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Rabu, 28 Januari 2009

Peoples’ Memorandum to the G33 Ministerial meeting in Jakarta: Now is the time for Food Sovereignty!

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We, representatives of peasant organisations, social movements and civil society organisations from across the world welcome the trade ministers from the Group of 33 to Indonesia. We recognise the importance of the G33 meeting at this juncture when the developing countries are under significant pressure to reduce their tariffs and allow more “market access” to agricultural products from the US and EU. We recognize that your efforts to resist this pressure and to gain meaningful special and differential treatment in the Doha round of WTO negotiations are important; however we would like to raise some vital issues and demands.


Liberalisation of the agriculture sector under structural adjustment programmes and the Uruguay round of commitments has devastated millions of farmers throughout the developing world. The incidence of farmer suicides in India and other developing countries has shown an alarming increase and the deepening economic and social crisis in the rural sector is largely the result of liberalisation polices. Rural unemployment has increased as subsidised agricultural imports flood into developing countries. The agrarian distress has reached serious proportions and has left millions of farmers starving and landless. Countries that used to be able to feed their people have become dependent to giant global corporations, who are the main beneficiaries of the liberalisation and market opening that has taken place under the Agreement on Agriculture. A "development" outcome that meets the needs of small and marginal farmers is impossible within the WTO framework.


The WTO is inherently anti-development. Studies by the World Bank and the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace show that the gains to developing countries from the conclusion of the Doha Round are either minimal or non-existent. Projections of the gains from a “likely Doha scenario” show that just $16 billion out of $96 billion would go to developing countries. Adjusting for Special and Sensitive Products in agriculture, developing country gains come to just $ 6.7 billion (to be shared between 110 developing countries) out of a total of $ 38.4 billion. These are the figures; the human cost is millions of lost livelihoods.


We recognize that SP and SSM are important mechanisms for the developing countries to protect their farmers from import surges and the volatile world markets. However, under the framework of the Agreement on Agriculture, merely designating SPs and using SSM is not going to protect peasants and small farmers.

Food and agriculture are not commodities that can be traded. This is the people’s livelihood, culture and way of life. All products are critical to peoples livelihoods, there is no way that one can be designated as a special product and all the rest be traded away.

We therefore call on the G33 Ministers to stand for your people and fight for food sovereignty.


We would like to caution the G33 Ministers of the attempts by Pascal Lamy to force a deal before the deadline of the US President’s trade negotiating authority (“fast track”).

It is simply unacceptable for developing countries, which comprise the majority of the WTO membership, to be subjected to the timeline of one member, the US. Lamy and the US should not force a deal just so they can meet the deadline of the US Congress. The Doha Round should not be saved at the expense of the people. No deal is better than a bad deal.

We therefore have the following demands for the G33:

We call on the G33 Ministers to listen to their people who have been suffering the negative impacts of trade liberalisation and twelve years of WTO policies. The G33 Ministers should realize that developed countries will not reduce their massive domestic support to agriculture, thereby making it impossible to have any kind of development for the South under this framework. Simply designating 20% SPs and using SSM will not end the death of farmers and loss of livelihoods.

We call on the G33 Ministers to resist the pressure to “save” the Doha Round. There is no development for the South in this misnamed Doha “Development” Round and if it is completed, it will be a tragedy for the peoples of the world. It is better to let the Doha Round die. There are alternatives to the WTO that can deliver real development to the people.

We call on the G33 Ministers to listen to the proposals of alternatives from the people instead of trying to save the Doha “Development” Round. At the recently concluded World Forum for Food Sovereignty in Nyéléni, farmers, workers, fisherfolk, women and consumers from more than 98 countries came together to a common position and agenda for food sovereignty. These people are the victims of the WTO policies and are proposing an alternative system that will feed the people of the world in a just and sustainable manner.

Food sovereignty is more than just designating some products or even all products as Special Products. 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 1.” We believe that Food Sovereignty is not possible under the WTO and so we call on G33 Ministers to work with us in building alternative trading systems to the WTO.

Our proposal is to have an alternative trading system based on the principle of food sovereignty which
“prioritises 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 2.”

We call on the G33 Ministers to recognize that alternative trading systems based on food sovereignty are possible and that a world without the WTO is not only possible but necessary. We invite the G33 Ministers to join us in making food sovereignty a reality for peoples all over the world.

We call on the G33 Ministers to fight for their people and to fight for food sovereignty.

Now is the time for food sovereignty! WTO out of Agriculture!

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