WTO: Why are we in Geneva?

Peasants march to stop the Doha Round

La Via Campesina is an international movement which brings together millions of peasants, small producers, landless people, rural women and agricultural workers around the world. Our movement is made up of 132 member organisations active in 56 countries in Asia, Africa, Europe and the Americas.

Why do we oppose the WTO?

WTO imposes neo-liberal trade policies which support transnational corporation and hinder people-centered economic development. The Agreement on Agriculture, within the WTO, seeks to implement aggressive trade liberalization in the agricultural sector. The governments of the European Union, the United States and other large agricultural exporters are fighting to open new markets. They sell their produce at a very low price (dumping) on the world markets

As a result, many countries are facing a surge of cheap food imports. Local farmers cannot compete and therefore, they lose their income and livelihood. Many farmers get indebted, they have no land or lose the land they do have, and they have to migrate to the cities or abroad to make a living. In rich countries, on the other hand, agricultural policies support large industrial farms and export-oriented production. Family farms producing for local markets are disappearing everyday.  

La Via Campesina has been resisting neoliberal policies since its creation in 1993.  Thousands of farmers took to the streets of Seattle (1999), Cancun (2003) and Hong Kong (2005) to protest against WTO ministerial meetings and to defend a model of peasant or family-farm agriculture based on sustainable production with local resources and in harmony with local cultures and traditions.

What do we want in Geneva?

  • The end of the dumping of agricultural products and the right to protect domestic food production. Farmers should get prices that cover their cost of production and allow them to make a living.
  • The immediate cancellation of the obligation within the WTO to import a minimum percentage of their domestic consumption. All compulsory market access clauses must be cancelled.
  • The removal of the WTO (and all trade agreements) from the sectors dealing with food production: agriculture, fisheries, forestry, natural resources and services.
  • The full cancellation of the Doha Round. This round is not about development, but business.

We demand food sovereignty. It is the right of people and countries to define their own agricultural and food policies according to the needs and the priorities of local communities. It encompasses mechanisms to protect domestic food production, ensure strict control of food imports to stabilize internal market prices, and supply management systems to avoid dumping on the world markets.

 nformation : Valentina Hemmeler : + 41 79 672 14 07 www.uniterre.ch
Nico Verhagen : +41 77 431 73 69 www.viacampesina.org