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LATIN AMERICA
Fight for food security heats up
Juan Nicastro
12/10/2009
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Communities demand access to nutritional, sustainable and environmentally-friendly food.

Year after year, movements to defend the right to sustainable, high-quality food production have continued to grow.

In 1996, the international movement Vía Campesina defined food sovereignty as people´s right to nutritional food whose production is a part of a sustainable and environmentally-sound system, and their right to decide which system works best for them.

Since then, research on the topic has mounted, along with allied movements and opposition to free trade agreements, genetically-modified productions, the patenting of seeds, privatization of water, forced migration, discrimination and threats to small-scale producers.

Two years ago, the World Forum For Food Sovereignty in Mali, one of the world´s poorest countries, where four in five people grow their own food, brought together delegates from social movements, landless campesinos, migrants, small-scale farmers, artisanal fishermen, environmentalists and indigenous groups from 118 countries to form common strategies to face a situation where 80 percent of the malnourished population, paradoxically, are food producers.

A growing movement
Activist Miryam Gorban says that there has been a boom of small-scale urban farmers in her native Argentina, a country home to large plantation estates. It´s a growing movement in the region, she notes.

 “The issue just started to universalize,” she said, adding that the movement needs more participation in labor, civil society, and consumer and student groups.

A rapidly expanding soy industry for export in Argentina cut the country´s production of wheat and livestock farming, she said.

In a September meeting, the Indigenous Campesino Movement of Argentina met with local rural community groups to discuss methods to handle growing agro-business and its impact on their lands.

“The fields are much more than landowners who plant soy and exploit rural workers,” said the movement in a statement. “The fields are the families who work the land, producing healthy food, raising animals and staging resistance from their lands.”

No transgenics
“You can´t guarantee food security with transnational agreements that only seek profits for their investments and even push transgenic products,” Bolivian President Evo Morales said in October at the summit of the Bolivarian Alliance for the Peoples of Our America, a Venezuelan-led movement that also includes Antigua and Barbuda, Bolivia, Cuba, Dominica, Ecuador, Honduras, Nicaragua and St Vicente and Grenadines.

In November, Uruguayan authorities ordered a preventive ban on new soy crops until tests were completed, following reports that genetically-modified soy had contaminated crops near Montevideo.

Ahead of the United Nations Dec. 7-18 Climate Change talks in Copenhagen, Vía Campesina noted that campesina agriculture is environmentally sound because it does not require the large quantities of fossil fuels to power machinery as with large agribusiness. The group added that by consuming locally-produced foods, less fuel is required to transport the food.

“A massive conversion from industrial monoculture to small-scale sustainable agriculture and the development of local markets would allow for a massive reduction in greenhouse gases,” said the group.
—Latinamerica Press.


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