Resisting transnationals: the experience of farming families in south-west Benin

For several decades now, the multinationals have been trying, one way or another, to control the way Africa uses its genetic resources, especially its seeds. Among the strategies they have used has been: to introduce chemical inputs, with all the problems these create; to sponsor national and/or regional laws, mostly copied from European models; and to implement programmes such as the US-backed African Growth and Opportunity Act (AGOA) and the Millennium Challenge Account. Local communities, however, are resisting in a calm and dignified manner by transmitting from generation to generation their own cultural practices. Some examples gathered during a trip to south-west Benin show how communities are still able to control their seed use and to manage their genetic resources.

For several decades now, the multinationals have been trying, one way or another, to control the way Africa uses its genetic resources, especially its seeds. Among the strategies they have used has been: to introduce chemical inputs, with all the problems these create; to sponsor national and/or regional laws, mostly copied from European models; and to implement programmes such as the US-backed African Growth and Opportunity Act (AGOA) and the Millennium Challenge Account. Local communities, however, are resisting in a calm and dignified manner by transmitting from generation to generation their own cultural practices. Some examples gathered during a trip to south-west Benin show how communities are still able to control their seed use and to manage their genetic resources.

Ulrich Oslender

Ulrich Oslender, a political geographer at the University of Glasgow, has carried out research into social movements and spaces of resistance in Latin America. He currently works as an EU-funded Marie Curie Research Fellow investigating the forced displacement of Afro-Colombians from Colombia’s Pacific coast region, which he explains through a methodological framework he calls “geographies of terror”. Since the mid-1990s, he has conducted extensive fieldwork in Colombia and has worked closely with the social movement of the country’s black communities. He can be reached at: [email protected]

Ulrich Oslender, a political geographer at the University of Glasgow, has carried out research into social movements and spaces of resistance in Latin America. He currently works as an EU-funded Marie Curie Research Fellow investigating the forced displacement of Afro-Colombians from Colombia’s Pacific coast region, which he explains through a methodological framework he calls “geographies of terror”. Since the mid-1990s, he has conducted extensive fieldwork in Colombia and has worked closely with the social movement of the country’s black communities. He can be reached at: [email protected]

Lessons from a Green Revolution in South Africa

The latest rescue plan for Africa is another Green Revolution. GRAIN, alongside a host of others, has written and commented extensively on the Alliance for a Green Revolution for Africa (AGRA) and the impact it will have on the continent. In the meantime, this model of a Green Revolution has already been implemented for the past five years in the Eastern Cape province of South Africa. It provides us with a case study and an indication of the likely outcome of such an approach in other parts of Africa.

The latest rescue plan for Africa is another Green Revolution. GRAIN, alongside a host of others, has written and commented extensively on the Alliance for a Green Revolution for Africa (AGRA) and the impact it will have on the continent. In the meantime, this model of a Green Revolution has already been implemented for the past five years in the Eastern Cape province of South Africa. It provides us with a case study and an indication of the likely outcome of such an approach in other parts of Africa.

Seeds for tomorrow

UBINIG in Bangladesh not only helps in the exchange of rice varieties, but also in the breeding of local animals such as chickens and cows.

UBINIG in Bangladesh not only helps in the exchange of rice varieties, but also in the breeding of local animals such as chickens and cows.

Food exports and free trade agreements

In FTAs little attention is paid to clauses like the following one: "... no Party may adopt or maintain any prohibition or restriction on the importation of any good of another Party or on the exportation or sale for export of any good destined for the territory of another Party...". In other words, governments know that they are renouncing their right to control food exports and imports when they sign FTAs.

In FTAs little attention is paid to clauses like the following one: "... no Party may adopt or maintain any prohibition or restriction on the importation of any good of another Party or on the exportation or sale for export of any good destined for the territory of another Party...". In other words, governments know that they are renouncing their right to control food exports and imports when they sign FTAs.