Kathryn Gilje

Kathryn Gilje

PAN International: A non-stop global network

Farm families in India are working right now to save their land from a corporate push to replace their farms with coal-fired power plants. Last night, a petition in support of this Sompeta community came across my desk, and I was reminded again of the importance of the global PAN network. PAN International supports healthy farms and food sovereignty in the face of corporate control of agriculture. All around the world.

One of my own formative PAN moments, no doubt, was during a farmers' struggle in Brazil that reminds me so much of Sompeta. We were in the countryside, with PAN members from around the world gathered. As we passed the agricultural university and turned into the farm, I was completely taken aback by the thriving biodiversity. The farmers were growing more than 80 different organic fruits and vegetables on their land — a whole lot of food. A child of an upper Midwest landscape already dominated by corn and soybeans when I was born, I actually wept. As the Brazilian farmers talked about the impending push for monocultural soybean fields and genetically modified crops, driven in part by Syngenta and Monsanto, and the violence these farmers had already faced to preserve their farms an ecosystems from corporate control, I felt the fierce grief of all that we have lost. I also felt a passionate hope. I witnessed again on-the-ground alternatives to industrial agriculture, and the farmers, scientists and ordinary PAN people who risk their lives each day for food and livelihood, the chance to truly steward the earth's resources and to preserve the integrity of farming as art and science, both.

Global from the get-go

With this post, I am honored to introduce you to the larger PAN network. Fundamental to PAN everywhere is organized community, science and a passionate commitment for change.

Corporate globalization drove PAN's urgent need to strategize, organize and coordinate. PAN was at the forefront of this kind of global collaboration when the network began in Malaysia 27 years ago, and continues to operate with a robust and persistent global network of more than 600 organizations in 90 countries. We work for community control of food systems, and to end reliance on corporate, industrial tools such as highly hazardous pesticides and the genetically modified (GM) seeds engineered to go with them.

Most important, perhaps, is that PAN links local struggles with each other, so that solving our problems in one place doesn’t have to mean pushing them somewhere else – to developing countries (the global South), or into any community with marginal political and economic power in our corporate, globalized world.

PAN North America joins four other regional centers in global work for food justice, agricultural resiliency and environmental health:

I take hope that as our day moves into evening, our colleagues at PAN Asia Pacific are already hustling in the work of tomorrow (they’re 16 hours ahead of us). PAN's community literally works around the clock.

Kathryn Gilje

Kathryn Gilje

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