Thousands of farmers, activists and concerned citizens converged on Berlin on Saturday to say – once again – We Are Fed Up with agro-industry!
Many met at the MarktHalle Neun for the famous farmers’ breakfast. There ARC2020 spoke with German parliamentarian and former Consumer Protection, Food and Agriculture Minister Renate Künast.
She spoke of the many benefits of family farming over agro-industry
as well as of issues with speculators buying up land, making it impossible for regional farmers to sustain their livelihoods; on the difficulties for young farmers to get involved and on the lack of public good for public services in the CAP.
From the iconic Potsdamer Platz, the demo took off to rousing speeches, cheers, hoots and hollers. It snaked its way towards the Chancellery, soundtracked by samba bands and whistles, led by 130 tractors.
Farmers had driven from all over Germany, some travelling over 100km, to bring their message to the masses.
The wide ranging coalition Meine Landwirtschaft drew together many disparate elements of the agri-food sector to take over down town Berlin.
Pesticides – especially glyphosate – GM, TTIP and livestock issues featured strongly in the banners on display and the chants that rose and revolved around the human chain of mobilised marchers.
This year’s manifestation saw strong emphasis on protecting and helping small to mid sized farms. Germany has seen a drop since 1990 from 700,000 to just 280,000 farmers. Germany also saw an incredible drop of 40% in farm incomes in a single year – the second biggest drop in the EU. Thus the slogan – no farmers no future – was plastered everywhere on the walls, pillars and posts of the German capital.
From the stage at the end of the demo, ARC2020 brought an international flavour to proceedings. Akiko Frid (Japan, Sweden) from GMO free Europe spoke of the perils of Genetic Modification, including the new, supposedly second generation variety;
Aurélie Trouvé (Attac France) spoke of the causes and potential solutions of the milk risks;
Karen Hansen Kuhn (IATP, US), festooned in a TITP-free zone ‘no entry’ style crime scene tape, spoke of solidarity with the good food movement in the US;
while Pavlos Georgiadis (Greece) joined the dots of food, climate, the planet-destroying economic model we all harbour under, and human rights.
Indeed this broader factors of human rights also took centre stage this year. A particularly prominent, vibrant addition to the protest came from Syrian migrants and refugees living in Germany.
This understandably vocal contingent strongly emphasised a human rights dimension. “Food is not a weapon” “food sovereignty for Syria” their banners demanded.
Syria represents a perfect storm of climate change, drought, crop failures, food (scarcity) as a weapon of war via siege, and then finally the mass movement of refugees.
The 15.Garden however is one of the many initiatives that show that food can be part of the solution too. This network of gardens, farming projects and other food initiatives is also the first food sovereignty network of Syria, exchanging open pollinated seeds and knowledge on food production skills, while also acting as a vocal and focal point for Syrians in Berlin.
Through initiatives like the 15.Garden, refugees find a place of growth and support – food, it seems, is connecting up a myriad of issues. Here’s to WHES2017!
NEW: video via the good folks at Organic Tweet (German)