Posts Tagged 'La Via Campesina'

From Food Security to Food Sovereignty.


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.

Abril 17. Día mundial de la lucha campesina.


17 de Abril. Día Mundial de lucha campesina.

Llamamiento para el 17 de abril:

Día Internacional de las Luchas Campesinas

¡Acabemos con el acaparamiento de tierras!

¡La tierra para quienes la trabajan!

(Jakarta, 2 de marzo de 2012) El 17 de abril es el Día Internacional de las Luchas Campesinas, que conmemora la masacre de 19 campesinas y campesinos que luchaban por tierra y justicia en Brasil en 1996. Cada año se celebra este día en todo el mundo, en defensa de las campesinas y los campesinos que luchan por sus derechos.

Durante los últimos años hemos padecido la aplicación de nuevas políticas y de un nuevo modelo de desarrollo basado en la expansión y expropiación de terrenos, conocido como acaparamiento de tierras. El acaparamiento de tierras es un fenómeno impulsado por inversores y personas con poder a escala local, nacional e internacional, con la connivencia de gobiernos y autoridades locales, para controlar los recursos más preciados del mundo.

El acaparamiento de tierras ha provocado la concentración de la tierra y recursos naturales en manos de grandes inversores, dueños de plantaciones, empresas madereras, hidroeléctricas y mineras, desarrolladres turísticos e inmobiliarios, autoridades portuarias y de infraestructuras, etc. La consecuencia ha sido el desalojo y desplazamiento de poblaciones locales —generalmente campesinos y campesinas—, la violación de derechos humanos y de la mujer, el aumento de la pobreza, la fractura social y la contaminación ambiental. El acaparamiento de tierras trasciende las estructuras imperialistas Norte-Sur: las corporaciones transnacionales involucradas están basadas en Estados Unidos, Europa, Chile, México, Brasil, Rusia, India, China, Sudáfrica, Tailandia, Malasia, Indonesia y Corea del Sur, entre otros.

Las instituciones financieras, como los bancos privados, los fondos de pensiones y otros fondos de inversión, se han convertido en agentes poderosos en el acaparamiento de tierras, mientras se siguen emprendiendo guerras para tomar el control de las riquezas naturales. El Banco Mundial y algunos bancos regionales de desarrollo están facilitando el acaparamiento de tierras y agua mediante la promoción de medidas y legislaciones que favorecen a las corporaciones, como el suministro de capital y garantías para inversores corporativos y el fomento de un modelo económico de desarrollo destructivo y extractivo. En el interín, el Banco Mundial y otras instituciones han propuesto siete principios para la Inversión Agrícola Responsable (IAR) que deberían prevenir los abusos, pero que en realidad dan legitimidad al acaparamiento de tierras por parte de inversores públicos y privados. La Via Campesina, junto con aliadas y alidos claves, ha protestado en contra de esta iniciativa durante los últimos dos años.

El acaparamiento de tierras es un fenómeno global basado en la dominación corporativa de la agricultura a través del control de la tierra, el agua, las semillas y otros recursos. Muchos gobiernos y gabinetes estratégicos la justifican aduciendo que la agroindustria modernizará las prácticas agrícolas atrasadas y garantizará la seguridad alimentaria para todos. Sin embargo, por muy difundidas que sean estas aduciones, se ha demostrado que son completamente falsas en el mundo real.

Los agentes clave detrás del acaparamiento de tierras dan prioridad a las ganancias ganancias por encima del bienestar de las personas: producen agrocombustibles si ello resulta más rentable que la producción de alimentos; y exportan su producción alimentaria si ello resulta más lucrativo que venderla en el mercado local. En esta carrera por lucrar, la agro-indústra está aumentando su control de los sistemás de producción de alimentos, monopolizando recursos y dominando en los procesos de toma de decisiones. Los grupos de presión corporativos poseen una fuerte inflencia política que a menudo embarga a las instituciones democráticas. Además, actúan con la complicidad de la clase dirigente local y nacional (comerciantes, políticos y líderes de comunidades), que no protegen a su propio pueblo del saqueo.

