Conservation of indigenous food cultivation

Food sovereignty is a slogan for representation of the rights of non-industrial farmers.[1] The relationship between humans and food that evolved over millenia[2] but is under increasing pressures.[3]

Base coverage[edit | edit source]

Food sovereignty is such an important concept that it may warrant independent development on Appropedia where most readers concur on the principles of sustainability and may have a higher tolerance for technical discussion than the general readership of Wikipedia. As a base point, the below article is imported from Wikipedia as of July 10, 2011; please feel free to edit it as you believe suitable for Appropedia. Usable sections need to be "dewikified" largely by correcting the redlinks. (Attribution history, in full, is at and also on the talk page of this Appropedia article.)

Food sovereignty as covered on Wikipedia:

"Food sovereignty" is a term coined by members of Via Campesina in 1996[4] to refer to a policy framework advocated by a number of farmers, peasants, pastoralists, fisherfolk, indigenous peoples, women, rural youth and environmental organizations, namely the claimed "right" of peoples to define their own food, agriculture, livestock and fisheries systems, in contrast to having food largely subject to international market forces.

Principles[edit | edit source]

Via Campesina's seven principles of food sovereignty include:

  1. Food: A Basic Human Right. Everyone must have access to safe, nutritious and culturally appropriate food in sufficient quantity and quality to sustain a healthy life with full human dignity. Each nation should declare that access to food is a constitutional right and guarantee the development of the primary sector to ensure the concrete realization of this fundamental right.
  2. Agrarian Reform. A genuine agrarian reform is necessary which gives landless and farming people – especially women – ownership and control of the land they work and returns territories to indigenous peoples. The right to land must be free of discrimination on the basis of gender, religion, race, social class or ideology; the land belongs to those who work it.
  3. Protecting Natural Resources. Food Sovereignty entails the sustainable care and use of natural resources, especially land, water, and seeds and livestock breeds. The people who work the land must have the right to practice sustainable management of natural resources and to conserve biodiversity free of restrictive intellectual property rights. This can only be done from a sound economic basis with security of tenure, healthy soils and reduced use of agro-chemicals.
  4. Reorganizing Food Trade. Food is first and foremost a source of nutrition and only secondarily an item of trade. National agricultural policies must prioritize production for domestic consumption and food self-sufficiency. Food imports must not displace local production nor depress prices.
  5. Ending the Globalization of Hunger. Food Sovereignty is undermined by multilateral institutions and by speculative capital. The growing control of multinational corporations over agricultural policies has been facilitated by the economic policies of multilateral organizations such as the WTO, World Bank and the IMF. Regulation and taxation of speculative capital and a strictly enforced Code of Conduct for TNCs is therefore needed.
  6. Social Peace. Everyone has the right to be free from violence. Food must not be used as a weapon. Increasing levels of poverty and marginalization in the countryside, along with the growing oppression of ethnic minorities and indigenous populations, aggravate situations of injustice and hopelessness. The ongoing displacement, forced urbanization, oppression and increasing incidence of racism of smallholder farmers cannot be tolerated.
  7. Democratic control. Smallholder farmers must have direct input into formulating agricultural policies at all levels. The United Nations and related organizations will have to undergo a process of democratization to enable this to become a reality. Everyone has the right to honest, accurate information and open and democratic decision-making. These rights form the basis of good governance, accountability and equal participation in economic, political and social life, free from all forms of discrimination. Rural women, in particular, must be granted direct and active decision-making on food and rural issues.

Food sovereignty was born in response to growing disillusion among certain sectors with food security, the dominant global discourse on food provisioning and policy. The latter emphasises access to adequate nutrition for all. In the name of efficiency and enhanced productivity, it has therefore served to promote what has been termed the "corporate food regime"[5] : large-scale, industrialised corporate farming based on specialised production, land concentration and trade liberalisation. Food security's inattention to the political economy of the corporate food regime blinds it to the adverse effects of that regime, notably the widespread dispossession of small producers and global ecological degradation. For instance, a food security agenda that simply provides surplus grain to hungry people would probably be strongly criticised by food sovereignty advocates as just another form of commodity dumping, facilitating corporate penetration of foreign markets, undermining local food production, and possibly leading to irreversible biotech contamination of indigenous crops with patented varieties. U.S. taxpayer subsidized exports of Bt corn to Mexico since the passage of NAFTA is a case in point.

