Headlines

FOOD SUMMIT: Hunger Gathering Offers Alternative Way Forward

Alison Dickens

ROME, Nov 13 1996 (IPS) - Away from the pomp and ceremony of the World Food Summit opening, environmental grassroots movements from around the world gathered Wednesday to produce a radical alternative blueprint for global food security.

Their manifesto calls for increased self-sufficiency,land reform, and local, organic food production.

The grassroots organisations, banded together as the Hunger Gathering, slammed free trade and the “new colonialism.” They allege industrialized nations use indebtedness to impose their political will on developing countries and create opportunities for transnational cooporations to plunder them.

The Hunger “Gatherers” brought their dogs to Rome and their movement had the air of a “new-age” festival. Many thought that the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) should be abolished, as its work would be more constructively carried out at a local level.

The gatherers met in brightly colored circus-style tents and police helicipters on security duty at the summit headquarters one mile away often drowned out speakers.

The official Rome Declaration and Plan of Action ignored the root causes of hunger namely “globalised free trade, inequality and, importantly, the loss of biological and cultural diversity,” they said.

Participants in the 9-day event, held in a disused abattoir, and organized jointly by ASeed Europe – a network of environmental and social groups – and Play Fair Europe, rejected the World Summit as an undemocratic pageant which excluded large portions of civic society, particularly farmers..

They slated the Non-governmental Organization (NGO) Forum, “with its 50 dollar entry fee and limit of one participant per organization.”

Workshops centred on structural adjustment and free trade, on the decline in fisheries, on women networking and food security, on food aid and on displaced persons, human rights and food security.

Marvin Ponce, member of the of Honduran Peasants’ Organizations coordinating committee and FoodFirst Information and Action Network coordinator for Honduras identified land reform as one of the most pressing issues affecting Central America. Here, as elsewhere in the developing world, there have been deliberate efforts to move farmers off the land.

In Honduras, 70 percent of peasants were landless and had no access to credit, he said. The best land was in the hands of transnational coporations, and was farmed for cash-crops, while 80 percent of the population lived in poverty.

“Local resources should be in the hands of local populations,” said Sven Hasson, from the Swedish Friends of the Earth.

Penny Fowler, of the Catholic Insitute for International Relations criticized the secrecy of the World Trade Organization, and called for the deresriction of documents and for participatory/observer status for civil society at its meetings.

She stressed that the issue of declining agricultural assistence and of compensation for the reduction in subsidies would need to be addressed.

“Developing countries are realizing that they can no longer accept trade liberalization and that they need to begin to fight at the World Trade Organization,” she said.

Along with ending western political and economic hegemony, the Hunger Gathering called for an end to the monopoly of western science and technology, which excludes a huge body of indigenous and traditional knowledge. Gatherers also wanted an early review of the the part of the Uruguay Round of GATT relating to intellectual property rights, which allows patents on plants and whose chief beneficiaries are genetic engineering companies, rather than the countries from which the plant genetic material is obtained.

Other workshops on political economy, biotechnology development, trade, human rights and food security, access to land, forests, harvesting, and a series of cultural events will be taking place at the Hunger Gathering, which is to produce a finalized Political Statement by Sunday.

 
Republish | | Print |

Related Tags

Headlines

FOOD SUMMIT: Hunger Gathering Offers Alternative Way Forward

Alison Dickens

ROME, Nov 13 1996 (IPS) - Away from the pomp and ceremony of the World Food Summit opening, environmental grassroots movements from around the world gathered Wednesday to produce a radical alternative blueprint for global food security.
(more…)

 
Republish | | Print |

Related Tags