Peasant and small-scale farmers make up half of the world’s population and grow at least 70% of the food we consume. However, they are also the most vulnerable social category and the social group most exposed to hunger. In Europe, the ever increasing control of food production by corporations and the implementation of market-and-production-deregulating-Free Trade Agreements, severely undermine the protection and support that States can give their domestic agricultural sectors.
As a result, peasants have lost many local seeds and biodiversity is destroyed by use of hazardous chemicals, hybrid seeds and GMOs. What’s more, states neglect the farm sector and peasants receive inadequate income from their production; accessing and keeping land is more and more difficult for small farmers; the promotion of mono-cultures is having devastating effects on the environment, health and peasant communities; and the struggle of peasants is criminalized.
In response, small and medium scale farmer organizations in Europe have organized and are leading campaigns for better policies at the European and international level. The rights demanded include, but are not limited to, the right to an adequate standard of living; the right to land and territory; the right to seeds and traditional agricultural knowledge and practice; the right to means of agricultural production; the right to information and agricultural technology; the freedom to determine price and a market for agricultural production; the right to protection of agricultural value; and the right to biological diversity.
At the international level, considering the limitations of current international law and conventions, the international peasant movement and its allies are pushing for the creation of an international instrument in the United Nations Human Rights Council to respect, protect, fulfill, and uphold the aforementioned rights.