18 March 2008

Sustainable family farming can feed the world

The International Peasant Movement, La Via Campesina, has recently issued a press release entitled "A response to the Global Food Prices Crisis: Sustainable family farming can feed the world".

On this document they refer to the recent dramatic increase of staple food around the world, with consequent aggravating difficulties for the poorest communities.

"Over a year, wheat has doubled in price, maize is nearly 50% higher than a year ago.

(...) Prices are increasing because part of production is now diverted into agrofuels, global food reserves are at their lowest in 25 years due to the de-regulation of markets by the WTO, and extreme weather has effected crops in some exporting countries such as Australia. But prices also increase because financial companies speculate over people's food as they anticipate that agriculture prices will keep rising in the near future. Food production, processing and distribution falls increasingly under the grip of transnational companies monopolising the markets.

Via Campesina state that in order to protect livelihoods, jobs, people's health and the environment, food has to remain in the hands of small scale sustainable farmers, calling out for the principles of food sovereignty.

Food sovereignty is the right of peoples to healthy and culturally appropriate food produced through ecologically sound and sustainable methods, and the right of their governments to define the food and agriculture policies of their countries, without damaging agriculture of other countries. It includes:
  • "prioritizing local agricultural production in order to feed the people, access of peasants and landless people to land, water, seeds, and credit. Hence the need for land reforms, for fighting against GMOs (Genetically Modified Organisms), for free access to seeds, and for safeguarding water as a public good to be sustainably distributed;
  • the right of farmers, peasants to produce food and the right of consumers to be able to decide what they consume, and how and by whom it is produced;
  • the right of Countries to protect themselves from too low priced agricultural and food imports;
  • agricultural prices linked to production costs : they can be achieved if the Countries or Unions of States are entitled to impose taxes on excessively cheap imports, if they commit themselves in favour of a sustainable farm production, and if they control production on the inner market so as to avoid structural surpluses;
  • the populations taking part in the agricultural policy choices;
  • the recognition of women farmers’ rights, who play a major role in agricultural production and in food."
This concept was developed by La Via Campesina and brought to the public debate during the World Food Summit in 1996. It represents an alternative to neoliberal policies, which prioritise international trade, instead of food for the people.

"International institutions such as IMF (International Monetary Fund), the World Bank, and WTO (World Trade Organization) have implemented those policies dictated by the interests of large transnational companies and superpowers"...

Food Sovereignty: Now!

A response to the Global Food Prices Crisis, La Via Campesina
Food sovereignty, La Via Campesina
Can sustainable agriculture feed the world?, Food First
IPC Food Sovereignty
Nyéléni 2007, Forum pour la Souverainté Alimentaire

16 March 2008

When I grow up

This is a video piece from "enoughsenough" campaigning against the expansion of Heathrow Airport, one of the busiest airports in Europe, raising the issue of our responsibility towards the future generations.

With the expansion of this airport it is expected that the number of flights using it will nearly double, with its consequent increase on greenhouse emissions.

Even though most governments now claim to be seriously concerned with Climate Change, promising changes in policies and signing international treaties, there is still no real sign of shaking the business-as-usual status quo...

Stop Heathrow Expansion Campaign
Stop Heathrow Expansion, Greenpeace UK

08 March 2008

Stop the violence against Women!!

Today is the International Women's Day, a day dedicated to all Women in the world and celebrated since the early 1900s.

Yet, according to UNIFEM, the United Nations Development Fund for Women, "one in three women will suffer some form of violence in her lifetime, becoming part of an epidemic that devastates lives, fractures communities and stalls development."

This means over one billion people are victims of violence just because they were born a Woman!

The source of this global injustice is of course the problem of gender inequality, which is still so much embedded in our societies and should be eradicated once and for all.

Towards this end, there needs to be concerted actions on the advocacy end, for the establishment and compliment of adequate legislation that protect Women, as well as on the development end, with empowerment actions targeted at Women and support for Women organisations.

Initiatives such as the UN Trust Fund to End Violence against Women, that support "innovative projects to prevent violence that are run by community, national and regional organizations" should be praised and multiplied.

Within the "Say not to violence" campaign, the reader can sign a petition demanding the end of this shameful human rights violation.

This post is dedicated to all the Women, mothers and sisters of our Planet.

International Women's Day 2008
Violence against women, UNIFEM
UN Trust Fund to End Violence Against Women, UNIFEM
Say no to violence campaign, UNIFEM
Say no to violence petition, UNIFEM

01 March 2008

Blackwater, modern day mercenaries

Here is a small video piece, done by Jeremy Scahill, a reporter of The Nation, on Blackwater activities in Iraq and elsewhere...

Blackwater, by Jeremy Scahill
Bush's Shadow Army, The Nation
Our Mercenaries in Iraq, Democracy Now!