Category Archives: Food Sovereignty

Resistance grows in defense of peasant seeds

April 16, 2014. Source: La Via Campesina

Image: La Via Campesina

Image: La Via Campesina

This year millions of men and women farmers of the international peasant movement, La Vía Campesina, mobilize worldwide in favor of pasant seeds. Since April 17, 1996 (1) la Vía Campesina designated this day as a global day of action with allies and firends.

With more than 100 actions at a local and global level (see map) in all continents, la Via Campesina reasserts the importance of local struggles and at the same time underlines the need of a global resistance and organization between the cities and the rural areas. Actions such as land occupations, agroecological festivities, debates and seed exchanges will be carried out until the end of the month as part of these global days of action.

La Vía Campesina denounces laws and interests that seek to prohibit the use, exchange and access to peasant seeds that we consider a heritage of the people at the service of humanity, as well as food sovereignty as part of a commitment to end hunger in the world.

Historically, men and women farmers, and indigenous peoples have conserved and cared for seeds. La Vía Campesina says NO to all attempts to criminalize and make illegal our practices for caring for, producing and sharing seeds. Continue reading

Leave a comment

Filed under Actions / Protest, Africa, Biodiversity, Food Sovereignty, Industrial agriculture, Rights, Resilience, and Restoration

If science solves the lime crisis, will we accept genetically engineered gin and tonics?

Note: If global industrial agriculture must be abolished in order to maintain a livable planet, will we accept life without cheap limes?

And let’s be honest — The industry-backed narrative about a “broad scientific consensus” on GMO safety is just plain incorrect – see this statement here: No scientific consensus on GMO safety.

-The GJEP Team

By Drake Bennett, April 11, 2014. Source: Bloomberg

Limes imported from Columbia on March 26 in Miami after imports from Mexico stopped.  Photo: Joe Raedle/Getty Images

Limes imported from Columbia on March 26 in Miami after imports from Mexico stopped. Photo: Joe Raedle/Getty Images

If you are not a regular consumer of Mexican cuisine or gin and tonics, you may not have noticed that limes have become a luxury product. The price of the fruit has quadrupled over the past couple months, to $100 a carton. Mexican restaurants and bars have begun rationing limes, and some airlines have stopped serving the fruit all together.

Ninety-five percent of the limes consumed in the U.S. come from Mexico, and Mexico’s lime harvest is being held hostage—sometimes literally—by weather, criminal entrepreneurship, and disease. Severe rains last fall knocked the blossoms off of most of Mexico’s lime trees, decimating the current yield. Armed gangs linked to drug cartels have seized on the shortage, and the resulting price spike, to start grabbing lime shipments and stealing fruit out of the fields. Growers have had to hire armed guards, and all this has only driven prices higher.

Harvests are likely to rebound somewhat in the next few months from the effects of last fall’s storms. But another, longer-term threat to Mexico’s limes is a bacterial disease called huanglongbing, also known as citrus greening, that’s killing many of Mexico’s lime trees. Last summer the New York Times ran an in-depth story about the efforts of a U.S. Sugar (USGR) company, Southern Gardens Citrus in Clewiston, Fla., to develop a genetically modified orange tree that could resist the disease, which growers in Florida fear could wipe out much of the state’s orange trees. Continue reading

1 Comment

Filed under Biodiversity, Climate Change, Corporate Globalization, Food Sovereignty, Genetic Engineering, Green Economy, Industrial agriculture

Up for grabs: Land and food in a hungry world

By Suzanne York, April 14, 2014. Source: How Many?

Image: Stephanie McMillan

Image: Stephanie McMillan

The president of the World Bank, Jim Yong Kim, warned that battles over water and food will erupt within the next five to ten years as a result of climate change.  As he was talking of the risks of climate change, the UN announced that food prices had risen to their highest in almost a year.

 At about the same time as these announcements were happening, the Oakland Institute released a report on the World Bank and land grabs, stating that the World Bank was destroying traditional farming to support corporate land grabs (where corporations, individuals and governments buy or lease prime agricultural lands, often displacing poor and marginalized communities who have lived there for generations).

