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Does Food Sovereignty Starve the Poor and Punish the Planet?

by Gilles Billen, Luis Lassaletta and Josette Garnier Globalisation is not only a matter of clothing and mobile phones. Long-distance worldwide shipping of food commodities has also increased tremendously over the last few decades. Lassaletta et al.(2014) estimate that one-third of all proteins (a proxy for the nutritive potential of foodstuffs) produced globally are redistributed through international trade. Thus a recent study in France shows that the total volume of long distance commercial exchanges of food commodities, mostly originating from far away, account for over twice the national agricultural production (Le Noé et al., submitted). However, the positive value of a globalised food supply is being actively questioned. In industrialised countries, a citizens’ movement has arisen, sometimes supported by local public authorities, seeking to promote a local food supply. This movement aims to reclaim control of nutrition, re-create social links often destroyed by the extent of mass distribution, and develop the local economy. Developing countries are also attempting to strengthen their local food supply and recover part of their food sovereignty lost by decades of […]

Recent updates

Czech Agriculture – using CAP for agroecology?

Czech Republic is the European Union country with the highest share of arable land, around 38% of its surface. Despite this fact, recent trends give clear evidence for an enormous decrease of agricultural land due to the expansion of urbanization and industrialization plans across the country. However the reformed Common Agricultural Policy (CAP) of the European Union (EU) could potentially push Czech Republic to promote an environmentally and socially sustainable agriculture. The process of land degradation in Czech Republic has its roots in the agricultural land expropriations of the 1950s done by the communist regime. During that time agricultural policy focused mostly on the large-scale consolidation of farmlands as well as on highly intensive methods of production through the use of agrochemicals without consideration of potential environmental risks.  In light of the „Velvet revolution“ in 1989 the political and economic changes gave rise various agricultural currents, from agroindustry to organic farming. Already in 1990 the Ministry for Agriculture established its own department for „alternative agriculture“, handing out Governmental support in form of direct subsidies to […]

Latest from key partners

Communities taking control of the food revolution

Another way to do food is possible. And its here. Friends of the Earth Europe’s  “Eating from the Farm – the social, environmental, and economic benefits of local food systems” show us inspirational examples of where you can  shake the hand that feeds you, all around Europe. This new publication explores the many myriad benefits of short food supply chains, and how they function in few countries in the EU. It “features five case studies which illustrate different ways in which communities are finding more sustainable ways to produce and consume food with benefits for all” FOEE say about the publication . They continue “The methods vary, but the outcomes are the same: control of the food system is being taken back by small-scale, sustainable farms and food enterprises from large-scale industrial businesses that dominate the market today putting profit ahead of well being for people and planet.” The milestone of more urban than rural dwellers reached globally as long ago as 2007.  This, coupled with a the twin demands of the sustainable use of resources and […]

Latest from EU Member States

The first farm of its kind in Scotland

Whitmuir Community Farm, a few miles south of the Scottish capital Edinburgh is selling itself to the local community. Literally. For a couple of years now, Whitmuir Community Benefit Society has been selling shares in the working organic farm, with a view to securing the future of the educational work that already goes on there. “Transferring the land from private ownership to community ownership not only protects the long term future of the farm, but also allows greater collaboration with the educational and science sectors than is currently possible and enables the development of accommodation and teaching facilities on site,” explains Pete Ritchie, director of Nourish Scotland, who is currently farming Whitmuir with his partner, Heather Anderson. The process of selling shares was launched in 2013, with the first share being bought for then five-year-old Maya by her family. The launch event was also attended by the Scottish Parliament’s Cabinet Secretary for Rural Affairs, Food and Environment, Richard Lochhead (pictured below, with Maya). There are now 14 shareholders under the age of 16 and the […]

Latest from EU Member States

Challenges & opportunities of moving agroecology east

  Written By: Stella Beghini, Agrobiodiversity Campaign Intern for Eco Ruralis  At the recent International Forum on Agroecology held in Mali, delegates of peasants and many other groups from all over the world strongly addressed the roots of the crisis concerning our natural and social systems. They claimed agroecology as the real solution to reach environmental justice. The challenges and opportunities of how agroecology can be achieved in Eastern Europe is essential to growing this international movement. The Nyéléni Center in the Malian village of Sélingué held its first Forum in 2007 where food sovereignty was first conceptualized as a holistic approach and vision to agrarian justice. Fast forward to 2015, another meeting of diverse and united groups of peasants, indigenous people, fisherman, agricultural workers and others was held to work on reaffirming agroecology as the solution to mend our broken food and social systems. The delegates pointed out the many challenges that peasants around the world are facing nowadays: the loss of control over natural resources, land and whole knowledge systems that are the basis of our traditions and […]

Latest from EU Member States

“Peasant” is not a bad word … but what does it mean?!

Written By:  Derek Freitas, Food Chains Campaign Coordinator for Eco Ruralis   General Context The word “peasant” is used in all sorts of ways to mean different things by many groups of people across the world. It is indeed very hard to define. This is particularly problematic due to the fact that the majority of decision-makers related to establishing agricultural policy at the national, EU and global levels don’t have an accepted reference point for understanding one another in a basic sense. Often, the only time when self-ascribed “peasants” feel that they are accurately portrayed is when they explain what that word means to them. But, again, even they disagree based on cultural, historical, geographical and individual differences.   Global Context The international peasant movement, La Via Campesina, calls for an International Convention on the Rights of Peasants and states the following in Article I of its own “Declaration on the Rights of Peasants – Women and Men”: “A peasant is a man or woman of the land, who has a direct and special relationship […]