2002 Annual Report

Food First | 01.01.2003

Letter from the Co-Directors

If we believed everything we saw in the mainstream media, 2002 would have seemed a very gloomy year indeed. Yet, despite the specter of war, we find reasons to be optimistic about the rapidly gelling global movement for human dignity of which we are a part.

It is true that war loomed large in 2002. The United States carpet-bombed Afghanistan and built up military forces in preparation to attack Iraq, and worse still, the Bush administration wants to make military action into a first-round policy rather than an act of last resort. This was a year in which the Justice Department felt freer than ever before to ride roughshod over our civil liberties, targeting immigrant and minority communities inside the U.S. and Muslims the world over. The U.S . has thumbed its nose at an array of international agreement~. agreements that would tackle global warming, biological weapons, and war crimes. The federal budget has been rededicated to the Pentagon, while social services are being slashed to the bone. The economic downturn has had a devastating impact across the country, with budget deficits reaching record highs and the Bush administration keen to provide further tax relief to the already rich.

Behind the headlines, though, there are genuine reasons for hope. At Food First, we feel that the global justice movement is coming together like never be fore. The protests by tens of thousands of indigenous people and peasant farmers in Quito, Ecuador, against the proposed Free Trade Area of the Americas (FTAA) gave the lie once and for all to the claim that opposition to trade liberalization comes only from rich countries. Emerging global social movements like the Vía Campesina–a world\vide federation of small farmer organizations, North and South- showed their strength at venues like the World Food Summit in Rome, where they challenged the t;corporate takeover of our food system and led the Secretary-General of the Food and Agriculture Organization of the UN  to beg the m to sit down at table with governments. Landless movements from around the world stole the show at the Summit on Sustainable Development in Johannesburg.

The government and civil society of Zambia stood up to the most powerful nation on Earth and rejected genetically modified food shipments from the U.S., despite enormous pressure. Food First was part of each and every one of these events, marching in the streets, providing policy analysis, engaging in publicized debates, building bridges between North and South, and staying the course of our deep commitment to peace, justice, and human dignity.