Blog

The blog is a place where GRAIN staff and others post their comments, suggestions, hints and assessments of documents, places or events. Or just share information that we think is interesting.

Syrian seeds shake up Europe’s plant patent regime

Salvatore Ceccarelli knew he was engaging in a subversive act when, in 2010, he took two 20 kilo sacks of bread and durum wheat seeds from a seed bank outside of Aleppo, Syria and brought them to Italy during a visit back to his home country. Now, seven years later, those seeds from the Fertile Crescent, the birthplace of domesticated agriculture, with thousands of years of evolution behind them, are poised to challenge the system of plant patenting in Europe, and, soon enough perhaps, the United States.

Salvatore Ceccarelli knew he was engaging in a subversive act when, in 2010, he took two 20 kilo sacks of bread and durum wheat seeds from a seed bank outside of Aleppo, Syria and brought them to Italy during a visit back to his home country. Now, seven years later, those seeds from the Fertile Crescent, the birthplace of domesticated agriculture, with thousands of years of evolution behind them, are poised to challenge the system of plant patenting in Europe, and, soon enough perhaps, the United States.

Too big to feed: Exploring the impacts of mega-mergers, consolidation and concentration of power in the agri-food sector

Dominant agri-food firms have become too big to feed humanity sustainably, too big to operate on equitable terms with other food system actors, and too big to drive the types of innovation we need.

Dominant agri-food firms have become too big to feed humanity sustainably, too big to operate on equitable terms with other food system actors, and too big to drive the types of innovation we need.

Karuturi demands compensation from Ethiopia for failed land deal

Karuturi Global Ltd., an Indian flower grower, demanded compensation from the Ethiopian government for a series of failed land deals as it prepares to exit the Horn of Africa nation.    

Karuturi Global Ltd., an Indian flower grower, demanded compensation from the Ethiopian government for a series of failed land deals as it prepares to exit the Horn of Africa nation.    

Fighting violence against women: communities affected by SOCAPALM expose cases of rape and abuse

Women living in areas bordering SOCAPALM plantations (Société Camerounaise de Palmeraies or Cameroon society of palm plantations) gave a press briefing on Wednesday 27 September 2017 in Yaoundé to condemn the French company’s failure to respect its contractual obligations, sexual assaults by male security personnel, and land grabbing.

Women living in areas bordering SOCAPALM plantations (Société Camerounaise de Palmeraies or Cameroon society of palm plantations) gave a press briefing on Wednesday 27 September 2017 in Yaoundé to condemn the French company’s failure to respect its contractual obligations, sexual assaults by male security personnel, and land grabbing.

Police block peaceful action by women affected by SOCFIN oil palm plantation in Sierra Leone

On September 21, 2017 about 150 to 200 women were stopped by police on their way to Pujehun to urge local authorities to take action against the Luxembourg-based oil palm plantation company SOCFIN for grabbing their lands and committing other related human rights abuses. The women were travelling from Malen Chiefdom and were stopped by road blocks set up by the police at Benga Junction, about 4 km outside of Pujehun, the capital of Pujehun District, Sierra Leone.  

On September 21, 2017 about 150 to 200 women were stopped by police on their way to Pujehun to urge local authorities to take action against the Luxembourg-based oil palm plantation company SOCFIN for grabbing their lands and committing other related human rights abuses. The women were travelling from Malen Chiefdom and were stopped by road blocks set up by the police at Benga Junction, about 4 km outside of Pujehun, the capital of Pujehun District, Sierra Leone.  

Cameroonian environmental activist arrested

Cameroonian environmental activist Nasako Besingi was arrested on Monday morning (25th September) in Mundemba, southwest Cameroon, at the headquarters of his NGO, SEFE (Struggle to Economize the Future Environment). The premises are reported to have been ransacked and Nasako arrested by a large group of police and soldiers and taken away in the back of a gendarmerie pick-up. We do not know where Nasako is being held and the authorities are yet to give a reason for his arrest.

Cameroonian environmental activist Nasako Besingi was arrested on Monday morning (25th September) in Mundemba, southwest Cameroon, at the headquarters of his NGO, SEFE (Struggle to Economize the Future Environment). The premises are reported to have been ransacked and Nasako arrested by a large group of police and soldiers and taken away in the back of a gendarmerie pick-up. We do not know where Nasako is being held and the authorities are yet to give a reason for his arrest.

Petition: Stop all forms of abuse against women in large monoculture tree plantations

On occasion of September 21st, International day of Struggle against Tree Plantations, women from several countries from West and Central Africa have taken the initiative to release simultaneously the petition we enclose below.  

On occasion of September 21st, International day of Struggle against Tree Plantations, women from several countries from West and Central Africa have taken the initiative to release simultaneously the petition we enclose below.  

