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25/01 : STOP CETA & Co.! Belgian – German border

Thu, 01/17/2019 - 01:34

STOP CETA & Co.! AGRICULTURE IS NOT FOR SALE!

Farmer border action for fair international trade

25th of January 11:30 a.m.

Belgian – German border (E40 exit 40, near Lichtenbusch)

Trans-European resistance against the CETA trade deal converges once again and takes the stage this 25 January.

Farming organisation ECVC with its members AbL (Arbeitsgemeinschaft bäuerliche Landwirtschaft – Germany), the FUGEA – Belgium, along with the European Milk Board (EMB), the MIG-Belgium (Milcherzeuger Interessengemeinschaft), and other organizations, are making a stand in the Belgian-German border to say NO to CETA and other free trade agreements (FTAs) contrived by European authorities on the backs of farmers and consumers.

Agricultural dumping, the privatisation of public services, sapping health and environmental regulation, are just a few of the toxic elements melded to the CETA, however, public pressure has managed to isolate one that, has a result, is being examined by the European Court of Justice (ECJ) : the ICS (investment court system, former ISDS). The ICS allows big business to circumvent the public court system and creates a special jurisdiction accessible only to them, where private judges, paid by the companies, scrutinize the cases. If a corporation considers that the recent implementation of a government’s public policy -like stricter environmental regulation or stricter labour laws- puts its profits at risk, then it can take the State to the ICS. This hijack our already fragile democracy and doesn’t benefit European nor Canadian peoples. Only corporate interests!

On the 29 January the ECJ will render its decision on the compatibility of the ICS with EU law. Against this backdrop, we, the European peasant movement, want to, once again, send a strong signal to European governments that the CETA and the other FTAs negotiated by the EU are bad for agriculture, food security, the environment, healthcare, labour and democracy.

Livestock farmers, peasants, citizens, let us unite this 25/01 against the CETA and other toxic free trade deals!!

To tractor drivers, farmers and civil society organisations interested in participating and/or supporting this action (signing the joint farmers’ declaration – read it here), please contact Berit Thomsen (AbL): Email: thomsen@abl-ev.de, Tel: ++492381-9053172

*****

LOGISTICAL INFORMATION

  • The action takes place on the highway bridge over the border motorway A3/E40 near Lichtenbusch (Access by E40, Exit 40) on Friday 25 January 2019 at 11:30 a.m.
  • Program: Tractors, banners, and people will rally on the bridge, where speeches will be given, the symbolic signing of the farmers’ declaration, pictures taken, and space given to interact with the media.
  • The tractors must not have a front loader with fork/bucket, trailers etc., must be empty to be allowed to drive on the bridge.

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Pakistan: One tenant killed by security guards of Army Welfare Trust at Depalpur

Thu, 01/17/2019 - 00:25

Statement issued by Pakistan Kissan Rabita Committee

Thousands protested on 13th January 2019 against the killing at Bail Gunj agriculture farm run by Army Welfare Trust. The protest took place in front of District police officer at Pakpattan, demanding the registration of a murder case for killing Shamshad , a tenant.  (Watch video)

On 12 January, the security guards of Army Welfare Trust opened direct fire on protesting tenants against removal of a electricity transformer that was the lifeline for the agricultural land cultivated by tenant farmers.

One person was killed, 16 others injured, among them one in critical condition. 

This is the latest incident in a series of repression of the tenants since 2001, who have been working for over a century on army controlled agri farms and has long been demanding rights over their land.

Over 14 tenants have lost their lives in such incidents. No one responsible for killing these tenants was ever convicted. On the contrary, the normal practice is that murder charges are registered against the leaders of Anjman Mozareen Punjab, the organisation that is leading the campaign for land rights. AMP is one important member of Pakistan Kissan Rabita Committee (PKRC). 

Over 1900 tenants have been arrested since 2001, nearly 200 of them are peasant women. Hundreds of false criminal cases have been registered against the tenant leaders, three are still in jail including the popular leader Mehar Abdul Sattar, who is now serving a 10 years jail sentence just for the “crime” of organising a demonstration.  Another peasant leader Younas Iqbal is also in jail on a false case of dacoity. 

The movement is not dying down despite all the repression.

Most of the tenants at Okara Military Farms have refused to pay the crop share to the administration claiming that military in not owner of this land, a claim now accepted by the Okara Military Farms administration. It is Punjab government that owns nearly 28000 acre of agriculture land in Okara and Pakpattan. 

At present, the  National Commission of Human Rights is dealing a case of gross violation of human rights at the these farms. Latest killing of a tenant adds to the wounds of the poor tenants who are demanding that the 12 acre of land given to them over a century earlier under their cultivation be given to them. 

On 9th January 2019, a 14 members Tenants Solidarity Committee (TSC) was established at the office of Human Rights Commission of Pakistan including leading human rights activists. It included representatives of Okara Military Farms, Khanewal Seed Farms and also from civil society organisations including Farooq Tariq, General Secretary of Pakistan Kissan Rabita Committee.

After establishing this committee, a counter attack against this initiative was taken at Okara. The tenants leaders whose release were made possible by people’s efforts, were forced by intelligence agencies to address a press conference at Okara Press Club against establishment of this TSC). 

Now a new incident of killing of a young tenant has sparked a new wave of mass movement by the peasants this time at Pakpattan. 

We demand the arrest of all those responsible for the killing, land rights for all tenants, military out of agri business and land to the tillers. 

ALSO READ: After Decades of Farmers’ Struggles, Pakistan Army Admits It Does Not Own Farm Land

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Finally, UN General Assembly adopts Peasant Rights declaration! Now focus is on its implementation

Mon, 12/17/2018 - 09:57

Today, 17 December 2018, the 73 Session of the United Nations General Assembly (UNGA 73) in New York adopted the UN Declaration on the Rights of Peasants and Other People Working in Rural Areas. Now that the declaration is an international legal instrument, La Via Campesina (LVC) and its allies will mobilise to support regional and national implementation processes.

The final vote of today represents the culmination of a historic process for rural communities. With 121 votes in favour, 8 votes against and 54 abstentions, the forum of UNGA representing 193 Member States, ushered in a new promising chapter in the struggle for the rights of peasants and other rural communities throughout the world. The 17-year long process, initiated by the international peasant movement La Via Campesina, supported by numerous social movements and allied organizations, such as FIAN and CETIM, has been a great source of inspiration and has strengthened the peasant communities in all regions of the globe.

2018 was decisive for the process of the Declaration:

  • Geneva: in April, after 6 years of negotiations, the 5th Open-ended Intergovernmental Working Group of the Human Rights Council (HRC) concluded the debates on the content, finalizing the text. In September, the HRC (39th Session) adopted the Declaration by a majority vote.
  • Rome: in October, during the 45th Forum of the Global Committee for Food Security, La Via Campesina together with the Civil Society Mechanism and with the support of several countries and UN institutions, organized a political event promoting the Declaration under the framework of the Decade for Family Farming.
  • New York: in November the Declaration reached the process of the United Nations General Assembly (UNGA). On November 19th, the Declaration was voted and approved with a large majority by the Third Committee of UNGA, responsible for social, humanitarian and cultural matters. Lastly, UNGA’s plenary vote from today concluded the adoption process. A new stage will follow, a stage of implementation, transforming the aspirations of La Via Campesina into solutions for daily struggles of the rural society!