History[edit | edit source]

At the Forum for Food Sovereignty in Sélingué, Mali, 27 February 2007, about 500 delegates from more than 80 countries adopted the Declaration of Nyéléni,[6] which says in part:

Food sovereignty is the right of peoples to healthy and culturally appropriate food produced through ecologically sound and sustainable methods, and their right to define their own food and agriculture systems. It puts those who produce, distribute and consume food at the heart of food systems and policies rather than the demands of markets and corporations. It defends the interests and inclusion of the next generation. It offers a strategy to resist and dismantle the current corporate trade and food regime, and directions for food, farming, pastoral and fisheries systems determined by local producers. Food sovereignty prioritises local and national economies and markets and empowers peasant and family farmer-driven agriculture, artisanal fishing, pastoralist-led grazing, and food production, distribution and consumption based on environmental, social and economic sustainability. Food sovereignty promotes transparent trade that guarantees just income to all peoples and the rights of consumers to control their food and nutrition. It ensures that the rights to use and manage our lands, territories, waters, seeds, livestock and biodiversity are in the hands of those of us who produce food. Food sovereignty implies new social relations free of oppression and inequality between men and women, peoples, racial groups, social classes and generations.

Writing in Food First's Backgrounder, fall 2003, Peter Rosset argues that "Food sovereignty goes beyond the concept of food security… [Food security] means that… [everyone] must have the certainty of having enough to eat each day[,] … but says nothing about where that food comes from or how it is produced." Food sovereignty includes support for smallholders and for collectively owned farms, fisheries, etc., rather than industrializing these sectors in a minimally regulated global economy. In another publication, Food First describes "food sovereignty" as "a platform for rural revitalization at a global level based on equitable distribution of farmland and water, farmer control over seeds, and productive small-scale farms supplying consumers with healthy, locally grown food."[4]The preface to the ITDG publishing / FIAN paper on food sovereignty says: "The Food Sovereignty policy framework starts by placing the perspective and needs of the majority at the heart of the global food policy agenda and embraces not only the control of production and markets, but also the Right to Food, people's access to and control over land, water and genetic resources, and the use of environmentally sustainable approaches to production. What emerges is a persuasive and highly political argument for refocusing the control of food production and consumption within democratic processes rooted in localized food systems."[7]

In April 2008 the International Assessment of Agricultural Science and Technology for Development (IAASTD), an intergovernmental panel under the sponsorship of the United Nations and the Worldbank, adopted the following definition: "Food sovereignty is defined as the right of peoples and sovereign states to democratically determine their own agricultural and food policies."[8]

Latin America[edit | edit source]

In September 2008, Ecuador became the first country to enshrine food sovereignty in its constitution. As of late 2008, a law is in the draft stages that is expected to expand upon this constitutional provision by banning genetically modified organisms, protecting many areas of the country from extraction of non-renewable resources, and to discourage monoculture. The law as drafted will also protect biodiversity as collective intellectual property and recognize the Rights of Nature.[9]

North America[edit | edit source]

On March 8, 2011, the Maine town of Sedgwick passed a Local Food and Self-Governance Ordinance which nullified existing federal and state laws over food and agriculture, including the power of federal inspection of locally-grown agricultural goods. On April 8, the Maine town of Blue Hill passed a similar bill.

Quotes[edit | edit source]

"Food sovereignty is the right of peoples to define their own food and agriculture; to protect and regulate domestic agricultural production and trade in order to achieve sustainable development objectives; to determine the extent to which they want to be self reliant; to restrict the dumping of products in their markets; and to provide local fisheries-based communities the priority in managing the use of and the rights to aquatic resources. Food sovereignty does not negate trade, but rather, it promotes the formulation of trade policies and practices that serve the rights of peoples to safe, healthy and ecologically sustainable production."

