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A3. Agroecology

La Via Campesina responds to the WTO’s purported plans to set up a ‘Civil Society Council’

Recently, La Via Campesina received a request to participate in a civil society “council” to the WTO executive. After careful consideration, we decided to decline this invitation. Through this open letter, we wish to explain why we believe it is impossible to reform the WTO in a way that is favourable to peasants and, more generally, to the interests of the people.

Since 1995, the WTO has aimed to facilitate and increase the share of international trade in world production and consumption. Compared to the GATT, one of the main changes brought about by the creation of the WTO was to integrate agriculture into this logic of generalized free trade.

As early as 1993, La Via Campesina, as a world peasant movement, was created against this logic of globalization and commodification of agriculture and food. The principles of free-market ideology and the legal frameworks that have governed international trade over the past three decades have deep roots in the history of colonialism. It was clear to the vast majority of peasant organizations around the world that giving priority to international trade over agricultural production for feeding local populations would only accentuate the marginalization of peasant populations, worsen hunger in the world and increase the power of transnational companies.

The Agreement on Agriculture, which came into force in 1995 and was to be applied for a limited period of time, is so unfair that, since then, no agreement has ever been reached between the WTO member states on the agricultural issue. As the title of the late Jacques Berthelot’s book expresses it, “agriculture is the Achilles heel of globalization”, and therefore the eternal Achilles heel of the WTO.

This year, in 2023, we commemorate the 20th anniversary of the tragic death of our brother, friend and comrade Lee Kyung Hae from South Korea who gave his life in Cancun in 2003 to denounce the WTO. In his memory, we call to finally end the WTO and build a new framework for fair international trade based on food sovereignty.

An unfair agreement on agriculture

The Agreement on Agriculture (AoA) is fundamentally unfair. It is the direct result of the 1992 Blair House agreement between the United States and the European Union, which sets out a common strategy for these two actors to the detriment of the other states of the world, and in particular against the interests of the countries of the Global South.

Export subsidies are certainly limited in principle (although in reality they continue via various mechanisms), but replaced by direct support from the US and the EU to farmers. However, this direct aid, whose very purpose is to maintain the competitiveness of US and European production on international markets, is classified in the “green box” of so-called “non-distorting” support. Most countries in the South do not have the budgetary capacity to distribute such levels of public aid to farmers: the green box is reserved for rich countries that control international monetary production. On the contrary, market regulation tools and in particular agricultural price support measures (tariffs, supply management mechanisms, MSP minimum support prices, public stockholding, etc.), which are more accessible to poor countries, are classified in the amber box and are therefore subject to significant reductions. The AoA is an agreement tailored to the United States and the EU, against the countries of the South. African, Asian and Latin American countries have very good reasons to denounce this unfair agreement.

From the point of view of peasants in the South and the North, this agreement has had disastrous consequences, as we predicted in 1993. All over the world, the power of transnational companies has increased and they have succeeded in increasing their margins to the detriment of the peasants, who have received only a minimal share of the value of their production. In the South, these companies have also grabbed more and more land, water sources and seeds, to the detriment of peasant communities and often in a violent way, based on the WTO agreements, but also on the structural adjustment programmes imposed by the IMF and the World Bank. In the North, farmers on small and medium-sized farms have received little or no direct aid (80% of farms in the EU are smaller than 10 hectares), but they have suffered from the fall and volatility of agricultural prices following the dismantling of market regulation tools (the end of milk quotas for example). They were put in competition with large farms that received tens of thousands of dollars or euros in public subsidies.

More generally, the AoA has been a disaster for people and the environment. Food supply chains have become globalised: when major shocks occur on international markets and prices soar with financial speculation, indebted countries that have become dependent on imports to feed their populations are extremely vulnerable, as we saw at the time of the 2008 crisis, but also currently. Thus, far from the declarations of the 1996 food summit which promised to end hunger through international trade, the opposite is happening. Hunger is increasing, fuelled by poverty and social inequality. Rural populations are driven out of their territories by land grabbing and lack of agricultural income and migrate to cities or neighbouring countries. Agrarian countries are becoming poorer. Huge industrial monocultures for export are replacing the diverse mixed farming methods that used to produce healthy food for local populations. Pesticides, synthetic fertilisers and GMO seeds are proliferating and polluting the water, soil and air, seriously affecting the health of rural populations.

This is the result of almost 30 years of AoA: green deserts, hunger and a dying countryside.

La Via Campesina’s historic struggles for food sovereignty

On the contrary, since 1996 we have affirmed the need to build and defend food sovereignty, i.e. the right of peoples to decide on their agricultural and food policies, without dumping on other peoples.
Food sovereignty includes the right of peoples, and therefore of States, to distribute land and water use rights not according to a so-called “law of the market”, but according to the general interest. It includes the right of states to put in place public policies to regulate the market so as to guarantee agricultural production in line with the needs of the population and at stable prices. It considers the importance of production methods, and in particular agroecology, to protect the health of territories and populations. It gives priority to local production and consumption of food, not to exports of agricultural goods. It puts people, especially small-scale food producers, and in particular women and youth, at the centre, rather than the interests of transnational companies and financial actors.

For years, we have seen that the WTO continues to be a powerful instrument for the destruction of people’s food sovereignty. The WTO is used by rich, agro-exporting countries to denounce and criminalise policies that aim to support peasant agriculture, regulate agricultural markets and stabilise food prices for people. For example, the constant denunciation via the WTO of public storage is a shame. In March 2022, we were given access to WTO documents that contained threats to use the dispute settlement body against Egypt, which expressed a pressing need to increase its public stocks to ensure food for its population in the face of the sudden rise in prices on international markets. Similarly, the group of African countries, India, China, South Africa, the G33 and the ACP group have been expressing the need to allow public storage to support their local food production and fight hunger for many years, and they are not being heard.

Food sovereignty is not compatible with the AoA, nor with the very principles of the WTO. This is why we have always denounced the AoA and said “Down Down WTO”.

NO to a reform of the WTO, YES to multilateral negotiations outside the WTO to create an International trade framework based on food sovereignty

You invite us to participate in a council to “reform the WTO”. But food sovereignty can never be achieved by the WTO, whose very purpose, the globalisation of international trade and the accentuation of “free trade”, is contrary to food sovereignty. So we are obliged to refuse this invitation. Based on information gathered from multiple sources, La Via Campesina has come to understand that even within the WTO, there is resistance to the Director General’s (DG) unilateral establishment of such bodies, particularly from developing countries. It appears that this initiative by the DG is driven by business groups who have evident vested interests in a business advisory council. Consequently, it seems that the creation of a CSO council is merely a superficial gesture. We strongly reject it!

The last time you invited us to the negotiation table (and we refused) was in 2005, following the failure of the negotiations in Hong Kong, in the face of an existential crisis of your organisation that since then has never been resolved. This crisis is now reaching a climax. You are trying to save your organisation by launching yet another reform process, but without ever calling into question the very philosophy of the WTO and the reason for your failure. Agriculture remains your “Achilles heel”.

We, the global peasant movement, do not want to negotiate with the WTO. We want the Agreement on Agriculture repealed and we want the WTO to give us a breath : we want the WTO out of agriculture.

The demise of the WTO is inevitable. Your organization has not only demonstrated its futility, but more importantly, its detrimental impact. Faced with the immense challenges facing humanity – world hunger, the climate crisis, wars, inflation, social inequalities, the collapse of biodiversity, pandemics, etc. – the responses you propose are making the crises worse.

More and more states are realising that no solution will be found with the institutions that have been the Trojan horses of Western neo-liberalism, the WTO, the IMF and the World Bank, for it is these institutions that have led to the current disaster. However, these states have not yet found the means to set up alternative institutions to meet their needs. “The old world is dying, the new world is slow to appear”

We fully understand the need for states not to be excluded from the possibility of participating in international trade. The situation of states that are subject to unilateral unjust sanctions excluding them from international trade shows the importance of a fair framework for agricultural trade in particular. La Via Campesina does not defend autarky, but food sovereignty.

