This October, especially during the week of the 16th of October, La Via Campesina and other members of the global food sovereignty movement marked the International Day of Action for Food Sovereignty and Against Transnational Corporations with several actions and events. On a virtual map available on La Via Campesina’s official website, the global movement has plotted scores of events – comprising solidarity actions, food fairs, public marches, workshops, webinars, radio shows, press statements, media articles, video messages and lot more!
On the 20th of October, the International Planning Committee on Food Sovereignty – the IPC – also held a virtual round table. Several members and allies of the IPC emphasized the need for building a broader coalition involving trade unions, urban social movements and allied sectoral actors to strengthen this global demand for food sovereignty.
The October edition of the podcast Voz Campesina by Radio Mundo Real also featured senior peasant leaders from Latin America talking about building new and stronger alliances to strengthen the movement. They insisted that amid a global food crisis caused by a system that threatens our existence, peasant agroecology based on Food Sovereignty, the rights of farmers and others working in rural areas and localized food systems are solutions to cool the land and feed the world.
La Via Campesina’s political declaration that was published as part of the October actions also called for implementing the popular and comprehensive Agrarian Reform to stop the hoarding of water, seeds and land by transnational corporations and guarantee small producers fair rights over productive resources.
Ironically, notwithstanding these visible and unified public actions for Food Sovereignty, the defenders of industrial agriculture are relentless in pushing their technocratic ideas and false solutions across the world. This lobbying was once again evident as October witnessed a series of actions by several governments worldwide to open their doors or relax the existing regulations on Genetically Modified food – all done under the guise of addressing food crisis and hunger!
In Indonesia, members of Serikat Petani Indonesia held a series of demonstrations outside the Ministry of Agriculture against the government’s plans to import Genetically Modified Soybeans.
In Kenya, too, peasant organizations, including the Kenyan Peasant League, denounced the decision made by the Government of Kenya to lift the ban on open cultivation and importation of white GMO Maize.
In India, the Genetic Engineering Appraisal Committee (GEAC) recommended the “environmental release” of indigenously developed genetically modified (GM) mustard seeds on the 18th of October. Several peasant organizations and citizen groups in the country have denounced the move and have pointed out that the review process of GM mustard is not rigorous enough.
In Europe, peasant organizations and citizen groups are currently mobilizing against Big chemical and seed corporations pushing new genetically modified organisms (GMOs) onto the market. These companies have been lobbying the European Commission for years to exclude ‘new GMOs’ from the European GMO regulation, making unsubstantiated claims on the supposed benefits for sustainability, pesticide reduction and climate. But as they also hold patents on the seeds engineered with these techniques, their true motivation remains to increase their profits.
In Canada, the National Farmers Union expressed alarm at an alleged collaboration between CropLife and the Canadian Food Inspection Agency. The Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA) has reportedly circulated a summary of an important regulatory proposal via a document that originated with CropLife Canada. The document sets out CFIA proposals for how regulations governing many gene-edited seeds are to be interpreted. It puts forward a system that would benefit multinational seed corporations by allowing them to release new gene-edited seed varieties without independent government safety assessments.
La Via Campesina has long argued against these technocratic solutions and insisted that governments can only realize Peoples’ Food Sovereignty through agrarian reform and public policies that align with the United Nations Declaration on Rights of Peasants and Other People Working in Rural Areas (UNDROP).
In October, at the 51st session of the UN Human Rights Council (HRC), a delegation of La Via Campesina, CETIM and FIAN International, met in Geneva to continue the advocacy work in favour of the promotion of the UNDROP. LVC reiterated its demand for the creation of a monitoring mechanism for peasants’ rights in the form of a Special Procedure of the UN Human Rights Council.
Yet, in reality, peasant agriculture continues to suffer neglect by policymakers.
In South Korea, the Korean peasant league and Korean Women’s peasant association held a massive demonstration that brought attention to the crash in rice prices. The social movements blamed the price crash on government policies that abolished grain purchase and target prices, revised grain management law without automatic market quarantine, and opened rice markets without protection measures.
In London, on the 15th of October, hundreds of farmers, food system workers, environmental activists, land access campaigners and people who care about the future of food and farming took to the streets. They demanded a properly funded Environmental Land Management Scheme and New Entrants Scheme to create good jobs and sustainable growth for rural and urban communities.