El acaparamiento de tierras ha desposeído a campesinas y campesinos y pueblos indígenas, especialmente a mujeres y jóvenes, de sus recursos y medios de sustento. También está dañando el medio ambiente. Los pueblos indígenas y las minorías étnicas se ven expulsados de sus territorios por fuerzas armadas, lo que aumenta su vulnerabilidad y en ciertos casos ocasiona incluso la esclavitud. Las falsas soluciones al cambio climático, basadas en el mercado, como el concepto en boga de la “economía verde”, están logrando separar para siempre a las comunidades locales de sus recursos agrícolas y naturales.

Así pues, La Via Campesina realiza un llamamiento a todas y todos sus miembros y aliados, movimientos de pescadores, organizaciones de trabajadores agrícolas, grupos de estudiantes y medioambiente, movimientos a favor de la justicia social, para organizar acciones en todo el mundo el dia 17 de abril para ejercer una masiva demostración de resistencia popular al acaparamiento de tierras y destacar la lucha contra el control corporativo sobre los recursos agrícolas y naturales.

Unámonos y luchemos:

  • Para detener el acaparamiento de tierras y reclamar la tierra tomada. ¡La tierra debería estar en manos de quienes la trabajan!
  • Para aplicar una reforma agraria integral a fin de llevar justicia social a las zonas rurales.
  • Para acabar con el control de la vida de miles de millones de personas, ejercido por unos pocos inversores y empresas transnacionales.
  • Para oponernos a los principios de las “inversiones agrícolas responsables” (IAR) propuestas por el Banco Mundial, ya que nunca puede ser “responsable” el hecho de que inversores y empresas acaparen tierras agrícolas.
  • Para reforzar el sistema de producción agrícola basado en la agricultura campesina y la soberanía alimentaria.

Invitamos a organizaciones, movimientos y agrupaciones y personas a que el 17 de abril organicen una acción directa, una proyección de vídeo, un mercado campesino , una ocupación de tierras, un debate, una protesta, una exposición de arte, o cualquier otra acción que destaque el mismo objetivo.

La Via Campesina Centroamericana. Comunicado.

Nuestra región atraviesa una profunda crisis alimentaria  y  represión campesina


Reunidas las organizaciones campesinas, indígenas y afrodecendientes  de Centroamérica, hoy 25 de Enero del 2012, expresamos ante la opinión pública nacional, regional e internacional, la situación crítica que vivimos las familias en el campo tales como: la represión, criminalización a nuestras luchas, destrucción de cultivos, persecución judicial, el acaparamiento de tierra y la explotación de los Bienes Naturales mediante la implementación de los mega proyectos,  como  mono cultivos, minería e hidroeléctricas  en la región.

Toda esta conflictividad genera a nuestros pueblos un déficit de la Soberanía Alimentaria esto lleva a una crisis profunda, hambruna y extrema pobreza en las comunidades campesinas teniendo mayor impacto en las mujeres, niños y ancianos.

Expresamos nuestro repudio y condenamos los ataques sistemáticos que sufren nuestros hermanos y hermanas del Bajo Aguán en Honduras; así como los compañeros y compañeras del Valle del Polochic en Guatemala.

Exigimos al presidente Porfirio Lobo Sosa (Honduras) y Otto Pérez Molina (Guatemala) buscar una solución inmediata a los conflictos de tierra de las comunidades y no ser cómplices de los terratenientes y empresarios nacionales e internacionales, cuya única respuesta es la represión y el sicariato contra los campesinos y campesinas.

La Vía Campesina Centroamérica hace un llamado enérgico a los gobiernos, movimientos sociales, a los pequeños y medianos productores, trabajadores e intelectuales de Latinoamérica y el mundo, exigir políticas púbicas a favor de las y los campesinos, promover acciones que mejoren las condiciones de vida en el campo, una verdadera Reforma Agraria Integral y así enfrentar las crisis a las que nos ha impuesto el modelo neoliberal.

