Global Econ 101

Global Econ 101

Understanding how the current global economy works is essential to creatively design and implement the kind of global economy we want. Millions of people across the globe are already doing this – acting locally to challenge corporations in their communities, creating local, living economies; countries are working together for fair integration and internationally networks to fight free trade, climate change and corporate practice.

The fight for fair and just economic system that puts workers and the environment above profit continues today.  See our current work, Trade Justice Under in the Age of Trump for the latest. 

We invite you to explore the more than 25 years worth of educational resources and information sheets we have developed:

  • Top 10 Reasons to Oppose the WTO (JUMP DOWN TO THIS SECTION)
  • Top 10 Reason to Oppose the IMF (JUMP DOWN TO THIS SECTION)
  • Top 10 Reasons to Oppose the World Bank (JUMP DOWN TO THIS SECTION)
  • The World Bank and The International Monetary Fund (JUMP DOWN TO THIS SECTION)
  • The Origins of the IMF and World Bank
  • Free Trade and the Environment
  • Food Security, Farming and the WTO a

Top Reasons to Oppose the WTO

The World Trade Organization (WTO) is the most powerful legislative and judicial body in the world. By promoting the free trade agenda of multinational corporations above the interests of local communities, working families, and the environment, the WTO has systematically undermined democracy around the world.

Unlike United Nations treaties, the International Labor Organization conventions, or multilateral environmental agreements, WTO rules can be enforced through sanctions. This gives the WTO more power than any other international body. The WTO’s authority even eclipses national governments.

In November 1999, 50,000 people went to Seattle to challenge this corporate agenda and to demand a more democratic, socially just and environmentally sustainable global economy. The protests succeeded in shutting down the trade talks and derailing the expansion of the WTO. Global Exchange stood with those outside the halls and rooms where lobbyists and government delegates negotiated, loudly declaring our opposition to the WTO because:
  • WTO rules are written by and for corporations, putting profits above people and the planet.
  • WTO rules trample labor and human rights.
  • WTO rules render environmental protections illegal.
  • WTO rules stand between dying people and the medicine that will save their lives.
Since the Battle in Seattle, the WTO has continued to meet in various inaccessible and remote locations around the world to forage onwards.

1. The WTO Is Fundamentally Undemocratic
The policies of the WTO impact all aspects of society and the planet, but it is not a democratic, transparent institution. The WTO rules are written by and for corporations with inside access to the negotiations. For example, the US Trade Representative gets heavy input for negotiations from 17 “Industry Sector Advisory Committees.” Citizen input by consumer, environmental, human rights and labor organizations is consistently ignored. Even simple requests for information are denied, and the proceedings are held in secret. Who elected this secret global government?

2. The WTO Will Not Make Us Safer
The WTO would like you to believe that creating a world of “free trade” will promote global understanding and peace. On the contrary, the domination of international trade by rich countries for the benefit of their individual interests fuels anger and resentment that make us less safe. To build real global security, we need international agreements that respect people’s rights to democracy and trade systems that promote global justice.

3. The WTO Tramples Labor and Human Rights
WTO rules put the “rights” of corporations to profit over human and labor rights. The WTO encourages a ‘race to the bottom’ in wages by pitting workers against each other rather than promoting internationally recognized labor standards. The WTO has ruled that it is illegal for a government to ban a product based on the way it is produced, such as with child labor. It has also ruled that governments cannot take into account “non commercial values” such as human rights, or the behavior of companies that do business with vicious dictatorships such as Burma when making purchasing decisions.

4. The WTO Would Privatize Essential Services
The WTO is seeking to privatize essential public services such as education, health care, energy and water. Privatization means the selling off of public assets – such as radio airwaves or schools – to private (usually foreign) corporations, to run for profit rather than the public good. The WTO’s General Agreement on Trade in Services, or GATS, includes a list of about 160 threatened services including elder and child care, sewage, garbage, park maintenance, telecommunications, construction, banking, insurance, transportation, shipping, postal services, and tourism. In some countries, privatization is already occurring. Those least able to pay for vital services – working class communities and communities of color – are the ones who suffer the most.

5. The WTO Is Destroying the Environment
The WTO is being used by corporations to dismantle hard-won local and national environmental protections, which are attacked as “barriers to trade.” The very first WTO panel ruled that a provision of the US Clean Air Act, requiring both domestic and foreign producers alike to produce cleaner gasoline, was illegal. The WTO declared illegal a provision of the Endangered Species Act that requires shrimp sold in the US to be caught with an inexpensive device allowing endangered sea turtles to escape. The WTO is attempting to deregulate industries including logging, fishing, water utilities, and energy distribution, which will lead to further exploitation of these natural resources.

6. The WTO is Killing People
The WTO’s fierce defense of ‘Trade Related Intellectual Property’ rights (TRIPs)—patents, copyrights and trademarks—comes at the expense of health and human lives. The WTO has protected for pharmaceutical companies’ ‘right to profit’ against governments seeking to protect their people’s health by providing lifesaving medicines in countries in areas like sub-saharan Africa, where thousands die every day from HIV/AIDS. Developing countries won an important victory in 2001 when they affirmed the right to produce generic drugs (or import them if they lacked production capacity), so that they could provide essential lifesaving medicines to their populations less expensively. Unfortunately, in September 2003, many new conditions were agreed to that will make it more difficult for countries to produce those drugs. Once again, the WTO demonstrates that it favors corporate profit over saving human lives.

7. The WTO is Increasing Inequality
Free trade is not working for the majority of the world. During the most recent period of rapid growth in global trade and investment (1960 to 1998) inequality worsened both internationally and within countries. The UN Development Program reports that the richest 20 percent of the world’s population consume 86 percent of the world’s resources while the poorest 80 percent consume just 14 percent. WTO rules have hastened these trends by opening up countries to foreign investment and thereby making it easier for production to go where the labor is cheapest and most easily exploited and environmental costs are low.

8. The WTO is Increasing Hunger
Farmers produce enough food in the world to feed everyone – yet because of corporate control of food distribution, as many as 800 million people worldwide suffer from chronic malnutrition. According to the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, food is a human right. In developing countries, as many as four out of every five people make their living from the land. But the leading principle in the WTO’s Agreement on Agriculture is that market forces should control agricultural policies-rather than a national commitment to guarantee food security and maintain decent family farmer incomes. WTO policies have allowed dumping of heavily subsidized industrially produced food into poor countries, undermining local production and increasing hunger.

