Category Archives: Commodification of Life

April 17: International day of peasant struggles

April 8, 2014. Source: La Via Campesina

Image: La Via Campesina

Image: La Via Campesina

This year we dedicate the 17th of April, international day of peasant struggles, to the defense of seeds. Seeds are an essential basis for achieving food sovereignty because almost everything in agriculture depends on them: What we can plant and how it is grown; the quality and nutrition of our food, our ability to account for different tastes and cultural preferences; and also the wellbeing of our communities, our ecosystems and the planet. In this article we explain why this implies not so much the defense of seeds as such but especially the defense of peasant seeds—that is, seeds that remain in the hands of the peasant and family farmers of the world. We also give some examples of how we are carrying out this defense among the organizations in the 73 countries that make up La Vía Campesina.

The seeds used in agriculture are different from those that exist in non-cultivated nature. Until several thousand years ago the enormous diversity of peasant varieties of rice, potatoes, cabbages or barley did not exist as such. The richness of our nutrition today is based on the knowledge, practices, visions and needs of the peasant communities around the world that created them in the first place. Continue reading

Leave a comment

Filed under Actions / Protest, Africa, Biodiversity, Bioenergy / Agrofuels, Climate Justice, Commodification of Life, Corporate Globalization, Food Sovereignty, Genetic Engineering, Green Economy, Industrial agriculture, Land Grabs, The Greed Economy and the Future of Forests

Women’s roles, rights and responsibility in natural resources: Some reflections from Mekong Region

By Premrudee Daoroung, March 2014. Source: TERRA

Photo: WRM

Photo: WRM

In Thailand, Laos, Cambodia, Vietnam and Myanmar it remains common until today that the wife will be the one who ‘owns’ the land of the paddy or upland rice fields. . Women therefore can be the ones fully responsible for maintaining those resources for the next generations.

To explain the rights and role in natural resources of women in Southeast Asia can be complex. In Thailand, Laos, Cambodia, Vietnam and Myanmar – where groups identified as ‘Tai’ ethnic and also other many ethnics live closely with natural resources in their subsistence agriculture livelihood – we often learn that women are playing key roles in owning land, for example. It is part of a culture where men move in to a woman’s family after they married, and help in the rice field of their in-laws, before the woman’s family gives some land to them. It remains common until today that the wife will be the one who ‘owns’ the land of the paddy or upland rice fields, whether the land is with formal land certification or not. The husband or men in the family in many communities accept the fact that the women are the ones who own the property of the family. Women therefore can be the ones fully responsible for maintaining those resources for the next generations. Continue reading

Leave a comment

Filed under Biodiversity, Commodification of Life, Corporate Globalization, Food Sovereignty, Forests, Indigenous Peoples, Water, Women

REDD could lead to a “carbon grab” – new report from the Rights and Resources Initiative

By Chris Lang, March 20, 2014. Source: REDD-Monitor

Image: Santiago Armengod and Melanie Cervantes

Image: Santiago Armengod and Melanie Cervantes

The World Bank continues with its push to trade the carbon stored in forests. But new research shows that safeguards and legal protections for indigenous peoples and local communities in these new forest carbon markets are “non-existent”.

The research was carried out by the Rights and Resources Initiative (RRI) together with the Ateneo School of Government in the Philippines. It includes a survey of 23 countries in Latin America, Asia, and Africa, covering two-thirds of the Global South’s forests. 21 of these countries are members of the UN-REDD programme and/or the World Bank’s Forest Carbon Partnership Facility. Brazil has a US$1 billion REDD agreement with Norway. India is the only non-REDD country included in the research.

In a press release, Arvind Khare, RRI’s Executive Director, said,

“As the carbon in living trees becomes another marketable commodity, the deck is loaded against forest peoples, and presents an opening for an unprecedented carbon grab by governments and investors. Every other natural resource investment on the international stage has disenfranchised Indigenous Peoples and local communities, but we were hoping REDD would deliver a different outcome. Their rights to their forests may be few and far between, but their rights to the carbon in the forests are non-existent.”

