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By Nikhil Aziz
October 17th, 2007
More and more people around the world are taking up the call by peasant and small farmers, indigenous peoples and pastoralists for food sovereignty as an expression of, and a way to realize the right to food. Earlier this year members of the Via Campesina and other organizations met in Mali to put in motion an action plan for achieving food sovereignty. On October 16th, World Food Day, the International Federation of Organic Agriculture Movements (IFOAM) endorsed food sovereignty as the right to food. As IFOAM notes, food sovereignty as the right to food means the right to feed oneself as opposed to the right to be fed.
Tomorrow is World Food Day, a day created by the UN's Food and Agriculture Organization, a day that's dedicated to bringing awareness to the struggles of the 800 million people who go hungry every day. Thousands of people around the world will take action to fight hunger.
It's too bad these two days didn't coincide, because so many of the problems related to hunger are environmental, and so many of the solutions are ecological.
Agrarian Reform and Peasant and Women's Leadership Strengthened at the Francisco Morazan Central America Peasant School
It is my seventh day traveling around Central America and I have filled many, many pages with notes. As much as I want to know, it is impossible to absorb so much information and history in a week. Conversations here are a rich experience often sprinkled with bountiful details of local and Latin American history.
Over the last two days, I have been participating as an observer in the Central American Regional Conference on Agrarian Reform of the Via Campesina at the Francisco Morazan Central American Peasant School, named after the 19th century Central American leader who tried to create a united, progressive Central America.
[In September 2007, Saulo Araujo, our Global Programs Assistant, is visiting our partners in Mesoamerica. He'll be reporting back about resource rights and food sovereignty issues in the region. This is the first of a series of three articles. --Ed.]
As I waited for my flight to El Salvador on Tuesday, I decided to browse the newspapers for news about the election in Guatemala and saw a small blurb about the defeat of Rigoberta Menchu. The newspaper article reads that Rigoberta Menchu, a Nobel Peace Prize laureate, received only 3% of the valid ballots in last Sunday's presidential election in Guatemala.
When something sounds too good to be true, it often is.
Clean, green, biofuels that magically reduce dependance on fossil fuels and reduce global warming with no negative impacts are a myth.
Our friends at the IRC Americas program are continuing to cover the realities of the booming agrofuel industry: increased hunger, consolidation of the food and farming system and environmental degradation and decreased human rights, food sovereignty and local autonomy.
Here's their latest article, by Laura Carlsen, the director of the Americas Program, based in Mexico City.
SciDec.net has a story this morning about a new report from the UN Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) and the Nairobi-based International Livestock Research Institute (ILRI) says that over-reliance on high yield, factory-farming style breeds is causing the extinction of an average of one local breed of animals per month. Meanwhile, in the last 100 years we've lost 75 percent of crop diversity.
Victor M. Quintana is an adviser to the Frente Democrático Campesino de Chihuahua , researcher at the Universidad Autónoma de Ciudad Juárez and collaborator with the Americas Policy Program, at www.americaspolicy.org. He works with the Rural Coalition and the Via Campesina, Mexico and has spoken and written widely about agrofuels, especially about their impact on the price of staple foods like tortillas in Mexico.
[George Naylor, President of the National Family Farm Coalition, continues his report from the Via Campesina's forum on Agrofuels and Food Sovereignty (August 30-31, 2007) with an update on the presentations he's heard. --Ed.]
What I´ve heard here is that multinational corporations and governments intend to provide our energy-insatiable economies (especially in the US and Europe) with agrofuels, even though demand could never be met and monocropping will foreclose food sovereignty and biodiversity.
George Naylor, President of the National Family Farm Coalition sent us a note from the Via Campesina's International Forum on Agrofuels and Food Sovereignty. The forum, which features farmer and peasant activists from around the world, is taking place today and tomorrow in Mexico City. The race to convert acres from food to fuel crops in Mexico, Brazil and the United States has many, including us here at Grassroots, concerned. We fear that pursuing the industrial scale agrofuel model will worsen hunger, speed up destruction of the natural environment and the fertility of farmland and destroy local communities and ways of life that, once gone, can never be brought back.
We can do it with your help.
There are promising signs that this crucial legislation may pass the Senate, but we need your help to make it happen. Every call counts as the Farm Bill gets closer to a vote.
Call your Senators now and ask them to support food aid that works.