Posts Tagged 'food sovereignty'

October 16: World Food Sovereignty Day.

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Today on October 16, 2013 La Via Campesina celebrates the world food sovereignty day. People around the world will carry out actions to celebrate the need of a people’s food system. The global peasants’ movement will make its voice heard loud and clear reaffirming that peasants- led agro-ecology is the real solution to global hunger. Not only do peasant farmers feed communities, they also cool the planet and protect mother nature. Unlike agribusiness, peasants do not treat food as a commodity for speculation profiting out of hunger. They do not patent nature for profit, keeping it out of the hands of the common man and woman. They share their knowledge and seeds, so everyone can have food to eat. On this day, La Via Campesina reminds society and governments that if we really want to put an end to hunger, then we must accept the central role of the peasants, and support them to feed humanity.

The 16 of October became the world food day to commemorate the founding of the FAO, the UN body whose mandate is to end global hunger and malnutrition. The theme chosen this year to celebrate this event is “Sustainable Food Systems for Food Security and Nutrition”. This is indeed a recognition that unsustainable food systems will not lead to a future free from hunger. Yet governments, under the pressure from business interests, continue to promote unsustainable farming and false solutions to hunger. La Via Campesina argues that GMOs, agrofuels and land grabbing by private corporations, which are being promoted by governments around the world in fact increase hunger.

http://viacampesina.org/en/

From Food Security to Food Sovereignty.

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It’s an exciting time for the good food movement. Sometimes it can feel as though the efforts to make agriculture more sustainable are the most visible and active component of the broader environmental movement. This shouldn’t be surprising. Our relationship to food is visceral, emotional, and continues daily.

If you’ve seen Food, Inc. or read any Eric SchlosserMichael Pollan, or Rachel Carson, you know that the sustainable food movement is trying to address the social and environmental problems created by an industrial farming system in which convenience  and profit trump everything else.

The responses to industrial farming have included critiques like Silent Spring, the back-to-the-land and organic farming sparks of the late 1960s, the family farm movement that resisted bankruptcy and corporate consolidation in the 1980s, and now the urban farming movement that has burgeoned in the past 10 years.

Many elements of the sustainable food movement have been organized by (or for) the two most obvious sectors of the food system: Eaters and producers. In parts of the world where populations are still largely agrarian, eaters and producers are often the same people, but here in the United States (where the farming population hovers around one percent) consumers have been the dominant focus of food policy, at least for the past 40 years.

In the global North, much of the past 20 years of activism has framed the concept of “food security” as the right of all people to have enough food to avoid hunger and malnutrition. A new effort underway to deepen food activism focuses on a more radical idea: The concept of food sovereignty. The global food sovereignty movement is making the case that reform of the food system will be insufficient if it does not democratize and make more transparent the means of food production. We’ll never be able to resolve the environmental and social abuses of industrial agriculture without changing who controls the food system.

As Katherine Zavala, program manager of grassroots alliances at International Development Exchange (IDEX), a San Francisco-based organization that supports food justice in the Global South, explains it: “Food security might focus on hunger as a human rights issue, but it fails to consider many other facets of food like the ways it is produced, the social relationships it relies on, or the cultural importance it holds to communities.”

Having enough to eat is important, certainly, but what about the quality of that food? What about the way that people are treated in the process of producing that food? What about the cultural traditions of food that are left aside in a purely calorie-counting concept of “food security”? Zavala says that perhaps the biggest inadequacy of the food security concept is that it fails to address “who decides what the food system is. It doesn’t address who is driving or controlling the global food system or the lack of decision-making power among people to decide what food system they want.”

These deeper questions illustrate why the term “food sovereignty”–pioneered by the international peasant alliance La Via Campesina–is increasingly being adopted food movement activists across the globe. Ashoka Finley, who works for the Richmond, California urban farming organization Urban Tilth and has been closely involved in the Occupy the Farm effort at the University of California’s Gill Tract, considers himself a food sovereignty activist.

He says: “Food sovereignty, like food security, is about rights. But because food sovereignty as a concept argues that food systems are determined by political and economic conditions, it’s about the rights we as eaters, citizens, and communities should have to take part in effecting those conditions. It is also about how we can use food-based activism to transform the political and economic system we live in.”