9. The WTO Hurts Poor, Small Countries in Favor of Rich Powerful Nations
The WTO supposedly operates on a consensus basis, with equal decision-making power for all. In reality, many important decisions get made in a process whereby poor countries’ negotiators are not even invited to closed door meetings – and then ‘agreements’ are announced that poor countries didn’t even know were being discussed. Many countries do not even have enough trade personnel to participate in all the negotiations or to even have a permanent representative at the WTO. This severely disadvantages poor countries from representing their interests. Likewise, many countries are too poor to defend themselves from WTO challenges from the rich countries, and change their laws rather than pay for their own defense.

10. The WTO Undermines Local Level Decision-Making and National Sovereignty
The WTO’s “most favored nation” provision requires all WTO member countries to treat each other equally and to treat all corporations from these countries equally regardless of their track record. Local policies aimed at rewarding companies who hire local residents, use domestic materials, or adopt environmentally sound practices are essentially illegal under the WTO. Developing countries are prohibited from creating local laws that developed countries once pursued, such as protecting new, domestic industries until they can be internationally competitive. California Governor Gray Davis vetoed a “Buy California” bill that would have granted a small preference to local businesses because it was WTO-illegal. Conforming with the WTO required entire sections of US laws to be rewritten. Many countries are even changing their laws and constitutions in anticipation of potential future WTO rulings and negotiations.

11. There are Alternatives to the WTO
Citizen organizations have developed alternatives to the corporate-dominated system of international economic governance. Together we can build the political space that nurtures a democratic global economy that promotes jobs, ensures that every person is guaranteed their human rights to food, water, education, and health care, promotes freedom and security, and preserves our shared environment for future generations.

12. The Tide is Turning Against Free Trade and the WTO!
International opposition to the WTO is growing. Massive protests in Seattle of 1999 brought over 50,000 people together to oppose the WTO—and succeeded in shutting the meeting down. When the WTO met in 2001, the Trade negotiators were unable meet their goals of expanding the WTO’s reach. In Cancún, Mexico and Hong Kong, China, the WTO met thousands of activists in protest, scoring a major victory for democracy. Developing countries refused to give in to the rich countries’ agenda of WTO expansion – and caused the talks to collapse!


Top Ten Reasons to Oppose the IMF

What is the IMF?

The International Monetary Fund and the World Bank were created in 1944 at a conference in Bretton Woods, New Hampshire, and are now based in Washington, DC. The IMF was originally designed to promote international economic cooperation and provide its member countries with short term loans so they could trade with other countries (achieve balance of payments). Since the debt crisis of the 1980’s, the IMF has assumed the role of bailing out countries during financial crises (caused in large part by currency speculation in the global casino economy) with emergency loan packages tied to certain conditions, often referred to as structural adjustment policies (SAPs). The IMF now acts like a global loan shark, exerting enormous leverage over the economies of more than 60 countries. These countries have to follow the IMF’s policies to get loans, international assistance, and even debt relief. Thus, the IMF decides how much debtor countries can spend on education, health care, and environmental protection. The IMF is one of the most powerful institutions on Earth — yet few know how it works.

1. The IMF has created an immoral system of modern day colonialism that SAPs the poor

The IMF — along with the WTO and the World Bank — has put the global economy on a path of greater inequality and environmental destruction. The IMF’s and World Bank’s structural adjustment policies (SAPs) ensure debt repayment by requiring countries to cut spending on education and health; eliminate basic food and transportation subsidies; devalue national currencies to make exports cheaper; privatize national assets; and freeze wages. Such belt-tightening measures increase poverty, reduce countries’ ability to develop strong domestic economies and allow multinational corporations to exploit workers and the environment A recent IMF loan package for Argentina, for example, is tied to cuts in doctors’ and teachers’ salaries and decreases in social security payments.. The IMF has made elites from the Global South more accountable to First World elites than their own people, thus undermining the democratic process.

2. The IMF serves wealthy countries and Wall Street

Unlike a democratic system in which each member country would have an equal vote, rich countries dominate decision-making in the IMF because voting power is determined by the amount of money that each country pays into the IMF’s quota system. It’s a system of one dollar, one vote. The U.S. is the largest shareholder with a quota of 18 percent. Germany, Japan, France, Great Britain, and the US combined control about 38 percent. The disproportionate amount of power held by wealthy countries means that the interests of bankers, investors and corporations from industrialized countries are put above the needs of the world’s poor majority.

3. The IMF is imposing a fundamentally flawed development model

Unlike the path historically followed by the industrialized countries, the IMF forces countries from the Global South to prioritize export production over the development of diversified domestic economies. Nearly 80 percent of all malnourished children in the developing world live in countries where farmers have been forced to shift from food production for local consumption to the production of export crops destined for wealthy countries. The IMF also requires countries to eliminate assistance to domestic industries while providing benefits for multinational corporations — such as forcibly lowering labor costs. Small businesses and farmers can’t compete. Sweatshop workers in free trade zones set up by the IMF and World Bank earn starvation wages, live in deplorable conditions, and are unable to provide for their families. The cycle of poverty is perpetuated, not eliminated, as governments’ debt to the IMF grows.

4. The IMF is a secretive institution with no accountability

The IMF is funded with taxpayer money, yet it operates behind a veil of secrecy. Members of affected communities do not participate in designing loan packages. The IMF works with a select group of central bankers and finance ministers to make polices without input from other government agencies such as health, education and environment departments. The institution has resisted calls for public scrutiny and independent evaluation.

5. IMF policies promote corporate welfare

To increase exports, countries are encouraged to give tax breaks and subsidies to export industries. Public assets such as forestland and government utilities (phone, water and electricity companies) are sold off to foreign investors at rock bottom prices. In Guyana, an Asian owned timber company called Barama received a logging concession that was 1.5 times the total amount of land all the indigenous communities were granted. Barama also received a five-year tax holiday. The IMF forced Haiti to open its market to imported, highly subsidized US rice at the same time it prohibited Haiti from subsidizing its own farmers. A US corporation called Early Rice now sells nearly 50 percent of the rice consumed in Haiti.

6. The IMF hurts workers

The IMF and World Bank frequently advise countries to attract foreign investors by weakening their labor laws — eliminating collective bargaining laws and suppressing wages, for example. The IMF’s mantra of “labor flexibility” permits corporations to fire at whim and move where wages are cheapest. According to the 1995 UN Trade and Development Report, employers are using this extra “flexibility” in labor laws to shed workers rather than create jobs. In Haiti, the government was told to eliminate a statute in their labor code that mandated increases in the minimum wage when inflation exceeded 10 percent. By the end of 1997, Haiti’s minimum wage was only $2.40 a day. Workers in the U.S. are also hurt by IMF policies because they have to compete with cheap, exploited labor. The IMF’s mismanagement of the Asian financial crisis plunged South Korea, Indonesia, Thailand and other countries into deep depression that created 200 million “newly poor.” The IMF advised countries to “export their way out of the crisis.” Consequently, more than US 12,000 steelworkers were laid off when Asian steel was dumped in the US.

