Definitions of food security and food sovereignty

The concept of ‘Food Security’ reigns supreme as the practical means of achieving access to food (Madeley, 2000)[i]. The term is largely a United Nations construct, originating from the institution’s Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) formed in 1945.

The organisation defines food security as when “all people, at all times, have physical and economic access to sufficient, safe and nutritious food to meet their dietary needs and food preferences for an active and healthy life”.[ii]

Despite the problems associated with food aid (see text), the FAO decided food security would be best achieved with unilateral cooperation; hence the 1996 Rome Declaration on World Food Security where participating states reaffirmed “the right of everyone to have access to safe and nutritious food, consistent with the right to adequate food and the fundamental right of everyone to be free from hunger”.[iii]

This spawned the Millennium Development Goal Target 3, to ‘halve, between 1990 and 2015, the proportion of people who suffer from hunger’.

More recently, the concept of ‘Food Sovereignty’ has gained prominence. The term, which refers to the right to produce food on one’s own territory, was coined by the NGO La Vía Campesina in 2002. This includes the right of peoples to sustain themselves and define their own agricultural, labour, fishing, food and land policies which are ecologically, socially, economically and culturally appropriate to their circumstances.[iv]

It defines seven principles of food sovereignty which are: the right to food, agrarian reform, protecting natural resources, reorganising food trade, ending the globalisation of hunger, social peace, and democratic control. As Jefferson Boyer states, the notion of “food sovereignty was a direct attack on official food security, especially its eschewal of local production.”[v]


[i] John Madeley (2000) Hungry for Trade, London: Zed Books.
[ii] FAO (2005) Food and Agriculture Organisation [on-line] www.fao.org (accessed 25th June 2009).
[iii] Rome Declaration, [Ref required ???]
[iv] La Vía Campesina, www.viacampesina.org accessed 29 June 2009.
[v] Jefferson Boyer (April 2010) ‘Food security, food sovereignty, and local challenges for transnational agrarian movements: the Honduras case’, the Journal of Peasant Studies, vol. 37, no. 2, 319-351.

Seguridad alimentaria en Panamá

El gobierno le roba el plato de arroz al pueblo

Marco A. Gandásegui .

Panamá, 22 de diciembre de 2016.

Reproducido por autorización de alainet.org (Agencia Latinoaméricana de Información)

Palabras claves: seguridad alimentaria; arroceros; importaciones; tratado de libre comercio; gobierno de Panamá

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La situación en el agro panameño llegó a su límite con los ataques más recientes del gobierno a los productores. Aprovechando la falta de planificación, el gobierno promovió la compra de arroz en el exterior para que los especuladores quebraran a los productores nacionales.

La operación fue pensada y ejecutada con maestría por los políticos al servicio de los intereses neoliberales. Son un puñado de especuladores que tienen sus garras dentro del gobierno. Crean y hacen desaparecer empresas en el registro de la propiedad con el sólo objetivo de transferir millones de dólares de las arcas fiscales a sus cuentas secretas.

¿Cómo se justifica que mientras los productores preparan la cosecha de arroz para colocarla en el mercado, el gobierno aprueba la compra de millones de quintales del rubro en el exterior y comienza a desembarcarlos en los puertos nacionales? Las cuatro empresas importadoras autorizadas para la operación fueron creadas con ese solo propósito. Los productores, desde Darién hasta Alanje, pasando por Chepo y Coclé, han protestado sin que el palacio presidencial reaccione. Los especuladores están demasiado ocupados celebrando con la música de sus cajas registradoras. Para responder a la indiferencia gubernamental, los productores organizaron una marcha hacia el Palacio de las Garzas.

Durante la marcha de los productores agrícolas hacia la Presidencia de la República realizada el pasado lunes, se exigieron soluciones. El secretario general del Movimiento Independiente de Refundación Nacional (MIREN), Juan Jované, planteó, en un comunicado, que “el pueblo demanda una solución efectiva y rápida a la escandalosa arremetida del gobierno contra la producción agrícola nacional y la seguridad alimentaria de la familia panameña”.

Denunció al gobierno, por la política corrupta y la rapiña “contra el presupuesto de los trabajadores de las ciudades y de los productores del campo”.