Exigimos el cumplimiento de los derechos de las mujeres y las juventudes, como la salud, educación, el acceso a la tierra, a la infraestructura, asistencia técnica, semillas nativas y créditos favorables para asegurar el desarrollo integral.

El Movimiento Campesino Centroamericano está convencido del rol que juegan las  mujeres y las nuevas generaciones en la estabilidad y continuidad de nuestra sociedad en su conjunto.

Las organizaciones de Centroamérica hacemos un llamado a la comunidad nacional e internacional a expresar nuestra solidaridad  con las campesinas y campesinos del Movimiento  Unificado Campesino del Aguán – MUCA en Honduras y de los pueblos originarios que habitan las riveras del Valle Polochic en Guatemala y los demás movimientos campesino que luchan en nuestra región.

Llamamos e invitamos a unificar esfuerzos, apoyar y respaldar una Campaña de Solidaridad a favor de las comunidades que luchan por el acceso a la tierra y defensa a la madre naturaleza.

Saludamos al pueblo Nicaragüense por la lucha y esfuerzo que hacen por el incremento de la producción la cual genero un crecimiento  económico del 4% contrario a la situación que viven los países arriba mencionado.


¡¡Reforma Agraria… Urgente  y necesaria!!

¡¡ Resistimos… y Venceremos!!

¡¡Con la mujer en la casa…  La reforma agraria se atrasa!!

¡¡Juventud Campesina… Asumiendo retos para el Cambio!!

¡¡Globalicemos la lucha… Globalicemos la esperanza!!


Tegucigalpa – Honduras, 25 Enero del 2012

Via Campesina: La CBD no paró la comercialización de la biodiversidad.

(Yakarta, el 12 de noviembre 2010) Las delegadas y los delegados de La Via Campesina que asistieron a la conferencia del Convenio sobre la Diversidad Biológica (CBD) en Nagoya del 19 al 29 de octubre de 2010 lamentan que la conferencia no lograra alcanzar una decisión radical para parar la comercialización y destrucción en masa de la biodiversidad.

A pesar de las decisiones positivas para imponer una moratoria en la geoingeniería y para conservar la moratoria de la tecnología Terminator, la conferencia no logró tomar las medidas decisivas necesarias para parar la pérdida de biodiversidad que amenaza nuestra supervivencia.

La Via Campesina celebra la moratoria en la geoingeniería puesto que se considera a esta tecnología una propuesta falsa y perjudicial para revertir el cambio climático. No cuenta con el potencial, tal y como se ha afirmado, para reducir la producción de emisiones de gases de efecto invernadero. Al contrario, modificar la superficie terrestre, los océanos y la atmósfera de esta manera probablemente tendrá efectos devastadores en la biodiversidad. Animamos a los delegados y delegadas de las próximas negociaciones sobre cambio climático COP16 de Cancún para finales de este año a que apoyen la moratoria impuesta en Nagoya.

Sin embargo, a pesar de estos pasos positivos, el CBD no logró rechazar varias iniciativas que amenazan en la actualidad la biodiversidad en nombre de la nueva “economía ecológica”. La economía de los ecosistemas y la biodiversidad (TEEB por sus siglas en inglés), que promociona la comercialización de la biodiversidad al asignarle un valor económico, vivió una gran oposición por parte de algunas delegaciones como Bolivia. No obstante, a pesar de que algunas propuestas específicas no se adoptaron, el CBD decidió seguir desarrollando los aspectos económicos de los servicios del ecosistema al crear el TEEB. El CBD busca incluso una cooperación en este asunto con otras organizaciones de las Naciones Unidas y el Banco Mundial; un desarrollo muy negativo al que La Via Campesina se opone férreamente.