7. The IMF’s policies hurt women the most

SAPs make it much more difficult for women to meet their families’ basic needs. When education costs rise due to IMF-imposed fees for the use of public services (so-called “user fees”) girls are the first to be withdrawn from schools. User fees at public clinics and hospitals make healthcare unaffordable to those who need it most. The shift to export agriculture also makes it harder for women to feed their families. Women have become more exploited as government workplace regulations are rolled back and sweatshops abuses increase.

8. IMF Policies hurt the environment

IMF loans and bailout packages are paving the way for natural resource exploitation on a staggering scale. The IMF does not consider the environmental impacts of lending policies, and environmental ministries and groups are not included in policy making. The focus on export growth to earn hard currency to pay back loans has led to an unsustainable liquidation of natural resources. For example, the Ivory Coast’s increased reliance on cocoa exports has led to a loss of two-thirds of the country’s forests.

9. The IMF bails out rich bankers, creating a moral hazard and greater instability in the global economy

The IMF routinely pushes countries to deregulate financial systems. The removal of regulations that might limit speculation has greatly increased capital investment in developing country financial markets. More than $1.5 trillion crosses borders every day. Most of this capital is invested short-term, putting countries at the whim of financial speculators. The Mexican 1995 peso crisis was partly a result of these IMF policies. When the bubble popped, the IMF and US government stepped in to prop up interest and exchange rates, using taxpayer money to bail out Wall Street bankers. Such bailouts encourage investors to continue making risky, speculative bets, thereby increasing the instability of national economies. During the bailout of Asian countries, the IMF required governments to assume the bad debts of private banks, thus making the public pay the costs and draining yet more resources away from social programs.

10. IMF bailouts deepen, rather then solve, economic crisis

During financial crises — such as with Mexico in 1995 and South Korea, Indonesia, Thailand, Brazil, and Russia in 1997 — the IMF stepped in as the lender of last resort. Yet the IMF bailouts in the Asian financial crisis did not stop the financial panic — rather, the crisis deepened and spread to more countries. The policies imposed as conditions of these loans were bad medicine, causing layoffs in the short run and undermining development in the long run. In South Korea, the IMF sparked a recession by raising interest rates, which led to more bankruptcies and unemployment. Under the IMF imposed economic reforms after the peso bailout in 1995, the number of Mexicans living in extreme poverty increased more than 50 percent and the national average minimum wage fell 20 percent.


The World Bank and The International Monetary Fund

Through loans, often to governments whose constituents suffer the most under the global economy, and “structural adjustment” policies, the World Bank (WB) International Monetary Fund (IMF) has kept most nations of the global south in poverty. Conditions on accepting loans ensure open market access for corporations while cutting social spending on programs such as education, health care and production credits for poor farmers.

Created after World War II to help avoid Great Depression-like economic disasters, the World Bank and the IMF are the world’s largest public lenders, with the Bank managing a total portfolio of $200 billion and the Fund supplying member governments with money to overcome short-term credit crunches.

But when the IMF and the WB lend money to debtor countries, the money comes with strings attached. These strings come in the form of policy prescriptions called “structural adjustment policies.” These policies—or SAPs, as they are sometimes called—require debtor governments to open their economies to penetration by foreign corporations, allowing access to the country’s workers and environment at bargain basement prices.

Structural adjustment policies mean across-the-board privatization of public utilities and publicly owned industries. They mean the slashing of government budgets, leading to cutbacks in spending on health care and education. They mean focusing resources on growing export crops for industrial countries rather than supporting family farms and growing food for local communities. And, as their imposition in country after country in Latin America, Africa, and Asia has shown, they lead to deeper inequality and environmental destruction.


The Origins of the IMF and World Bank

The World Bank and International Monetary Fund (IMF) were created at the end of World War II by the U.S. and British governments. During the war the business classes of Europe were either supporting the Nazis, getting their banks and factories bombed into oblivion or they fled Europe with all the money they could carry. On the other hand, socialists, communists and anarchists had high credibility because they were the leaders of the Resistance to Nazi occupation. In order to prevent leftists from coming to power in western Europe, it was crucial to U.S. and British elites to get the business classes back into power. This required international institutions that would promote capitalist policies and strengthen the power of the corporate sector.

The World Bank focused on making loans to governments in order to rebuild railroads, highways, bridges, ports and other “infrastructure”, i.e., the parts of the economy that are not profitable for private companies to build so they are left to the public sector (the taxpayers). After an initial focus on western Europe the World Bank shifted its lending toward the third world.

The IMF was established to smooth world commerce by reducing foreign exchange restrictions and using its reserve of funds to lend to countries experiencing temporary balance of payments problems so they could continue trading without interruption. This pump-priming of the world market would benefit all trading nations, especially the biggest traders, the U.S. and England.

The unwritten goal of the IMF and World Bank was to integrate the elites of all countries into the capitalist world system of rewards and punishments. The billions of dollars controlled by the IMF and World Bank have helped to create greater allegiance of national elites to the elites of other countries than they have to their own national majorities. When the World Bank and IMF lend money to debtor countries the money comes with strings attached. The policy prescriptions are usually referred to as “structural adjustment” and they require that debtor governments open their economies up to penetration by foreign corporations, allowing them access to the workers and natural resources of the country at bargain basement prices.. Other policies imposed under structural adjustment include: allowing foreign corporations to repatriate profits, balancing the government budget (often by cutting social spending), selling off publicly owned assets (“privatization”) and devaluing the currency.

Many grassroots groups in the Third World talk about the recolonization of their countries as they steadily lose control over their own land, factories and services.

From the introduction to the book 50 Years Is Enough, edited by Kevin Danaher.


Free Trade and the Environment

by Deborah James in the early 2000s

For decades, governments have worked together through the United Nations to develop agreements to protect the natural resources of our shared planet. Unfortunately, so-called “free trade agreements” threaten to erode many of the advances in global environmental protection, endangering our planet and the natural resources necessary to support life. The North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) and certain agreements of the World Trade Organization (WTO) were written to prioritize rights for corporations over protections for our shared environment.

