September 5, 2003:
NewFarm.org teams up with experts from Institute
for Agricultural and Trade Policy to present deep background
and fresh reporting on the many issues that will be shaped
by the World Trade Organization's (WTO) negotiations at Cancun.
Farmers of all shapes and sizes feel the impact of globalized
agricultural trade. The WTO, formed in 1995, meets semi-regularly
to negotiate a universal trade policy that will effect all
member countries and their citizens. Decisions about global
trade – in agriculture and beyond, from water rights
to biotechnology patents to fair trade – center within
the World Trade Organization.
The WTO’s next round of discussions will be next week
in Cancun, Mexico. This Fifth Ministerium will take up contentious,
unresolved trade issues from the past and address new agenda
items. Choices made Sept. 10-14 will profoundly shape the
rights of multinational corporations, ag production and marketing
policies, and family farming opportunities around the world.
NewFarm.org editors want to present the issues and the news
from the WTO at Cancun. Because we’re busy in Kutztown
PA expanding this site – and because we recognize ag
trade experts when we see them – we’re partnering
with the Institute for Agricultural and Trade Policy (IATP)
for our primary Cancun coverage– though we’ll
also draw on other sources for news, analysis and opinion.
The IATP (http://www.iatp.org/)
promotes resilient family farms, rural communities and ecosystems
around the world through research and education, science and
technology, and advocacy. Through research, reports, data
collection and collaborations, the IATP helps to create new
opportunities for sustainable agriculture. IATP works extensively
with grassroots farmer, environmental and rural development
groups worldwide that make up parts of the global “civil
"The WTO faces a critical test in Cancun," said
IATP President Mark Ritchie. "It has largely failed to
act in the interests of farmers and workers around the world.
Frustration is rising both inside the WTO, among member countries,
and outside in the form of civil society. The Cancun meeting
will be a benchmark to see how responsive the WTO will be
to this movement for more fair trade rules."
Thanks to the long and intimate experience of IATP with the
WTO, NewFarm.org will be able to present background on the
major agricultural issues at Cancun, along with how they affect
nations and farmer groups differently. During the meetings
we will present daily news updates and profiles of participating
farmers and grass-roots organizations. We will sort out what
really happened after Cancun returns to its tourist haven
mode in the days following the event, sketching the new economic
and trade environment for sustainable agriculture.
Much is at stake for the abilities of nations to support
their farmers, and the rights of farmers to market their products
to preserve uniqueness of place and how the products are raised.
NewFarm.org and IATP will bring you the WTO news that matters
most in the weeks ahead. Meet
the experts at IATP who will be providing our news coverage
More background information
• For in-depth background study, consult
IATP’s online archives. A series of six
issue analysis papers is available at www.tradeobservatory.org
in the box titled “What is at stake in Cancun?”
These papers outline items for negotiations in
the areas of U.S. commodity “dumping”
on foreign markets, agricultural trade in general,
services (with impacts of ag), intellectual property
rights, water rights, and the overall WTO decision-making
and implementation processes.
• The IATP web site presents a number of
ways to access IATP coverage of Cancun and related
issues. One of these is the Bridges Weekly Trade
Digest. To access the Digest, click on News Bulletins
in the top toolbar at www.tradeobservatory.org.
• For daily audio news updates on Internet
radio check www.radiocancun.org.