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Charity Hicks, Detroit Food Justice Task Force, 313.725.0554
Lisa Griffith, National Family Farm Coalition, 773.319.5838
Christopher Cook, Food First, 415.504.0325
Five innovative grassroots groups from across the globe working for democratic access to land, seeds, water and food have been honored with the 2013 Food Sovereignty Prize, the US Food Sovereignty Alliance announced today.
Winners of the fifth annual Food Sovereignty Prize were chosen from among more than 40 inspiring projects creating on-the-ground solutions to hunger and poverty, said the alliance, a network offood justice, anti-hunger, labor, environmental, faith-based, and food producer advocacy organizations.
Top honors go to the Haitian Group of 4 (G4) and the South American Dessalines Brigade, an international peasant-to-peasant collaboration working to rebuild Haiti's seed, soil and agricultural systems. Honorable mentions were garnered by Tamil Nadu Women's Collective of India; National Coordination of Peasant Organizations of Mali; and Basque Country Peasants' Solidarity of the Basque Country in Europe.
"The Food Sovereignty Prize symbolizes the fight for safe and healthy food for all peoples of the earth," said Chavannes Jean-Baptiste, G4 Executive Committee member. "It's a fight that must be waged both locally and globally, and requires deep solidarity among all organizations fighting for food sovereignty."
Flavio Barbosa, of the South American Dessalines Brigade, added: "Receiving this prize for the partnership between the Group of 4 and the Dessalines Brigade is an incentive for others to participate in long exchanges such as the one we are experiencing in Haiti. And it charges us with even greater responsibility to continue our defense of peasant agriculture and agroecology as a way to produce sustainable, healthy chemical-free foods accessible for all."
The US Food Sovereignty Alliance will present the awards at a ceremony in New York City on October 15, 2013, at the Smithsonian National Museum of the American Indian. The ceremony will be hosted by WhyHunger and feature keynote speaker Shirley Sherrod, former USDA regional director and longtime advocate for family farmers. The evening will also feature musical entertainment. Subsequent events with the Food Sovereignty Prize honorees to highlight issues of food sovereignty in the US will take place in Des Moines, Iowa, and Detroit, Michigan, on October 16-21.
For event updates and background on food sovereignty and the prize winners, visit www.foodsovereigntyprize.org. On Twitter, #foodsovprize.
Since its launch in 2009, the Food Sovereignty Prize has garnered international attention for its recognition of community-based efforts that promote food democracy. In contrast to the World Food Prize, which emphasizes increased production through technology and this year rewarded scientists from transnational biotechnology corporations Monsanto and Syngenta, the Food Sovereignty Prize honors organizations and movements around the world fighting for the right to food for all people and dignity for those who put food on our plates.
"With this prize, we're honoring real-world, sustainable solutions to poverty, social instability and food insecurity," said Montana farmer Dena Hoff, North American Co-Chair of La Via Campesina, the first winner of the Food Sovereignty Prize in 2009. "With 40 nominations from 21 countries and a selection committee comprised of food justice activists, community leaders and academics from the US and Canada, the Food Sovereignty Prize recognizes effective and inspiring examples of communities making creative and truly lasting change in their food security--and in their democracy." Hoff is the Vice President of National Family Farm Coalition, a founding member of the US Food Sovereignty Alliance.
2013 Food Sovereignty Prize Honorees: Snapshots and Background
Winner: Group of 4, Dessalines Brigade/Via Campesina, Haiti & South America
In 2007, Haiti's largest peasant organizations--Heads Together Small Farmers of Haiti (Tet Kole), the Peasant Movement of Papaye, the National Congress of Papaye Peasant Movements, and the Regional Coordination of Organizations of the South East Region--joined forces as the Group of 4 (G4), a national alliance to promote good farming practices and advocate for peasant farmers. The G4, representing over a quarter of a million Haitians, invited South American peasant leaders and agroecology experts to Haiti to work cooperatively to save Creole seeds and support peasant agriculture. Together, the G4 and the Dessalines Brigade, as it became known--named for 19th-century Haitian independence leader Jean Jacques Dessalines and supported by La Via Campesina--have collaborated to rebuild Haiti's environment, promote wealth and end poverty. The partnership also provided immediate and ongoing support to the victims of the 2010 earthquake, and the Group of 4 made global headlines when they rejected a donation of hybrid seeds from Monsanto.
