1993 – La Via Campesina founded
In 25 years, La Via Campesina has emerged as one of the largest and most important global social movements, defending the peasant farmers who produce 70% of our food and campaigning against corporate impunity.
In 1993, a small group of farmers representatives from four continents founded La Via Campesina (‘The Peasants’ Way) to defend peasant agriculture at a time when governments were signing away peasant rights in forums such as the World Trade Organization. The movement is now made up of 182 organisations in 81 countries representing more than 200 million peasants, and has become a major civil society voice on a global stage.
Via Campesina advocates for food sovereignty and strongly opposes corporate agro-industries’ attempted takeover of global food systems, challenging their monopoly on seeds, emphasis on pesticides and geo-engineering. Via Campesina’s vision of food sovereignty emphasises the right of peoples to healthy and culturally appropriate food produced through sustainable methods. Via Campesina has vigorously defended local seed production and agroecological food methods, prioritizing territorial food production and consumption.
To defend food sovereignty costs lives with peasants often criminalised by corporations – sometimes agroindustries but also industries that extract land and resources. Via Campesina has therefore been at the forefront of advocating for the rights of Peasants and also in global campaigns against corporate impunity.
Via Campesina has also been actively involved in broader struggles for socio-economic and environmental justice, taking up issues such as the discrimination of women and gender violence, fighting for the rights of agricultural and food workers, and the plight of people around the world who are landless.
These have increasingly seen La Via Campesina take the battle for healthy and democratic food and farming systems to the highest decision making fora such as the UN Food and Agriculture Organisation.
By making food a political issue and a matter of human rights, La Via Campesina has ensured that, in an an urbanizing world, food producers and those living in rural areas are to be taken seriously.