Es más, en Nagoya, los gobiernos de Australia, Canadá, Finlandia, Francia, Alemania, Japón, Noruega, Suecia, Suiza, el Reino Unido y los Estados Unidos de América prometieron dar apoyo a los costes operativos del REDD+ (la reducción de las emisiones de la deforestación y la degradación de los bosques), negociado en COP15. Este mecanismo permite que los países desarrollados sigan contaminando al pagar a los países en desarrollo para que capturen carbono en proyectos como las plantaciones monocultivo. Las iniciativas del REDD+, que los movimientos de agricultores rechazan abiertamente, componen la tendencia a la “apropiación de tierras” en el sur del globo, que expulsa a los agricultores de sus tierras por el interés de los agronegocios.

Según Guy Kastler de La Via Campesina «En Nagoya vimos claramente que el consentimiento previo de las comunidades ante los acuerdos de acceso y participación en los beneficios (ABS por sus siglas en inglés) no funcionará porque los tenedores de las patentes rechazan divulgar las fuentes de sus “invenciones”. A las poblaciones locales les resulta imposible reclamar cualesquiera beneficios por las plantas y los conocimientos que han cultivado durante siglos. Está claro que se precisan otros mecanismos».

El objetivo de Aichi, que se propuso en Nagoya como medio para limitar la pérdida de biodiversidad en las áreas protegidas, dista mucho de ser satisfactorio. La creación de las áreas protegidas se ha usado en el pasado para desahuciar a los agricultores y la población indígena de sus tierras cuando son precisamente ellos los que defienden la diversidad en primer lugar.

La delegación de La Via Campesina observó durante la COP10 del CBD que la organización no reconocía claramente el papel de los pequeños agricultores y la población indígena como principales defensores de la biodiversidad. Los intereses de las empresas transnacionales, que pudieron financiar un elevado número de grupos de presión, se han acomodado mucho más que los derechos de estos defensores inherentes de la biodiversidad global. Mientras que varios gobiernos occidentales enviaron a grupos de presión de las empresas transnacionales para negociar en su nombre, no enviaron ni tan siquiera a una persona indígena o un agricultor. El gobierno francés, por ejemplo, incluyó en su delegación oficial a representantes de la industria de las semillas mientras que la delegación brasileña incluyó a grupos de presión de la industria petrolífera.

Coleen Ross, del Sindicato Nacional de Agricultores de Canadá, afirmó lo siguiente: «La biodiversidad es vida. Allá donde se destruya la biodiversidad, la vida humana estará en peligro. Las soluciones a largo plazo ante la dramática pérdida de biodiversidad estarán, en última instancia, en las manos de los pequeños agricultores y la población indígena y no en la comercialización de la biodiversidad que es la que la destruyó en primer lugar». Por tanto, es crucial que se rechacen todas las soluciones de mercado y se reconozca y apoye a la agricultura sostenible de las explotaciones agrícolas familiares y a la población indígena para mantener la biodiversidad global.

International Operational Secretariat
La Via Campesina
Jl. Mampang Prapatan XIV/5, Jakarta Selatan 12790, Indonesia
Tel: +62-21-7991890


La Via Campesina: The CBD did not stop the commercialization of biodiversity.

(Jakarta, 12 November, 2010) La Via Campesina delegates attending the conference of the Convention on Biodiversity (CBD) in Nagoya from 19 to 29 October 2010 regret that the conference failed to achieve a radical decision to halt the mass commercialization and destruction of biodiversity.

Despite the positive decisions to impose a moratorium on geo-engineering and conserve the moratorium on Terminator technology, the conference failed to take the decisive measures needed to stop the biodiversity loss that threatens our survival.

Via Campesina celebrates the moratorium on geo-engineering as this technology is regarded as a false and damaging proposal for reversing climate change. It does not have the potential, as claimed, to reduce the production of green house gas emissions. Modifying the earth’s surface, oceans and atmosphere in this way is instead likely to have devastating impacts on biodiversity. We encourage the delegates at the upcoming COP16 climate change talks in Cancun at the end of this year to endorse the moratorium imposed at Nagoya.

