Food for Thought
Food sovereignty is about the right of peoples to define their own food systems. Advocates of food sovereignty put the people who produce, distribute and consume food at the centre of decisions on food systems and policies, rather than the demands of markets and corporations that they believe have come to dominate the global food system. Although some groups and individuals are supporting the call for a food system that respects people and the planet, there are still people who have no knowledge of this cause. Reading and sharing this article will be useful to learn and get involved in this movement.
There are six pillars which explain what food sovereignty is about. The first focuses on food for people. The right to food which is healthy and culturally appropriate is the basic legal demand underpinning food sovereignty. Guaranteeing it requires policies which support diversified food production in each region and country. The second is related to the valuation of food providers. Many smallholder farmers suffer violence, marginalisation and racism from corporate landowners and governments. People are often pushed off their land by mining concerns or agribusiness. Agricultural workers can face severe exploitation and even bonded labour. Food sovereignty asserts food providers’ right to live and work in dignity.The third claims that food must be seen primarily as sustenance for the community and only secondarily as something to be traded. Under food sovereignty, local and regional provision takes precedence over supplying distant markets, and export-orientated agriculture is rejected. The fourth pillar says that food sovereignty places control over territory, land, grazing, water, seeds, livestock and fish populations on local food providers and respects their rights. They can use and share them in socially and environmentally sustainable ways which conserve diversity. The fifth pillar nentions the building of knowledge and skills. Food sovereignty calls for appropriate research systems to support the development of agricultural knowledge and skills. And the last pillar informs that food sovereignty requires production and distribution systems that protect natural resources and reduce greenhouse gas emissions, avoiding energy-intensive industrial methods that damage the environment and the inhabitants’ health.
Maybe you are wondering why the creation of this international movement was necessary. The problem has to do with the current food system. This system, which includes all those activities involving the production, processing, transport and consumption of food, is mainly controlled by a few corporations. The support for farmers are affected as well as the establishment of food prices. This concentration of power enables these businesses to wipe out competition or dictate tough terms to their suppliers. This has resulted in greater poverty and hunger.
There are several countries that have already started with this movement. For example over 100 growers, co-operative workers, researchers, campaigners and activists joined to help build the food sovereignty movement in the United Kingdom. They were outraged because of cuts in milk prices paid by the processing companies. In the case of Usa, it is celebrated the Food Week of Action, where the US Food Sovereignty Alliance (USFSA) and the Presbyterian Hunger Program join with allies and partners globally in actions that raise awareness and help end hunger and poverty by building more just food and farm systems everywhere.
In the face of a global food crisis, it is clear that we have been forced to swallow far more than what's on our plates. Our global food system is terribly broken, with nearly a billion hungry people around the world. Big companies policies brought us to this place. The answer to such a massive and urgent problem is, according to small farmers, farmworkers, fishers, consumers, environmentalists and indigenous peoples throughout the world, is food sovereignty.
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Horton, A. (2012, July 12). A new movement is born: Food sovereignty in the UK. Retrieved from http://www.wdm.org.uk/food-and-hunger/new-movement-born-food-sovereignty-uk on October 31, 2014.
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