That “taking part” is what distinguishes food security from food sovereignty, and what makes food sovereignty such a compelling and important idea. Yes, of course, providing food for people in need is essential, but a soup kitchen a food bank or a Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) card is not enough to create food sovereignty. Even planting gardens in urban areas (full disclosure: my area of employment!) doesn’t amount to food sovereignty.

Direct action approaches like Occupy the Farm may not be enough, because, Zavala reminds us, “Those that are in positions of government and economic power are restricting these alternative food system models. They’re not thinking about feeding people; they’re mostly thinking about the bottom line. And if we all created our own food systems, how would they profit?”

The entrenched corporate opposition to food systems change has pushed food sovereignty activists beyond the direct action approach to address the institutions of power. After a long period of focusing effort outside the political system, activists are now looking to the government for change. In the mid-2000s, for example, the federal Farm Bill finally became a top priority for many sustainable agriculture advocates. Long after the law was the main target of efforts to ensure food security (through SNAP). But, it has remained close to impossible to use the Farm Bill as a tool to promote food sovereignty.

“The current political climate is an extreme difficult one, the legislative process is complex, and that process can often be quite corrupt, as we have seen numerous times,” Finley says. “However, if we want food sovereignty, we can’t shy away from tough political battles, because there are certain political issues that underpin or undermine food sovereignty, like land ownership or agribusiness subsidies.”

Recent lobbying over the Farm Bill provides a clear example of the complexity and difficulty transitioning from a food security movement to a food sovereignty movement. Food security activists (often representing low income urban constituents) have been pitted against farm sustainability activists (more often rural-minded) over the funding that the bill controls. In an era of austerity, this can lead to Sophie’s-choice like dilemmas: Either cut food stamp funding or cut programs that provide support to farmers transitioning to organic methods of production.

Luckily, there’s an alternative to this false choice. That choice is to develop democratic spaces at the local and state level to craft collaborative solutions that benefit both consumers and producers. Across the country, Food Policy Councils(FPCs) are bringing together diverse constituencies to determine how local policy can be leveraged to achieve positive food system change. These local groups identify problems as a community and then seek to solve them through a process of consensus-building and pressuring local governments. Food Policy Councils have worked on things like institutional food procurement, the use of urban open space for agriculture, nutrition education and funding for food banks. More recently, FPCs are scaling up, coming together to affect policy on the state and federal levels.

The food movement’s shift from security to sovereignty can be instructive for the broader movements for environmental sanity and democratic governance. By asking the simple question, “Who’s in charge here?” food sovereignty elevates the importance that power has in our food systems. The concept expands our critical capacity beyond consumer choice to consider that we are all “co-producers” of the food system. “Sovereignty” is a frame that can be used to think about process in relation to natural resources, not just outcomes, and it can help encourage solidarity and cohesion amongst myriad movements and sectors within the food movement and outside of it.

Social movements focused on sovereignty can help build a more democratic and accountable political system. This, in turn, would allow for a more sustainable approach to natural resources, and a more egalitarian economic system. By talking “sovereignty” from the start, change-makers can pursue a mutual end goal from any number of individual struggles. When Paul Hawken described “the largest movement on Earth” in his book Blessed Unrest, he was clear that the millions of individual and NGO efforts to help were a movement, but just didn’t act like one.

Sovereignty, whether of food or fiber or healthcare, may the concept needed for these many struggles to become the movement that it could be.

San Francisco native Antonio Roman-Alcalá has been irrationally dedicated to urban sustainability since he decided that there wasn’t enough “land” for all dropouts to go “back to”. Since graduating from UC Berkeley, Antonio has been pursuing a life of meaningful enjoyment: teaching farming and permaculture at Alemany Farm and Texas Street Farm; playing drums and guitar in the band Future Twin; writing about the sustainable food movement as a perpetually critical insider; sharing his film In Search of Good Food; organizing the urban farm movement via the San Francisco Urban Agriculture Alliance, and writing an ambitious treatise on human nature, environmental sustainability, and social transformation.

http://www.grassrootsonline.org/news/articles/food-security-food-sovereignty

The Great Mexican Maize Massacre

Gene Giants Prepare the Genetic Wipe-out of One of the World’s Most Important Food Crops

Agribusiness giants Monsanto, DuPont and Dow are plotting the boldest coup of a global food crop in history. If their requests to allow a massive commercial planting of genetically modified (GM) maize are approved in the next two weeks by the government of outgoing president Felipe Calderón, this parting gift to the gene giants will amount to a knife in the heart of the center of origin and diversity for maize. The consequences will be grave – and global. With the approvals and December planting deadlines looming, social movements and civil society organizations have called for an end to all GM maize in Mexico. Mexico’s Union of Concerned Scientists (UCCS) has called on the Mexican government to stop the processing of any application for open-field release of GM maize in Mexico.[1]ETC Group joins these calls, and appeals to the UN Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) and to the UN Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD) – intergovernmental bodies mandated to support food security and biodiversity – to take immediate action.