”This declaration is an important tool which should guarantee and realize the rights of the peasants and other working people in rural areas. We urge all states to implement the declaration in a  conscientiousness and transparent manner, guaranteeing peasants and rural communities the access to and control over land, peasant’s seeds, water and other natural resources. As peasants we need the protection and the respect for our values and our role in society to achieve food sovereignty,” said Elizabeth Mpofu, a peasant farmer from Zimbabwe and La Via Campesina General Coordinator.

As peasants all over the world, we are going to mobilize and we will join hands in our respective countries to lobby for the establishment of policies and strategies that contribute towards recognition, enforcement and accountability. Violations of our rights through land grabbing, forced evictions, gender discrimination, lack of social protection, failing rural development policies and criminalization can now, with the formal international recognition of this Declaration, be addressed with increased legal and political weight.

Peasants Rights are Human Rights!

Globalize the struggle! Globalize hope!

For more information, contact: 

Elizabeth Mpofu (English) +263 772 443 716, eliz.mpofu@gmail.com

Ramona Duminicioiu (English, French): +40 746 337 022, ramona@ecoruralis.ro

Jessie MacInnis: (English): +1 (902) 292-1040, jessiemacinnis@gmail.com

Diego Monton (Spanish):+54 9 261 561-5062, diegomonton@gmail.com

Henry Saragih (English): +62 811 655 668,: hspetani@gmail.com

Ndiakhate Fall (French): +221 77 550 89 07, fallriso@yahoo.fr

NOTES:

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Global Compact for Migration (GCM) does not represent a change in the current offensive against migrants and refugees : La Via Campesina

Sat, 12/15/2018 - 02:21

At the People’s Summit for a Global Pact of Solidarity with Migrants and Refugees, held in Marrakech December 8th and 9th of 2018, hosted by La Via Campesina and its member organisations of the Middle East and North Africa (MeNa) Process, the global peasant movement and its allies have issued a scathing critique of the Global Compact on Migration and rejected it.

The Agreement on an International Pact of Solidarity and Unity Of Action For The Full Rights Of All Migrants And Refugees, issued at the summit says;

“In this summit, we have concluded that the Global Compact for Migration (GCM) does not represent a change in the anti-migrant policies and current offensive against migrants and refugees being waged by many States, especially of the North. The GCM is more of the same: migrants as cheap labour, criminalised for simply being migrants. Analysing it further, we consider the GCM a step backwards with respect to human rights and the protection of migrants and our families as established in past International Conventions approved by the United Nations and other institutions such as the International Labour Organisation (ILO).

While it is true that some countries have decided not to sign the GCM, this is not the result of their  is agreement with the agreement which represent a step backward regarding migrant rights. Their disagreement is motivated by a refusal of any multi-lateral engagement on migration. Those state have clearly stated their anti-migrant position. The GCM proposes to discipline and organise migration to serve the interests of States and their true owners, transnational corporations and financial capital. Other than a few apparent mentions of migrants, human rights are left beneath security concerns of states and economies.

For the above reasons, we express our public rejection of the Global Compact for Migration and place in the hands of social movements, collectives for the protection of migrants’ human rights, progressive States and civil society, our alternative that brings together the spirit, conclusions and recommendations of our Summit.”

Download the Complete Agreement

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Nyéléni Newsletter: Food Sovereignty at the rural – urban interface

Mon, 12/10/2018 - 23:40

The rural-urban interface is a complex social space where politics and culture are in constant flux. It can also be a physical place, where the wealth and resources of villages, towns, peri-urban suburbs, and suburbanized rural areas are in dispute. Taken globally, it is a vast territory with potential to grow food sovereignty.

This issue of the Nyéléni Newsletter addresses the challenges and opportunities of building food sovereignty in peri-urban areas, and the ways that the producers and consumers of urban and rural communities form alliances to transform the food system.

Click here to download the English edition

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Why the world is worried about this new biotechnology

Thu, 12/06/2018 - 04:42

This article by Richard Mahapatra first appeared on DownToEarth on 29 November 2018

With just a day to end, the Conference of Parties (COP 14) to the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD) is debating putting a moratorium on introduction of organism containing engineered genes, or gene drives. Representatives of 170 countries are attending the meeting in Sharm el-Sheikh, Egypt.

Although negotiators don’t expect any major step towards this, conservationists and anti-genetic engineering groups believe the discussion at this forum will at least start a debate over it.

Genetically modified organisms are those whose genome has been engineered in the laboratory to favour the expression of desired physiological traits or the production of desired biological products. For example, a British company had tried to genetically modify mosquitoes to rid the world of malaria, dengue, yellow fever and zika, but failed.

Before the COP started, conservationists and scientists were pushing for a CBD declaration on a moratorium on new biotechnologies, which they believe could have catastrophic ramifications for the Earth’s ecology.

In October, reports were circulated that CBD would take up a draft resolution calling for a “refrain” by countries to release genetically engineered organism. The MIT Technology Review was one of the first to report it.

“Gene drives are going to be a big fight for sure,” says Jim Thomas, co-executive director of the ETC Group, a non-profit that stands against genetic engineering. There is already a letter calling for a global moratorium on gene drive tests, supported by non-profits like Slow Food Deutschland, Dr Bronner’s soap company, Friends of the Earth and the Sierra Club.

CBD is considered to be the only global platform where regulations on gene drives and synthetic biology are being discussed.

On November 19, the African Centre for Biodiversity (ACB) and Friends of the Earth International held a press conference at the CBD venue to call for a global moratorium on “the environmental release of gene drives, a new genetic extinction technology, and to caution for stronger regulation of synthetic biology”.

Gene drives and synthetic biology are new genetic engineering technologies. Synthetic biology is expected to be a US$ 40-billion industry by 2020. Gene drives is a technology that suppresses population and can even push them to extinction.

All in protest

According to ACB, the first proposed application for gene drive would be in Burkina Faso by the Target Malaria Project, designed to eradicate mosquito populations and thus malaria transmission.

“We should not be used as lab rats in an experiment that could devastate African ecosystems. We ask delegates at COP 14 to put the brakes on any release of gene drives,” says Mariann Bassey, from Friends of the Earth International and chair of the Alliance for Food Sovereignty in Africa.

Ricarda Steinbrecher, from Federation of German Scientists, says, “Twenty years ago, the UN stopped agriculture business from pushing sterile terminator organisms. Now, it is once again the agriculture business that will benefit from these spreading sterile exterminator organisms. The CBD must act again to defend farmers and the natural world.”

Geneviève Lalumière, peasant seed saver from La Via Campesina North America, says, “Gene drives are threatening food sovereignty and peasant-led agriculture. Small scale farmers don’t need synthetic biology such as gene drive organisms or genome editing to feed communities.”

Read the full article here

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The biotech industry is trying to block the UN Conference on Biodiversity, but it won’t block farmers

Tue, 12/04/2018 - 23:21

Despite lengthy negotiations, the 14th Conference of Parties of the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD) ended on 29 November in Sharm El Sheickh (Egypt), leaving the door open to contamination and appropriation of all natural biodiversity and the food chain through patents from the biotech industry.

The “exterminating” GMOs developed using “gene drive” techniques aim at the permanent eradication of entire species: animals, plants or microbial. Once dispersed, no border can stop them until they have completed their deadly mission. The promises to eliminate in this way any vector of diseases such as malaria mosquitoes are lies: nature abhors the void and may even reveal new and even more aggressive vectors. Progressive governments have not been able to obtain the long-awaited moratorium to prohibit the spread of these chimeras. The Convention only recommends precautions: risk assessment, consultation with indigenous or local populations, but above all not with all interested citizens who could support them against the promoters of the “gene drives”.

