Malnutrition Avoidance through Food Sovereignty
Teacher Stella Maris Saubidet Oyhamburu
Language and Written Expression IV
Institute ISFD N° 41
The main determinant of malnutrition is the vulnerability of people which is mainly induced by poverty. It makes people unable to feed themselves and represents a key factor in the achievement of household food security. The small-scale agriculture must be recognized as the main source of income and livelihood for the poor in several developing countries, especially in the African continent where the eighty percent of poor people live in rural areas. This is where food sovereignty appears, as a policy that underlies the right of nations and their people to define their own food production system without depending on the global markets, pioneered first by the international peasant alliance ‘La Via Campesina’ which is nowadays increasingly being adopted by food movement activists across the globe. In other words, this concept of food sovereignty by ‘La Via Campesina’ was defined as ‘the right of each nation to maintain and develop its own capacity to produce its basic foods in their own territory’. The essential is to enjoy the right of people to healthy and culturally appropriate food produced through ecologically sound and sustainable methods, defining this way their own food and agriculture systems in order to avoid the chemical processes which make nutrition an impossible issue.
The global commercial seed market has been growing highly concentrated over the last twenty years. Global production is now being dominated by a very few companies. Nowadays, the unique market leader is Monsanto Corporation. This company began its seed production in the 1980s, after becoming one of the biggest chemical producers in the U.S with its pesticide production for World War 2. They developed genetically modified soya, which tolerates Monsanto’s own herbicide Roundup. However, the International Assessment of Agricultural Knowledge, Science and Technology for Development (IAASTD) identified many broken regulations related to the hyper concentration of this company. This lack of diversity of companies leads only to the development of only a few varieties of seed, impeding new ones with scientific improvements which may result as a benefit for the human body.
Referring to the fertility of these seeds, manure produced by cattle, pigs and poultry is used as organic fertilizer over the world. The real problem comes together with the chemical fertilizers sold by the companies, which may go from the fields into water systems, and consequently generate damaging blooms of oxygen-depleting microorganisms that disrupt ecosystems and kill fish. In addition, this type of fertilizer is damaging not only the climate but also the eco-systems. On one hand, a small part of the nitrogen from this artificial product reaches the plants; the largest part contaminates soil and water. On the other hand, animals ingest nitrogen as proteins in their diet but utilize them very poorly and excrete much of the nitrogen. In the nitrous oxide form, it will be in the atmosphere but broken down very slowly which also highly damages the climate and the inhabitants in it.
Incidentally, the damage in the ecosystems may also bring pests which at the same time may ruin the farm and everything around it. As a result, agrochemical corporations had to create special chemicals to protect the seeds developing resistance to these pests. The problem is that these companies neglect ecological methods or even force them out of the market. As a real consequence, millions of farmers and agricultural workers are poisoned by pesticides every year. There are plenty of cases where the peasants find their crops destroyed by aerial spraying pesticide. Their chickens and other animals, especially horses, are frequently affected. In the case of people, they suffer from nausea, vomiting, diarrhoea, stomach pains, skin lesions, allergies and eye irritation. Hence this chemicals known as pesticides, not only may affect the human’s nutrition but also the community surrounded by it.
In my opinion, the dialogue with the old local farmers or the small-scale producers, whose crops are sold in export markets, would be an important beginning within the movement that food sovereignty has been dealing with. In order to broaden the scope of this type of food, farmers should be aware of all their interests and motivations regarding to their products to continue a stronger engagement in export markets, so that more ecological processes can be adopted over the entire world. People are already used to this induced diet, but do not know another way to deal with it. Through the awareness of food sovereignty around the globe, nutrition would have to improve without having to close or displace the international global markets. On the contrary, these companies should have the obligation of being in contact with small producers and solve not only the malnutrition problems, but also to avoid the pollution through their chemical products.
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