chapter  2
24 Pages

Cheap Food, Globalization and Development

These words come from a pamphlet, distributed on 10 September 2003 at the World Trade Organization (WTO) Ministerial Meeting in Cancun, Mexico. Its author, Lee Kyung Hae – a South Korean farmer, founder of a South Korean farmers’ association, ardent WTO critic, and inspiration to individuals around the world – is now dead. He killed himself later that day. A sign bearing the slogan ‘WTO Kills Farmers’ in one hand, Lee thrust a red penknife into his chest while standing on top of a police barricade. Within a matter of days tens of thousands of smallholder farmers from all around the world – from Bangladesh to Chile, South Africa and Mexico – marched in memory of Lee and in protest to the current food system. Heard among their chants of solidarity was one poignant phrase: ‘We are Lee’ (Patel, 2009, p35).