By reducing the genetic modifications thus obtained to a simple dematerialized “information” to fit into computer algorithms, the industry extends the scope of its patents to all plants, animals or microorganisms that naturally contain the same “information”. The patent on the genetic information associated with genes that accelerate the growth of chickens thus allows the appropriation of all naturally fast growing chickens! We had hoped that this genetic information would be verified so that we could ban these patents on “native genes”.

By multiplying uncontrollable artificial genetic modifications, the new “genome-editing” techniques generate even more risks to biodiversity, health and the environment than transgenic GMOs, while violating the very principles of the CBD. They were expected to be regulated in the same way as recently decided by the Supreme Court of the European Union.

The Convention confined itself to referring these two issues to new expert committees. In the meantime, industry can continue to release its new patented GMOs, even in countries that reject them, but will not be informed in the absence of binding international standards.

Delegates of the International Planning Committee for Food Sovereignty (IPC) and La Via Campesina, who participated in Sharm El Sheikh, strongly denounce the arrogance of a handful of rich countries that block all reasonable decisions and the hidden tricks of industry that has corrupted some representatives of developing countries to create the illusion of meaningful support for their new patented chimeras.

Until stronger international decisions are taken, it is up to each country now to oppose all patented GMOs, whatever they may be. The millions of farmers in La Via Campesina, as well as all IPC organizations, will work with their many civil society allies to do so.

For further information:

Antonio Gonzalez (ES) – atunkuljay@gmail.com
Guy Kastler (FR) – guy.kastler@wanadoo.fr
Marciano da Silva (ES) – marcianotol71@yahoo.com.br
Genevieve Lalumiére (FR-EN) – genevieve.lalumiere@gmail.com

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Brazil: Do not drink coffee from those who expel peasants from the land! Join this campaign!

Fri, 11/30/2018 - 07:03

These companies buy coffee from one of the biggest coffee producers in Brazil, João Faria da Silva.

This businessman is behind the eviction order which will expel more than 450 families from Quilombo Campo Grande, MST, who occupied the land of a bankrupt farm more than 20 years ago. These families produce organic food, including coffee (as part of the Guaí cooperative), generating jobs and income for more than 2 thousand people. Now, the coffee break is time for pressure. Send messages to the companies below, that buy their coffee from João Farias, showing your indignation with the injustice about to be committed against the families of Quilombo Campo Grande! Suggestion for the message: I’m against the predatory activities of Mr João Faria da Silva, owner of Terra Forte Cafés Company, which may harm the lives of thousands of people in Campo do Meio – MG. This businessman is behind the eviction order which will expel more than 450 families who have been living in the land for more than 20 years ago. These families produce organic food and generate jobs and income for more than 2 thousand people. We will NOT buy any products coming from this coffee producer!
And it includes your products! Support the lives of the peasants of Brazil. Do not buy from Mr João Faria da Silva or Terra Forte Cafés! # NoMeuBuleNão

Links for posting and sending messages:

https://www.facebook.com/Nestle.Brasil
https://www.facebook.com/Nescafe.BR
https://www.facebook.com/dolcegustobrasil
https://www.facebook.com/Nespresso.Brazil
https://www.facebook.com/CafePilao
https://www.facebook.com/cafedopontooficial
https://www.facebook.com/CafeDamasco
https://www.facebook.com/lorespressobrasil

 

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#25Nov: Breaking the silence, ending the violence. Resist patriarchy, Resist capitalism!

Sun, 11/25/2018 - 00:39

25 November 2018, Negombo, Srilanka:

We the peasant women of La Via Campesina coming from Americas, Africa, Europe and Asia and assembled here in Negombo, Srilanka this week for the Global Meeting of Women Articulation, unanimously condemn all forms of violence and discrimination against women and girls everywhere.

We say this while we realise that much remains to be done – to ensure that the violence that has occurred and is still occurring today in our countries, in our homes, in our organizations, rooted in patriarchy, taking the form of rape and commodification of women, is erased from our society, our territories, our bodies and lives.

On this 25th of November and every day, the peasants of La Via Campesina say:

“Let us put an end to violence against women, break the silence, resist and confront patriarchy and capitalism. We are against all types of violence that still affect many women in rural and urban areas. We must overcome barbarism, fascism and the lack of respect for the most fundamental rights. We must fight today and every day as a working class. We understand that capitalism is the main source of inequality and that many forms of violence emerge from these inequalities. That is why this struggle is such a class struggle.

Our proposal and our tools for transformation come from the land in which we women are anchored. It comes from the land cultivated in agroecology to achieve food sovereignty; from the collective research we carry out for the construction of equality in our spaces of action and study; from the marches and struggles in which, women participate to build the NEW WOMAN AND THE NEW MAN that will build the new society.

It is clear to us that the only way to end machismo is to confront oppression and exploitation and that only women and men organized in our popular, peasant, urban, fishing and forest peoples’ movements can carry out this struggle for the construction of equality.

We peasants of the world of Via Campesina, present in the 82 countries of the world, say YES to equality, and END to violence against women. We want and commit ourselves daily to building a life without violence, discrimination and exploitation against women.

The society we want is free of violence against women!

Download our materials here: https://cloud.viacampesina.org/s/j9JXXsNwYBq8LWd

You can also tag us on

Facebook www.facebook.com/ViaCampesinaOfficial

Twitter @via_campesina @via_campesinaSP and @viacampesinaFR @viacampesinaFR ]

 

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“Resist patriarchy, resist capitalism”, proclaims global peasant women’s meeting in Sri Lanka

Fri, 11/23/2018 - 04:56

This article by Tanya and Vysakh, first appeared on People’s Dispatch on 23 November

Global Meeting of Women Articulation, organized by La Via Campesina, an international peasant movement, began on November 22 in Negombo, Sri Lanka. This international meeting aims to reflect on different challenges faced by peasant women and women in general. Over 60 peasant women leaders from 20 different countries across the globe joined the conference.

La Via Campesina (LVC) [the peasants’ way] operates in 81 countries with the objective of bringing together millions of peasants, small farmers, landless people, rural women, indigenous people, migrants and agricultural workers. It aims to defend peasant agriculture against corporate driven agriculture and to build food sovereignty globally. It is committed to the struggle for the liberation of its people and the continuous transformation of their reality. Strengthening and promoting popular peasant feminism is one of the central agendas of LVC.

The principle objectives of Vía Campesina’s peasant women’s meeting are to realize collective study and political training as a way to advance organizational consciousness, and to leverage and strengthen organizational tasks for the LVC women articulation (refers to organising in Latin America) at the regional level as well as internationally. The meeting also aims to be a platform to share experiences of women’s struggle in different regions, and to exchange organizational and formative work processes with the women members of LVC in different regions and finally to construct an action plan for international articulation.

“We are developing the strategies with La Vía Campesina, the biggest peasant movement and it is a way forward for us. Recently, the peasant rights declaration was approved by the third committee of the United Nations [it is yet to be adopted by the UN and is expected to happen in December]. It is La Vía Campesina who first fought for these declarations and peasant rights and for those working in the rural areas”, said Elizabeth Mpofu, representative of the Small Holder Organic Farmers’ Forum, Zimbabwe.