-"Statement on Peoples' Food Sovereignty" by Via Campesina, et al.

Academic perspectives[edit | edit source]

Food Regime theory[edit | edit source]

It is in its capacity as a social movement that food regime analysts are interested in food sovereignty. With its Marxist influences, food regime theorists are interested in how moments of crisis within a particular food regime are expressive of the dialectical tension that animates movement between such configurations (i.e. periods of transition). According to leading theorist Philip McMichael, food regimes are always characterised by contradictory forces. Consolidation of a regime does not so much resolve as it does contain, or else strategically accommodate, these tensions; meanwhile, their intensification, often via the mobilisations of social movements, often signals a period of transition.

According to McMichael, a "world agriculture" under the WTO Agreement on Agriculture ("food from nowhere") represents one pole of the "central contradiction" of the present regime. He is interested in the food sovereignty movement's potential to escalate the tension between this and its opposing pole, the agroecology-based localism ("food from somewhere") advocated by various grassroots food movements[10] . Offering slightly different conclusions, recent work by Harriet Friedmann suggests that "food from somewhere" is already being recuperated under an emergent "corporate-environmental" regime[11] (see also Campbell (2009)[12] ).

Criticisms[edit | edit source]

Political-jurisdictional model[edit | edit source]

There is a lack of clear vision within the food sovereignty movement regarding the political or jurisdictional community at which its calls for democratisation and renewed "agrarian citizenship" (see Wittman (2009)[13] ) are directed. In public statements, the food sovereignty movement urges for strong sovereign powers for both national governments and local communities (in the vein of the indigenous rights movement, Community-Based Natural Resource Management (CBNRM) and the like) (elsewhere it has also appealed to global civil society to act a check against abuses by national and supranational governing bodies).

Those who take a radically critical view on state sovereignty would argue against the possibility that national sovereignty can be reconciled with that of local communities[14] (see also the debate about multiculturalism and indigenous autonomy in Mexico[15][16][17] ). On the other hand, Raj Patel is more favourable towards this prospect: for Patel, an adapted version of Seyla Benhabib's Kantian-inspired cosmopolitan federalism – involving multiple, layered geographies of democratic attachment and jurisdiction – could offer a promising vehicle for the realisation of food sovereignty on a large-scale. Patel's important proviso here is that a stronger version of Benhabib's accompanying principle of moral universalism is also pursued. By Patel's assessment, the food sovereignty movement is showing promising signs of moving towards the radical egalitarianism and democratic praxis that such a model entails.

Crisis of the peasantry?[edit | edit source]

In its strong reassertion of rural and peasant identities and forms of social reproduction, the food sovereignty movement has been read as a sharp challenge to modernist narratives of inexorable urbanisation, industrialisation of agriculture and de-peasantisation. However, as part of ongoing debates over the contemporary relevance of the "agrarian question" in classical Marxism[18][19] , Henry Bernstein is critical of these largely celebratory accounts. Specifically, levels Bernstein, such analyses tend to present the agrarian population as a unified, singular and world-historical social category. Therefore, they fail to account, in any more than a gestural manner, for:

  • this population's vast internal social differentiation (North/South, gender and class positionalities);
  • the conservative, cultural survivalist tendencies of a movement that has emerged as part of a backlash against the perceived homogenising forces of globalisation[20] (Boyer discusses whether food sovereignty is a counter or anti-development narrative[21] )

In so doing, these accounts cannot escape a certain agrarian populism (or agrarianism) according to Bernstein (for a response to Bernstein, see McMichael (2009)[22]).

