Real World Radio: “They Shall Not Pass”
Uruguayan environmental activist warns about advance of agribusiness and land grabbing in the world
“The policies of our governments have not really tried to address the structural causes of the food crisis, but on the contrary, they encouraged what is causing even more trouble: the advance of agribusiness and land grabbing”, said activist Karin Nansen, member of the executive committee of Friends of the Earth International.
“Today, the food system is increasingly controlled by a few companies. They control everything, from seeds to what is sold in supermarkets, to what reaches our tables”, said Nansen.
“And now these same companies are beginning to control land. They are the ones who define what is produced, how we do it and how the products are distributed. And these companies are also the ones who decide the prices of food”, she added.
The activist, who is also coordinator at REDES – Friends of the Earth Uruguay, gave a presentation called “Expansion of agribusiness and land grabbing” at the international conference “Climate change, territories and social movements”, held in San Salvador, from November 5-6, 2012. The conference was organized by Friends of the Earth International through CESTA-Friends of the Earth El Salvador.
Real World Radio covered the conference and is still publishing some of the most relevant presentations and audio. Members of grassroots organisations, communities and different social movements of Central America participated in the event, in addition to hundreds of representatives of Friends of the Earth groups from the five continents. Over 500 people from 80 countries attended the meeting, the purpose of which was to share knowledge and experiences of defending territories, vizualising the cases of resistance against transnational corporations in the region, and cases of sovereignty building and survival practices to confront socio-environmental conflicts and inappropriate measures promoted by regional economic forces.
The conference was also organised by multiple social and environmental networks from Central America, especially the Movement of Victims and People Affected by Climate Change and Megaprojects (MOVIAC).
In her presentation, Nansen made reference to the severe food crisis of 2007 and
2008, which saw 100 million people starving around the world. Around 1 billion people are starving worldwide today.
The environmentalist talked about land grabbing to grow soy, tree monoculture plantations for carbon offsetting schemes, among others, and regretted the massive use of agrotoxics by agribusinesss. The expansion of these agribusiness and land grabbing are global phenomena, but they especially affect the global south. It is “terrible” in Latin America and Africa, highlighted Nansen.
However, there are reasons to be optimistic. “The good news is that the food crisis isn´t larger because peasants, indigenous peoples, black communities, family production, produce food consumed by human beings”, said the activist. Karin Nansen quoted the Erosion, Technology and Concentration Group (ETC Group) who work on global socio-economic and environmental issues, related to the new technologies and especially about the impacts of technology on indigenous peoples, rural communities and biodiversity. According to the ETC Group “50 per cent of food is produced by these small production units”, said Nansen. “(…) The good news is that peasant agriculture continues supplying food to the world. That´s why it is essential to defend the permanence of indigenous, black communities, peasant agriculture and fisherfolk in their territories; defending their permanence is what will save us”, she added.
By the end of her presentation, Nansen highlighted that “the resistance space is in those territories where you are, this is why we have to come together in this struggle to defend every piece of territory in this world, (…) it is a struggle for the future of humankind”. “Our peoples continue feeding the world. These businesses want other things, they want to take over our lands. We have to do everything in our power, we have to come together in a joint struggle at international level, to stop them. They shall not pass”, concluded the Uruguayan activist.
Photo: Friends of the Earth International