Glossary of Food Sovereignty Terms
AATF—African Agricultural Technology Foundation: Created in 2003, AATF works to facilitate the transfer of proprietary technologies from the private sector to developing countries, specifically in Africa. The establishment and initial operations of AATF were funded by the Rockefeller Foundation, USAID and the UK’s DFID.
AGRA—Alliance for a New Green Revolution in Africa: In 2006, the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation and the Rockefeller Foundation came together to create AGRA, a public charity with the goal of increasing agricultural productivity in Africa. AGRA emphasizes the need for improved seed varieties and market-based solutions.
Agrofuels: Biologically-based fuels produced on a centralized, industrial scale, mostly for use as a liquid vehicle fuel. Agrofuels can be made from corn, soy, sugarcane, canola, jatropha, palm oil, or so-called ‘second generation’ crops such as swtichgrass, Miscanthus (Canary grass), trees, and corn stover. The term contrasts with ‘biofuels,’ which refers to local, decentralized, farmer-owned, and small- scale fuels of a similar nature.
Agroecology: The science of sustainable agriculture; a scientific discipline that uses ecological theory to study, design, manage and evaluate agricultural systems that are productive but also resource conserving. Agroecology links ecology, culture, economics, traditional knowledge and integrated management to sustain agricultural production and healthy food and farming systems.
Agroforestry: A dynamic, ecologically based, natural resource management system that, through the integration of trees in farm and rangeland, diversifies and sustains production for increased social, economic and environmental benefits. (Definition by Dr. Robert Leakey, in Leaky, R. 1996. Definition of Agroforestry Revisited. Agroforestry Today. 8:1)
AoA—Agreement on Agriculture (see WTO): The AoA of the WTO came into effect in 1995 with the stated objective of establishing a ‘fair and market-oriented agricultural trading system’. The AoA established, for the first time, global rules restricting the ability of governments to establish their own agricultural policies. (adapted from Tony Weis. 2007. The Global Food Economy. Zed Books. p.128)
Archer Daniels Midland: ADM is the 2nd second largest grain trader in the world, a major food processor, and now the largest ethanol producer in the U.S. ADM has been called the ‘largest recipient of corporate welfare in US history’ by the conservative Cato Institute.
‘Battle of Seattle’: A massive protest uniting diverse social sectors against the WTO ministerial meeting in Seattle, Washington in 1999.
Biofuels: Small-scale, non-industrial liquid fuels frequently made in owner-operated facilities for local consumption. Not to be confused with large-scale industrial Agrofuels.
Biopiracy: The process of corporations collecting and patenting genetic resources such as seeds and traditional medicines, especially from the biodiverse tropics, which often res upon long-term plant breeding and ecological knowledge of local people – effectively ‘pirating’ as their own intellectual property what was common property of societies and cultures (Definition by Tony Weis. 2007. The Global Food Economy. Zed Books. p. 140)
Blair Commission for Africa: An initiative of the British government to spur development in Africa.
Bretton Woods Institutions: The World Bank Group, the General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade (GATT), and the International Monetary Fund (IMF). Set up at a meeting in Bretton Woods New Hampshire after WWII to govern global monetary policy. While ostensibly supporting a level playing field, these organizations mediate global financial policy in favor of the most powerful economic players (the OECD countries) at the expense of the developing world.
Bushel: The unit of measurement in which corn and other commodities are most often traded. One bushel of corn = 56 pounds or 25.4 kg
CAADP—Comprehensive African Agriculture Development Program: African leaders from 53 countries agreed on this program in 2003 at the African Union summit in Maputo, Mozambique, promising to increase government agricultural support to 10% and seeking a 6% annual growth in food production by 2015. Currently, six of these 53 countries spend 10% of their national budgets on agriculture.
CAFTA-DR: Central American Free Trade Agreement (including the Dominican Republic). This agreement, put into effect in 2004, was modeled after NAFTA, and includes Costa Rica, Guatemala, El Salvador, Honduras, Nicaragua, in addition to the Dominican Republic and the U.S.
CAP—Common Agricultural Policy: A set of European Union subsidies and reforms beginning in 1992 that focused on expanding industrial agricultural production in the region. The majority of the subsidies went to large-scale producers and resulted in booming productivity, but led to falling prices, grave ecological degradation, and various social problems.
Cargill: The world’s largest grain trader and the largest privately held company in the U.S.
CFA—Comprehensive Framework for Action: A document released in July 2008 after the FAO’s High-Level Conference on World Food Security in Rome, the CFA reflects the the consensus of the World Bank, the IMF, and the FAO on how to overcome the food crisis. It effectively encourages governments, philanthropies, the private sector and the international institutions to enhance emergency food assistance, nutrition interventions and safety nets and books smallholder food production. It also expects that governments will adjust trade and tax policies in consideration of food security.