Outrage and alarm rang out through Mexico when the world’s two largest commercial seed companies, Monsanto and DuPont (whose seed business is known as DuPont Pioneer Hi-Bred International, Inc.), and Dow AgroSciences (the world’s 8th largest seed company) applied to the government for the planting of 2,500,000 hectares (more than 6 million acres) of transgenic maize in Mexico.[2] The land area is massive – about the size of El Salvador. Scientists have identified thousands of peasant varieties of maize, making Mexico the global repository of maize genetic diversity. If the agribusiness applications are approved, it will mark the world’s first commercial-scale planting of genetically modified varieties of a major food crop in its center of origin.

“If Mexico’s government allows this crime of historic significance to happen, GMOs will soon be in the food of the entire Mexican population, and genetic contamination of Mexican peasant varieties will be inevitable. We are talking about damaging more than 7,000 years of indigenous and peasant work that created maize – one of the world’s three most widely eaten crops,” said Verónica Villa from ETC’s Mexico office. “As if this weren’t bad enough, the companies want to plant Monsanto’s herbicide-tolerant maize [Mon603] on more than 1,400,000 hectares. This is the same type of GM maize that has been linked to cancer in rats according to a recently published peer-reviewed study.”[3]

The poor in Latin America, but also in Asia and Africa, will particularly feel the effects, where breeding from maize diversity supports their subsistence and helps them cope with impacts of climate chaos. Along with Mexico, southern African countries Lesotho, Zambia, and Malawi have the highest per capita maize consumption in the world.[4]

The Mexican government insists that the target areas in the north are not part of the center of origin for maize, as traditional varieties weren’t found there. But this is not true: peasant varieties have been collected in these states, although to a lesser degree than in areas to the south. Many scientists as well as the National Biodiversity Commission (Conabio) consider the whole Mexican territory to be the center of origin for maize.[5] According to a review made by Ceccam (Center for Study of Change in Rural Mexico), the government’s newly drawn ‘center of origin’ map is historically and scientifically wrong, designed in order to justify the planting of GM maize by transnational companies.[6]

Commercial-scale planting (and subsequent re-planting) of GM maize will contaminate peasant varieties beyond the target regions, via the dispersal of GM pollen by insects and wind, as well as via grain elevators and accidental escape from trucks that transport maize all over Mexico. Scientists expect that contamination’s negative effects on peasant varieties might be irreversible and progressive, thanks to the accumulation of transgenes in its genome, leading to an erosion of biodiversity.[7]

Hundreds of Mexican agronomists and other scientists as well as Mexico’s peasant, farmers’ and consumers’ organizations have voiced their opposition to the proposed planting, but the outgoing administration of President Calderón – with nothing to lose before his term ends on December 1 – is expected to side with agribusiness. Mounting pressure, both inside and outside the country, may complicate matters.

If the planting is allowed, however, farmers growing maize may become unwitting patent infringers, guilty of using “patented genes” and may be forced to pay royalties to the patent owners, as has already happened in hundreds of cases in North America.

“It would be a monumental injustice for the creators of maize – who have so benefited humankind – to be obliged to pay royalties to a transnational corporation that exploited their knowledge in the first place,” said Silvia Ribeiro, ETC Group’s Latin America Director.

In 1999, the Mexican National Agricultural Biosafety Commission established a moratorium on GM maize trials and commercial planting because of Mexico’s unique position as the center of origin and genetic diversity for maize. Calderón’s government arbitrarily broke the moratorium in 2009, although the conditions that motivated the moratorium were unchanged. Since then, the new biosafety commission (CIBIOGEM) has given its approval of 177 small GM maize field trials to 4 transnational companies (Dow AgroSciences, DuPont, Monsanto and Syngenta). The GM field trials themselves have been criticized for lacking biosafety rigour – failing to comply even with Mexico’s weak biosafety law.

