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.

Faced with the rise of nationalism and xenophobia, food sovereignty is more necessary than ever

With Brexit, the election of Donald Trump, the rise of the extreme right in Europe and the increase in migration, there is an urgent need to intensify the cooperation between countries and their populations. Wars, climate change, the depletion of natural resources, poverty, hunger and malnutrition, but also the increase in inequalities, are all fundamental problems that humanity must seek to resolve together. This cannot be done without questioning both the current neoliberal globalization, and the xenophobic and nationalist orientations that are opposed to economic globalization while protecting and defending their own interests.

With Brexit, the election of Donald Trump, the rise of the extreme right in Europe and the increase in migration, there is an urgent need to intensify the cooperation between countries and their populations. Wars, climate change, the depletion of natural resources, poverty, hunger and malnutrition, but also the increase in inequalities, are all fundamental problems that humanity must seek to resolve together. This cannot be done without questioning both the current neoliberal globalization, and the xenophobic and nationalist orientations that are opposed to economic globalization while protecting and defending their own interests.

What is happening to our forests? Conference report and presentations

From 21-25 November 2016, about 50 people, involved in struggles to defend the territories, forests and livelihoods of forest-dependent communities, came together in Thailand for a field visit to the Northeast of the country, followed by a 3-days meeting in Bangkok. Besides a delegation from Thailand, other participants came from Myanmar, Cambodia, Vietnam, the Philippines, Indonesia, Malaysia and India. The aims of the gathering, which focused on the central question of What´s happening to our forests?, included promoting exchange and dialogue on old and new threats and challenges faced by communities in the different countries. 

From 21-25 November 2016, about 50 people, involved in struggles to defend the territories, forests and livelihoods of forest-dependent communities, came together in Thailand for a field visit to the Northeast of the country, followed by a 3-days meeting in Bangkok. Besides a delegation from Thailand, other participants came from Myanmar, Cambodia, Vietnam, the Philippines, Indonesia, Malaysia and India. The aims of the gathering, which focused on the central question of What´s happening to our forests?, included promoting exchange and dialogue on old and new threats and challenges faced by communities in the different countries. 

The RCEP, IPRs and the threat to traditional farming

The stringent intellectual property rules being pushed for adoption by some RCEP members will have an adverse effect on the livelihoods of small and traditional farmers in poorer member states, warns Shalini Bhutani. The concerns of ordinary citizens in countries negotiating the RCEP are therefore not misplaced. Those RCEP members taking a more cautious approach on expanding IP rules will be under pressure to go beyond their currently TRIPS-compliant domestic laws. These governments will need to stay strong for their small farmers and peasant cultures, in view of the potential adverse effects of TRIPS-plus norms on the seed sector.

The stringent intellectual property rules being pushed for adoption by some RCEP members will have an adverse effect on the livelihoods of small and traditional farmers in poorer member states, warns Shalini Bhutani. The concerns of ordinary citizens in countries negotiating the RCEP are therefore not misplaced. Those RCEP members taking a more cautious approach on expanding IP rules will be under pressure to go beyond their currently TRIPS-compliant domestic laws. These governments will need to stay strong for their small farmers and peasant cultures, in view of the potential adverse effects of TRIPS-plus norms on the seed sector.

Zimbabwe unlikely to ratify controversial seed treaty

By breeding their own seed, farmers are able to create varieties that are suitable for their specific regions and climates, helping them cope better with the increasing shifts, experts say. Zimbabwe is unlikely to ratify a treaty that could strip small farmers of the right to breed and plant their own seed, at least for the time being, The Herald Business reveals.

By breeding their own seed, farmers are able to create varieties that are suitable for their specific regions and climates, helping them cope better with the increasing shifts, experts say. Zimbabwe is unlikely to ratify a treaty that could strip small farmers of the right to breed and plant their own seed, at least for the time being, The Herald Business reveals.

Modern agriculture cultivates climate change – we must nurture biodiversity

As a new year dawns, it is hard not to be dazzled by the current pace of technological change in food and agriculture. However, there is a risk that these technologies blind us to the very real problems facing modern agriculture – problems that are rapidly undermining the previous round of technological advances. Crop-breeding innovations are merely a short-term solution for falling yields. Only agricultural diversity can ensure food security and resilience.  An excellent reflection by  Olivier De Schutter and Emile Frison.  

As a new year dawns, it is hard not to be dazzled by the current pace of technological change in food and agriculture. However, there is a risk that these technologies blind us to the very real problems facing modern agriculture – problems that are rapidly undermining the previous round of technological advances. Crop-breeding innovations are merely a short-term solution for falling yields. Only agricultural diversity can ensure food security and resilience.  An excellent reflection by  Olivier De Schutter and Emile Frison.  

Tanzanian farmers are facing heavy prison sentences if they continue their traditional seed exchange

In order to receive development assistance, Tanzania has to give Western agribusiness full freedom and give enclosed protection for patented seeds. “Eighty percent of the seeds are being shared and sold in an informal system between neighbors, friends and family. The new law criminalizes the practice in Tanzania,” says Michael Farrelly of TOAM, an organic farming movement in Tanzania.

