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What is Food Sovereignty?

Food Sovereignty:

the right of people to determine their own food and agriculture policies;
the democratization of food and agriculture.

Food sovereignty is a movement growing from the bottom up, from the farmers, fishers, indigenous peoples and landless workers most impacted by global hunger and poverty. Food sovereignty goes well beyond ensuring that people have enough food to meet their physical needs. It asserts that people 
must
 reclaim 
their power in the food system by rebuilding the relationships between people and the land, and between food providers and those
 who
 eat.
First framed
 by
 the international
 peasant movement La Via Campesina at the World Food Summit in 1996, food sovereignty is rooted in the ongoing global struggles over control of food, land, water, and livelihoods.

As we have seen in recent years, Big Food is making record profits, even as more and more people struggle to feed their families, family farmers struggle to stay on their land, and, globally, peasants and indigenous communities struggle against land grabs that threaten their livelihoods and even their lives. While corporations and governments profit from top-down, market-driven policy approaches, food sovereignty is an approach focused instead on people and communities, based on the following principles:

FOCUSES ON FOOD FOR PEOPLE

Food sovereignty puts the right to sufficient, healthy and culturally appropriate food for all at the center of food, agriculture, livestock and fisheries policies.

VALUES FOOD PROVIDERS

Food sovereignty values all those who grow, harvest and process food, including women, family farmers, herders, fisherpeople, forest dwellers, indigenous peoples, and agricultural, migrant and fisheries workers.

LOCALIZES FOOD SYSTEMS

Food sovereignty brings food providers and consumers closer together so they can make joint decisions on food issues that benefit and protect all.

PUTS CONTROL LOCALLY

Food sovereignty respects the right of food providers to have control over their land, seeds and water and rejects the privatization of natural resources.

BUILDS KNOWLEDGE AND SKILLS

Food sovereignty values the sharing of local knowledge and skills that have been passed down over generations for sustainable food production free from technologies that undermine health and well-being.

WORKS WITH NATURE

Food sovereignty focuses on production and harvesting methods that maximize the contribution of ecosystems, avoid costly and toxic inputs and improve the resiliency of local food systems in the face of climate change.

 

“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. It puts the aspirations and needs of those who produce, distribute and consume food at the heart of food systems and policies rather than the demands of markets and corporations.”

– Declaration of Nyéléni, the first global forum on food sovereignty, Mali, 2007

For more on food sovereignty, see:
La Via Campesina
Nyéléni 2007 Global Forum for Food Sovereignty
National Family Farm Coalition [PDF]
Harvesting Justice