Silvia Ribeiro argues: “The so-called public consultations have been a charade, since the trials were approved without taking into account critical comments – even when they represented the majority of comments, many of them from well-known agronomists and other scientists. On top of that, the results of the trials were kept confidential, but are now providing the justification to allow commercial planting.”

After his official visit to Mexico in 2011, the UN Special Rapporteur on the Right to Food, Olivier de Schutter, recommended that the Mexican government reinstate the moratorium on GM maize, both because of its impact on biodiversity and on Farmers’ Rights.[8] The Mexican government ignored the recommendation.

Ana de Ita of Ceccam points out that the area applied for in the Sinaloa and Tamaulipas (Mexican states in the North of Mexico) exceeds the area currently planted to irrigated maize there. “So it appears the companies are planning to replace the whole area of maize as well as other crops,” she says. “This is outrageous, as there is no reason for Mexico to risk its own history and biodiversity with GM maize. Mexico already produces enough maize to exceed the human consumption needs in the country, and it could produce much more by supporting peasants and small-scale farmers without handing over its food sovereignty to transnational companies.”

Maize is central to the cultures, economies and livelihoods of the Mexican population, where most people eat maize in different forms every day. The amount of maize that Mexicans consume far exceeds the average per capita consumption of most other countries (115 kg/year). 85% of the Mexican maize producers are peasants and small farmers, with fields smaller than 5 hectares. These producers have an essential role in providing more than half the food for the population, particularly the poor. At the same time, they are caring for and increasing the crop’s genetic diversity because of the decentralized way they grow maize – planting many different varieties, adapted at local levels, along with a number of other crops and wild species.

In 2009, the Network in Defense of Maize,[9] together with La Via Campesina North America, sent an open letter signed by thousands of other organizations and individuals to FAO and the CBD, asking them to take action to prevent GM maize contamination in Mexico.[10] The former directors of both international organizations dodged the request, even though both institutions have committed to protect agricultural centers of origin.[11] We now ask the new directors of FAO and the CBD to take immediate action to protect the center of origin and diversity of maize.

For further information:

Silvia Ribeiro, ETC Group Latin America Director, silvia@etcgroup.org
Verónica Villa, ETC Group, Mexico, veronica@etcgroup.org
Tel: (+52) 55 63 2664

Ana de Ita, CECCAM, anadeita@ceccam.org.mx
Tel: (+52) 56 61 53 98

Pat Mooney, ETC Group Executive Director, mooney@etcgroup.org
Tel: 1-613-241-2267

Red en Defensa del Maíz: http://redendefensadelmaiz.net/
Centro de Estudios para el Cambio en el Campo Mexicano, ceccam: http://www.ceccam.org/


[1] UCCS (Unión de Científicos Comprometidos con la Sociedad), “Statement: Call to action vs the planting of GMO corn in open field situations in Mexico,” November 2012, available online:http://www.uccs.mx/doc/g/planting-gmo-corn.
[2] The list of commercial applications for environmental release of GMOs is available here:http://www.senasica.gob.mx/?id=4443. (In Mexico, DuPont Pioneer Hi-Bred International, Inc., is known by the name PHI México.)
[3] Gilles-Eric Séralini et al., “Long term toxicity of a Roundup herbicide and a Roundup-tolerant genetically modified maize,” Food and Chemical ToxicologyVolume 50, Issue 11, November 2012, pp. 4221–4231. See also, John Vidal, “Study linking GM maize to cancer must be taken seriously by regulators,” The Guardian, 28 September 2012, available online: http://www.guardian.co.uk/environment/2012/sep/28/study-gm-maize-cancer.
[4] Alfred W. Crosby, review of James C. McCann, Maize and Grace: Africa’s Encounter with a New World Crop, 1500-2000 in Technology and Culture, Vol. 47, No. 1, January 2006, pp. 190-191.
[5] A. Serratos, El origen y la diversidad del maíz en el continente Americano, 2nd edition, September 2012, Mexico City Autonomous University and Greenpeace, available online:http://www.greenpeace.org/mexico/es/Footer/Descargas/reports/Agricultura-sustentable-y-transgenicos/El-origen-y-la-diversidad-del-maiz-2a-edicion/; National Commission for Biodiversity, Project Centers of Origin and diversification. http://www.biodiversidad.gob.mx/v_ingles/genes/centers_origin/centers_origin.html.
[6] Ceccam, La determinación de los centros de origen y diversidad genética del maíz, Mexico, 2012, available online: http://www.ceccam.org/publicaciones?page=1.
[7] UCCS, “Transgenic Maize Estrangement,” México, 2009, available online:http://www.unionccs.net/comunicados/index.php?doc=sciencetrmaize.
[8] Olivier de Schutter report on Mexico, paragraphs 53-55. See Mission to Mexico, 2011, available online: http://www.srfood.org/index.php/en/country-missions.
[9] The Network in Defense of Maize includes more than 1000 indigenous communities and civil society organizations. It was created in 2001, when it was first discovered that native Mexican maize had been contaminated by GM maize. Since then, the Network has resisted the advance of GM maize contamination at the local level, particularly in rural areas. Both ETC Group and Ceccam are members of the Network (http://endefensadelmaiz.org).
[10] The letter is available online: http://www.etcgroup.org/content/open-letter-international-civil-society-organizations-transgenic-contamination-centers.
[11] The CBD’s former Secretary General, Ahmed Djoghlaf, did not reply to the open letter. The former FAO Director General Jacques Diouf did not reply either, but delegated Shivaji Pandey, Director of FAO’s Plant Production and Protection Division, to respond. Pandey, a well-known advocate of genetically modified crops, wrote that FAO could offer advice, but that biosafety was a Mexican issue.