Thus, we call on states not to waste time in sterile negotiations at the WTO around a hypothetical “reform” that has never led to anything for more than 20 years. We invite states, and in particular the countries of the Global South, to sit around the table to negotiate a new framework for fair and inclusive international trade based on food sovereignty. These negotiations could take place in any space that respects genuine multilateralism where all states are truly equal and where the voice of civil society organisations and in particular small-scale food producers will be heard and taken into account, for example at the FAO or UNCTAD.

We, La Via Campesina, commit ourselves to work for this new international framework, just as we did for the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Peasants and Other Rural Workers (UNDROP). We place ourselves under the good auspices of our brother, friend and comrade Lee Kyung Hae to carry out this necessary task.

Globalize the Struggle, Globalize Hope !
Faced with Global Crises, We Build Food Sovereignty, to Ensure a Future for Humanity !

La Via Campesina
29 May 2023

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La Via Campesina expresses solidarity with the Haenyeo in their struggle to protect the ocean in Jeju, South Korea

La Via Campesina extends its solidarity to the Haenyeo, the sea divers, in the Jeju province of South Korea, where their harvesting of a variety of mollusks, seaweed, and other sea life is being threatened by a sewage treatment plant. The struggle of the Jeju Haenyeo began in 2017 when Jeju Island began construction to double the capacity of the Dongbu Sewage Treatment Plant in Woljeong-ri from 12,000 tons per day to 24,000 tons per day, to accommodate the growing demands of the commercial tourist industry.

Despite strong opposition from local communities and several women’s groups, including the Korean Women Peasants’ Association, the construction work has recently gained significant pace. The local communities have been guarding the site for 19 months to prevent the construction work, but the Jeju provincial administration persists with the expansion.

Haenyeo, meaning “sea women” in Korean, are the women divers of Jeju who have spent decades free diving in the ocean multiple times a day. The ocean is not merely an ocean for them; it is their livelihood and lifelong home. Cutting into the ocean is akin to cutting into their own bodies.

The livelihoods of the Haenyeo have been greatly jeopardized by the impacts of global warming and climate change. Rising temperatures have led to warmer waters, attracting new subtropical species that have displaced the traditional catch of the Haenyeo. Additionally, it has altered the sea floor habitat by introducing more stony coral while decimating seaweed forests. Extensive beds of seaweed have disappeared, replaced by coralline algae with a rock-like appearance, resulting in a decline in marine resources.

Moreover, the Japanese government’s decision in 2021 to release wastewater from the Fukushima nuclear power plant into the Pacific Ocean has caused significant concerns in South Korea. Subsequent protests erupted in the Jeju province as communities feared the potential contamination of the sea by radioactive water. Apprehension and worry regarding the polluted water have already led to a decrease in the consumption of Jeju seafood.

The construction of the sewage treatment plant will exacerbate the crises for both the local population and marine life. According to testimonies from local diver women, the hard stones in the sea where conch and sea urchins live are now all decayed and crumbly, and there are also conch shells that are turned upside down or even rotten. The bottom of the sea, which used to be green and red, has turned gray as if lime powder had been sprinkled on it. Conch, abalone, obunjagi, agar-agar, octopus, and other marine life that were frequently caught in the waters of Woljeong-ri, as well as seaweed including Ecklonia cava (abalone’s food), have disappeared. While neighboring villages like Kimnyeong-ri and Haengwon-ri still have abundant conch, sea urchin, sea cucumber, and agar-agar, these species do not come from Woljeong-ri, likely due to pollution caused by the sewage treatment plant.

The Dongbu Sewage Treatment Plant in Woljeong-ri, which began construction in 1997, started operating in 2007 with a daily throughput of 6,000 tons. In 2014, the capacity was increased (first expansion) to 12,000 tons per day. Due to the continuous influx of population and the increase in tourists, Jeju Island announced plans in 2017 to increase the capacity to 24,000 tons per day.

Haenyeo and civic groups are also concerned about the damage to Yongcheon Cave due to the expansion of the sewage treatment plant. Yongcheon Cave is a unique lava cave with a large-scale cave lake 800m in length and various carbonate formations such as stalactites and cave corals. The cave is a World Heritage Site and the Cultural Heritage Administration alerts that the lower part of Yongcheon Cave, discovered in 2005, is about 200 meters east of the Dongbu Sewage Treatment Plant.

La Via Campesina is alarmed by this utter disregard for coastal communities, marine life, and heritage. We stand firmly with the local communities in demanding an end to this construction that threatens lives and livelihoods.

Stop polluting the sea in the name of expanding the sewage treatment plant!
Don’t destroy the lives of the Haenyeo!
Protect Yongcheon Cave, a World Heritage Site!

We oppose any development that harms the sea and its diverse life forms. We condemn the Jeju Provincial Government for persisting with the expansion against the will of the people. Marine life should be protected not only for its own sake but also for the benefit of all. The ocean, teeming with life, is what sustains us.

The struggle of the Jeju Haenyeo to defend the sea is also our struggle. As La Via Campesina and as a collective, we express our strongest solidarity and support for their fight.

Globalize the Struggle, Globalize Hope!
Faced with Global Crises, We Build Food Sovereignty to Ensure a Future for Humanity!

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With the Support of Innovative Businesses, Google Looks to Transition to a Circular Economy

Food Tank - Fri, 05/26/2023 - 08:57

There is still time for companies with sustainable packaging solutions to apply for Google’s Single-Use Plastics Challenge. Selected finalists will have the chance to pitch their innovative products to Google and help the company reduce its plastic waste.

“Since the 1970s the rate of plastic production has grown faster than that of any other material,”  the U.N. Environment Programme (UNEP) states. Today, the world produces around 400 million tonnes of plastic waste each year, and approximately 36 percent of all plastics produced are used for packaging.

Despite efforts to curb waste, research from UNEP estimates that between 9 and 14 million tonnes of plastic makes its way to the world’s oceans every year. And that waste in aquatic ecosystems could triple by 2040 if current trends continue.

Google launched its Challenge to find reusable serviceware and packaging options that will help them transition to a circular economy. Selected solutions will be scaled for use in Google’s cafes and MicroKitchens. The company’s long term goal is to entirely eliminate single-use plastics from onsite food operations.

“Reducing—and ultimately eliminating—single-use plastics will help stem the tide of plastic polluting our planet,” writes Mike Werner, Head of Circular Economy for Google’s Global Sustainability Team, and Matt Hood, Senior Director of the Google Food Program.

A full list of plastic-free packaging options that Google will consider can be found on the company’s interest form.

Products must meet United States federal, state, and local food safety regulations as well as the Google Food program’s standards for health, environmental, social, and financial considerations. They also require sustainability claims to be supported by third-party certification. Applications are due by May 30, 2023.

Articles like the one you just read are made possible through the generosity of Food Tank members. Can we please count on you to be part of our growing movement? Become a member today by clicking here.

Photo courtesy of Naja Bertolt, Unsplash

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Categories: A3. Agroecology

Want To See the Future of the Food System In Action? Visit Your Local Farmers Market!

Food Tank - Fri, 05/26/2023 - 07:05

A version of this piece was featured in Food Tank’s newsletter, released weekly on Thursdays. To make sure it lands straight in your inbox and to be among the first to receive it, subscribe now by clicking here.

I just returned from Italy after attending the first General Assembly of the World Farmers Market Coalition, which concluded earlier this week in Rome. Food Tank’s friend Richard McCarthy, who’s been doing important work for years bringing farmers and consumers closer together, is leading the organization, and it was wonderful to see such a strong coalition of agricultural and community development leaders.

We were hosted by Coldiretti and Fondazione Campagne Amica, the largest farmers’ association and farmers market network in Europe, and attendees made great progress in defining the rules of engagement for successful farmers markets.

These markets need to be accessible. They need to be transparent. They need to be inclusive. They need to protect biodiversity and cultural foodways and marginalized groups’ food sovereignty.

The way I see it, the World Farmers Market Coalition is making this possible.

According the first World Farmers Market Coalition report, markets have tangible economic, environmental, and social benefits from preserving biodiversity to providing pathways for youth in agriculture to empowering women.

