Declaration of the Sixth Congress of Biological Diversity
Seeds for Life and Food Sovereignty
October 8-12, 2015, Carobobo, Venezuela
(Translated by Quincy Saul, Ecosocialist Horizons)
United and reunited in the Sixth Venezuelan Congress of Biological Diversity, in the state of Carobobo, hosted by the Aldea Heroes de Canaima 4F, from the 8th to the 12th of October, we discussed and debated the seed, as an essential element for the defense of life and food sovereignty. We took up the continuation of debates from previous congresses for the construction of Ecosocialism, and specifically, the collective mandate from the fifth congress; to generate an encounter of popular struggles for the recognition and the hegemony of campesino, indigenous and afro-descendent seeds.
That the seed is a common good; a reservoir of life, historical memory and cultural heritage, and that it is the material and spiritual base of sociocultural practices and communal economies. The protection of the seed is the guarantee of the sovereignty of our peoples, and the right to the seed must be recognized as a historic debt.
That our struggle for life is considered by the system and its empires as a threat to the commercial interests of transnational agribusiness corporations – who have been plundering and privatizing seeds, dispossessing us of the knowledges associated with them – and their intentions to take complete control over all food production systems.
That the economic war is also a war against the seed: This manifests itself in the violation of our systems of production, distribution and exchange of basic goods, all necessary to sustain our means of life and culture, and which has generated an induced state of national crisis.
That we take up the convocation of our President Nicolás Maduro, to confront these challenges on a global scale, as is put forward in the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development of the United Nations, as a way to orient ourselves – in a critical, creative and revolutionary manner – to combat the structural causes of climate change and the degradation of lands, to put an end to poverty and hunger in all their forms, to achieve food security and sovereignty, and to promote sustainable agriculture, maintain the genetic diversity of seeds, and thus guarantee new patterns of consumption and production, breaking with those which have been imposed by capitalism.
That our supreme commander Hugo Chavez, in the Plan of the Nation 2013-2019, left us an outlined route for the construction of our Ecosocialism, in which the preservation of the seed and food sovereignty are essential foundations for the transition from the rentier petroleum model to an agro-productive model based in communities and communes.
Our unbreakable will to continue the debate and the permanent mobilization for the consolidation of popular struggles in defense of seeds, as the only path to deepen the social guarantees won by the Bolivarian Revolution.
That we resolve to continue constructing an ensemble of public policies which facilitate the production, protection, exchange, distribution and cultivation of campesino, indigenous and afro-descendent seeds, which guarantee concrete advantages compared to seeds from agribusiness.
That we feel convoked to rethink and reinvent our practices of production, processing, distribution, exchange and consumption, in ways which offer concrete answers to combat the attacks on the economic battlefield that we are traversing, and which will also help us to strengthen ourselves as a people in the scenario of crisis which this economic war imposes on us.
That it is imperative and urgent to promulgate the Law of Seeds, redacted and agreed upon by Popular Power in constituent debates with the support of the National Assembly, for the defense of our food, cultural, political and socio-economic sovereignty – fulfilling what was agreed in the Presidential Council of Popular Government for Communes, on the 15th of August of this year, which was convened to create a reservoir of indigenous seeds in concordance with the proposal of this Law.
That we will inspire the approval and execution of the Popular Plan of Seeds, from the strengths and diversities of our real and concrete community and communal experiences, which offer an ideal platform for the proceedings of the national government in the reclaiming of its national productive capacities.
That we are taking up the culture of the conuco (1), of trueke (2), of urban agriculture, of aquiculture, and other forms of small-scale production, under systems free of agrochemicals, all as part of the strategic solution to this asymmetric war, whose most direct target is the family economy. The moment has arrived to reinvent this culture, adapting it to new material and subjective conditions.
That genetically modified organisms and other forms of the manipulation of life are not a solution to the hunger and poverty generated by a system based on the domination of nature and the exclusion of peoples, and that they are moreover a threat to biological and sociocultural diversity. They threaten the sovereignty of peoples and nations, through mechanisms which commercialize the ancestral relations between human beings and the land for the production of our foods.
That we will defend the sovereignty of our traditional and ancestral knowledges – of indigenous, campesino and afro-descendent peoples – in the face of all attempts (external and internal) to impose mechanisms for the privatization of knowledge (such as patents, rights of plant breeders, intellectual property rights, or any other logic associated with the certification of knowledges, practices and material elements which are products of human labor). Thus, we continue to construct a new participative system for the protection of our seeds, as a tangible and intangible collective cultural patrimony.
That we give our support to the National Day of the Campesino Seed, and to the people of Monte Carmelo (3), in the state of Lara, as a fundamental space for the defense and protection of the campesino, indigenous and afro-descendent seed, and of all the cultures and knowledges associated with them; just as we support as well the ensemble of grassroots movements which inspire the popular agenda for the protection of the sovereignty of the people and the nation.
That we take responsibility for our protagonistic role in the current process of forming a regional political bloc, crucial in current geopolitics, in which the defense of the diversity of life is a transversal axis of cohesion and inspiration for the struggles of all oppressed peoples of the world.
In the light of these proposals, in strength and co-responsibility, we accompany President Nicolás Maduro in the construction of politics which guarantee national sovereignty, in the construction of a new frontier of peace, in the defense of the victories of the people, and in the struggle to defeat the plans and projects of counterrevolution.
Finally, we recognize the work of the women, men and children of the Aldea Heroes de Canaima 4F, who are part of the local struggles which are often invisible, and whose power of transformation contribute essential elements for a real communal political structure which transcends the obsolete and hierarchical forms of relation between the State and the people.
Organizing Comittee / Sixth Venezuelan Congress of Biological Diversity http://congresodiversidadbiologica.com.ve/
Footnotes (by the translator):
(1) While “conuco” is most easily translated as “small farmer,” it also entails deeper historical and cultural meanings. It implies ecologically and socially appropriate techniques of planting and harvesting, from polycultures which improve both harvest size and soil quality, to the social customs of collective labor and solidarity which characterized indigenous agriculture. For more details, see “La Vuelta al Conuco: Produccion naturista por un mundo en crisis” by Keshava Bhat, Frank Bracho y Carmen Freites, third edition, 2005.
(2) While “trueque” is easily translated as “barter”, when spelled with a ‘k’ and considered in the context of 21st century Venezuela, it entails deeper social and political meanings. A national Trueke network throughout Venezuela practices and promotes socio-productive self-sufficiency, the isolation of money and the transcendence of capitalism, and a popular school of social rectification where communities come to know themselves and each other through exchanges of products, services, knowledges and foods. In the context of the current economic war, Trueke is flourishing as symbol and substance of a return to an ancestral mode of production and an advance toward an ecosocialist society.
(3) The National Day of the Campesino Seed is celebrated every year on the 29th of October in Monte Carmelo, in the state of Lara, Venezuela. See “The Declaration of Monte Carmelo,” 2012.