Feronia in the Democratic Republic of the Congo: Harassment, violence and oppression

Oil palm plantations managed by the Canadian-based agribusiness company FERONIA Inc have been opposed by local residents ever since they were established by the previous owner of the plantations, multinational food company Unilever. Incidents of violent abuse and conflict arising from the company’s oil palm plantations in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) have been a regular occurrence. In 2015, seven children were left orphaned after police killed both indigenous pygmy parents for taking some oil palm fruits from the plantations to feed their children.

Oil palm plantations managed by the Canadian-based agribusiness company FERONIA Inc have been opposed by local residents ever since they were established by the previous owner of the plantations, multinational food company Unilever. Incidents of violent abuse and conflict arising from the company’s oil palm plantations in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) have been a regular occurrence. In 2015, seven children were left orphaned after police killed both indigenous pygmy parents for taking some oil palm fruits from the plantations to feed their children.

Are European taxpayers funding land grabs and forest destruction?

The central aim of European Development Financial Institutions (DFIs) is to foster growth and reduce poverty. Yet in Africa, evidence is mounting that they have funded ‘forestry’ projects which have caused deforestation, possible land grabs, and undermined communities’ livelihoods.

The central aim of European Development Financial Institutions (DFIs) is to foster growth and reduce poverty. Yet in Africa, evidence is mounting that they have funded ‘forestry’ projects which have caused deforestation, possible land grabs, and undermined communities’ livelihoods.

Caravana Matopiba uncovers alarming human and environmental costs of agribusiness


During its visits, the delegation observed high levels of agrochemical pollution, diminishing natural resources, land grabbing, as well as significant impact on the health of traditional communities, resulting from increasing soy plantations.

During its visits, the delegation observed high levels of agrochemical pollution, diminishing natural resources, land grabbing, as well as significant impact on the health of traditional communities, resulting from increasing soy plantations.

Congress urged to probe golden rice

Quezon City – A House Resolution directing an inquiry on the controversial Golden Rice has been filed at the House of Representatives today, as an effort to stem the imminent re-introduction of the genetically modified (GM) crop in the country.

Quezon City – A House Resolution directing an inquiry on the controversial Golden Rice has been filed at the House of Representatives today, as an effort to stem the imminent re-introduction of the genetically modified (GM) crop in the country.

Communities affected by Hengfu sugar plantation in Cambodia submit petition to Chinese Embassy

On 30 August 2017, 40 people brought a petition to the Chinese Embassy in Phnom Penh calling for the withdrawal of a group of Chinese agribusiness companies from Preah Vihear province in northern Cambodia. The companies, five subsidiaries of the Chinese company Hengfu, are accused of grabbing land in 2011 from tens of thousands of families and their communities, destroying local ecosystems and putting farmers’ livelihoods in jeopardy.

On 30 August 2017, 40 people brought a petition to the Chinese Embassy in Phnom Penh calling for the withdrawal of a group of Chinese agribusiness companies from Preah Vihear province in northern Cambodia. The companies, five subsidiaries of the Chinese company Hengfu, are accused of grabbing land in 2011 from tens of thousands of families and their communities, destroying local ecosystems and putting farmers’ livelihoods in jeopardy.

Port Loko Declaration: Women say “We want our lands back!”

We, Women want our land and forests back so that we can have an agriculture that feeds us. We want a change that allows us to provide livelihoods that allow for good, healthy lives in dignity for our communities.

We, Women want our land and forests back so that we can have an agriculture that feeds us. We want a change that allows us to provide livelihoods that allow for good, healthy lives in dignity for our communities.

WEMA project shrouded in secrecy: open letter to African governments to be accountable to farmers, civil society

The Water Efficient Maize for Africa (WEMA) project promises to develop drought tolerance in maize for the benefit of small holder farmers, but is really a project designed to facilitate the spread of hybrid and genetically modified (GM) maize varieties on the continent. WEMA involves five African countries: Kenya, Mozambique, South Africa, Tanzania and Uganda. It works through the National Agricultural Research (NAR) agencies of these countries, the African Agricultural Technology Foundation (AATF), the International Maize and Wheat Improvement Centre (CIMMYT) and Monsanto. The project is funded by the Bill and Melinda Gate Foundation, the Howard G. Buffett Foundation.

The Water Efficient Maize for Africa (WEMA) project promises to develop drought tolerance in maize for the benefit of small holder farmers, but is really a project designed to facilitate the spread of hybrid and genetically modified (GM) maize varieties on the continent. WEMA involves five African countries: Kenya, Mozambique, South Africa, Tanzania and Uganda. It works through the National Agricultural Research (NAR) agencies of these countries, the African Agricultural Technology Foundation (AATF), the International Maize and Wheat Improvement Centre (CIMMYT) and Monsanto. The project is funded by the Bill and Melinda Gate Foundation, the Howard G. Buffett Foundation.