Agriculture and food are fundamental to all people, in terms of both production and availability of sufficient quantities of safe and healthy food, and as foundations of healthy communities, cultures and environments. All of these are being undermined by the increasing emphasis on neo-liberal economic policies promoted by leading political and economic powers such as the United States (US) and the European Union (EU), and realised through global institutions such as the World Trade Organisation (WTO), International Monetary Fund (IMF) and the World Bank (WB). Instead of securing food for the people of the world, these institutions have presided over a system that has prioritised export-oriented production, increased global hunger and malnutrition, and alienated millions of people from productive assets and resources such as land, water, seeds, technology and know-how. Fundamental change to this global regime is urgently required.

People’s Food Sovereignty is a Right

In order to guarantee the independence and food sovereignty of all of the world’s peoples, it is essential that food be produced though diversified, farmer-based
production systems. Food sovereignty is the right of peoples to define their own agriculture and food policies, to protect and regulate domestic agricultural production and trade in order to achieve sustainable development objectives, to determine the extent to which they want to be self reliant, and to restrict the dumping of products in their markets. Food sovereignty does not negate trade, but rather, it promotes the formulation of trade policies and practices that serve the rights of peoples to safe, healthy and ecologically sustainable production.

Governments must uphold the rights of all peoples to food sovereignty and security, and adopt policies that promote sustainable, family-farm based production rather than industry-led, high-input and export oriented production. This in turn demands that they put in place the following measures:

I. Market Policies

– Ensure adequate remunerative prices for all farmers;
– Exercise the rights to protect domestic markets from imports at low prices;
– Regulate production on the internal market in order to avoid the creation
of surpluses;
– Abolish all direct and indirect export supports;
– Phase out domestic production subsidies that promote unsustainable
agriculture and inequitable land tenure patterns, and target support at
integrated agrarian reform programs as well as sustainable farming practices.

II. Food Safety, Quality and the Environment

– Adequately control the spread of diseases and pests while at the same time ensuring food safety;
– Ban the use of dangerous technologies such as food irradiation, which lower the nutritional value of food and create toxins in food;
– Establish food quality criteria appropriate to the preferences and needs of the people;
– Establish national mechanisms for quality control of all food products so that they comply with high environmental, social and health quality standards;
– Ensure that all food inspection functions are performed by appropriate and independent government bodies, and not by private corporations or contractors;

III. Access to Productive Resources

– Recognise and enforce communities’ legal and customary rights to make decisions
concerning their local, traditional resources, even where no legal rights
have previously been allocated;
– Ensure equitable access to land, seeds, water, credit and other productive resources;
– Prohibit all forms of patenting of life or any of its components, and the appropriation of knowledge associated with food and agriculture through intellectual property rights regimes;
– Protect farmers’, indigenous peoples’ and local community rights over plant genetic resources and associated knowledge–including farmers’ rights to exchange and reproduce seeds;

IV. Production-Consumption

– Develop local food economies based on local production and processing, and
the development of local food outlets.

V. Genetically Modified Organisms (GMOs)

– Ban the production of, and trade in genetically modified (GM) seeds, foods, animal feeds and related products.
– Encourage and promote alternative agriculture and organic farming based on indigenous knowledge and sustainable agriculture practices.
– Expose and actively oppose the various methods (direct and indirect) by which agribusiness corporations such as Monsanto, Syngenta, Aventis/Bayer and DuPont are bringing GM crop varieties into agricultural systems and environments.

VI. Transparency of Information and Corporate Accountability

– Provide clear and accurate labelling of food and feed-stuff products based on consumers’ and farmers’ rights to access to information about content and origins;
– Establish binding regulations on all companies to ensure transparency, accountability and respect for human rights and environmental standards;
– Establish anti-trust laws to prevent the development of industrial monopolies in the food and agricultural sectors.
– Hold corporate entities and their directors legally liable for corporate breaches of environmental and social laws, and of national and international laws and agreements.

Trade Rules Must Guarantee Food Sovereignty

Global trade must not be afforded primacy over local and national developmental, social, environmental and cultural goals. Priority should be given to affordable, safe, healthy and good quality food, and to culturally appropriate subsistence production for domestic, sub-regional and regional markets. Current modes of trade liberalisation, which allows market forces and powerful Trans-national corporations (TNCs) to determine what and how is produced, and how food is traded and marketed, cannot fulfil these crucial goals.