Maíz: Diez mil años de certeza.

En varias comunidades de la región de la Sierra Juárez se ha detectado la presencia de maíz transgénico, introgresión dicen los especialistas. Nosotros creemos que se trata de una agresión a las comunidades indígenas, porque nadie se enteró con anticipación que esto podría haber ocurrido. Cuando nuestros compañeros campesinos compraban el maíz en Diconsa, nadie, ni los dependientes de las tiendas, Conasupo que les dicen, ni los costales de maíz venían con alguna indicación que dijera que traían semillas transgénicas. Ahora dicen que no son semillas, que son granos para consumo humano. Sin embargo, algunos campesinos indígenas de la región vieron en esos granos, las semillas que podrían sembrar. Por experimentación o necesidad quizá, esa semilla transgénica se sembró. En la cosmovisión indígena no hay diferencia entre una semilla y lo que es grano para comer. El maíz, nuestro hermano, lo cultivamos, lo comemos, y no podemos establecer una frontera entre lo que es para comer y lo que es para sembrar.

Hoy varias de nuestras comunidades tienen el problema de que su maíz está contaminado con maíces transgénicos. El primero en anunciar que había contaminación de semillas transgénicas en la Sierra Juárez fue el delegado de la Semarnat estatal, Salvador Fonseca. Sin embargo no se atrevió a afirmarlo sino que recurrió al Instituto Nacional de Ecología dependiente de Semarnat, para que se hiciera una evaluación.

Lo único que se nos informó es que había rasgos de que las semillas podían estar contaminadas por transgénicos, pero sin precisar a qué tipo de granos o semillas transgénicas se referían. Es una de las exigencias que habíamos hecho en carta pública al presidente de la República, al Secretario de la Sagarpa, al Secretario de la Semarnat y a la Cibiogem. Nos respondió Vicente Fox diciendo que había turnado a la Sagarpa para que ellos respondieran esta carta. Sagarpa hasta el momento no ha respondido oficialmente la carta; la Semarnat lo hizo a través del INE.

Nos parece muy preocupante, sobre todo porque después hacen una recomendación –que desde nuestro punto de vista es un atentado contra las comunidades indígenas–, porque se dice que para que no se pierdan las semillas criollas que actualmente existen en Sierra Juárez es necesario que se sigan sembrando las semillas que fueron cosechadas en esta reciente cosecha, sin importar que haya maíz transgénico en ellas, porque si no se perderían las semillas, nos dicen. Se nos propone que el próximo año se sigan monitoreando los terrenos y las semillas. Nosotros decimos que eso que ellos llaman monitoreo es un experimento para ver si crece o no crece la contaminación de los maíces transgénicos. En nuestra carta solicitamos que se ubicara cuáles eran los predios contaminados y cuáles eran los predios sin contaminar para que de ellos se saquen las semillas para la próxima siembra.

