Publication Letter Of 44 Organisations On Agriculture And WTO


Geneva, December 15, 2003 – As country delegates from around the globe gather here today at the World Trade Organisation (WTO) headquarters to look for ways to go ahead with international trade talks, a number of civil society organisations * presented a letter explaining why the WTO should stay out of the food and agriculture When the WTO’s ministerial meeting collapsed in Cancún, Mexico, in September 2003, organisations representing millions of people from around the world hailed the collapse as a victory for their campaigns to stop governments pushing unwanted liberalisation and privatisation policies upon them.

The letter presented today criticizes the US and the European Union and their quest for foreign agricultural markets that is devastating rural peasant and independent family farm-based economies, especially in the South, and driving them off their lands.

But the groups also criticise the so-called Group of 20 (formerly the G 21) developing nations, which "although a badly needed political counterweight to the US and the EU, mainly represents exporting interests in the South but does not defend the interests of the large majority of small scale farmers and peasants producing for domestic markets."

The social movements state that current liberalisation policies focus on increasing exports that satisfy the needs of corporations and threaten the livelihoods of the poorest. Included in their letter is a list of suggestions to change the current international framework for agricultural policies taking peoples’ food sovereignty as a leading principle. Among others, it asks national governments to protect domestic food production and distribution, and to claim the right to apply these measures as a fundamental human right that cannot be traded-off against other concessions.

"Trade negotiators think it acceptable to sacrifice local food production and consumption, and the livelihoods of millions of farmers, in return for increased access to international markets for their main exporters. But social movements around the world claim that control of world’s food supply can not and must not lie in the hands of an unaccountable, undemocratic and non-transparent body, such as the World Trade Organization. ," say the organisations that signed up to the text.

The letter states that the main conflict in international trade is not a North-South conflict: it is a social conflict that needs to be adressed. It is a conflict between corporate, export orientated agriculture and a handful of big agricultural producers on one hand and on the other hand de-centralized, peasant- and family farm-based sustainable production primarily oriented towards domestic markets, in which hundreds of millions need to find an existence.
To view the letter, go to To view the People’s Food Sovereignty Statement, go to

NOTES for editors: *: Among the group are international movements who represent millions of peasants, family farmers, fisherfolk and as of today December 15, 2003 they include:
1. Action, Research & Education Network of Aotearoa, New Zealand
2. Amigos de la Tierra (CENSAT) – Colombia / Friends of the Earth – Columbia
3. Amigos de la Tierra (CESTA) – El Salvador / Friends of the Earth -El Salvador
4. Amigos de la Tierra (COECOCeiba) – Costa Rica / Friends of the Earth – Costa Rica
5. Amigos de la Tierra de América Latina y el Caribe (ATALC) / Friends of the Earth Latin America and the Caribbean
6. Amigos de la Tierra – Paraguay / Friends of the Earth – Paraguay
7. Amigos de la Tierra – Uruguay (REDES) / Friends of the Earth – Uruguay
8. Amigos de la Tierra – Argentina / Friends of the Earth – Argentina
9. Amigos de la Tierra – Espana / Friends of the Earth – Spain
10. Asia Pacific Forum on Women, Law and Development (APWLD)
11. Asia Pacific Network on Food Sovereignty [APNFS], Philippines
12. Buendnis fuer Eine Welt /OeIE (Alliance for One World), Austria
13. Canadian Council of professional Fish Harvesters / Conseil canadien des pêcheurs professionnels, Canada
14. Center for Encounter and active Non-Violence, Austria
15. Centro Internazionale Crocevia, Italy
16. Comité para la Defensa y Desarrollo de la Flora y Fauna del Golfo de Fonseca (CODDEFFAGOLF), Honduras
17. Dachverband entwicklungspolitischer Organisationen in Kärnten, Austria
18. Development Fund, Norway
19. Dutch Arable Farmers Union, The Netherlands
20. ETC-group
21. Focus on the Global South
22. Food First/Institute for Food and Development Policy, USA
23. Global Food Security Group of Green Left, The Netherlands
24. Green Line Association, Lebanon
25. IBON Foundation, The Philippines
26. Initiative Colibri
27. Institute for Agriculture and Trade Policy, USA
28. Institute for Global Justice (IGJ), Indonesia
29. Integrated Rural Development Foundation [IRDF], Philippines
30. KEPA (Service Centre for Development Cooperation), Finland
31. NAJK (Young Farmers The Netherlands)
32. Oxfam-Wereldwinkels, Belgium
33. Pesticide Action Network Asia and the Pacific
34. PKMP-SUMAPI [National Alliance of Peasant Movements in the Philippines]
35. Platform Earth, Farmer, Consumer (Platform ABC), The Netherlands
36. Public Citizen, USA
37. Research Foundation for Science, Technology and Ecology (RFSTE)
38. Small and Family Farms Alliance, UK
39. Solidarity Fund X minus Y, The Netherlands
40. The Network for Consumer Protection (The Network), Pakistan
41. Union Paysanne, Canada
42. Via Campesina
43. Vredeseilanden, Belgium
44. World Forum of Fish Harvesters and Fishworkers / Foro Mundial de Pescadores y Trabajadores de la Pesca