The South wants food sovereignty back

World leaders and policy makers gathered this week in Rome for the three-day UN Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) summit to mainly discuss the worldwide food crisis and its effects on the Global South. Everyone who was anyone attended the summit, including 'suspect' people like Zim President Robert Mugabe and WTO officials. But it seems like a whole group of people were noticeable M.I.A. - the Global South.

From IPS:

More than 100 delegates from international social movements, farmers organisations, indigenous groups from the South and NGOs are holding a five-day forum on food sovereignty.

The civil society forum Terra Preta (black soil, in Portuguese) has been organised by the International Planning Committee (IPC), a global network of NGOs and civil society groups concerned with agricultural issues.

IPC includes social organisations representing small farmers, fisher folk, indigenous peoples and agricultural workers' trade unions. It works as a facilitation mechanism for dialogue between social movements and the UN agencies dealing with food and agriculture.

"We are here to remind governments that they cannot take any effective decision to solve the food crisis without consulting those who feed the planet," Antonio Onorati from IPC told IPS.

"While 80 percent of the world food comes from their work, farmers are not represented enough at the official meeting," he said. "Normally those desks are occupied by the interests of the big agro-alimentary transnational companies and financial institutions like the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund (IMF), that asks for a further liberalisation of the agricultural market, which would foster uncontrolled food price rise."

Across from the FAO headquarters in Rome, farmers have set up a table with empty plates on it to represent world hunger. Demonstrations continue outside the building.

In addition, civil society organizations delivered a letter to WTO Director-General Pascal Lamy, stating their disgust with his wack views on why he thinks finishing the Doha Rounds will solve the food crisis.

Grassroots International and the Oakland Institute are circulating a petition to get the United Nations and FAO to not use the food crisis to push through more failed free trade policies. New free trade policies would increase hunger and poverty worldwide, while permitting Western nation to continue dumping their agricultural products on poorer ones that can't compete.

According to the petition, pro-Global South trade policies will increase cash contributions for food aid geared towards local food purchasing in hard-hit countries, develop sustainable agriculture systems through genuine agrarian reforms and end speculation on food as a commodities in the global financial markets.

Please consider signing the petition to stand in solidarity with the people who are actually being affected by the food crisis.

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