From the podium

From the podium

Ms Sarojeni V. Rengam (Pesticides Action Network, Asia and Pacific - PAN) (Report on the Multistakeholder Dialogue)

Ladies and Gentlemen, this afternoon a multi-stakeholder dialogue was held in the FAO premises in conjunction with the World Food Summit: five years later between NGOs, CSOs and governments. The objectives of the multi-stakeholder dialogue were to exchange views, discuss and debate on issues pertinent to the various stakeholders on food security issues.

The NGOs and CSOs were represented by peasants, fisherfolk, farmers, women's organizations, indigenous peoples, youth and agricultural workers as well as NGOs. The concerns raised by NGOs and CSOs included that there was general disappointment expressed at the outcome of the World Food Summit: five years later. The other issues of concern were the impacts of globalization and trade liberalization processes and policies that promote corporate control, which have displaced peasants, fisherfolks, indigenous communities throughout the world; increased hunger and malnutrition; and eroded the environment, genetic and cultural resources.

We also felt that agricultural trade should not be under the purview of the WTO, but under the purview of FAO which is mandated to address food and agricultural concerns.

The other concerns raised were biotechnology, that is being promoted without adequate studies of the health and environmental risks. Cases were cited in which the rapid advancement of biotechnology has led to the contamination of local genetic resources.

Others included: patenting of life-forms which the NGOs and CSOs felt was unacceptable; the industrialization of agriculture, which led to worsened conditions of farmers and workers; a reduction in family farms; pollution and food safety hazards without an increase in food security.

All this, NGOs and CSOs felt would erode the right to food, the right to seed security, plant genetic resources, indigenous and peasant rights. A root cause of food insecurity was the lack of access to land and productive resources.

Another issue that came up was also that in the areas of conflict and wars, the right to food should be supreme and food not be used as a political tool.

The recommendations from the NGOs and CSOs included to assure and protect a rights-based approach, recognizing the empowerment of peoples and their communities; the right to food and production; access to productive resources and means of production; food choices; seed security; fair trade and access to local markets; and the right determine food and agricultural policies. It is the responsibility of nations to ensure these rights.

Another proposal was a convention on food sovereignty to protect these rights.

Further recommendation was a Code of Conduct on the right to food.

There was also a call on governments to ensure the survival of smallholder agriculture at the basis of food security and that there should be a farmers' Summit to mainstream farmers' issues in development.

There was also a call to promote organic and agro-ecological agriculture and its research, and a moratorium on genetically modified organisms.

Another recommendation included developing and implementing a Code of Conduct on biotechnology, based on the precautionary principle, and to provide labelling on products of GMO origin. There was also a recommendation to ratify and effectively implement existing treaties, including CCD, CBD, POPs and to ensure core-labour standards of the ILO.

The full and meaningful participation of youth, indigenous peoples, agricultural workers, peasants, fisherfolk and women at global in the national decision-making process and programmes was recommended.

Finally, to recognize and promote the right to breastfeeding as the first element of food security.

Few governments took part in the multi-stakeholder dialogue. Key areas discussed were trade liberalization and biotechnology and some of the suggestions from governments included: repositioning agriculture and rural development to give much more emphasis to agriculture and rural development than in the past and substantially increasing the funding; recognizing and supporting the role of NGOs, CSOs as partners in implementing policies and in development cooperation; promoting the conservation of genetic diversity; studies to be undertaken on the health and environmental risks of biotechnologies, with a few governments in favour of a moratorium on GMOs and others interested in implementing other regular tree mechanisms; promoting research on organic biological agriculture; ensuring adequate quantity, quality and safety as well as access to food; supporting the crucial agricultural research being undertaken in the public sector on staple foods; promoting policies that prioritize local purchase of food aid; ensuring that more farm land is available to indigenous peoples and other vulnerable groups; and that FAO should complement its technical work by further enhancing its role in fostering and facilitating dialogue among all stakeholders, and finally, promoting more effective donor-coordination in support of agriculture and rural development.

Thank you for this opportunity to have this multi-stakeholder dialogue and to share the discussions here in this Plenary.

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