April 17: international action day in support of peasant struggle

During this day several actions worldwide took place, a short selection:
Activists block Cargill in Belgium
view video at www.politube.org (search on Cargill)

Thursday April 17th, the international day of farmers struggles, the group Agrocrisis blocked a Cargill [1] company firm in the harbour of Ghent, Belgium. Some 30 activists began the action at around 6h30 in the morning and lasted until after 5 p.m. During all that time, not one truck with soy could enter or leave the firm. Some activists had locked themselves with pipes and bicycle chains at the gate, so it was impossible to open the entrance without brute force. The staff of the firm, scared of bad publicity, chose therefore to let the activists occupy the gate and didn't ask the police to intervene.

The action got quite some media-coverage in mainstream Flemish press (radio, tv, newspapers and internet). Choosing Cargill as a target to celebrate the international Day of the Campesino, was easy but also gives much space for different perspectives, some easy to understand for mainstream media, some more complex. Of course there is the topic of increasing world hunger because of the centralisation of control of the foodmarket by agrogiants like Cargill, but there is also the theme of gmo's and pesticides for animal fodder, the expulsion of peasant farmers worldwide for the monoculture model and bigger profits, the costs of an agro-exportmodel (contrary to small scale distribution) and the greenwash of and investments in agrofuels.

On top of that, the action group wanted to put some spotlights on Round Table on Responsible Soy (RTRS) that is taking place on April 23d and 24th in Buenos Aires. Agrogiants like Cargill, the oil industry and big food processing companies want to agree on a so-called responsible soy certificate. They negotiate this with ngo's like WWF.

As the process is developing now, it seems like the RTRS is even going to label Monsanto's Roundup Ready (gmo soy annex pesticide) as responsible. Like the previous years many social organisations and peasant movements are considering this as the ultimate attempt by agrobusiness. According to An Maeyens, press spokeswoman of the action group, "there are talks for years and after that a few minor adjustments will be done for a part of the production. Not a single hectare will be returned for small peasant production, but meanwhile it clears the image of the companies and is silencing critics." Also the peasant movements are stating that large scale soy monocultures can never be sustainable.

The current EU agrofuel policy is only adding up to this impact.

background article on Cargill

"some people are so idealistic: they believe that the world as we know it can go on for generations. Dreamers they are! (P. Relkman)

[1] The most important global traders, controlling import and export of grain and oligeanous crops are Cargill, ADM, Bunge and Dreyfus. These 4 companies dominate the world market of processing capacity of vegetable oil and soy-based fodder. They control 43% of the processing of oil in Brazil and 80% of it in the EU. These American or French concern trade 3 to 7,4 million tons of soy every year.

Cargill has a yearly income of 3 billion dollars and is world leader on the grain market. This agro-multinationla is the largest private company that is not on the stock market. This implicates that it cannot be held responsible by it stakeholders and almost escapes the obligation to report on their policy and activities.

In Paraguay Cargill is leader of the agrobusiness, trading more than 1,3 million tons of soy yearly, this amounts to 30% of the total soy production. In Belgium the company is an important player in soy import, mainly for the fodder market.

fotos on [1], [2]

press coverage on [[Belgian national TV]], [[Belgian regional TV]], [[Radio interview in flemish on national radio]], [[1]], [MO magazine], [[De Standaard, flemish newspaper]], [[Het Laatste Nieuws, flemish newspaper]], [[De Gentenaar, Flemish newspaper]], [[Belgian agrarian press]], [[Indymedia ovl 1]], [[Indymedia ovl 2]], [[Indymedia.be 1]], [[Indymedia.be 2]]

[[Action on agrofuels in Berlin]]

photos from action in Buenos Aires