Today’s plenary addressed how to resist and/or engage with corporate power in ways that advance the struggle for a just food and health system. One of the speakers, Eduardo Sanchez, brilliantly connected the food system to the health care system, and suggested that following the current “reforms” of US health care only replicate the same conditions that keep us unhealthy, and continue to look at health through definitions of treatment and prevention that benefit pharmaceutical companies, much the same way that mainstream ideas of food security fail to challenge corporations’ control of our food system.
At lunch CFSC announced the first ever Food Sovereignty Prize winners. They first announced the three honorable mentions for the prize – Community Alliance for Global Justice, Toronto Food Policy Council and International Centre of Insect Physiology and Ecology. Molly Anderson of CFSC announced our name in a room filled with 750 activists. Ashley, Heather and Travis stood up and received applause on behalf of everyone at CAGJ. After announcing the three organizations they announced the winner, Via Campesina! CFSC created a Food Sovereignty Prize brochure that they placed on each table. In the brochure they describe why each of the organizations received the prize. This is how they describe the work of CAGJ: “For enabling people to (1) build connections with local farms, kitchens and community gardens; (2) better understand global justice and the corporate-driven economic model informing globalization; and (3) take part in collective action furthering sustainable agriculture, democracy and self-determination in the food system. Their initiative, AGRA Watch, challenges the top-down technological approach to food security promoted by the Alliance for a Green Revolution in Africa funded by the Gates Foundation and others.”
The importance of including fisherfolk in the food movement was highlighted In a workshop called “Economic Recovery through Local Markets for Fishermen and Farmers”. We heard two powerful stories of organizing on the East coast of the US, where fisherfolk have formed cooperatives and the NW Atlantic Marine Alliance in an effort to bring local fish back to coastal communities. We also learned about the Domestic Fair Trade cheese project, developed with the support of Family Farm Defenders, which is helping dairy farmers in Wisconsin earn a fair price – three-fifths of the price of every pound of cheese returns directly to the farmers! These farmers and fisherfolk are also networking internationally through their membership in Via Campesina.
Ashley attended a session about the intersections of free trade, cultural shifts and health issues in Mexico. Speakers addressed the cultural roots of maize, the fight against transgenics, the negative impacts of free trade policies pursued under NAFTA on Mexican agriculture and workers, the empirical data showing outrageous increases in obesity in Mexico, and work toward policy change that will reduce the negative health, social, and economic impacts of free trade. Shocking example: speakers stated that in their work in Mexico City, they have seen children as young as 4 months being given Coca Cola in their bottles!!! (On a brighter note, in another session we learned that coke was recently banned from schools in Nicaragua, and replaced with fruit juice.)
Ashley, Heather, and Travis all attended an International Links networking session, which which afforded us an opportunity to meet various activists connecting local and global agriculture/food issues, and to plug ourselves in to this CFSC committee. This will hopefully result in more opportunities to learn from others in International Links and find ways to collaborate.