[07/20/07] MST Informa #137: Protecting the Earth, Cultivating Biodiversity and Harvesting Food Sovereignty

Dear Friends of the MST,

We would like to share with you the results of our 6th National Congress on Agroecology, which has been organized every year since 2002. This congress gathers social movements, public institutions, researchers and small rural producers to debate and exchange experiences about different forms of agroecological cultivation. In addition, it strengthens the combat against transnational corporations acting on Brazilian rural areas.

This year’s congress took place at the city of Cascavel, Paraná, between 11 and 14 July, with the participation of more than 5.000 rural workers. The Congress on Agroecology is a collective political congregation in direct opposition to capitalism as well as to its main expression in rural areas: the agribusiness. This model, reproduced through plantations, slave work, violence and export-oriented production is responsible for expelling families from rural areas, destabilizing food sovereignty in Brazil, destroying and contaminating nature, human beings, and transforming our food crops in biofuels.

Nowadays, one single transnational corporation controls a large share of the productive chain. Monsanto is an example of what the markets for food and agricultural technology became. Composed of 56 different firms, Monsanto is currently the largest producer of herbicides in the world. Aiming at maximizing its profits, Monsanto holds the control over seeds, fertilizers, machinery and even over medicines used by rural workers contaminated by the intensive use of chemical products in the agriculture.

For us from the MST and for the movements composing the Via Campesina, food sovereignty will only be possible when rural producers control their seeds and food. Therefore we combat the agribusiness, which merchandizes our food and, thus, life. We struggle to invert this logic. We struggle to build up a new model of rural development, prioritizing the supply of the national market, while assigning utmost importance to the environment, human life and, most importantly, future generations.

The 6th Congress on Agroecology plays an important role in the defense of food sovereignty, crop diversity in opposition to monocultures, and of small rural producers in contrast to agribusiness transnational corporations. Agroecological cultivation is an instrument of resistance against the model of “global-colonization” to which Brazil has been submitted. In this model, Brazil provides raw materials to sustain the consumption pattern of “developed” countries, regardless of the misery and starvation of its people.

Currently, state actions in support of peasant families practicing agroecology are only limited and dispersed initiatives. Those actions are uncoordinated and do not belong to any systematic policy, on a permanent and structural basis. Besides that the repayment of the largest share of the implementation costs for these actions has been imposed to rural families and their organizations.

We understand that the Brazilian state is accountable for planning and developing public policies, which should provide incentives for peasant and agroecological production, with subsidies and special rural credits to settlements created by the National Land Reform Program as well as to small rural producers. We know, though, that the consolidation of a model based on the agroecology will only be possible by means of land reform and through a broad process of education in rural areas. Having this in mind we signed the Final Letter of the 6th Congress on Agroecology, the commitments of which we summarize below:

1) Continue the struggle against genetically modified organisms and agrotoxics.

2) Combat all forms of life merchandizing, to make sure that land, water, seeds and the biodiversity are peoples’ patrimony at service of humankind.

3) Promote information campaigns about the harms caused by agrotoxics, request a general revision of their registration documents, and propose legislation to restrict their use.

4) Broaden people’s organization for the achievement of land reform, for acknowledging the rights of traditional peoples and their different forms of land use, as well as establishing a maximum size for a piece of property.

5) Strengthen and broaden the campaign “Seeds are People’s Patrimony at the Service of Humankind”, struggling for the right of all men and women working in rural areas to produce their own seeds, so as to preserve and make possible self-production and the guarantee of food sovereignty. By means of that, transnational corporations will be prevented from obtaining an oligopolistic control over seed production and trading.

6) Combat the privatization and merchandising of water resources; defend the sacred and biological value of water; implement proposals for the protection and recovering of rivers and springs; and denounce pollution, degradation and deforestation.

7) Promote a national and international campaign for the decriminalization of militants from social movements, who have been prosecuted by the transnationals Aracruz, Monsanto and Syngenta; achieve the condemnation of these firms for their crimes against the biodiversity and national sovereignty.

In this sense, we reaffirm our commitment with Agroecology, the protection of the land and life, the preservation of biodiversity and the assurance of food sovereignty. We work for a fairer, egalitarian and sovereign Brazilian nation.

Let’s go forward!

A great struggle for everyone!

National Directorate of the MST