But rather than being repealed, corporate interests are negotiating the expansion of these corporate rights. The U.S.-Dominican Republic-Central American Free Trade Agreement (CAFTA), soon to go before Congress, and the proposed Free Trade Area of the Americas (FTAA), currently in negotiations, are modeled on NAFTA. In addition, negotiations are proceeding within the WTO to expand many of its policies.

These new agreements threaten global biodiversity, would accelerate the spread of genetically engineered (GE) crops, increase natural resource exploitation, further degrade some of the most critical environmental regions on the planet, and erode the public’s ability to protect our planet for future generations.

No Protections for the Environment

Neither CAFTA nor the FTAA require member countries to adopt internationally recognized standards for environmental protection. Nor does either agreement ensure that member countries don’t lower or waive their existing environmental laws in an effort to attract investment. What’s more, rules in CAFTA and the FTAA would actually prohibit member countries from enacting many new environmental regulations, allowing those regulations to be challenged as “barriers to trade.” This strips the public from a fundamental democratic right to pass laws that protect our environment in favor of corporations’ “right” to profit from environmental destruction.

Mega-Diverse Countries

Latin America is one of the most biologically and culturally diverse regions on the planet. Four of the five Central American countries included in CAFTA have tropical areas that have been identified as “critical regions” for their biodiversity. Additionally, 7 of the world’s 12 “megadiverse” countries, (Mexico, Brazil, Venezuela, Peru, Ecuador, Costa Rica and Colombia) are found in the Americas. “Mega-diversity” countries represent the majority of the world’s biodiversity and surviving Indigenous peoples, the true guardians of biodiversity. Unfortunately, so-called “free trade” agreements directly contradict important international legislation designed to protect the rights of Indigenous peoples and biodiversity, like the Convention on Biological Diversity as well as the International Labor Organization Convention 169, which states that Indigenous groups must be consulted on issues that affect their rights to land and livelihood.

Piracy of Global Biodiversity

In the last decade, the biodiversity of the Americas has been targeted by “life science” corporations (the growing consolidation of pharmaceutical, agrichemical and seed companies) in search of “green gold.” These corporations are pillaging humankind’s patrimony of traditional knowledge and biodiversity to create and patent drugs and agricultural products to sell for profit. The quest to patent life forms, especially medicinal plants and crops, threatens our food security, access to healthcare, and the biological and cultural diversity of the Americas.

Intellectual property rules in CAFTA and the FTAA would require that member countries grant protections to the patenting of life forms. This would facilitate a massive increase in “bioprospecting” or the practice of corporations patenting Indigenous communities’ knowledge of plants and then profiting from that knowledge – while forcing Indigenous communities to pay for what they had previously held in common.

No GE Food Labeling

Despite the fact that independent polls in virtually every country on the planet demonstrate that people want genetically-engineered (GE) foods labeled, corporations and the U.S. government have refused to do so. Giant agribusiness multinationals ADM and Cargill have generally refused to segregate GE from non-GE crops, eliminating consumer choice and imposing GE foods on consumers. With CAFTA and the FTAA, labeling laws would be prohibited as “more burdensome than necessary” for agribusiness investors.

More GE Contamination

Dozens of crops have been developed and domesticated in the Americas over the last 10,000 years, including corn and potatoes, two of the world’s most important crops for food security. The traditional cradles of food diversity are threatened by encroaching genetic contamination. The experience of Mexico under NAFTA offers an example of what’s to come for Central America under CAFTA. NAFTA forced open protected Mexican corn markets to a flood of cheap imports of corn from the U.S. Corn imports into Mexico have displaced at least one and a half million farmers and are steadily eroding the genetic diversity of thousands of native corn varieties. Then, in September 2001, genetic contamination of native corn varieties was discovered as a result of the introduction of artificially low-priced GE corn from the United States under NAFTA. The expansion of GE crops threatens food security around the world.

CAFTA and the FTAA completely disregard international law, such as the Cartagena Protocol on Biosafety, designed to regulate the cultivation and trade of genetically modified organisms.

A Bill of Rights for Corporations?

While limiting public regulation for environmental protections, CAFTA and the FTAA would grant expansive powers to corporations. CAFTA’s investor protections are modeled after one of the most hotly contested sections in NAFTA—its Chapter 11—a virtual Bill of Rights for corporations. These provisions allow corporations to sue governments for “damages” if a government law affects their profits. Chapter 11 of NAFTA has undermined the sovereignty of democratically elected governments, and their ability to act in the public interest. An issue over a Quebec environmental law banning specific pesticides reveals how these provisions undermine environmental protection.

Quebec law bans a popular weed killer called 2,4-D, which is considered a possible human carcinogen, and has been shown to adversely affect the immune system and reproductive functions in humans, among other impacts. But now a corporate lobbying group representing some of the makers of the pesticide are threatening to challenge the law by suing the Canadian government under NAFTA’s Chapter 11. The provincial government of Quebec and Canadian taxpayers have been given a harsh choice: pay the corporations millions of dollars in future lost profits, or repeal the law. Similar Chapter 11 cases have led to the overturn of environmental laws and millions of dollars in fines paid to corporations. If CAFTA is enacted, investor-to-state lawsuits will be spread to the corporations of six additional countries, threatening critical environmental protection in the U.S. and Central America.

Limiting Public Regulations

Both CAFTA and an agreement currently under negotiation in the WTO covering Services would make it increasingly difficult for governments to regulate and limit multinational corporate activity in environmentally-damaging activities such as oil extraction, forestry, electricity generation, road construction, and waste incineration in the interests of environmental protection.

In addition, under the proposed WTO rules on Services, governments could be required to let foreign corporations violate environmental standards. For instance, requirements that that a percentage of electricity be produced from environmentally-friendly energy sources could be found to “discriminate” against a foreign service companies if those companies don’t provide environmentally-friendly energy, and would have to be scrapped under proposed WTO rules – even if the standard is the most effective way to protect the environment.

Natural Resources and the WTO

Corporate interests are also negotiating the expansion of the WTO through an agreement on Non-Agricultural Market Access, or NAMA. Primarily involving industrial manufactured goods, NAMA also includes trade in natural resources such as forest products, gems and minerals, and fishing and fish products. NAMA aims to reduce tariffs as well as decreasing or eliminating so-called Non-Tariff Barriers (NTBs), which can include measures for environmental protection and community development.

Eliminating tariffs in natural resources would dramatically increase their exploitation. The World Forum of Fish-harvesters and Fish-workers has warned of the devastation to fish conservation posed by NAMA. Even the U.S. Trade Representative has acknowledged that eliminating tariffs on wood products would dramatically increase logging, exacerbating deforestation in some of the world’s most sensitive forests.

