Working for a Democratic Food System

By Mary Hanson Harrison, Des Moines Branch

In our earth, in our bodies and on our plates, the direction of agri-culture is a crucible for determining our ability to survive and thrive on our planet. During the 4th week of October 2013, WILPF Des Moines Branch led the call, with many other organizations joining in, for our chemical-laden agri-industrial complex to stop the poisoning our food system and end the use GMOs.

Why us, why now? The World Food Prize Organization, headquartered in Des Moines, presents an annual international award recognizing “individuals who have advanced human development in improving the quality, quantity or availability of food in the world.” Founded by Norman Borlaug and his idea of a “Green Revolution” for combating world hunger and poverty, the World Food Prize (WFP) is now in the hands of Monsanto, DuPont Pioneer, Archer Daniels Midland Company, Syngenta Foundation, and other like-minded agri-industries and organizations. The three recipients this year are pioneers in biotechnology; one is the chief technology officer for Monsanto (see attached Rekha Basu article).

Last year, WILPF DSM provided a forum for the Food Sovereignty Prize (FSP) recipients [Ms. Jeomak Bak, head of the South Korean Women’s Peasant Movement]. This October, during WFP week, we extended the same offer to the FSP recipients [Haiti and Brazil]  to participate in our street activism with the devil in full view and the Jane Bibber Memorial Symposium and Strong Feisty Woman Award Luncheon. The day-long symposium featured workshops with Iowa agriculture’s best and brightest; along with Hans Herren, world-renowned scientist (who received the 1995 WFP) and Njoki Njoroge Njehu, a woman farmer and activist from Kenya. Frances Moore Lappé, noted author and environmentalist, and our own former co-president and Move to Amend champion, Marybeth Gardam received our 6th annual Strong Feisty Woman Award.

Top photo: Diane Krell, Marybeth Gardam, and Deb Vanko, a Des Moines WILPF member who organized the DEVIL MASK protest against Monsanto

Photos, left to right: Marybeth Gardam, WILPF-US, recipient 6th Annual Strong Feisty Woman Award; Njoki Njoroge Njehu, Director, Solidarity African Network in Action, Kenya; Frances Moore Lappé, noted author and environmentalist, recipient 6th Annual Strong Feisty Woman Award

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