Honorable Mention: Basque Country Peasants' Solidarity (EHNE), Basque Country
In Europe's Basque Country, the struggle for food sovereignty is embedded in a broader struggle for political and cultural autonomy. A founder of the international peasant movement La Via Campesina in 1993, EHNE continues to be at the forefront of innovative and political food sovereignty approaches. Locally, EHNE offers its more than 6,000 members educational and economic support; its youth program has helped young people return to farming; and it is working to build new relationships between the countryside and regional cities. Due in part to the Basque Country's vibrant network of small farms, cooperative business and strong local food system, all supported by EHNE, the region has weathered the financial crisis better than much of Europe.
Honorable Mention: National Coordination of Peasant Organizations (CNOP), Mali
CNOP is composed of 11 federations of farmers' organizations on a national scale, representing the interests of nearly 2.5 million farmers and peasants. Family farming, primarily by small producers, is the dominant farming model in Mali; CNOP's mission is to strengthen the structure of farming organizations and build their members' capacity to influence agricultural policy. CNOP was the prime contractor for the development of Mali's first agricultural policy, passed by parliament in September, 2006, which made Mali one of the first countries to put the principle of food sovereignty into law. In February, 2007, CNOP hosted Nyeleni, the first global forum on food sovereignty, in Mali, and has led the hard fight against land grabbing and for the rights of small farmers.
Honorable Mention: Tamil Nadu Women's Collective (TNWC), India
In the southern Indian state of Tamil Nadu, as in much of India, women have little social, economic or political power, and often struggle to feed their families. Lowest-caste Dalit women, indigenous, and widowed women face even greater hardships. Through the Tamil Nadu Women's Collective, 100,000 marginalized women are organized, many in unofficial worker unions or small collective farms, to strengthen their food sovereignty and thus their broader power. In addition to organizing locally and nationally on issues from their own families' food security to land rights to opposition to genetically modified seeds, the Collective encourages cultivation of native millet varieties - the hardy traditional grain is nutritious, drought-resistant, and easier to grow in the region than wheat or rice.
China's Ministry of Foreign Affairs said the U.S. military's move, ordered by President Joe Biden, "seriously violates international convention."
"The Chinese side clearly requested that the U.S. appropriately deal with this in a calm, professional, and restrained manner," the ministry said, again dismissing the Pentagon's claim that the high-altitude balloon was part of a surveillance operation aimed at monitoring sensitive military sites.
"For the United States to insist on using armed force is clearly an excessive reaction that seriously violates international convention," the ministry continued, invoking force majeure, which under international law refers to unforeseen circumstances that are beyond a state's control. China has claimed the balloon was a civilian weather research aircraft that was blown way off course by unexpected winds.
"China will resolutely defend the legitimate rights and interests of the enterprise involved, and retains the right to respond further," the ministry concluded.
War hawks in the Republican Party, including former President Donald Trump, predictably reacted with hysteria to the Pentagon's Thursday announcement that it detected the balloon over the state of Montana.
"President Biden should stop coddling and appeasing the Chinese communists. Bring the balloon down now and exploit its tech package, which could be an intelligence bonanza," said Sen. Tom Cotton (R-Ark.), one of the most vocal warmongers in Congress. "And President Biden and Secretary Austin need to answer if this was detected over Alaskan airspace. If so, why didn't we bring it down there? If not, why not? As usual, the Chinese Communists' provocations have been met with weakness and hand-wringing."
An unnamed Pentagon official said Saturday that this latest incident is one of several times a Chinese balloon has been detected in U.S. airspace in recent years. The other balloons were not shot down.
"[People's Republic of China] government surveillance balloons transited the continental United States briefly at least three times during the prior administration and once that we know of at the beginning of this administration, but never for this duration of time," the official said in a briefing with reporters.
Tensions between the U.S. and China have risen sharply in recent months, largely over Taiwan. The Biden administration recently announced that it is expanding the U.S. military's footprint in the Philippines, a move widely characterized as a message to China.