The WTO has already identified a wide range of environmental policy tools as potential ‘barriers to trade’: the certification of sustainably-harvested wood and fish products; restrictions on trade in harmful chemicals; and packaging, marketing and labeling requirements such as organic and Fair Trade labeling.

Increased Trade Increases Our Dependency on Oil

Increasing trade increases our consumption of and dependency on oil, which has created a massive global crisis of human-induced climate change. The rise of global temperatures means more severe droughts and floods that will literally change the face of the Earth; the loss of coastal lands and the destruction of forests; an increase in heat waves and other human health hazards; and the extinction of plant and animal species. Our consumption of oil also leads to violations of the human rights of peoples in oil-producing countries such as Ecuador, Colombia, Indonesia, and Nigeria, who suffer environmental heath problems, displacement, and contamination of their communities. Increased trade – and hence dependence on oil – will also contribute to global insecurity by providing further incentive for the drive towards war as the U.S. government struggles for control over this most strategic global resource.

Environmentalists Oppose CAFTA

Most environmental organizations in the United States have written letters to the U.S. Trade Representative and members of the U.S. Congress, voicing their opposition to CAFTA. Groups as diverse as Center for International Environmental Law, Defenders of Wildlife, Earthjustice, Friends of the Earth, League of Conservation Voters, National Environmental Trust, Natural Resources Defense Council, National Wildlife Federation, the Sierra Club, and U.S. PIRG have sounded out a warning about CAFTA’s negative potential impact on our shared environment. And in Central America, over 800 social organizations – including many environmental groups – signed a petition in July of 2004 urging the U.S. Congress to reject CAFTA.

We Can Stop CAFTA and WTO Expansion

“Free trade” agreements are generally little more than code words for corporate expansion across the globe at the expense of communities and our environment. CAFTA may be sent to Congress for approval this year, and the WTO negotiations will continue through a key Ministerial meeting in December, 2005 in Hong Kong. But we can stop CAFTA from being approved and the WTO from being expanded–and instead work for global trade agreements that protect our planet for generations to come.

For more information on Free Trade and the Environment:

Sierra Club www.sierraclub.org
Friends of the Earth www.foe.org
Citizens Trade Campaign www.citizenstrade.org
Public Citizen’s Global Trade Watch www.citizen.org/trade/
Third World Network www.twnside.org.sg


Food Security, Farming, and the WTO and CAFTA

by Deborah James written in the early 2000s

As a necessary element to human survival, food is a human right. Small, local family farms are the bedrock of traditional rural communities and global food security- the ability of countries to produce the food they need to survive. Yet the global food supply is increasingly falling under the control of giant multinational corporations. Large agribusinesses have rewritten the rules of the global agricultural economy, using “free trade” agreements to turn food into a commodity for profit rather than a human right. The global corporatization of agriculture has had disastrous effects on farmers, food security, and the environment.

Implemented in 1994, the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA), ‘liberalized’ trade between Canada, the U.S. and Mexico. Under NAFTA, farmers’ income in all three countries has plummeted and millions of small farmers have lost their land, while agribusiness corporations have reaped huge profits.

In spite of its obvious failures, new trade agreements are being written to expand NAFTA-style corporate free trade. In March of 2004, the governments of the United States, Guatemala, Nicaragua, Honduras, El Salvador, Costa Rica, and the Dominican Republic completed the U.S.-Dominican Republic-Central American Free Trade Agreement (CAFTA). If CAFTA is passed in the U.S. Congress, it would impose NAFTA-style agricultural policies on the heavily agriculture-dependent countries of Central America. Over 5.5 million workers and farmers’ livelihoods would be put at risk. CAFTA would also cause a further decline in U.S. family farmers’ incomes.

What’s more, CAFTA would pave the way for a massive Free Trade Area of the Americas (FTAA) currently in negotiations, which would extend the scope of NAFTA to include all countries in the western hemisphere except Cuba—thus multiplying the harrowing effects of NAFTA on small farmers and threatening food security for generations to come.

Both CAFTA and the FTAA are even more extreme than the Agreement on Agriculture (AOA) of the World Trade Organization (WTO), a global agreement involving 148 countries designed to shift world food production to export markets.

Food: To Eat or to Export?

The stated theory of free-trade proponents is that increased trade and decreased government regulation would increase food security and solve rural poverty. But the results have not borne out the alleged theory, because the WTO, FTAA, and CAFTA were never meant to solve global poverty and hunger. In reality, globalization of food production represents an unprecedented hijacking of the global food supply for corporate profit.

Underpinning the WTO, FTAA, and CAFTA is the ideology that all food – from basic grains and meat to fruits and vegetables – should be produced for international export. This is a drastic shift from the centuries-old practice where each country produced the majority of food its citizens needed on local, small farms – and only traded in certain products that could not be grown locally. Indeed, the first great wave of globalization – the colonization of Africa, Asia, and Latin America – was based on transnational companies forcing local farmers to give up local food production, and shift production to plantations using enslaved Indigenous and African labor to grow luxury crops of coffee, sugar, bananas, and cocoa for export to the colonizing countries.

But now, the drive toward globalization of agriculture would put transnational corporations in control of the entire food supply. Market forces, rather than national policies set by democratically elected officials, would control agricultural food systems. Under this scenario, each country would only produce a few export commodities, wiping out local food production, small family farms, and greatly compromising global food security. As a result, the human right to food would be dependent on multinational corporations and markets, increasing the risk of hunger and famine worldwide.

Reducing “Barriers” to Trade in Agriculture

Global agricultural policy used to be geared towards maintaining stability in global markets. Supply management programs, also called commodities agreements, helped maintain production around the same as demand, so that farmers didn’t produce an oversupply that would cause prices to collapse. These programs helped keep market prices above a price floor, which is a minimum price over the cost of production that farmers need to survive.

In addition, countries have historically promoted their local economies by protecting domestic production from foreign competition. Most countries maintain taxes on foreign imports, called tariffs, as well as outright limits on the quantities of foreign imports, called quotas, in order to favor local economic development. This has especially been true in the agricultural sector, where local food production is key to food sovereignty.

Starting in the mid-1990s, however, these policies were abandoned in the U.S. in favor of free market, export-driven policies that promoted production for export rather than for domestic consumption. As the world’s largest exporter of agricultural products, U.S. agricultural policy has dictated global agricultural policy.

