By Chris Lang, 30th April 2013. Source: REDD-Monitor
Organisations based in Chiapas, Mexico have written to California’s Governor, Jerry Brown, to oppose the inclusion of REDD in California’s Global Warming Solutions Act (AB 32).
Young girls in Amador Hernández Photo: Langelle/GJEP-GFC
In March 2011, Global Justice Ecology Project travelled to Chiapas and documented the problems that REDD and other conservation projects were causing for communities in the Lacandón jungle. Jeff Conant, who was then Communications Director for GJEP, wrote a series of articles based on the visit. The articles are collected on GJEP’s blog, Climate Connections. And Orin Langelle, GJEP’s Board Chair, produced a photo essay about the visit to Chiapas.
GJEP also produced a video about REDD: “A Darker Shade of Green”, which includes interviews with communities in Chiapas (the part about Chiapas starts at 10:45). One of the villagers describes REDD from his perspective:
“They see our Mother Earth as a business, and for us you should never see it like that, it’s our Mother, she can’t be sold. Now they’re developing this REDD Project that’s about carbon capture, it doesn’t serve us. We struggle simply to feed ourselves.”
In December 2012, an article was published in Truthout about the impact of REDD on communities in Chiapas. The title is very appropriate: “Colonialism and the Green Economy: The Hidden Side of Carbon Offsets”. The impacts of carbon offsets on the communities in Chiapas, it seems, remain largely hidden from view in California.
Filed under Actions / Protest, BREAKING NEWS, Carbon Trading, Chiapas, Climate Change, Climate Justice, Commodification of Life, Commons, Ending the Era of Extreme Energy, False Solutions to Climate Change, Forests, Forests and Climate Change, Green Economy, Indigenous Peoples, Land Grabs, Latin America-Caribbean, Pollution, REDD, Rights, Resilience, and Restoration, The Greed Economy and the Future of Forests
April 3 2013. Source: African Center for Biodiversity
Civil society organisations from the South African Development Community (SADC) region, and around the world have condemned the SADC draft
Protocol for the Protection of New Varieties of Plants (Plant Breeders’ Rights) as spelling disaster for
small farmers and food security in the region. These groups, representing millions of farmers in Africa
and around the world have submitted their concerns to the SADC Secretariat. They are calling for the
rejection of the Protocol and urgent consultations with farmers, farmer movements and civil society
before it’s too late.
According to the groups, the Protocol is inflexible, restrictive and imposes a “one-size-fits-all” plant
variety protection (PVP) system on all SADC countries irrespective of the nature of agricultural systems,
social and economic development. It is modelled after the 1991 International Convention for the
Protection of New Varieties of Plants (UPOV 1991), an instrument which was developed by industrialized
countries to address their own needs. UPOV 1991 grants extremely strong intellectual property right
protection to plant breeders, and disallows farmers from continuing their customary practices of freely
using, exchanging and selling farm-saved seeds.
According to Moses Shaha, regional chairman for the East and Southern African small-scale Farmers’ Forum
(ESAFF): “The proposed legislation gives big-business breeders significant rights, but in doing so,
disregards and marginalizes small farmers and their plant varieties. It fails to recognize that
small-scale farmers and their customary practices of freely exchanging and re-using seed for multiple
purposes, constitute the backbone of SADC’s agricultural farming systems.”
Note: Demonstrators are calling for international support through calls to the Honduran Supreme Court today at 011-504-2202-5124. They’re demanding the release of campesino leader and political prisoner Chavelo Morales, as well as the repeal of the new mining law and the neoliberal ‘model cities’ legislation. More information here.
–The GJEP Team
March 7, 2013. Source: Latin American Herald Tribune
TEGUCIGALPA – Hundreds of people staged a peaceful demonstration in this capital on Wednesday against the new mining and the so-called “model cities” laws after ending a march of some 200 kilometers (125 miles) to Tegucigalpa that they had begun on Feb. 25.
“The sectors represented here are defending their territories, the natural wealth of their communities and the public assets,” Hermes Reyes, a member of the Movement for Dignity and Justice, told Efe.
He added that during the march they were joined by villagers from several communities along the way.