These are conversations plenty of advocates have had on the local level for years, but the international nature of this movement is quite new. The World Farmers Market Coalition was launched in 2021 and became an officially recognized international association last year—but now represents more than 20,000 markets and 60 associations across more than 50 countries. Think about those numbers: That’s 200,000+ farm families and 300 million consumers.

This week’s General Assembly underscored that this is truly a global movement. In Bangladesh, for example, an organization called Work for a Better Bangladesh recently helped to establish 16 farmers markets with no middle management, so all farmers make fair profits and build direct relationships with community members. And they’re growing higher-quality food, too: Bangladeshi farmers market managers shared the story of farmer Abdur Razzaq; access to well-structured farmers markets have helped him grow more “safe food” with fewer chemicals.

In Ghana, the Ghana Farmers Markets Network has been transformative in bridging the gap between rural and urban communities by promoting knowledge-sharing since it was launched in May 2021. And in Brazil, the organization Junta Local has created a shared space in Rio de Janeiro where farmers and food artisans can meet, and it’s taken off into a regular block-party-style celebration of local food.

During the assembly, Richard McCarthy, the president of the coalition, made a comment that really stuck with me. Some representations depict farmers markets as old-timey, quaint ways of getting food—but this could not be further from the truth.

“We are not just interested in nostalgia but in the future of food,” he said. “The difference between nostalgia and what we do is that markets are managed with intentionality to highlight the dignity of local food systems and the people who make them.”

Farmers markets are the way toward a food system that’s more resilient, producer-oriented, and just. And thriving farmers markets are part of what strong local food systems look like.

Please let me know what’s happening on the ground in your neighborhood! How can Food Tank help your neighborhood markets thrive? Let’s chat at

Articles like the one you just read are made possible through the generosity of Food Tank members. Can we please count on you to be part of our growing movement? Become a member today by clicking here.

Photo courtesy of Didier Provost, Unsplash

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Categories: A3. Agroecology

17 April 23 – Peasant struggles are the main frontier of resistance against agribusiness and extractivism

(Bagnolet, May 3, 2023) The International Day of Peasant Struggles is commemorated by La Via Campesina every year on April 17th to remember the massacre of Eldorado do Carajás in 1996. On this day, we also denounce the ongoing criminalization, oppression, and repression of peasants, farm workers, rural women, migrants, and black and indigenous communities around the world.

This date is globally commemorated through educational, mass, and mobilization initiatives led by peasant, indigenous, and migrant organizations, as well as farmers and farm workers at large. They stand in solidarity with the struggle for food sovereignty, land rights, popular agrarian reform, and the promotion of peasant agroecology to address the climate crisis and global hunger.

During the 2023 edition of this day, LVC reaffirmed its commitment to defending human rights and life, as outlined in the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Peasants and Other People Working in Rural Areas (UNDROP), which was adopted in 2018. This instrument recognizes peasants as rights holders and catalysts of change. In the face of territorial encroachment by capital, peasant, indigenous, and landless communities have become the frontline of resistance against the hydro-agro-extractivism perpetuated by transnational corporations.

ElDoradoDosCarajas 27 years of impunity, includes accusations of ‘rural militias’.

Even after 27 years since the Eldorado do Carajás Massacre, justice continues to elude the people. Meanwhile, the Brazilian movements of La Via Campesina are alerting us to the emergence of new ‘rural militias’. As per the report titled “Conflicts in the Countryside,” published by the Pastoral Land Commission (CPT) on April 17th, Brazil witnessed 47 recorded murders in 2022, with 6 of them being women. It is worth remembering that in 2021, former president Bolsonaro labeled the MST as a “terrorist organization” and advocated for landowners to arm themselves. This remains a pressing concern for social movements today.

Brazil stands out as one of the countries with the most unequal land distribution worldwide. Merely 1% of Brazilians possess over half of the arable land, while small farmers, who make up three-quarters of all producers, only own 20%. This long-standing legacy from the colonial era persists almost unchanged due to the enduring power of landowners, coupled with influential lobbying in Congress and the media. To shed light on these issues and more, the Landless Rural Workers Movement organized numerous actions throughout the country as part of Red April, commemorating the murder of 21 landless workers.

The 17th edition of the Oziel Alves Youth Pedagogical Camp took place at the infamous “S curve,” the site of the massacre where the Military Police of the state of Pará brutally killed the landless workers in 1996. This camp, named in honor of Oziel Alves, the youngest militant who was tragically shot in the forehead at the age of 17 in Eldorado do Carajás, brought together rural youth to underscore the importance of solidarity, training, art, and culture as transformative tools.

Under the slogan “The Agrarian Reform against Hunger and Slavery: for Land, Democracy, and the Environment,” this year’s April Day carried on the legacy and ongoing struggle of the peasants who were brutally murdered 27 years ago. This slogan represents a continuation and a current focus on the fight for land, democracy, and the environment.

This year as part of the global mobilizations, members of La Via Campesina have also drawn attention to and expressed solidarity with the grave violations of rights faced by peasant communities, as well as the systematic criminalization of their leaders in countries including Palestine, Paraguay, Brazil, Colombia, Mali, Ecuador, France, Spain, Thailand, Sri Lanka, Indonesia, South Korea, Kenya, Canada, Haiti, Guatemala, and Peru.

Towards the 8th International Conference in Colombia (#8ConfLVC)

During April 17, 2023, La Via Campesina also launched the slogan and official poster of its VIII International Conference to be held in November in Bogota, Colombia. This is the most important decision-making space for the peasant movement, as well as a space for evaluation, analysis and construction of collective plans.

Official Slogan for the 8th International Conference is: “Faced with Global Crises, We Build Food Sovereignty, to Ensure a Future for Humanity!” La Via Campesina and Defending Peasant Rights Webinar

La Via Campesina, along with the coalition ‘Defending Peasants’ Rights,’ which comprises organizations dedicated to implementing the UN Declaration on Peasants’ Rights (UNDROP), organized a public webinar. The webinar aimed to explore how organizations and communities utilize the Declaration to raise awareness of their struggles and advocate for their rights as outlined in the Declaration.

The webinar showcased peasant representatives from various regions who elaborated on the coordination of struggles around the UN Declaration on Peasants’ Rights (UNDROP). They provided insightful examples of the implementation and legal progress made since 2018.

Local actions for global struggles!

Currently, La Via Campesina unites 182 organizations representing peasants, indigenous communities, landless workers, and women from 81 countries worldwide. Through more than 78 actions carried out worldwide, our collective showcased its solidarity. On this important occasion, member organizations and allies expressed their resistance against the harmful consequences of agribusiness and the extractive industry, which pollute the soil, water, and commons. Together, we carried out street interventions, food donations, seed distribution, tree planting, local fairs, forums, and debates to raise awareness about the criminalization of peasant mobilization, the judicial persecution of social leaders, and the prevailing impunity concerning their murders.

As the global movement commemorates its 30th anniversary, its core principles, including Food Sovereignty, Peasant Agroecology, Popular Agrarian Reform, and Peasant and Popular Feminism, are more relevant than ever. In the face of numerous crises across the world, these propositions represent tangible responses from the peasantry, offering an alternative model and a pathway to ensure social justice in all its facets.

Actions in Latin America

In the Dominican Republic, member organizations organized the “Forum on the Impact of Mining, Agroecology, and the Human Right to Water in the Caribbean region.”

In Haiti, peasants organized under the MPP carried out a denunciation action as part of the #17April23 movement, but they were brutally repressed by the military force BESAP. While mobilizing, the peasants chanted, “Get out, thieves and land grabbers of peasant territories.”

In Guatemala, our members hosted the II Central American Meeting on Popular Peasant Feminism, focusing on the struggle of indigenous women from the CLOC – LVC Central America Women Articulation.

In Honduras, peasant organizations demanded access to land and peasant markets, control of seeds in peasant hands, protection of territories, adequate financing for the peasant sector, and an end to the criminalization of their struggle, as they are the ones who feed the people.

Moving on to South America, more actions unfolded.

In Colombia, our members organized a forum on “Peasantry, Land, and Agrarian Reform in the National Development Plan 2023-2026.”

