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IATP's Alexandra Strickner is blogging from the fifth European Social Forum taking place in Malmö, Sweden, from September 17-21.

For the first time at a European Social Forum, a joint discussion on the food crisis among representatives from farmer, worker, consumer and anti-poverty networks in Europe took place. The discussion centered on the root causes of the current food crisis and possible new alliances, with a specific focus on the situation in Europe.

Participants included representatives from Via Campesina, the European Anti-Poverty Network, Comité pour l'annulation de la dette du Tiers Monde (CADTM), the Centre for Research on Multinational Corporations (SOMO) and the Italian trade union CGIL.

Among the participants, a consensus emerged that speculation on commodities and the current structure of the food system are core problems, leading to low incomes for farmers, low wages for farmworkers and high prices for consumers. There was also consensus on the need to have public policies and regulations secure the production of healthy and accessible food, as well as appropriate levels of income for consumers to afford food. Besides a reform of agriculture policies, new regulations to increase competition and curb speculation were emphasized. Participants emphasized that competition policies need to be developed at the international level, and in general reformed, taking into account not only consumer interests, but also those of the workers and producers. Given the role of speculation in the current food crisis, a prohibition for speculation on commodities was suggested.

To develop consensus on new policies, participants concluded that a debate over a joint vision of what kind of food system is needed has to take place first.This vision needs to take into account the different interests and needs of farmers, farmworkers and consumers. A trade union representative discussed the challenge of farmers as employers and the potential conflict of interest between farmers and farmworkers. He referred to farmworker experiences as among the most exploited ones on the side of production. He also emphasized the need of workers' organizations to develop a better analysis and understanding of the current structures and problems of the food system.

Today, in a Food Assembly, the results and proposals of the different discussions will be shared and the building of a European Movement for Food Sovereignty will be discussed.

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