1999 Annual Report

Food First | 01.01.2000

Winter 2000, Vol. 22, No. 75

Food—which in its progress from seed to stomach finks ecology, labor, poverty, trade, culture, and health—will be a key item on the menu of the next century’s struggles for democracy against the arbitrary power of giant corporations. – The Nation. December 27, 1999

Seattle and the New Food Movement: Letter from Peter Rosset, Executive Director

The week-long “Battle of Seattle” during the failed World Trade Organization (WIO) talks, was a watershed event for the world’s citizenry. We demonstrated our collective ability to be heard and to change the agenda. When before in American history have students, consumers, labor and women’s movements, farmers, environmentalists, faith-based groups, human rights activists, and representatives from more than 100 countries marched hand in hand? Said one Wisconsin farmer, “The WTO fight in Seattle woke a lot of American farmers up to the fact that their fight isn’t with farmers in France or India. The fight’s with agribusiness and the whole corporate vision of forcing small farmers off the land.”

Ten years ago the debate in the media would have been over how best to facilitate free trade. What an enormous change then, for the very existence of the WTO—with its secretive and binding mechanisms placing corporate profits over human need—to be openly questioned in the mainstream media.

Those of us who make up what The Nation calls “The New Food Movement” played a key role in the global coalition that made Seattle possible. Opposition to genetic engineering, and the control over our food supply by a handful of corporations, brought farmers from France, India, Brazil, and America’s heartland together with consumers and environmentalists. The United Farm Workers came from California, the Landless Workers (MST) from Brazil, and the Kensington Welfare Rights Union from Philadelphia, to challenge a corporate controlled global food system that leaves out so many. Visitors from Canada, the Congo, Mexico, and India spoke eloquently of the devastation free trade has meant for local food systems.

At Food First we make a solemn pledge to carry the fight for a socially just food system forward into our 25th anniversary year and the new millennium, forging and strengthening the new global food movement under the banner of the fundamental human right to food.

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Peter Rosser, PhD, Executive Director