Protecting Peasants’ Seeds and Implementing Peasant Agriculture as an Answer to the Food, Biodiversity and Climate Crises

Press Release – La Via Campesina

A ministerial meeting on Food, Biodiversity and Climate Change will be held in Nusa Dua, Bali, on 11 March 2011 before the Fourth Regular Session of the Governing Body of the International Treaty on Plant Genetic Resources for Food and Agriculture, also known as the Seed Treaty (14-18 March 2011). The ministerial meeting aims to solve the crises of food, biodiversity and climate change. The FAO reported earlier this year that these multiple crises now cause 925 million people to suffer from hunger.,Most of the hungry live in rural areas which are the centre of agriculture. Therefore, we the delegates of La Via Campesina, an international peasant movement that is participating in the Seed Treaty, regret that peasants and small farmers are not being taken into account in the ministerial meeting.

The experience of small peasants around the world proves that agro-ecological farming and local food markets are the most powerful answer to the current multiple crises. Agro-ecological farming has proven to be very adaptive to the impact of climate change. It captures greenhouse gases in the soil and consumes far less fossil fuel than industrial agriculture, which uses fuel not only for food production but also for transportation and for the production of chemical fertilizer. This makes industrial agriculture is a large contributor to climate change. On the other hand, agro-ecological farming guarantees the food production for peasant families and can produce for both local and urban markets. It also increases and conserves biodiversity which leads to food diversification.

La Via Campesina has for a long time declared that large-scale industrial agriculture and monoculture production are the root causes of today’s biodiversity, food and climate crises. We will continue to struggle against them and to defend peasant agriculture. La Via Campesina also protects local seeds against the control of industrial agriculture under the neoliberal seed system. Small peasants have the capacity to develop new varieties that are more pest resistant and better adapted to the changing climate.

For La Via Campesina the planning and implementation of food estates, and of agrofuel and carbon market  projects are false solutions to the current multiple crises. Henry Saragih, General Coordinator of La Via Campesina said that these false solutions replicate the colonial land grabbing model and will only increase agrarian conflict and the criminalization of peasants.

Regarding the ministerial meeting and the FAO Seed Treaty, Francisca Rodriquez from CLOC-La Via Campesina says that under this neoliberal model many peasants and small farmers around the world still face criminalization for breeding and exchanging local seeds. They are also losing their right to access and control their seeds. Furthermore, their plant genetic resources and biodiversity are disappearing due to the development of transgenic and hybrid seeds. In this way, food and animal feed production have been taken away from peasants.  Furthermore, they are being displaced from their land and  they are losing our seeds.

Alberto Gomez of La Via Campesina says that this is a time for us to broaden and strengthen our struggle on seeds. It is very important to raise the issue of our right to grow our own seeds and decide about our own seeds.

La Via Campesina delegates demand that the peasants’ rights on seeds that have already been acknowledged in the treaty be respected and realized in the national legislation of all signatory countries.