World Food Day: support for small-scale farming key to food sovereignty
World Food Day 2016, marked on the 16th of October, will raise awareness about climate change and its impact on food and agriculture. To feed a growing world population, expected to reach 9.6 billion by 2050, there is a need to address the adverse effects of climate change and rethink the way we produce food.
But rather than promoting industrial farming and GM crops, the world must recognise people’s right to produce their own food, argues GUE/NGL MEP Lidia Senra:
“Europe does not have to feed the world but should instead help people feed themselves. To eradicate hunger, poverty, social exclusion and contribute to the fight against climate change it is fundamental to promote and enhance agro-ecology, peasant farming, access to land and seeds and prioritise short marketing circuits.”
Faced with a reality of more and more people living under the threshold of poverty and growing hunger, a direct result of austerity policies, Senra called for a radical shift in the EU towards “an end to neoliberalism and free trade agreements, which are at the roots of inequality”.
Concurring, Irish MEP Lynn Boylan adds that genetically modified (GM) foods undermine small-scale farmers’ with a one-size-fits-all approach to farming that does not even come close to fixing the global food and climate change crisis:
“Genetically modified foods with their high and sustained input costs – both financial and chemical – are designed for large monoculture farms which are entirely ill-equipped to address the dual requirements of feeding the world and fighting climate change. Indeed, the only GM crop used by small-scale farmers is GM cotton in India – a non-food crop.”
“Furthermore, industrial agriculture’s genetically identical monocultures are actually the most vulnerable to climate and pest stress whilst ecologically sound and diverse crops which sustain local communities without risking biodiversity are much more resilient to climate change shocks.”
Spanish MEP Lola Sánchez Caldentey calls attention to the pervasiveness of land grabbing that denies indigenous peoples their food sovereignty:
“Effective measures to combat land grabbing in developing countries, such as those for ensuring land tenure security, are essential for attaining global goals and EU commitments on nutrition and food security.”
“At the same time public policy on nutrition must consider the gender dimension as women are more likely to suffer from nutrient deficiency than men,” Caldentey added.
Concluding the Spanish MEP denounces the damage free trade agreements are having on people’s right to food:
“The privatisation of seeds through intellectual property clauses in EU trade agreements, especially macro-trade deals such as TTIP or CETA, together with support for GMOs threaten food sovereignty and people's right to food.”