• Food Sovereignty

    What is Food Sovereignty?

    Food Sovereignty is the right of peoples to healthy and culturally appropriate food produced through ecologically sound and sustainable methods, and their right to define their own food and agriculture systems, as defined in the Declaration of Nyeleni in 2007.

    It is a solutions focused framework that defines core principles for which a sustainable, life-supporting food system would be based on. Food Sovereignty has emerged from international peasant movements under the banner of La Via Campesina in the Global South.

    Many groups in Somerset are active in the wider Food Sovereignty movement, and anyone active for a sustainable food system should be aware of their power and impact around the world, as a framework of what we are building.

    Feed Avalon is committed to working towards Food Sovereignty at every level and have been inspired by its framework in the design of our work.

    Principles of Food Sovereignty

    1. Focuses on Food for People: Food sovereignty stresses the right to sufficient, healthy and culturally appropriate food for all individuals, peoples and communities, including those who are hungry or living under occupation, in conflict zones and marginalized. Food sovereignty rejects the proposition that food is just another commodity for international agribusiness.

    2. Values Food Providers: Food sovereignty values and supports the contributions, and respects the rights, of women and men, peasants and small scale family farmers, pastoralists, artisanal fishers, forest dwellers, indigenous peoples and agricultural and fisheries workers, including migrants, who cultivate, grow, harvest and process food; and rejects those policies, actions and programs that undervalue them, threaten their livelihoods and eliminate them.

    3. Localizes Food Systems: Food sovereignty brings food providers and consumers together in common cause; puts providers and consumers at the center of decision- making on food issues; protects food providers from the dumping of food and food aid in local markets; protects consumers from poor quality and unhealthy food, inappropriate food aid and food tainted with genetically modified organisms; and resists governance structures, agreements and practices that depend on and promote unsustainable and inequitable international trade and give power to remote and unaccountable corporations.

    4. Makes Decisions Locally: Food sovereignty seeks control over and access to territory, land, grazing, water, seeds, livestock and fish populations for local food providers. These resources ought to be used and shared in socially and environmentally sustainable ways which conserve diversity. Food sovereignty recognizes that local territories often cross geopolitical borders and advances the right of local communities to inhabit and use their territories; it promotes positive interaction between food providers in different regions and territories and from different sectors to resolve internal conflicts or conflicts with local and national authorities; and rejects the privatization of natural resources through laws, commercial contracts and intellectual property rights regimes.

    5. Builds Knowledge and Skills: Food sovereignty builds on the skills and local knowl- edge of food providers and their local organizations that conserve, develop and manage localized food production and harvesting systems, developing appropriate research sys- tems to support this and passing on this wisdom to future generations. Food sovereignty rejects technologies that undermine, threaten or contaminate these, e.g. genetic engineering.

    6. Works with Nature: Food sovereignty uses the contributions of nature in diverse, low external input agroecological production and harvesting methods that maximize the contribution of ecosystems and improve resilience and adaptation, especially in the face of climate change. Food sovereignty seeks to heal the planet so that the planet may heal us; and, rejects methods that harm beneficial ecosystem functions, that depend on en- ergy intensive monocultures and livestock factories, destructive fishing practices and other industrialized production methods, which damage the environment and contribute to global warming.

    Source: Nyéléni 2007 – Forum for Food Sovereignty, February 23rd – 27th, 2007, Sélingué, Mali, Synthesis Report – http://www.nyeleni2007.org/spip.php?article334

    Further information & resources

    Articles, factsheets & reports

    Nyeleni 2007 Definition of Food Sovereignty
    Nyeleni European Declaration from the European Forum in Krems, Austria, August 2011

    The People’s Convention on Food Sovereignty

    Food Sovereignty: Taking back control of our food system, A War on Want position paper, August 2011 by Graciela Romero

    Primer on People’s Food Sovereignty

    Food Sovereignty: Towards democracy in localised food systems, Michael Windfuhr and Jennie Jonsén FIAN-International

    Land Strugggles, LRAN Briefing Paper, 2007

    Leadership Development and Formação in Brazil’s Landless Workers Movement (MST) By Dawn M. Plummer, Masters Thesis

    Reclaim the Fields Bulletins

    Communicating the right to food sovereignty: The voice of the Campesino in the Global Campaign for Agrarian Reform, Alana Mann University of Sydney, Australia

    The Landless Rural Workers Movement and Democracy in Brazil, Miguel Carter,  American University

    Interview with João Pedro Stedile, Landless battalions, The Sem Terra Movement of Brazil

    An article from Do or Die Issue 7: Occupy, Resist, Produce
    Brasil’s Landless Peasants – Movimento Sem Terra

    Repeasantization By Tristan Quinn-Thibodeau and Justin Myers

    Modules on Food Sovereignty, People’s Coalition on Food Sovereignty and Pesticide Action Network Asia and the Pacific, 2006

    Securing future food: towards ecological food provision, UK Food Group briefing 2010

    6 Food Sovereignty Principles, factsheet by Grassroots International


    Food Sovereignty, Reconnecting Food, Nature and Community, edited by Hannah Wittman, Annette Aurelie Desmarais & Nettie Wiebe, Food First Books, Oakland, US 2010

    Introduction to Food Sovereignty. Food and Democracy edited by Marcin Gerwin (free e-book)

    Local Food: How to make it happen in your community, Tazmin Pinkerton & Rob Hopkins

    Fatal Harvest: The Tragedy of Industrial Agriculture, edited by Andrew Kimbrell


    La Via Campesina

    Reclaim the Fields

    Food Sovereignty UK

    Landworkers Alliance