CGIAR—The Consultative Group for International Agricultural Research: With initial funding from the Ford and Rockefeller Foundations, the CGIAR was created in 1971 as part of the Green Revolution to coordinate a network of international agricultural research centers (IARCs) throughout the Global South. The first CGIAR research centers were CIMMYT in Mexico City and IRRI in Los Baños, Philippines. Located in the ‘centers of origin’ of key food crops (e.g. rice in Asia, corn in Mexico), the IARCs collected local plant germplasm, the raw material for generating high yielding varieties (HYVs).
CIMMYT: International Center for the Improvement of Maize and Wheat (see CGIAR; see Green Revolution)
CIW—Coalition of Immokalee Workers: A group of predominantly Latino, Mayan-Indian, and Haitian immigrant farm workers organizing in Florida’s agricultural communities, the CIW has been successfully fighting for fair wages and workers’ rights since 1993. Most recently they have brought attention to the modern slavery and human trafficking in Florida’s tomato and citrus growing regions, and won agreements with several fast food corporations, supermarkets, and food service industries to improve farm worker wages and labor standards.
Community food security: A condition in which all community residents obtain a safe, culturally acceptable, nutritionally adequate diet through a sustainable food system that maximizes community self-reliance and social justice. (Definition by Mike Hamm and Anne Bellows. www.foodsecurity.org)
Conditionality: In reference to loans from International Financial Institutions, this is a set of stipulations a nation must meet in order to qualify for financial assistance. Often loans are conditioned on structural adjustments and market liberalization.
Crop board: An independent government body that markets and regulates the price of crops.
CSA—community supported agriculture: An alternative agricultural production model where consumers help shoulder the burden of production costs, share in risks, and enter into a direct relationship with the farmer. Generally this works by a farmer offering a certain number of shares for purchase to consumers who, through buying this membership in the farm, supply credit to farmers early on in the growing season in exchange for weekly baskets of fresh produce come time for harvest.
DFID—UK Department for International Development: This government department was created in 1997 to tackle issues of global poverty. It channels 0.36% of the UK’s gross national income in aid money to poorer countries as part of its goal of achieving the Millennium Development Goals and the targets set by the government’s Public Service Agreement.
Doha round: The current round of WTO negotiations that began in 2001 in Doha, Qatar. The negotiations have stalled over disagreements over agricultural import rules that support “dumping” of subsidized agricultural commodities from rich countries on poor countries, which hurts the farmers there.
Emerging economy: Used to describe a nation in the process of rapid industrial growth, like such as China, India and Brazil.
EU—European Union: First set up at the end of World War II, the EU now includes 27 member states from the region in a political and economic alliance.
FAO—Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations: This intergovernmental agency handling issues pertaining to agriculture, fisheries, forestry, and rural development was convened in 1945 with a mandate to combat hunger and malnutrition, improve agricultural production, and alleviate rural poverty.
Food justice: A movement that attempts to address hunger by addressing the underlining issues of racial and class disparity and the inequities in the food system that correlate to inequities to in economic and political power.
Food policy council: A group of stakeholders that examine how the local food system is working and develop ways to fix it.
Food regime: A “rule-governed structure of production and consumption of food on a world scale” (Friedman, H. 1993). The corporate food regime, based on fossil fuels and dominated by global monopolies, is characterized by the “supermarket revolution,” global animal protein chains, and GMOs (McMichael, P. 2009).
Food security: according to the FAO, ‘food security exists when all people, at all times, have physical and economic access to sufficient, safe and nutritious food to meet their dietary needs and food preferences for an active and healthy life. (http://www.fao.org/spfs/en/)
Food sovereignty: People’s right to healthy and culturally appropriate food produced through ecologically sound and sustainable methods, and their right to define their own food and agriculture systems; the democratization of the food system in favor of the poor.
FTA—Free trade agreement
Futures: Standardized legal agreements to transact in a physical commodity at some designated future time.
GATT—The General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade: One of the original three “Bretton Woods institutions” (along with the IMF and World Bank) created after World War II. GATT was intended to promote trade and reduce protectionism, but remained weak until the Uruguay Round of negotiations (1986-1994) expanded its legal framework. These negotiations produced the World Trade Organizations (WTO) which replaced GATT as an institutional organization in 1995. The General Agreement still exists as the WTO’s umbrella treaty for the trade of goods.
GDP—gross domestic product
Genetic engineering: Experimental or industrial technologies used to alter the genome of a living cell so that it can produce more or different molecules than it is already programmed to make. (definition taken from Altieri, Miguel. 2001. Genetic Engineering in Agriculture. Oakland: Food First Books. Oakland, California)
Global South: Formerly referred to as the ‘third world,’ the nations of Africa, Central and South America, and much of Asia with comparatively little economic power.
