Advances on the Journey to Food Sovereignty and Human Rights

This last year has seen many advances around the globe for communities and activists pushing to regain their fundamental human rights to land, water, and food.  As we now approach the end of 2013, we take this opportunity a look back at some of the accomplishments that have marked the year.  In spite of the great challenges—and seemingly insurmountable odds—there is much to celebrate.  Below are some of many highlights from the last year.

Winning land for formerly landless farmers in Brazil

If Farming Is Hard, Free Trade Makes It Harder

Being a farmer is hard.  This is true no matter what policies exist. The work itself is difficult, and making money from farming requires many, many factors to line up just right.  Get too much rain, too dry a season, too many bugs and the crop can be destroyed.  Prices might be higher, but there’s just not that much to sell.  Even a big harvest when everything goes well doesn’t guarantee success. A bumper crop means that there are a whole lot of tomatoes, corn, peaches, or eggplants at the market, so prices go down.

Dismantling the Free Trade Regime

In January 1994, the Zapatistas - autonomous indigenous communities who organized themselves in a system of liberated zones within Chiapas, Mexico – emerged out of the jungles with a clear and unified voice in opposition to the system of neoliberalism being imposed upon their lives through the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA).  A trade deal between Canada, the US, and Mexico, NAFTA instituted a set of regulations that made it easier for transnational corporations to make profits across borders, no matter what the costs or consequences to people and the environment.  As a result, thousands of workers in the US lost their jobs as companies moved their operations to Mexico where the costs of production were cheaper.

Agroecology Learning Exchange Lets Farmers Share Recipes for Success, and Fertilizer

Carlos Henríquez can talk about fertilizer for hours. He knows what mix of ingredients will help certain crops grow better, the right “recipe” for creating well-balanced compost and fertilizers, the best ways to keep moisture in the soil even in dry spells.

Mexican Tribunal Suspends All Genetically Modified Corn Plantations

In an unprecedented move last week, a Federal Mexican Tribunal suspended authorization for the planting of all genetically modified corn by transnational corporations such as Monsanto, Pioneer and Syngenta. The Tribunal recognized the legal interests of 53 individuals and 20 civil associations that filed a class action lawsuit against the Ministries of Agriculture and Environment, the federal government and the transnational corporations that applied for permits to plant transgenic corn.  While this decision is not a permanent one, it is a groundbreaking victory in preventing commercial GMO plantations until the collective action lawsuit is resolved.

Global Peasant Movement Reaffirms Commitment to Food Sovereignty, Agroecology

Twenty years after La Vía Campesina International was founded, the global network of rural organizations has agreed to a new worldwide action plan based on small-scale farming and agro-ecology, food sovereignty, and self-determination of communities. At the same time, the group is reaffirming its stance against transnational corporations, industrial agriculture and agri-business.

Celebrating the International Day of the World's Indigenous Peoples, with the Meaning of Living Well

In 1994, the United Nations designated August 9 as the International Day of the World’s Indigenous Peoples. Today, we at Grassroots International celebrate the lives, leadership and struggles of Indigenous Peoples around the world, including our partners who courageously defend their rights to land, territory, water, and food sovereignty, as well as the rights of Mother Earth. 

The Fight Against Monsanto Continues

On May 13, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled in favor of agro-chemical giant Monsanto and against small farmers on a seed patent case. This is just another example of the attacks faced by small farmers around the world. Our global partners have been fighting against international corporations like Monsanto for years—in Haiti, Mexico, and right here in the United States.

The True Costs of Industrialized Food

The real costs of the industrial food system on people’s lives and the planet are as extensive as they are hidden.  The article below by long-time Grassroots International friends, Beverley Bell and Tory Field of Other Worlds, offers a thought-provoking summary of those costs—all of which challenge small farmers in the Global South on a daily basis.


The True Costs of Industrialized Food

Supporting Women's Rights and Power

 “There are thousands upon thousands who weren’t as lucky as I was—I survived hunger....I probably would not have survived had it not been for the support and solidarity of groups like Grassroots International.”  Janaina Stronzake, an internationally known woman leader in the Brazilian land rights movement