Why Food Sovereignty in the Bolivian Constitution?

Via Campesina (world campesino movement of rural men and women) since 1996 has been developing the principle of Food Sovereignty which is currently defined as "The Right of the Peoples to produce their own foods and organize food production and consumption according to the needs of local communities placing priority on the production and consumption of local domestic products." With this principle, Via Campesina participated in the International Conference "Food is a basic right of all that took place on April 19 in Sucre, Bolivia organized by the Association of Institutions for Promotion and Education.  For Via Campesina the fact that Bolivian society is interested in analyzing, discussing and integrating the principle of Food Sovereignty into their new constitution is of great importance as it will be giving a constitutional character to the right of every man and women to have access to resources to produce their own foods, maintain their productive culture and preserve their food culture and above all their national sovereignty.

It will not suffice that this principle be written into the new constitution, be named in new laws or given the status of a ministry or some other governmental program.  The political will of the State will be necessary to deepen a genuine comprehensive agrarian reform, to rescue and respect our native seeds by not allowing the introduction of GMO seeds, that will support the productive culture of the small and medium producers, for which it will be necessary to struggle against monocultures that only cause environmental destruction  and harm to human health in the country side.  There must be guarantees of markets for the peasant and indigenous products but by means of a fair market of the people.  Above all the human being should be at the center of development for which they should receive adequate social services such as health and education and a healthy and adequate diet.

To the above must be added the principal element, that the people or society need not wait for all this from the State.  We must contribute as best we can to defending our national sovereignty by means of food sovereignty.  As producers we must respect, rescue and preserve the productive cultures of our ancestors.  This does not mean we are against technology, but rather to make first use of our knowledge and resources and as consumers to demand distribution of foods produccd in harmony with nature and within our own territory, which is the only guarantee of healthy and sufficient food.

If in the next Bolivian Constitution the practice of Food Sovereignty is introduced, assumed and implemented, this will not only achieve national sovereignty but will also provide an example to the world that another world is possible.

By Lic. Ramiro Tellez M, Via Campesina, Central America, April, 2007.