Category Archives: Food Sovereignty

On World Day of Food Sovereignty, Struggling for Land in Brazil [Beverly Bell, Other Worlds]

By Beverly Bell, Other WorldsOctober 14, 2014

Families in a Landless Workers Movement squatter encampment, hoping to win legal title to the land. Photo: Andy Lin.

Families in a Landless Workers Movement squatter encampment, hoping to win legal title to the land. Photo: Andy Lin.

October 16 is World Food Day. To ensure that there is food for the world, and that it is not controlled by corporations, small farmers and allies across the globe have also named October 16 the Day of Action for Food Sovereignty and against Transnational Organizations. A posting by La Via Campesina, the coalition of more than 160 peasants and small-farmer movements across continents, says that it “organizes this day of solidarity, resistance, and mobilisation in order to make citizens aware of the current threats to peoples’ food sovereignty.” (To find out about U.S. actions for this day, click here.)

Food sovereignty is the concept that every people has the right to make decisions about, produce, and consume its own local, healthy, culturally appropriate food. Food sovereignty is based in an expansive set of ecological and agricultural practices, international trade laws, and domestic governmental policies.

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Pacific Island land reform seeks to protect indigenous rights to land

Credit: Catherine Wilson/IPS

Credit: Catherine Wilson/IPS

Catherine Wilson of the IPS News Agency provides this really interesting account of indigenous land reforms on the island of Vanatu in the South Pacific. It seems like a heady mix of tourism and tax evasion has led to a global rush on lands owned collectively by those indigenous to the island. New laws seek to secure indigenous ownership and access to the land, which, as Wilson writes in the caption for the picture above, “remains a vital source of food security, cash incomes and social wellbeing.”

Vanuatu Puts Indigenous Rights First in Land Reform
By Catherine Wilson, Inter Press News Service, October 14, 2014.

PORT VILA, Oct 14 2014 (IPS) - Stemming widespread corruption in the leasing of customary land to investors is the aim of bold land reform, introduced this year in the Southwest Pacific Island state of Vanuatu, which puts the rights of traditional landowners above the discretionary powers of politicians.

Less than one hour from the capital, Port Vila, is the village of Mangaliliu, one of many across this sprawling nation of 82 islands and more than 247,000 people where livelihoods centre on agriculture and fishing.

Read the whole article here.

 

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Filed under Commodification of Life, Food Sovereignty, Indigenous Peoples, Land Grabs, Rights, Resilience, and Restoration

Is Big Ag the new Christopher Columbus?

The Big Ag gold rush from governments and private investors claims to support small farmers, fight global hunger and create jobs. However, an article posted on GRAIN, shows how the only group supporter is the least in need — elite 1 percent.

A new wave of investment threatens to push peasant farmers off the land and erode food sovereignty. Photo: Cargo Collective

A new wave of investment threatens to push peasant farmers off the land and erode food sovereignty. Photo: Cargo Collective

Big Ag investors, like Chinnakannan Sivasankaran and Siva Group, overtake the industry through extremely unethical practices, such as land grabbing, commodification of land, marginalization of local communities and palm oil plantations. This news is particularly poignant, especially as U.S. citizens misguidedly celebrate Columbus Day, possibly the worst national holiday, which is a day dedicated to a land grabbing, mass-murdering historical hero of the 1 percent.

Feeding the 1 percent
by GRAIN, 7 October 2014

Since the global food crisis of 2008, there has been a massive wave of private sector investment in agriculture. More money flowing into agriculture means more innovation and modernisation, more jobs and more food for a hungry planet, say the G8, the World Bank and corporate investors themselves.

But does it?

Looking at the investments made by Indian billionaire Chinnakannan Sivasankaran – one of the most active private sector players in the global rush to acquire farmland – a worrying picture emerges of what happens when speculative finance starts flowing into food production.

Since 2008, the Siva Group and its myriad subsidiaries have acquired stakes in around a million hectares of land in the Americas, Africa and Asia, primarily for oil palm plantations. On paper, he’s now one of the world’s largest farmland holders.

Read the full article here.

 

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Filed under Commodification of Life, Food Sovereignty, Greenwashing, Land Grabs

Dupont Dynasty: the Unauthorized Biography now Available

Celebrate non-GMO Month with this scathing critique of GMO giant Dupont

AT LAST! DuPont DYNASTY, the extensively researched and unauthorized biography of the powerful Du Pont family and company–twice suppressed in 1974 and again in 1984--  can now be accessed for only $9.00!! Below find details of the book, how to order it, and its history of suppression.
unnamedDu Pont’s move to dominate the world’s genetically modified foods market.  Du Pont uses contracts to impose higher priced GM seeds that supposedly resist drought, disease and pests.

