Santa Cruz de la Sierra, Bolivia

July 2 & 3, 2002

Over 500 delegates from indigenous and peasant organizations gathered in the city of Santa Cruz, Bolivia. Organizations represented at the gathering included the National Peasant Women’s Federation of Bolivia-Bartolina Sisa, the Organization of Ecological Producers of Bolivia, the Confederation of Peasant Economic Organizations, and the Union of Colonizers Confederation. Delegates discussed issues putting food sovereignty at risk and drew the following conclusions:

The Situation

During the second "World Summit on Food" held on June 2002, as well as the parallel forum convoked by the Civil Society Organizations, both entities agreed that there are currently 800 million people suffering hunger in the world and that the goal to cut the number of hungry in half by 2015, established during the previous Summit, was not attainable. 

Our analysis of the situation in Latin America and Bolivia reveals that this lack of success is due to several factors:

-unfair distribution of land and access to natural resources impeding the ability of indigenous people and farmers to provide their own sustenance, as well as that of the nations, while maintaining their traditions, preserving their natural patrimony to the benefit of all, and living a dignified life.

This situation is rooted in the wrongful social and agrarian policies implemented by our governments, which are often subjugated to policies and pressures stemming from international organizations such as the World Bank, the OMC, the FAO and others. These free-market oriented policies transform food production into a business prospect. The use of our natural resources is viewed without taking into consideration the social and cultural consequences to the people involved, nor care of the Earth for future generations. The so-called Green Revolution establishes the production and distribution of food in the world as a business dominated by a few transnational corporations to the detriment of small rural producers and the majority of the low-income and poor consumers in the cities.

Over the past few years these corporations have aggressively marketed genetically modified seeds which are protected by patents and trade laws. We see GMO’S as a grave threat to small farmers, the health of the general population, and to the ecosystem.

Our Position

In light of this situation and these policies, we strongly declare that food security is a BASIC HUMAN RIGHT to our people. Every individual and all peoples have a right to sufficient food –a diet adequate in quantity, healthy and free of toxic substances. Food cannot be a business prospect, generating unfair wealth. We denounce as false the notion that GMOs increase the availability of food and are a means of combating hunger. To the contrary, people have a right to produce their own food, using their own methods, and to consume this food as custom dictates –not to depend on imports, nor to purchase seeds and food products produced abroad. In sum, we have the right to contribute healthy food to the rest of humanity. For this reason we have established FOOD SOVREIGNITY as a basic human right to be respected by all.

Plan of Action

In light of the currently unstable food environment, and, above all, with regard to the substantial production and distribution of GMO seeds and products, we commit ourselves to the following actions:

Within our communities and organizations

  1. To work together to create, apply and spread productive technologies, which preserve and enrich soil fertility. To use and improve our own seeds. To use all natural resources responsibly, including the forests, and the water, as well as the means of controlling infestations and sickness among our plants and animals. We will support the women, participating in the productive process and in food preparation.
  2. We will use all means possible to strengthen our organizations from the community level to the national and international level. We will elect responsible leaders and assure women their equal rights. We will support sustainable ecological principles within our organization. 
  3. The alliance between small producers and consumers in urban centers will be put into effect by launching political activities together.
  4. We strive to improve the quality and information about our products, which also possess a social and environmental value, with the goal of taking better advantage of niche markets. We will seek the help of fraternal organizations in the countries where these niche markets exist.
To the Public and to our Governments
  1. We demand and will take action to force the governments’ application of international treaties protecting our rights, such as the 169 convention of the OIT, the International Pact for Economic, Social and Cultural Rights, the Cartagena Accord –decisions 391 and 345, the Rio accords from 1992, and that the Bolivian government ratify the Biosecurity Protocol, signed in January 2000. We will struggle to see these agreements respected over any trade or financial agreements.
  2. We oppose by all legitimate means available the introduction of GMO seeds and will not allow any type of tests on our lands with either these seeds or their byproducts. We are not Indian guinea pigs. We totally oppose allowing donations of genetically altered food, which can ruin national production, into the country. This being the case, we support a State initiated moratorium on all transgenic products for an indefinite period of time.
  3. The care and use of seeds is a practice and right of farmers, the consequence of which is genetic diversity. We will not permit the patenting of any living organism and, much less, the monopolization of seeds.
  4. We demand protection of, and preferential access to, the domestic market for our products, produced by national sustainable agricultural processes. This protection should be rooted in development policies protecting us from cheap imports of questionable quality and that put both the producers and the consumers at risk.
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