People's Stories Freedom

Without seeds, there is no agriculture; without agriculture, there is no food
by La Via Campesina
Oct. 16, 2018
Peasants’ seeds are a heritage of peoples in the service of humanity. They are the basis of global food production and they enable peasants to produce and consumers and citizens to find healthy and diversified food. They allow us to maintain our ancestral cultures and defend our peasant identity.
However, these seeds of life are threatened by the seed policies of rich countries, free trade agreements and agribusiness. Under the pretext of “improving” seed productivity, agribusiness has created a neo-liberal seed system that has homogenized, impoverished and monopolized seeds, causing the loss of three-quarters of seed diversity and annihilating a diversity that it took people – thanks to the work of peasants – 10,000 years to generate.
Three companies, Monsanto-Bayer, Syngenta-ChemChina and Dupont-Dow, control more than 50% of the world’s commercial seeds – increasingly genetically modified seeds to resist herbicides and produce insecticides. Under the impetus of the WTO, the World Bank and the IMF, and through free trade agreements and laws protecting seed and breeders’ rights, such as UPOV standards, this seed system only allows the circulation of its own seeds, criminalizing the saving, exchange, donation and sale of local farmer seeds.
The situation is such that farmers have lost a lot of their local seeds, are put in prison for the defense and exchange of their seed heritage, and risk raids and seizure of their seeds. Biodiversity is destroyed by the use of chemical fertilizers, hybrid seeds and genetically modified organisms developed by multinational companies. Citizens have difficulty accessing healthy, diversified and healthy food. La Via Campesina and its allies are fighting to change the situation.
All over the world, La Via Campesina and its member organizations are stepping up their efforts in training, education, mutual support and seed exchange. We fight for national laws and international treaties to guarantee the rights of farmers to save, use, exchange, sell and protect their seeds against biopiracy and genetic contamination, we write books on the history of seeds, carry out studies and mapping. We also found agro-ecology schools and organize peasant’ seed exchange fairs.
We exercise our right of self-determination to select the seed varieties we want to plant and reject economically, ecologically and culturally dangerous varieties. These are rights affirmed by the International Treaty on Plant Genetic Resources for Food and Agriculture and by the United Nations Declaration on Peasants’ Rights which has just been adopted by the Human Rights Council in Geneva.
It is also the only way to ensure healthy food for citizens, the preservation of biodiversity and the achievement of food sovereignty.
It is in this spirit that we launched in 2001 in Rome the International Campaign of Peasant Seeds, a heritage of peoples in the service of humanity, with the objective of promoting the recovery of traditional systems for the conservation, maintenance and exchange of local seeds and the inalienable collective rights of peasants over their seeds.
On this October 16, 2018, on the occasion of the World Day of Action for Food Sovereignty of Peoples, we are relaunching this campaign and the “Adopt a Seed” action.
We call on every peasant, peasant family or community to engage in the adoption of a variety of plant seeds, to become the guardian of this seed, ensuring its propagation, reproduction and distribution and to engage in the collective defense of their rights to use, exchange, sell and protect them. In this way, we will create a large network of peasant seeds to save those that have become rare and extend production towards the food sovereignty of peoples.
By adopting a seed, peasant families preserve their identity and territory and affirm their peasant way of life. They claim the historical memory and ancestral culture of seed management, promoting an urban and rural ecological agriculture that reproduces the miracle of more seeds and food of better quality, taste and nutritional value.
No government measure can limit the collective rights of farmers to use, exchange and sell their seeds. Free consent between farmers should be applied without restriction.
La Via Campesina:
Without seeds, there is no agriculture; without agriculture, there is no food; and without food, there are no peoples. We feed our peoples and build the movement to change the world.
* La Via Campesina comprises 182 local and national organisations in 81 countries from Africa, Asia, Europe and the Americas, representing some 200 million farmers.

