WTO – Out of Agriculture !

Face off at WTO Conference, Argentina

The WTO: since its beginnings in 1995 as derivative of General Agreement on Tariff and Trade (GATTs), the World Trade Organisation has promoted the most brutal form of capitalism, better known as trade liberalization. At successive Ministerial Conferences, the WTO has set out to globalise the liberalisation of national markets, promising economic prosperity at the cost of sovereignty. In more or less the same terms, by its “liberalization, deregulation and privatization”, which is called Package of Neoliberalism,

The WTO has encouraged the multiplication of free trade agreements (FTAs) between countries and regional blocs, etc. On this basis and by making use of governments that have been co-opted, the world’s largest transnational corporations (TNCs) are seeking to undermine democracy and all of the institutional instruments for defending the lives, the territories, and the food and agricultural ecosystems of the world’s peoples.

In the previous Ministerial Conference (MC) in Nairobi in 2015, WTO had made six decisions on agriculture, cotton and issues related to LDCs. The agricultural decisions cover commitment to abolish export subsidies for farm exports, public stockholding for food security purposes, a special safeguard mechanism for developing countries, and measures related to cotton. Decisions were also made regarding preferential treatment for least developed countries (LDCs) in the area of services and the criteria for determining whether exports from LDCs may benefit from trade preferences.

This year, with Macri Inc. in the Casa Rosada (Government House in Argentina), the coup leader Michel Temer in the Palacio del Planalto (the oficial workplace of the president of Brazil), and Brazilian Roberto Azevedo as its Director General, the WTO wants to return to the subject of agriculture, to put an end to small-scale fishing, and to make progress with multilateral agreements such as the misnamed General Agreement on Trade in Services (GATS). Notwithstanding the misleading protectionist statements coming from Washington and London, the WTO will meet again to try to impose the interests of capital at the cost of Planet Earth, of the democratic aspirations of the world’s peoples, and of life itself.

During these 20 years of struggle against the WTO, the world’s peoples have resisted its attempt to globalize everything, including the food and agricultural systems, for the benefit of the TNCs. Our struggles have been the biggest impediment to the advance of the WTO, and there is no doubt that La Via Campesina has played a decisive part. Our resistance to market liberalisation under this neoliberal regime has continued since the Uruguay round conducted within the framework of the General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade (GATT). Ever since, La Via Campesina has mobilised against almost all of the Ministerial Conferences since Seattle (1999) and Cancún (2003) – where our brother Lee Kyung Hae, holding a banner declaring that “The WTO kills peasants”, sacrificed his own life – and up to Bali (2013) and Nairobi (2015).

From December 10 to 13, an international delegation of La Via Campesina will be in Buenos Aires to participate actively in multiple mobilisations, forums and debates of the organised people, at the Peoples’ Summit “WTO, Out! – Building Alternatives“. We will denounce the WTO as the criminal organization that it is and will raise our flag of Food Sovereignty. We will denounce all governments, which, after having understood that the WTO had been weakened, resorted to mega free trade agreements, bilateral and regional, that threaten to annihilate our food systems, just as the WTO has done in the last two decades.

To hold Monsanto Corporation accountable for their crimes against humanity

(14-16th October, 2016) Navdanya and the Organic Consumer’s Association are co-organising the Monsanto Tribunal along with  a People’s Assembly for the future of food, the future of the planet – along with multiple civil society organizations – from at The Hague.

The Monsanto Tribunal aims to hold Monsanto and similar corporations accountable for their crimes against humanity, human rights violations and ecocide, no matter what name and form they morph into. Over 800 organizations from around the world are supporting and participating in this process while over 100 people’s assemblies and tribunals are being held across the world.

Over the last century big agribusiness companies have poisoned millions of people; destroyed the biodiversity over vast areas; pushed small farmers off their land and attempted to take over every aspect of our food system. The potential impacts of such outcomes increase as these corporations become fewer and bigger. An example is the recent bid by Bayer to buy Monsanto. 1

Corporations are becoming a threat to the planet

Using free trade (WTO) neoliberal policies and the deregulation of commerce to enlarge their empires, these corporations are downgrading life on earth and its biodiversity. They have broadened their control over our seed, our food and freedom, robbing us of our human rights and democracy. They have established monopolies and threatened farmers rights to seed and people’s rights to affordable medicine through patents and IPRs.

Also Read: Six Questions to Monsanto

The People’s Assembly will be a gathering of movements, seed savers, seed defenders, farmers and growers and civilians to address the crimes against nature and against humanity perpetrated by chemical and biotechnology corporations.

The Tribunal will look at how WTO and Free trade policies have introduced patents on seed and promoted the GMO invasion, and also look at the new free trade agreements like TTIP and TPP. Through the experience of ecocide and genocide over the last century, the Tribunal will also chart the road to our future based on Seed Freedom and Food Freedom, agroecology and farmers rights, our commons and economies of sharing, rights of nature and earth democracy.

The draft agenda for the People’s Assembly includes the following issues:

A Century of Ecocide and Genocide

  • Owning Life and Poisoning Life
  • Attack on Farmers and Farming
  • Attack on science and scientists
  • Attack on Food Freedom and Democracy

Corporate Control and New Threats

  • New corporate concentration – the Monsanto-Bayer Merger
  • New Free Trade Agreements – TPP and TTIP
  • New GMO Technologies, synthetic biology and gene editing

People’s vision for the future of food and the future of planet

  • Seed Saving and community Seed Banks
  • Reclaiming the seed as commons
  • Agroecology feeds the world
  • Organic Agriculture and Poison Free food
  • From Degeneration to Regeneration
  • Rights of Mother Earth
  • Sowing the Seeds of Earth Democracy

Sources & References

  1. Update (3 Oct ’16) – http://seedfreedom.info/the-monsanto-tribunal-and-the-peoples-assembly/
  2. http://www.cnbc.com/2016/09/05/bayer-in-advanced-talks-with-monsanto-on-deal-after-raising-offer.html (accessed 10/09/16)
  3. http://seedfreedom.info/campaign/peoplesassembly-at-mt-the-hague/  (accessed 10/09/16)
  4. https://www.organicconsumers.org/press/international-monsanto-tribunal-names-panel-distinguished-international-judges (accessed 10/09/16)

Genetically engineered apples get the nod from US FDA

All ready for 2016-2017

In March 2015, two varieties of genetically-engineered apples and six types of genetically-altered potatoes claim to offer just as much nutrition and as little safety risk as their conventional relatives, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration has ruled.

The Arctic Granny Apple

The agency officials announced that the “Arctic Apples” by Okanagan Specialty Fruits and the “Innate” potatoes from J. R. Simplot Company passed the voluntary safety tests on Friday after the two products picked up approvals from the U.S. Department of Agriculture.

What’s next?

Cancer-fighting pink pineapples from Del Monte, heart-healthy purple tomatoes and less fatty vegetable oils from Monsanto?

Such GE foods could receive U.S. government approval in the coming years. The companies and scientists which have created these foods hope that customers will be attracted to the health benefits and convenience and overlook any concerns about genetic engineering.

Questionable Developments

At least they have started to consider what’s in it for the eater-consumer. But the big question which arises is; if better health can already be gained by ordinary and obviously cheaper means then these products are marginal at best. So why should consumers trust this direction, especially with companies with a track record like Monsanto ?

 

Source: | New York Daily News