Mendo Food Sovereignty?


Thanks to Janie Rezner

Sedgwick, Maine has done what no other town in the United States has done. Earlier this year the town unanimously passed an ordinance giving its citizens the right “to produce, process, sell, purchase, and consume local foods of their choosing.”

This is WITHOUT government regulation.

This includes raw milk, locally slaughtered meats, and just about anything else you can imagine. It means that farmer and patron agree to enter into private agreements with one another, and settle any disputes that arise personally and civilly.

It is the way things used to be done before Americans sacrificed their freedoms to the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA).

Food sovereignty ordinances are what must be in place to enable an explosion of local food production. This is only the beginning!

Learn about the international principles developed by Via Campesina in this entry from Wikipedia

Via Campesina’s seven principles of food sovereignty include:

  1. Food: A Basic Human Right. Everyone must have access to safe, nutritious and culturally appropriate food in sufficient quantity and quality to sustain a healthy life with full human dignity. Each nation should declare that access to food is a constitutional right and guarantee the development of the primary sector to ensure the concrete realization of this fundamental right.
  2. Agrarian Reform. A genuine agrarian reform is necessary which gives landless and farming people – especially women – ownership and control of the land they work and returns territories to indigenous peoples. The right to land must be free of discrimination on the basis of gender, religion, race, social class or ideology; the land belongs to those who work it.
  3. Protecting Natural Resources. Food Sovereignty entails the sustainable care and use of natural resources, especially land, water, and seeds and livestock breeds. The people who work the land must have the right to practice sustainable management of natural resources and to conserve biodiversity free of restrictive intellectual property rights. This can only be done from a sound economic basis with security of tenure, healthy soils and reduced use of agro-chemicals.
  4. Reorganizing Food Trade. Food is first and foremost a source of nutrition and only secondarily an item of trade. National agricultural policies must prioritize production for domestic consumption and food self-sufficiency. Food imports must not displace local production nor depress prices.
  5. Ending the Globalization of Hunger. Food Sovereignty is undermined by multilateral institutions and by speculative capital. The growing control of multinational corporations over agricultural policies has been facilitated by the economic policies of multilateral organizations such as the WTO, World Bank and the IMF. Regulation and taxation of speculative capital and a strictly enforced Code of Conduct for TNCs is therefore needed.
  6. Social Peace. Everyone has the right to be free from violence. Food must not be used as a weapon. Increasing levels of poverty and marginalization in the countryside, along with the growing oppression of ethnic minorities and indigenous populations, aggravate situations of injustice and hopelessness. The ongoing displacement, forced urbanization, oppression and increasing incidence of racism of smallholder farmers cannot be tolerated.
  7. Democratic control. Smallholder farmers must have direct input into formulating agricultural policies at all levels. The United Nations and related organizations will have to undergo a process of democratization to enable this to become a reality. Everyone has the right to honest, accurate information and open and democratic decision-making. These rights form the basis of good governance, accountability and equal participation in economic, political and social life, free from all forms of discrimination. Rural women, in particular, must be granted direct and active decision-making on food and rural issues.

Food sovereignty was born in response to growing disillusion among certain sectors with food security, the dominant global discourse on food provisioning and policy. The latter emphasises access to adequate nutrition for all. In the name of efficiency and enhanced productivity, it has therefore served to promote what has been termed the “corporate food regime”[2] : large-scale, industrialised corporate farming based on specialised production, land concentration and trade liberalisation. Food security’s inattention to the political economy of the corporate food regime blinds it to the adverse effects of that regime, notably the widespread dispossession of small producers and global ecological degradation. For instance, a food security agenda that simply provides surplus grain to hungry people would probably be strongly criticised by food sovereignty advocates as just another form of commodity dumping, facilitating corporate penetration of foreign markets, undermining local food production, and possibly leading to irreversible biotech contamination of indigenous crops with patented varieties. U.S. taxpayer subsidized exports of Bt corn to Mexico since the passage of NAFTA is a case in point.
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4 Comments

Some great ideas, but let’s not throw out the baby with the bath water.

Just to give one small example, the Sedgwick ordinance would allow people to grow GMO crops here. The ideas put forth seem to be based on the tired old utopian notions that when allowed to do the right thing, people will all put aside their greed and selfishness and act honestly for the common good. Of course, some will, but what about all the others? How large a minority does it take to mess things up for everyone?

Actually Blue Hill, Penobscot, Trenton and Freedom Maine have passed similar ordinances.
wk

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