In 2012 and in 2013 CAGJ’s Trade Justice work is focused on exposing the new NAFTA on steroids, the Trans Pacific Partnership! Stay tuned for more information!
Trade and the Food Crisis are
CAGJ’s commitment to food justice extends to our work for trade justice: there is an inextricable link between corporate-led trade and investment policies and the failed industrial agricultural model. Our work seeks to highlight ways we can overcome the global food crisis by working for responsible economic policy that sustains a healthy environment and people.
Commandeered by business interests whose agenda is to expand their global market share, “free” trade agreements have had little to do with the direct trade of goods and services and more to do with prescribing special rights to corporations, who trample human rights and well-established environmental standards in the process. The most fundamental problem with current trade policy is that the negotiations, and therefore results, are undemocratic. When trade policy is negotiated, workers’ unions, small farmers, and civil society groups are locked out of the process time after time, country after country. If these trade policies are supposed to improve the lives of all, then shouldn’t all affected parties partake in the talks, rather than the cohort of giant companies who stand to benefit? Furthermore, if the supposed “rising tide” of free trade is to “lift all boats,” then the majority has drowned in a tsunami.
Investment privileges and false-notions of liberalized trade have given major agribusinesses undue power in profiting off of food production, instead of supporting people’s capacity to cultivate healthy crops that feed their communities. Current U.S. trade agreements and the World Trade Organization Agreement on Agriculture have disabled developing nations’ abilities to produce food independently. For example, Mexico, who has a rich history of corn production and is home to the greatest genetic diversity in corn production anywhere on the planet, has become net importer of nearly all crops and even livestock as a result of the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA). Since the Philippines joined the WTO due to pressures from international financial institutions, they have become major importers of rice and poultry, unduly hurting the country’s ability feed itself.
In 1986 Reagan’s US Agriculture Secretary John Block declared,
The idea that developing countries should feed themselves is an anachronism from a bygone era. They could better ensure their food security by relying on US agricultural products, which are available in most cases at lower cost.
Although this remark was made over 20 years ago, the fundamental approach is still alive in the agribusinesses lobby pressuring our elected representatives.
However, the debate is slowly changing, as food riots hit the streets of Haiti and over 50 other countries, and as we realize that food imports come at a greater financial, social and environmental cost. CAGJ stands with social movements around the world calling for Food Sovereignty, and we support our local farmers & other food producers who strengthen our local economy! We also demand a new domestic and international agricultural and trade policy; Trade Justice is critical because Food Justice is critical!
Resources on the link between access to food and trade justice:
- World Bank’s “Wrong Advice” Left Silos Empty in Poor Countries, By Alison Fitzgerald and Helen Murphy, part 3 of Bloomberg’s 7 part series Recipe for Famine
- The WTO and Agriculture: Food as a Commodity, Not a Right by Global Trade Watch: or the .pdf
- “Manufacturing a Food Crisis” by Walden Bello
- “The World Food Crisis” by John Nichols
- On Agriculture and Trade
- G-20 Should Think Twice About Increasing IMF Funding Without Reforms, Mark Weisbrot on the G20′s April 2009 decision to triple IMF Funding
- NAFTA and Food Sovereignty, by R. Dennis Olson with the Institute for Agriculture and Trade Policy