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By Matilde Moyano
"Since I learned what food sovereignty is, I have not stopped a single day fighting for it," he says.Miryam Kurganoff from Gorban, Graduated in Nutrition and coordinator of theFree Chair of Food Sovereignty from the School of Nutrition of the University of Buenos Aires (UBA), who for decades has actively participated in congresses, conferences and scientific meetings as part of a fight that seeks to change the current production model that damages our health with its ultra-processed foods, " to change the planet, and to cool it down, because it is also responsible for climate change ”.
In dialogue with The Federal, Gorban explained to us that the 'Food sovereignty ’is the right of peoples to develop their own food policies, based on their economic, social and above all cultural availability. But the food industry takes over a model of food production, commercialization and globalization that violates many of these parameters.
“Ten companies in the world manage the production, distribution, and commercialization of food, and for that they rely on the mass media, producing transculturation, the lack of respect for the identities of each of the peoples and at the same time give lead to the production of 'ultra-processed foods’.
// What are those companies?
There are Kraft, Nestle, Johnson and Johnson, Unilever. There is a network between those who own the seed, those who own the land, those who own supermarkets, the oil industry, the chemical industry, and the pharmaceutical industry.
// Is Monsanto one of those companies?
Of course,Monsanto for us today in Argentina would tell you that it is like Big Brother, it is everywhere. The National Food Bank Network is based in the Monsanto building. Other activities that fight against malnutrition are also spokespersons Monsanto. So some scientific societies say that GMOs are safe, and they are not.The derivatives of the transgenic seed are in the food that we consume daily, whose outlet is essentially that of supermarkets.
// What are those foods?
Everything that is packaged, everything that is industrialized, the soya breaded, chicken legs, fish burgers, etc. All this is made on the basis of extracts of a certain food, but with flavoring, with coloring, preservatives, with substances such as salting, which is the basis of all that. In the short or long term, due to the accumulation of these components they will cause severe damage to health.
// What diseases can these processed foods cause? ANDn compared to 20 years ago, are there new diseases?
The diseases that we call chronic non-communicable increased, based mainly on obesity and diabetes, hypertension, problems of increased fat content. This epidemic is associated with the excessive consumption of this type of food, abandoning the recommendations that we make to consume more fresh foods, more seasonal foods. Of course, we also come up against the problem of the cost of these foods, because they are also handled by price-forming companies, making access to food difficult, which is the basis of the right to food.
// So our country is very far from having food sovereignty ...
Of course yes. Food sovereignty alone is not, it has to be within the framework of a politically sovereign country, economically sovereign, not dependent.
// How does our country plan food production and how should it be?
We have our sights set on food production based on monoculture from 96,we have been losing diversity, we have less wheat, less sunflower. In the case of meat, we have cornered cows to produce more soybeans for export, occupying a very rich land, increasing the agricultural frontier and at the same time reducing the diversity of our diet. The clear case at this time is that the importation has opened, and we find apples from Chile, oranges from Valencia, grapefruit from Israel, underestimating our own production.
// And does soy have properties that other foods don't?
There is a lot of talk about soy proteins, but we always refer to Opinion of the Pediatric Society in 2002, when they wanted to impose on us the ‘solidarity soy’, which indicated that soy was prohibited for children under 2 years of age, it was not recommended for children under 5, and for adults, no more than two servings per week should be increased. They pointed out that it has false hormones and has antinutrient substances that prevent the absorption of iron and calciumWhen in our country one of the problems we have is the large number of anemic children and anemic pregnant women.
// What about transgenic soy?
Transgenic soy adds the problems of transgenesis, but soy as such has these characteristics, because it already have what are called false hormones or endocrine disruptors that produce early menarche, produce gynecomastia in men, alter the functioning of the thyroid gland, and some other things.
// What is your opinion about the City Government's ‘My Healthy School’ program?
The programMy Healthy School It is not a bad program, the problem is that it is a political decision to incorporate into school programs the presence of what is called corporate social responsibility with a conglomerate of companies through ILSI (International Institute of Life Sciences), where they are those who are responsible for the lack of health of our population and especially of children.
// What foods can we eat safely? Or do they not exist?
We have to choose between agribusiness, symbolized at Monsanto, and agroecology. We propose that the production model that must be chosen to change the planet, and to cool it down, because it is also responsible for climate change, is the agroecological model of production.
// Do you trust that one day this situation will be able to change?
We will have to change society a lot for that. I have hope, I have many years but I have not lost hope because I keep fighting.
The Free Chair of Food Sovereignty is open to the entire community, and is one of the ways we can get closer to understanding what we are eating and why. If you are interested in this topic and want to find out about the risk that the current agro-production model puts us, you can watch our video ‘When food production makes us sick‘, A dialogue of knowledge in which Miryam Gorban participated.