“Food sovereignty is the right of peoples to define their own food and agriculture policies, to protect and regulate domestic agricultural production and trade so as to attain their objectives of sustainable development, to determine in what measure they want to be autonomous and to limit the dumping of products on their markets”.
Food sovereignty is thus an alternative to the neo-liberal agricultural policies imposed by the World Trade Organisation, The World Bank and the International Monetary Fund. A growing number of organisations make references to this proposal without really understanding or accepting its eminently political character, which is in stark opposition to the dominant capitalist economic system.
Reaffirm food sovereignty
Ever more personalities from the political, trade union or associative worlds use the term food sovereignty trying to restrict its meaning to that of an isolationist proposal, synonymous with self sufficiency and rejection of exchanges and complementarities. The Forum will be an occasion to reaffirm in a positive manner the fact that the struggle for the recognition of the right to food sovereignty requires work on four interlinked levels, which will be debated and detailed during the meeting in February 2007. These are the political, the economic, the social and the ecological levels.
The WFFS shall give special attention to clarifying the following points, which were defined in 1996 and re-established in 2001:
– Prioritise production by peasant and family farms of food for the domestic and local markets, using diverse and ecological production methods;
– Ensure that farmers receive a fair price for their production, so that domestic markets are protected from cheap imports which constitute dumping;
– Guarantee access to land, water, forests, fishing areas and other resources so as to promote true redistribution;
– Recognise and promote the role of women in food production and ensure that they have equal access to productive resources and can enjoy ownership of them;
– Ensure that communities have control of productive resources, opposing the buying up of land, water, genetic and other resources by corporations;
Protect seeds, foundation of our food and of life itself, and ensure that farmers can exchange and use them freely. This implies rejecting patents on life and a moratorium on genetically modified crops;
– Invest public funds to support the productive activities of families and communities, with particular emphasis on promoting autonomisation, local control and food production for the local population and markets.
Strengthen our position in the balance of power so that we can attain food sovereignty. Food sovereignty is a citizens’ proposal
Food sovereignty is not a proposal for a sector reform, aiming to benefit only food producers be they farmers or fisherfolk.
Quite the opposite, food sovereignty has repercussions on every sector of society. By guaranteeing fair prices to farmers it allows them to live in their communities and reduces migration to cities. It’s a global citizens proposal which will only succeed and be accepted at an international level if it is actively supported by those sectors of society who do not produce their own food directly. The WFFS will provide an opportunity to strengthen the dialogue with workers’ trade unions and international consumer organisations, to better understand collectively the repercussions of the recognition of the right to food sovereignty on access to food.
Create meeting spaces with governments who are in favour of food sovereignty
Mali is about to adopt a new agricultural framework law which declares food sovereignty a priority objective. The countries of the ECOWAS refer explicitly to food sovereignty ever more often. Other countries, such as the members of the G33, develop proposals which are very similar to food sovereignty without using the same term.
These recent developments show that more and more states have stopped believing that neo-liberal policies can provide an answer to the hunger and poverty suffered by growing sectors of their populations, and they’re ready to try new ways to solve the problems.
The WFFS will provide the opportunity to think about the best strategies to ensure that states actively support food sovereignty at the international level.
Attain the recognition of the right to food sovereignty
One of the objectives of the Forum will be to develop a collective and global strategy to ensure that the right of peoples to food sovereignty is recognised as a specific and full right, and that its defence is legally binding for states and guaranteed by the United Nations.