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The right to food self sufficiency

Roger Allison
Washington, D.C.

Roger Allison. Photo by Nic Paget-Clarke
Roger Allison. Photo by Nic Paget-Clarke.
Roger Allison
is executive director of the Missouri Rural Crisis Center. He delivered the following speech at the Mobilization for Global Justice in Washington, D.C. during April 2000 International Monetary Fund/World Bank meetings.

I'm a farmer from Howard County, Missouri and I bring greetings from the country side. I'm the director of a 5,000 member family farm organization, the Missouri Rural Crisis Center. We are a member of the National Family Farm Coalition, which consists of grassroots family farm groups like ours from all over the country. We are also a member of Via Campesina. We are a part of this Farmer & Peasant international movement because we believe in globalizing this struggle. We believe in globalizing the hope.

Last Sunday we joined with thousands calling for cancellation of the global debt. On Wednesday, we joined with allies from labor opposing permanent normal trade relations with China. Today we have come together to further build this movement for global justice. This is the message the world needs to hear.

In this country, farm and food policy is determined by the Freedom to Farm Act. We call it the Freedom to Farm for Nothing Act, or the best farm policy that corporate dollars can buy.

Freedom to Farm is driving farmers off the land in this country and destroying our rural communities. The question is do we want family farms, or do we want factory farms?

The IMF (International Monetary Fund), World Bank and WTO (World Trade Organization) are imposing the same factory farm system on people all over the world. This destroys the most basic right of all human society: the right to food self sufficiency.

The World Bank and the Trans-National corporations they represent say that "the rising tide of free trade will lift all economic boats." The truth is: the more that countries export, and the more that developing countries rely on imported food, the hungrier the people become. We're here today to stand in solidarity and say "no more".

Just before Seattle, family farmers came together for the first time with a declaration on banning the licensing and patenting of genetically modified organisms. Family farmers in this country and around the world are challenging the whole system of biotechnology that leads to corporate concentration, environmental damage, and serious questions about the health of the food supply.

This movement for global justice cannot be stopped. We as family farmers know that we will never have justice in isolation from the rest of society, and the rest of society cannot achieve justice without family farmers providing high quality, healthy and affordable food for all people. There ain't no power like the power of the people and the power of the people don't stop.

This fight is not just a fight in Central America! It's not just fight in Asia or Africa. It's a fight for social and economic justice in this country and the whole world. Keep building the movement for people over profits.

Published in In Motion Magazine - May 10, 2000