Another of the demonstrators told Efe that they will remain until Friday on the ground floor of Congress in downtown Tegucigalpa. Continue reading
Filed under Actions / Protest, Bioenergy / Agrofuels, Climate Change, Commons, Corporate Globalization, Ending the Era of Extreme Energy, Food Sovereignty, Industrial agriculture, Land Grabs, Latin America-Caribbean, Mining, Political Repression, Rights, Resilience, and Restoration
Note: The precedent set by this case could have profound implications for GE trees, should they escape onto private lands or public parks.
-The GJEP Team
By Jeff Conant, February 28, 2013. Source: Synbiowatch
Last week, the Supreme Court heard testimonies in the Bowman vs. Monsanto case, wherein the agribusiness giant is fighting an appeal by farmer Vernon Bowman, who the company claims infringed its patent rights by replanting seeds he purchased beyond the bounds of the company’s licensing agreement. The farmer’s claim is that seeds are seeds, designed by nature to reproduce, and that therefore farmers have the right to plant them as they always have; the company’s claim is that its patent on a particular technology embedded in the seed extends to future generations of that seed’s stock.
As the NY Times reports, “The question in the case, Bowman v. Monsanto Company, No. 11-796, was whether patent rights to seeds and other things that can replicate themselves extend beyond the first generation. The justices appeared alert to the consequences of their eventual ruling not only for Monsanto’s very lucrative soybean patents but also for modern agriculture generally and for areas as varied as vaccines, cell lines and software.”
Back in 2007, a federal judge in Indiana ordered Mr. Bowman to pay Monsanto more than $84,000. The United States Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit, which specializes in patent cases, upheld that decision, saying that by planting the seeds Mr. Bowman had infringed Monsanto’s patents.
The rationale for infinite generational patent protection was given by Chief Justice Roberts in his opening question to Bowman’s lawyer: ”Why in the world would anybody spend any money to try to improve the seed if as soon as they sold the first one anybody could grow more and have as many of those seeds as they want?”
By Chris Lang, February 28, 2013. Source: REDD-Monitor
The Congo River. Photo: Media Freedom International
Since 2009, companies have announced new oil palm plantation projects in the Congo Basin covering a total area of 1.6 million hectares. Projects currently underway cover 500,000 hectares. A new report by Rainforest Foundation UK warns that vast areas of the Congo Basin forests are potentially threatened by the expansion of oil palm plantations.
The report, “Seeds of Destruction” (pdf file, 4.7 MB), includes case studies of three of the companies involved. A company called Atama Plantations SARL has started clearing forest in the Republic of Congo for a 180,000 hectare plantation. Rainforest Foundation UK investigated the companies behind Atama Plantations and found a “web of ‘shell’ companies registered in secretive tax havens”.
In February 2012, a Malaysian company called Wah Seong announced it would buy a 51% stake in Atama Resources Inc, a Mauritius-registered company that owns Atama Plantations SARL: “The $25 million purchase of Atama by Wah Seong is almost as complicated as the web of companies behind Atama.” Continue reading
Filed under Africa, Biodiversity, Bioenergy / Agrofuels, Carbon Trading, Climate Change, Climate Justice, Commodification of Life, Commons, Ending the Era of Extreme Energy, Energy, False Solutions to Climate Change, Forests, Forests and Climate Change, Green Economy, Greenwashing, Illegal logging, Land Grabs, The Greed Economy and the Future of Forests
February 28, 2013. Source: GRAIN
Workers on a sugar plantation in Brazil, where US-based Bunge is building a large land portfolio for sugar and biofuels production. (Photo Lalo de Almeida for the New York Times)
Over the last few years, governments, legislators and political elites in a number of countries have been trying to calm anger and debate over land grabbing by setting legal limits on foreign direct investment (FDI) in land. These limits take various forms.
- In some countries, governments are imposing ceilings on the amount of farmland foreigners may acquire. Argentina and Brazil have recently moved in this direction. Before leaving office in 2011, President Lula instructed his party and the country’s Attorney General to find a way to limit access to farmland by foreigners in Brazil. Cristina Kirchner initiated a similar process in Argentina, resulting in the signing of a new law within a year. In both cases, the intent was to set limits on the amount of agricultural land foreign investors can own as a way to contain growing resentment about “foreignisation” and loss of sovereignty. Continue reading
Filed under Africa, Biodiversity, Bioenergy / Agrofuels, Climate Change, Climate Justice, Commodification of Life, Commons, Corporate Globalization, Ending the Era of Extreme Energy, Energy, False Solutions to Climate Change, Food Sovereignty, Forests and Climate Change, Green Economy, Industrial agriculture, Land Grabs, Latin America-Caribbean, The Greed Economy and the Future of Forests, Water
By Bill Weinberg. Source: WW4 Report
March 22, 2012 World Water Day march at the Conga site. Photo: Bill Weinberg
In what has become an emblematic struggle against government plans to open peasant lands to mineral interests throughout the sierras of Peru, local campesinos continue to hold strikes and protests in the northern region of Cajamarca—in defiance of a state of emergency and a heavy presence of army and National Police troops.