The event began with the Mística ceremony [a ceremony in which the four elements: earth, water, fire and wind are honoured]. Peasant women from Latin America, Africa, Asia and Europe associated with different local and regional social organizations shared the experiences and problems they live through every day. Lack of equal rights, political power, decision making rights, educational access leading to exclusion of women; feudal mentality of men; differential wages; violence against women; etc. were some of the key challenges brought out and emphasized in the conference.

“All the lessons that we learn by traveling and coming together with our compañeras [fellow comrades] from different countries have led us to the realization that this is a globalized effort, that we cannot do it regionally. So, this is why we do it and this is why we will continue to do it”, said Rosemary Martinez, president of Sin Fronteras Organizing Project, Texas, highlighting the importance of the event.

The event will culminate on November 25, with a solidarity demonstration to mark the International Day to Combat Violence against Women.

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EN| #LaViaCampesina – Peasant women leaders from Asia, Americas, Africa, Middle East and Europe are meeting in Srilanka…

Publiée par La Via Campesina sur Jeudi 22 novembre 2018

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Two years after the signing of the peace agreement between the Colombian government and the revolutionary armed forces of Colombia (FARC)

Thu, 11/22/2018 - 23:38

La Via Campesina

As is widely known, on November 24th, 2016, the government of President Juan Manuel Santos, on behalf of the Colombian State, and the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Columbia-FARC (which has now become a legal political party) signed a peace agreement. This agreement brought to an end an armed conflict which had debilitated the people of Colombia for more than 50 years, and which had profound economic, political and social effects, creating painful divisions in Colombian society, its social fabric and within families.  

La Vía Campesina, an organisation bringing together 200 million women and men peasants from all over the world, which, at the request of the concerned parties, is one of the guarantors of the peace process, is very worried to see that, two years after being signed, key aspects of fundamental points in the Agreement for the Ending of the Conflict and the Building of a Stable and Lasting Peace have been modified by the executive, legislative, and judicial branches of the Colombian State.

Thus, for example, Point 1, known as Comprehensive Rural Reform, calls for a rural registry to be created during the next ten years in order to clarify problems of land ownership. It provides for the creation of a Land Fund of 3 million hectares for landless or land-poor peasants, as well as for the massive clarification and formalization of property titles on 7 million hectares of landholdings. There has been practically no compliance with these provisions involving a total of 10 million hectares.

With regard to Point 4: Solving the Illicit Drugs Problem is another vital point for the Colombian countryside and for rural communities. It calls for comprehensive plans, voluntary eradication, the participation of local and departmental authorities, and for government funding of substitution projects and programmes, all including dialogue with communities and community participation. These engagements have not been complied with; they have been replaced by criminalisation, prosecution, and punishment. Such departures from the Agreement had already started under the previous government of Juan Manuel Santos. They have been accentuated by the policies of the new president, Iván Duque, who has decided to give priority to forced eradication and aerial spraying with glyphosate, which has had serious effects on the health of human beings, animals and plants. These policies concretise a military and legally punitive approach to a problem that is above all social and economic.

Essential features of fundamental parts of the Agreement, such as the Special Jurisdiction for Peace (JEP), were modified by the different branches of power. For instance, the obligation of third parties to testify at investigations has been eliminated. This not only prevents society from learning about the real participation of multinationals and that of national actors with ties to the banking and trading sectors and to cattle ranching and agribusiness – as well as the involvement of civil servants and civilian agents of the Colombian state in organising, funding, and supporting paramilitary groups and other structures and organisations that took part in the protracted armed conflict. As if this were not enough, the JEP has suffered another blow to its basic functioning. Its power to investigate and judge members of the military has been virtually removed, with the nomination of 14 new judges who are to assume that function.  This change will undoubtedly provide a new cloak of impunity and immunity for military personnel. It will further weaken the right of victims to truth, justice, reparation, and non-repetition, as well as to find out what happened to their family members who were victims of torture, assassination, or forced disappearance, and to learn the name and identity of those who were responsible for planning and perpetrating these crimes. This change will make the work of the JEP, the Truth Commission, and the Special Unit for the Search for Missing Persons much more difficult. It is all the more serious when we consider that victims were the central focus of the Peace Agreement.

The victims not only suffered a mockery of their rights with respect to this Point in the Agreement; the Colombian Congress also denied them their right, which had been stipulated in the Agreement, to 16 congressional seats.

The political reform that was provided for in the signing of the Agreement is another point which the Colombian government and state apparatus have not complied with.

In relation to the Reintegration of FARC ex-combatants, the Peace Agreement stipulates that each ex-combatant should receive a sum of 12 million pesos for productive projects. There are also guarantees for the construction and repair of highways as well as for the provision of other basic services such as housing, health, training and educations – obligations with which the Colombian state has also failed to comply.

What is most serious and most shocking is that, once the Agreement was signed, a  series of murderous attacks was unleashed against the FARC ex-combatants and their families as well as against leaders and activists on the political Left, human rights defenders, environmentalists, peasants, students, indigenous people, and Afro-descendants, a relentless wave of criminal extermination that reminds us of the dark period when the Patriotic Union was obliterated. For its part, the Colombian State has failed to fulfil its commitment to combat and dismantle the paramilitary forces and to make them subject to the force of the law. According to spokespersons from the Colombian police, the Common Alternative Revolutionary Force (Fuerza Alternative Revolucionaria del Común) recently reported that more criminal attacks are being plotted against its leaders, activists, and members – one more stage in the campaign of extermination.

The Democratic Centre and Colombian President Iván Duque have made repeated announcements regarding the Peace Agreement, on some occasions expressing a desire to tear it to pieces, and on other occasions declaring their wish to subject it to major changes and reforms.

Our two International Solidarity Missions to Colombia, the first in 2016 and the second in 2017, gave us a first-hand understanding of the challenges to peace, of the vision of women and peasants in their territories, and of the necessity for environmental justice as a precondition for social justice. We are committed to the peace process and to our role as guarantor. We will be organising our Third International Solidarity Commission in 2019, in the fervent hope of finding a people and a government advancing towards a stable and lasting peace.

For all of these reasons, La Via Campesina is appealing to the Colombian People,  to all of our member organisations in different parts of the world, as well as to the international community, the United Nations, the FAO, the ILO, the European Union, the Non-aligned Countries, governments, organisations, and personalities. We are asking them to speak out and to demand complete fulfilment, without reforms or delays, of the Final Agreement for the Ending of the Conflict and the Building of a Stable and Lasting Peace.

Contacts

Nury Martinez | +57 310 772 0098 | nury254@gmail.com
Federico Pacheco | +34 690 651 046 | pachecofederico@yahoo.es
Veronique Leon | +33 622 161 399 | verobique@gmail.com

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Peasants demand moratoria on untested corporate technologies that threaten biodiversity, food sovereignty, and peasant’s rights at the Convention on Biodiversity COP in Egypt

Thu, 11/22/2018 - 23:23

At CBD COP 14, La Via Campesina joined our allies MAELA as part of the International Planning Committee for food sovereignty (IPC) of which we are members.

IPC is an autonomous and self-organised global platform of small-scale food producers and rural workers organizations and grassroots/community based social movements to advance the Food Sovereignty agenda at the global and regional level. IPC represents 6000 organizations and 300 million small-scale food producers.

We were the only family farmers and small food producers group at this COP.

At this COP, a key discussion was on CBDs Strategic Plan post-2020 – planning for CBD action plan until 2050. IPC hopes that this 2050 agenda will support the realization of the objectives of the Convention in a strict relation with indigenous and peasants social movements.

