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10 years of WTO is enough!

17 April 2005

On April 17, the International Day of Peasant Struggle, the members of Via Campesina will organize actions against neoliberalism all over the world. Peasants, small farmers, rural women, indigenous communities, and landless people will work together with our alliances from environmental, health, solidarity and other grassroots organizations to inform the public about the drastic consequences of neo-liberalism. The disastrous results of 10 years of a WTO farm and trade policy based on export agriculture clearly demonstrate that it is a proven failure. This neo-liberal policy has made people more dependent of imports and has benefited the agro-industry. Many examples from numerous countries support this claim. A 5.5% growth in Latin-America’s economy has not led to less poverty in the region. For example, Brazil is further impoverished as it increases exports to try to pay off its external debt. More power and money are concentrated in fewer hands. Multinational companies seem to be more important to the WTO than the people of the world.
Over the next months the struggle against WTO and bilateral trade agreements will take center stage.. Via Campesina considers these agreements as following the same recipe and representing the same problem: “free” trade and neo-liberalism. We need a new policy against hunger to promote sustainable, peasant based food production.

There are two tendencies in the world and two roads we can choose: on the on hand we have military and economic warfare, on the other hand, global solidarity. Via Campesina chooses solidarity! Food sovereignty is the alternative way to ensure a sustainable future for the people of the world. Every country, no matter what climate conditions or infrastructure, should have the opportunity to define its national agricultural policy to better maintain and strengthen its food production. For peasants and farmers access to internal markets is most important and we need to develop possibilities for all countries to feed their population. Both national and international policies should be based on food sovereignty. The Via Campesina food sovereignty campaign will continue to emphasize key issues such as agrarian/land reform and an agriculture that is free of Genetically Modified Organisms (GMO’s).

We must redefine agriculture and access to food as a public good and struggle to enhance our ability to produce food in a peasant/small-farmer -based sustainable way. Food sovereignty is in the best interests of all people: it is an essential right, just like water, education and health. The recent U.N. report on the environmental state of the world* supports the Via Campesina analysis, if we don’t change the direction as soon as possible, our environment, water and food system will be destroyed.

“WTO out of agriculture” is a demand for the millions of members of Via Campesina. We recognize that the struggle won’t end in the non-democratic meetings in Geneva or Hong Kong, but it will be one of the most important battles for values as solidarity, justice, democracy and for the environment the coming years.

)° 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, please contact:
Via Campesina (International Operative Secretariat): TEL/FAX : + 62 – 21 8088 2492 EMAIL viacampesina@viacampesina.org Web: http://www.viacampesina.org
* Report of the UN on the environmental state of the world published April 05 http://www.millenniumassessment.org//en/Products.Synthesis.aspx

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17 April 2005
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