Continue reading

Leave a comment

Filed under Biodiversity, Climate Change, Commodification of Life, Corporate Globalization, False Solutions to Climate Change, Forests, Forests and Climate Change, Green Economy, Indigenous Peoples, Land Grabs, Latin America-Caribbean, REDD, The Greed Economy and the Future of Forests

Europe’s Science Chief seeks to eliminate scientific discourse

By Brian John, March 19, 2014. Source: Spinwatch

Anne Glover, EU Chief Scientific Adviser. Photo: Wikimedia Commons

Anne Glover, EU Chief Scientific Adviser. Photo: Wikimedia Commons

Anne Glover, the EU’s chief scientist, is playing politics with science warns Brian John of GM-Free Cymru. Her role in promoting GMOs as safe and attempting to get rid of the precautionary principle, he argues in this guest post, is all part of a carefully crafted attempt to redesign science and to impose a scientific orthodoxy worked out with the “learned” academies. Dismissing some GMO discoveries by claiming they are “contested” ignores how scientific debate really works.  

Since taking office in 2012, EU Science Chief Anne Glover seems to have taken it upon herself to redefine the meaning of the term “scientific evidence” and to shake up the manner in which scientists work and communicate with each other.

In two staged “interviews” published in Euractiv 1 it has become apparent that she sees her role as providing science in support of the predetermined political positions of her boss, EC President Barroso. She will deny this, of course, but if we look at one field – the contentious area of GMOs – we see immediately that she is intent upon the “scientific validation” of the line pushed relentlessly by the Commission – ie that GMOs are safe and that they should be allowed without any great hindrance into the food supply, even if there is no public taste for them and no demand from retailers. This pressure towards market liberalisation and the insidious dismantling of GMO regulations is now being increased by the US Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP) negotiators.

Continue reading

Leave a comment

Filed under Commodification of Life, Corporate Globalization, Food Sovereignty, Genetic Engineering, Industrial agriculture

A note concerning the International Day of Forests

Note: Today , March 21st, has been declared the “International Day of Forests” by the United Nations, to celebrate the “value” of standing forests.  But what type of “value” is the UN really celebrating?  Wally Menne of the Timberwatch Coalition in South Africa provides a deeper look at the United Nations’ increasingly pro-corporate agenda.

-The GJEP Team

By Wally Menne, March 21, 2014 

Natural peatland forest in Sungai Sembilang Nature Conservation Park in South Sumatra.  Photo: Kemal Jufri / Greenpeace

Natural peatland forest in Sungai Sembilang Nature Conservation Park in South Sumatra. Photo: Kemal Jufri / Greenpeace

On 21st March, the International Day of Mourning for Millions of Hectares of Destroyed and Stolen Forests, we should weep in solidarity with the millions of displaced, dispossessed and now poverty stricken, formerly forest dependent local communities and indigenous peoples around the world.

In a message, the UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon highlights the value of the world’s remaining forests to nearly 1.6 billion people worldwide who “depend on forests for their livelihood, food, fuel, shelter and medicine”.

The value of forests for their climate change mitigation and adaptation services is acknowledged too, but nothing is said about the ongoing corporate driven land grabbing; and the complete destruction of forests through logging and land use change, that has occurred over the past 60 years at least.

Praise is poured onto the timber and paper industries: “Round wood production, wood processing and the pulp and paper industries account for nearly 1 per cent of global gross domestic product”. But at what cost to forests, rivers and forest dependent people comes this mere “1 per cent”? Continue reading

Leave a comment

Filed under Biodiversity, Climate Change, Commodification of Life, False Solutions to Climate Change, Forests, Forests and Climate Change, Green Economy, Industrial agriculture, The Greed Economy and the Future of Forests

Are Norway’s REDD deals reducing deforestation?

