Climate crisis - Copenhagen - putting agriculture front and centre in the discussions over climate change

On December 15th, La Via Campesina and a number of other groups will be leading a day of action in Copenhagen to put agriculture front and centre in the discussions over climate change. Although the official Convention is sure to disappoint, these groups will be carrying a message of hope. What they want the world to know is that, in their on-going struggle for food sovereignty, there is a way out of the climate crisis.

On December 15th, La Via Campesina and a number of other groups will be leading a day of action in Copenhagen to put agriculture front and centre in the discussions over climate change. Although the official Convention is sure to disappoint, these groups will be carrying a message of hope. What they want the world to know is that, in their on-going struggle for food sovereignty, there is a way out of the climate crisis.

Seedling - October 2009, special issue on food & climate

Today’s global food system, with all its high-tech seeds and fancy packaging, cannot fulfil its most basic function of feeding people. Despite this monumental failure, there is no talk in the corridors of power of changing direction. Large and growing movements of people clamour for change, but the world’s governments and international agencies keep pushing more of the same: more agribusiness, more industrial agriculture, more globalisation. As the planet moves into an accelerating period of climate change, driven, in large part, by this very model of agriculture, such failure to take meaningful action will rapidly worsen an already intolerable situation. But in the worldwide movement for food sovereignty, there is a promising way out.

Today’s global food system, with all its high-tech seeds and fancy packaging, cannot fulfil its most basic function of feeding people. Despite this monumental failure, there is no talk in the corridors of power of changing direction. Large and growing movements of people clamour for change, but the world’s governments and international agencies keep pushing more of the same: more agribusiness, more industrial agriculture, more globalisation. As the planet moves into an accelerating period of climate change, driven, in large part, by this very model of agriculture, such failure to take meaningful action will rapidly worsen an already intolerable situation. But in the worldwide movement for food sovereignty, there is a promising way out.

The new farm owners

Corporate investors lead the rush for control over overseas farmland With all the talk about "food security," and distorted media statements like "South Korea leases half of Madagascar's land," it may not be evident to a lot of people that the lead actors in today's global land grab for overseas food production are not countries or governments but corporations. So much attention has been focused on the involvement of states, like Saudi Arabia, China or South Korea. But the reality is that while governments are facilitating the deals, private companies are the ones getting control of the land. And their interests are simply not the same as those of governments.

Corporate investors lead the rush for control over overseas farmland With all the talk about "food security," and distorted media statements like "South Korea leases half of Madagascar's land," it may not be evident to a lot of people that the lead actors in today's global land grab for overseas food production are not countries or governments but corporations. So much attention has been focused on the involvement of states, like Saudi Arabia, China or South Korea. But the reality is that while governments are facilitating the deals, private companies are the ones getting control of the land. And their interests are simply not the same as those of governments.

Climate change in West Africa - the risk to food security and biodiversity

West Africa is extremely vulnerable to climate change, in part because its agriculture is essentially rain-fed. Deeply disturbing alterations in the climate are already being noticed, and worse can be expected. If cataclysmic upheavals are to be avoided, the region needs urgently to find ways of conserving precious ecosystems and of supporting peasant farmers and other groups to use their traditional knowledge to adapt to far-reaching changes.

West Africa is extremely vulnerable to climate change, in part because its agriculture is essentially rain-fed. Deeply disturbing alterations in the climate are already being noticed, and worse can be expected. If cataclysmic upheavals are to be avoided, the region needs urgently to find ways of conserving precious ecosystems and of supporting peasant farmers and other groups to use their traditional knowledge to adapt to far-reaching changes.

Davi Kopenawa Yanomami

In June 2009 Davi Kopenawa Yanomami, a shaman from one of the communities of the 16,000 Yanomami Indians who live in the north of Brazil, near the frontier with Venezuela, travelled to Europe to talk to politicians and the press. He wanted to ensure that an indigenous voice was heard in the run-up to the Copenhagen conference in December 2009. The following are extracts from some of the interviews he gave.

In June 2009 Davi Kopenawa Yanomami, a shaman from one of the communities of the 16,000 Yanomami Indians who live in the north of Brazil, near the frontier with Venezuela, travelled to Europe to talk to politicians and the press. He wanted to ensure that an indigenous voice was heard in the run-up to the Copenhagen conference in December 2009. The following are extracts from some of the interviews he gave.

Pacific communities face cultural genocide

Sandy Gauntlett is an environmental activist of Maori descent. He lectures in indigenous resource management at the indigenous university of Te Wananga O Aotearoa in New Zealand. He also chairs the Pacific Indigenous Peoples Environment Coalition and the Pacific Regional Focal Point for the Global Forest Coalition.