Asking for moratoria on new technologies threatening small farmers and food sovereignty

Some of the key issues that we were following at this COP were gene drives, synthetic biology, and digital sequencing which were all being discussed by member states. All these technologies are being promoted under the guise of ‘public good’ by vested interests like the military and corporations such as the military research agency of the United States government (DARPA), the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, The Tata Trusts and the Facebook-backed Open Philanthropy Project. But, the ETC Group reports that their interests lie in agribusiness.

For example, Gene drives aim to propagate genetic material, such as a gene that promotes sterility, across an entire population, potentially wiping out an entire species. A project called Target Malaria is pushing for this invasive technology, designed to eliminate malaria-carrying mosquito by spreading 10 000 genetically modified “sterile male” mosquitoes in Burkina Faso. The reality is we don’t know anything about these technologies and the CBD itself promotes the idea of ‘precautionary principle’- which means total precaution must be taken until there is clear scientific understanding of impacts. What if such characteristics spread to other species- animals, plants that humanity relies on for food? What will happen to farmers who rely on these species to grow food? The technology poses a serious threat to our health, land, biodiversity, rights, and food supply.

Such Technologies that originate in the laboratory, such as GMOs and now gene drives, ignore deep seated injustices and power imbalances which require political answers and democratic scrutiny, rather than technical quick-fixes.

At this COP, only Bolivia maintained a strong line in support for a full moratorium on gene drives, while Brazil, Canada and most African countries supported research bodies to self-regulate how they release genetically edited populations. African countries who were previously vocal seemed to fall in line with the Biotech industries position.

Geneviève Lalumière, a youth farmer from the Union Paysanne of Quebec, who is also part of a seed saving collective, made an intervention on our behalf at the discussions on synthetic biology. She urged for a moratorium on gene drives and said that

“I dedicate my life to safeguarding the skills of craftsmen and peasants and to the development of peasant seeds with free pollination. It is imperative that local, peasant and indigenous communities be consulted, listened and taken into account at all stages of the process. For us, genetic forcing technologies are technologies of mass extermination, which directly endanger our food sovereignty. We support a moratorium on genetic forcing. After Terminator, this is the exterminator.”

In an interview, Geneviève said, “they are trying to solve problems caused by the industry with other industrial processes.”

We also organized a side event Friends of the Earth International, ETC Group, where many including members of African civil society spoke about the threats of gene drive technology to local communities, food sovereignty and biodiversity.

The issue of Digital sequencing information is of major concern to us because of its potential support to bio-piracy. Rapid advances in sequencing and synthesizing DNA mean that ‘digital’ biopiracy is now possible. This raises questions about fair and equitable benefit sharing- what if genetic information of farmer varieties are taken by a corporation to create new life forms? This would mean biopiracy, and such processes must be strictly regulated.

Our key demands with regard to digital sequencing were that Antonio Gonzalez from Guatemala and member of MAELA, made an intervention on our behalf at plenary discussions.

He said that “Digital sequencing information, together with the rapid development of synthetic biology techniques, can lead to the patenting of seeds and plants (such as medicinal plants) that local communities and indigenous peoples use for their food sovereignty and health”

He then, for this reason, asked that:

  • the contracting parties ensure that the Nagoya protocol can regulate the use of digital sequencing information.
  • the reference to “free access” to information cannot mean the absence of regulations on the use of this information.
  • the contracting parties establish an open-ended group with the participation of indigenous peoples and local communities.
  • this subject is also discussed with groups living in these genetic resources, now threatened by the “biopiracy”.

Marciano da Silva of the Movimento Sem Terra of Brazil said that “We already have real solutions like agroecology which are proven to contribute significantly to the CBD agenda of conserving biodiversity. We are already feeding the world with the use of our peasant seeds. Corporations want to use technologies like gene drives to patent the traits developed by peasants- it is biopiracy .”

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UNITED NATIONS: Third Committee approves the UN Declaration on the Rights of Peasants and Other People Working in Rural Areas

Tue, 11/20/2018 - 00:45

PRESS RELEASE | LA VIA CAMPESINA

19 November. Monday, [NEW YORK]

The Third Committee (Social, Humanitarian and Cultural) of the UN General Assembly voted in favour of the UN Declaration on the rights of peasants and other people working in rural areas, through the Resolution no. A/C.3/73/L.30.

The resolution was approved by 119 votes in favour, 7 votes against and 49 abstentions. It is a significant leap forward in a campaign led by La Via Campesina, the world’s largest peasant movement supported by many organizations across the world, including FIAN and CETIM.

The UN Declaration aims to better protect the rights of all rural populations including peasants, fisherfolks, nomads, agricultural workers and indigenous peoples and to improve living conditions, as well as to strengthen food sovereignty, the fight against climate change and the conservation of biodiversity. The endorsement of the UN Declaration also constitutes an important contribution to the international community’s effort to promote family farming and peasant agriculture.

Bolivia, the chair of the process, stressed upon the importance of the UN Declaration in realising more resilient, sustainable and inclusive societies:

“We believe this is a major step towards public policies that recognize not only the rights and needs of peasants but also their contributions to the well-being and quality of life of the societies they nurture through their daily work. We are sure that this instrument will play a central role in human rights as well as in the eradication of hunger and poverty, in line with Agenda 2030 for sustainable development and the Decade of Family Farming, without leaving anyone behind.”

Since its adoption at the UN Human Rights Council in Geneva in late September, La Via Campesina and its allies’ focus has been to make sure that this UN Declaration is adopted by the UN General Assembly. La Via Campesina delegates who have been present in New York since the beginning of the Third Committee session expressed their satisfaction after the voting results.

“In this historic moment, in which financial capital and corporations are deepening their offensive to monopolize food and concentrate land and natural goods, at the cost of our lives, the adoption of the Declaration of Peasant Rights in the Third Committee of the UN General Assembly is a strategic victory, not only for peasants but for the peoples of the world as a whole. We will continue on this long path of struggle and unity, for rights and social justice, convinced that full democracy is only possible through Agrarian Reform, the social function of land and the full enjoyment of the rights of peasants”, said Diego Monton La Via Campesina (CLOC)

The Committee’s approval of the UN Declaration was marked by some debate but it benefitted from a consistent support from Africa, Asia and Latin America regions. Some negative reactions came from Europe and other regions, with the US delegation rejecting the text as they have longstanding concerns about the UN Declaration, which sought to expand upon existing rights, singling out the human rights of peasants above those of other groups, and also on the collective rights stipulated in the contents. The European countries were divided in their response.

“In the Third Committee, where all the UN countries participate, we have witnessed a great diversity of positions in Eastern and Western Europe. For those who supported us, we thank them greatly. Your votes in favor put human values in the human rights, giving hope for millions of peasants, men and women, across the continent. For those who abstained or voted against, we wish to tell you that peasants and small family farmers in your countries cannot be left behind”, said Ramona Duminicioiu from La Via Campesina Europe.

“After December’s UNGA approval, we will start a new chapter of the Rights of Peasants and we are demanding that all UN countries commit themselves to implementing the Declaration. We are determined to contribute to a better society, to fight climate change, to end hunger, to provide diverse and nutritious food for everyone”, she added.

Zainal Arifin Fuat, from La Via Campesina Asia,  said that this declaration is a landmark moment in the peasants struggle.

