Thursday, August 23, 2012

"Together for Justice" Food Sovereignty and Land Grab Grassroots Panel


Dear Friends in Earth Care,

Last week, Diane Waddell, PEC Moderator, and I attended the Together for Justice 2012 International Gathering in Chicago, sponsored by the Joining Hands Initiative of the Presbyterian Hunger Program.  The Joining Hands Initiative is an innovative way to mobilize people in focused campaigns to tackle systemic causes of hunger both in the United States and abroad as a witness to the wholeness of God’s creation. To date the initiative has been limited to Presbytery relationships, but the plan is to open the initiative up to churches, individuals and nonprofits. The campaigns are in five areas: extractive industries, water, access to land, food sovereignty and trade. The Steering Committee will be looking at potential collaborations for Presbyterians for Earth Care in these campaigns.

I attended a workshop led by Andrew Kang Bartlett, of the Hunger Program, on Food Security and Sovereignty. Food security relates hunger to a lack of food. Governments, charities and the market attempt to provide enough food for everyone to survive. Food sovereignty relates hunger to the control of the food systems. Food sovereignty puts the right to sufficient and healthy  food for everyone at the center of food and agricultural policies. Food security does not take the entire system into effect, such as environmental impacts. There is a never ending circle of injustice that prevents food sovereignty: starting with corporate mandates and greed, leading to economic exploitation, leading to a consolidation of power, leading to that power shaping policies, leading to the loss of family farms, leading to the loss of control of seeds, water and land, leading to environmental degradation, which leads back to corporate mandates and greed.

Panel speakers, left to right: Herman Kumara Wijethunge - Sri Lanka, Paul Raja Rao Valaperla - India, Chavannes Jean-Baptiste - Haiti, Doris Alicia Evangelista Ortiz - El Salvador, Kristi Van Nostran - Mission Co-worker to El Salvador, and Ruth Farrell - Presbyterian Hunger Program Coordinator.


I also met Vickie Machado, an 2011 and 2012 Eco-steward, and currently a Food Justice Fellow with the Hunger Program. Meeting a young adult who has explored the connection between her faith and the call to environmental stewardship through the Eco-steward Program, as well as participating in a program to fight for food justice, reminded me how interconnected faith, food and the environment are.

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Blessings and Peace,

Sue Smith, PEC Treasurer

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