GMO: An acronym for genetically modified organism, a plant or animal with permanently, artificially modified genetic material. In reference to agriculture, this refers to proprietary, modified crop varieties.
Green Revolution: First funded by the Ford and Rockefeller Foundations, the Green Revolution refers to the process of industrialization in agriculture initiated in the 1950′s and 60′s for the development and widespread adoption of high- yielding seed varieties, synthetic fertilizers, chemical herbicides and pesticides.
Grain reserves: A stock of grain maintained in years of good harvest to buffer against shortage and regulate price volatility.
Hedging: A mechanism to offset the risk of an asset’s changing price.
Hypermarket: A large retailer that combines a supermarket and a department or general merchandise store under one roof. Hypermarkets like WalMart, Carrefour, Target, K-mart, and Costco, often covering 14,000m2 (150,000ft2), survive on high-volume, low margin sales, and often put local retailers out of business.
HYV —high-yielding varieties of seed (see Green Revolution)
IAASTD—International Assessment of Agricultural Skills, Knowledge and Technology for Development
IDB–Inter-American Development Bank
IFC—International Finance Corporation (see World Bank): The IFC is the private sector lending arm of the World Bank Group, providing financial services to businesses investing in the developing world. While the World Bank provides credit to governments, the IFC provides loans and equity financing, advice, and technical services to the private sector. The IFC also mobilizes capital through loan syndication and by lessening the political risk for investors. (adapted from Bank Information Center: http://www.bicusa.org/en/Institution.6.aspx)
IFPRI—International Food Policy Research Institute
IISD—International Institute for Sustainable Development
IMF—International Monetary Fund: The IMF was established in 1944 to provide a framework for international economic cooperation. IMF operations include surveillance of both member countries and the global economy; technical assistance; and financial support (See Bank Information Center: http://www.bicusa.org/en/Institution.8.aspx). After the Third World debt crisis of the 1970s, the IMF took on a more active role in shaping the economic policies of countries in the Global South by imposing Structural Adjustment Programs (SAPs) as a condition for recieving World Bank loans.
Industrial agri-food complex: Describes the skewed power structure of the global food system, currently dominated by large grain traders, chemical and biotechnology companies, transnational food processors, and global supermarket chains, at the expense of small farmers who produce the vast majority of the world’s food.
Index investor: Type of speculator that seeks long-term investments by hoarding commodities futures contracts for extended periods and betting on the continued rise of commodity price.
Industrial feedlot: A type of a confined animal feeding operation, where animals are fattened on grains and soy before slaughter for meat.
Informal sector: Economic activity that is neither taxed nor monitored by the government.
Intercrop: A technique employed in traditional and ecological agriculture, that involves the planting of multiple varieties and crop species in one agricultural area.
IPCC—United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change
IPM–Integrated pest management: The technique of rotating crops seasonally and intercropping mutually beneficial species that reduce or eliminate the reliance of synthetic pesticides, thereby lowering costs, increasing biodiversity and increasing the yields of plants that would otherwise be threatened by pests. (see push-pull system)
IRDP—integrated rural development projects
IRRI—International Rice Research Institute (see CGIAR; see Green Revolution)
ISAA—International Service for the Acquisition of Agri-Biotech Applications
Landraces: A population of plants, typically genetically heterogeneous, commonly developed in traditional agriculture from many years, even centuries, of farmer-directed selection, and specifically adapted to local conditions. Local landraces are a reservoir of genetic diversity in agriculture. (Definition taken from Altieri, Miguel. 2001. Genetic Engineering in Agriculture. Oakland: Food First Books.Genetic Engineering in Agriculture. Food First Books. Oakland, California)
LDCs—Less developed countries
Marker Assisted Selection (MAS): MAS is not technically genetic engineering (GE), but it does use the techniques of GE to guide the selection process. It can, however, employ GE parent material, making crops transgenic, and the lack of biosafety regulations for MAS produced seeds compared to that of GMOs means that agricultural biotechnology companies can avoid many biosafety costs (for testing, risk assessment, field trials, monitoring, labeling, and segregation). Furthermore, agricultural-biotechnology companies stand to gain the same economic benefits as GE because MAS methods and products can be protected by patents, which is one of the key critiques of genetically engineered crops. see: http://www.biosafetyafrica.org.za/images/stories/dmdocuments/MAS-Booklet.pdf
Marketing board: An independent government body that markets and regulates the price of crops.
Maseca: The largest producer of tortillas and corn flour in Mexico.
Millennium Development Goals: A set of eight goals elaborated at the United Nations Millennium Summit in 2000 and to set be completed by 2015: end poverty and hunger, universal education, gender equality, child health, maternal heath, combat HIV/AIDS, environmental sustainability, and global partnership.
Millennium Villages: Villages in Africa that display targeted investments in agriculture, health, education, and infrastructure to display possible ways of meeting the Millennium Development Goals.