En el comunicado del MIREN, se “propone un sistema ordenado y planificado de la producción agrícola, basado en criterios científicos y donde prime una política seria y responsable”. En el caso del arroz, los gobernantes tienen en sus manos las estadísticas que hablan del engaño que pretenden realizar. “Saben muy bien cuál es la demanda nacional y tienen la información necesaria para saber cuántas hectáreas de tierra se necesitan para satisfacer esa demanda”.

En la actualidad, los productores nacionales siembran 92 mil hectáreas de arroz y cosechan 6.2 millones de quintales. Con un plan de trabajo, los productores de arroz pueden sembrar el doble y cosechar aún más. El gobierno puede reabrir los silos para guardar cualquier sobrante y tenerlo disponible para los años de malas cosechas. Incluso, Panamá, en el pasado, ha exportado arroz. Con estas prácticas mercantilistas, hemos regresado a los años más corruptos de la historia en que los gobiernos y especuladores conspiraban para arruinar a los arroceros y otros productores agrícolas.

En la década de 1950 se sembraba la misma cantidad de hectáreas de arroz que en el siglo XXI. En la década de 1970, con mejor planificación, se sembraban 105 hectáreas.

El comunicado del MIREN señala que la situación de los arroceros se reproduce para cada rubro agrícola. “Los gobernantes y sus malos socios – especuladores y financistas – hacen sus cálculos no para satisfacer las necesidades del país. Sus planes, cuando llegan al poder, consisten en crear más confusión y aprovechar las oportunidades para robar más”.

El negocio de las importaciones de arroz se ha disparado perjudicando a los consumidores. Entre 1970 y 1990 Panamá era auto-suficiente: no importaba arroz. En 2000, después del TLC con EEUU, se importaron 1.8 millones de quintales, en 2010 las importaciones alcanzaron las 2.5 millones de quintales y en 2015 fueron 2.3 millones. ¿Quiénes se hacen millonarios? Los especuladores y monopolistas asociados a los gobernantes.

El MIREN hace suyas las demandas de los productores nacionales que coinciden con las necesidades del pueblo. El comunicado dice que “apoyamos la planificación de la producción por parte de los agricultores para asegurar una competencia sana y erradicar los tentáculos de los monopolistas enquistados en el gobierno”.

El sector más golpeado por la corrupción oficial es el pequeño productor de arroz. Entre 1990 y 2010, de los 1154 productores pequeños sólo quedan 717. Entre los grandes, hubo una aumento del 35 por ciento.

A su vez, el MIREN exige que se renegocie el Tratado de Libre Comercio con EEUU que en cuestión de pocos años acabará definitivamente con lo poco que le queda a la agricultura panameña.

*********

– Marco A. Gandásegui, hijo, profesor de Sociología de la Universidad de Panamá e investigador asociado del Centro de Estudios Latinoamericanos Justo Arosemena (CELA)

www.marcoagandasegui14.blogspot.com

www.salacela.net

http://www.alainet.org/es/articulo/182538

 

Food security in Panamá

The government steals the rice dish from the people

Marco A. Gandsegui

Panamá, December 22nd 2016

Reproduced by kind permission of alainet.org (Agencia Latinoaméricana de Información)

Translated by Rick Blower, February 2017

Key words: food security; rice producers; imports; trade treaty; Government of Panamá

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The situation in the Panamanian agriculture sector reached its limit with the most recent government attacks aimed at the producers. Taking advantage of the lack of planning, the government promoted the purchase of rice from abroad in order that the speculators bankrupted the national producers.

The operation was conceived and executed with skill by the politicians at the service of the interests of the neoliberals. It is a handful of speculators who have their clutches within the government. They create and make firms disappear in the land registry with the sole objective of transferring millions of dollars from the tax coffers to their secret accounts.

How can this be justified? While the producers prepare the rice harvest for the market, the government approves the purchase of millions of bushels from overseas and begins to unload it in the national ports? The four export companies authorised for this operation were created with this sole purpose. The producers, from Darien up to Alanje, through Chepo and Coclé, have protested but without a reaction from the presidential palace. The speculators are too busy celebrating to the sound of their cash machines. To respond to governmental indifference, the producers organised a march towards the Palace of the Herons.

