La Via Campesina Press Release
"The G8 is using the food crisis to promote their free trade agenda (Hokkaido, 9 July 2008)Reacting to the G8 Leaders statement on Global Food Security issued last night in Hokkaido, Via Campesina farmer leader Mr. Yoshitaka Mashima said: «We do not understand why the G8 leaders pretend to solve the food crisis with more free trade while it is the liberalisation of agriculture and food markets that continue to lead us to the current crisis. People need to eat local food to protect themselves from the instability of world markets. We do not need more imported food».
At a press conference today, farmers leaders said that the G8 governments were mistakenly using the current food and climate crisis to promote the free trade agenda that is serving large companies and not producers of food and consumers. The G8 leader's statement insists on reviving the agonising WTO negotiations and on preventing countries from regulating food exports.
However, small farmers around the world, men and women, have experienced the devastating effects of free trade and WTO policies on livelihoods and local food production. They defend the right of countries to protect their domestic markets, to support sustainable family farmers, and to market food in the countries where it is produced.
The G8 leaders statement also fails to address two major causes of the current food price crisis: speculation by major traders and transnational companies, and the development of agrofuel as a new source of energy. It is important to keep in mind that these root causes of the food crisis are the consequences of the neoliberal policies promoted by the G8 governments, the WTO, the World Bank and other institutions.
Finally, the G8 also explicitly promotes a new green revolution in Africa (the AGRA initiative) and genetically modified organisms (GMO) as a solution to the food crisis. The development of industrial agriculture, with the use of GMO seeds, large amounts of chemical pesticides, fertilisers and monoculture has left millions of farmers in debt. It has also destroyed land due to chemical contamination. Small farmers are kicked out of business only to be replaced by large agribusiness companies. This model of food production and distribution is based on the intensive use of fossil fuels and clearly contributes to the climate crisis.
The G8 statement talks about « fostering small holder agriculture ». However, Mr. Mashima said: « we are wondering how the world richest nations will support small farmers if they do not even allow them to enter the countries where they are meeting ». Nineteen Korean farmers from the international network Via Campesina were deported from Hokkaido airport on July 5 after being detained for 48 hours under the pretext that they could disturb the official meetings.
Peasants and small food producers are currently producing the very large majority of the world food. They promote small scale food production for local markets that create jobs and protect consumers health and the environment and respect human cultures and communities."