Thursday, June 7, 2012

OAS states divided over food sovereignty

Representatives attending the 42nd General Assembly of the Organisation of American States (OAS) squabbled here on Tuesday over the inclusion of "food sovereignty" in a declaration on food security.

Bolivia proposed the inclusion of the term, which was coined in 1996 to describe rights of people to "define their own agricultural, livestock and fisheries systems in contrast to having food largely subject to international market forces."

However, Chile, among the countries that have registered the highest growth rates in food exports in recent years, opposed the idea, saying such a concept might harm the free flow of food stuff.

The majority of foreign ministers attending the meeting supported the proposal put forward by Bolivia, said Diego Pari, Bolivia's ambassador to the OAS.

He added that Chile, backed by the United States in its opposition to the inclusion of "food sovereignty," succeeded in including a footnote in the declaration questioning the use of the term.

"Chile opposed the issue of food sovereignty and has established a footnote," said the Bolivian diplomat.

"We think it's a somewhat covert opposition, but we managed to gain the support of several countries which had previously perceived the term as a threat rather than a right of the people," he said.

Despite the disagreement, the OAS's general committee decided to approve the 42-paragraph declaration so that the issue becomes a matter for discussion in the OAS and other frameworks over the next few years.

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