From the July-August 2022 issue of News & Letters
A statement by La Via Campesina, June 3, 2022, to accompany “War, climate chaos, capitalism, COVID: World food crisis spreads“
…Today, we live amid simultaneous, intense and prolonged crises, with very rapid changes in the correlation of forces and the political struggle. We face a severe and structural economic problem that affects the countries of the capitalist centre and the poor and developing countries. We call this crisis structural because it is the result of the mode of organization of the system, and it is not possible to overcome it without confronting the bases of capitalism itself. This crisis appears and deepens in terms of the economy, social inequalities, the limits of bourgeois democracy, the inoperability of the state, the unsustainable burden of public debt, the attack on the sovereignty of peoples, and a real crisis of civilizing values. In various regions of the planet, barbarism emerges in the form of hate, violence, wars, and fascist preaching.
…Governments, Transnational Corporations and international institutions have prioritized the import and export of food and agricultural produce instead of supporting stable local and national food systems to produce healthy food for the people. This has created a dependency on international markets.
Still, today, over 85% of agricultural production is not traded internationally. We experience a crisis of the globalized and industrialized capitalist food system, while local peasant food systems are showing their resilience….
Agriculture in the world produces enough to support a longer period of crises. So the problem is not a lack of food, but the fact that the big capitalist companies that dominate the world financial and distribution market have transformed food and agricultural trade into a highly speculative market. Most of the “commodities” traded internationally are subject to futures trading in stock markets. The price at which these products are finally sold to countries to feed their people has no relation to the actual production costs or the importing countries’ buying capacity.
Furthermore, in a cynical attempt to take advantage of the war in Ukraine, the U.S., Canada, and the EU are now calling for an unprecedented increase in grain production. This call is not so much to feed people in food-importing countries but to grab new markets that used to be supplied by Russia or Ukraine.
Policies that can address these crises…have been progressively dismantled over the last decade through the pressure of IMF, World Bank, WTO and bilateral free-trade agreements. The strategy to secure food supply, a constitutive part of strategic procedures to defend national sovereignty, has always been the task of States. However, neoliberalism, as a model of capitalist development, implemented in most nations in the 1980s and 1990s, promoted, in the name of economic globalization, the total opening of borders for the free circulation of merchandise controlled by large capitalist corporations and the privatization of the structures and logistics of storage and stock control.
As a result of this process, most nations have become hostages of the market and the interests of large transnational corporations, which control the production, storage, industrialization, financing and distribution of the world food market. The task of strategic storage and control of food stock now belongs to the market, at the service of capital; therefore, it is our challenge to resume in all countries the building of stocks from peasant agriculture, as well as the commercialization of food between countries, which must be carried out with new parameters and regulations.
While agribusiness is moving towards the digitalization of agriculture, we have won the approval in 2018 of the UN Declaration on the Rights of Peasants and other people working in rural areas. This historical moment presents itself as an opportunity to denounce the exhaustion of the production model based on the technological package and present the peasantry as the alternative for the present and the future. Produce healthy food, protect nature and produce new social relations in the countryside, dignified life and food sovereignty and sovereignty of peoples. We must bear in mind that new technologies lead to unemployment and the emptying of the countryside of people, of peasants, promoting forced migration and misery.
The full statement, with 15 demands, can be found at https://viacampesina.org/en/lvc-statement-stop-the-food-crisis-build-food-sovereignty-now/.