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By Blair Rapalyea
August 6th, 2008
Since I started my internship with Grassroots International in May, I have come to realize the true magnitude of the food crisis. The way that the economic system produces and distributes food is leaving far too many people hungry and jobless. Throughout my research, I studied the effect that the crisis has had on women, and I believe that their role, though historically overlooked, is crucial to finding a sustainable solution. I believe, along with everyone at Grassroots International, that women's economic and land rights are not just rights that they deserve as people, but steps that must be taken in order to bring the world out of the food crisis.
By Carol Schachet
July 24th, 2008
Research presented in the Oakland Institute's recent publication "The Blame Game: Who is behind the World Food Crisis?" pokes holes through the myth that the "economic prosperity" experienced by an emerging minority in India has been a major contributor to the dramatic increase in global food prices.
Members of Grassroots International's partner La Via Campesina -- an international network of peasants, indigenous peoples, fishers, pastoralists, women, and youth -- gathered in late June in Jakarta, Indonesia to defend their right to exist, and called for a UN Convention on the Rights of Peasants. (Below, see their final declaration)
Under intense threat from the expansion of agro-fuels in South America and Indonesia, militarization in Colombia and South Korea, and increasing food prices, rural families are voicing a predicament that affects all communities.
In late June, Grassroots partner, the Landless Workers Movement (MST) made public a document they got a hold of that showed the intention of the Rio Grande do Sul state Public Ministry to "dissolve" the MST. The document is based on a meeting, on December 3, 2007, during which the state Public Ministry decided: to outlaw any mobilization of landless workers, including marches and walks, to intervene in settlement schools, to criminalize leaders and members, and to "deactivate" all the encampments in Rio Grande do Sul.
The tidal wave of American interest in local, sustainable agriculture, and the waves of protest around the world over staggering food prices, seem to have washed over the heads of most members of Congress without them even noticing. The 2008 Farm Bill proves it.
June 24th, 2008
Partner press release from Via Campesina
About 1000 small farmers of the International movement Via Campesina, men and women from 25 different countries and 12 Indonesian provinces gathered today in Jakarta to claim the right to farm their land, the right to eat and to feed their families and communities.
They opened a five-day International Conference on Peasant Rights aiming at attracting world attention to the fate of small producers. Peasants represent almost half of the world population and are the backbone of the food system. However, their rights are systematically violated.
Friends and supporters of Grassroots International may be familiar with Hesperian Foundation, a non-profit publisher of community health education materials, best known for Where There Is No Doctor, recognized by WHO as "the most widely-used health manual in the world." With this month's publication of the long-anticipated A Community Guide to Environmental Health, Hesperian celebrates more than just the release of another book. It allows us all to celebrate and learn from the myriad ways in which people at the grassroots can and do take control over their own environmental health.
International representatives of small farmers, fisherfolks, indigenous peoples, pastoralists and Non Governmental Organisations (NGO) have expressed their disappointment with the poor outcome of the High Level Conference on World Food Security in Rome. "The final declaration will not fill any plate. The recommendations for more liberalisation would lead to more violations of the right to food", criticised Maryam Rahmanian from the Iranian organisation CENESTA. During the official conference, the social movements held their own Forum "Terra Preta" ("black earth") to voice their demands to realize food sovereignty and the right to food of the millions of hungry people.
Our partners in Guatemala have told us: the current food crisis will continue unless we guarantee the land, water and seeds rights of communities necessary to grow food. The same message is being echoed in Brazil, Mexico and many neighborhoods in the U.S.
In two separate statements, Guatemala's National Peasant and Indigenous Coordination (CONIC) and Brazil's Small Producers Movement (MPA) put forth food sovereignty as a solution to the crisis: the right of communities to produce food for local markets and for consumers to have access to local healthy foods. Both organizations denounce the expansion of industrial agriculture and growing control of agribusinesses for contributing to the hunger of urban and rural communities.
Rome, Italy, 3 June 2008
Watch the video of the action in Rome!
Farmer and civil society leaders carrying out a peaceful action today in Rome, Italy at the FAO Summit on the Food Crisis were forcefully removed from the premises. At around 1:30pm farmers and representatives of civil society organisations staged an action at the press room to deliver a message that millions of additional people are joining the ranks of the hungry as the corporations that control the global food system are making record profits.