The World Day of Action against the World Trade Organisation’s promotion of Free Trade Agreements is marked each year on 10 September.
It was on this day in 2003 that Lee Kyung Hae – a rice farmer from South Korea and a leader of our peasant movement – took his own life outside the Ministerial meeting of WTO in Cancun, Mexico. While sacrificing his life to expose the crimes of WTO and Free Trade Agreements, Lee was holding a placard that read "WTO Kills Farmers".
Since that day, 10 September has been marked as the Global Day of Action Against WTO and Free Trade Agreements that have seen the deepening impoverishment of small-scale producers in the context of the global capital and free market regimes. The privatisation and de-regulation that came about as the consequence of these agreements has made the rich richer, while poverty and world hunger remain at staggeringly high levels. Some 82% of the world's wealth is controlled by merely 1% of the people and global Hunger is on the rise, with peoples' food sovereignty under severe threat.
This year many countries are frantically negotiating a number of multi-lateral and bilateral agreements such as RCEP, CPTPP, EU-Mercosur, CETA and more behind closed doors, with no respect to democracy and national sovereignty. These agreements threaten to take away people's food sovereignty and allow for the expansion of markets for multinational agribusinesses.
All that these agreements have ensured is the freedom for Multinational Corporations to dump cheap food into economically weaker countries, after having received heavy subsidies from their rich governments. Dumping and the push for an industrial agricultural system treats food grains as a commodity for trade and to be speculated upon, with peasants and family farmers unable to even meet the cost of cultivation.
The industrial system of agriculture has led to consolidation and control of the global food chain into the hands of a few agribusiness corporations, while creating devastating impact for the planet, its people and all the living species.
We need to educate and mobilise to remove agriculture from all free trade negotiations in support of food sovereignty.