Corrina Steward's blog
By Corrina Steward
November 5th, 2007
Over the last few months, we've reported on the damaging impact of agrofuels on human rights, the environment and food security.
In early August, the Via Campesina, the world's largest social movement of farmers, farmworkers and rural communities, came together in Mexico City to commit to an international agenda to squash corporate control of agriculture from Mexico to Indonesia.
The global spread of the agrofuels industry and the continued ecological and economic threats to global food sovereignty have intensified the Via Campesina's campaign plans. To kick off their campaigns, they declared an international day of protest on January 26, 2008 that will target Monsanto, Cargill, Archer Daniels Midland, and Wal-Mart. Close to home, in Mexico, they will focus on stopping the final implementation of NAFTA.
Today I facilitated a sub-work group of the Access and Control of Natural Resources thematic working group focused on the environmental aspects of the struggle for food sovereignty. It gave me a great opportunity to hear experiences and learn about the values that different cultures place on natural resources.
I had the incredible opportunity to coordinate a meeting between the Union of Agricultural Workers Committees (UAWC) and the U.S. farmers and farm worker delegates to Nyeleni.
Present at the meeting were Omar Doanna, UAWC and Stop the Wall, Fuad Abu Sail, UAWC, Khalid Hedmi, UAWC, Zakaraya, a Palestinian farmer, Dena Hoff, NFFC, John Kinsman and John Peck, Family Farm Defenders, Carlos Marentes, Border Agricultural Workers.
The meeting was a rare chance for farmer-activists from very different places to share farming experiences, compare notes on movement-building strategy and show that human connection can conquer political divides.
Margaret Curole, North America Co-coodinatorWorld Forum of Fish harvesters and Fish workers (WFFF) writes from Nyeleni:
Today was a perfect day. I started it by just trying to organize a meeting between fisherfolk.
Sometimes it feels like a lesson in futility but then when success comes by way of chance encounter with people willing to help, it’s all worth it.
As an American, in meetings like this, I can feel very unwanted and insignificant. I usually try to blend into the background.
Today I found my voice. I told the trade working group that trade agreements hurt not just developing countries, but developed ones as well. It is not a North v. South issue.
Nyeleni’s persistent spirit is coming through.
We now have electricity and running water. Getting internet is unlikely. These blogs are traveling from Sélingué (via portable USB flash drive) 2.5 hours to Bamako where there is one internet café. An organizer sits there waiting for material to upload on the Nyeleni website.
Today was the opening, inaugural ceremony.
[Editor's note: Grassroots International's Resource Rights Specialist Corrina Steward is in Sélingué, Mali, West Africa for the Nyeleni Food Sovereignty Forum with hundreds of women, peasants, fishers, indigenous peoples, environmentalists, and other activists from 80 countries around the world. She sent over this first of many blogs that will provide a daily glimpse of the proceedings as participants deliberate about food sovereignty and how to achieve it. Check in for Corrina's reports as well as from others from the Middle East to Latin America and elsewhere.]
The Journal of Agriculture and Human Values has published the paper "From colonization to “environmental soy”: A case study of environmental and socio-economic valuation in the Amaz
Grassroots International will be featured in a public event to kick-off Nyélení 2007 – Forum for Food Sovereignty.
In less than one month, hundreds of farmers, fisherfolk, agricultural workers and environmental and indigenous organizations will convene in Mali for Nyéléni 2007: Forum for Food Sovereignty.