Despite these positive steps however, the CBD failed to reject several other initiatives currently threatening biodiversity in the name of the new “green economy”. The Economics of Ecosystems and Biodiversity (TEEB) that promotes the commercialization of biodiversity by assigning it an economic value was strongly opposed by some delegations such as Bolivia. However, although a specific proposal was not adopted, the CBD decided to continue developing the economic aspects of ecosystem services by building on TEEB. The CBD even seeks cooperation on this issue with other UN organizations and the World Bank. This is a very negative development that Via Campesina strongly rejects.

Moreover in Nagoya, the governments of Australia, Canada, Finland, France, Germany, Japan, Norway, Sweden, Switzerland, United Kingdom and United States of America pledged to support the operational costs of REDD+ (Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and Forest Degradation), negotiated at COP15. This mechanism allows developed countries to continue polluting while paying developing countries to capture carbon in projects such as monoculture plantations. REDD+ initiatives’, strongly rejected by farmers’ movements, compound the trend of “land grabbing” across the global south, expelling farmers from their land in the interests of agribusiness.

According to Guy Kastler of La Via Campesina “We clearly saw in Nagoya that the prior consent of the communities for the agreements on access and benefit sharing (ABS) will not work because patent holders are refusing to disclose the sources of their “inventions”. It makes it impossible for the local populations to claim any benefits from the plants and the knowledge that they have cultivated for centuries. Other mechanisms are clearly needed”.

The Aichi Target, proposed in Nagoya as a means of limiting biodiversity loss within protected areas is also far from satisfying. The creation of protected areas has in the past been used to evict farmers and indigenous peoples from their land when they are actually the ones defending diversity in the first place.

La Via Campesina delegation observed during the COP10 of the CBD that the role of small farmers and indigenous people as main defenders of biodiversity was not clearly recognized by the institution. The interests of transnational companies, who were able to finance hundreds of lobbyists, have been more accommodated than the rights of these inherent defenders of global biodiversity. While many western governments sent lobbyists from TNCs to negotiate on their behalf, not one of them sent an indigenous person or a farmer. The French government, for example, included in its official delegation representatives from the seed industry while the Brazilian delegation included lobbyists from the petroleum industry.

Coleen Ross from the National Farmers Union in Canada said: “Biodiversity is life. Wherever biodiversity is destroyed, human life is in danger. Long-term solutions to the dramatic loss of biodiversity will ultimately remain in the hands of small farmers and indigenous peoples and not in the commercialization of biodiversity that destroyed it in the first place”. It is therefore crucial to reject all market solutions and to recognize and support the sustainable agriculture of family farmers and indigenous people as a way of maintaining global biodiversity.

International Operational Secretariat
La Via Campesina
Jl. Mampang Prapatan XIV/5, Jakarta Selatan 12790, Indonesia
Tel: +62-21-7991890

October 16th: International day of Action vs agribusiness and Monsanto.

On the occasion of the meeting of the United Nations Convention on Biodiversity (CBD) in Nagoya, Japan, and to mark World Food Day on October 16, 2010, La Via Campesina calls for actions around the world to denounce the role of agribusinesses such as Monsanto and their destruction and corporatization of biodiversity and life.

Even though the UN declared 2010 the International year of Biodiversity, the CBD is meeting at a time of unprecedented biodiversity destruction. As well as animals, insects and birds, the world is also seeing the disappearance of thousands of plant varieties as agribusiness destroys, contaminates and privatizes the World Heritage stored inside the seeds and plants nurtured by generations of farmers over thousands of years of agriculture on Earth. Since 1900, approximately 90% of the genetic diversity of agricultural crops has been lost from farmer’s fields. Biodiversity is also endangered by land-grabbing and the displacement of communities who are actually protecting biodiversity.