During the march towards the Presidency of the Republic, the agricultural producers demanded solutions. In a communication the general secretary of the Independent Movement of National Refoundation (MIREN), Juan Jovane, stated that “the people demand a quick and effective solution to the scandalous onslaught of the government against the national agricultural production and the food security of the Panamanian family.”

He denounced the government for corrupt politics and theft “against the budget of the workers of the cities and the producers in the fields.”

In the statement from MIREN, they “proposed an orderly and planned system of agriculture, based upon scientific criteria and in which serious and responsible politics takes the lead.” In the case of rice, those governing have in their hands the statistics which speak of the deceit they seek to make.” They know very well what is the national demand and they have the necessary information to know how many hectares of land are required to satisfy that demand.”

Nowadays, the national producers sow 92 thousand hectares of rice and harvest 6.2 million bushels. With a work plan, the rice producers can sow double and harvest even more. The government can re-open the silos to store whatever is surplus and have it ready for when there are poor harvests. In the past, Panama even exported rice. With these mercantile practices, we have returned to the most corrupt years in our history where governments and speculators conspire to ruin the rice producers and other agricultural producers.

In the 1950s the same amount of rice was planted as throughout the 21st century. In the 1970s, with better planning, 105 [thousand] hectares were planted.

The statement from MIREN signals that the situation for the rice growers is replicated for each agricultural category. “Those in government and their bad associates – speculators and financiers – make their calculations not to satisfy the needs of the country. When they come to power, their plans consist of creating more confusion and taking advantage of the opportunities to steal more.”

The business of importing rice has triggered hardship for the consumers. Between 1970 and 1990 Panama was self-sufficient: it did not import rice. In 2000, after the Free Trade Agreement with the United States, Panama imported 1.8 million bushels, and in 2010 these imports of rice increased to 2.5 million bushels. The amount in 2015 was 2.3 million. Who have become millionaires? The speculators and the monopolists associated with the government.

MIREN endorses the demands of the national producers that match the needs of the people. The communication says that “we support the planning of production on behalf of the farmers to ensure healthy competition and to eradicate the tentacles of the monopolists entwined in the government.”

The sector worst hit by official corruption is the small rice producer. Between 1990 and 2010, of the 1,154 small producers, only 717 remain. There has been an increase of 35% among the larger producers.

For their part, MIREN demands a re-negotiation of the Free Trade Agreement with the United States which in a matter of a few years will definitely finish off  what little remains of Panamanian agriculture.

*********

– Marco A. Gandásegui (son) Professor Of Sociology at the University of Panamá and Research Associate at the Justo Arosemena Centre of Latin American Studies (CELA).

www.marcoagandasegui14.blogspot.com

www.salacela.net

http://www.alainet.org/es/articulo/182538

 

Hondurans Reject Handing Over Land To Private Capital

As all readers of The Violence of Development website will be aware, Honduran farmworkers and campesinos suffer enough difficulties without having their land taken from them. Telesur recently reported on yet another regressive force in Honduran society – agrarian reform for the benefit of international capital and the wealthy.

Published 14 October 2020, Telesur 

Key words: Honduras; Banana Law; CNTC; agrarian reform regression.

Representatives from several Honduran Campesino organisations announced that they would carry out protest actions against the approval of decree PCM 030-2020. This norm, called the ‘Banana Law’ by rural activists, would give land plots to national and international private capital.

Farmworkers claim that the measure could take away the livelihood of some 450,000 rural families. According to the campesinos, this decree is a retreat from the agrarian conquests obtained in recent years. It motivates the transfer of land (which is cultivated by small farmers) to the hands of the highest bidder.

As part of the initiative’s actions, the Campesino movement presented an appeal of unconstitutionality against decree PCM 030-2020 before the Supreme Court of Justice (CSJ).

The leader of the National Rural Workers Union (CNTC), Franklin Almendares, said that the appeal is the first action to defeat the initiative, which has been the unified demand of several peasant organisations since the beginning. “This appeal goes against the life of small farmers, is a step backward from the agrarian reform, and would increase criminalization in the countryside,” stated Almendares.