In France, nearly 6000 people demonstrated in Sainte-Soline to protest against an industrial-scale mega-basin that threatened natural water sources, security and soil health in the region. The peasants and citizens allege that the mega-basins supply water to large farms in the exporting business and does not help or contribute to food sovereignty.
In Brazil, the MST and MAB, both members of La Via Campesina, welcomed the recent election results. The movements expressed the belief that the new leadership would be attentive to the transition process and prepare for the necessary struggles of the next period in facing hunger, strengthening family farming and land reform, education, health, and work of the Brazilian people.
In October, MAB Brasil also alerted that The Brazilian Institute of the Environment and Renewable Natural Resources ( IBAMA ) issued, a prior license for the dredging and overthrow of Pedral do Lourenço in the Tocantins River. The collapse of the Pedral is considered fundamental for installing the Araguaia-Tocantins waterway, which is in the interest of the agribusiness and mining sectors, MAB informs.
In Italy, the Italian Rural Association (ARI) joined a peasant action in Bologna. In a communqiue issued in mid-October, ARI insisted that industrial agriculture causes evident damage to the territories, the environment and people’s health and exploit agricultural labourers and migrant workers.
October also witnessed several more global, continental, regional and national events.
In Asia, between the 14- 16 of October, the Peasant Youth Articulation members in the continent were hosted by the Assembly of the Poor, in Thailand, at Surat Thani province. The participants from peasant organizations in South, South East and East Asian countries engaged in debates, discussions and exchanges and also visited local peasant communities that practise agroecological farming.
In similar news, the Coordination Nationale des Organisations Paysannes (CNOP) in Mali also organized an agroecological workshop for women cotton producers to support the Agroecological Transition in the Cotton Zone of Mali (Agreco). Eastern and Southern Africa Small Scale Farmers’ Forum (ESAFF) Uganda also engaged peasant women of Kakindu Sub-county, Mityana district, to discuss improving participation in public development schemes. The Conseil National de Concertation et de Coopération des Ruraux – (CNCR) and ROPPA in Senegal released a short film this October that reveals how nearly 130 young peasants united to restore Lake Tampa early this year. CNCR also organized a meeting at the end of October to strengthen public policies around peasant family farms. In Europe, Ehne Bizkaia in the Basque Country has announced the First School of Feminist Agroecology For Women that will commence from the 15th of November.
In Tunis, at an International Conference organized by La Via Campesina in October, the movement confirmed the establishment of the Arab Region and North Africa for organizing peasant workers, agricultural workers, marginalized farmers, fisherfolk, women, and youth, to defend their rights and impose a decent living and social justice. The Tunis Declaration also emphasizes the continuing efforts for food sovereignty, climate justice and ecological agriculture and the struggles against multinational, cross-border and continental companies.
From 25th to the 28th of October 2022, Tegucigalpa, Honduras, hosted La Via Campesina’s global meeting on the rights of migrants and rural workers. Fifty peasant delegates from different parts of the world participated in this hybrid (physical and virtual) event.
In Rome, a delegation of La Via Campesina leaders attended the meeting to develop Voluntary Guidelines on Gender Equality and Women’s and Girls’ Empowerment (GEWE) at the United Nations (UN) Committee on World Food Security (CFS). At the end of this meeting, with the Civil Society and Indigenous Peoples’ Mechanism, La Via Campesina co-signed a statement that insisted the CFS address gender discrimination as a transversal issue that prevents more than half of the world’s population from realizing their right to food.
In Geneva, from 24-28 October, La Via Campesina joined a host of civil society organizations at the 8th session of the United Nations negotiations for a Binding Treaty on Transnational Corporations and Human Rights. LVC and others insisted that the third revised draft of the Treaty text is the only legitimate working document to be negotiated. The third draft is a document built upon seven years of negotiations based on States’ and social movements’ contributions.
(Have we missed an important update? If so, you can email the links to firstname.lastname@example.org, which we will include in the next edition. Only Updates from La Via Campesina members will be part of this news wrap. For a thorough update of different initiatives from October 2022, visit our website.)
Did you miss the September newsletter? Find it here
Before we wrap up, here are the links to the different publications released in October, 2022
1. Training module N°4: History of the Domestication and Diversification of Seeds
2. Briefing Paper | WTO’s 2022 Geneva Package: Historic or Just Rhetoric?
3. UNDROP Thematic Booklet No. 2: “Peasant Rights and Food Production” Now Available
An abridged version of our Monthly News Wrap is also available as Podcasts on Anchor FM and Spotify.