Using American taxpayers’ money through AID’s and the Washington-based World Bank’s “development” grants and loans, Du Pont and other corporations sell these seeds to compliant (and increasingly desperate) national governments for distribution to farmers.

Unlike natural seeds, Du Pont’s genetically modified seeds are under Du Pont’s exclusive patent control through contracts imposed on poor farmers and cannot be reproduced or stored.  Growing crops for export are thereby increasingly needed by poor national governments to earn foreign exchange to keep up with the growing debt from loans by American banks involved in direct loans to these governments or in purchasing U.S. bonds to help pay for the U.S. Government’s foreign aid programs, including loans brokered through AID and the U.S.-controlled World Bank.

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Filed under Commodification of Life, Food Sovereignty, GMOs, Political Repression, Uncategorized

The Green Shock Doctrine

Earlier this year the Global Justice Ecology Project published the Green Shock Doctrine.

The publication announced a new understanding of exactly what the people of the world are facing in the context of both the onrushing climate crisis, and the resurgent global corporate and business reaction to address these issues.  That reaction includes the United Nations corporate trade show approach to fixing the problems, and the unwavering economic and so-called “sustainability” approach of the various Kleptocracies that rule governments local and national. It all amounts to superficial tinkering with and slight adjustments to the status quo.  Behind the scenes it is even more sinister as the hidden hands guide us over the precipice of unlimited wealth extraction, exponential disparity, warmongering, and an ecological crisis that is driving an extinction episode that may see the end of humanity as we know it within a few decades.

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The Global Justice Ecology Project has drawn the line with the publication of Green Shock Doctrine.  We must demand system change. Our very survival depends on this.

Global Justice Ecology Project’s Intro to Green Shock Doctrine

There is much being said and written today about how to effectively address the oncoming catastrophe of climate change, which is already, for many, tragically real.

There is a crucial and obvious need for a powerful global movement to tackle the climate crisis. But this movement will not be based on reform. Capitalism and the markets have led us to the brink of the abyss. They will not provide our parachute. The system cannot be reformed. It must be transformed.

The more we understand how the roots of the many issues we are fighting are intertwined, the better we can cooperate to change the system driving them. In diversity is strength, as any ecologist understands, and our movements for change are no exception.

Global Justice Ecology Project is publishing The Green Shock Doctrine as a means to help expose and examine the deeper issues behind the climate crisis and their links to many of the other crises we are facing. In doing so, we hope to help advance the effort to transform the global system driving climate catastrophe.

Read the GREEN SHOCK DOCTRINE here

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Filed under Actions / Protest, Climate Change, Climate Justice, Commodification of Life, Corporate Globalization, Energy, False Solutions to Climate Change, Food Sovereignty, Forests and Climate Change, Great Lakes, Green Economy, Occupy Wall Street, Uncategorized

Investigation shows that industry friendly oversight of GMO experiments in California endanger the public and the environment

An investigation by Hearst Newspapers shows that little oversight by agencies in California of experimental field trials of GMO’s hidden along California’s Central Coast is putting the public and the environment  at risk. The company conducting the tests, Applied Biotechnology, is founded and run by John A. Howard, who “previously funded another company that was permanently banned from trials of genetically modified organisms – GMOs – after creating such contaminated messes in the Midwest that a half-million bushels of soybeans and more than 150 acres of corn had to be destroyed.”

Worker Javier Alcantar tends to corn crops at the Monsanto Co. test field in Woodland, California, U.S., on Friday, Aug. 10, 2012. Monsanto Co., an American multinational agricultural biotechnology corporation, is the world's leading producer of the herbicide glyphosate and the largest producer of genetically engineered (GE) seed.  Photo: Noah Berger, Bloomberg

Worker Javier Alcantar tends to corn crops at the Monsanto Co. test field in Woodland, California, U.S., on Friday, Aug. 10, 2012. Monsanto Co., an American multinational agricultural biotechnology corporation, is the world’s leading producer of the herbicide glyphosate and the largest producer of genetically engineered (GE) seed. Photo: Noah Berger, Bloomberg

According to an article published yesterday (September 8, 2014) in the SFGate, the online sister publication of the San Francisco Chronicle:

The advent of GMOs has spawned global debate and protest over issues of consumer safety and the uncertain effects of altered genes on the environment.

Yes it has–and the opposition to the development of unsafe GMO’s is just beginning to build!

