Peoples’ Food Summit

Monday, October 18, 2021 - 1:00pm
Precious Phiri & Ercilia Sahores

On September 23 the UN Food Systems Summit was held as part of the Decade of Action to Achieve the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) by 2030. Apparently, it stands as a broad invitation to all countries and sectors. This Establishment summit has been criticized by Vía Campesina as well as other grassroots organizations. It ignores the processes and instances built for decades with the participation of peasant and indigenous movements as well as the UN declaration on the rights of peasants. Bottom line, there is an incompatibility between the search for sustainability and life care, sustaining a diverse and complex nature notion, and a search for capital accumulation, including the digital data as capital, in a quest to homogenize and reduce nature. The appropriation of the patented genetically modified seeds corresponds with the digital algorithms which include them along with chemical pesticides and fertilizers.

Consequently, an alternative global gathering called the People’s Food Summit is planned. Ercilia Sahores, a founding member and Latin America Director of Regeneration International, and Precious Phiri from Zimbabwe will report on the People’s Food Summit. It will gather the broadest number of rural peoples, people's organizations, CSOs, and advocates. It will draw up a Declaration for a radical transformation of the current food regimes towards just, equitable, healthy and sustainable food systems. The Summit will also develop a People's Action Plan - its major outcome - to realize their goal.

Food, among all expressions of culture, is the only one that we incorporate into our body, therefore it becomes an integral part of us. The sum of the various stages in producing, processing and consuming food constitutes the foundation of our cultures, how the society is organized, our economies and our relationships with the natural world.

Obtaining food through agriculture, initially cattle and extensive fishing later, had represented the more transformative and destructive activity of the ecosystems and the implicit biodiversity.

In the second half of the XX century, agriculture technology, through the “Green Revolution” launched a promise to feed the increasing thousands of millions world inhabitants through efficient food systems. It looks at nature as an industry with exploitable resources: water, soil, vegetation, and biodiversity. The main strategy was to extend the arable lands dedicated to monocrops with an intensive use of fertilizers, pesticides, insecticides, herbicides, fungicides. The results of such politics have been disastrous: soil degradation, deterioration of living conditions for wild animals and plants, loss of agrodiversity -food-, overconsumption of fossil fuels and the greenhouse gases effect.

The Neoliberal offensive of the 1990s deepened violence and aggression against peasant communities throughout the world. As agribusiness and the commodification of agriculture develop, hunger and unemployment grow. According to ETC Group data, peasant agriculture has only ¼ of the world's agricultural land, but feeds more than 75% of the world's population, while agribusiness with ¾ of agricultural land only reaches 25% of the world's population. Obviously, something is wrong with the industrialized agribusiness model. It is time for a People’s Food System.