Key Issues

Local Issue: Health Impacts of the Development

The UCs commercial development project endangers the health of the local community. The proposed project would increase local traffic and diesel pollution in an area already highly impacted by air pollution from the Pacific Steel Casting facility and the 580 and 80 Freeways. The local community is already in the 79th percentile across the state for asthma rates, and so these impacts would be exacerbating environmental health vulnerabilities for the students and children at the adjacent University Village, where student families live, and impact children at Oceanview Elementary and the Village Day care center.

Maintaining the land for urban agricultural research, education, and affordable local food production would have positive health impacts for the local community by reducing air pollution and increasing access to affordable food. Urban forests and gardens can help clean up air pollution and cool temperatures. A survey by the Village Residents Association’s found that many student families struggle to feed their families, and 46% use food assistance programs. The Gill Tract would be used to grow healthy produce, helping support local food security.

Read more in SEAL’s Report to UC Berkeley’s Chancellor Nicholas Dirks, page 35

National Issue: Boycott Sprouts! We want REAL Farmers Markets.

The lead tenant of UCB Capital Projects’ proposed development is Sprouts “Farmers Market”, a greenwashing, big-box supermarket. Sprouts is known to be a union-buster and has a history of labor violations. The chain claims to be a “natural” grocer, but the bulk of their produce is non-organic, and the overwhelming majority of their retail is still highly processed products that support conventional agriculture and the multitude of injustices of that system, from picking to packaging to selling. Additionally, since it is not local, the money spent at this chain does not stay in the community.

We have called for a national boycott of their supermarket chain until they pull out of the commercial development of the Gill Tract Farm.

Global Issue: Food Sovereignty and Agroecology

We see ourselves as part of the growing global Food Sovereignty movement, which challenges the corporate control of land and livelihoods by demanding local, community governance of the food system.

“Food sovereignty”, a term coined by members of La Via Campesina in 1996, asserts the right of people to define their own food systems. Advocates of food sovereignty put the individuals who produce, distribute and consume food at the center of decisions on food systems and policies, rather than the corporations and market institutions they believe have come to dominate the global food system. – Wikipedia

In the process of adopting food sovereignty as a goal, OTF has been in dialogue with social movements from the South, namely Brazil’s Landless Peasants Movement (MST), which organizes hundreds of thousands of dispossessed peasants, occupying and taking land from rich and neglectful landlords. We continue to build national solidarity with the US Food Sovereignty Alliance, and international solidarity through Friends of the MST.

The Global Food Sovereignty movement has embraced Agroecology as a fundamental component of their vision for a just food system, as it represents not only a set of principles for sustainable agriculture, but also “a way of life that recovers all we have lost, a connection with ancient knowledge,”

“Agroecology is political; it requires us to challenge and transform structures of power in society. We need to put the control of seeds, biodiversity, land and territories, waters, knowledge, culture and the commons in the hands of the peoples who feed the world,” – Declaration of the International Forum of Agroecology.