Sandy Gauntlett is an environmental activist of Maori descent. He lectures in indigenous resource management at the indigenous university of Te Wananga O Aotearoa in New Zealand. He also chairs the Pacific Indigenous Peoples Environment Coalition and the Pacific Regional Focal Point for the Global Forest Coalition.

Resources

Reviews of books: The Ecological Revolution – Making Peace with the Planet, Food rebellions! Crisis and the Hunger for Justice; Let them eat junk! – how capitalism creates hunger and obesity

Reviews of books: The Ecological Revolution – Making Peace with the Planet, Food rebellions! Crisis and the Hunger for Justice; Let them eat junk! – how capitalism creates hunger and obesity

GRAIN's Board

GRAIN is governed by a Board composed of dedicated individuals acting in their personal capacities. We do not tend to put them much in the spotlight, but they do play a crucial role in giving direction to GRAIN’s work and organisation. There is regular rotation and renewal of Board members. Recently we uploaded on to our website brief interviews with each of our current Board members, to give an idea of where they come from and what motivates them. Here we present each of them one by one. See their introductory videos here

GRAIN is governed by a Board composed of dedicated individuals acting in their personal capacities. We do not tend to put them much in the spotlight, but they do play a crucial role in giving direction to GRAIN’s work and organisation. There is regular rotation and renewal of Board members. Recently we uploaded on to our website brief interviews with each of our current Board members, to give an idea of where they come from and what motivates them. Here we present each of them one by one. See their introductory videos here

Farmers' rights or fools bargain? (Short version)

The Governing Body of the International Treaty on Plant Genetic Resources for Food and Agriculture held its third session on 1–5 June 2009 in Tunis. Guy Kastler, the European delegate to La Via Campesina’s Biodiversity Commission, and representative of the Réseau Semences Paysannes of France, explains what he sees as the failures of the Treaty and the opportunities and spaces for action emerging from Tunis.

The Governing Body of the International Treaty on Plant Genetic Resources for Food and Agriculture held its third session on 1–5 June 2009 in Tunis. Guy Kastler, the European delegate to La Via Campesina’s Biodiversity Commission, and representative of the Réseau Semences Paysannes of France, explains what he sees as the failures of the Treaty and the opportunities and spaces for action emerging from Tunis.

ITPGR: farmers' rights or a fools bargain?

The Governing Body of the International Treaty on Plant Genetic Resources for Food and Agriculture (ITPGR) held its third session on 1–5 June 2009 in Tunis. Many fine words and declarations of intent were addressed to farmers, while the seed companies consolidated both their unfettered access to all the farmers’ seeds on the planet and their monopoly over seed markets. Notwithstanding the sometimes lively clashes between countries of the South and those of the North, does this “seed treaty” offer any new opportunities to farmers?

The Governing Body of the International Treaty on Plant Genetic Resources for Food and Agriculture (ITPGR) held its third session on 1–5 June 2009 in Tunis. Many fine words and declarations of intent were addressed to farmers, while the seed companies consolidated both their unfettered access to all the farmers’ seeds on the planet and their monopoly over seed markets. Notwithstanding the sometimes lively clashes between countries of the South and those of the North, does this “seed treaty” offer any new opportunities to farmers?

6 years of the Biological Diversity Act in India

An analysis of the implications of the Indian Biodiversity Act and Biodiversity Rules since 2002.

An analysis of the implications of the Indian Biodiversity Act and Biodiversity Rules since 2002.

CGIAR joins global farmland grab

An internal document recently posted on the International Rice Research Institute (IRRI) website reveals that IRRI has been advising Saudi Arabia in the context of its strategy to acquire farm land overseas for its own food production.

An internal document recently posted on the International Rice Research Institute (IRRI) website reveals that IRRI has been advising Saudi Arabia in the context of its strategy to acquire farm land overseas for its own food production.

Mauritius leads land grabs for rice in Mozambique

Mauritius' Minister of Foreign Affairs says his government has secured a large area of land in Mozambique to produce rice for his country. Speaking at a "brainstorming session" on August 13, Arvin Boolell says his Ministry "used all its diplomatic weight to acquire prime land" for rice production covering 20,000 ha. Most of the land is in the district of Marracuene in the southern province of Maputo where conflicts over land are already intense.

Mauritius' Minister of Foreign Affairs says his government has secured a large area of land in Mozambique to produce rice for his country. Speaking at a "brainstorming session" on August 13, Arvin Boolell says his Ministry "used all its diplomatic weight to acquire prime land" for rice production covering 20,000 ha. Most of the land is in the district of Marracuene in the southern province of Maputo where conflicts over land are already intense.