The LGBTIQ collective of South America created a series of materials to bring visibility to gender diversity and its active participation in all fronts of action and in the defense of food sovereignty. They also denounced the criminalization and LGBTIQ-phobia that leads to the killing of peasants worldwide.

Solidarity Actions in AFRICA AND ARNA Region

The Southern and Eastern Africa region has launched the booklet on the Declaration on the Rights of Peasants, UNDROP, in eight local African languages. This initiative aims to ensure that a wide range of peasants can access, understand, and utilize the UNDROP to protect their rights.

In Tanzania, MVWATA organized 24 local actions across the country with the slogan “Ardhi yetu, Uhai wetu!” (Our Land, Our Life), highlighting peasant struggles and resistance in their territories.

In Mali, the CNOP hosted the second edition of the organic weekend at the AMSD headquarters in Kalaban Koro. This event aimed to promote agroecological and organic products, as well as the principles of Food Sovereignty.

In Palestine, the Union of Farmers’ Committees (UAWC) distributed local seedlings to farmers as part of their commemoration of the International Day of Peasant Struggles 2023.

Actions in ASIA

In Sri Lanka, MONLAR and other social movements used this day of mobilization to raise concerns about the consequences of the agreement with the International Monetary Fund.

In Indonesia, the SPI held a demonstration to showcase to the President of the Republic of Indonesia the benefits of the family farming model compared to corporate farming.

The Bangladesh Agricultural Farm Labourers’ Federation also mobilized its union members in Gazipur to mark the day.

In Thailand, the Northern Peasant Federation of Thailand reaffirmed its ongoing struggle against injustice, advocating for the right to land, food sovereignty, and food security for farmers and peasants. They emphasized the need for debt relief, land restoration, fair pricing for natural resources such as soil, water, forests, and crops, and an end to free trade practices.

Solidarity Actions in EUROPE

The ÖBV – Via Campesina Austria once again urged politicians to provide effective and equitable solutions to the climate crisis in front of the Parliament, accompanied by the sound of cowbells. The hashtag #FarmersForTheFuture was used to amplify their message.

The National Confederation of Agriculture (CNA), in Portugal, called for fair prices for those who produce quality and accessible food for the people, challenging the dominance of large-scale distribution. The CNA presented concrete proposals and emphasized that, with political determination, it is feasible to establish conditions for the fair pricing of national production, benefiting both farmers and consumers.

For more information and to keep track of all the actions undertaken in different territories, please visit our virtual gallery:

Popular Communication: Training, Agitation, and Mobilization!

Over the past 30 years, we have come to understand that globalizing the struggle and hope is not merely a slogan; it is our political strategy. Throughout this journey, art and culture have played a crucial role in nurturing our diverse peasant culture, with its myriad colors, forms, and worldviews, all united under the banner of food sovereignty and peasant food systems.

In this section, we wish to extend our greetings to all the people’s communication initiatives, as well as the exploration of new formats and narratives by our member organizations and allies. These endeavors allow us to present our proposals and struggles for a better life. We remain committed to sharing the worlds we are actively constructing in our respective territories.

(only in Portugese)

Resisting means organizing ourselves, cultivating values such as education, labor, solidarity, and brotherhood. It means valuing and preserving peasant and popular culture through our actions and communication efforts, thereby strengthening and expanding our social foundations. Through the dissemination of ideas and the mobilization of consciousness, we strive to agitate and engage minds.

Globalize the Hope! Globalize the Struggle!

The post 17 April 23 – Peasant struggles are the main frontier of resistance against agribusiness and extractivism appeared first on Via Campesina English.

Transforming Agriculture: Unleashing the Potential of Women Agriculturalists

Food Tank - Thu, 05/25/2023 - 08:44

Through her consulting work and foundation, Mercedes Diane Griffin Forbes is working to empower women agriculturalists and drive sustainable development. 

“For a lot of the world’s food production, it is actually being done by women,” Forbes tells Food Tank. But, she continues, this work is often undervalued. 

Forbes engages with communities around the world to spotlight women’s agricultural contributions and help them formalize policies that support gender equity.

“I’m here in Ecuador, where a lot of the women do the work in the coffee fields using machetes and they’re weeding by hand,” Forbes says. “That is very arduous, and can be quite dangerous…However whenever I ask people in the communities that I’m in what work they consider to be the most important work or the most high-risk work, they will often say ‘the tasks that men do.’”

Forbes doesn’t believe that communities are “conscientiously operating from a perspective of not valuing women.” Rather, she understands the discrepancies to be “based on a lot of deep, cultural, traditional practices.” 

As she carries out her work, Forbes tries to encourage a mindset shift because, she tells Food Tank, “when they are given the opportunity to really think through, they’re like ‘yes, of course we’re all equal. We all need to be respecting one another.’”

Forbes also conducts gender mainstreaming trainings, which she explains are focused on “making sure that you are making the necessary accommodations within your organizational structure to ensure gender equity.”

While spending time with cacao farmers in Ecuador, Forbes worked with the community to produce a gender policy in their bylaws. She explains that the group already had a policy to ensure representation of Indigenous peoples, but were lacking guidance focused on women. “It’s important to formalize this, and it’s important to develop practices around this formalization,” Forbes tells Food Tank. 

In addition to her consulting work, Forbes also works to empower women through the Mercedes Parra Foundation for Women and Girls. It’s “a small organization,” Forbes says, “but we really try to focus on areas where we feel we can have the greatest impact, so primarily dealing with women and girls who are in resource poor areas, helping them to have a better economic education and political outcomes.”

Recently, Forbes has been working with two women in North Carolina to run for leadership positions. “So many women, particularly women of color, don’t even consider running for office,” she says. “They just automatically see it as something that’s so far outside of their reach. And I think a big part of it is just a lack of mentorship.”

Forbes goes on to explain that she works with these women to “overcome some of the psychological hurdles they may be facing and really help them to hone the skills they have, and help them to see why it is that they do have a voice and how they can use that voice to promote change.”

Listen to the full conversation with Mercedes Diane Griffin Forbes on “Food Talk with Dani Nierenberg” to hear more about Forbes’ consulting work with women agriculturalists, why gender-appropriate technologies are so important, and how Forbes uses her platform DG Speaks to share her story and serve as a role model for others.”

Articles like the one you just read are made possible through the generosity of Food Tank members. Can we please count on you to be part of our growing movement? Become a member today by clicking here.

Photo courtesy of DG Speaks

The post Transforming Agriculture: Unleashing the Potential of Women Agriculturalists appeared first on Food Tank.

Categories: A3. Agroecology

José Andrés and GW Join Forces to Create the Global Food Institute to Revolutionize Food Systems

Food Tank - Tue, 05/23/2023 - 15:32

Chef and food systems advocate José Andrés recently announced a partnership with George Washington University (GW) to build the Global Food Institute. The Institute will serve as a hub to develop evidence, partnerships, and innovative solutions intended to transform the way the world thinks about food systems. 

“The Global Food Institute will reshape how we think about food, break down barriers across industries, politics, and nations, and inspire and empower the next generation to develop systemic solutions that reshape the food system,” says Andrés in a statement

Three pillars — policy, innovation, and humanity — will guide the Global Food Institute’s interdisciplinary research and teaching. Faculty and students, along with industry leaders, policymakers, and other food systems experts, will work to develop research to inform domestic and global food policies, create new technologies, and lead conversations about the relationship between food systems and society.

The Institute promises to prioritize the education and training of future leaders from diverse backgrounds to identify new paths forward. “Their collective work will inform evidence-based policy that centers food as a solution for some of our most pressing problems,” says Pam Norris, Vice Provost for Research at GW. 

Andrés believes that the food system is “experiencing a crisis, brought on by systemic inequities, rampant hunger and poverty, the climate crisis, and deteriorating public health and nutrition.” For more than a decade, the chef has led World Central Kitchen, which he founded in 2010, to provide relief to communities affected by political conflict and natural disasters. 

But according to the press release, Andrés also sees food as an essential part of the solution. And he is confident that young people will drive this change. “It’s time to look to the next generation of leaders who will fix our world’s broken food systems,” he says. “We must invest in them and inspire them to shape the future of food policy and innovation.” 

