew exactly how to produce food without needing herbicides and pesticides on the base of fossil fuels. They didn’t need GM crops either. I’m not sure what we will run out on first, the environment or oil but those things definitely don’t last forever. The international peasant movements tries to conserve the knowledge which has existed for a long time and go back to it before it is too late.
Here are some more nice extracts from the report: Just a reminder: “Pesticides kill wildlife.”, “Agricultural fertilizers pollute our waters.” Did you know that “today, just three food crops—rice, wheat, and corn— provide 60 percent of our plant-based diet?”
Finally an alarming quote from the report: “Five companies control 75 percent of the global vegetable seed market, and their grip on the market is tightening…. As a former Monsanto executive boasted not long ago, ‘What you are seeing is not just a consolidation of seed companies, it’s really a consolidation of the entire food chain…. The first stop (and often the permanent stop) for displaced peasants is a cardboard box on the edge of the capital city.'” Is this really what we want?
Picture by donkeycart, thank you!