GMO experiments receive questionable oversight
By Bill Bill Lambrecht, San Francisco Gate. September 8, 2014.

Washington — At a secret location among the vineyards of California’s Central Coast, a plot of genetically engineered corn is producing proteins for industrial and pharmaceutical uses, including an experimental vaccine for hepatitis B.

The altered corn is growing with federal approval 100 feet from a steelhead stream in San Luis Obispo County, in designated critical habitat for the threatened California red-legged frog. Agriculture Department inspectors have reported two “incidents” at the site, including conventional corn sprouting in a 50-foot fallow zone, but the findings did not rise to the level of a fine or even to a formal notice of noncompliance for the company that planted it, Applied Biotechnology Institute Inc.

Details of Applied Biotechnology’s inspections and hundreds of other field trials with genetically modified plants were obtained by Hearst Newspapers under Freedom of Information laws. The inspection reports and other Agriculture Department records present a picture of vast, swiftly expanding outdoor experimentation and industry-friendly oversight of those experiments.

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Filed under Biodiversity, Bioenergy / Agrofuels, Campaign to STOP GE Trees, Climate Change, Climate Justice, Commodification of Life, Corporate Globalization, False Solutions to Climate Change, Food Sovereignty, Forests, Forests and Climate Change, GE Trees, Genetic Engineering, Greenwashing, Industrial agriculture, Uncategorized

Obama/Bloomburg Africa Business Summit Promotes False Solutions

Source- Photo by James Oatway/Panos/ActionAid "Julio Ngoene, a farmer in Mozambique

Source- Photo by James Oatway/Panos/ActionAid “Julio Ngoene, a farmer in Mozambique”

U.S. President Barack Obama hosted the US/Africa (Business) Summit earlier this week which included “Signature Events” such as “Civil Society Forum,” and Resilience and Food Security in a Changing Climate.

The Summit was co-hosted by Bloomberg Philanthropies and the U.S. Department of Commerce.

Touted as the first-ever U.S.-Africa Business Summit, focus areas included Finance and Capital, Infrastructure, Power and Energy, Agriculture, Consumer Goods, and Information Communication Technology.

Visit the Bloomberg webpage on the event here.

In an op-ed in Forbes Magazine on August 5 by Michael Bloomberg and Penny Pritzker, U.S. Secretary of Commerce, two of the keynote speakers at the Forum declared that “Africa is open for business.” The article said that the forum will catalyze $14 billion in business deals.

According to the article:

For decades, the U.S.-Africa economic relationship has too often taken a back seat to other pressing issues and priorities. Yet right now, our commercial partnership—between governments, among businesses, in markets on both sides of the Atlantic—is as important as ever. Strengthening and deepening that pillar of our alliance will prove a net gain for workers, entrepreneurs, and communities in the United States and across Africa. The continent’s economic potential is enormous. Africa is home to six of the world’s ten fastest-growing economies. Its GDP is expected to rise six percent annually over the next decade. Real income has increased more than 30% over the last 10 years, and many African governments are making investments in infrastructure, education, and health care that are improving millions of lives. Yet investment by U.S. companies in Africa remains too low.

In a Bloomberg News article with the headline “GE Doubling Jobs in Africa as Ford Plans Eventual Surge,”  Jim Benintende, Ford’s head of operations in the Middle East and Africa who was interviewed during the forum, said:

Everything is pointing toward a surge in the African economy. We’re really focused on this region like never before.

It was also announced at the forum that there will be a doubling of private investment for the New Alliance for Good Security and Nutrition.

Responding to the forum’s announcement to double private sector funding for food security, ActionAid International Africa issued the following comments:

Response to Private-Sector Funding Announcement for African Agriculture

President Obama has missed the mark when it comes to agriculture in Africa. The ‘New Alliance’ is fundamentally flawed. Handing over the future of farming in Africa to big agribusinesses will only hurt people living with poverty and hunger. Poor farmers need investment from US and African governments to help their farms flourish. Companies should be part of Africa’s agricultural future but profit must not be prioritised over people’s rights.”

Western companies are already taking land that’s being used to produce food from African farmers, pushing them further into poverty. Under the New Alliance, this will only get worse. The US and African governments must invest in the farmers producing food for the continent, not big businesses growing crops for export. The New Alliance will put more money into the pockets of a few wealthy businessmen who are clearly not concerned with the food security of Africa’s most vulnerable people.

 

Obama’s Agricultural Vision for Africa Will Push Poor Farmers off Their Land and Further into Poverty

The administration’s current agricultural vision for Africa is misguided. It will only benefit the American agricultural industry with no real benefit to the poorest in Africa, who will be left without land to grow food.

