In Iowa today, the World Food Prize was presented to top executives from Monsanto and Syngenta for their work in developing genetically engineered (GE) crops.
PAN and our partners were there, delivering nearly 350,000 signatures to the prize organizers protesting the absurdity of this year's award, and highlighting the failed promises of GE technologies. Recipients of the alternative "Food Sovereignty Prize" were also in Iowa today, raising awareness about real, ecological solutions for how we can truly feed the world.
Awarded earlier this week in New York, the Food Sovereignty Prize “champions solutions coming from those most impacted by the injustices of the global food system.” This prize “affirms that nothing short of the true democratization of our food system will enable us to end hunger once and for all.”
As PAN senior scientist Marcia Ishii-Eiteman explained in a recent blog:
While the World Food Prize honors individuals, most of whom promote chemical and capital-intensive technological tools, the Food Sovereignty Prize honors grassroots organizations that engage in collective action to achieve transformative change.
The U.S. Food Sovereignty Alliance awards the prize every year, and has been coordinating with PAN and other member organizations to support the honorees' visit to Des Moines this week.
And the winner is…
In recognition of their work for a more democratic food system, this year's Food Sovereignty Prize recipients are:
Group of 4, Dessalines Brigade/Via Campesina: Haiti’s largest peasant organizations joined forces as the Group of 4 (G4), a national alliance to promote good farming practices and advocate for peasant farmers. Representing over a quarter million Haitians, G4 joined with South American peasant leaders to focus on rebuilding Haiti’s infrastructure, promoting resiliance and addressing poverty.
Basque Country Farmer’s Union (EHNE-Bizkaia): A founder of the international peasant movement La Via Campesina in 1993, EHNE-Bizkaia continues to be at the forefront of innovative and political food sovereignty approaches, supporting a vibrant network of small farms, cooperative business and strong local food systems in Basque country.
National Coordination of Peasant Organizations (CNOP): CNOP brings 11 federations of farmers’ organizations together on a national scale, representing the interests of nearly 2.5 million farmers and peasants in Mali, strengthening farmer organizations and building members’ capacity to influence agricultural policy.
- Tamil Nadu Women’s Collective (TNWC): Through TNWC in India, 100,000 marginalized women are organized, many in unofficial worker unions or small collective farms, to strengthen their food sovereignty and thus their broader power.
Toward food democracy
On Wednesday — World Food Day — PAN organizer Lex Horan was in Iowa with several of the Food Sovereignty Prize recipients, meeting international partners and sharing information about real, on-the-ground solutions to feeding the world's hungry populations. He was inspired by what he saw:
Driving through Des Moines, it might've seemed like the World Food Prize was the only show in town. The prize's banners hung from every lamppost lining major downtown streets. But everywhere I went yesterday, I met people who are working hard to realize another vision of agriculture. It's a model built on small farms, seed-saving, agroecology, local control, and food sovereignty.
Although speaking different languages and coming from very different contexts, I heard parallel struggles and visions coming from Iowa small producers and Haitian peasant leaders. They made sure that the World Food Prize didn't go unchallenged to Monsanto and Syngenta's biotech scientists, and that everyone in earshot knew about living alternatives to the corporate-controlled agriculture that these scientists represent.
Thanks to the Food Sovereignty Prize for honoring those who are truly contributing to nutritious and sustainable food for all, rather than those pushing — and profiting from — failed technologies.
Photo credit: CIAT International/Flickr