Making a killing from hunger

The world food crisis is hurting a lot of people, but global agribusiness firms, traders and speculators are raking in huge profits. The fundamental cause of today's food crisis is neoliberal globalisation itself, which has transformed food from a source of livelihood security into a mere commodity to be gambled away, even at the cost of widespread hunger among the world’s poorest people.

The world food crisis is hurting a lot of people, but global agribusiness firms, traders and speculators are raking in huge profits. The fundamental cause of today's food crisis is neoliberal globalisation itself, which has transformed food from a source of livelihood security into a mere commodity to be gambled away, even at the cost of widespread hunger among the world’s poorest people.

Seeds of passion

A couple of years ago it seemed as if mass-based movements throughout the world had won the battle to ban Terminator seeds. But the biotechnology companies are back on the offensive, arguing that the urgent need to combat global warming makes it imperative to use Terminator technology. Many peasant farmers around the world believe this to be yet another spurious argument used by the companies to gain acceptance for their unnecessary and dangerous technology. In the run-up to COP 9 in May 2008, we reproduce an edited version of an article first published in our sister Spanish-language magazine, Biodiversidad

A couple of years ago it seemed as if mass-based movements throughout the world had won the battle to ban Terminator seeds. But the biotechnology companies are back on the offensive, arguing that the urgent need to combat global warming makes it imperative to use Terminator technology. Many peasant farmers around the world believe this to be yet another spurious argument used by the companies to gain acceptance for their unnecessary and dangerous technology. In the run-up to COP 9 in May 2008, we reproduce an edited version of an article first published in our sister Spanish-language magazine, Biodiversidad

New threat from covert GMOs

The battles lines in the power struggle over seeds are shifting in Europe. Authorities are dropping plans to push US-led “first generation” genetically modified organisms (GMOs), so that European companies can develop “covert” GMOs and new “double-locked” seeds instead. In 2008, the Sarkozy regime will use the French presidency of the European Union to promote its own corporate-led agenda on these issues. It is becoming more important than ever that farmers assert their collective rights over seeds. Guy Kastler of the Peasant Seed Network in France explains.

The battles lines in the power struggle over seeds are shifting in Europe. Authorities are dropping plans to push US-led “first generation” genetically modified organisms (GMOs), so that European companies can develop “covert” GMOs and new “double-locked” seeds instead. In 2008, the Sarkozy regime will use the French presidency of the European Union to promote its own corporate-led agenda on these issues. It is becoming more important than ever that farmers assert their collective rights over seeds. Guy Kastler of the Peasant Seed Network in France explains.

Agrofuels in India, private unlimited

Responding enthusiastically to the world agrofuel frenzy, the Indian government has promised a flurry of initiatives to encourage the large-scale planting of agrofuel crops, particularly jatropha. Without waiting for the government support to be spelt out, corporations are already moving in, taking over resources that have traditionally been used by rural communities. As a result, local people will find it harder to satisfy their food and fuel needs. Once again, it is the rural poor who will bear the cost of the agrofuel boom, while reaping few of the benefits.

Responding enthusiastically to the world agrofuel frenzy, the Indian government has promised a flurry of initiatives to encourage the large-scale planting of agrofuel crops, particularly jatropha. Without waiting for the government support to be spelt out, corporations are already moving in, taking over resources that have traditionally been used by rural communities. As a result, local people will find it harder to satisfy their food and fuel needs. Once again, it is the rural poor who will bear the cost of the agrofuel boom, while reaping few of the benefits.

Seeds of information

Roundup Ready diplomat, Land conflict in Egypt, Increased pesticide use in GM crops, Chickens growing faster, and Indonesians take action over soya prices.

Roundup Ready diplomat, Land conflict in Egypt, Increased pesticide use in GM crops, Chickens growing faster, and Indonesians take action over soya prices.

Interview with Daycha Siripatra

Daycha Siripatra is an agriculturist, farmer, rice breeder and one of the leading grassroots activists in Thailand. He is also the founder of the Khao Kwan Foundation (KKF), an organisation involved in promoting sustainable agriculture and ecological alternatives. KKF is one of the founding organisations of the Alternative Agriculture Network in Thailand.

Daycha Siripatra is an agriculturist, farmer, rice breeder and one of the leading grassroots activists in Thailand. He is also the founder of the Khao Kwan Foundation (KKF), an organisation involved in promoting sustainable agriculture and ecological alternatives. KKF is one of the founding organisations of the Alternative Agriculture Network in Thailand.

Resources

The Future Control of Food: a guide to international negotiations and rules on intellectual property, biodiversity, and food security edited by Geoff Tansey and Tasmin Rajotte; La bataille des OGM: Combat vital ou d’arrière-garde? by Birgit Müller; Stuffed and Starved: Markets, Choices and the Battle for the World’s Food System by Raj Patel

The Future Control of Food: a guide to international negotiations and rules on intellectual property, biodiversity, and food security edited by Geoff Tansey and Tasmin Rajotte; La bataille des OGM: Combat vital ou d’arrière-garde? by Birgit Müller; Stuffed and Starved: Markets, Choices and the Battle for the World’s Food System by Raj Patel

Faults in the vault: not everyone is celebrating Svalbard

The "Global Seed Vault" buried in a frozen island in Svalbard, Norway, is sadly the latest move in a wider strategy to make ex situ (off site) storage in seed banks the dominant approach to crop diversity conservation. The Vault gives a false sense of security in a world where the crop diversity present in the farmers' fields continues to be eroded and destroyed at an ever-increasing rate and contributes to the access problems that plague the international ex situ system.

The "Global Seed Vault" buried in a frozen island in Svalbard, Norway, is sadly the latest move in a wider strategy to make ex situ (off site) storage in seed banks the dominant approach to crop diversity conservation. The Vault gives a false sense of security in a world where the crop diversity present in the farmers' fields continues to be eroded and destroyed at an ever-increasing rate and contributes to the access problems that plague the international ex situ system.