is food sovereignty?
According to Vía Campesina,
an international movement that coordinates farmer organizations from
Asia, Africa, America and Europe, food sovereignty is the right of all
peoples, their nations or unions of States to define their agricultural
and food policies, without any dumping vis-à-vis third countries. Food
sovereignty goes beyond the more common concept of food security, which
merely seeks to ensure that a sufficient amount of safe food is produced
without taking into account the kind of food produced and how, where
and in what scale it is produced.
The concept of food sovereignty was developed by Vía Campesina and put
forward for public debate on occasion of the World Food Summit of 1996,
with the aim of providing an alternative to neoliberal policies. Since
then, this concept has become a major issue of debate in the international
agricultural agenda, even within the United Nations. It was the main
subject of discussion in the forum of non-governmental organizations
(NGOs) that was held in parallel to the June 2002 World Food Summit
of the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO).
Here is what the
farmers and farmworkers movement Via Campensina says:
Food sovereignty is the peoples', Countries' or State Unions' RIGHT
to define their agricultural and food policy, without any dumping vis-à-vis
Food sovereignty 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.
Energy and Environment Program also defines 'food sovereignty':
" Food is a fundamental right to all peoples, in terms of distribution,
production and availability of sufficient quantities of safe and healthy
food. This serves as a foundation of healthy communities, cultures and