La Via Campesina North America
Guadalajara, 1 March 2010. La Via Campesina groups together organizations of peasants, family farmers, indigenous peoples, farm workers, women and rural youth from some 70 countries worldwide, representing about 500 million families of women and men of the land. We are those who produce the majority of the food consumed in this world, despite facing ever worse conditions for our work, while the conditions allowing for unimpeded profits by a few transnational corporations are ever more favorable, without any regard for the impacts on people or on the Mother Earth.
We take it as an act of aggression, as a profound lack of respect, and as an affront, that the Food & Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) has decided to meet in Mexico with governments and the private sector, under the false argument that “biotechnology can benefit peasants in poor countries” – as stated today in a deceptive official press release (http://www.fao.org/news/story/en/item/40390/icode/).
They use the word “biotechnology,” an intentionally vague and broad term, when we all know that the real purpose is to promote genetically modified (GM) crops, which have never benefitted farmer families, and never will. It is an act of aggression against, and a provocation of, the Mexican people and the peasant and indigenous families of the world, to come to Mexico to promote GMOs, when it is precisely in Mexico that there is an intense struggle to stop the contamination of our ancestral maize varieties with GM pollen. This contamination puts the center of origin and center of biodiversity of a crop that is so important to our culture and to humanity, at risk.
Coming here with a pro GMO message, just when the Mexican organizations and people are trying to defend their maize from the “Monsanto Law” and the authorization of open-field experimental plantings of GM maize, makes it absolutely clear to all of society that the FAO serves the interests of Monsanto, a corporate criminal, and the interests of the bad government, rather than the interests of our peoples. We repeat, it is an act of aggression to come here and takes sides in this conflict here in Mexico.
How is it possible that an international conference “for the benefit of peasants” has only invited and credentialed one single representative of La Via Campesina, and he only with the status of “observer”? If the desire to benefit peasants is real, why not have met instead with peasant and indigenous peoples’ organizations, to find out from us what we want in order to be better able to carry out our role in society, which is to grow food and protect the Mother Earth? If they did that, we would tell them in no uncertain terms that GM maize is one thing we definitely do NOT want. But they are not interested in knowing what we think, we do not interest them, we are of no importance to them, and therefore we reject them.
The world today is in crisis, a financial, food, climate, energy, environmental, political and spiritual crisis. The crisis is the product of the greed that is inherent in the capitalist system. In the face of this crisis, we are witnessing a worldwide conflict between two models of food and agriculture. The “model of death,” of industrial monocultures, agrochemicals and GMOs, feeds financial speculation and feeds automobiles – via agrofuels — rather than feeding people, who face ever worsening hunger.
It is no coincidence that in recent years we have seen the confluence of record levels of hunger – despite record harvests – with record levels of corporate profits for the transnationals of death, like Monsanto, Syngenta, Cargill, ADM, Maseca and Walmart. This model diminishes and privatizes the genetic biodiversity of our crops, just when the world needs more genetic biodiversity, and it constitutes the theft of our heritage as rural peoples, which is our seeds.
We defend the other model of food production, the model of sustainable peasant, indigenous and family farm agriculture, that conserves and augments biodiversity, and that protects the Mother Earth. Multiple scientific studies prove that this “model of life” is more productive than industrial agriculture, and as part of food sovereignty, is more than capable of feeding the world without threatening human health or the environment.
While one model worsens the various faces of the crisis, like climate change (by releasing greenhouse gasses), and also financial speculation – which together with corporate hoarding of food stocks is a fundamental cause of the food crisis — the other models offers solutions. Food sovereignty based on sustainable peasant and family farm agriculture takes food out of the circuits of speculation and free trade, and drastically reduces climate impacts. We must expel transnational corporations from our food system, and put food back under the control of our peoples.
Our food, produced by peasants, family farmers and indigenous people using ancestral knowledge and the principles of agroecology, is healthy, while an ever greater number of scientific studies demonstrate the multiple risks to human health posed by GMOs.
GMOs have no place whatsoever in our vision of agriculture. GMO maize is NOT equivalent to native maize, in any sense, regardless of what the FAO may say. GMOs are a way to privatize life, and they put our native varieties at risk of genomic degradation when they are contaminated by transgenes. In our view, GMOs are a fundamental part of a global campaign against peasant, indigenous and family farm seeds. More and more neoliberal laws prohibit the exchange of non-certified seeds, while only corporations can certify, and a range of technologies from hybrid seeds to Terminator are designed to make it impossible for us to save our own seed for future planting. The corporations, with the complicity of the FAO and governments, want to make us completely dependent upon them.
We can only conclude that, rather than feeding the hungry, they are only interested in feeding their own greed. But as Gandhi said, “the Earth provides enough to satisfy every man’s need, but not every man’s greed.”
For us farmers, the act of planting our native maize, and defending it, is an act of resistance, and an act of rebellion against an unjust system. But is also an act of hope. Hope because we know that solutions to the crisis are to be found in food sovereignty and sustainable peasant, indigenous and family farm agriculture, and we know that these seeds of rebellion that we plant, are also the seeds of that other and better world we want.
We reject the promotion of GMOs by the FAO.
No to GM maize! Monsanto Out!
Food Sovereignty Now!
1 March 2010, Guadalajara, Mexico
Delegation (Mexico, United States, Canada) of La Via Campesina, North America Region, upon the inauguration of the FAO Conference on Agricultural Biotechnologies in Developing Countries
For more information:
Jessica Roe: firstname.lastname@example.org
Jesus Andrade: +52-1-967-114-7282 (Español)
Peter Rosset: +52-1-967-118-5093 (English)