“Hunger is not a question of production, it’s a question of justice, democracy and political will,” said New York community food activist Karen Washington last Wednesday (Oct. 10th) to kick off the Fourth Annual Food Sovereignty Prize ceremony, hosted by WHY Hunger in New York City. Four remarkable organizations were honored at the ceremony, demonstrating the depth and diversity of the global movement for food sovereignty: the Korean Women’s Peasant Association, the Coalition of Immokalee Workers of Florida, the National Fisheries Solidarity Association of Sri Lanka and the Unified Peasant Movement of Aguán, Honduras.
Washington’s opening remarks embodied the spirit of the Food Sovereignty Prize, which was first awarded in 2009 as an alternative to the World Food Prize founded by the late Dr. Norman Borlaug, father of the Green Revolution. Whereas the World Food Prize recognizes technical achievements by individuals, the Food Sovereignty Prize recognizes the work of communities, organizations and social movements to bring about a more just, healthy and sustainable food system.
It is an important distinction, one that points to two conflicting views of the causes of hunger: the first, championed by Borlaug and his followers, that hunger is caused by insufficient production in a growing world; and the second, that hunger is caused by the maldistribution of food, wealth, land and political power.
These differing explanations lead to vastly different solutions. The former puts its faith in experts and politicians, located in laboratories and the halls of power, to come up with the “next big thing” such as a new high-yielding or GMO seed. The latter sees solutions largely in the everyday innovations and struggles of farmers, fishers, pastoralists, farmworkers and urban consumers–those most impacted by the injustices of the global food system.