Expo dei Popoli -opening speech by Hanny Van Geel

(Italy, Milan, June 3, 2015) Good morning to everyone. I am an organic farmer from the Netherlands. I represent the international movement of La Via Campesina, which is a federation of movements, and its members are more than 200 million food producers all over the world.

I am happy to have the opportunity to welcome you all on behalf of the international networks that worked in the international facilitating committee to support this Expo dei Popoli.

Why is it important for us all to be here at Expo dei Popoli in Milan?

We are here because of the EXPO Milan, the Expo claims to know how to feed the people of the world. Actually, we all know that it is not Coca Cola, Mac Donalds and Unilever that feed the world. Expo Milan is not a neutral event, as some would like us to believe.

On the contrary, with the support of our governments, it is an event promoting industrialisation and financialisation of agriculture. It uses the image of traditional and ecological family farming to serve corporate business. They pretend that they will solve hunger and provide jobs, while we all know that there is still hunger and malnutrition and many people live in poor conditions.

We are here to let the world know that WE feed the world.  The Expo in Milan ignores the small-scale food producers. We are responsible for feeding 70% of the world population. Doing so we create employment,  we cool down the earth, and we respect nature and workers in the process.

A big movement is rising now, of farmers reclaiming the land to produce for their communities. Young people go back to rural areas to produce food, citizens connect with farmers. More and more people stand up for their food. They do so, without being pushed by commercials or by government. They follow a strong need, a feeling, a spirit. People want to be in control of their own food and agroecology has become a strong tool to regain autonomy.

The presence here of many international networks and non-profit Italian organizations, is important. We thank the organisers for giving us this opportunity.

Wishing you all fruitful days, day to work together, to strengthen existing alliances, build new alliances and new friendships.

Together we defend people’s rights and dignity and we tell it to the world.