Germ warfare - Livestock disease, public health and the militaryindustrial complex

Animal diseases that threaten human health - the global reaction by governments to this is plagued by three key problems: information (a lack of transparency and poor media coverage); privatisation (of viruses, vaccines and related materials and technologies for commercial purposes); and military use (the growing intrinsic connection between health research and development and military use).

Animal diseases that threaten human health - the global reaction by governments to this is plagued by three key problems: information (a lack of transparency and poor media coverage); privatisation (of viruses, vaccines and related materials and technologies for commercial purposes); and military use (the growing intrinsic connection between health research and development and military use).

Livestock diversity still threatened - Interlaken conference ducks the issues

An international conference to debate the future of animal genetic resources was organised by the UN Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) from 3 to 7 September 2007 in Interlaken, Switzerland. It was attended by almost 300 people from more than 100 countries. Governments adopted the “Interlaken Declaration” and agreed on a “Global Plan of Action for Animal Genetic Resources”. This was the first major intergovernmental conference to address the problem of how to reduce the rapidly dwindling diversity of livestock breeds of the few dozen animal species that are used in agriculture and pastoralism for food, fibre, fuel and power, as well as for social, cultural and environmental purposes.

An international conference to debate the future of animal genetic resources was organised by the UN Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) from 3 to 7 September 2007 in Interlaken, Switzerland. It was attended by almost 300 people from more than 100 countries. Governments adopted the “Interlaken Declaration” and agreed on a “Global Plan of Action for Animal Genetic Resources”. This was the first major intergovernmental conference to address the problem of how to reduce the rapidly dwindling diversity of livestock breeds of the few dozen animal species that are used in agriculture and pastoralism for food, fibre, fuel and power, as well as for social, cultural and environmental purposes.

CAFTA and the Budapest Treaty - The debate in Costa Rica

Bilateral trade agreements are the latest tool to spread patents on life worldwide. They may be used to force countries to provide patents on plants and animals or to join the UPOV Convention’s softer system of plant variety rights. Or they may include an obligation to sign the little-known Budapest Treaty on the patenting of micro-organisms. This was the option chosen for Central America and the Dominican Republic, which, through their free-trade agreement with the USA, are having the Budapest Treaty forced upon them. But the debate is far from over, for many Costa Ricans are determined to stop this happening.

Bilateral trade agreements are the latest tool to spread patents on life worldwide. They may be used to force countries to provide patents on plants and animals or to join the UPOV Convention’s softer system of plant variety rights. Or they may include an obligation to sign the little-known Budapest Treaty on the patenting of micro-organisms. This was the option chosen for Central America and the Dominican Republic, which, through their free-trade agreement with the USA, are having the Budapest Treaty forced upon them. But the debate is far from over, for many Costa Ricans are determined to stop this happening.

Ramón Vera

Ramón Vera Herrera, who was born in Mexico in 1950, is the new editor of  Biodiversidad, sustento y culturas, a quarterly magazine published by GRAIN and REDES–AT. He is also the editor of an 18-year-old project called Ojarasca (published monthly in the Mexican newspaper La Jornada), which covers the life and struggles of the indigenous and peasant communities in Mexico and Latin America.

Ramón Vera Herrera, who was born in Mexico in 1950, is the new editor of  Biodiversidad, sustento y culturas, a quarterly magazine published by GRAIN and REDES–AT. He is also the editor of an 18-year-old project called Ojarasca (published monthly in the Mexican newspaper La Jornada), which covers the life and struggles of the indigenous and peasant communities in Mexico and Latin America.

New publications

New publications of interest: Fighting FTAs: The growing resistance to bilateral free trade and investment agreements, Good Crop/Bad Crop – Seed Politics and the Future of Food in Canada, La Vía Campesina – Globalization and the Power of Peasants, and Pesticide Action Network Asia and the Pacific booklets.

New publications of interest: Fighting FTAs: The growing resistance to bilateral free trade and investment agreements, Good Crop/Bad Crop – Seed Politics and the Future of Food in Canada, La Vía Campesina – Globalization and the Power of Peasants, and Pesticide Action Network Asia and the Pacific booklets.