Monocrop or Monoculture: The practice of cultivating a single variety of genetically uniform plants over a large agricultural area. (See Polyculture)
MST—Brazil’s Landless Workers’ Movement: (Movimento dos Trabalhadores Rurais sem Terra). The largest social movement in Latin America, the MST advocates for agrarian reform through peaceful land occupations and settlements.
NEPAD—the New Partnership for Africa’s Development
NAFTA—North American Free Trade Agreement
National Labor Relations Act: Also known as the Wagner Act., This 1935 federal law protects the rights of workers in the private sector to organize into labor unions, engage in collective bargaining, strike, and advocate for themselves. The act established the National Labor Relations Board.
Neoliberalism: An economic philosophy that espouses free market economics and globalized free-trade. This philosphy is favored by and supported globally by the International Monetary Fund, the World Bank, and the World Trade Organization, among others via GATT trade rulings and Structural Adjustment Policies (See IMF and GATT).
OECD—Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development
OPEC—Organization of Oil Exporting Countries
Participatory crop breeding: Programs for crop varietal improvement wherein farmers have a level of involvement in selecting traits.
Pastoralist: A farmer or peasant who primarily engages in the raising of livestock on pasture.
Peasant land invasions: A form of non-violent direct action employed by farmers’ groups wherein land owned by elites or corporations is peacefully taken over as a form of protest.
Polyculture: The practice of growing many different species or different varieties of crops in a single space, modeling the diversity of natural ecosystems. (See Monoculture)
PRSC—Poverty Reduction Social Credit (see SAPs)
Public-private partnership: A government service or business venture funded and managed jointly by government agencies and business.
RFA—Renewable Fuels Association: Agrofuels industry group.
RFS—Renewable Fuels Standard
SAPs—Structural Adjustment Programs: These policy reforms were designed to spur economic growth and help poor countries to pay their external debts. Following the Third World debt crisis of the 1970s and 80s, the International Monetary Fund and World Bank made SAPs (also known as Structural Adjustment Loans or SALs) a condition for increased bank lending. Specific SAP requirements included the privatization of state enterprises, deregulation of markets, trade liberalization, anti-corruption measures, and opening markets to foreign investment. Since the 1990s, SAPs have been replaced by Poverty Reduction Strategy Papers (PRSPs), essentially the same set of policy prescriptions under a different name.
Smallholder: A farmer with relatively few planted acres that relies primarily on family labor.
Sovereign wealth fund: A state-owned investment fund composed of financial assets such as stocks, bonds, real estate, or other financial instruments funded by foreign exchange assets. SWFs tend to have a higher tolerance for risk than traditional foreign exchange reserves.
Structural violence: A constraint on human potential due to political or economic forces.vi Sources of structural violence can include unequal access to resources, political power, education, food, and health care, as well as racism, sexism, religious discrimination, and other forms of oppression. Structural violence often leads to physical acts of violence. (Adapted from Johan Galtung’s original definition in Galtung, J. 1969. Violence, Peace and Peace Research. Journal of Peace Research . 6(3): 167-–191)
Supplemental food assistance programs: Subsided food benefits from the government, such as food stamps in the United States.
Transgenic: An organism that contains genes that have been moved across species lines into the germ line of a host. (Definition taken from Altieri, Miguel. 2001. Genetic Engineering in Agriculture. Oakland: Food First Books.Genetic Engineering in Agriculture. Food First Books. Oakland, California)
TNCs—Transnational Corporations (sometimes referred to as Multinational Corporations or MNCs)
USAID—The United States Agency for International Development: The United States federal government organization responsible for most non-military foreign aid. It receives overall foreign policy guidance from the Secretary of State.
UNDP—United Nations Development Program
USDA—United States Department of Agriculture
Vía Campesina: An international movement of peasant farmers’ organizations that advocates for food sovereignty. www.viacampesina.org
World Bank: The World Bank provides over $24 billion in assistance to developing and transition countries every year. The Bank’s projects and policies affect the lives and livelihoods of billions of people worldwide – sometimes for the better, but very often in controversial and problematic ways. (See: http://www.bicusa.org/en/Institution.5.aspx)
World Bank’s Independent Evaluation Group: The internal assessment and accountability organization within the World Bank.
World Development Report (WDR): An annual report on development economics put out by the World Bank.
WTO—World Trade Organization: The WTO came into being on January 1, 1995 as an outcome of the Uruguay Round (1986-1994) of GATT negotiations (see GATT). It is a set of shared rules about the degree to which governments can protect and subsidize domestic economic activity, a judiciary to enforce commitments and a forum to recurrently draw countries together to rework these rules. The WTO is guided by one overarching objective: to extend trade and investment by reducing ‘unnecessary barriers to trade’ and ‘discriminatory’ trade practices of governments. (Adapted from Tony Weis. 2007. The Global Food Economy. Zed Books. p.129)