World Rainforest Movement

Food sovereignty: social movements got FAO to debate it

Up to now, the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) has focused on the pursuit of “food security” and consequently on actions to generate enough food for the entire planet.

However, for several social movements this definition has served well agribusiness and does not consider the issue of who produces the food, how it is produced and for what.

Following the La Via Campesina’s initiative, social movements from around the world have proposed instead the concept of “food sovereignty” as “a necessary precondition of genuine food security and as a real solution to food, climate and fundamental human rights crises.”

Food sovereignty has become an umbrella platform of social struggles and now, social movements have conquered a “historic achievement”: FAO agreed to begin discussions about food “sovereignty”. Movements from around the world submitted a consensus declaration days before the FAO’s Thirty-Second Regional Conference for Latin America and the Caribbean, held in Buenos Aires in March 26-30.

“Food sovereignty is the right of people to control their own seeds, land, water and food production, ensuring through local, autonomous (participatory, community and shared) and culturally appropriate production, consistent and complementary with Mother Earth, the peoples’ access to sufficient, varied and nutritious food, deepening the production of each nation and people,” said social movements and other groups and networks in the Third Conference’s declaration.

“Food sovereignty is a principle, a vision and a legacy built by indigenous peoples, campesinos, family farmers, artisanal fisherman, women, Afro-descendents, youth, and rural workers, and a proposal for society as a whole,” reads the declaration.

However, “for a profound debate to begin and for this to become policy, there is a long road ahead that cannot be isolated from a necessary rethinking of the capitalist model of production and the removal of our food from the hands of agribusiness,” reminded Carlos Vicente, representative of Grain, an international organization that supports farmers and social movements. (More in