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October 14, 2015

The 2015 Food Sovereignty Prize

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Part of the bountiful harvest of autumn is the annual award of the Food Sovereignty Prize, which will be presented today in Des Moines. The Food Sovereignty Prize honors the people and groups around the world who fight and create to build the necessary new within the doomed old, often against long odds. Honorees work to deploy the fully developed science and practice of agroecology, proving it more productive than industrial agriculture, a core part of the only solution to climate change and, unlike the status quo, sustainable for humanity’s future. They work on the critical project of rebuilding local and regional food production and distribution economies. And they work to propagate the global political and economic vision of Food Sovereignty, the social form which will naturally accompany our transformation to an economy and society which builds and sustains freedom and democracy in accord with justice, morality, reason, science, and the Earth itself.
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This year’s theme is “Black Farmers’ Lives Matter”. The 2015 awards to the Federation of Cooperatives Land Assistance Fund and the Black Fraternal Organization of Honduras honor two organizations which have fought long and well to organize, educate and organize black small farmers agronomically and politically, often while subject to state persecution.
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The Prize was first established by the US Food Sovereignty Alliance (USFSA). Food Sovereignty is a political and economic philosophy which affirms decentralized, democracy-based agroecology as the basis for food production and distribution, and for politics and the economy in general. It is a comprehensive world view.
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Food Sovereignty is the political complement to agroecology, the great body of agronomic science, knowledge, technology, and practice.  Agroecology is about growing food in harmony with nature, in a way which provides the most wholesome food, with the highest amount of calories and nutritional value, builds the soil, uses less water, cleanses the water and air, grows the physically strongest crops, improves the genetic robustness of our crops, most effectively discourages weeds and pests, attracts beneficial insects and companion plants, provides wildlife habitat, enhances ecosystems in general, and provides a spiritually fulfilling human environment.
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I describe the Seven Principles of Food Sovereignty (quoted here) as described by the global farmer movement Via Campesina:
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1. Food Sovereignty affirms healthy food as a basic human right. We have a pre-political right to work the soil and enjoy the food we produce from it. This is because our creative and productive work is an essential part of our humanity, and any attempt to sunder us from control over our work is an elemental crime. This right to food can also be encoded as a formal constitutional right, wherever we the people choose to do so. Free access to our work is the essence of freedom.
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2. Food Sovereignty affirms our human right to productively work the land, which means control of the land by those who productively steward it. Free access to our work is the essence of freedom.
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3. Food Sovereignty recognizes the need for productive stewardship of all natural resources, including the need and obligation to use them as sustainably as possible, in harmony with the nature which provides their foundation.
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4. Food Sovereignty affirms that economies are naturally demand-based, never supply-based, and rejects all top-down command economy measures. It therefore rejects globalization, commodification, corporate welfare, corporate existence as such. Trade must be about food only, never agricultural commodities.
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5. Within the current globalization of food, Food Sovereignty especially rejects the domination of agricultural and food economies the economies of any other natural resource by the finance sector. All commodity speculation must be abolished.
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6. Food Sovereignty seeks modes of production and distribution based on natural human cooperation instead of artificial elite-imposed competition and mutual destruction. Food production and distribution, where done democratically and according to the natural rhythms of the economy, can be forces for freedom, the reality of happiness and not just the pursuit, and social peace instead of sublimated civil war. Food must never be transformed into a “food weapon” or be part of economic warfare. Food must never be forced into the role of war by other means, violence by other means, politics by other means.
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7. Food Sovereignty affirms that political and economic organization must be democratic, with the food producers and citizens taking the lead and exercising control of everything which they create and consume. That means everything which exists within the bounds of polity and economy.
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The Food Sovereignty Prize honors those who fight to advance food sovereignty and agroecology as bodies of knowledge and real world practices, and as the great political ideas our future shall require.
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The Food Sovereignty Prize is just one part of the growing good news from around the world. The tide is turning against corporate rule. More and more people everywhere are taking up the fight. They resolve that we shall never give up until corporate power over our agriculture and food are abolished and we fully reclaim our food, our land, our Earth.

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