“The Declaration acknowledges the prominent role that peasants play in solving multiple crises facing us today – food, environmental, social and economic. Peasants are essential to food security and sovereignty and the realization of the right to food, particularly in developing countries where they provide up to 80% of the food locally consumed. This UN Declaration will also contribute to the humanity’s efforts to end poverty, hunger and achieving our sustainable development goals. In Asia, we believe that if our rights are recognized and further protected, people will be able to develop rural areas and then avoid the rural-urban migration that creates insoluble problems”, he added.

“The scramble for resources that is going on in the African continent and elsewhere has put peasants in an extremely vulnerable position. The ongoing attack on peasant seed systems have repercussions that go beyond those who produce the food. It indeed affects everyone. For 17 years we have been patiently campaigning for an international instrument that can protect our rights as peasants and to guard our food systems from being dismantled to favour a few. It is a proud moment today for millions of peasants worldwide, who never give up when faced with adversity”, said Elizabeth Mpofu, General Coordinator of La Via Campesina

“The power of the peasant movement is being felt at the highest level of international governance: for this, we must acknowledge the hard work and passion of so many peasants worldwide. The solidarity of peasants internationally is a testament to how closely we and our issues are linked, regardless of where we live. However, today is only a stepping stone on the long path of human rights justice for rural people. We must carry forward this momentum and put the declaration into action at every level of society,” said Jessie MacInnis, La Via Campesina North America

The UN Declaration will be formally ratified by the UN General Assembly on December 2018, following the decision taken by the Third Committee this afternoon.

Editor’s Note:

Information Note on UN Declaration can be downloaded here

Full text of the Resolution and Declaration is here

For more information, visit www.viacampesina.org

Press Contact:

Ramona Duminicioiu (English, French) : +40 746 337 022 , ramona@ecoruralis.ro

Jessie MacInnis: (English) : +1 (902) 292-1040 , jessiemacinnis@gmail.com

Diego Monton (Spanish) : +54 9 261 561-5062 , diegomonton@gmail.com

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South Asian Peasant Movements and Civil Society urge their Governments to vote in favour of the UN Declaration

Mon, 11/19/2018 - 00:08

17 November 2018: In a letter sent on Saturday to Mr Syed Akbaruddin, Premanent Mission of India to the United Nations and copied to the Prime Minister and President of India, the Indian Farmers’ Movements and Civil Society organisations have urged the Government of India to fully support the UN Declaration on the Rights of Peasants and Other People Working in Rural Areas, which will be discussed at the 73rd session of UN General Assembly in New York.

On a similar note, the Bangladesh Agricultural Farm Labour Federation also sent a letter to the Prime Minister of Bangladesh, seeking support for the UN Declaration.

Here is the full text of the letter from India;

Shri. Syed Akbaruddin

Ambassador

Permanent Mission of India to The United Nations

New Delhi, November 2018

Re: Requesting Support for the UN Declaration on the Rights of Peasants and Other People Working in Rural Areas at the United Nations General Assembly

Respected Shri Akbaruddin,

We are representatives of peasant organizations, civil society, activists, NGOs, and citizens from all corners of India. We are writing to request your full support for the UN Declaration on the Rights of Peasants and Other People Working in Rural Areas which will be discussed at the 73rd session of UN General Assembly in New York.

The resolution to adopt the UN Declaration was recently passed at the 39th session of UN Human Rights Council after six years of intense talks (A/HRC/39/L.16)[1], with an overwhelming majority – 33 votes in favour of the Declaration. India has always been very supportive of the process and we fully appreciate that.

As you are well aware, the process was initiated by the Human Rights Council in September 2012 (UN Human Rights Council Resolution 21/19) — and the intergovernmental working group was formed following a report of the Advisory Committee recommending the adoption of a new international instrument in the form of a United Nations declaration to address the multiple human rights violations and discrimination suffered by peasants and other people working in rural areas. In 2012, a study[2] by the Human Rights Council’s Advisory Committee (its body of experts), recognized peasants and other people living in rural areas as victims of discrimination and systematic violations of their human rights and recommended the adoption of a United Nations Declaration on the rights of peasants and other peoples working in rural areas as well as the recognition of the right to land, among other rights, in order to better protect and promote their rights.

Therefore, this is an immensely important initiative for millions of peasants and other rural workers throughout the world.

Inclusive by design, the Declaration concerns not only peasants, but also fisher-folks, nomadic pastoralists, agricultural workers and Indigenous Peoples. The United Nations Declaration can undoubtedly contribute to better protecting the right to a decent livelihood in rural areas. It will also reinforce food security, solutions to climate change, and the conservation of biodiversity.

The UN General Assembly has a crucial role to play in ensuring the adoption of this declaration. This UN Declaration will reinforce the human rights of peasants and other people working in rural areas. It would represent an important contribution to the efforts of the international community in favour of family farming, peasants and other peoples working in rural areas. This adoption will be in line with the initiatives of the United Nations General Assembly which, while recognizing the important contribution of family farming to feeding humanity (production of more than 80% of the world’s food), declared 2014 the International Year of Family Farming and recently launched the decade of Family Farming from 2019-2028. The declaration will reinforce existing human rights standards.

As this UN Declaration will be voted on during the 73rd session of UN General Assembly, we urge India to vote in favor. We deeply appreciate that India has been supportive of this process so far. We would be grateful if you could encourage other Member States to support this Declaration.

CC

Smt Sushma Swaraj, Minister of External Affairs

Shri Radha Mohan Singh, Minister of Agriculture and Farmers Welfare

Shri Ravi Shankar Prasad, Minister of Law and Justice

Sincerely,

Alliance for Sustainable & Holistic Agriculture (ASHA)
Adivasigal Gothra Maha Sabha
Bharatiya Kisan Union (BKU), Delhi
Bharatiya Kisan Union (BKU), Haryana
Bharatiya Kisan Union (BKU), Himachal Pradesh
Bharatiya Kisan Union (BKU), Punjab
Bharatiya Kisan Union (BKU), Madhya Pradesh
Bharatiya Kisan Union (BKU), Rajasthan
Bharatiya Kisan Union (BKU), Uttar Pradesh

Environment Support Group, Bengaluru
Focus on the Global South

Housing Land Rights Network
Indian Coordination Committee of Farmers Movements (ICCFM)
Indian Social Action Forum (INSAF)
IT For Change

Jai Kisan Andolan
Karnataka Rajya Raitha Sangha and Hasiru Sene (KRRS), Karnataka
Katch Sarpartra Thamizhaga Vivasayigal Sangam, Tamil Nadu
Kerala Coconut Farmers Association, Kerala

MIJARC, India

New Trade Union Initiative (NTUI)
South Indian Coordination Committee of Farmers Movements (SICCFM)

Tamilnadu Organic Farmers Federation
Thamizhaga Vivasayigal Sangam (TVS) Tamil Nadu
ToxicsWatch Alliance (TWA), New Delhi
Uzhavar Ulaippalar Katchi, Tamil Nadu

Vanagam-Nammalvar Ecological agriculture training and research centre, Kadavur

Notes :

[1] http://undocs.org/A/HRC/39/L.16

[2] https://www.cetim.ch/legacy/en/documents/G1210803.pdf

Here is the scanned copy of the letter sent by the Bangladesh union;

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We need our countries to stand united FOR our rights, says Ramona Duminicioiu

Thu, 11/15/2018 - 22:30

Oral Statement of La Via Campesina at the Side Event on the Declaration for the Rights of Peasants and Other People Working in Rural Areas, New York, United Nations, 14 November 2018

Introduction
Many thanks to all the country delegates present here from all the regions. I am a peasant from Romania, in the Eastern part of Europe. I will speak on behalf of La Via Campesina, the global peasant movement, for peasants and people working in rural areas living in the global north, in Eastern and Western Europe, as well as in other regions of this hemisphere. We would first like to thank all the countries for their work and for bringing us closer to the final stage of the peasant rights declaration process and we praise the very transparent and inclusive process, thanks to the efforts made by Bolivia.

