Building a better food system
Photo: Edinburgh activists at the Hunger Summit, June 2013
Since 2014, Global Justice Now has been campaigning to challenge the role of the UK government in the aid scheme, New Alliance for Food Security and Nutrition. The scheme claims that it will lift 50 million people in Africa out of poverty by 2022 but its key beneficiaries are global corporations while small-scale far.
What is the New Alliance?
Launched in 2012, the New Alliance for Food Security and Nutrition provides aid money from rich countries like the US and the UK, and helps big business invest in the African agricultural sector. But in return, African countries are required to change their land, seed and trade rules in favour of big business. The New Alliance:
- Makes it easier for big corporations to grab land in Africa.
- Prevents farmers from breeding, saving and exchanging seeds.
- Heavily promotes chemical fertilisers and pesticides, which increase farmers’ risk of debt as well as damaging the environment and farmers' health.
- Replaces family farms with low paid, insecure jobs.
- Prevents countries from restricting crop exports, even at times of domestic shortage
Ten African countries have signed up to the New Alliance: Burkina Faso, Cote d’Ivoire, Ethiopia, Ghana, Mozambique, Tanzania, Benin, Malawi, Nigeria and Senegal. Around 50 multinational companies including Monsanto, Cargill and Unilever, and around 100 African companies, are also involved.
Food sovereignty and Agroecology
Small farmers in Africa and across the world are resisting corporate control and instead promoting food sovereignty. This framework was developed by farmers in the global south and enables communities to control the way food is produced, traded and consumed for the benefit of people and the environment rather than corporate profits.
Agroecology is a key part of food sovereignty. It is the science of sustainable farming as well as a political movement that aims to improve the way food is grown and processed globally. Fundamentally, agroecology is about shifting the control of the land, seeds, markets and labour out of the hands of big business and back into the hands of small-scale farmers.
Global Justice Now’s campaign
From 2014-2016, Global Justice Now’s public campaign challenged the UK government’s role in backing the New Alliance as well promoted food sovereignty both in the UK and globally. After two and a half years of campaigning, the Department for International Development has said that is no longer channelling any further aid money to this scheme from 2017 onwards.
We launched the campaign with a spoof action. Posing as corporates, we asked the Department of International Development to help us to carve up a cake of Africa as a way to say thank you for their help in opening new markets.
Working with GRAIN, Friends of the Earth Nigeria and Centre for Education and Environment Development (CEED), we helped to expose and halt a land-grab connected to the New Alliance.
We got questions raised in parliament about New-Alliance backed seed laws that would give big businesses legal ownership and control over seed varieties they claim to have developed.
Working with the Oakland Institute and Greenpeace Africa, we exposed another New-Alliance land grab in Tanzania.
We compiled a dossier of evidence for MPs to write to the Department of International Development:
A report from the Independent Commission for Aid Impact condemned the New Alliance as “little more than a means of promotion for the companies involved and a chance to increase their influence in policy debates”.
Monsanto is one of the key players behind the New Alliance. It is well known as the corporation that produces the weedkiller, Roundup. In 2016, we joined forces with European campaigns to prevent glyphosate from being relicnecsed for an automatic 15 years. Our brandalism campaign helped to raise awareness and glyphosate was only relicensed for 18 months pending further review.
We also commissioned a photo exhibition to document the impact of Monsanto in South Asia. This was toured alongside our five venue speaker tour with Bangladeshi campaigner, Farida Aktar.
The European parliament published its damning review of the New Alliance. Calling for the EU to withdraw support if its deficiencies are not addressed.