For the last year, Caritas Canada-Development and Peace has been raising awareness of food sovereignty as a way to address food crises that are affecting the Global South and asked the Canadian Government to place food sovereignty on the agenda for the G8 summit in Huntsville, Ontario.
After reviewing the official statement released at the conclusion of the meeting, Caritas Canada-Development and Peace is deeply disappointed with the world leaders’ failure to bring food sovereignty to the forefront as a means for ensuring food security and for supporting climate change policies that will cause further deterioration to the livelihoods of small-scale farmers, peasants and rural communities that engage in sustenance farming.
Although we applaud the leaders for their renewed commitment to the question of food security, which didn’t appear on the G8 agenda prior to the Hokkaido meeting in 2008, and for addressing climate change, we feel that the policies being proposed will undermine what could be a sustainable, inclusive and long-term approach to both the issues of climate change and food security.
The statement identifies investment in bioenergy as the best means to move towards a low-carbon economy, however, this demands a heavy increase in industrial agriculture to produce agrofuel crops such as corn or soya. This takes away precious land and diverse crops from rural communities and diminishes access to food. The statement lacked any reference to other viable sources of alternative energy such as wind or solar power.
Current agricultural policies that support industrial agriculture, especially those that promote agrofuels, threaten the food sovereignty of people in Asia, Africa and Latin America. Production of agrofuels causes population displacement and environmental problems. It also raises the price of food and does not solve the growing problem of climate change or address the exhaustion of the world’s oil supplies.
“Our hope was that the Canadian Government would use its influence with other G8 members to ensure that these countries increase their support for small-scale, sustainable agriculture in the Global South and that this be given priority over industrial agriculture, especially that which focuses on agrofuels,” said Michael Casey, Executive Director of Development and Peace.
Development and Peace remains deeply concerned that the lives and livelihoods of the poorest in the world will be threatened by these decisions.