"No" to Neo-liberal Policies in Food and Agriculture

The undersigned denounce the ‘liberalisation’ of farm product exchanges as promoted through bilateral and regional free trade agreements, and multilateral institutions such as the IMF, the World Bank and the WTO. We condemn the dumping of agricultural products in all markets, and especially in Third World countries where it has severely undermined domestic production. Neo-liberal policies coerce countries into specialising in agricultural production in which they have a so-called "comparative advantage" and then trading along the same lines. However, export orientated production is being pushed at the expense of domestic food production, and production means and resources are increasingly controlled by large transnational corporations.

Rich governments continue to heavily subsidise export oriented agricultural production in their countries, with the bulk of support going to large producers. The majority of tax-payers’ funds are handed out to big business–large producers, traders and retailers–who engage in unsustainable agricultural and trading practices, and not to small-scale family producers who produce much of the food for the internal market, often in more sustainable ways.

These export-oriented policies have resulted in market prices for commodities that are far lower than their real costs of production. This has encouraged and perpetuated dumping, and provided TNCs with opportunities to buy cheap agricultural products which are then sold at significantly higher prices to consumers in both the North and the South. The larger parts of important agricultural subsidies in rich countries are in fact subsidies for agro-industry, traders, retailers and a minority of the largest producers.

The adverse effects of these policies and practices are becoming clearer every day. They lead to the disappearance of small-scale, family farms in both the North and South; poverty has increased, especially in the rural areas; soils and water have been polluted and degraded; biological diversity has been lost, and; natural habitats destroyed.


Dumping occurs when goods are sold at less than their cost of production. This can be the result of subsidies, structural distortions such as monopoly control over markets and distribution, and also the inability of current economic policy to factor in externalities such as the depletion of water and soil nutrients and pollution resulting from industrial agricultural methods. Dumping under the current neo-liberal policies is conducted in North-South, South-North and South-South and North-North trade. Whatever the form, dumping ruins small-scale local producers in both the countries of origin and sale.

For example:
– Imports by India of dairy surpluses subsidized by the European Union, which had negative impacts on local, family based dairy production.
– Exports of industrial pork from the USA to the Caribbean, which proved ruinous to Caribbean producers;
– Imports by Ivory Coast of European pork at subsidised prices which are three times lower than the production costs in Ivory Coast;
– Chinese exports of silk threads to India at prices far lower than the costs of production in India; this has been seriously damaging for hundreds of thousands of farmer families in Southern India;
– On one hand the import of cheap maize from the US to Mexico– the centre of the origin of maize–ruins Mexican producers; on the other hand the export of vegetables at low prices from Mexico to Canada ruin producers in Canada.

Dumping practises must to be stopped. Countries must be able to protect their home markets against dumping and other trade practices that prove damaging to local producers. Exporting countries must not be allowed to dump surpluses on the international market, and should respond to real demands for agricultural goods and products in ways that do not undermine domestic production.

There is no "World Market" of Agricultural Products

The so called "world market" of agricultural products does not exist. What exists is, above all, an international trade of surpluses of milk, cereals and meat dumped primarily by the EU, the US, and other members of the CAIRNS group. Behind the faces of national trade negotiators are powerful TNCs such as Monsanto and Cargill who are the real beneficiaries of domestic subsidies and supports, international trade negotiations and the global manipulations of trade regimes. At present, international trade in agricultural products involves only ten percent of total worldwide agricultural production and is mainly an exchange between TNCs from the US, EU and a few other industrialised countries. The so called "world market price" is extremely unstable and has no relation with the costs of production. It is far too low because of dumping, and therefore, it is not an appropriate or desirable reference for agricultural production.

The WTO Dismisses Calls for Reform

The WTO is undemocratic and unaccountable, has increased global inequality and insecurity, promotes unsustainable production and consumption patterns, erodes diversity, and undermines social and environmental priorities. It has proven impervious to criticisms regarding its work and has dismissed all calls for reform. Despite promises to improve the system made at the Seattle Minesterial Meeting in 1999, governance in the WTO has actually become worse. Rather than addressing existing inequities and power imbalances between rich and poor countries, the lobby of the rich and powerful in the WTO is attempting to expand the WTO’s mandate to new areas such as environment, labour, investment, competition and government procurement.

The WTO is an entirely inappropriate institution to address issues of agriculture and food. The undersigned do not believe that the WTO will engage in profound reform in order to make itself responsive to the rights and needs of ordinary people. Therefore, the undersigned are calling for all food and agricultural concerns to be taken out of WTO jurisdiction through the dismantling of the Agreement on Agriculture (AoA) and removing or amending the relevant clauses on other WTO agreements so as to ensure the full exclusion of food and agriculture from the WTO regime. These include: the Agreement on Trade Related Intellectual Property Rights (TRIPs), Sanitary and Phytosanitary measures (SPS), Technical Barriers to Trade (TBT), Quantitative Restrictions (QRs), Subsidies and Countervailing Measures (SCM), and the General Agreement on Trade in Services (GATS).

