FAO must withdraw from its agreement with CropLife International: IPC

The International Planning Committee for Food Sovereignty (IPC) is an autonomous and self-organised global platform of small-scale food producers and rural workers organisations and grassroots/community-based social movements whose goal is to advance the Food Sovereignty agenda at the global and regional level. La Via Campesina is an active member of this Committee. This November, IPC shot off a letter to Qu Dongyu the Director General of the Food and Agricultural Organisation (FAO), citing serious concerns about the FAO’s strategic partnership agreement with CropLife International. Produced below is the full text of the letter, which can also be found on the website of IPC.

CropLife International is an organisation that represents the interests of the world’s biggest agrochemical industries like Syngenta, Bayern-Monsanto, BASF, etc, while the strategic partnership declares to aim to achieve sustainable food systems and contribute to the achievement of the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals. These achievements will obviously be achieved through the development and implementation of “new, sustainable technologies”…

We in IPC know that to eradicate hunger and malnutrition it is crucial to reach political commitment and significant alliances with key stakeholders. Food insecurity can be defeated only through an effective collaboration with governments, civil society, organizations representing food producers, mainly small-scale, private sector, academia, research centers, and cooperatives; and using each other’s knowledge and comparative advantages.

FAO must therefore remain a neutral multilateral space of confrontation, and cannot be co-opted by private interests’ attempt to realize profits at the expenses of small-scale food producers, consumers, local communities and the environment.

In all its various forms, civil society has already largely demonstrated its ability to mobilize, campaign, and launch initiatives that seek social justice, respect for human rights, and a life with dignity without poverty and hunger. Moreover, besides their work on advocacy, civil society organizations have context-specific and globally important technical and grassroots knowledge and their work and concerns often coincide with FAO mandate and work.

Therefore, with this letter, the IPC would also like to transmit the following recommendations to the Director General:

  • The agreement between FAO and CropLife should be withdrawn, requesting an official assessment of the member countries of the FAO about its contribution to the objectives of the FAO and the respect of the ongoing processes.
  • The FAO should respect and implement the FAO Strategy for Partnership with Civil Society, as well as the FAO Strategy for Partnership with Private Sector.
  • The FAO and its member states should remind that small-scale food producers do not fall under the scope of the private sector, even if in principle, food producer organizations will fall under the private sector strategy; however, small-scale food producers’ organizations comply with the criteria for CSOs.
  • The new FAO Strategy for partnership with Private Sector should be implemented respecting the strategy chosen in 2013, and without creating conflict or contradictions with the FAO Strategy for Partnership with Civil Society.