The months-long campaign to halt the mega-scale Conga gold mine high in Cajamarca’s alpine zone—which Colorado-based Newmont Mining hopes to develop with Peruvian partners and investment from the World Bank—cost five lives last July 3 and 4, when government troops opened fire on protesters in the rural towns of Celendín and Bambamarca. The youngest of the fallen was only 17 years old.
At issue are four highland lakes that would be destroyed at the site where Newmont hopes to develop the giant pit mine. The company proposed to replace the lakes with new artificial reservoirs, and says this will not affect the underlying watersheds. But in an aridifying region, the local campesinos pledged they would not allow the lakes to be destroyed. When President Ollanta Humala was on the campaign trail last year, he promised to put an end to the project; upon taking office in July 2011, he promptly reversed his position and started backing it.
By Kyle Carsen Wyatt, February 11, 2013. Source: The Walrus
Sometime this year, the federal government is expected to introduce legislation that will pave the way for fee-simple (read: private) land ownership on First Nations reserves. According to its champions—former Kamloops chief Manny Jules and on-again, off-again Harper adviser Tom Flanagan—the new law will generate business efficiencies, investment opportunities, and individual prosperity for the 300,000 Native people living on reserves in Canada.
Editorial boards and political affairs observers have commended the First Nations Property Ownership Initiative, a working proposal crafted by Jules and Flanagan, along with Christopher Alcantara and André Le Dressay, in their 2011 book, Beyond the Indian Act: Restoring Aboriginal Property Rights. Proponents, who include a handful of First Nations, dismiss the alarms raised by most of the 600-plus Native communities in Canada, as well as Native studies scholars and the Assembly of First Nations. The Globe and Mail’s John Ibbitson has summarized their objections thusly: “The first is that native land is traditionally communally owned. Private property is yet another assimilationist Western concept being imposed on native culture. The second is that once reserve members own their land, they can sell it to non-natives, eroding the land base.”
Ibbitson rejects these concerns out of hand, arguing that “the legislation will be strictly voluntary. Only those first nations that want to embrace the concept of private property will do so.” This line of reasoning presumes that communities and individuals driven to desperation can freely engage in decision making, when in fact many of them will succumb to a coercive land grab that has been 500 years in the making. He also contrasts the proposed legislation with the US General Allotment Act of 1887, better known as the Dawes Act, pointing out that it was involuntary. He is not alone in dismissing the nineteenth-century law. Backers of the First Nations Property Ownership Initiative regard its dismal legacy as a trivial aside, a laughable historical analogy: different time, different place. But as Cherokee novelist and 2003 Massey Lecturer Thomas King observes in his new book, The Inconvenient Indian: A Curious Account of Native People in North America, “When we look at Native–non-Native relations, there is no great difference between the past and the present.”
February 12, 2013. Source: Center for Food Safety
Today, one week before the Supreme Court hears arguments in Bowman v. Monsanto Co., the Center for Food Safety (CFS) and Save our Seeds (SOS) – two legal and policy organizations dedicated to promoting safe, sustainable food and farming systems – will launch their new report, Seed Giants vs. U.S. Farmers.
The new report investigates how the current seed patent regime has led to a radical shift to consolidation and control of global seed supply and how these patents have abetted corporations, such as Monsanto, to sue U.S. farmers for alleged seed patent infringement.
Seed Giants vs. U.S. Farmers also examines broader socio-economic consequences of the present patent system including links to loss of seed innovation, rising seed prices, reduction of independent scientific inquiry, and environmental issues.
Debbie Barker, Program Director for Save Our Seeds and Senior Writer for the Report, said today: “Corporations did not create seeds and many are challenging the existing patent system that allows private companies to assert ownership over a resource that is vital to survival, and that, historically, has been in the public domain.”