The Uptick on News on Food Security

It’s easy for some to dismiss talk of food shortages and insecurity as just more “chicken little warnings” that have been wrong in the past.  But a look at recent news on food security should give people cause for concern. Continue reading

Leave a comment

Filed under Africa, Biodiversity, Bioenergy / Agrofuels, Corporate Globalization, False Solutions to Climate Change, Food Sovereignty, Industrial agriculture, Land Grabs

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

Colombia’s breadbasket feels the pinch of free trade

By Helda Martínez, April 8, 2014. Source: Inter Press Service

The home of a poor farming family in the mountains of Cajamarca, in the central Colombian department of Tolima. Photo: Helda Martínez/IPS

The home of a poor farming family in the mountains of Cajamarca, in the central Colombian department of Tolima. Photo: Helda Martínez/IPS

“Things are getting worse and worse,” Enrique Muñoz, a 67-year-old farmer from the municipality of Cajamarca in the central Colombian department of Tolima, once known as the country’s breadbasket, said sadly.

“Over the past five decades, the situation took a radical turn for the worse,” activist Miguel Gordillo commented to IPS, referring to what is happening in Tolima, whose capital is Ibagué, 195 km southwest of Bogotá.

“Fifty years ago, Ibagué was a small city surrounded by crops – vast fields of cotton that looked from far away like a big white sheet,” said Gordillo, head of the non-governmental Asociación Nacional por la Salvación Agropecuaria(National Association to Save Agriculture).

“In Tolima we planted maize, tobacco, soy, sorghum and fruit trees, and the mountains that surrounded Cajamarca were covered with green coffee bushes protected by orange trees, maize and plantain, and surrounded by celery,” Muñoz said.

His voice lost in the past, he said the farms in the area also had “piggies, chickens, mules, cows; everything was so different.”

Gordillo said, “In the north of the department we had fruit trees of all kinds, and the rivers were chock full of fish. There’s still rice, some maize, coffee…but even the fish have disappeared.

Continue reading

Leave a comment

Filed under Biodiversity, Food Sovereignty, Industrial agriculture, Land Grabs, Latin America-Caribbean, Political Repression, Politics, Rights, Resilience, and Restoration

Ploughing protesters highlight land grab grievances in Myanmar

By Vincent MacIsaac, April 6, 2014. Source: South China Morning Post

Myanmar farmers are far from happy with their lot. Photo: AFP

Myanmar farmers are far from happy with their lot. Photo: AFP

Myanmar’s swift economic development has been marked by the rise of a new class of political dissidents: the ploughing protesters.

They are farmers and activists angry that developers have snatched away farmland, rights groups say.

Five farmers were arrested on January 2 for trespassing on land they had been farming for decades – the day after President Thein Sein announced on national radio that all of Myanmar’s political prisoners had been freed, said Nay Myo Zin, a former military captain who runs the Yangon-based charity Myanmar Social Development Network.

The farmers had staged a ploughing protest, tilling land – some with oxen – that had been theirs until it was confiscated by an agribusiness, the men’s relatives said.
Continue reading

Leave a comment

Filed under Actions / Protest, Food Sovereignty, Industrial agriculture, Land Grabs

Women leading resistance to eucalyptus plantations in Brazil

Note: In the US, South Carolina-based ArborGen is awaiting a decision from the US Department of Agriculture to sell billions of genetically engineered (GE) eucalyptus trees annually for planting across the southeast US.  The approval of this invasive, water thirsty and highly flammable tree species would be devastating for the southeast, a region expected to see more and more drought due to climate change.

Sign the petition demanding an immediate ban on the release of GE trees here: http://globaljusticeecology.org/petition.php

-The GJEP Team

Protestors denounce pact to transform rural region of Brazil into a “eucalyptus desert

March 2014. Source: MST via World Rainforest Movement

Photo: WRM

Photo: WRM

On March 8, 2014, peasant farmers from organizations including the MPA, MST, MMC, Quilombolas, the Union of Rural Workers of Mucuri and Montanha and Fetaes, along with youth activists and other social movements, took to the streets of Montanha, in the state of Espírito Santo, Brazil, to denounce the pact between large landholders, the public administration and multinational corporations like Fibria (formerly Aracruz Celulose) to transform the region into an “enormous desert of eucalyptus”. During the political rally held in the town’s central square, some 1,000 women handed out eucalyptus outside the town hall and the headquarters of public offices as a form of protest. The participants in the rally also paid tribute to fellow peasant farmers Saturnino Ribeiro and Valdício Barbosa, who lost their lives in the struggle for land in this region. After a march, two truckloads of food were distributed to neighbourhoods on the periphery of Montanha.

The main themes of the protest were: Agribusiness is the strategy used by patriarchal capitalism in the countryside! We must denounce it and unite in struggle! Stop violence against women! Agrarian reform is the only viable way to produce healthy food for workers!

