Back to Basics: Progressive Trade Deals

February 2018

When the UK leaves the EU it will be in charge of its own trade policy for the first time in more than 40 years, so trade is set to be a hot topic for years to come. We teamed up with CLASS, Global Justice Now, the University of Warwick and the Trade Justice Movement to create this expert guide which goes back to basics on trade. It explains the dangers of modern trade deals and what we should be looking for in a progressive trade agenda.

Back to Basics: Progressive Trade Deals, 2018

Fuerza de Mujeres Wayuu – Wayuu Women’s Force

Fuerza de Mujeres Wayuu – Wayuu Women’s Force

NOMADESC - Asociacion para la investigacion y la accion social - Association for Social Research and Action

In Colombia, more than five million people have been forced from their homes by violence and extreme poverty, made refugees in their own country. Rural Colombians have lost huge swathes of land. This humanitarian crisis, and the needs of displaced people, is well known in Colombia and around the world. The Social Research and Action Association (Nomadesc) is a human rights organisation working to fix this massive disadvantage. By bringing these vulnerable groups together, Nomadesc gives these communities a voice. By strengthening the ties between the groups and giving them the tools to defend their human rights, these communities are better able to protect themselves from violence and displacement.

MST – Movimento de Trabalhadores Sem Terra – Landless Workers Movement

In Brazil less than 3% of the population owns two-thirds of the land and more than half the farmland lies idle. Four million homeless, landless and jobless peasant farmers are denied a decent living. The Movimento Sem Terra or Landless Workers' Movement works throughout Brazil to ensure that landless people have greater access to land.

The conflict over land, with homeless peasants on one side, and landowners’ armed thugs and the police on the other, has plagued Brazil for decades. The conflict has left over one thousand landless peasants murdered, and landless and rural people face malnutrition, lack of access to clean water, sanitation and basic health or education services, and a lifetime spent in roadside shantytowns of black plastic tents.

The Movimento Sem Terra is one of the strongest social movements in Brazil today, and campaigns against the industrial export agriculture model that excludes peasants and causes inequality and environmental degradation. The MST is a 1.5 million-member movement that organises landless and impoverished farmers to realise their human rights.

Despite heavy repression, it has managed to settle 350,000 families nationwide on unused land since its inception. The MST has also built its own schools under its slogan 'education for every child’. In response to the increasing corporate takeover of agriculture, the MST is now developing sustainable farming methods through agroecology.

War on Want works with the MST to help ensure that farmers can use agroecological techniques, produce and save their own seeds, and call for the Brazilian government to adopt agricultural policies that support such sustainable approaches.

CODEMUH – Colectiva de Mujeres Hondureñas – The Honduran Women’s Collective

Our partner, the Honduran Women’s Collective (Codemuh), have been fighting for women’s rights for over 20 years. They are the only organisation challenging the lack of workplace health and safety protection, and have successfully contested numerous cases on behalf of women suffering occupational disease.

COSPACC – La Corporación Social para la Asesoría y Capacitación Comunitaria- Social Corporation for Community Advisory and Training Services

Casanare, Colombia (East)

Family Agriculture and Agroecology (AS-PTA)

Agricultura Familiar e Agroecologia. In Brazil 40 % of the poor live in rural areas. Unequal land distribution and agricultural policies that favour large-scale industrial agriculture are at the root of Brazil's agricultural issues.

AS-PTA (Family Agriculture and Agroecology) is leading the campaign against genetically modified organisms in Brazil (GMOs) and against the use of agrochemicals. Under pressure from multinational biotechnology firms and commercial farmers, Brazil's government recently relaxed biosafety regulation on the sale of genetically modified seeds. Brazil is the second largest grower of biotech crops in the world, next to the US, growing soybean, maize, and cotton.

Small-scale farmers are now faced with a doubled edged sword. GM seeds are more expensive, therefore increasing their costs, but at the same time they are producing poorer harvests. However, few options are now available to family farmers as GM seeds are dominating the market. These farmers depend on the ability to store and share native seeds within their communities, but this right could be challenged by the biotechnology firms that sell the seeds. Farmers will also need to protect their crops from accidental contamination from GMOs to vent allegations of illegal use of the GM seeds due to the patents that are placed on them.

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