By Chris Lang, March 6, 2014. Source: Development Today

Protest outside of a Norwegian government meeting to promote REDD in Oslo, Norway highlights the social and ecological costs of the REDD scheme and draws attention to a scandalous Norske Hydro project that threatens to destroy Amazon rainforest in Brazil. Photo Courtesy: Friends of the Earth Norway

Protest outside of a Norwegian government meeting to promote REDD in Oslo, Norway highlights the social and ecological costs of the REDD scheme and draws attention to a scandalous Norske Hydro project that threatens to destroy Amazon rainforest in Brazil. Photo Courtesy: Friends of the Earth Norway

When I started the REDD-Monitor website in 2008, REDD – Reduced Emissions from Deforestation and Forest Degradation – was promoted as the “low-hanging fruit” that would save the rainforests and address climate change. In 2006, for example, the economist Nicholas Stern had described REDD as “highly cost-effective” and explained that it could reduce emissions “fairly quickly”. More than seven years on, REDD is neither cheap nor quick. (In 2012, I asked Stern whether he has reconsidered his views on REDD in the interim. He didn’t reply.)

The Norwegian government is the biggest funder of REDD, including US$1 billion REDD deals in Indonesia and Brazil, two countries with large areas of forest and high rates of deforestation. The money is payable when deforestation is reduced. But have Norway’s rainforest billions had any influence on rates of deforestation in either country?

Forest Politics

Forest politics in the two countries are different. Brazil is opposed to REDD offsets but Indonesia is in favour. Deforestation in Brazil has fallen since 2004, but in Indonesia it is increasing. Brazil has reliable deforestation data, produced annually by the National Institute for Space Research (Instituto Nacional de Pesquisas Espaciais). Indonesia’s deforestation data is produced by the Ministry of Forestry – and the data is not supported by satellite data. Continue reading

Leave a comment

Filed under Biodiversity, Carbon Trading, Climate Change, Commodification of Life, Corporate Globalization, Ending the Era of Extreme Energy, Energy, False Solutions to Climate Change, Forests, Forests and Climate Change, Green Economy, Land Grabs, Latin America-Caribbean, REDD, The Greed Economy and the Future of Forests

The myths of “green capitalism”

By Brian Tokar. Source: New Politics

rio20-green-washing-capitalismToday environmental politics in the U.S. appears hopelessly polarized. Liberals and progressives try to sustain and occasionally strengthen environmental legislation, while those on the right are inalterably opposed, even seeking to defund core institutions such as the EPA. This extreme polarization, where anti-environmentalism has become part of the cultural as well as the political apparatus of the right, is a recent, and hopefully short-lived, phenomenon.1

In the early years of the environmental movement Republican politicians, allied with outdoor enthusiasts and some in the corporate world, often supported the passage of environmental laws. For some it was mainly because they preferred a predictable and relatively malleable set of uniform rules to what in the late 1960s was a trend toward increasingly stringent regulations and punishing lawsuits at the state and local levels. But for others on the right end of the spectrum, something simply had to be done about out-of-control pollution that made it unhealthy to breathe the air, drink the water, or live downstream from polluting industries.2 Continue reading

1 Comment

Filed under Climate Change, Commodification of Life, Corporate Globalization, Ending the Era of Extreme Energy, False Solutions to Climate Change, Green Economy, The Greed Economy and the Future of Forests

Nigeria: Destroying communities for oil palm expansion

Source: World Rainforest Movement

Photo: WRM

Photo: WRM

Okomu Oil Palm, which operates in the palm oil as well as rubber production business, was established in 1976 as a Federal Government of Nigeria pilot project covering an area of 15,580 hectares out of which 12,500 hectares could be planted with oil palm. In 1979 the company was incorporated as a private company with limited liability and in 1990, within a Structural Adjustment Programme, it was converted to a Public Limited Company (PLC). It is a member of the Belgian Socfin, a global player group in the cultivation of oil palm as well as rubber, coffee and tropical flowers. Socfin owns 62.69% of Okomu Oil Palm’s shares.

