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Wednesday, December 7, 2022

Assert people’s food sovereignty, end imperialist destruction of local food systems

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Imperialist plunder and destruction of local food systems through war and occupation, land and resource grabbing, and profiteering drive the global food crisis and must be countered with people’s movements for land reform and food sovereignty.

Representatives of peasant and indigenous peoples movements and civil society delivered this message in the online forum “Breaking the Imperialist Food Chains” last October 10. Organized by the People’s Coalition on Food Sovereignty (PCFS), PAN Asia Pacific (PANAP), and Indigenous People’s Movement for Self-Determination and Liberation (IPMSDL), the forum aimed to build up momentum for actions across the globe on October 16, World Hunger Day.

“Global food prices have been rising over the past 20 years. We see the same drivers of the 2008 and 2011 food crises, such as fuel price spikes, financial speculations, and imperialist wars. But the essential fact remains that our vulnerability is tied to our enslavement by the global market system and the destruction of our local food systems by colonial and neo-colonial forces, including pressures by powerful actors to marginalize our agricultural sectors,” said Razan Zuayter, PCFS global co-chair. “We must protect and enhance local food systems and communities’ rights to own and manage resources such as land, water, and seeds. We must cultivate food staples such as wheat, which should be prioritized over crops intended for exports,” she added.

The US, the world’s largest imperialist power, continues to assert its prominent role in shaping the global food agenda. Pushing the narrative that the Russian government is “squarely and solely” responsible for the food crisis due to its so-called invasion of Ukraine, it gathered heads of state for a Global Food Security Summit to peddle its Roadmap for Global Food Security on the sidelines of the UN General Assembly in September. The US is painting itself as a catalyst of global food security and peace when it is the world’s leading warmonger, backing the illegal occupation of territories and launching wars of aggression that are starving millions.

“The global response and policy recommendations to the food crisis led by the US government is consistent with the outcome of the UN Food Systems Summit—that is, the promotion and financing of neoliberal reforms and corporate-driven technologies that only secure profits at the expense of the people of the Global South, with countries pushed to rely more on foreign debt for survival,” said Wali Hader of the Asian Peasant Coalition (APC). Movements and civil society mobilized against the UN food summit last year, exposing it as perpetuating the imperialist agenda in the global food systems.

Meanwhile, the composition of the world’s agrochemical and seed giants reflects the quest for power and superprofits in the agri-food sector by the leading imperialist rivals, according to Ilang-Ilang Quijano of PANAP. The Big Four—Syngenta (acquired by China’s ChemChina & SinoChem), Germany’s Bayer and BASF, and US-based Corteva—controls 62 percent of the global pesticide market, while only six companies, including the Big Four, control 58 percent of the global seed market, according to the latest figures.

Quijano also cited a white paper released by the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) with the World Economic Forum (WEF) on “innovation” pathways for transforming food systems. “If you look at the WEF’s innovations, what you find are corporate techno-fixes with potential harms to human health and the environment, such as lab-grown meat, gene-edited crops, and so-called biological crop protection products that use risky novel RNA and nanotechnologies. They are utilizing Big Data and digital technology to further consolidate control over land, enhance dependence on chemical inputs and proprietary seeds through ‘precision agriculture,’ and dominate global markets and ease out small farmers,” she said.

Jiten Yumnam of IPMSDL highlighted how imperialist food policies impact indigenous food systems. “The new land use policy pursued aggressively by the World Bank and other financial institutions delegitimizes the traditional agricultural practices of indigenous peoples and promotes market-based export-oriented crops. This program further undermines the culture, identity, and self-determination of Indigenous Peoples with the massive acquisition of land as target areas of development aggression in the name of false climate solutions.”

Reactors from rural women, youth, and other food sovereignty advocates reaffirmed the need for food production decided by the sovereign will of the people based on their particular circumstances, priorities, and needs.

“Today, globalization and neoliberalism, imperialism, as it is better known, extends its claws across the globe. It is the biggest problem of the world’s peoples, the whole of humanity, and the entire planet. There is a need to reclaim our voices. We need to reclaim our role, the rural peoples, in transforming the food systems and making them just, equitable, healthy, and sustainable. There is a need for one system that is rid of corporate interests, which puts the interests of our rights and our Commons before profit,” said Sylvia Mallari, PCFS global co-chair, in her closing statement.###

Reference: PAN Asia Pacific, [email protected]

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