Examples of our Advocacy Work
Food is political. Everyone should have access to good, clean and fair food. But this is not always the case. This is why advocacy matters, and why Slow Food is mobilizing for better food and farming policies. Society must have a say in how and what is produced in our fields and what ends up on our plates.
Check out some examples of Slow Food’s campaigns for Good, Clean and Fair food for all worldwide.
Over the decades, our food systems have become increasingly dependent on Genetically Modified Organisms (GMOs) and chemicals such as pesticides. In addition to being toxic to pests, and to other living plants, animals and humans, the heavy use of pesticides is a leading cause of the disappearance of bees and other pollinators which are essential to produce over 75% of our food crops.
Around the world, farmers are pushed to use GMO seeds sold by the same multinationals producing pesticides. Old and new GMO techniques (such as CRISPR/Cas) are unreliable from a scientific point of view, inefficient in economic terms and environmentally unsustainable. On top of that, they threaten biodiversity, traditional food cultures and the livelihoods of small-scale farmers.
Why is this political?
Marriages between giant agricultural companies have led to an unprecedented corporate consolidation and huge decision-making power in the hands of corporations. The 4 largest corporations’ control 67% of the seed market and 70% of the pesticide market and are lobbying hard to keep highly toxic pesticides authorized for sale.
Meanwhile, they pressure governments to weaken the legislation around GMOs to make it easier to develop and sneak potentially harmful GMOs into our food unlabelled. This system is deeply unfair and unethical as thousands of tonnes of pesticides banned because deemed too toxic in Europe are shipped to poorer countries from European factories and handled by farmers from the Global South who face the greatest health risks.
How is Slow Food advocating against this issue
Around the world, Slow Food is advocating for food and agricultural policies that support chemical-free agroecological food systems. Through the work of our grassroots movement, we show that another system is possible, and collectively call on people in power to give food producers support to adopt nature-friendly agricultural practices that do not rely on the use of synthetic pesticides nor GMOs.
The economic and financial interests of the big food industry and agribusiness are shaping and limiting the way we produce and eat food, threatening local food cultures and biodiversity.
Around the world, such threats take different forms such as:
- ocean and land grabbing that rob farming and fishing communities of the access and control of their natural resources, preventing them from producing food;
- the intensive production of commodity crops instead of food;
- the corporate control over seeds through patents;
- a lack of public policies that guarantee the right to food;
All of these aspects combined have led to a standardization and massification of food, undermining biodiversity and the variety of traditional food knowledge acquired throughout the history of agriculture. Food is being treated as a mere commodity, instead of a right.
Why is this political?
According to the Declaration of Nyéléni (2007):
– Food sovereignty is the right of peoples to healthy and culturally appropriate food produced through ecologically sound and sustainable methods, and their right to define their own food and agriculture systems.
– Food sovereignty puts those who produce, distribute and consume food at the heart of food systems and policies rather than the demands of markets and corporations.
– Food sovereignty defends the interests and inclusion of the next generation. It offers a strategy to resist and dismantle the current corporate trade and food regime, and directions for food, farming, pastoral and fisheries systems determined by local producers.
– Food sovereignty prioritizes local and national economies and markets and empowers peasant and family farmer-driven agriculture, artisanal fishing, pastoralist-led grazing, and food production, distribution and consumption based on environmental, social and economic sustainability.
– Food sovereignty promotes transparent trade that guarantees just income to all peoples and the rights of consumers to control their food and nutrition. It ensures that the rights to use and manage our lands, territories, waters, seeds, livestock and biodiversity are in the hands of those of us who produce food.
– Food sovereignty implies new social relations free of oppression and inequality between men and women, peoples, racial groups, social classes and generations.
How is Slow Food advocating for food sovereignty and food justice?
May it be at the local or the international level, the Slow Food network’s experience is rich and diverse, from establishing community seed banks to ensure their agricultural genetic heritage survives, to putting pressure on decision makers to implement public policies that promote the different aspects of food sovereignty and fight to eradicate hunger. Together let’s take back our food systems!
All over the world, governments and private investors have been increasingly leasing or buying up tens of millions of hectares of farmlands and aquatic spaces or exploitation rights, to extract resources or to resell the land on the financial market, as mere commodities.
This so-called land and ocean grabbing robs farming and fishing communities of the use, control and access to local land and waters, which prevents them from producing, harvesting and selling food.
Both jeopardize the livelihood of peasants, fishers, and communities revolving around them who heavily rely on their local land and fisheries for their livelihoods.
What’s more, ocean and land deals are often concluded in favor of the production of monoculture crops, biofuels, intensive fishing activities or the prohibition of access to areas where the communities have historically fished. This can lead to disastrous long-term environmental impacts, such as the destruction of rainforests, aquatic and terrestrial habitats, biodiversity, and ecosystems. As a result, such terrible practices erode confidence in governance, create conflict within communities, foster migration, fuel violence and corruption, while destroying local economies, culture, identity and knowledge.
Why is this political?
In many countries (especially in the Global South), unfair laws and policies are designed in favor of big corporations’ interests instead of prioritizing local communities that live and depend on the land and ocean resources to ensure their daily subsistence and livelihood.
Land and ocean grabbing can both take place legally and illegally, but in many cases, they occur within the limits of the laws that tolerate and often facilitate such practices.
Many governments have been known to concede long-term leases to powerful economic actors for commercial purposes, diverting marine areas, agricultural lands and forests away, at the expense of farmers and fishers even though they are responsible for a large part of national food production and sovereignty.
Around the world, 33 million ha of agricultural land have been transferred into the hands of foreign investors since the year 2000. That is comparable to the size of Italy or the Philippines.
How is Slow Food advocating against land and ocean grabbing?
As a member of the International Land Coalition Slow Food has joined the “Land Rights Now” campaign to mobilize and engage active citizens, media, communities and organizations worldwide to prevent land grabbing and protect land rights of Indigenous Peoples, pastoralists, and other local communities.
Several Slow Food activists also support local communities, raise awareness about their rights to access and use local natural resources, and inform them on how to stand against potential and actual land grabbing initiatives.
Land and ocean resources should be kept in the hands of local communities. Slow Food supports local farmers, fishers, and pastoralists, while promoting community-oriented food and farming systems hinged on local people’s control over land, water and biodiversity.