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By Nikhil Aziz
June 12th, 2013
Our Palestinian partners frequently tell us: “To stay – and, frankly, to exist – is to resist.” I heard this same message during the 3rd International Youth Assembly of La Via Campesina (LVC). In a world where the ability to live a dignified life as a small farmer is increasingly challenging whether in Iowa or Indonesia the act of staying, and in some cases “going back” to the land is an act of resistance and courage.
This June, I traveled to Jakarta, Indonesia for the Via Campesina’s – a Grassroots partner – 6th International Congress. The Via’s International Women’s Commission kicked off the Congress by organizing the 4th International Women’s Assembly for two days from June 6-7.
On May 25 activists, farmers and consumers in 52 countries and 436 cities around the world united to March Against Monsanto. The grassroots Facebook campaign was started by Tami Monroe Canal who wanted to protect her two daughters. “I feel Monsanto threatens their generation’s health, fertility and longevity,” said Tami.
By Antonio Roman-Alcalá
May 31st, 2013
In the article below, Antonio Roman-Alcalá discusses what food sovereignty is, how it differs from food security and how the food movement is shifting the conversation toward sovereignty. Along with our partner the Via Campesina—which pioneered the concept of food sovereignty in 1996—Grassroots International has been advocating this alternative model around the world. As explained in the recent Nyeleni newsletter,
Food sovereignty is different from food security in both approach and politics. Food security does not distinguish where food comes from, or the conditions under which it is produced and distributed. National food security targets are often met by sourcing food produced under environmentally destructive and exploitative conditions, and supported by subsidies and policies that destroy local food producers but benefit agribusiness corporations. Food sovereignty emphasizes ecologically appropriate production, distribution and consumption, social-economic justice and local food systems as ways to tackle hunger and poverty and guarantee sustainable food security for all peoples. It advocates trade and investment that serve the collective aspirations of society. It promotes community control of productive resources; agrarian reform and tenure security for small-scale producers; agro-ecology; biodiversity; local knowledge; the rights of peasants, women, indigenous peoples and workers; social protection and climate justice.
"A seed is miraculous. A seed has life – you sow one and you reap hundreds.” – Nandini Jairam, La Vía Campesina member, India
Seeds have been a key issue of concern for the Via Campesina since its inception in 1993. As an autonomous, independent movement uniting 250 million small-scale farmers and producers from 70 countries from Africa, Asia, Europe and the Americas, the Via has now become a major player in the seed, food, agriculture, trade and climate debates, and is listened to by international institutions such as the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) and the United Nations Human Rights Council.
The stories of industrial agriculture as the only solution to end hunger re-emerge here and then, like weeds. At least, as biological indicators of soil quality and fertility, weeds are telling us the truth. The myth that we need to have petroleum-based agriculture and monocrops to feed the world is a lie that agribusinesses like Monsanto want to feed us.
But, as stewards of the Earth, we will need to continue uprooting those myths. GRAIN has published another great report (GMOs: Fooling – er “feeding”- the world for 20 years) that debunks the myths of GMOs and industrial agriculture.
It is a great educational material. Kudos to our colleagues at GRAIN.
In the news lately for asserting its [extended] patent rights and squelching attempts to label genetically modified foods, the mention of the word ‘Monsanto’ likely conjures up images of family farmers being sued, Agent Orange, the notorious rBGH growth hormone for cows, the suspected carcinogen saccharin, and many other notorious legacies. Now Grassroots International’s ally Food and Water Watch has produced a fascinating and comprehensive report that traces the corporation’s history and close links to legislators, academic researchers, and government regulators.
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.
When you hear “seed bank” what comes to mind? Is it perhaps a vault or a deep freezer stocked with seeds? Yes, Grassroots International partner the Union of Agricultural Work Committees’ seed bank has those, but what I saw and heard was so much more than that. UAWC’s seed bank also assists farmers while protecting local agricultural biodiversity across the occupied Palestinian territories (oPt) – literally preserving their seed sovereignty amidst the occupation.