Wednesday, 26 August 2015

Food sovereignty in the UK

The noise being made over milk prices has made the national media:
Futures Forum: What is the price of milk? "It must be a crazy concept to keep borrowing money to produce something that almost all of us use and which is, somewhere along the line, making money for somebody."

Farmers for Action give backing to protestors

Sunday 16 August 2015

William Taylor, FFA UK NI co-ordinator, praised the bravery of the young farmers for coming out to make their voices heard.

He said: “The reality is that milk was the last commodity to give a return allowing farmers to pay their bills and this is now no longer the case. In short, this farming crisis is on the scale of the banking crisis across the UK and it is time to apportion the blame where it clearly lies. The UK farmers have suffered 20 years of increasing corporate influenced mis-management of agriculture by the EU and Westminster.

“Every move that has been made in recent years including the demise of milk quotas has suited corporate food retailers, corporate food wholesalers and to a lesser extent processors across the EU. This time action has to be taken by Brussels, Westminster and the Northern Ireland Government to address this food sovereignty crisis!”

Farmers for Action give backing to protestors - Farming Life

The perfect pinta vs. the TTIP trade tanker

Vicki Hird 20th August 2015

Britain's dairy farmers have been having a hard time, writes Vicki Hird, largely thanks to their exposure to an unregulated, unstable, global food market. But if the EU's TTIP 'trade deal' with the US is ever signed, pitting UK dairy farmers against zero-welfare US mega-dairies run on hormones and antibiotics, they won't have a chance.

It is these largely unaccountable bodies that will benefit from trade negotiations like the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP). Anxious to weaken food regulations by 'mutual recognition' of different standards or 'harmonizing' standards to the ones they like, they are very active in the TTIP debate.

As noted by The Ecologist, in food that means pushing to end food border inspections, controls on chemicals, antibiotics and hormone use in livestock production, and allowing GM crops. US meat and dairy industries are pushing to eliminate or weaken animal welfare standards that they say are 'barriers to trade'.

In dairy it's all about animal health and milk quality. The US dairy exporters would like to see EU limits on somatic cell counts (in effect, pus) in milk removed - yet the cell count indicates mastitis, a painful infection of the breast tissue in cows. The EU standard requires better herd health so lessens the likelihood of herds being unhealthy, but means higher costs.

Protecting consumers, farmers, the environment and animals is central to a resilient, safe and healthy food system. War on Want advocates a new way to manage our food system - based on food sovereignty - an alternative food system that creates practical, sustainable and democratic solutions to the failed industrialised food model.

But if farmers, like those dairy farmers, are unable to make a living and the very companies that are squeezing them to oblivion are setting the rules in a new trade treaty, our food system will go downhill faster than M&S can push a cow out of the chilled yogurt section.

The perfect pinta vs. the TTIP trade tanker - The Ecologist

What is 'food sovereignty'?

"Food sovereignty", a term coined by members of Via Campesina in 1996,[1] asserts that the people who produce, distribute, and consume food should control the mechanisms and policies of food production and distribution, rather than the corporations and market institutions they believe have come to dominate the global food system.

Food sovereignty versus food security

A Food sovereignty was born in response to campaigners' disillusion with food security, the dominant global discourse on food provisioning and policy. The latter emphasises access to adequate nutrition for all, which may be provided by food from one's own country or from global imports. In the name of efficiency and enhanced productivity, it has therefore served to promote what has been termed the “corporate food regime”:[9] large-scale, industrialisedcorporate 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.

Writing in Food First's Backgrounder, fall 2003, Peter Rosset argues that "food sovereignty goes beyond the concept of food security… [Food security] means that… [everyone] must have the certainty of having enough to eat each day[,] … but says nothing about where that food comes from or how it is produced." Food sovereignty includes support for smallholders and for collectively owned farms, fisheries, etc., rather than industrializing these sectors in a minimally regulated global economy. In another publication, Food First describes "food sovereignty" as "a platform for rural revitalization at a global level based on equitabledistribution of farmland and water, farmer control over seeds, and productive small-scale farms supplying consumers with healthy, locally grown food."[1]

Criticisms of the Green Revolution

The Green Revolution is upheld by some proponents of food security as a success story in increasing crop yields and combating world hunger. However, many in the food sovereignty movement are critical of the green revolution and accuse those who advocate it as following too much of a Western culture technocratic program that is out of touch with the needs of majority of small producers and peasants.

The ‘green revolution’ refers to developments in plant breeding between the 1960s and 1980s that improved yields from major cereal crops, particularly wheat and rice, and other staple crops. The main focus was on the research, development and transfer of agricultural technology, such as hybrid seeds and fertilisers, through massive private and public investment that went into transforming agriculture in a number of countries, starting in Mexicoand India.

While the green revolution may have produced more food, world hunger continues because it did not address the problems of access.[11] Food sovereignty advocates argue that the green revolution failed to alter the highly concentrated distribution of economic power, and if anything, exacerbated it – particularly access to land and purchasing power.

Some of these views are supported by the World Bank- and UN-sponsored IAASTD report.[12][13] The focus on technology paid no regard to who controlled that technology and ignored the knowledge of the people who were expected to adopt it. Results included significant biodiversity loss due to the mass adoption of hybrid seeds and soil erosion.

Food sovereignty - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Here's another definition:

What is food sovereignty?

Food sovereignty proposes an alternative food system that creates practical, sustainable and democratic solutions to the failed industrialised food model. It is an approach developed by smallscale food producers in the global South that has become a global movement.
Food sovereignty is the right of peoples to healthy and culturally appropriate food produced through ecologically sound and sustainable methods, and their right to define their own food and agriculture systems.
Six pillars of food sovereignty
  • focuses on food for people
  • values food providers
  • localises food systems
  • puts control locally
  • builds knowledge and skills
  • works with nature
Food sovereignty insists on the basic view that the main purpose of the food system is to feed the population in a way that is fair and sustainable. Food is not a commodity like any other because it is fundamentally necessary for life, and our food system needs to enable everyone to live free from hunger. One country or one part of the population of a country cannot achieve food sovereignty on their own if their food system marginalises and starves other people. Our food system therefore needs to be controlled democratically by the people, not by elites or corporates. Who produces food, how and for whom, and who benefits is crucial.
Part of this is ensuring that food producers themselves are able to earn a decent living. In many countries in the global South, smallscale food producers are among the most vulnerable to hunger. In the UK and other countries with industrialised agricultural systems, many smallscale farmers have been forced out of farming or make only a marginal living, with the profits going to the big food processing companies and supermarkets. Often their livelihood is dependent on subsidies which then has a profoundly damaging effect in the global South; if our food system could be remade so that UK farmers could make a living without the need for subsidies, then this damage would be reduced.

Food sovereignty now!

There is a very active campaigning group in the UK:

Transforming our food system

Inspired by the efforts of farmers and social movements around the world as well as action in the UK, we’re working to build a movement for a democratic, sustainable and fair food system – food sovereignty.

National gathering 2015 | Food sovereignty now!

Other organisations are getting involved:
Join the UK Food Sovereignty Gathering 2015
Call for volunteers for UK food sovereignty movement core group | WWOOF UK

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