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You are here: Home / What we do / Food sovereignty / Food sovereignty explained

Food sovereignty explained

la via demo at Durban climate talksWhat is food sovereignty?

Food sovereignty is the right to enough nutritious, ecologically produced and culturally appropriate food. It is the right of peoples to determine and control their own food production systems. Current international trade, finance and investment policies, including the drive for agrofuels, threaten food sovereignty and must undergo radical change so that agriculture serves and feeds people, not corporations.

The problem

There are over 860 million hungry people in the world.  This food crisis is not new, but it is getting worse. Traditional food systems like small-scale farming which aims to feed local people, are now being destroyed and replaced by large-scale agriculture created by transnational agribusiness  with the aim to make money. The climate crisis puts an additional threat on food production.

The model of intensive, large-scale centralized agriculture is not only exacerbating the food crisis but is also a major factor in climate change. It is highly dependent on oil, which is used in fertilizers, pesticides and to power vehicles. Global market-driven production and distribution systems result in the jetting of food around the globe, contributing to air pollution and global warming. With the support of governments, international trade policies have allowed large transnational corporations to enter Southern countries and force small scale, local farmers out of business and off their land.  Impoverished people around the world rely on their small, local farms. Local producers and subsistence farmers are being replaced by export-oriented large-scale agriculture that turns food into a commodity to be speculated on and from which to make a profit. Food aid can further undermine food sovereignty by intervening in and destroying local food systems. Food has become a commodity imported and exported around the world for the highest price.

The solution

It is essential that we build global food sovereignty based on diverse, localized agricultural solutions. Traditional knowledge, based on peoples’ common heritage, must be protected from corporate interests. False solutions, such as the push for genetically modified crops and other corporate-led technologies, must be stopped. People should be allowed to determine and control their own food systems. This form of agriculture also helps communities become more resilient to climate change.

What we're doing

Through our grassroots member groups, we support small scale peasant and family farmers in resisting the corporate powers that destroy their livelihoods and bring hunger and conflict to their communities. We support artisanal fisherfolk as the holders of traditional knowledge for sustainable management of marine and coastal systems, and fight against commercial fisheries that are destroying these ecosystems. We are exposing the links between over-consumption, mainly in the North, and its environmental and social impacts, felt mainly in the global South. We help build bridges between people and their food; between those who produce and those who consume food.  We work with communities to regain control over their territories and seeds, defend their land rights, and secure their right to water.  We work to safeguard GMO-free agriculture and to ensure that people around the world have the right to choose food that is free from genetically modified organisms. In the urban context we stimulate people to buy food that is produced locally and regionally. 


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