See also[edit | edit source]

Notes[edit | edit source]

  4. 4.0 4.1 "Global Small-Scale Farmers' Movement Developing New Trade Regimes", Food First News & Views, Volume 28, Number 97 Spring/Summer 2005, p.2.
  5. McMichael, Philip (2009). Journal of Peasant Studies 36 (1): 139–169.
  6. Declaration of Nyéléni (text), Nyéléni 2007 - Forum for Food Sovereignty. Accessed online 19 February 2010.
  7. Michael Windfuhr and Jennie Jonsén, Food Sovereignty: towards democracy in localized food systems, FIAN / ITDG Publishing, 2005. Accessed online 24 March 2007.
  8. International Assessment of Agricultural Knowledge, Science and Technology for Development (IAASTD), Global Summary for Decision Makers Accessed online 23 September 2008
  9. Karla Peña, "Opening the Door to Food Sovereignty in Ecuador, Food First News & Views (Institute for Food and Development Policy), Winter 2008, Volume 30, Number 111, p. 1.
  10. McMichael, Philip (January 2009). "A food regime genealogy". The Journal of Peasant Studies 36 (1): 139–169.
  11. Friedmann, Harriet (2005). Buttel, F.H. ed. "From colonialism to green capitalism: social movements and the emergence of food regimes". New directions in the sociology of global development.. Research in rural sociology and development (Oxford: Elsevier) 11: 229–67.
  12. Campbell, Hugh (2009). "Breaking new ground in food regime theory: corporate environmentalism, ecological feedbacks, and the 'food from somewhere' regime?". Agriculture and Human Values 26: 309–319.
  13. Wittman, Hannah (2009). "Reworking the metabolic rift: Via Campesina, agrarian citizenship, and food sovereignty". Journal of Peasant Studies 36 (4): 805–826.
  14. Smith, Mick (2009). "Against ecological sovereignty: Agamben, politics and globalisation". Environmental politics 18 (1): 99–116.
  15. Aida Hernandez, J (May 2002). "Indigenous law and identity politics in Mexico: indigenous men's and women's struggles for a multicultural nation". PoLAR 25 (1): 90–109.
  16. Stolle-McAllister, J (2005). "What does democracy look like?: local movements challenge the Mexican transition". Latin American Perspectives 32 (15): 15–35.
  17. Hilbert, Sarah (1997). "For whom the nation? Internationalization, Zapatismo, and the struggle over Mexican modernity". Antipode 29 (2): 115–148.
  18. Haroon Akram-Lodhi, A; Kay, C (2009). Peasants and globalization: political economy, rural transformation and the agrarian question. New York: Routledge.
  19. Araghi, Farshad (1995). "Global depeasantisation, 1945-1990". The Sociological Quarterly 36 (2): 337–368.
  20. Bernstein, Henry (2009). A, Haroon Akram-Lodhi. ed. "Agrarian questions from transition to globalization". Peasants and globalization: political economy, rural transformation and the agrarian question (New York: Routledge).
  21. Boyer, Jefferson (2010). "Food security, food sovereignty, and local challenges for agrarian movements: the Honduras case". Journal of Peasant Studies 37 (2): 319–351.
  22. McMichael, Philip (2009). A, Haroon Akram-Lodhi. ed. "Food sovereignty, social reproduction and the agrarian question". Peasants and globalization: political economy, rural transformation and the agrarian question. (New York: Routledge): 288–312.

Literature[edit | edit source]

  • Annette Desmarais, Nettie Wiebe, and Hannah Wittman (2010) Food Sovereignty: Reconnecting Food, Nature and Community. Food First Books. ISBN 978-0-935028-37-9
  • Choplin, Gérard; Strickner, Alexandra; Trouvé, Aurélie [Hg.] (2011) Ernährungssouveränität. Für eine andere Agrar- und Lebensmittelpolitik in Europa. Mandelbaum Verlag. ISBN 978-3-85476-346-8

External links[edit | edit source]


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Keywords agrarian politics, food politics, anti-globalization
Authors Geoffery "Geof" Bard
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Language English (en)
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Created July 10, 2011 by Geoffery "Geof" Bard
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