A Role for Trade Rules in Agricultural and Food Policies?

Trade in food can play a positive role, for example, in times of regional food insecurity, or in the case of products that can only be grown in certain parts of the world, or for the exchange of quality products. However, trade rules must respect the precautionary principle to policies at all levels, recognise democratic and participatory decision making, and place peoples’ food sovereignty before the imperatives of international trade.

An Alternative Framework

To compliment the role of local and national governments, there is clear need for a new and alternative international framework for multilateral regulation on the sustainable production and trade of food and other agricultural goods. Within this framework, the following principles must be respected:

1. Peoples’ food sovereignty;
2. The right of all countries to protect their domestic markets by regulating all imports which undermine their food sovereignty;
3. Trade rules that support and guarantee food sovereignty;
4. Upholding gender equity and equality in all policies and practices concerning food production;
5. The precautionary principle;
6. The right to information about the origin and content of food items;
7. Genuine international democratic participation mechanisms;
8. Priority to domestic food production, sustainable farming practices and equitable access to all resources;
9. Support for small farmers and producers to own, and have sufficient control over means of food production;
10. An effective ban on all forms of dumping in order to protect domestic food production; this would include supply management by exporting countries to avoid surpluses and the rights of importing countries to protect internal markets against imports at low prices;
11. Prohibition of biopiracy and patents on living matter – animals, plants, the human body and other life forms – and any of its components, including the development of sterile varieties through genetic engineering;
12. Respect for all human rights conventions and related multilateral agreements under independent international jurisdiction;

The undersigned affirm the demands made in other civil society statements such as Our World is Not for Sale: WTO-Shrink or Sink, and Stop the GATS Attack Now. We urge governments to immediately take the following steps:

1. Cease negotiations to initiate a new round of trade liberalisation and halt discussions to bring ‘new issues’ into the WTO. This includes further
discussions on such issues as investment, competition, government
procurement, biotechnology, services, labour and environment;
2. Cancel further trade liberalisation negotiations on the WTO’s AoA through the WTO’s built-in agenda;
3. Cancel the obligation of accepting the minimum importation of 5% of internal consumption; all compulsory market access clauses must similarly be cancelled immediately;
4. Undertake a thorough review of both the implementation, and the environmental and social impacts of existing trade rules and agreements (and the WTO’s role in this system) in relation to food and agriculture;
5. Initiate measures to remove food and agriculture from under the control of the WTO through the dismantling of the AoA, and through the removal or amendment of relevant clauses in the TRIPS, GATS, SPS, TBT and SCM agreements; and further, by replacing these with a new Convention on Food Sovereignty and Trade in Food and Agriculture;
6. Revise intellectual property policies to prohibit the patenting of living matter and any of their components and limit patent protections in order to protect public health and public safety;
7. Halt all negotiations on GATS, and dismantle the principle of "progressive liberalisation" in order to protect social services and the public interest;
8. Implement genuine agrarian reform and ensure the rights of peasants to crucial assets such as land, seed, water and other resources.
9. Initiate discussions on an alternative international framework on the sustainable production and trade of food and agricultural goods. This framework should include:
Ø A reformed and strengthened United Nations (UN), active and committed to protecting the fundamental rights of all peoples, as being the appropriate forum to develop and negotiate rules for sustainable production and fair trade;
Ø An independent dispute settlement mechanism integrated within an international Court of Justice, especially to prevent dumping.
Ø A World Commission on Sustainable Agriculture and Food Sovereignty established to undertake a comprehensive assessment of the impacts of trade liberalisation on food sovereignty and security, and develop proposals for change; these would include the agreements and rules within the WTO and other regional and international trade regimes, and the economic policies promoted by International Financial Institutions and Multliateral Development Banks; such a commission could be constituted of and directed by representatives from various social and cultural groups, peoples’ movements, professional fields, democratically elected representatives and appropriate multilateral institutions;
Ø An international, legally binding Treaty that defines the rights of peasants and small producers to the assets, resources and legal protections they need to be able to exercise their right to produce; such a treaty could be framed within the UN Human Rights framework, and linked to already existing relevant UN conventions.
Ø An International Convention that replaces the current Agreement on Agriculture (AoA) and relevant clauses from other WTO agreements and implements within the international policy frame work the concept of food sovereignty and the basic human rights of all peoples to safe and healthy food, decent and full rural employment, labour rights and protection, and a healthy, rich and diverse natural environment and incorporate trading rules on food and agriculture commodities;

A Broad Alliance with an Agenda for Change!