In the coming months, the Global Food Institute plans to fill key leadership roles, identify a physical space, and develop opportunities with the community and potential partners. 

“In the George Washington University’s third century, we are focused on accelerating the positive impact of our interdisciplinary scholarship on society, including through innovative partnerships with visionary leaders,” says GW President Mark S. Wrighton. “We are thrilled to establish in partnership with José Andrés the Global Food Institute—a center that will create new knowledge and shape national and international progress on food system issues.”

Articles like the one you just read are made possible through the generosity of Food Tank members. Can we please count on you to be part of our growing movement? Become a member today by clicking here.

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Categories: A3. Agroecology

From Farm to Table: Chefs Unite to Advocate for Healthy Soils and a Sustainable Future

Food Tank - Tue, 05/23/2023 - 07:44

The Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC) is working with chefs across the United States to raise awareness of the link between soil health and resilient food systems.

NRDC’s Chefs for Healthy Soils program takes advantage of a chef’s communication channels with both food producers and consumers. 

By purchasing ingredients from producers committed to regenerative agriculture practices, chefs can show their support for food grown in a way that benefits planetary health. And by telling diners the story of the food and how it’s grown, they can help eaters understand how dietary choices impact the environment. 

“Collectively, we have the power to transform our food systems to be more equitable, healthy, and climate-friendly,” says Chef Adrian Lipscombe, Founder of the 40 Acres Project, and a member of the Project. “Being a part of the Chefs for Healthy Soils program is an opportunity to connect with like-minded chefs who want to celebrate and protect our communities and local ecosystems.”

With NRDC’s support, chefs in the program are also meeting with legislators, publishing op-eds, hosting educational events, amplifying messages through social media, and more. 

According to research from NRDC, industrial farming practices degrade soils, pollute the environment, and harm biodiversity. But by implementing practices that improve soil health, producers can sequester carbon, clean waterways, and protect wildlife. 

Ambassadors participating in Chefs for Healthy Soils also include Crystal Wahpepah of Wahpepah’s Kitchen’ Matthew Kenney of Ayre, Oleada, and others; Katarina Petonito and Rochelle Cooper of The Duck & The Peach, Matthew McClure of Woodstock Inn & Resort; Bryce Gilmore of Odd Duck; and Vincent Medina and Luis Trevino of Cafe Ohlone.

Many of these chefs are not new to advocacy. Lipscombe, Gilmore and McClure, for example, are among those who have been selected to participate in the James Beard Foundation’s Chef Bootcamp for Policy and Change, a program that trains chefs to use their voice and push for better food systems. 

“Chefs work with farmers every day and care deeply about farmers and their practices. Chefs for Healthy Soil know that food is tastier and the planet is better off when farmers are empowered to care for their soil,” Lara Bryant, Deputy Director of Water and Agriculture for NRDC, tells Food Tank. “Chefs are a compelling voice who can use their influence for good by advocating for policies that promote soil health.”

To advance the program’s work, NRDC recently partnered with The James Beard Foundation, Niman Ranch,  Zero Foodprint, and Baldor to host a lobby day series to help policymakers understand the importance of healthy soils. Chefs from across the country traveled to D.C. to participate in a trainings with soil scientists and farmers implementing regenerative agriculture practices. They also met with key legislators to gain support for the COVER Act, which aims to expand the usage of cover crops on farms.

“There is something powerful about the two ends of the food system, farmers and chefs, uniting in a shared call for smart policy to support soil health,” Alicia Laporte, Communications Director for Niman Ranch, tells Food Tank. “Soil health is clearly a priority for farmers, tied directly to their resilience, yields and future existence. But soil health also has less obvious impacts for chefs: with better flavor and nutrition from food produced with regenerative practices to more vibrant rural main streets with small and mid-size independent farms able to compete in the marketplace thanks to policies that incentivize and support sustainability.”

Articles like the one you just read are made possible through the generosity of Food Tank members. Can we please count on you to be part of our growing movement? Become a member today by clicking here.

Photo courtesy of Eliv Aceron, Unsplash

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Categories: A3. Agroecology


AFSA - Tue, 05/23/2023 - 00:43
22.05.2023, A high-profile delegation of Maasai representatives starts a tour in several European countries this May, seeking international support to halt the ongoing forced evictions and human rights abuses against the Maasai people in Tanzania. The Maasai have lived for generations in the Serengeti ecosystem in Tanzania and have shaped and protected these lands, preserving […]
Categories: A3. Agroecology

MAZON Launches The Hunger Museum: A Digital Journey Through America’s History of Hunger

Food Tank - Mon, 05/22/2023 - 11:22

MAZON: A Jewish Response to Hunger recently launched The Hunger Museum. The digital project explores the history of hunger in America, revealing how the past can inspire hope for a hunger-free future.

MAZON is a national organization dedicated to ending hunger among all faiths and backgrounds in the United States and Israel. MAZON builds their initiatives on the core principle that regardless of a person’s circumstance, no one deserves to be hungry.

“Our goal at MAZON is to create a non-judgmental food policy,” Naama Haviv, Vice President of Community Engagement at MAZON, tells Food Tank. “This includes dismantling the shame and stigma around hunger by exploring the full history of hunger in America and showing how visionary leadership has met that challenge time and again.”

The Hunger Museum opened its virtual doors in March of this year and is positioned online as if it were located on the National Mall in Washington D.C. Situated near halls of power, the museum reminds visitors how advocating for systemic change can help end hunger.

Haviv says the digital nature of The Hunger Museum was motivated by shifting perceptions of virtual resources during the COVID-19 pandemic.

“It became clear that our impact would be much greater with a digital resource that anyone, anywhere could access with just a computer and internet connection,” says Haviv.

The Hunger Museum’s website, designed by actual architects, utilizes “2.5-D” technology to create a more personal, immersive, and dynamic experience for visitors. By showcasing key moments across the past 100+ years, the museum informs visitors about the complex cultural, economic, and political history of hunger in America. Haviv believes this history has the potential to inform future solutions.

“We want people to understand what it takes to finally solve hunger — a robust, visionary government investment in the social safety net,” Haviv says. “Only our government has the scope and scale to meet a problem this vast.”

Since opening, The Hunger Museum has generated a broad range of interest from individuals and organizations, including faith groups and professional groups, and an architecture podcast.

“The joy of an entirely virtual museum is that we can add a wing anytime we want!” says Haviv.

MAZON is already discussing ideas for new exhibits and tours in the museum. They hope to bring in groups of educators and students to inspire young people to fight for food security.

Articles like the one you just read are made possible through the generosity of Food Tank members. Can we please count on you to be part of our growing movement? Become a member today by clicking here.

Photo courtesy of MAZON: A Jewish Response to Hunger

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Categories: A3. Agroecology

Frontiers of an effective Binding Treaty on Transnational Corporations (TNCs)

Launched in March 2023, this document (see PDF link below) compiles the reasoning and most important arguments the Global Campaign puts forwards regarding content that must be considered in the elaboration of an ambitious and effective Binding Treaty on Transnational Corporations (TNCs) and Human Rights as mandated by Resolution 26/9.

A consolidation of the demands of affected communities, indigenous peoples, trade unions, social movements, and civil society organizations, the proposals spelled out here are necessary so the Treaty can effectively regulate the activities of TNCs. They are key to addressing the asymmetries generated by the immeasurable power TNCs exert over their value and production chains at the expenses of States’ and peoples’ sovereignty.

This document is complementary to the official written contributions of the Global Campaign submitted in the framework of the inter-sessional period (8th – 9th sessions) of the Open-ended intergovernmental working group on transnational corporations and other business enterprises with respect to human rights (OEIGWG). There, we analyse the proposals and amendments made by States in previous sessions stressing which articles we believe should be supported, which could be improved, and those we recommend are rejected in the elaboration of the 4th draft to be published in July 2023.

The themes and arguments we expose here are taken from and reflected in different articles of the 3rd revised draft with comments from States. They consolidate over a decade of work and extensive consultations, but they are also part of a living process. Our allies, and all those working to reclaim peoples’ sovereignty, dismantle corporate power, and stop impunity, are welcome to comment and suggest provisions, arguments, precedents, and amendments that might strengthen our voice and the effectiveness of the future Binding Treaty.