The impact of the WTO and other free trade agreements in agriculture has been to eliminate so-called “barriers to trade,” such as supply management, price controls, and tariffs and quotas, while maintaining practices that favor multinational corporations, such as subsidies and market concentration.

Eliminating Tariffs

One of the main targets of free trade liberalization is tariffs, or taxes on imports. Many countries maintain high tariffs on imported agricultural products to protect their local industries. If an import has a tax that a local product doesn’t, the imported product becomes more expensive than the local product. For example, Mexico has always maintained high tariffs on corn imports, in order to protect small family corn farmers against a flood of cheap imports from industrialized countries. This is a basic strategy used by governments around the world to help guarantee food security through local food production and promote the local economy over foreign competition. Much of the negotiations in free trade agreements involve reducing tariffs.

Eliminating Quotas

Another top goal of free-trade proponents is to eliminate quotas, or limits on the total amount of imports of a particular commodity. For example, the U.S. maintains quotas on the amount of sugar that companies can import, in order to protect the U.S. sugar industry from foreign competition. Opening up the U.S. sugar industry to higher quotas for Central American sugar producers is a controversial keystone of CAFTA.

But many mostly smaller, agricultural nations maintain quotas on basic products like rice, corn, or other basic grains, that are essential to food security and the livelihoods of their rural populations. For these least-developed countries, eliminating tariffs or quotas puts their rural majority at risk of hunger and starvation as they lose their source of income and access to their own food production. Least-developed nations have formed an alliance in the WTO to advocate for the exemption of products vital to food security, called Strategic and Special Products, from tariff and quota elimination.

Gaining “Market Access”

The stated goal of agribusiness interests in ‘free trade’ negotiations is to eliminate quotas and tariffs so that they can gain access to foreign markets for their products, called “market access.” Since most agribusinesses are from rich countries in the global North, market access generally benefits those corporations at the expense of small farmers in poor countries.

But many developing countries also have strong agribusiness sectors. They are negotiating market access by demanding elimination of rich countries’ tariffs and quotas. These countries, led by Brazil, South Africa, and India, have a strong negotiating bloc in the WTO, and have succeeded in raising the issue of market access as a high priority in the negotiations. In fact, negotiations in the FTAA broke down over access to the U.S. for Brazilian orange juice, soy, beef, and sugar exports. Countries like Brazil argue that they need the income from market access for agribusiness products to produce income to pay their foreign debt.

But the majority of developing nations import more food than they export, so market access is not a primary issue. And small, independent farmers from both rich and poor countries are more concerned about ensuring adequate prices for local production than they are about exporting food.

So the primary threats to local food production, in addition to the forced abolition of tariffs and quotas, are unfair subsidies and market concentration that have led to a global crisis in commodity prices and illegal dumping.

Subsidies

Aside from tariffs and quotas, trade agreements also address subsidies. Subsidies are government payments made to producers. In 1996, the U.S. Congress passed a farm bill that eliminated key price supports and supply management programs, drastically reducing the income of farmers. As agricultural prices began to plummet after 1998, Congress has responded with “emergency legislation” year after year to send farmers government payments (subsidies) to prevent the wholesale collapse of the rural economy. Rather than remedy the supply problems created by the 1996 farm bill, this subsidy system was institutionalized in the 2002 farm bill which allocates an additional $190 billion in subsidies over the next ten years. The European Union also heavily subsidizes its agricultural production.

Export subsidies are supposed to be illegal under the WTO and other free-trade regimes. But rich countries, hypocritically, have largely won exemptions for the types of subsidies they use, while prohibiting the types of subsidies used by developing countries. Developing countries usually do not have enough money to subsidize their farmers to the extent as developed countries. Instead, they are reliant on using other mechanisms such as import tariffs, quotas, and price supports. These are the very mechanisms that the pro-corporate policies of CAFTA, the FTAA, and the WTO prohibit.

Subsidies provide huge benefits to corporate agribusinesses by allowing them to buy crops from small farmers at a price far below the cost of production while allowing them to sell at market rates. And while subsidies provide some relief to some struggling family farmers, they are not enough to make up for low commodity prices, and have contributed to the erosion of small farms in the U.S., increasing market concentration.

Market Concentration

Corporations have also lobbied to abolish traditional anti-monopoly regulations called competition policies. Without competition policies, corporate farms have bought up small farms, creating giant conglomerates that operate in multiple countries. Because of this, agricultural exports from the U.S. to Mexico, for example, are often between two subsidiaries of the same multinational parent company. This integration allows corporations to sell and buy within the same parent company, manipulating the market and gouging independent producers. Like NAFTA and the WTO, CAFTA and the FTAA would further undermine anti-trust laws, encouraging further monopolistic control of agricultural markets and putting downward pressure on global agricultural prices.

Global Commodities Crisis

Over the past decade, the U.S. government abolished its supply management program, which caused agricultural oversupply that led to a price collapse. To bail out the system, as noted above, the government instituted subsidies to farmers, which actually benefit multinational corporations by keeping prices low while taxpayers foot the bill. This has led to a global depression in commodities prices. In fact, the prices that farmers receive today for their crops are likely to be well below the cost of production, causing millions of farmers to lose their land and others to go further and further into debt. The greatest threat to the livelihood of small farmers in both the developed and developing world is low commodity prices.

Dumping

The result of these policies has been a downward spiral for independent farmers, and a bonanza for multinational agribusinesses. Global corporations buy commodities from farmers at artificially low prices, subsidized by taxpayers. These same corporations then flood foreign markets with crops priced at below-market prices, called ‘dumping.’ Because the prices are so low, dumping forces smaller producers out of business and captures – unfairly – a greater share of the market for transnationals. Although it is against trade law, in practice, dumping is common.

The Institute for Agriculture and Trade Policy recently documented that U.S. corporate food dumping has risen significantly since the inception of the WTO. Agribusiness dumping of the five main commodities of wheat, soybeans, corn, cotton, and rice averaged between 10-47% below the cost of production. Family farmers have watched their incomes crash as multinational agribusinesses have expanded their markets internationally with artificially low-priced agricultural goods.

Global Corporatization of Food: the Wrong Path

Transnational corporations are attempting to rewrite the rules of the global agricultural economy in order to control the entire food supply. Abolishing tariffs and quotas, increasing market concentration, and maintaining taxpayer subsidies has enabled them to create a global commodities crisis that threatens global food sovereignty. As a result, our human right to food has become dependent on multinational corporations and markets, putting small farmers out of business and increasing the risk of hunger and famine worldwide.

