© 2019 by SAOSO. 

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SAOSO Call to Action – Draft Organic Policy and Draft Agroecology Strategy

Please support SAOSO’s AVAAZ petition to have the Draft Organic Policy and Draft Agroecology Strategy raised in Parliament.

South Africa’s dominant industrial agricultural practices are not sustainable. The practice of modern farming is not sustainable because the damage to the soil and natural ecosystems is so great that farming becomes dependent not on the land but on the artificial inputs into the process, such as fertilizers and pesticides, insecticides, herbicides and nematicides. The health of the soil and biodiversity is reflected in the health of our people.

 

Calls have repeatedly been made by many organisations, such as the African Centre for Biodiversity, BioWatch, the IFP, the ACDP and others to the Department of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries to curb the planting of GMO crops and they have highlighted the lack of independent safety studies. DAFF have taken the word of the chemical companies that their products are safe and subsequently allow the indiscriminate use of glyphosate based herbicides to be sprayed throughout our country without concern for the farm workers and consumers who believe their food to be safe.

 

As eating is an agricultural act, we are making this appeal on behalf of us who live in Mzanzi. Our motivation and appeal are based on a rights-based agenda and is, in fact, a-political.

 

This ‘Rights’ based agenda includes national and global rights some of which include:

  • The South African Human Rights Commission

  • The Constitutional Right to Food in RSA

  • Rights of Indigenous Peoples

  • Declaration of Rights of Peasants

  • The Right to Health 

  • Universal Declaration of the Rights of Mother Earth

  • The Earth Charter

Our national agricultural policy is based on chemical agriculture. The Farmer Input Supply Programme (FISP) provides patented seed from global seed companies, and chemical fertilizers and pesticides from the same companies, to support the growing of our food.

People have fought for the right to land ownership yet our Government considers it acceptable to put our food sovereignty in the hands of international mega corporations. This is colonisation of our food system.

There is an alternative and one that will solve many of the challenges that we are faced with as a country. Agroecology can tick just about all of the sustainable development goals, but more importantly it allows for our basic human rights as defined in the Constitution to become a reality:

Section 24 of the Constitution enshrines the right to – the Environment

Everyone has the right

  • to an environment that is not harmful to their health or well-being; and

  • to have the environment protected, for the benefit of present and future generations, through reasonable legislative and other measures that:

  • prevent pollution and ecological degradation;

  • promote conservation; and

  • secure ecologically sustainable development and use of natural resources while promoting justifiable economic and social development.

 

These Constitutional obligations are not being met.

 

Despite the fact that South Africa is signatory to the AU Council’s decision taken in January 2011 to support the development of organic farming systems, it has not met its obligations. The decision was taken in response to concerns expressed “over the current practice of exploitation of the organic farmers in Africa”.

 

Currently, there is no policy for organic agriculture and as a result there is no framework nor budget allocated to farmers who wish to practice regenerative forms of farming that will consider the soil for the 7th Generation to come.

Internationally, scientists agree that there is only a further sixty years of top soil left if we continue our current industrial practices. How will food be grown for your children’s children?

All political parties must rally together to ensure our fundamental right to healthy food and a healthy environment, by supporting our call to have the Draft Organic Policy and the Agroecology Strategy put on the agenda in Parliament for discussion.

The Organic Policy, in its 10th draft over as many years, has been buried in bureaucracy despite SAOSO’s appeals. The Agroecology Strategy, whilst still requiring civil society’s inputs, is in its 7th draft, but can no longer be found on line.

We urge all farmers, communities and consumers to act on this important matter for the health of our people and our planet and our collective future.

If you are a victim of pesticide contamination or if you are aware of health issues in your community that may be related to the use of pesticides, you should report this to https://gmopoisonfreezones.org.za/action/report-contamination/.