It has since grown to become one of Nigeria’s leading oil palm companies with an oil palm area of 9.713 ha (2012) in the State of Edo, with plans to add 402 ha in 2013 and other 400 ha in 2014.

The company’s 2012 annual report announced the intention to expand its oil palm and rubber plantations and also revealed plans to build the biggest oil mill in Africa expanding its oil mill capacity from 30 tons per hour to 60 tons per hour in Sierra Leone (see article below). Continue reading

1 Comment

Filed under Actions / Protest, Africa, Biodiversity, Bioenergy / Agrofuels, Commodification of Life, Corporate Globalization, Ending the Era of Extreme Energy, False Solutions to Climate Change, Food Sovereignty, Forests, Green Economy, Industrial agriculture, Land Grabs, Political Repression, The Greed Economy and the Future of Forests

Mangrove territories: “Culture, tradition and a vital space for coastal peoples”

By Carlos Salvatierra. Source: World Rainforest Movement

Photo: WRM

Photo: WRM

Communities, peoples and civil society organizations have worked for years to raise the visibility of the significant benefits of the mangrove ecosystem and the importance of its existence. They have fought for the recognition of mangroves as highly productive systems that provide livelihoods and a space for the practice of the cultures and traditions of coastal peoples. “The mangrove is our natural enterprise, it is our employment, it does not ask us for our qualifications or a CV or identification. As long as we are in good health we can cast our nets and harvest our food,” declared Enrique Bonilla, president of COGMANGLAR and a fisherman from Champerico, Guatemala.

Today, the former perception of mangroves as mosquito-infested swamps has changed, but the struggle to defend them has become increasingly difficult in the face of the new and aggressive actors threatening their existence and the survival of the peoples and communities who inhabit them, from Latin America to Asia to Africa. “They are slowly exterminating us. Government policies criminalize and impoverish us. We are not poor; we have great wealth that the powerful want to appropriate, and we call that environmental racism,” said Marizhelia López of the Movement of Fishermen and Fisherwomen of Bahia, Brazil, expressing her concern over the loss of territories. Continue reading

Leave a comment

Filed under Actions / Protest, Biodiversity, Commodification of Life, False Solutions to Climate Change, Food Sovereignty, Forests, Forests and Climate Change, Green Economy, Indigenous Peoples, Land Grabs, Latin America-Caribbean, REDD, The Greed Economy and the Future of Forests, Water

Monsanto’s Roundup found in 75% of air and rain samples

By John Deike, February 27, 2014. Source: EcoWatch

In recent years, Roundup was found to be even more toxic than it was when first approved for agricultural use, though that discovery has not led to any changes in regulation of the pesticide. Photo courtesy of Shutterstock

In recent years, Roundup was found to be even more toxic than it was when first approved for agricultural use, though that discovery has not led to any changes in regulation of the pesticide. Photo courtesy of Shutterstock

A new U.S. Geological Survey has concluded that pesticides can be found in, well, just about anything.

Roundup herbicide, Monsanto’s flagship weed killer, was present in 75 percent of air and rainfall test samples, according to the study, which focused on Mississippi’s highly fertile Delta agricultural region.

GreenMedInfo reports new research, soon to be published by Environmental Toxicology and Chemistry journal, discovered the traces over a 12-year span from 1995-2007.

In recent years, Roundup was found to be even more toxic than it was when first approved for agricultural use, though that discovery has not led to any changes in regulation of the pesticide. Moreover, Roundup’s overuse has enabled weeds and insects to build an immunity to its harsh toxins. Continue reading

1 Comment

Filed under Biodiversity, Commodification of Life, Food Sovereignty, Genetic Engineering, Green Economy, Industrial agriculture, Pollution