Effects of “Free Trade” Agricultural Policies on Small Farmers and Food Security

CAFTA and the FTAA would consolidate and expand free market policies that have already devastated rural communities under NAFTA and the WTO.

Loss of Small Farm Income

The devastation of Mexican corn farmers due to NAFTA most sharply exemplifies the horrifying effects of these policies. After NAFTA eliminated Mexican quotas for corn, artificially-priced U.S. corn flooded the market. U.S. agribusinesses typically dump corn on the Mexican market at prices 30 percent below the cost of production. Before NAFTA, Mexico only imported about 2.5 million tons of corn per year. In 2001, they imported over 6 million tons of corn. The price of Mexican corn fell 70 percent. Millions of small family corn farmers have been left without a source of income, and have been forced to abandon their communities in search of a way to feed their families. The bedrock of traditional Mexican rural life, corn farming families, have been torn apart by NAFTA.

While agreements like NAFTA and the WTO offer policies that favor agribusiness, they have been slow to address concerns of developing countries facing rock-bottom commodities prices. For example, in the WTO, African countries have raised the issue of low commodities prices in cotton, a staple of income for countries like Benin, Senegal, Mali, and Chad. Recent U.S. production of cotton has doubled, causing a world depression in cotton prices. In a July WTO meeting, the Trade Minister of Benin stated that Benin was “not prepared to accept the death of thousands of peasants as the price of a deal.”

Loss of Food Sovereignty

Under free trade regimes, developing countries are unable to use traditional methods of encouraging self-sufficiency in food production, because NAFTA and the WTO, as would CAFTA, prohibit internal support programs and import controls (quotas). The result has been an increased dependence on imported staples that have to be bought on the global market instead of grown locally. Since many countries can’t afford to buy imported food, they have to increase their foreign debt or suffer increased rates of malnutrition.

Under CAFTA, Central American countries were able to negotiate an exemption to tariff reductions only on one corn variety– white corn. This means that protective tariffs for staple food products such as rice and beans are prohibited. The result will be that in Nicaragua, for instance, tariff-free imports of yellow corn would increase ten times their current amount in the first year of CAFTA.

Increased Food Prices

Consumer prices were supposed to decline under NAFTA—yet while farmer’s commodity prices have plummeted, consumer food prices have risen in all three NAFTA countries. The U.S. consumer price index for food rose by 22 percent between 1994 and 2002. While Mexican farmers now earn 70 percent less for their corn, they pay 50 percent more for tortillas. Without domestic support for family farmers, poor countries have become increasingly dependent on food imports. Imports of agriculture products in Mexico have increased by 44 percent since NAFTA, pushing local producers out of the market. This is true for products such as: wheat, potatoes, rice, barley, coffee, milk products, sugar, fruits and many others. When exchange rates fluctuate, this can lead to a dramatic rise—sometimes a doubling or tripling—in food prices for poor consumers.

Loss of Land and Increase in Migration

Under NAFTA and the WTO, over one and a half million Mexican farmers have lost their sources of income, forcing them to abandon their farms. This has created a massive farmers’ migration to big cities and other countries in search of jobs. In 2002, an average of 600 Mexicans were forced off their land each day. Annually now 500,000 Mexicans per year attempt to cross the U.S.-Mexico border to find a way to feed their families. In the past five years, 1600 Mexican migrants have died while trying to cross the U.S.-Mexico border searching for jobs. Under CAFTA, Central American corn, rice, beans, and sorghum farmers, as well as poultry, pig, cow, and dairy producers all stand to be driven off their land by cheap imports. In Guatemala alone, experts predict that CAFTA will result in the loss of 45,000 to 120,000 agricultural jobs.

Corporate Consolidation

Since NAFTA was implemented, 38,000 small farms have been lost in the United States, and 11 percent of Canadian farms have gone bankrupt. A mere 2 percent of farms in the United States control 50 percent of American agricultural sales. Over 73 percent of the nation’s farms share less than 7 percent of the market value of agricultural products, while 7.2 percent of farms receive 72 percent of the market value of products sold. Eight-two percent of U.S. corn exports are controlled by three agribusiness firms- Cargill, Archer Daniels Midland (ADM), and Zen Noh. While family farmer incomes have plummeted during the first 7 years of NAFTA, ADM’s profits went from $110 million to $301 million, while ConAgra’s grew from $143 million to $413 million.

Corporate Control of Plants and Seeds

The Trade-Related Intellectual Property (TRIPs) agreement within the WTO establishes global and uniform protection for trademarks, copyrights and patents. Perhaps most controversial and worrisome is the fact that these protections also apply to patenting of life forms. For example, traditional, plant-derived medicines used by Indigenous populations in countries such as Brazil could be patented by a transnational corporation for profit, as long as the Indigenous peoples had not already done so. It is highly unlikely, however, that Indigenous communities would seek a patent, because plants are considered to be a shared resource, not a commodity to be exploited for profit.

CAFTA and the TRIPs agreement also undermine global access to and distribution of seeds and, therefore, the food supply. As corporations begin to patent seeds, local farmers must pay annual fees and/or sign technology use agreements that prohibit saving patented seeds and limit the use of seeds that have been used by generations. Subsistence farmers cannot afford the cost of purchasing new seeds each year, and the limiting of seed varieties makes food supplies vulnerable to plant pests and diseases.

The Spread of Genetically Modified Organisms

Currently, agreements under the WTO and CAFTA grant unprecedented rights to multinational corporations producing genetically modified organisms (GMOs). The WTO has ruled that GMOs must be treated no differently than their conventional counterparts. Thus, consumers are unknowingly being used as guinea pigs for the powerful biotech industry. Scientists have argued that the spread of GMOs drastically reduces biodiversity as a result of the contamination of conventional crops by pollen from those containing GMOs. Currently, no satisfactory protections exist to safeguard our food supply from known or unknown dangers of this new technology. Under CAFTA, GMO corporations would be granted the power to file suit against countries whose farmers replanted GMO seeds.

Environmental Degradation

Industrial agriculture practices replace sustainable family farm practices and take an extra toll on the environment that is not reflected in consumer prices. The overuse of fertilizers and chemicals, overgrazing, and the unenforced regulation of factory farm dumping of agricultural byproducts such as excrement and pesticides into rivers and streams all damage the quality of air, water, and soil, which are our shared resources. Corporate “free trade” agreements continue to stick communities and taxpayers with the costs of cleanup and loss of environmental quality, while corporations reap the profits embodied in industrial agriculture.