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The struggle against mega-basins is a struggle for life

On March 24, 25 and 26, more than 25,000 people gathered in the commune of Sainte-Soline, western France, as part of an international mobilisation against the construction of one of the largest water reservoirs for irrigation and other water-grabbing projects.

Faced with this unprecedented turnout, the French government decided to ban the demonstration and deploy more than 3,000 armed police to protect the construction site, which spans some 162,000 square metres (1.7 million square feet).

The use of violence against the protesters was by all accounts disproportionate. More than 200 people were injured, some quite seriously, as the police charged at the crowd and fired more than 5,000 tear gas canisters. One demonstrator is still in a coma, as of the time of this writing.

After the violent crackdown, the French government announced the “dissolution” of Les Soulèvements de la Terre (The Earth’s Uprisings), one of the organisations behind the demonstrations.

These very brutal scenes remind us of the sad reality that we are experiencing in our lands. We are witnessing the resurgence and reinforcement of authoritarianism, growing repression of environmental protests, and intensifying criminalisation of those who oppose this ongoing ecocide, as well as the capitalist, imperialist, and colonialist structures that preside over it.

But in the face of this ecological violence, a global movement is emerging that builds on solidarity to protect water rights for all.

The ‘mega’ abuse of water

In France, the construction of giant retention basins for agricultural irrigation started in the late 1990s, but has accelerated since 2010 due to the massive droughts the country has experienced as a result of climate change.

According to the French government, there are around 100 mega-basin projects for agricultural irrigation in the country. However, the associations Bassines Non Merci (Basins No Thanks) and Le Soulèvement de la Terre have mapped nearly 300 projects, many of which are still under study.

These huge craters are filled by drawing from underground water, which often leads to the degradation of water resources in the affected area. These mega-basins only benefit a small minority of big farmers who are linked to big agro-industrial interests, while small-scale farmers suffer from ever-decreasing access to the overexploited water resources.

Such plans embody a flawed policy of maintaining the current agro-industrial model at any cost, which crushes small-scale farmers and destroys ecosystems.

Although many complaints have been filed against these projects, many are still under construction. Movements opposing mega-basins have emerged in France since the 2000s, and in recent years, they have increasingly taken on a nationwide and international dimension.

‘It is not drought, it is looting’

The construction of large water reservoirs elsewhere has already demonstrated that such projects have devastating effects on the environment and local communities. For instance, in Chile, in the province of Petorca alone, eight mega-basins have been built since 1985.

They have mostly benefited the wealthy owners of large avocado farms, who use the water from the basins to irrigate a water-intensive monocrop that is almost entirely destined for export to the Global North. Meanwhile, surrounding villages have been left without water. The government has had to spend millions of dollars to buy water – often from these same avocado farms – to distribute through trucks to the local communities.

Locals have come up with an accurate description of their reality: “no es sequia, es saqueo!” (it is not drought, it is looting!). This has become a slogan often repeated at protests across Latin America, as peasants and Indigenous peoples from Chile to Mexico are fighting against the privatisation of water.

The large water reservoir projects are part of the systematic abuse of freshwater across the world. Pollution, overexploitation, commodification, and hoarding have disrupted the Earth’s water cycles. As a result, water scarcity has reached frightening proportions, affecting 40 percent of the world’s population, and causing upheaval across the planet.

These constant violations over the years have also seen pushback from communities and social movements. In 2000, residents of Cochabamba, Bolivia’s fourth-biggest city, fought the so-called “water war” against attempts to privatise their water. Since then, there have been a growing number of conflicts and social unrest, as people fight over shrinking water resources and struggle to defend their rights.

Public mobilisations and people’s water summits held over the last two decades in many parts of the world have demanded access to water and its protection, especially for impoverished and socially excluded populations. In 2010, the United Nations finally recognised the right to water as a human right.

Yet, the aggressive privatisation and financialisation of water have continued. Large corporations such as Danone, Nestle, and Coca-Cola have been pumping spring water from Indigenous lands in Mexico, the United States and Canada to sell it at high prices in plastic bottles, while local communities have struggled with access to water.

Elsewhere, in line with capitalist injunctions to “decarbonise” economies, water-intensive mining and the construction of large dams are accelerating, destroying territories still populated by peasant and Indigenous communities. In 2020, water was even listed on the stock exchange in the US.

Global solidarity on water rights

In the face of this ecocidal offensive on water, land, and our livelihoods, people involved in the struggle for water are not only growing in number but also connecting across the globe.

In late March, some of us travelled far to join local activists, peasants, and farmers in their protest against France’s mega-basins in Sainte-Soline. Included in this crowd were activists from Chile fighting against the destruction of our ecosystems by authoritarian neoliberalism; activists from Mali fighting against land grabs; Kurdish activists opposing the relentless water war waged by Turkey; Yukpa Indigenous activists from Abya Yala and Mohawk activists from Turtle Island fighting for the self-determination of our nations in the face of a colonial and extractivist system; and activists from the Lakota Nation and the social centres of Northeast Italy.

No government can ignore global solidarity; no government can dissolve the peoples’ water movement, a vital revolt that grows and resonates across borders and languages.

This is why we, actors of the struggle for life, peasants, human rights and environmental defenders, public figures, trade unions, collectives, and organisations from different continents, call for massive international support for the struggle for water and against mega-basins in France.

We call on people to denounce the French government’s repression of social and environmental movements. We also call for respect for the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples (UNDRIP) and the UN Declaration on the Rights of Peasants and Other People Working in Rural Areas (UNDROP).

Our support extends to all those who are struggling around the world against water grabbing, privatisation, and pollution, and for the fair sharing and protection of water as an inalienable common good.

From the water that flows through our veins, the rivers of the watersheds that sustain our lands and that connect our geographies, we call for the strengthening of internationalist alliances to defend water, land, and the commons that sustain life. In the face of all forms of repression and authoritarianism, our solidarity is like flowing water: it brings life and freedom and knows no borders.

This article by Morgan Ody (La Via Campesina), Masa Koné and Juan Pablo Guttierez first appeared on Al Jaazeera on the 3rd of May 2023.

The post The struggle against mega-basins is a struggle for life appeared first on Via Campesina English.

La Via Campesina Warns of Democratic Frailty in Ecuador

Communiqué from La Vía Campesina denounces the dissolution of democratic institutions in Ecuador, coupled with a recent decree on terrorism and the military supporting the President.

(Bagnolet, May 20, 2023)  The peasant, indigenous, landless, women and workers’ organizations that are part of the international movement La Via Campesina around the world warn with great concern about the current context in Ecuador, marked by a serious political crisis, accompanied by a deep economic and social crisis, with high levels of violence by criminal groups, the State and the sectors of power that continue looting the people.

On Wednesday, May 17, the president of Ecuador, Guillermo Lasso signed executive decree 741, which establishes the dissolution of the National Assembly. This in the midst of the political trial opened against him for accusations of embezzlement. The decree also calls for early general elections within 90 days.

As La Via Campesina we are concerned about the fact that this mechanism known as “mutual death,” although included in the Constitution since 2008, received full support of the Armed Forces and the Police before there had been any official pronouncement from the Constitutional Court.

On the other hand, we raise the alarm about a serious threat to democracy, because although the mechanism of “mutual death” is a constitutional tool, its implementation in a scenario of anti-democracy can be dangerous.

As peasant organizations we demand that for as long as this process lasts, president Lasso refrains from deepening Neoliberalism, extractivism, the privatization of basic services, the handover of natural goods — oil, mining, the radio-electrical spectrum — to transnational corporations. We need decrees that address the urgent demands of working-class urban and rural sectors instead of catering to corporate groups. We strongly reject every type of consession and privatization of public assets.

As a movement present worldwide, we call on our member organizations, allies and multilateral institutions to remain alert to the events in Ecuador. We must ensure transparent elections, stand in defense of democracy in the country and the continent, denounce the imperialist and interventionist practices of the US and demand all proceedings are executing according to the law.

