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The Via Campesina: Peasant Women on the Frontiers of Food Sovereignty

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The Via Campesina movement is relevant for our research as it is a movement born 30 years ago in contrast with the neoliberal mode of production. The author here emphasizes on the demands and pillars of the via Campesina: it was born to move away with high-input agriculture to the adoption of farming practices with respect for ecology. The concept of sustainable agriculture was later embraced by international organisation which though gave it a new meaning as they inserted it within a full embrace of free-market development ideology. They pushed forward the idea that that there could be sustainability within integration into a global market place. In the eyes of the Via Campesina this is a contradiction in terms: there cannot be sustainability when agriculture is conceived first and foremost as a sector to produce goods to be exported. Rather, in the eyes of the Via Campesina, food is first and foremost for nutrition and only the exceedance should be traded and trade should always serve the populations and not the agribusiness companies. To the Via Campesina, food sovereignty means ensuring the rights of farmers to access resources for the production of food, to land, seeds, water, credit and markets. Food sovereignty is conceived as the right to produce their own food in their own territory, enhancing cultural and environmental values. Thus, it is necessary a democratic control of the food system. The definition of food security of the via Campesina is beyond granting the production of an adequate amount of food, but it focuses on how the food is produced, what kind of food and in what scale. The concept they developed of food security is deeply tight with that of food sovereignty, as there cannot be food security without food sovereignty. 

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Canadian Women Studies