Erosion of Democracy

In order to be in compliance with NAFTA, the Mexican government actually had to change the Mexican Constitution’s land redistribution statutes to allow foreign ownership of land. This allowed lands owned collectively by farming communities to be sold off or taken by creditors. This move led to the uprising of the Indigenous people of Chiapas in the Zapatista rebellion on January 1, 1994 – the very day NAFTA took effect. The Zapatistas view NAFTA as a death knell for Indigenous people.

Under Chapter 11 of NAFTA, corporations are also empowered to directly sue national governments (called investor-to-state dispute resolution) in the event that domestic legislation interferes with their profit maximization. CAFTA includes these same investor rights, inviting challenges from foreign corporations over governmental actions such as GMO food labeling, increased food safety standards, or local purchasing preferences.

Farmers across Mexico protested the implementation of the final phase-in of NAFTA agricultural policies on January 1, 2003. A movement called “The Countryside Can’t Take Anymore!” is working to educate the world about the failed promises of “free trade” in Mexico. And hundreds of thousands of farmers in Guatemala, Honduras, and Nicaragua have mobilized against CAFTA and the FTAA in recent years.

Food is a Human Right: Towards a Policy of Food Sovereignty

Farmers worldwide are demanding an entirely different approach to agriculture and trade, one that prioritizes food sovereignty, security, and the preservation of rural livelihoods. Via Campesina, the global movement of peasant and family farmers’ organizations, has led the way in advocating Food as a Human Right and is demanding that governments uphold their right to food sovereignty. A twelve-step program for global human rights and food security would include:

1. Agriculture out of the WTO. Food is a human right and should not be treated the same as any other commodity. Food as a human right demands that governments set national policies that encourage food security—local and diverse production of food to guarantee adequate and accessible nutrition for all citizens. Governments must maintain the ability to pass laws for the national security of their populations—food sovereignty.

2. Stop Dumping. Developed countries should restore farm programs that place price floors under commodity prices and establish supply management and food security reserves to prevent cheap commodities from being dumped on global markets. International trade cooperation should aim at sharing and enforcing this responsibility.

3. Improve Market Access. Developed countries should address the problem of tariff escalation, the practice of increasing tariffs with the level of processing. Developed countries should reduce their tariffs, eliminating higher tariffs faster than lower ones. Without the requisite reduction of high import tariffs on processed and semi-processed commodities, commodity-dependent countries will be unable to diversify into higher stages of the commodity values chain.

4. Reinstate Qualitative Restrictions. Developing countries should be able to put in place qualitative restrictions on imports as well as domestic subsidies for the protection of and support to household-subsistence farming. Developing countries should be encouraged to produce food for their domestic market.

5. Promote Fair Trade. Cash crops like coffee, cocoa, sugar, and bananas represent the largest source of income for developing countries. The Fair Trade system is the best model for an agricultural trading system that guarantees fair prices and community empowerment, based on cooperative economics, farmer empowerment, increased transparency, and decreased power of purchasing monopolies. All commodity crops should be produced under the Fair Trade system.

6. Reinstate Global Commodity Agreements. These agreements, which regulate supply and demand to keep prices within a steady range, promote stability and sustainability within rural communities. Action to reverse the trend in falling commodity prices is essential to any initiative undertaken at the international level to facilitate sustainable development, poverty reduction and debt relief.

7. No Patents on Life. Seeds, plants, animals, and their components–the fabric of life–should be exempt from patenting. Agricultural policy must preserve the rights of Indigenous farmers to utilize their cultural knowledge and collective use of resources. Indigenous knowledge (as related to agriculture methods, use of seeds and plants) should be protected from biopiracy. The TRIPs provisions in the WTO that permit multinational corporations to patent seeds originally developed by farmers, requiring farmers to pay for the right to replant those seeds, must be abolished.

8. No GMOs. Laws and regulations on sanitary and phytosanitary standards should guarantee high quality and safe food for consumers and the environment. GMOs have yet to be proven safe. Utilizing the pre-cautionary principle, any trade agreement should ban the trade of genetically-modified substances.

9. Promote Real Land Reform. There can be no real sustainable development without massive global land reform to remedy the needs of millions of landless peasants around the world. Any global agreement that is truly based on the needs of the poor must prioritize the fair and adequate redistribution of lands that have been concentrated from colonial times in the hands of an elite few. Additionally, the necessary resources must be redistributed to enable them to productively work the lands.

10. Enforce Labor Laws for Farm Workers. Globally, farm workers are among the most exploited laborers, suffering the lowest wages. Even in the U.S., farm workers are not covered under many domestic labor laws. Any global agreement relating to agriculture should include provisions for the enforcement of a living wage for agricultural producers, and include all of the basic International Labor Organization’s labor rights. These include the right to organize freely and form a union; the right to strike; the right to adequate health and safety protections; freedom from discrimination in the workplace; and the elimination of forced overtime.

11. Create Policies Supportive of Small Farmers and Sustainable Agriculture. International financial institutions and governments should finance sustainable agricultural practices and the improvement of rural infrastructures. They should acknowledge that small farmers and cooperatives need policies that protect land ownership, provide access to credit, offer technical assistance, provide appropriate technology transfers, and guarantee pricing mechanisms that reflect the true costs of production. Investments in agriculture should promote local knowledge and organic and sustainable production systems rather than artificial fertilizers, pesticides, and herbicides that harm the planet and place communities at risk.

12. Promote Real Democracy. All countries should guarantee that rural populations are represented in decision-making, nationally and globally. Small producers, farm workers, consumers, and their organizations, previously excluded, should be involved—and invested with real decision-making power—in trade negotiations that affect their futures. Governments must have the right to enact legislation that protects the environment, health and livelihood of its citizens.

Corporate globalization is responsible for the loss of land, the loss of income, and the exposure to unsafe food and unhealthy working conditions for millions of people worldwide. Furthermore, it has severely exacerbated the risk of hunger and starvation, and caused the general erosion of rural communities and biodiversity across the globe. Fortunately, agricultural policies that promote food sovereignty have been developed. We have the power to change the global food system if we work together with farmers, environmentalists, consumers, and human rights advocates to say NO to the global corporatization of the food system and YES to people and earth-centered global agricultural policy.

For more information on Agriculture and the WTO:

Institute for Agriculture and Trade Policy www.iatp.org
Via Campesina www.viacampesina.org
Third World Network www.twnside.org.sg
Citizens Trade Campaign www.citizenstrade.org
Public Citizen’s Global Trade Watch www.citizen.org/trade/
National Family Farm Coalition www.nffc.net
Food First www.foodfirst.org