Las Vegas seems to be an apt place to launch a risky corporate gamble that could destroy the livelihoods of millions of small-scale farmers. Earlier this month, the international food conglomerate Cargill chose the city’s famous Strip to introduce what it hopes will be its next blockbuster product: EverSweet, a sweetener made of “the same sweet components in the stevia plant.”
And yet, despite Cargill’s heavy reliance on stevia in its promotional material, EverSweet does not contain a single leaf of the plant. Cargill’s new product is an example of synthetic biology, a form of genetic engineering that uses modified organisms to manufacture compounds that would never be produced naturally. What makes EverSweet taste sweet is not stevia; it is a compound produced by a bioengineered yeast.
Farmers' Rights & Food Sovereignty
Farmers' Rights, endorsed by FAO in 1989, recognizes that farmers and rural communities have contributed greatly -- and continue to contribute -- to the creation, conservation, exchange and enhancement of genetic resources, and that they should be recognized and strengthened in their work. The ETC Group believes that Farmers' Rights must be recognized at the international level, and that its definition should be expanded by the human rights community as part of the Right to Food. Food sovereignty has largely replaced the more limited and less empowering concept of food security. Food sovereignty refers to the rights of peoples, communities and countries to define their own agricultural labour, fishing, food and land policies which are ecologically, socially, economically and culturally appropriate to their unique circumstances. It includes the true right to food and to produce food, which means that all people have the right to safe, nutritious and cultural appropriate food and to food producing resources and the ability to sustain themselves and their societies. (Source: Practical Action www.practicalaction.org)