 

“We say no to the new Banana Law, and many organizations are joining together, that is why we are doing this because we cannot allow something to be approved that comes to take away land from more than 450,000 families, increasing the crisis in the countryside; we know that there is no political will for agrarian reform,” Almendares emphasized.

From the peasant movement lawyers’ point of view, the decree gives land to national and international agribusiness for 30 years, becoming a harmful decree for those it purportedly represents.

The CNTC warned that there are already agreements to hand over land to business people in the Colón department under this decree’s protection. The situation is causing alarm among the peasantry and leading them to continue planning protest actions. For this reason, they do not rule out that in the coming days, the protest actions may be through roadblocks, sit-ins, and public denunciations to put on the table the total repeal of what they call the Banana Law.

“We will carry out permanent actions at the national level, takeovers, sit-ins, and protests. We know that they are going to criminalize us, but we assure you that we will continue to fight,” Almendares concluded.

GMOs in food aid to Central America

World Food Programme and U.S. denounced for the distribution of GMOs

StarLink, a genetically modgmcorncartoon-2-254x300ified maize illegal for human consumption in the US, has been found in food aid distributed by the World Food Programme (WFP) in Central America. In February more than 70 environmental, consumer, farmer, human rights groups and unions from six Central American and Caribbean countries denounced the presence of unauthorized Genetically Modified Organisms (GMOs) in food aid distributed by the WFP, and in commercial imports of food originating mostly from the US. The organisations have requested the WFP to recall all food aid containing GMOs immediately.

Food aid has been identified as the main gate for the introduction of GMOs in the majority of the countries of the region. “In Nicaragua our farmers produce enough food and the WFP should buy any needed food within our country, instead of using imported food with GMOs”, said Julio Sánchez from Centro Humboldt in Nicaragua.

Samples of maize and soy, taken from food aid and commercial imports distributed in Nicaragua, Honduras, El Salvador, Guatemala, Costa Rica and the Dominican Republic, were sent to Genetic ID, an independent U.S. laboratory, to verify whether GMOs were present. In more than 80 per cent of all samples sent to the laboratory, GMOs were identified and the presence of GMOs in one of the samples was greater than 70 per cent.

StarLink has never been authorized for human consumption anywhere in the world due to scientific concerns that it could cause potentially severe allergic reactions. This maize was initially authorized for animal feed, but in 2000 it was found in human food products and authorities immediately removed it from the market and banned its cultivation altogether. … In 2002, it was also found in USAID food aid sent to Bolivia.

“It is not acceptable that a maize which is illegal for human consumption in the U.S. is distributed in our country. The appearance of StarLink contamination four years after it was banned clearly shows that genetic engineering of food is unpredictable and out of control”, added Mariano Godinez of CEIBA in Guatemala.

Commercial imports of food containing maize and soy, mostly from the US, were monitored in Costa Rica and the Dominican Republic, countries which are not food aid recipients. Over 75 per cent of all the samples sent to the laboratory tested positive. “The confirmation of the presence of GMOs clearly shows that Costa Rica urgently needs a moratorium. In order to protect our population it is of the utmost importance now more than ever to apply the precautionary principle”, said Fabián Pacheco of the Social Ecology Association in Costa Rica.


Sources:
ENCA Newsletter no. 38 (June 2005), pp. 11-12.
Centro Humboldt, Managua, www.humboldt.org.ni/

GMOs in Honduras and El Salvador

The planting of Genetically Modified Organisms (GMOs) is legal in Honduras and El Salvador but illegal in the rest of Central America.

In 2002, the Honduran Government approved Monsanto’s request to plant MON-810 Bt maize cultivars (Otero, 2007). This is corn with genes from Bacillus thuringiensis – a bacterium that possesses an insecticide effect – so pests that eat the corn die.[i]

Transnational fruit corporations, such as Dole and Chiquita, are also thought to be experimenting on transgenic bananas (Otero, 2007).