Whose harvest? The politics of organic seed certification

Millions of farmers around the world practice organic agriculture and over a billion people get most of their food from these farms. Currently only a small portion of what they produce is labeled as certified organic, but the global market for such foods is growing. While some believe that certification is needed to create market opportunities for small farmers others fear that existing systems are doing the reverse -- setting the stage for agribusiness to take over. Now these tensions are coming to a head with seeds. Today, new regulations governing seeds in organic farming, more attuned to the needs of seed corporations than seed savers, are popping up everywhere, with potentially devastating consequences for farmer seed systems. This Briefing provides the first global overview of regulations concerning seeds in organic farming and assesses what such regulations mean to the future of organic farming and the millions of farmers who sustain it.

Millions of farmers around the world practice organic agriculture and over a billion people get most of their food from these farms. Currently only a small portion of what they produce is labeled as certified organic, but the global market for such foods is growing. While some believe that certification is needed to create market opportunities for small farmers others fear that existing systems are doing the reverse -- setting the stage for agribusiness to take over. Now these tensions are coming to a head with seeds. Today, new regulations governing seeds in organic farming, more attuned to the needs of seed corporations than seed savers, are popping up everywhere, with potentially devastating consequences for farmer seed systems. This Briefing provides the first global overview of regulations concerning seeds in organic farming and assesses what such regulations mean to the future of organic farming and the millions of farmers who sustain it.

A new Green Revolution for Africa?

For some time now, there's been talk of a new Green Revolution for Africa – because "Africa missed the first Green Revolution" or because "the first Green Revolution missed Africa". Now a new project, the Alliance for a Green Revolution in Africa (AGRA), is trying to put the concept into operation. This paper aims to describe what a Green Revolution really signifies, why such projects haven't worked before and why AGRA won't work either, in order to help people trying to take positions at the local, national and regional levels.

For some time now, there's been talk of a new Green Revolution for Africa – because "Africa missed the first Green Revolution" or because "the first Green Revolution missed Africa". Now a new project, the Alliance for a Green Revolution in Africa (AGRA), is trying to put the concept into operation. This paper aims to describe what a Green Revolution really signifies, why such projects haven't worked before and why AGRA won't work either, in order to help people trying to take positions at the local, national and regional levels.

IRRI Inc.

Consultative Group's rice research institute goes into business. On November 9, 2007, in the midst of the Asian Seed Congress, IRRI announced the formation of its Hybrid Rice Research and Development Consortium. This lays the foundation for a direct relationship between IRRI and private seed companies: IRRI supplies the parent lines and corporations, who gain exclusive rights to the varieties, handle the marketing.

Consultative Group's rice research institute goes into business. On November 9, 2007, in the midst of the Asian Seed Congress, IRRI announced the formation of its Hybrid Rice Research and Development Consortium. This lays the foundation for a direct relationship between IRRI and private seed companies: IRRI supplies the parent lines and corporations, who gain exclusive rights to the varieties, handle the marketing.

October 2007

Editor's notes on what's in this issue, plus download the whole of the Seedling issue in PDF format.

Editor's notes on what's in this issue, plus download the whole of the Seedling issue in PDF format.

What's wrong with rights?

GRAIN invited a group of people around the world to reflect on their concepts of rights and how they affect people’s lives and welfare. This issue editorial.

GRAIN invited a group of people around the world to reflect on their concepts of rights and how they affect people’s lives and welfare. This issue editorial.

C.R. Bijoy

C.R. Bijoy is an independent researcher and activist in India who is primarily involved with indigenous peoples’ struggles, such as the Campaign for Survival and Dignity, a coalition of mass organisations that emerged to counter the nationwide repression unleashed on forests and forest peoples in 2002.

C.R. Bijoy is an independent researcher and activist in India who is primarily involved with indigenous peoples’ struggles, such as the Campaign for Survival and Dignity, a coalition of mass organisations that emerged to counter the nationwide repression unleashed on forests and forest peoples in 2002.

Evangelina Robles

Evangelina Robles is a lawyer who has represented the Wirarika people of Mexico in hundreds of litigations to recover their territory. She is in a collective that supports efforts by indigenous peoples to retain control over their territories and ways of life.

Evangelina Robles is a lawyer who has represented the Wirarika people of Mexico in hundreds of litigations to recover their territory. She is in a collective that supports efforts by indigenous peoples to retain control over their territories and ways of life.