Land is already being grabbed at an alarming rate in many African countries to meet the world’s demand for food and biofuels. Policies like the US biofuels targets are already increasing demand for land. Obama’s vision for Africa will only put more money into the pockets of a few wealthy businessmen. Programs like the ‘New Alliance’ are driving a system that robs the poor to pay the rich and will only result in more land being grabbed.

List of US Companies attending Summit

List of African Companies attending Summit

Climate Connections thinks that the commodification of African markets, land, and people is a false solution for climate change and human rights. We want to know what you think. Please comment!

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Filed under Africa, Biodiversity, Bioenergy / Agrofuels, Climate Justice, Commodification of Life, Corporate Globalization, Energy, False Solutions to Climate Change, Food Sovereignty, Forests and Climate Change, Land Grabs, Pollution

Unprecedented global land grab mania for development characterizes first decade of 21st Century

 

Photo by Jay Burney

Photo by Jay Burney

The Inter Press Service News Agency  published an analysis of the global land rush by Anuradha Mittal, Executive Director of the Oakland Institute, this week.

The first years of the twenty-first century will be remembered for a global land rush of nearly unprecedented scale.An estimated 500 million acres, an area eight times the size of Britain, was reported bought or leased across the developing world between 2000 and 2011, often at the expense of local food security and land rights.When the price of food spiked in 2008, pushing the number of hungry people in the world to over one billion, it spiked the interest of investors as well, and within a year foreign land deals in the developing world rose by a staggering 200 percent. Today, enthusiasm for agriculture borders on speculative mania. Driven by everything from rising food prices to growing demand for biofuel, the financial sector is taking an interest in farmland as never before.

Mittal points out that while the land rush is certainly global,  the U.S. has a rising interest inside investor groups as they expand their holdings based on speculation surrounding food security and biomass markets.

Although media coverage tends to focus on land grabs in low-income countries, the opposite side of the same coin is a new rush for U.S. farmland, manifesting itself in rising interest from investors and surging land prices, as giants like the pension fund TIAA-CREF commit billions to buy agricultural land.

One industry leader estimates that 10 billion dollars in institutional capital is looking for access to U.S. farmland, but that figure could easily rise as investors seek to ride out uncertain financial times by placing their money in the perceived safety of agriculture.

In the next 20 years, as the U.S. experiences an unprecedented crisis of retiring farmers, there will be ample opportunity for these actors to expand their holdings as an estimated 400 million acres changes generational hands. And yet, the domestic face of this still unfolding land rush remains largely unseen.

The Oakland Institute has released a new report, Down on the Farm, which is designed to increase awareness of issues enabling the new American land rush. The report also identifies motives and practices of some of the most powerful players involved including: UBS Agrivest, a subsidiary of the biggest bank in Switzerland; the Hancock Agricultural Investment Group (HAIG), a subsidiary of the biggest insurance company in Canada; and the Teacher Annuity Insurance Association College Retirement Equities Fund (TIAA-CREF), one of the largest pension funds in the world.

Only by studying the motives and practices of these actors today does it become possible to begin building policies and institutions that help ensure farmers, and not absentee investors, are the future of our food system.

Mittal concludes:

“Nothing is more crucial than beginning this discussion today. The issue may seem small for a variety of reasons – because institutional investors only own an apparently tiny one percent of all U.S. farmland, or because farmers are still the biggest buyers of farmland across the country. But to take either of these views is to become dangerously blind to the long-term trends threatening our agricultural heritage. Consider the fact that investors believe that there is roughly 1.8 trillion dollars’ worth of farmland across the United States. Of this, between 300 and 500 billion dollars is considered to be of “institutional quality,” a combination of factors relating to size, water access, soil quality, and location that determine the investment appeal of a property. This makes domestic farmland a huge and largely untapped asset class. Some of the biggest actors in the financial sector have already sought to exploit this opportunity by making equity investments in farmland. Frequently, these buyers enter the market with so much capital that their funds are practically limitless compared with the resources of most farmers.

Although they have made an impressive foothold, this is the beginning, not the end, of a land rush that could literally change who owns the country and our food and agricultural systems. Not only is there space in the market for institutional investors to expand, but there are also major financial incentives for them to do so.

How is this land rush affecting your community. Climate Connections wants to know. Please post your comments.

 

 

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Filed under Biodiversity, Bioenergy / Agrofuels, Climate Justice, Commodification of Life, Corporate Globalization, Energy, False Solutions to Climate Change, Food Sovereignty, Uncategorized