We call to: 

  • Respond immediately to the serious social crisis that Ecuador is also facing, with high rates of hunger and malnutrition in children, poverty, migrations, unemployment of almost half of the population, lack of investment in health and education and an out of control level of violence and insecurity due to criminal gangs.
  • Pay special attention to the peasant sector, those who feed the country, the montubio people, Afro-descendants and indigenous people, as well as the artisanal fisher-folk who are indebted to the banks, slaves in their territories, who also suffer assault, kidnapping, extortion and assassinations, coupled with the complete disregard of the State. All the while, the corporate, agribusiness and banking sector, aligned with the Lasso administration and other political sectors, enjoy shamefully high profit rates as the main benefitiaries of the corruption that plagues Ecuador.
  • Respect the political rights of the progressive members of the National Assembly, acknowledge the militant and political trajectory of comrade José Agualsaca and offer him our support, as historic leader of the FEI (Ecuadorian Federation of Indians, member organization of CLOC – La Via Campesina), and current assembly member who already several months ago had offered his seat in defense of the governance of the country.
  • Endorse the democratic processes of indigenous, student and workers’ organizations, respecting the freedom of assembly and association to launch local assemblies, in the understanding that democracy is at its core the people, organized and fighting for their rights.
  • Ensure a transparent electoral process that does not censor the participation and candidacies of any sector; demand that the National Electoral Council restructure the Provincial Electoral Boards for a more democratic conformation and that intermediate, provincial and national computing centers are audited. 
  • Coordinate a progressive and popular process of unity, engaging all the sectors of the left, parties, organizations and movements in Ecuador for the elections called for August 2023; a process able to address the most affected sectors of society as indicated in the 2008 Constitution and its humanistic and anti-capitalist spirit; a Constitution that also acknowledges the peasantry as a subject of rights, a priority in public policy, and Food Sovereignty as a strategic objective of the State for a true revolution in rural areas.

We call to join the national collective work to rebuild a multicultural, fair and sovereign Ecuador!

Photographs National Strike Ecuador, June 2022. Edu León.

The post La Via Campesina Warns of Democratic Frailty in Ecuador appeared first on Via Campesina English.

Google Seeks Sustainable Packaging Options to Eliminate Single-Use Plastics

Food Tank - Fri, 05/19/2023 - 14:22

Google recently launched the Single-Use Plastics Challenge to help the company reduce plastic waste.

The Challenge calls on “visionary companies” with reusable and sustainable packaging options that will replace single-use plastics, according to a video from Google.

Finalists will have the chance to pitch their products to Google and leading global food operators. The goal is to bring innovative solutions to Google U.S.-based kitchens and cafes to help the company reduce, and ultimately eliminate, single-use plastics from on-site food operations.

Google prefers candidates working with reusable serviceware or packaging, but will also consider bulk packaging or dispensing options, edible packaging, post-consumer recycled materials, or unlined serviceware and packaging. While glass and aluminum are acceptable, the company will not consider single-use plastics, or packaging that is bio-based, compostable, multi-layer, or PFAS-lined.

The deadline for applications is May 30, 2023. To learn more about the Challenge and for additional details on how to apply, click here.

In 2021 alone, the world generated 139 million metric tons of single-use plastic waste, according to the Plastic Waste Makers Index. And research published in Science Advances estimates that more than 90 percent of discarded plastic is never recycled.

“To realize a more sustainable world, we must accelerate the transition to a circular economy — one that keeps materials, products and services in circulation for as long as possible,” write Mike Werner, Head of Circular Economy for Google’s Global Sustainability Team, and Matt Hood, Senior Director of the Google Food Program. “The progress we’ve seen continues to motivate us to do our part and build a more sustainable future for all, and we hope others will join us to take on this challenge.”

Articles like the one you just read are made possible through the generosity of Food Tank members. Can we please count on you to be part of our growing movement? Become a member today by clicking here.

Photo Courtesy of Nick Fewings, Unsplash

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Categories: A3. Agroecology

Training module N°5 on “The collective rights of peasants in global seed governance” now available

The 5th Training Module on “The collective rights of peasants in the global governance of seeds” is now available! This module is a pedagogical tool that aims to contribute to the understanding of the global struggle for peasant seeds. it is dedicated to the study of the main spaces of governance and international legal tools related to the right to seeds.

For La Via Campesina it is important to study in depth these aspects that determine the use and management of seeds in the world, especially the impact they have on peasant seeds and the right of peoples to care for and protect them, and because they are the basis of Food Sovereignty.

Our movement has produced this document as a result of an internal process of discussion and action that we, as peasants, have been carrying out within the framework of our Global Campaign for Peasant Seeds, the heritage of the peoples at the service of humanity, which this year celebrates its 20th anniversary. This 5th publication is the last in a series of modules that we launched at the end of 2021, called La Via Campesina: Building Common Content on Peasant Seeds.

We invite you to use this and the previous modules as part of your collective and individual training processes. We hope it will be very useful and strengthening for our movement, in the interest of caring for seeds and life in all its expressions.


The post Training module N°5 on “The collective rights of peasants in global seed governance” now available appeared first on Via Campesina English.

Why The Right To Repair Agricultural Equipment is Crucial To Food Security

Food Tank - Fri, 05/19/2023 - 00:00

A version of this piece was featured in Food Tank’s newsletter, released weekly on Thursdays. To make sure it lands straight in your inbox and to be among the first to receive it, subscribe now by clicking here.

If your tractor breaks, it seems like a no-brainer that you should be allowed to fix it—right?

Not always. In fact, agriculture machinery manufacturers are making it difficult for farmers or independent repair shops to address issues with equipment. From proprietary tools and parts to specific software, corporations create these barriers in order to retain the exclusive ability to service equipment—and to make more money.

The right to repair movement is fighting to give consumers control over the products they own.

Despite having vast know-how, farmers may be physically barred from making repairs and improvements to their equipment. If a tractor breaks, a farmer might have to wait weeks or months to pay someone else to fix it—and all the while, they’re losing crops and losing money.

“We’re trying to maintain our consumer rights, which means we still have to be able to repair and modify our tractors just like dad, grandpa, and great-grandpa did years ago,” Kevin Kenney, a Nebraska right-to-repair advocate, told Food Tank.

And thanks to advocate groups including The Repair Association, the topic is gaining momentum. A recent op-ed in the Washington Post says the right to repair could be “the next big political movement.” Currently, right to repair legislation is being proposed or enacted in more than half of all U.S. state governments—in ways that have the potential to be widely bipartisan.

Most of the progress toward right-to-repair has involved consumer devices, but luckily, some states are expanding right-to-repair to farm equipment, too. Proposals in 28 states will require electronics companies to make tools, parts, and vital information available for either individuals or independent repair shops. In April, Colorado became the first state to pass legislation ensuring consumers can fix their own tractors, and a similar bill is moving through Vermont’s state government, too.

Opponents of right-to-repair legislation say it would jeopardize consumer safety if repairs weren’t limited to corporate-authorized service providers—and they argue that the bills would also violate intellectual property protections and expose trade secrets if companies shared information.

But this simply is not true. A 2021 report from the Federal Trade Commission analyzed both corporations’ and advocates’ claims and found “scant evidence to support manufacturers’ justifications for repair restrictions.”

“We are a whole generation away from when everything was capable of being modified, improved upon—‘on-farm ingenuity,’ we used to call it,” Kevin Kenney told Food Tank from Nebraska. “We’re trying to bring that back through the same way we lost it, and that’s through open-source software. That’s the only way that’s going to work.”

When companies block farmers from making immediate fixes to their own equipment that might be necessary to harvest crops, they’re not only putting farmers’ livelihoods at risk—they’re putting food security at risk.

And they may be jeopardizing the environment, too. From Kenney’s perspective, right-to-repair is a way for farmers to embrace urgent regenerative practices without having to wait for major industries to catch up.

“We certainly think we should have the ability to make our equipment better and more economical and more ecologically sound on the farm,” he told Food Tank. “And take advantage of more renewable energy sources on the farm.”

At its core, the right to repair is about who really holds the power in our agricultural system. Farmers are some of the smartest people I know, and the right to repair is critical to building a food system that honors the time-honored skills of producers.

