Next Wednesday, October 16, in a ceremony in Des Moines, Iowa, the World Food Prize will be awarded to scientists from Monsanto and Syngenta, despite little evidence to back up claims that biotechnology feeds the world (there was even a humorous speculation that the Prize announcement was from “The Onion”).
Next Tuesday, October 15, in a ceremony in lower Manhattan, the Food Sovereignty Prize will celebrate an entirely different vision of the future of food and agriculture – one that relies on sustainable practices and local control rather than chemicals and corporate profits. Michael Pollan has called the Food Sovereignty Prize, “an important alternative to the World Food Prize. Its recognition of people working to promote genuine and sustainable food security, rather than simple food production, is needed and welcome.”
The 2013 Food Sovereignty Prize top honors are going to an innovative partnership between Haiti’s Group of Four (G4) peasant organizations and Brazilian peasant agronomists known as the Dessalines Brigade, named for Haitian revolutionary leader Jean-Jacques Dessalines. The peasant-to-peasant collaboration between G4 and the Dessalines Brigade has been critical in rebuilding the Haitian countryside after the 2010 earthquake, through agroecology, seed saving, and cooperative farming. The G4 made international headlines following the earthquake when it rejected a donation of Monsanto seeds as an attack on farmers, biodiversity, and Haiti’s food sovereignty.
Honorable mentions for the 2013 Food Sovereignty Prize go to the Tamil Nadu Women’s Collective of India, National Coordination of Peasant Organizations of Mali and Basque Country Farmers Union in Europe for their roles in the struggle for a more democratic food system. Raj Patel, author of “Stuffed and Starved,” says, “The Food Sovereignty Prize recognizes that feeding the world isn’t a matter of a technical quick fix. …The honorees of the  Prize… have organized to create a better, more abundant and more equitable food system. They light the way to a future in which we have not only conquered hunger, but have rediscovered democracy.”
At the ceremony, honorees will be joined by Shirley Sherrod, a longtime farm advocate and civil rights activist from Georgia who was targeted in 2010 by conservative blogger Andrew Breitbart and wrongly forced from her position in the USDA, bringing issues of discrimination in agriculture to public light. Singer-songwriter activists Jen Chapin and Martha Redbone will provide musical entertainment. The ceremony is hosted by the US Food Sovereignty Alliance and WhyHunger.
The 2013 Food Sovereignty Prize Ceremony will be held on Tuesday, October 15 at 7 p.m., at the Great Hall at Cooper Union. The event is free and open to the public, but registration is required. If you can’t attend, you can watch via livestream (here during the ceremony) and join the conversation on twitter at #FoodSovPrize. For more information and to register, visit the FSP website.
By Siena Chrisman and Tristan Quinn-Thibodeau, WhyHunger