Women farmers in Seattle say no to WTO

"You cannot put sugarcoating on a rotten pie." Thus declared women farmers belonging to the La Via Campesina in referring to the World Trade Organization

Regarding themselves as the most important link between consumers and producers, women farmers from around the globe say that the liberalization of trade is forcing agricultural producers to create unsafe, culturally unacceptable and unaffordable food for majority of the world s people. We want to take the responsibility to feed our children and future generations with healthy food.
Women had been adversely affected by the liberalization. Our possibilities for access to land are more remote than ever, because our family properties are being affected by privatizations and concentrations of land. We are living a process of feminization of poverty, and we are obliged to work our land for no pay. We do not have a salary which would assure that our families could remain on the land. Unfair competition reduces our market alternatives. Social programs just dress up poverty and are instruments that reduce the productive capacity of our families. They make us increasingly dependent on external help.

We are forced to migrate and become landless rural workers, or work in processing facilities where we suffer constant violations of our dignity and our rights. Our health is exposed to working conditions and chemicals used in industrial production and in factories.

We believe in fair trade. But we believe it will never happen unless we make fundamental changes in the global economic structures. There can be no free trade in a situation where a few rich countries dictate the terms of trade at the expense of many poor nations.

We regard the WTO system as an undemocratic tool to protect the interests of big trans and multi-national companies. The WTO imposes itself into the lives of the consumers and producers against their will. The WTO promotes a totally illegitimate system.

The Via Campesina women demand rules for trade in a framework that consider the following: support for local production and an immediate edn to all food dumping;•
the recognition of community and farmers rights instead of intellectual propoerty rights;•
the right of each country to define its own agricultural policies in order to meet its internal needs;•
that each country have the right to establish food quality criteria appropriate to the preferences of its people; and•
agrarian reform to give women and men• access to land and the right to produce their own food and the right to protect this production. We regard this a basic human right.

Despite all the protests in Seattle, we want to thank the WTO for helping to unify small farmers worldwide. During the week-long work in Seattle, we have now succeeded in globalizing the struggle and globalizing our hopes.