We congratulate Europe, Western and Eastern Europe alike but also other countries of the North, for coming so far and for going so deep into the process with comments and analysis. Their participation in the debate is showing that these regions understand the importance of this Declaration and the need to safeguard the future of dozens of millions of peasants and rural workers from the Northern hemisphere.
We still have a rich peasant culture in this part of the world, but affected by poverty, with a shrinking space on the market or marginalized into an invisible economy, affected by massive economic migration, displaced or transformed by urbanization, with less and less opportunity for development, reducing the number of small family farms in certain regions, to a degree that makes it inaccessible for young small family farmers and pose potentially irreversible risks on food security. We produce food, feed our communities and our countries, facing systemic and systematic discrimination, unfair market practices, abuse, extreme labour exploitation and land grabbing. This declaration comes at the right time to fill the gaps of insufficient instruments that could protect and promote the rights of the vulnerable and affected communities of peasants and people working in rural areas. We, peasants, are a pillar of strength and we can be a driving force in a modern society, provided that our rights are recognized and respected, particularly the protection of social security, rights to means and methods of production, access to natural resources, recognition of traditional knowledge, the right to seeds, the right to land. Public policies need a stronger human rights approach and complementary instruments. We need to put the proliferation of human rights violations to the past, where they belong and we need to put human values in human rights.

Further arguments
The Declaration is built on existing rights and please allow me to give you just 3 examples of negotiated instruments that are at the basis of some of the most important rights elaborated in this Declaration: The Right to Food – which provided the general frame of the Declaration, the Voluntary Guidelines on the responsible governance of tenure of land, fisheries and forests in the context of national food security – which provides the basis for the Right to Land and the International Treaty on Plant Genetic Resources for Food and Agriculture – which is the substantial base of the Right to Seeds. Along the process, many experts have put together important analysis and studies, showing the coherence and consistency of the Declaration with other international instruments. But let me give you also my perspective as a seed producer.

This Declaration has the potential to contribute to facing the rising migrant crisis and once adopted, it can help to build more opportunities for young people in rural areas. Moreover, the Declaration would provide us with a necessary tool for contributing effectively to peace and development in our region, as peasant families are the first line of victims affected by conflicts.

Supporting the Declaration would be consistent with the United Nations Decade of Family Farming (2019-2028) – resolution / adopted by the General Assembly, supported by an overwhelming majority of the UN countries, during the 72nd session of the UN General Assembly.

The Declaration serves not only farmers but also rural communities and consumers, given its holistic approach and the fact that peasants produce public services by feeding citizens from the urban areas and maintaining natural resources in a sustainable manner.

The Declaration provides a positive frame and long-term guarantee for future development for sustainable and economically viable agriculture. The small-scale model of production – promoted by the Declaration – is the basis of quality food, creates the majority of rural employment and manages natural resources in a sustainable way, responding to the climate change challenge, in an interconnected world.
Many international institutions, including European Union institutions, have worked very hard in this process and also there was great work done at the country level. I would name here the support of the European Parliament who adopted an important resolution (2017/2206(INI)) on 3rd of July 2018, calling for the EU and its Member States to support and vote in favour of the Declaration. A similar resolution was also adopted by the European Economic and Social Council, in February 2018. The Special Rapporteur for the Right to Food – Hilal Elver, showed constant support at all levels of the process and we extend also our gratitude to FAO Director-General José Graziano da Silva, the regional FAO offices and also the FAO offices in Rome, Geneva and New York, for the tremendous support and arguments that link the Declaration with the realization of the Agenda2030 and the Sustainable Development Goals.

Closing argument
So far we have witnessed a great diversity of positions in Eastern and Western Europe, as well as in other regions of the Northern hemisphere, with various opinions and discourses. We need our countries to stand united FOR our rights, we believe in you, as your role is important for us. A vote in favour would send a clear and needed positive message towards the rural communities of the entire world. We peasants and people who work in rural areas are important for the world. Please vote in favour of this declaration and join the rest of the world in building a better future for us peasants, who have been feeding the world and wish to continue to do so for the next generations!

For further information, you can contact Ramona Duminicioiu at ramona@eurovia.org /+40 746 337 022

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Farmers’ varieties are essential to the future of food says new ZIMSOFF case study

Wed, 11/14/2018 - 02:20

 Summary: Increasing the availability of agro-biodiversity will become more and more important, not only in the pursuit of improved crop performance, but also in the context of adaptation to climate change, greater resilience, improved nutrition, maintaining the socio-economic balance of farming communities, and the rehabilitation of degraded ecosystem, asserts the new ZIMSOFF study on Farmer Managed Seed Systems in three selected districts of Mutoko, Zvishavane and Masvingo in Zimbabwe. The study is one of the six studies commissioned by GRAIN and Alliance for Food Sovereignty in Africa (AFSA) for their recent report on “The real seeds producers: Small-scale farmers save, use, share and enhance the seed diversity of the crops that feed Africa”.

The study reports that smallholder farmers play a critical role in the maintenance and stewardship of biodiversity, including agricultural biodiversity. They actively select, adapt, and enhance agricultural biodiversity. Women, in particular, play this important role.

However, despite farmer managed seed systems (FMSS) being essential to the future of food, they are not well supported by the government. There are no policies and legislation for such seed systems. The current seed policies and laws being developed in Zimbabwe and across Africa and globally neither recognize nor support FMSS.

Download the ZIMSOFF Case study

Download main report by GRAIN and AFSA

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No one can teach the farmers what is good for us or can talk on our behalf, especially on GMOs

Wed, 11/14/2018 - 01:09

MVIWATA Press release

The Guardian Article titled ‘’New Push in Pipeline for acceptance of GMO seeds after successful trials’’ is a Propaganda Campaign

We have been shocked by a newspaper article titled ‘’New Push in Pipeline for acceptance of GMO seeds after successful trials “ which was published on the Guardian of 2nd November 2018 claiming that Tanzania Agricultural Research Institute (TARI) has joined farmers across the country in pushing for changes to the existing agricultural laws to allow the use of genetically modified organisms (GMO) seed varieties because they are drought resistant and can’t be easily destroyed by pests including armyworms. Furthermore, the reporting states that “the farmers are also said to have concurred that the use of GMO seeds will ensure bumper harvests while also boosting their own incomes”.

Clearly this article is misleading, unsubstantiated and wants to use farmers as a ploy to convince the public that farmers are in desperate need of GMO seeds which is completely untrue.

We are the national farmers’ organisation with members in all regions of Tanzania. We have debated in many forums on GMOs pros and cons and arrived at one conclusion that GMOs are not beneficial to the farmers and to the nation of Tanzania, economically and environmentally. In all our discussions, all of which have been attended by media, farmers have called for our Government not to allow GMOs to be used in the country for obvious reasons that neither farmers nor the nation shall benefit from GMOs. This position of farmers was crystal clear during our recent convergence of at least 2,600 farmers which was held in Morogoro, on 5 – 7 October 2018, in Morogoro.

