- Published on Tuesday, 14 February 2006 07:00
Press ReleaseCall for action for the 17th of April: the International Day of Farmers’ Struggle
Via Campesina will mobilise on the 17th of April for an International Day of Protest. We will protest against the importation of agricultural products at low prices that destroy local food production and against GMO’s and patents.
Via Campesina invites other sectors to participate in this day of protest against neo-liberal policies and in favour of an alternative project, a dignified life for everybody. No to low price imports We call for protest against the policy of forcing open markets for imports at low prices that destroy food production and increase misery and hunger in the rural areas. We call for a protest against a policy that converts farmers, men and women, into inhabitants of slums, displaced persons in their own country or illegal workers in intensive industrial production. We denounce the World Trade Organisation (WTO) as a profoundly anti-democratic instrument that imposes a policy of "liberalising" markets. The "free" trade agreements and the WTO are orientating domestic production towards intensive production for export, forcing millions of farmers and indigenous people towards total bankruptcy. Yes to food sovereignty Via Campesina is fighting for food sovereignty as a first principle in the formulation of agricultural policies, which have to secure: a farmer based, diversified production of healthy products, at prices that remunerate farmers’ work, the reactivation of the policies of land reform, regulated markets in order to avoid surpluses and a stop to the industrialisation of agricultural production. Via Campesina demands that subsidies and other forms of support to exports be abolished, as well as the obligation to accept imports at the level of 5% of internal consumption. Every country should have and apply the full right to protect its food production against imports. Via Campesina demands the exclusion of the WTO from all areas related to the production and marketing of food.
No to GMO’s and to patents We denounce GMO’s in agriculture because they are harmful to farmers, consumers and the environment. We protest against patents and "dead" seeds that produce plants whose seeds are sterile, forcing farmers to buy new seeds every year. This makes farmers completely dependent on transnational companies and ends up excluding us from production. The genetic wealth and diversity developed by farmers themselves cannot become the private property of a handful of transnational companies. Yes to farmer seeds The rights of farmers to seeds are rooted in a long tradition and exist since people created agriculture to meet their basic needs. We were always vigilant with the conservation of what we created from biodiversity and we are dedicated to the permanent regeneration of these resources and to their constant improvement. We are the ones that protected the genetic resources in agriculture. We are the ones who have done the work and the knowledge of generations of farmers has created this biological wealth. Therefore we demand the recognition of our rights as farmers. Patents on life have to be abolished and different juridical frameworks have to be developed that respect the collective character of these rights and that respect the free access to genetic resources. "Dead" seeds and similar technologies that impede that farmer to reproduce his or her own seeds have to be forbidden.
In Porto Alegre, during the World Social Forum, we felt that an alternative project to the neo liberal policies is possible. With many other sectors we have engaged ourselves in Porto Alegre in the construction of this alternative and the struggles to realise it. The 17th of April was defined as one of the events at the international level to articulate this struggle. For this reason we invite you all to participate in this day of action in order to strengthen our common project, to go ahead with our alternative in favour of the people and against the neo-liberal policies. Only together can we move forward!
We call for actions -against imports at the border, -against GMO crops, against transnationals that impose patents, GMOs and imports at low prices on us, -against governments of exporting countries that push forward policies of dumping.
Let’s globalise the struggle, let’s globalise hope!
Tegucigalpa, 1-3-2001, Honduras, C.A.
RAFAEL ALEGRIA MONCADA INTERNATIONAL OPERATIVE SECRETARIAT VIA CAMPESINA
° The 17th of April is the celebration of the International Day of farmers struggle, established because of the massacre of 19 farmers of the Landless Movement (MST) in Brazil on the 17th of April 1996 during the second conference of Via Campesina in Tlaxcala Mexico.
For more information on the 17th of April and the positions of Via Campesina please contact the members of the International Co-ordinating Committee of Via Campesina in your region:
Web site of Via Campesina http://www.sdnhon.org.hn/miembros/via o http://www.viacampesina.org (both give access to the same site)