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Treaty on Genetic Commons

Food and Agriculture Organization presentation at the U.N.

Bill Christison
United Nations
New York, New York

Bill Christison is president of the National Family Farm Coalition and the Missouri Rural Crisis Center, and a representative of Via Campesina. He delivered this presentation, on behalf of the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) at the United Nations on February 1, 2002.

Peasants, Landless and Family Farmers need access to resources which would include land, capital technology and hands on acknowledge based on farmer experience that reflects the best use of resources for the region.

Food sovereignty is of critical importance to the producers of food and fiber in all countries around the world. Fair and just treatment of people in all areas of the food chain will assure sustainable production practices. It will also assure the necessary resources that will in turn benefit living conditions, education and resource management.

This week there are press conferences in Porto Alegre, Brazil and New York City to announce the formal launch of the Treaty on Genetic Commons. Already there have been more than 250 signers. This is a worldwide effort that will allow the people of the world to have a voice about what happens to the gene pools of the world. Above all, these issues must be addressed in the August meetings of the United Nations, which will be held in Johannesburg, South Africa.

It is important for governments and organizations to promote policies that foster sustainable agriculture practices. These practices along with new local and regional markets increase the links between farmers and consumers and increases food security. Fair conditions of employment in agriculture are mandatory. It is of critical importance all producers of agriculture products receive a fair and just compensation for that production. Furthermore, those earning wages must receive a living wage. The UN process must work toward the elimination of sweat-slop like working conditions in the farm fields, also in the food processing industry.

Via Campesina members will be working through the World Food Summit and follow up process pushing for government commitments to action in Johannesburg.

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Published in In Motion Magazine, March 3, 2002

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