Agribusiness corporations are attempting to monopolize seeds through the use of hybrid seeds, patents and laws that make farmers’ seeds illegal. Intellectual property rights systems that are upheld or enforced by institutions such as WTO or TRIPS are putting nature into private hands. Monsanto has become a true giant – the company owns almost a quarter of the patented seed market worldwide, and keeps taking over seeds companies particularly in Europe. The top ten biggest companies control almost 70% of the world’s seeds. The company is now entering the “aid business”, selling its seeds in Africa with the Bill Gates Foundation through the “Alliance for a Green Revolution in Africa (AGRA)”.

Not only do the TNCs sell seeds, they also provide toxic chemicals with devastating effects. Huge monocultures treated with cocktails of agrochemicals will further destroy the world’s biodiversity as well as peasant communities. In the world of Monsanto, Syngenta, Bayer and others, there is no space for biodiversity, just uniformity, biotechnology and profit.

Within the decision making spaces on climate change, agribusiness promotes aggressively technologies that destroy biodiversity such as transgenic trees plantations or GM seeds, solutions which are fasly presented as better adapted to the new climate.

La Via Campesina knows that the future of our planet depends on our ability to protect, nurture and promote agro biodiversity. We, peasant men and women propose to develop the richness and diversity of our farms, plant varieties, cultures and traditions. Seeds are part of the World Heritage and should remain into public and community-based use, not private ownership.

It is the model of peasant agriculture in its diversity that will allow us to adapt to the demographic and climatic changes which are already upon us.

As we confront the agribusinesses in our fields through promoting our alternatives, we refuse to recognize their “rights” as owners of the planet’s biodiversity and we will also confront them through political actions in the coming weeks, at the FAO, the CBD and the UN Climate Talks (UNFCCC).

We call for Actions worldwide around October 16th to protect biodiversity and confront transnational corporations such as Monsanto.

La Via Campesina invites you to coordinate your actions with the call of the network “Climate Justice Action!” in order to organise direct actions worldwide for climate justice on October 12th, 2010. (/


La Via Campesina: It is an Act of Aggression for the FAO to Meet in Mexico to Promote GMOs.

La Via Campesina North America

Guadalajara, 1 March 2010.  La Via Campesina groups together organizations of peasants, family farmers, indigenous peoples, farm workers, women and rural youth from some 70 countries worldwide, representing about 500 million families of women and men of the land. We are those who produce the majority of the food consumed in this world, despite facing ever worse conditions for our work, while the conditions allowing for unimpeded profits by a few transnational corporations are ever more favorable, without any regard for the impacts on people or on the Mother Earth.

We take it as an act of aggression, as a profound lack of respect, and as an affront, that the Food & Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) has decided to meet in Mexico with governments and the private sector, under the false argument that “biotechnology can benefit peasants in poor countries” – as stated today in a deceptive official press release (

They use the word “biotechnology,” an intentionally vague and broad term, when we all know that the real purpose is to promote genetically modified (GM) crops, which have never benefitted farmer families, and never will.  It is an act of aggression against, and a provocation of, the Mexican people and the peasant and indigenous families of the world, to come to Mexico to promote GMOs, when it is precisely in Mexico that there is an intense struggle to stop the contamination of our ancestral maize varieties with GM pollen. This contamination puts the center of origin and center of biodiversity of a crop that is so important to our culture and to humanity, at risk.

Coming here with a pro GMO message, just when the Mexican organizations and people are trying to defend their maize from the “Monsanto Law” and the authorization of open-field experimental plantings of GM maize, makes it absolutely clear to all of society that the FAO serves the interests of Monsanto, a corporate criminal, and the interests of the bad government, rather than the interests of our peoples.  We repeat, it is an act of aggression to come here and takes sides in this conflict here in Mexico.