Let’s talk about the right to repair in your community. If your state, province, city, or local government is considering legislation on the subject, you can make a difference by speaking up. Email me at, and let’s talk about how Food Tank can help amplify your voice.

Articles like the one you just read are made possible through the generosity of Food Tank members. Can we please count on you to be part of our growing movement? Become a member today by clicking here.

Photo courtesy of Dietmar Reichle, Unsplash

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Categories: A3. Agroecology

Stakeholders ‘Think Bigger’ About Solutions to Food Waste

Food Tank - Thu, 05/18/2023 - 13:28

During a summit hosted by ReFED, food waste experts, policymakers, and innovators convened to explore promising solutions to food waste.

The Food Waste Solutions Summit asserts that “food waste is a problem that can be solved.” The event unites business stakeholders and solutions to reduce food loss and waste.

Dana Gunders, Executive Director at ReFED, encourages attendees to “think bigger” in imagining solutions to the problem of food waste. “I say this as matter-of-factly as I can, we’re not making enough progress…we’re not moving the needle as much as we need to be moving it.”

Gunders identifies five action steps for furthering solutions to food waste. These include scaling pilot programs, seeking brainpower, strengthening measurement and industry benchmarking, radical collaboration, and facing the reality of barriers. She invites attendees to “be a serious answer to the giant problem that food loss and waste is.”

Summit topics range from technological innovations interrupting food waste to pathways for financing solutions. The event also highlighted ReFED’s Catalytic Grant FundCapital Tracker, and Insights Engine. Collectively, these tools help to monitor food loss and waste in the U.S. and highlight solutions to address the problem.

Alexandria Coari, Vice President of Capital, Innovation, and Engagement at ReFED, believes important observations that have been made through the Capital Tracker. “Since 2016, for instance, philanthropic funding has more than doubled in our space, and on the private investment side, it has increased more than seven-fold in that same period of time.”

Recent investment from ReFED’s Catalytic Grant Fund is helping organizations including Transparent Path and Wisely—both featured at the Summit—drive progress around food loss and waste. Focused on consumer waste, Transparent Path utilizes software to make supply chains of perishable goods more visible. And Wisely is preparing to introduce smart food storage to consumers to help cut down on waste in households.

But Coari also reminds listeners that funding still has a long way to go to match food waste’s magnitude of impact. “We know that food loss and waste accounts for about eight percent of greenhouse gas emissions globally and we are nowhere near getting that same share of funding in our space yet.”

Ida Posner, a Strategic Advisor at the Posner Foundation of Pittsburgh, argues that philanthropy must play a bigger role in funding food waste solutions that are less attractive to traditional funding pathways. She encourages funders to view risk as an opportunity.

“Philanthropy is an opportunity to have that catalytic capital that can do something that otherwise wouldn’t happen,” says Posner. “I think the opportunity here is really storytelling, we have to get better at talking about the opportunity in a way that connects with people.”

The power of storytelling also echoes throughout the rest of the Food Waste Solutions Summit. Storytelling is a crucial tool for connecting food loss and waste and justice topics, speakers argue.

Stephen Satterfield, Founder and CEO of Whetstone Media believes narrative is key to helping others understand the causes of food loss and waste. Using stories, Stephen Satterfield offers specific insight into the intersections between justice, equity, diversity, and inclusion (JEDI) and food waste.

“If we were to explore the origins of food waste, what would we find?” Satterfield asks. “We would find plantations. We would find out that the things that were created in excess were based on food being created for marketplaces. Plantations are not for feeding people, they are for marketplaces.”

Satterfield urges attendees to critically investigate the food system they have inherited. “I would leave you with a consideration around the power of narrative from the perspective of origin—which is to say, there is nothing more powerful in the world than stories,” he says.

And as storytelling inspires action, the Summit identifies shifts in the field of waste reduction.

“At ReFED we believe that investing in food waste solutions is at an inflection point,” says Coari. “In spite of some of the geopolitical and economic realities that we are facing right now, there are some pretty clear tailwinds that really show that investing in this sector right now has never been more important, more needed, and frankly…more exciting.”

Articles like the one you just read are made possible through the generosity of Food Tank members. Can we please count on you to be part of our growing movement? Become a member today by clicking here.

Photo Courtesy of Joshua Hoehne, Unsplash

The post Stakeholders ‘Think Bigger’ About Solutions to Food Waste appeared first on Food Tank.

Categories: A3. Agroecology

NFU Opposes FY 2024 Agriculture Appropriations Bill as Passed by House Subcommittee

National Farmers Union - Thu, 05/18/2023 - 10:00
WASHINGTON – Today the U.S. House of Representatives Agriculture Appropriations subcommittee passed its Fiscal Year 2024 agriculture funding bill. The legislation includes harmful provisions that would prevent USDA from completing long-awaited Packers and Stockyards Act rules to protect family farmers and ranchers from abuses of market power by the meat industry. The bill also makes unacceptable […]
Categories: A3. Agroecology

GrowNYC Workers Secure Historic Union Victory, Paving the Way for Better Conditions in the Food Supply Chain

Food Tank - Thu, 05/18/2023 - 09:42

Workers at GrowNYC recently announced that their employer will recognize the workers’ union formed with the Retail, Wholesale and Department Store Union (RWDSU). The victory comes three weeks after a delegation of nearly 200 GrowNYC employees demanded voluntary recognition of their union from the large-scale nonprofit.

“Workers at GrowNYC wanted and needed to form their union, as do countless workers across the food supply chain from farm to point-of-sale,” Stuart Appelbaum, President of the RWDSU, tells Food Tank.

GrowNYC is an environmental organization based in New York City. The nonprofit aims to improve New Yorkers’ quality of life through food access and agriculture programs, such as fresh pantry projects and farmer assistance. The employees advocating for union recognition represent around 70 GrowNYC Greenmarkets, farm stands, community supported agriculture (CSA) pick-up locations, and school operations.

“Essential food processing, farming and food retail workers are rising up and winning their unions and strong contracts that will forever change how they’re treated at work,” says Applebaum.

Workers at GrowNYC report that sexual harassment employees face from visitors at the markets is a key motivation for the union.

“We hear the staff’s concern about customers and the public acting inappropriately. We always respond aggressively and have a zero tolerance policy,” a spokesperson for GrowNYC tells Food Tank. “We look forward to working with the union to develop ways to further support them.”

Workers have also raised concerns of unstable scheduling practices, seasonal layoffs with no call-back structure, a lack of structure when it comes to responsibilities at work, and favoritism by management. Employees hope the union contract with the RWDSU will begin to alleviate some of these issues.

“I am thrilled with GrowNYC’s decision. I am happy they are still interested in keeping a good relationship with us as workers by voluntarily recognizing our union.  Regardless, we will continue to advocate for our rights which will advance GrowNYC’s mission as a whole,” says Erik Menjivar, GrowNYC Greenmarket Manager and Compost Coordinator, in a press release.

GrowNYC’s union recognition follows a series of other election filings and wins by workers with the RWDSU this month, including at Barnes & Noble and REI. According to Appelbaum, this victory also has the potential to stimulate change for other food system workers.

“Their win is an example of how employers can support workers, and we know their first union contract will set a new standard for the food sector,” says Appelbaum.

Articles like the one you just read are made possible through the generosity of Food Tank members. Can we please count on you to be part of our growing movement? Become a member today by clicking here.

Photo Courtesy of Postdlf, Wikimedia Commons

The post GrowNYC Workers Secure Historic Union Victory, Paving the Way for Better Conditions in the Food Supply Chain appeared first on Food Tank.

Categories: A3. Agroecology

NFU Champions Farmers First Act to Increase Resources to Address Farm Stress

National Farmers Union - Thu, 05/18/2023 - 08:00
WASHINGTON – National Farmers Union (NFU) is proud to endorse the Farmers First Act of 2023, which aligns with our commitment to address the mental health crisis in farm and rural communities. The bipartisan bill, introduced today by Senators Tammy Baldwin (D-WI) and Joni Ernst (R-IA), would reauthorize the Farm and Ranch Stress Assistance Network (FRSAN) […]
Categories: A3. Agroecology


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