The impacts of the neo-liberal policies are all too evident and increasingly understood and challenged by civil society across the world. The pressure for change is increasing.

In the run up to the next WTO Ministerial Meeting and in the coming years, the undersigned will continue to reveal the adverse effects of neo-liberal trade and economic policies on agriculture and food, and to propose alternatives to the current global trade regime.

This declaration is a clear sign of the determination that unites social
movements and other civil society actors world-wide in their struggle to democratise international policies, and to work towards institutions that are capable of embracing and defending sustainable approaches to food and agriculture.

Contacts of the organisations that launched the statement:

Christine Andela
POBox 11813, Yaounde, Cameroon
Tel: +237-96 32 58, Fax: +237-22 86 55
Email: [email protected]

Collectif Stratégies Alimentaires
Marek Poznanski
184 D, Boulevard Léopold II, 1080 Bruxelles, Belgique
Tél. + 32-2- 412 06 61 / Fax: + 32 2 412 06 66
Email: [email protected]

ETC Group (formerly RAFI)
478 River Avenue, Suite 200, WINNIPEG MB R3L 0C8, CANADA
Tel: (1-204) 453-5259, Fax: (1-204) 284-7871
Email: [email protected]

Focus on the Global South
Shalmali Guttal
CUSRI, Chulalongkorn University, Phayathai Road, Bangkok 10330, Thailand
Telephone: (66-2) 218 7363-5
Email: [email protected]

Food First/Institute for Food and Development Policy
Peter Rosset
398 60th Street, Oakland, California 94618 USA
tel: +1-510-654-4400 x224, fax: +1-253-295-5257
Email: [email protected]

Friends of the Earth Latin America & Caribbean
Alberto Villarreal
San Jose 1423, 11 200 Montevideo, URUGUAY
tel/fax: 5982 902 2355 or 5982 908 2730
Email: [email protected]

Friends of the Earth England, Wales and Northern Ireland
Tim Rice
26-28 Underwood Street, London N1 7JQ, United Kingdom
tel – 44 20 7566 1603
Email: [email protected]@foe.co.uk

Henk Hobbelink
Girona 25, pral 08010 Barcelona, Spain
Tel: +34-93-301 1381 Fax: +34-93-301- 1627
Email: [email protected]@grain.org

Institute for Agriculture and Trade Policy
Mark Ritchie
2105 1st Ave. S., Minneapolis, MN, USA, 55404
tel: +1 612 870 3454
Email: [email protected]@iatp.org

IBON Foundation Inc.
Rosario Bella Guzman, Antonio Tujan Jr.
P.O. Box SM-447, Sta Mesa, Manila, Philippines
tel +63-2-7142737 fax +63-2-7160108
Email: [email protected]@ibon.org

Public Citizen’s Energy and Environment Program
Wenonah Hauter
215 Pennsylvania Ave. SE, Washington, DC 20003, USA
phone 202-454-5150
Email: [email protected]

Via Campesina
Rafael Alegria, Paul Nicholson
Colonia Alameda, Casa #2025, 11 Calle, 3 y 4 Avenidas, Tegucigalpa, Honduras
Telefax: (504) 235 99 15, Telephone: (504) 239 4679
Email: [email protected]

Signed by:
A) International Networks and Movements
Via Campesina (international farmers movements with over 80 organisations from over 40 countries)

B) Regional Networks and Movements
Friends of the Earth Latin America & Caribbean
COASAD – Africa

C) Organisations
CESTA- Friends of the Earth El Salvador
CENSAT – Friends of the Earth Colombia
COECOCEIBA- Friends of the Earth Costa Rica
COHPEDA- Friends of the Earth Haiti
Collectif Stratégies Alimentaires – Belgium
Focus on the Global South – Thailand
Friends of the Earth England, Wales and Northern Ireland
Foodfirst/ Institute for Food and Development Policy – USA
ETCgroup – Canada
IBON Foundation Inc. – Phillipines
Institute for Agriculture and Trade Policy – USA
KMP (member of Via Campesina) – Philipines
NBS (member of Via Campesina) – Norway
NFFC (member of Via Campesina) – USA
Public Citizen’s Energy and Environment Program – USA
REDES- Friends of the Earth Uruguay
Sobrevivencia – Friends of the Earth Paraguay
Small and Family Farms Alliance (SFFA) – United Kingdom