The closing ceremony of Terra Madre

30 Oct 2006

The last day of Terra Madre began sluggishly, with delegates milling about to a drowsy rendition of the folk tune “We Shall Overcome.” Over the music one could distinguish the polyglot hum of delegates from all over the world sharing and conversing.

Terra Madre concludes today, but its organizers expressed the fervent hope that the conversation will continue.

As they had extended their welcome to the delegates on the first day, both the Mayor of Turin and the President of the Piedmont Region expressed their gratitude for the opportunity to host Terra Madre’s visitors.

Carlo Petrini took the stage to a raucous standing ovation. He urged all to consider the work to be done and the choices to be made in the two years before the next meeting is held. He proudly pointed out that at the first edition of Salone del Gusto, three-fourths of the exhibitors were merchants and only one-fourth producers. This year, that ratio was reversed, and producers were the primary exhibitors at Salone. This was fitting to the spirit of Terra Madre: “Producers,” Petrini said, “need to be active protagonists. Only they can save the planet.”

And over the past five days, Terra Madre was the scene of some remarkable successes, in the form of Azerbaijanis having productive dialogue with Armenians, as well as Lebanese and Palestinians with Israelis.

Vandana Shiva, too, a world-famous academic and activist, offered “loving greetings” to the assembly and introduced the newly drafted Manifesto on the Future of Seeds. She urged a continuing struggle against the “food fascism” that makes seeds the “intellectual property” of such corporations as Monsanto when they should rightfully be common goods.

Among the spectators was Luiz Inàcio “Lula” da Silva, Brazil’s President, whom Shiva welcomed with an exhortation to stop the destruction of the Amazon.

“This is not the end of Terra Madre,” she concluded, “it’s the beginning of a new freedom revolution.”

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