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A member of the UAWC, which works towards the human rights to food, land and water. (Photo: Food Sovereignty Prize)

Groups Lauded for Work Towards Communities' Rights to a Just Food System

Sixth Food Sovereignty Prize honors Union of Agricultural Work Committees in Palestine and Bellingham, Washington-based Community to Community Development

Andrea Germanos

Despite confronting occupation in Palestine or the effects of failed immigration policies in rural Washington, two grassroots groups have continued the struggle for their communities' rights to a just food system.

For their efforts, the Union of Agricultural Work Committees (UAWC) in Palestine and the Bellingham, Washington-based Community to Community Development (C2C) are being honored with this year's Food Sovereignty Prize. The announcement was made this week.

Now in its 6th year, the Prize is awarded by the US Food Sovereignty Alliance, a network of anti-hunger advocacy organizations, and seeks to laud those who work towards combating the injustices created by the global food system. "In honoring those who are taking back their food systems, the Food Sovereignty Prize affirms that nothing short of the true democratization of our food system will enable us to end hunger once and for all," a statement from the Prize's website reads.

Previous winners have included La Via Campesina, the Landless Workers Movement of Brazil and Family Farm Defenders.

The UAWC's nearly three decades of work is borne out of the Israeli occupation's continued land and water grabs—issues that directly affect farmers. The group's efforts include creating seed banks and farmer cooperatives.

“This important prize inspires UAWC to carry on its work in defending Palestinian farmers’ rights against the brutal Israeli violations, both through supporting small-scale farmers and fishermen toward their food sovereignty and rights to land and water, and also through coordination with local and international movements for social justice and human rights,” Khaled Hidan, General Director of the Union of Agricultural Work Committees in Palestine, said in a press statement.

Though not battling an illegal occupation or the effects of a recent deadly assault, C2C has struggled against failed immigration and trade policies and the dominant corporate food system One of their efforts has been to support the farm worker union Familias Unidas por la Justicia, which won a battle against wage theft.

“In honoring Community to Community, the USFSA honors indigenous farmworkers in the U.S.," said Rosalinda Guillen, Executive Director of Community to Community Development. "Displaced by NAFTA, these peasant farmers from Mexico are practicing a tradition of struggle for justice. Together, C2C and Familias Unidas are promoting food sovereignty in rural Washington State and challenging the corporate agricultural interests that are controlling our food system.”

The Food Sovereignty Prize stands as an alternative to the World Food Prize, created in 1986 by Nobel Laureate and "Green Revolution" pioneer Dr. Norman E. Borlaug. The 2013 winners of the World Food Prize, for example, included biotechnology scientists from Syngenta and Monsanto, prompting criticism from people including agroecology-advocates Frances Moore Lappé and Vandana Shiva.

The Food Sovereignty Prize will be awarded October 15 in Des Moines, Iowa.

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