Bird flu in eastern India: another senseless slaughter

The carnage of poultry, in which 3.7 million birds were culled, in the eastern Indian state of West Bengal is a striking testament to the failure of the global response to the bird flu crisis. In a flash, one of the world’s most dynamic areas of poultry farming has been practically ruined, a priceless stock of biodiversity wiped out, and the livelihoods of millions of poor families pushed to the brink. This has been caused not so much by bird flu as by the response to it.

The carnage of poultry, in which 3.7 million birds were culled, in the eastern Indian state of West Bengal is a striking testament to the failure of the global response to the bird flu crisis. In a flash, one of the world’s most dynamic areas of poultry farming has been practically ruined, a priceless stock of biodiversity wiped out, and the livelihoods of millions of poor families pushed to the brink. This has been caused not so much by bird flu as by the response to it.

Cotton, Contaminated?

Looks at contamination from GM cotton in India

Looks at contamination from GM cotton in India

Fighting FTAs: the growing resistance to bilateral free trade and investment agreements

This publication aims to do three things. First, it tries to provide a solid understanding of the "FTA frenzy" that so many governments are caught up in. Many people often do not understand bilateral FTAs very well until their government is on the path to signing one. Then again, there is are significant differences between a US FTA, a Japanese FTA and a South-South one. Part one of this document tries to dissect and make sense of all that. Secondly, it brings together people’s accounts of the struggle against FTAs in their own countries from different parts of the world. While there is a huge diversity in these struggles, there is a lot of commonality too, as will be seen across part two. Where accounts could not be shared in writing, we tried to pull together some audio interviews which are available through the publication’s website. Finally, part three tries to draw some learnings from people’s experiences to date, which might help those who have yet to engage in the fight against FTAs.

This publication aims to do three things. First, it tries to provide a solid understanding of the "FTA frenzy" that so many governments are caught up in. Many people often do not understand bilateral FTAs very well until their government is on the path to signing one. Then again, there is are significant differences between a US FTA, a Japanese FTA and a South-South one. Part one of this document tries to dissect and make sense of all that. Secondly, it brings together people’s accounts of the struggle against FTAs in their own countries from different parts of the world. While there is a huge diversity in these struggles, there is a lot of commonality too, as will be seen across part two. Where accounts could not be shared in writing, we tried to pull together some audio interviews which are available through the publication’s website. Finally, part three tries to draw some learnings from people’s experiences to date, which might help those who have yet to engage in the fight against FTAs.

January 2008

Download the whole of Seedling here, and read this issue's editorial

Download the whole of Seedling here, and read this issue's editorial

Livestock breeding in the hands of corporations

Scarcely noticed by the general public, the global livestock industry is going through a rapid process of concentration. Company takeovers and co-operation agreements proliferate and technology is changing fast. Patents are flying out for genetic material, and other proprietary strategies are being vigorously pursued. In a process that bears an uncanny resemblance to what has happened to the global seed market, the breeding sector – now renamed “livestock genetics” – is becoming the nerve centre of the industry and extending its control over livestock farming. Quick to seize the opportunity, agro-giants such as Monsanto are moving in.

Scarcely noticed by the general public, the global livestock industry is going through a rapid process of concentration. Company takeovers and co-operation agreements proliferate and technology is changing fast. Patents are flying out for genetic material, and other proprietary strategies are being vigorously pursued. In a process that bears an uncanny resemblance to what has happened to the global seed market, the breeding sector – now renamed “livestock genetics” – is becoming the nerve centre of the industry and extending its control over livestock farming. Quick to seize the opportunity, agro-giants such as Monsanto are moving in.

Mongolian herders demand their rights

As part of the carve-up of the world that followed the end of the Second World War, the Chinese were able to bring under their sphere of influence an area to the south of Mongolia, which they called Inner Mongolia. Although today the region formally remains autonomous, the Chinese effectively control it. Two Mongolians – Dorj Borjigin and Yangjain Tegusbagar – talked to GRAIN about the problems they face in their country, which they call Southern Mongolia.

As part of the carve-up of the world that followed the end of the Second World War, the Chinese were able to bring under their sphere of influence an area to the south of Mongolia, which they called Inner Mongolia. Although today the region formally remains autonomous, the Chinese effectively control it. Two Mongolians – Dorj Borjigin and Yangjain Tegusbagar – talked to GRAIN about the problems they face in their country, which they call Southern Mongolia.

Contract farming in the world's poultry industry

Over the last 40 years the world has witnessed a remarkable increase in the consumption of poultry, pork and beef. Multinational meat processing companies have been able to respond to the hugely expanded export trade only by tying hundreds of thousands of small farmers into production contracts. In this article we examine contract farming in the poultry sector of two leading producing countries – Brazil and Thailand.

Over the last 40 years the world has witnessed a remarkable increase in the consumption of poultry, pork and beef. Multinational meat processing companies have been able to respond to the hugely expanded export trade only by tying hundreds of thousands of small farmers into production contracts. In this article we examine contract farming in the poultry sector of two leading producing countries – Brazil and Thailand.

Rights of passage in Niger

Bouréima Dodo is an agro-pastoral producer in Niger, executive secretary of the Association for the Re-dynamisation of Livestock in Niger (AREN), a national organisation with about 36,000 members, and part of the Niger Farmers’ Platform, which is linked to the Network of Farmers’ and Agricultural Producers’ Organisations of West Africa (ROPPA).

Bouréima Dodo is an agro-pastoral producer in Niger, executive secretary of the Association for the Re-dynamisation of Livestock in Niger (AREN), a national organisation with about 36,000 members, and part of the Niger Farmers’ Platform, which is linked to the Network of Farmers’ and Agricultural Producers’ Organisations of West Africa (ROPPA).

Viral times - The politics of emerging global animal diseases

The world is in the midst of big changes with respect to global animal diseases. We are heading for more diseases, more deadly types of disease, and more capacity for these diseases to spread. There is also a greater probability of the emergence of zoonotic diseases and global pandemics.Yet the international response to this situation has so far failed by a large measure to reflect the seriousness of the crisis. The fault lies in governments’ unwillingness to confront the dominant powers of industrial livestock farming – whether it be the pharmaceutical corporations and their patents or the industrial meat corporations and their factory farms.  

The world is in the midst of big changes with respect to global animal diseases. We are heading for more diseases, more deadly types of disease, and more capacity for these diseases to spread. There is also a greater probability of the emergence of zoonotic diseases and global pandemics.Yet the international response to this situation has so far failed by a large measure to reflect the seriousness of the crisis. The fault lies in governments’ unwillingness to confront the dominant powers of industrial livestock farming – whether it be the pharmaceutical corporations and their patents or the industrial meat corporations and their factory farms.