We therefore ask the reporter to tell the public which “farmers across the country are pushing for changes to existing agricultural laws to allow the use of genetically modified organisms (GMO) seeds” and which farmers have concurred that “the use of GMO seeds will ensure bumper harvests while also boosting their own incomes”. We challenge the reporter to come up with statistical evidences on these farmers the reporter is referring to especially since this article refers to the work of a scientific body, TARI.

Otherwise, the article in the Guardian, as the case is for the article in Mwananchi of 10 November 2018 titled “Mbegu ya Dhahabu: Mbegu za GMO zinavyoweza kuwaepusha Wakulima na Viuatilifu’ once again proves an ongoing media campaign and propaganda to misinform the public and promote GMOs for the interest of multinational companies while disregarding the Tanzanian national interests.

During the symposium to mark 3 years of President J.P. Magufuli at University of Dar es Salaam, the President said, when talking about Stigler’s Gorge, that “no one can teach us about environment”. Borrowing these words, certainly, no one can teach the farmers what is good for us and no one else can talk on our behalf, especially on GMOs.

We repeat our call to our Government not to allow GMO seeds to be used in our country since no one but multinationals stand to gain at the cost Tanzanian small holder farmers, our economy, our genetic resources and our health.

Download PDF press release

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Quilombo Campo Grande Camp, Brazil: Urgent Call for Solidarity

Wed, 11/14/2018 - 01:06

Message from The Landless Workers’ Movement MST

07 November, 2018

Dear comrades and friends

First of all, on behalf of the MST and the 450 families of Quilombo Campo Grande Camp, we thank all solidarity letters received against the eviction of our camp.

Unfortunately, during a hearing held on Wednesday afternoon, Nov. 7, Brazilian *judge Walter Zwicker Esbaille Junior ordered the eviction of 450 families* who live in the area of the old Ariadnópolis mill owned by a bankrupt debtor in the city of Campo do Meio, state of Minas Gerais, Brazil.

He established a seven-day deadline to have his order executed.

The decision means destroying 1,200 hectares (nearly 3,000 acres) of corn, beans, manioc, and pumpkin crops, 40 hectares (roughly 100 acres) of agroecological gardens, and 520 hectares (more than 1,200 acres) of coffee crops. Not only that, hundreds of homes, corrals, and miles and miles of fences will be torn down.

The court order will destroy everything people have built in two decades of hard work.

According to the lawyers representing the families, the judge’s ruling is arbitrary and hurts constitutional principles by not recognizing values of human dignity. The hearing was unusual. Representatives of the families who live in the camp and authorities who traveled to attend it were not allowed in. While holding the session, the judge called the riot police to the room. Representatives of big farms and the local government wanted the families to be taken to a gymnasium. The judge eventually quickly rendered his judgement.

The Landless Workers’ Movement (MST) is appealing this arbitrary, unfair decision. We reiterate our will to continue to struggle and resist yet another attack by the old mill.

The case is now in the State Justice Tribunal.

We are aware that the fascist inclinations of the project recently elected to run Brazil will lead to increasing use of State apparatus to criminalize us and segregate the landless people – as well as urban communities. But the Brazilian people is brave and strong. We have faced the military dictatorship since the birth of the movement. It’s with this story and this courage that the families living in Quilombo Campo Grande will resist and stay in the Ariadnópolis land. A preliminary injunction to remove them will not erase so many years of struggle.

Once more, we urge all organizations, supporters and friends to send the message below to the State Justice Tribunal Judge Nelson Missias de Morais, demanding that the repossession action to be dismissed:

gapre@tjmg.jus.br
contato@crdhsulmg.com.br

À atenção do Exmo. Sr. Juiz Nelson Missias de Morais

Venho me manifestar sobre a ação de restituição de posse n ° 0024.11.188.917-6 inscrita no dia 06/07/2011.

Peço que a ação de restituição da posse seja suspensa, já que existem 450 famílias, mais de 2.000 pessoas, que já estão na posse da área há mais de 20 anos. Essas pessoas têm casas construídas, vasta produção e reprodução da vida neste lugar.

A resolução do conflito só pode ocorrer com a permanência das familias, que já tem a posse da terra por direito.

Nós*[insert your name or name of your organization*], apelamos para que Voissa Excelencia resolva o conflito. Por justiça e em defesa dos princípios constitucionais, pela valorização da vida e da dignidade humana, apelamos!

Estamos diante da iminência de um massacre em Minas Gerais e você pode salvar essas vidas.

<Translation of the email above>

Dear Honorable Judge Nelson Missias de Morais,

The purpose of this e-mail is to express my concern about the action for repossession No. 0024.11.188.917-6 filed on June 17, 2011. I strongly and respectfully ask you to suspend the action for repossession, because there are 450 families, more than 2,000 people, who have been in possession of the area for more than 20 years. They have built their homes and their production and reproduction of life in that place.

The resolution of this conflict can only be successful if they stay where they are, as it is their right.

We [insert your name or name of your organization urge you to do this. For justice and in defense of constitutional principles, out of respect for human life and dignity, we urge you!

There can be a massacre in Minas Gerais and you can save those lives.

Recommended Reading;

ABOUT THE CASE: Who is Justice serving?

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Briefing on Rights of Peasants: Side Event, 14 Nov | ECOSOC Chamber, United Nations Headquarters NY

Tue, 11/13/2018 - 23:47

The Permanent Missions of the Plurinational State of Bolivia, Cuba, Ecuador, El Salvador, Nicaragua, South Africa and the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela along with the Office of the High Commissioner on Human Rights and the international peasant movement La Via Campesina, co-sponsor this briefing.

WHEN:   03:15 PM,  14 November 2018 , Wednesday

VENUE: ECOSOC Chamber, United Nations Headquarters NY

After years of participating and contributing to discussion on the Declaration in Geneva, a delegation of women and men representing the peasant organisations of Asia, Afria, Europe, Americas are in New York to accompany the adoption of the Resolution and will brief members states about the current situation of peasants around the world and their need for this instrument to be adopted.

Download the invitation to see the list of speakers at the event

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Information Note: UN Declaration on Rights of Peasants and Other People working in rural areas

Mon, 11/12/2018 - 23:10

Edition: October 2018

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The adoption of the UN Declaration on the Rights of Peasants and Other People Working in Rural Areas by the UN Human Rights Council (HRC) in its 39th session on 28th of September 2018 is a fundamental step towards addressing discrimination and re-emphasizing the obligation of the state in this international norm. It is, then, the task and obligation of the UN General Assembly to endorse the protection of the livelihoods of peasants and all small food producers feeding the world.

Small-scale peasants are increasingly at risk and are often victims of forced evictions, violence and harassment. Existing legal instruments worldwide are scattered in various texts, out of reach for the population concerned, and fail to protect peasants and rural workers from on-going systematic discrimination and abuses, with rural women particularly affected. Thus, greater recognition and protection of their rights is a pressing issue. Addressing this is precisely the goal of the long process towards a UN Declaration on the rights of peasants and other people working in rural areas: creating an international human rights instrument, improving the promotion and protection of their rights and drawing attention to the threats and discrimination suffered by peasants and people involved in small-scale food production across the world.

The UN Declaration was originally initiated by the international peasant movement La Vía Campesina (LVC) over 17 years ago, with other social movements, mainly supported by – FIAN International and CETIM (Centre Europe-Tiers Monde) within the UN.

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Cover Image: FIAN

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