Turn Your Back On The WTO!

The « Harbinson » proposal to review the Agreement on Agriculture in the World Trade Organisation (WTO) will lead lead to further impoverishment, marginalization and the demise of family farms.

Via Campesina supports the mobilisation of the 29th of March in Geneva, organised as part of a common campaign for public services and food sovereignty, against the WTO agreements on agriculture and the trade in services.

The Harbinson text that is being discussed in the WTO to establish the parameters for a review of the Agreement on Agriculture will only deepen the existing crisis in agriculture. The Harbinson proposal will erode any possible defense mechanisms, such as tariffs and other border measures, that help protect countries from the practice of dumping. Indeed, it will further legalize dumping. The Harbinson text does nothing to address the fundamental problem that agricultural and food production will continue to be controlled by of a small number of transnational corporations which is the main cause of persistently low agricultural prices around the world. With the Harbinson text, the WTO is protecting an industrial agriculture model while jeapardizing the more efficient, sustainable and diverse family farm and peasant based food production.

Via Campesina demands that governments reject the Harbinson text proposal and that all negotiations of agriculture in the framework of WTO must cease. It is at the national level that adequate food and agricultural policies must be discussed so that priorities can be re-established. This means prioritizing food production and food security over international trade as well as reclaiming the space needed to develop and implement measures at the local and national level that enhance food sovereignty.

Via Campesina demands that governments respect the principles of peoples food sovereignty.

To do this Governments must:
– Reject the current Agreement on Agriculture in WTO and take immediate measures to enhance family farm based food production for domestic markets and protect farmers against low priced imports that destroy local production;
– Establish a new international structure (outside of the parameters of the WTO, Worldbank and IMF) for international regulations on food production and trade of agricultural goods. This new structure must be built on the foundations of food sovereignty and human rights that include a country’s or peoples’ rights to implement policies that protect and maintain production and consumption of locally-grown food;
– Re-institute uni-laterally quantitative import controls in food and agricultural in order to maintain and protect domestic food production;
– Remove all support for export crop production and food exports. The USA and the EU must end current policies of direct or indirect support to low price exports;
– Support domestic food production as long as this does not lead to export dumping;
– Establish stable prices that cover the cost of domestic food production;
– Develop supply management at the international level for the main agricultural export crops as well as animal products in order to maintain fair prices and to avoid dumping;
– Stop the privatization of seeds and life in general throught patents and other forms of private property rights
– We urge national governments to deal with national domestic food and agricultural policies as an issue of highest priority. Food sovereignty must be respected.

Tegucigalpa, 25th of March 2003