Farmers protest record profits of corporations while millions across the world are going hungry.
Alexandra Strickner, Institute for Agriculture and Trade Policy (IATP)
Rome, Italy, 3 June 2008
Watch the 3 minute video on http://wsftv.net
Farmer and civil society leaders carrying out a peaceful action today in Rome, Italy at the FAO Summit on the Food Crisis were forcefully removed from the premises. At around 1:30pm farmers and representatives of civil society organizations staged an action at the press room to deliver a message that millions of additional people are joining the ranks of the hungry as the corporations that control the global food system are making record profits.
The issues of corporate control and speculation, which are leading causes of recent spikes in food prices, are not being discussed by the government delegations and the international agencies meeting in Rome to debate solutions to the crisis.
“We are outraged that such fundamental aspects of the food crisis were nowhere on the agenda for the Summit,” says Paul Nicholson, member of the International Coordinating Committee of Via Campesina and one of the farmer leaders who was expelled from the Summit.The 10 people involved in the action carried posters contrasting the record profits of agribusiness corporations during the lastest reporting financial quarter of 2008 with the estimated 100 million people in the world who now, alongside 800 million or so others, are hungry because they cannot afford to eat.
Profits for Monsanto, the world’s largest seed company, were up 108 percent, while Cargill and Archer Daniel Midlands, the world’s largest food traders, registered profit increases of 86 and 42 per cent respectively. Profits for Mosaic, one of the world’s largest fertilizer companies, rose 1,134 percent.
The action was necessary to bring to the world’s attention that the main causes of the world food crisis are not being dealt with and that the world’s food producers– the farmers, fisherfolk, agricultural workers and indigenous people– have been shut out of the discussion. In previous high-level FAO events, civil society was given more space to express its views and to have a dialogue with the delegates. For this Summit, civil society was blocked from meaningful participation in the preparation and in the event itself.
“We are concerned that this Summit will only reinforce corporate control of the food system and lead to a further destruction of the way of life of indigenous peoples and their survival,” says Saul Vicente Vasquez of the International Indian Treaty Council and one of the supporters of the action. “It is time for indigenous people and other food producers to take charge of food policy.”Those involved in the action have been meeting with other civil society organizations at the Terra Preta* civil society forum, parallel to the FAO Summit.
A video of the action and the suppression of the action is available on http://wsftv.net. During the action, the security guards seized a banner reading: “Stop corporate control over food!”.
Information about Terra Preta and a statement from the forum can be found