How is it possible that an international conference “for the benefit of peasants” has only invited and credentialed one single representative of La Via Campesina, and he only with the status of “observer”?   If the desire to benefit peasants is real, why not have met instead with peasant and indigenous peoples’ organizations, to find out from us what we want in order to be better able to carry out our role in society, which is to grow food and protect the Mother Earth?  If they did that, we would tell them in no uncertain terms that GM maize is one thing we definitely do NOT want.  But they are not interested in knowing what we think, we do not interest them, we are of no importance to them, and therefore we reject them.

The world today is in crisis, a financial, food, climate, energy, environmental, political and spiritual crisis.  The crisis is the product of the greed that is inherent in the capitalist system. In the face of this crisis, we are witnessing a worldwide conflict between two models of food and agriculture.  The “model of death,” of industrial monocultures, agrochemicals and GMOs, feeds financial speculation and feeds automobiles – via agrofuels — rather than feeding people, who face ever worsening hunger.

It is no coincidence that in recent years we have seen the confluence of record levels of hunger – despite record harvests – with record levels of corporate profits for the transnationals of death, like Monsanto, Syngenta, Cargill, ADM, Maseca and Walmart.  This model diminishes and privatizes the genetic biodiversity of our crops, just when the world needs more genetic biodiversity, and it constitutes the theft of our heritage as rural peoples, which is our seeds.

We defend the other model of food production, the model of sustainable peasant, indigenous and family farm agriculture, that conserves and augments biodiversity, and that protects the Mother Earth.  Multiple scientific studies prove that this “model of life” is more productive than industrial agriculture, and as part of food sovereignty, is more than capable of feeding the world without threatening human health or the environment.

While one model worsens the various faces of the crisis, like climate change (by releasing greenhouse gasses), and also financial speculation – which together with corporate hoarding of food stocks is a fundamental cause of the food crisis — the other models offers solutions.  Food sovereignty based on sustainable peasant and family farm agriculture takes food out of the circuits of speculation and free trade, and drastically reduces climate impacts.  We must expel transnational corporations from our food system, and put food back under the control of our peoples.
Our food, produced by peasants, family farmers and indigenous people using ancestral knowledge and the principles of agroecology, is healthy, while an ever  greater number of scientific studies demonstrate the multiple risks to human health posed by GMOs.

GMOs have no place whatsoever in our vision of agriculture.  GMO maize is NOT equivalent to native maize, in any sense, regardless of what the FAO may say.  GMOs are a way to privatize life, and they put our native varieties at risk of genomic degradation when they are contaminated by transgenes.  In our view, GMOs are a fundamental part of a global campaign against peasant, indigenous and family farm seeds.  More and more neoliberal laws prohibit the exchange of non-certified seeds, while only corporations can certify, and a range of technologies from hybrid seeds to Terminator are designed to make it impossible for us to save our own seed for future planting. The corporations, with the complicity of the FAO and governments, want to make us completely dependent upon them.

We can only conclude that, rather than feeding the hungry, they are only interested in feeding their own greed.  But as Gandhi said, “the Earth provides enough to satisfy every man’s need, but not every man’s greed.”

For us farmers, the act of planting our native maize, and defending it, is an act of resistance, and an act of rebellion against an unjust system.  But is also an act of hope.  Hope because we know that solutions to the crisis are to be found in food sovereignty and sustainable peasant, indigenous and family farm agriculture, and we know that these seeds of rebellion that we plant, are also the seeds of that other and better world we want.

We reject the promotion of GMOs by the FAO.
No to GM maize!  Monsanto Out!
Food Sovereignty Now!

1 March 2010, Guadalajara, Mexico

Delegation (Mexico, United States, Canada) of La Via Campesina, North America Region, upon the inauguration of the FAO Conference on Agricultural Biotechnologies in Developing Countries

For more information:
Jessica Roe:
Jesus Andrade: +52-1-967-114-7282 (Español)
Peter Rosset: +52-1-967-118-5093 (English)


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