Sin embargo, los estudios que se realizaron se hicieron prácticamente de forma clandestina. En un foro que realizamos en Guelatao el pasado 19 de enero, las autoridades municipales y los comisariados de bienes comunales asistentes, nos dijeron que ellos desconocían que hubieran ido a sacar muestras de los terrenos de la gente de las comunidades. Nadie nos pudo decir, ninguna institución gubernamental nos puede decir que oficialmente llegó a las comunidades y explicó a las autoridades municipales o a las autoridades de bienes comunales: “vamos a sacar algunas muestras de semillas de maíz de su comunidad donde tenemos cierta preocupación”. Sí se hizo pero prácticamente de forma clandestina. Hoy vuelven a hacer algunos muestreos, seguramente por parte de la Sagarpa. Hasta donde nosotros sabemos el ingeniero de la Inifap –aun teniendo un protocolo de investigación– solamente llega, platica con las autoridades municipales y les pide que le digan quién tiene maíz, y al azar van y sacan unas 40 mazorcas o 30 mazorcas o 10 mazorcas de las gentes que han sembrado maíz en la reciente cosecha.

Nosotros creemos que se tiene que hacer una investigación seria para determinar con precisión cuáles son los predios contaminados, que es lo que a nosotros nos interesa porque lo que queremos es poner un límite entre las semillas transgénicas y las que no lo son. Si el próximo año siguen monitoreando y el siguiente también, puede que el maíz transgénico siga incrementando su porcentaje en las comunidades de la región y no se esté tomando una medida efectiva para evitarlo.

En la Sierra Juárez nos estamos informando, pero hace falta más información de nuestras mismas comunidades. Nos preocupa que esto pueda estar ocurriendo en otros lugares del país. Las semillas o los “granos” de Diconsa no llegan sólo a Oaxaca, llegan a todos los lugares del país en donde se consume ese maíz, y esto pone en riesgo la integridad de las semillas nativas, mal llamadas “criollas” de muchas comunidades indígenas de México.

Para nosotros las semillas nativas son un elemento muy importante de nuestra cultura. Podrán haber desaparecido las pirámides, las podrán haber destruido, pero un puño de semilla de maíz es la herencia que nosotros podemos dejarle a nuestros hijos y a nuestros nietos, y hoy nos están negando esa posibilidad. El proceso de globalización que se está viviendo en nuestro país y el solapamiento que se está haciendo por parte de las autoridades gubernamentales está negando a las comunidades indígenas el que puedan seguir transmitiendo esta herencia milenaria. Estamos hablando de más de 10 mil años de cultura: nuestras semillas han probado durante 10 mil años que no le hacen daño a nadie. Hoy nos están diciendo por la radio en Guelatao que las semillas transgénicas no hacen daño. Qué pruebas tienen al respecto. Nosotros sí tenemos pruebas: 10 mil años de práctica lo demuestran. Cinco años o seis años de práctica de la siembra de maíz transgénico en el mundo no nos están dando ningún indicador de que estas semillas, o de que estos granos, no vayan a causar daño a la humanidad. Después de 10 mil años nuestras semillas siguen vivas. Bien podemos poner en duda las semillas de ellos, que no tienen demostración al respecto.

En la Sierra Juárez creemos que es muy importante que podamos realizar un trabajo para diferenciar las semillas transgénicas y las que no lo son. No tenemos los recursos suficientes, es más, no tenemos recursos. No hay recursos para la difusión que en muchas comunidades es necesaria. Mucha gente no sabe todavía qué es el maíz transgénico. En la ciudad de México se ve la televisión, se escucha la radio, se pueden leer los periódicos; en la Sierra Juárez eso no existe. Tenemos que ir de comunidad en comunidad a informar lo que sucede, y nuestros paisanos cada vez están más molestos por esta situación.

Uno de los pronunciamientos más importantes que podemos hacer es exigirle al gobierno mexicano que no se siga importando maíz transgénico a nuestro país. Esta demanda no es solamente nuestra, es de muchos investigadores y centros preocupados por la seguridad alimentaria de los mexicanos. Nosotros nos sumamos a la demanda que fue presentada ya por algunos organismos de la sociedad civil en contra de la Sagarpa, la Semarnat y otras instituciones gubernamentales, porque han violado una serie de pactos, una serie de convenios internacionales, una serie de leyes nacionales que ellos hicieron, que ellos firmaron y que hoy no se respetan. No podemos seguir permitiendo que en México se siga impunemente contra los pueblos indígenas.