As The New York Timesreported Thursday, "A greater U.S. military presence in the Philippines would... make rapid American troop movement to the Taiwan Strait much easier. The archipelago of the Philippines lies in an arc south of Taiwan, and the bases there would be critical launch and resupply points in a war with China. The Philippines' northernmost island of Itbayat is less than 100 miles from Taiwan."
Rep. Michael McCaul (R-Texas) said late last month that the odds of a U.S. war with China within the next two years are "very high," echoing the assessment of the head of the Air Mobility Command.
Far from promoting diplomatic talks with China, Republicans in Congress appear bent on ratcheting up tensions further—and some Democrats are joining them. Last month, with overwhelming bipartisan support, House Republicans established the Select Committee on the Strategic Competition Between the United States and the Chinese Communist Party.
Upon her appointment to the panel on Thursday, Rep. Mikie Sherrill (D-N.J.) called the Chinese Communist Party "a threat to our democracy and way of life" and said the select committee represents the "best opportunity to accomplish real results for Americans and respond to China's aggression."
Rep. Mike Gallagher (R-Wis.), the chair of the select committee, has said the panel's goal is to help the U.S. "win this new Cold War" with China.
Nearly two dozen House progressives issued a statement last month opposing the formation of the committee, saying the U.S. "can and must work towards our economic and strategic competitiveness goals without 'a new Cold War' and without the repression, discrimination, hate, fear, degeneration of our political institutions, and violations of civil rights that such a 'Cold War' may entail."
"House Republicans are trying to slash lifelines for middle-class families on behalf of rich special interests," said a White House spokesperson.
The White House on Saturday condemned a newly introduced Republican bill that would repeal the Inflation Reduction Act, a law that includes a number of changes aimed at lowering costs for Medicare recipients.
Unveiled Thursday by freshman Rep. Andy Ogles (R-Tenn.), the bill has 20 original co-sponsors and is endorsed by several right-wing groups, including the Koch-funded organization Americans for Prosperity.
The Biden White House argued that rolling back the Inflation Reduction Act, which also contains major climate investments, would represent "one of the biggest Medicare benefit cuts in American history" as well as a "handout to Big Pharma." According to Politico, which first reported the White House's response to the GOP bill, the administration is planning to release "state-by-state data indicating how this would affect constituents in different areas."
"House Republicans are trying to slash lifelines for middle-class families on behalf of rich special interests," White House spokesperson Andrew Bates said in a statement. "Who on earth thinks that welfare for Big Pharma is worth selling out over a million seniors in their home state?”
The Inflation Reduction Act authorized a $35-per-month cap on insulin copayments for Medicare recipients, as well as an annual $2,000 total limit on out-of-pocket drug costs.
The bill will also, among other long-overdue changes, allow Medicare to begin negotiating the prices of a subset of the most expensive prescription drugs directly with pharmaceutical companies, which fiercely opposed the law and are working with Republicans to sabotage it. The newly negotiated prices are set to take effect in 2026.
Ogles, whose two-page bill would eliminate the above reforms, repeatedly attacked Medicare, Medicaid, and other federal programs and protections during his 2022 campaign for the U.S. House.
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The White House's critique of Ogles' bill comes as Biden is facing pressure from advocates and physicians to cancel a Medicare privatization scheme that his administration inherited from its right-wing predecessor and rebranded.
It also comes as the White House is locked in a standoff with House Republicans over the debt ceiling. Republican lawmakers have pushed for deeply unpopular cuts to Medicare, Social Security, and other critical federal programs as a necessary condition for any deal to raise the country's borrowing limit and avert a catastrophic default.
"In less than a month, MAGA extremists have threatened to drive the economy into a recession by defaulting on our debt, promised to bring up a bill to impose a 30% national sales tax, and now have introduced legislation to repeal the Inflation Reduction Act," Patrick Gaspard, president and CEO of the Democratic Party-aligned Center for American Progress said in a statement. "This will cut taxes for corporations who earn billions in profit while empowering Big Pharma and Big Oil to continue ripping off the American people."
"It is vital that all Americans understand what is at risk if MAGA extremists succeed in passing their latest dangerous idea: millions of lost jobs, millions more without health insurance, and higher costs for lifesaving insulin, utilities, and more," Gaspard added.