For the first time in human history, over a billion people have been officially classified as living in hunger. This record total is not a consequence of poor global harvests or natural disasters. Hunger on this scale is the result of a global economy in which hundreds of millions of small farmers, fisherfolk, pastoralists and indigenous people have faced ruin through the hijacking of the global food system by large agribusiness and food retailers.
The global food system is in crisis. Decisions about what is produced, what is consumed and who has access to food are defined by multinational corporations that control the entire food chain. These companies have continued to make billions even as record numbers of people go hungry. In the midst of the food crisis, companies such as Cargill, Unilever and supermarket chain Tesco have reported record profits.
The dominant model for dealing with the food crisis is to address the ‘food security’ needs of countries and peoples. This model - backed by the UK government and many British NGOs - is based on market solutions to the problems of world hunger, with food treated as just another commodity to be traded on global markets. It is a model based on free trade in agricultural commodities, on corporate-owned technology and on greater private sector control of food production and distribution. It is a model that has failed.
Together with its partners in Brazil, Sri Lanka and Mozambique, and in the wider movement of La Via Campesina, War on Want is committed to the alternative model of 'food sovereignty', an approach to the food crisis that prioritises people's right to food, agro-ecology and a global food system free of corporate control. These pages provide an introduction to the concept of food sovereignty, as well as many examples of how it has enabled local communities to fight off hunger.
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