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Geneva (AFP) – About 500 people marched through Geneva on Saturday to denounce the role of free trade in a global food security crisis, as the WTO prepared to welcome world trade ministers to the city.
“Our food is not a commodity” and “Speculation: the beginning of hunger” read some of the banners marching in Geneva, a day before the opening of the first ministerial meeting of the World Trade Organization in five years.
Global food security will be a top priority for the four-day meeting, with all 164 WTO member states under pressure to produce a common response to the risk of a global hunger crisis that has been greatly amplified by Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.
But the farmers’ organizations behind Saturday’s protest criticized what they saw as the destructive impact of WTO-backed free trade agreements on small farmers and agricultural producers, and therefore on food security.
“No farmers, no food!” shouted the demonstrators.
“Today the WTO is purely a place to do business, take market share and drive up the price of food, making it inaccessible to many,” spokesman Nicolas Girod told AFP. of the French Peasant Confederation.
“The alternative is to develop real food sovereignty” at the local level, “in accordance with what the populations demand”, he declared.
Asked what he expected from the WTO ministerial meeting, which was to be held until Wednesday, he replied “not much”.
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