Vamos a hacer lo que sea necesario para que nuestras semillas, nuestros maíces, puedan sobrevivir. Los pueblos indígenas no vamos a dejar que pasen sobre nosotros sin que digamos nada. Hoy estamos en pie de lucha, vamos a seguir haciendo nuestro mejor esfuerzo para que la herencia que nos dejaron nuestros antepasados podamos entregarla también a nuestros hijos y a nuestros nietos.

Aldo González.

2002

Aldo González es presidente municipal de Guelatao, Oaxaca, miembro de la Unión de Organizaciones de la Sierra Juárez de Oaxaca (Unosjo) e integrante del Congreso Nacional Indígena

http://www.jornada.unam.mx/2002/02/18/oja58-maiz.html

Debate: ¿Es riesgoso el maíz transgénico?

Genetic Roulette Movie

Globalised food system has failed the poor.

The World Economic Forum’s annual gathering is usually little more than a toast to the benefits of increasing global gross domestic product (GDP), trade and investment. But this year’s meeting comes at a time when economic expansion can no longer be taken for granted and when the uneven benefits of past growth are sparking mass social unrest.

So it is little wonder that doomsday scenarios about the “seeds of dystopia” and the risks of “rolling back the globalisation process” are being dangled in Davos. The world’s economic and political leaders stand warned: do globalisation better, or it will be derailed by the growing legions of the discontented.

Leaders would be unwise to ignore this warning. Discussions in Davos must go beyond how to rectify the imbalances in developed countries’ debt-to-GDP ratios. They must finally pay attention to the wider imbalances that are generated by unfettered globalisation.

Popular anger is directed not only at the bank bail-outs, soaring public debt and bleak employment prospects of recent years. All around the world, people have fallen afoul of a two-track economic process whereby whole industries have been sacrificed to cheaper imports, whole regions have been consigned to abandonment or degradation and whole populations have been frozen out of economic progress.

Nowhere are these imbalances more evident than in the global food system. Globalisation has been wholeheartedly embraced in the service of feeding the world: bilateral and multilateral trade agreements have been put in place to allow food to flow from food-surplus to food-deficit regions.

Yet this model has failed spectacularly. The food bills of the least-developed countries increased five-or sixfold between 1992 and 2008. Imports now account for about 25% of their current food consumption. The more they are told to rely on trade, the less they invest in domestic agriculture. And the less they support their own farmers, the more they have to rely on trade. Countries that fall into this vicious cycle leave their citizens vulnerable to historically volatile prices on international markets, which means increased hunger and insecurity.

Despite the persistent challenges of hunger and food inequality, people are told to embrace more open markets, more trade and more globalised economic processes. Yet open markets do not function as perfectly as many at Davos would like to think. Food moves where purchasing power is highest, not where the need for it is most urgent.

This blind embrace of globalisation from above means missing out on key opportunities that do not fit the dogma. If we were to support developing-world small landholders, who are often the poorest groups, we could enable them to move out of poverty and enable local food production to meet local needs. Trade would complement local production rather than justifying its abandonment.

Trade and investment agreements are the gateways through which globalisation passes on its way to redefining a country’s economic landscape and they are increasing at an impressive pace. There are 6092 bilateral investment agreements in force, with 56 concluded in 2010 alone.

That growth reflects the flawed economic model of the pre-crisis years, which relied on indifference to where growth came from, how sustainable it was and who was benefiting from it. If we are to learn anything from the crisis, it must be to start asking the right questions.

Every new bilateral agreement, every chapter of globalisation, should be measured against new criteria. How sustainable and how evenly spread will the macroeconomic benefits be? Will they facilitate genuine development and provide dignified opportunities to those who become economically displaced?

Globalisation involves winners and losers — that has been established.

But losing out, for a subsistence farmer, means sinking into dire poverty and hunger.

Is the denial of a vulnerable population’s right to food an acceptable byproduct of a trade deal? Should the goal be to multiply the interests of powerful multinationals? Are these the economic processes that we want, or need?

These are the questions leaders must ask at Davos. Globalisation can survive the crisis. But not as we know it. Globalisation must be taken back for the interests of the many. © Project Syndicate, 2012. http://www.project-syndicate.org

 • De Schutter is the United Nations special rapporteur on the right to food.

http://www.businessday.co.za/articles/Content.aspx?id=163521


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