According to Jaffe (2003), Honduras is one of the few Latin American counties with an operational biosafety regulation. However its biosafety “Acuerdo” of 1998 simply says “proper measures have to be taken to prevent the negative effects of GMOs on human health and the environment”. The Honduran Ministry of Agriculture, the designated authority to regulate GMOs and evaluate requests for field trials and releases, does not have any specific criteria for such evaluations.[ii]

Monsanto said that by 2007, the company’s GMOs accounted for 15% of the country’s corn production but predicted this would increase to 50% by 2012.[iii]

El Salvador became the second country to allow the cultivation of GMOs when it approved the experimental planting of Monsanto’s YieldGard® Corn Borer with Roundup Ready® Corn 2. The products were planted by the Centro Nacional de Tecnologia Agropecuaria y Forestal (CENTA) which has stations in San Andres, Ceda Izalso and Santa Cruz Porrillo.[iv]

Monsanto admits it was instrumental in securing the government statement which first outlined the use of GMOs which came after the National Congress of El Salvador eliminated the vote against article 30 – which forbade GMO activity – and new biosafety regulations were published.[v]

The company says a biotechnology framework is also being implemented in Guatemala in 2009 and it hopes more Central American countries will adopt Monsanto technologies. But while extensive field trials on the effects of GMOs to human health and the environment remain incomplete, other Central American countries have upheld their ban on GMOs.


[i] http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Transgenic_maize
[ii] Gerard Otero. Food for the Few: Neoliberal Globalism and Biotechnology in Latin America (2007)
[iii] Rita Perdomo, Monsanto’s Marking Manager, quotes in http://www.npr.org/templates/story/story.php?storyId=93310225 (Accessed 20/07/09).
[iv] http://www.monsanto.com/monsanto_today/2009/el_salvador_to_adopt_gmos.asp (Accessed 20/07/09).
[v] See note 4.

La Vía Campesina

La Vía Campesina describes itself as an ‘international movement of peasants, small- and medium-sized producers, landless, rural women, indigenous people, rural youth and agricultural workers'[i]. Deriving its name from the Spanish phrase ‘la vía campesina’ meaning ‘the way of the peasant’, La Vía Campesina was formed in May 1993 at Mons in Belgium where it was constituted as a world organisation and defined its structure. It is an autonomous movement, with no political affiliation and with members from 56 countries from Asia, Africa, Europe, and the Americas.

La Via Campesina has three main objectives:

(1) To defend peasant, family farm-based production: production should be sustainable and carried out with local resources and in harmony with local culture and traditions. It believes communities can produce the optimal quantity and quality of food with few external inputs. Production is geared towards family consumption and domestic markets.

(2) To defend people’s food sovereignty: the right of peoples, countries and state unions to define their agricultural and food policy without the ‘dumping’ of agricultural commodities into foreign countries. Food sovereignty and sustainability are a higher priority than trade policies.

(3) Decentralised food production and supply chains: the current industrialised agribusiness model has been deliberately planned to dominate all agriculture activities. This model exploits workers and concentrates economic and political power. La Vía Campesina advocates a decentralised model where production, processing, distribution and consumption are controlled by the people and communities themselves, not by TNCs.

La Vía Campesina promotes seven principles of food sovereignty[ii]:

  1. Food. A basic human right: access to sufficient, safe, nutritious and culturally appropriate food should be a constitutional right.
  2. Agrarian reform. Agrarian reform is required to give landless and farming communities ownership and control of the land they work. Indigenous territories must be returned to indigenous peoples.
  3. Protecting natural resources. Food sovereignty demands the sustainable use of natural resources: land, water, seeds and livestock breeds.
  4. Reorganising food trade. Food must be recognised first as a source of nutrition, and only secondly as an item of trade. National agricultural policies must prioritise production for domestic consumption and food self-sufficiency. Food imports must not displace local production nor depress prices.
  5. Ending the globalisation of hunger. Food sovereignty is directly undermined by the growing control of multinational corporations and multilateral organisations over agricultural policies. Regulation of TNCs is urgently needed.
  6. Social peace. Food must not be used as a weapon. Displacement, forced urbanisation and repression of smallholder farmers cannot be tolerated.
  7. Democratic control. Smallholder farmers must have must have direct input into agricultural policies at all levels. Rural women in particular must be granted direct decision-making rights on food and rural issues.

[i] Food Sovereignty: A Right for All Political Statement of the NGO/CSO Forum for Food Sovereignty, 13 June 2002, Rome.
[ii] Summarised from Ed Hamer ( April 2009) ‘Ploughs into Swords’, Ecologist,