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6,000 Australian doctors demand traumatised children be taken off Nauru detention center
by MSF Australia, AMA, UNHCR, agencies
15 Oct 2018
Australian GPs lambast ‘deliberate government policy which is causing the pain and suffering of children in detention’.
Australian doctors are escalating their campaign to have children in detention immediately removed from Nauru. Australian Medical Association (AMA) paediatric representative Dr Paul Bauert, who has treated patients on Nauru, said it was an “unconscionable” situation that could be easily avoided.
“This is the only situation I’ve come across where it is deliberate government policy which is causing the pain and suffering of these children,” Bauert told reporters in Canberra on Monday.
The AMA has been lobbying the government to change policy on Nauru, but just last month the prime minister, Scott Morrison, yet again rebuffed a plea from the peak doctors’ association.
To date 6,000 doctors are demanding the government immediately remove the 80 children from Nauru because of serious mental and physical health concerns.
Bauert said almost all the children in detention on Nauru are traumatised.
“Many are damaged already, but we don’t want this damage to be permanent,” he said. “They need to be assessed and treated as a matter of urgency. “It’s a miracle we haven’t had a death already.
“I have reviewed many cases of these children myself, it is simply unconscionable that we are keeping these children and their families in a situation which we know is a critical threat to their health and wellbeing,” he said.
“The situation for children on Nauru is a humanitarian emergency requiring urgent intervention and removal of all these children and their families to medical treatment in Australia.”
11 Oct. 2018
Médecins Sans Frontières/Doctors Without Borders (MSF) strongly condemns the government of Nauru’s sudden decision to cease the provision of desperately needed mental health care provided by MSF to asylum seekers, refugees and the local community on Nauru.
The international humanitarian medical organisation describes the mental health situation of refugees on the island as “beyond desperate” and calls for the immediate evacuation of all asylum seekers and refugees from the island and for an end to the Australian offshore detention policy.
“It is absolutely disgraceful to say that MSF’s mental health care is no longer required; the mental health situation of the refugees indefinitely held on Nauru is devastating. Over the past 11 months on Nauru, I have seen an alarming number of suicide attempts and incidents of self-harm among the refugee and asylum seeker men, women and children we treat.
We were particularly shocked by the many children suffering from traumatic withdrawal syndrome, where their status deteriorated to the extent they were unable to eat, drink, or even walk to the toilet,” Dr Beth O’Connor, MSF psychiatrist.
As corroborated by MSF medical analysis, refugee patients exist in a vicious cycle of deep despair with many having lost the will to live. Among them, at least 78 patients seen by MSF had suicidal ideations and/or engaged in self-harm or suicidal acts.
Children as young as nine have told MSF staff that they would rather die than live in a state of hopelessness on Nauru. Among the most severely ill patients are those separated from their immediate family as a result of Australia’s immigration policy.
Although many of the refugees on Nauru have experienced trauma in their countries of origin or during their refugee journey, it is the Australian government’s policy of indefinite offshore detention that has destroyed their resilience and shattered all hope that they will one day lead safe, meaningful lives.
“Separating families and forcibly holding men, women and children on a remote island indefinitely with no hope or protection except in the case of a medical emergency is cruel, inhumane and degrading,” said Paul McPhun, MSF Australia’s Executive Director.
“While the Australian government describes offshore detention as a humanitarian policy, our experience proves that there is nothing humanitarian about saving people from sea only to leave them in an open air prison on Nauru. This policy should be stopped immediately and should not be replicated by any government.
It’s not MSF’s psychiatrists and psychologists that should be leaving Nauru; it’s the hundreds of asylum seekers and refugees that Australia has trapped on the island for the past five years that should be leaving.”
Oct. 2018
Australia urged to evacuate offshore detainees amid widespread, acute mental distress. (UN News)
Australia should end its offshore processing policy on the Pacific islands of Nauru and Papua New Guinea amid reports of widespread, acute mental distress and attempted suicide by children and young adults, the UN refugee agency, UNHCR, said on Friday.
“In one of the various cases brought to our attention during September, a suicidal pre-teenage girl remains in Nauru despite doctors’ advice to the contrary,” UNHCR spokesperson Catherine Stubberfield told journalists in Geneva. “Medical records seen by UNHCR staff show she first doused herself in petrol, before attempting to set herself alight and pulling chunks of hair from her head.”
According to UNHCR, more than 1,400 people are still being held on both islands, which have hosted Australia-bound migrants and asylum-seekers forcibly transferred there, since 2013.
The UN agency’s appeal to the Australian authorities echoes a warning from non-governmental organization Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) which pulled out of Nauru last week, at the request of the island’s authorities.
There have been no returns from Papua New Guinea to Australia this year, the UN agency noted, despite “several instances” of self-harm or attempted suicide there in the past month. In addition, a number of people with acute physical and mental needs remain untreated, UNHCR said.
“This policy has failed on a number of measures,” Mrs Stubberfield said. “It’s failed to protect refugees, it’s failed to provide even for their most basic needs throughout a period that now exceeds five years. And it’s failed to provide solutions for a substantial number that is still waiting and can clearly no longer afford to wait.”
The UNHCR spokesperson reported that of the 12 people who have died since Australia began detaining migrants and refugees offshore, half had been confirmed or suspected suicides. The mental health of those being held on the islands was worsening, she added.
“Our own consultant medical experts in 2016 found a cumulative prevalence of anxiety, depression and PTSD (post-traumatic stress disorder) in both Papua New Guinea and Nauru, to be well above 80 per cent, and the situation has deteriorated since then,” Ms. Stubberfield said. “So, there are very serious needs that are not being met. There’s no longer time for the Government of Australia to delay or find other solutions, and it’s for that reason that we’re asking people be evacuated today.”

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