From the podium

From the podium

Ms Sorojeni V. Rengam (Pesticide Action Network - PAN)

Thank you Mr Berlusconi, Mr Jacques Diouf and Ladies and Gentlemen. I would like to read to you the Report of the NGO Forum for Food Sovereignty that is taking place at this very moment.

The social movements, farmers, fisherfolk, pastoralists, indigenous peoples, environmentalists, women's organizations, trade unions and NGOs. gathered here in Rome, express our collective disappointment in, and rejection of the official Declaration of the World Food Summit: five years later. Far from analysing and correcting the problems that have made it impossible to make progress over the past five years twardo eliminating hunger, this new Plan of Action continues the error of more of the same failed medicine with destructive prescriptions that will make the situation even worse.

The 1996 Plan of Action has not failed because of a lack of political will and resources but, rather, it has failed because it supports policies that lead to hunger, policies that support economic liberalization for the south and cultural homogeneity, which are backed by military force if the first wave of prescriptive action fails.

Only fundamentally different policies which are based on the dignity and livelihoods of communities can end hunger. We affirm our belief that this is possible and urgently needed.

Since 1996, governments and international institutions have presided over globalization and liberalization, intensifying the structural causes of hunger and malnutrition. These have forced markets open to dumping of agricultural products, privatization of basic social and economic support institutions. This political will has opened doors to the unbridled monopolization and concentration of resources and productive processes in the hands of a few giant corporations. The imposition of intensive, externally dependent models of production has destroyed the environments and livelihoods of our communities. Furthermore, it has created food insecurity and has put the focus on short-term productivity gains using harmful technologies, such as genetically modified organisms. The results have been the displacement of people and massive migration, the loss of jobs that pay living wages, the destruction of the land and other resources that people depend on; an increase in polarization between rich and poor and within and between north and south; a deepening of poverty around the world and an increase of hunger in the vast majority of nations.

There will be no progress towards the goal of eliminating hunger without a reversal of these policies and trends, but the current Declaration offers no hope of such reversal. Therefore, we are calling for the approach of food sovereignty which is the fundamental approach. Food sovereignty is the right of peoples, communities and countries to define their own agricultural labour, fishing, food and land policies which are ecologically, socially, economically and culturally appropriate to their unique circumstances. It includes the true right to food and to produce food, which means that all people have the right to safe, nutritious and culturally appropriate food and to food producing resources and the ability to sustain themselves and their societies. Food sovereignty requires placing priority on food production for domestic and local markets based on peasant and family farmers, diversified and agro-ecologically based production systems. It also means ensuring fair prices for farmers which means the power to protect internal markets from low-priced dumped imports. It includes access to land, water, forests, fishing areas and other productive resources to genuine redistribution, not by market forces and World Bank-sponsored, market-assisted land reforms. It means the recognition and promotion of women's roles in food production and equitable access and control over productive resources. It means community control over productive resources as opposed to corporate ownership of land, water and genetic and other resources. It means protecting our seeds, the basis of food and life itself for the free exchange and use of farmers, which means no patents on life and a moratorium on the genetically modified crops which lead to the genetic pollution of essential genetic diversity of plants and animals. It means public investment in support for the productive activities of families and communities geared towards empowerment, local control and production of food for people and local markets.

Food sovereignty means the primacy of peoples' and communities' right to food and to food production over trade concerns. This entails the support and promotion of local markets and producers over production for export and food imports. To achieve food sovereignty, we have committed ourselves to strengthen our social movements and develop the organizations of farmers, women, indigenous peoples, workers, fisherfolk and the urban poor, in each of our countries. We will advance regional and international solidarity and cooperation and strengthen our common struggles. We will struggle to realize genuine agrarian and fisheries reform, rangeland and forestry reform and achieve comprehensive and integral redistribution of productive resources in favour of the poor and of the landless. We will fight for the strong guarantee of the rights of workers to organize, bargain collectively, have safe and dignified conditions and living wages. We will struggle for the equal access of women to productive resources and the end to patriarchal structures in agriculture and social, economic and cultural aspects of food. We will fight for the right of indigenous peoples to their cultures, domain and productive resources. We call for an end to the new liberal economic policies being imposed by the World Bank, the World Trade Organization, IMF and northern countries and other multilateral and regional free trade agreements. We demand the removal of agriculture from the WTO. We will fight to stop genetic engineering and the patenting of life and demand an immediate ban of terminator and similar genetic use restriction technologies. We also demand an end to the passing off of GMO food in food aid. We demand an immediate stop to the war on people and the land around the world and an end to the repression of people's movements, as well as an immediate end to the illegal occupation of Palestine, the embargoes on Cuba and Iraq and the use of food as an instrument of blackmail. We demand support for the development and dissemination of agro-ecological systems of production. We call for a Convention on Food Sovereignty in order to enshrine the principles of food sovereignty in international law and institute food sovereignty as the principal policy framework for addressing food and agriculture.

We would like to remember the hundreds of Chinese who have recently passed away because of the problems of drought and environmental problems caused by flooding which has increased the hunger problems. So, in remembering this, we call for the demands to be accepted and to be protected, the rights to be accepted and to be protected.

So thank you very much for this opportunity.

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