Observations on eucalyptus and women in Mato Grosso do Sul

By Mieceslau Kudlavicz, March 2014. Source: World Rainforest Movement

“It is the rural women’s movements that have been at the forefront of massive public actions aimed at fighting back against the big corporations in the agri-food sector (pharmaceutical laboratories that produce transgenic seeds and toxic agrochemicals) and defending biodiversity.” (SILIPRANDI, 2013, p. 239)

Numerous events reflect the growing protagonism of women in the economy and, more recently, in political debate. In Brazil, one of the most visible examples of this political struggle was the action undertaken by the Peasant Women’s Movement (MMC), a member organization of La Via Campesina, in 2006, when close to 2,000 women occupied the Aracruz Celulose eucalyptus seedling production laboratories in Rio Grande do Sul. The aim of this action was to denounce the expansion of the “green desert” created by industrial eucalyptus plantations and the resulting expulsion of peasant communities. It was an act in defence of peasant agriculture as a promoter of biodiversity and foundation of food sovereignty. In this way, these women defended seeds for life, in the sense that “seeds are the beginning and the end of peasant farming production cycles. They are a collective creation that reflects the history of peoples and their women, who have always been their creators and the ones primarily responsible for their protection and improvement” (Martins; Stedile, 2011). Continue reading

Leave a comment

Filed under Actions / Protest, Biodiversity, Food Sovereignty, Forests, Green Economy, Industrial agriculture, Land Grabs, Latin America-Caribbean, The Greed Economy and the Future of Forests, Women

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

Vermont set to pass GMO labeling law

By Hilary Niles, April 3, 2014. Source: VT Digger

Senate Judiciary Chairman Sen. Dick Sears (right), D-Bennington, and Sen. Tim Ashe, D/P-Chittenden, discuss a bill on GMO labeling Thursday at the Statehouse. Photo: Hilary Niles/VTDigger

Senate Judiciary Chairman Sen. Dick Sears (right), D-Bennington, and Sen. Tim Ashe, D/P-Chittenden, discuss a bill on GMO labeling Thursday at the Statehouse. Photo: Hilary Niles/VTDigger

Vermont lawmakers are poised to “boldly go where no other state has gone before,” Sen. Joe Benning, R-Caledonia, said Thursday before casting his vote for an unprecedented food-labeling law.

The Senate Judiciary Committee gave H.112 unanimous approval Thursday. The bill would require the labeling of food made with genetically modified ingredients sold in Vermont.

Vermont will not wait for more states to adopt similar laws before it moves ahead with GMO labeling.

Connecticut and Maine have passed laws that included a trigger based on other states’ adoption of labeling provisions. Vermont lawmakers emulated Connecticut’s and Maine’s legislation, but did not include a trigger in H.112.
Continue reading

Leave a comment

Filed under Food Sovereignty, Genetic Engineering, Industrial agriculture

China looks abroad for greener pastures

By Barbara Demick, March 29, 2014. Source: LA Times

The Shenzhen River separates the high-rises of Shenzhen, China, from farmland in Hong Kong. China has come under criticism for the amount of agricultural land it has paved over in its push for economic development. (Brent Lewin / Bloomberg / December 19, 2013)

The Shenzhen River separates the high-rises of Shenzhen, China, from farmland in Hong Kong. China has come under criticism for the amount of agricultural land it has paved over in its push for economic development. (Brent Lewin / Bloomberg / December 19, 2013)

BEIJING — When Ma Wenfeng was a boy, his father earned so little money growing wheat and corn that the family mainly ate mantou, a steamed bread that is a staple of the poor. The last thing he would have dreamed of was becoming a farmer.

Now it is his greatest ambition to start a farm, but not in China, a country where the very word for “farmer,” nongmin, is synonymous with “peasant.” Many Chinese farmers are long past retirement age but still tilling tiny, inefficient plots of land.

Motivated by the search for big expanses of land with abundant supplies of clean water, Chinese are looking far afield — to the United States, Chile, Brazil, Russia, Ukraine, Bulgaria and Australia.

“We’re the world’s fastest-growing economy, with a huge demand for agricultural products,” said Ma, who works as an analyst for a Beijing-based trade association, CnAgri. “When we look overseas, we see large tracts of land where you can operate a farm that makes sense economically.” Continue reading

Leave a comment

Filed under Climate Change, Corporate Globalization, Food Sovereignty, Industrial agriculture, Land Grabs