By: George Kurzom
Demonstrators against globalization and the World Trade Organization- WTO. The demonstration's slogan describes WTO as the World Terrorist Organization
Exclusive to Environment and Development Horizons (Afaq magazine):
Over the last couple of months, the debate regarding the concept of food sovereignty arose on the community and popular levels. Some seminars and workshops were organized, in addition to the resumption of some institutional and youth activities. This coincided with the surge of home gardening, where many reverted to agricultural work in the land, especially in the Palestinian countryside. This came amidst the Corona pandemic and the accompanying serious demise of individual and family incomes, and the rise of unemployment and poverty.
At the same time, for some, indistinctness and ambiguity were noticed vis-à-vis the concepts of “food sovereignty” and “food security”. This comes at a time when the concept of national sovereignty over food, in the Palestinian context, happens to be fully in accord with the concept of self-reliant resistant economy—an economy which is in utter contradiction with the formal economic concepts and polices which are primarily based on the capitalist "market economy" and "free market" systems. The latter two systems have rooted and deepened poverty, famine, and tribal and local wars, not only in the superficially "sovereign" South, but also in the geographical ghetto of the Israeli colonial protectorate that is governed by an autonomous authority that was produced by colonial agreements with the occupier.
The indistinctness and ambiguity came into sight in a poll conducted last August by Afaq magazine, on the existence, or absence, of the differences between the two concepts: food sovereignty and food security. The poll showed that only 40% of the respondents (out of 333 respondents) think there is a significant and fundamental difference between the two concepts, while 35% think there is a slight difference between the two. On the other hand, 14% believe that there is no difference between the two concepts. As for those who are indifferent to the topic (do not know), their percentage reached 11%. Sparing the details of how each category voted, the overall result of the survey showed fogginess and lack of clear vision (vis-à-vis the two concepts) among most respondents (60%).
In this regard, it is worth noting that the “patent” of “food security” concept belongs to the imperialist regimes and international financial and economic institutions (USA, EU, World Bank, IMF, some UN agencies, etc …). The concept was in turn adopted by the political regimes in the southern hemisphere, who are agents to the colonial West. Therefore, it is a neoliberal domineering concept imposed from top to bottom.
Contrastingly, the concept of food sovereignty emerged initially in some Latin American and East Asian countries, as an antithesis to food security. It evolved in the context of peasant popular revolutionary movements that freed agricultural land from the clutches of tyrant political regimes and large/major industrial food and agricultural companies; the same movements that rebelled against the policies of their governments which support the rich and the parasitic segments, and defend the interests of capitalists, large business owners, real estate traders, and monopolistic and transcontinental corporations. In other words, the concept of food sovereignty is a resistant popular emancipator concept aimed at achieving true sovereignty over land and food production. The sovereignty notion is of special importance to the oppressed popular segments of peoples under the control and mercy of a handful of transcontinental foreign monopolies, seed and agrochemical global companies, as well as peoples under foreign occupation like the Palestinian people.
The Corona Pandemic Exposed the Illusion of “Food Security”
The concept of “food security” assumes, in essence, that people have the capacity to meet their food requirements via local production or importation. The cornerstone here, according to the imperialist concept, is importation; therefore, the heteronomy of the food-insecure peoples to the imperialist states and their monopolies that globally control the production of strategic grains and food. In other words, for people to meet their food requirements, they must afford the money to have such needs. So,without that, there would be no harm if those who are unemployed, destitute, and from extremely poor social strata, and do not have the money, to die starving. The bottom line, to that effect, is that the concept of "food security" aims at consecrating the social injustice, oppression, injustice, and inequality. It even legitimizes poverty, hunger, and the global plundering machine which reinforces class gaps into a junta of fringe parasitic wealthy people who die of food glut, and a majority who die of starvation, without even finding anyone to commemorate their burial.
As we will see in the following paragraphs, the Corona pandemic exposed the depth of the social oppression, class repression, and the total absence of global equality. The pandemic has also revealed the falsity and deceit of "food security" which the imperialist regimes and institutions and monopolies in the North have been consistently marketing to the poor communities of the South, embellishing it with intellectual-developmental make-up powders, such as "sustainable development" under which various versatilities of looting financial resources, profits, and surpluses (from the "South") are masked.
This hunger crisis in this year is unprecedented. Experts estimate the projected global number of deaths by hunger, by the end of this year, at 132 million; meaning three times the annual increase since the beginning of the 21st century (Bloomberg). In other words, the global daily toll of deaths due to hunger as a consequence of the pandemic is higher than the global daily toll of those who die from the virus itself.
UN numbers claim that no less that 11% of the world’s population may not find enough food this year. Optimistic scenarios suggest that the extent of famine over the next decade will be much uglier than all preceding estimates. By 2030, the number of hungry people may reach some 909 million persons; whereas the most hardliner of scenarios estimates the number of hungry persons to be around 1 billion by the same year.
The corona pandemic uncovered the fib of "food security" conception, which is mostly and primarily based on by and large imported food supply chains. It also hinges on the meager purchasing power of the poor and impoverished (the majority of the population); a result of cheap-wage labor that stripped them their food freedom by which they decide what to produce and what to consume, with local and national production inputs. In other words, they were stripped of their food sovereignty, thus facilitating their sliding into the abyss of famine by simply chipping away their wage income, “bestowed” on them by their employer whose mercy they live of. It is remarkable that the monster of hunger is exterminating people, at a time when the world's food surpluses are increasing considerably. These surpluses, according to the concept of "food security", are supposed to be distributed to hungry people, thus eradicating hunger phenomenon.
The "production revolution" of agrochemical capitalism which is "necessary to feed the world's population" is nothing but delusion and an unashamed fallacy. Official international figures (FAO, International Fund for Agricultural Development and the World Food Programme) show that despite the "evolution" in agrochemical technology and genetically modified crops, under the pretext of eradicating famine, the number of hungry people in the world has increased significantly and has not decreased (as we have seen previously). Furthermore, the goal of eradicating famine by 2030, which was set by the United Nations in 2015, remains elusive. In 2014 alone, the number of hungry people in the world reached 630 million, rising to about 700 million in 2019. For the current year, the number of hungry people is expected to exceed the threshold of 800 million, i.e. more than 11% of the world's population.
Translated by: Carol Khoury