In order to receive development assistance, Tanzania has to give Western agribusiness full freedom and give enclosed protection for patented seeds. “Eighty percent of the seeds are being shared and sold in an informal system between neighbors, friends and family. The new law criminalizes the practice in Tanzania,” says Michael Farrelly of TOAM, an organic farming movement in Tanzania.

Hacking, wiretaps, slavery and money laundering: how agents and indigenous people busted a massive Bad Ag gang in Brazil

Until his arrest earlier this year, one of the biggest forest destroyers in the history of the Amazon oversaw a large and sophisticated criminal network from his base in Sao Paulo’s upper class neighbourhood of Jardins. Wiretaps and field investigations by federal agents have exposed a sprawling operation making millions from agriculture, facilitated by hacking, satellite analysis and slave labour. This piece draws extensively on a profile of the case in Brazilian non-profit environmental news site ((o))eco.

Until his arrest earlier this year, one of the biggest forest destroyers in the history of the Amazon oversaw a large and sophisticated criminal network from his base in Sao Paulo’s upper class neighbourhood of Jardins. Wiretaps and field investigations by federal agents have exposed a sprawling operation making millions from agriculture, facilitated by hacking, satellite analysis and slave labour. This piece draws extensively on a profile of the case in Brazilian non-profit environmental news site ((o))eco.

Sign on letter: OceanaGold must pay up and pack up from El Salvador

We, the undersigned organizations representing XXXX of people around the world, have been accompanying allied groups in El Salvador in support of their work to prevent gold mining in their communities since 2009. That is the year when your Pac Rim Cayman subsidiary filed an unjust investor - state lawsuit with the International Centre for Settlement of Investment Disputes (ICSID) against El Salvador. It is also the same year when three anti-mining community leaders and an unborn baby were brutally murdered in northern El Salvador, in the area where your company was conducting its operations.

We, the undersigned organizations representing XXXX of people around the world, have been accompanying allied groups in El Salvador in support of their work to prevent gold mining in their communities since 2009. That is the year when your Pac Rim Cayman subsidiary filed an unjust investor - state lawsuit with the International Centre for Settlement of Investment Disputes (ICSID) against El Salvador. It is also the same year when three anti-mining community leaders and an unborn baby were brutally murdered in northern El Salvador, in the area where your company was conducting its operations.

In the battle against malnutrition, UN expert says junk food is the real culprit

Hilal Elver, UN Special Rapporteur on the Right to Food, says Big Food’s impact on public health should alarm us. Elver is sounding an alarm for the world to hear. Earlier this fall, the United Nations Special Rapporteur on the Right to Food told the United Nations (UN) General Assembly that, despite all the high-profile work being done around the globe to fight hunger and malnutrition, “the world is not on track to reach globally agreed nutrition targets.”

Hilal Elver, UN Special Rapporteur on the Right to Food, says Big Food’s impact on public health should alarm us. Elver is sounding an alarm for the world to hear. Earlier this fall, the United Nations Special Rapporteur on the Right to Food told the United Nations (UN) General Assembly that, despite all the high-profile work being done around the globe to fight hunger and malnutrition, “the world is not on track to reach globally agreed nutrition targets.”

160 global groups call for moratorium on new genetic extinction technology at UN Convention

This week, international conservation and environmental leaders are calling on governments at the 2016 UN Convention on Biodiversity to establish a moratorium on the controversial genetic extinction technology called gene drives. Gene drives, developed through new gene-editing techniques- are designed to force a particular genetically engineered trait to spread through an entire wild population – potentially changing entire species or even causing deliberate extinctions. The statement urges governments to put in place an urgent, global moratorium on the development and release of the new technology, which poses serious and potentially irreversible threats to biodiversity, as well as national sovereignty, peace and food security.

This week, international conservation and environmental leaders are calling on governments at the 2016 UN Convention on Biodiversity to establish a moratorium on the controversial genetic extinction technology called gene drives. Gene drives, developed through new gene-editing techniques- are designed to force a particular genetically engineered trait to spread through an entire wild population – potentially changing entire species or even causing deliberate extinctions. The statement urges governments to put in place an urgent, global moratorium on the development and release of the new technology, which poses serious and potentially irreversible threats to biodiversity, as well as national sovereignty, peace and food security.

Global call on banks to halt loan to Dakota Access Pipeline

Over 400 civil society organisations from more than 50 countries today issued a joint open letter to the seventeen banks providing a US$2.5 billion project loan to Dakota Access LLC. The letter, endorsed by the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe, demands that the banks involved immediately halt all further disbursements of the loan and require the project sponsor to stop construction work until all outstanding issues are resolved to the full satisfaction of the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe. The letter and the full list of signatories can be found below.

Over 400 civil society organisations from more than 50 countries today issued a joint open letter to the seventeen banks providing a US$2.5 billion project loan to Dakota Access LLC. The letter, endorsed by the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe, demands that the banks involved immediately halt all further disbursements of the loan and require the project sponsor to stop construction work until all outstanding issues are resolved to the full satisfaction of the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe. The letter and the full list of signatories can be found below.

European and Canadian civil society groups call for rejection of CETA

We, the undersigned civil society organisations from Canada and Europe, hereby express our deep concern about the Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement (CETA) between the EU and Canada. During the long process of the deal’s negotiations and legal check, we repeatedly pointed out major problems with the CETA text. We provided concrete inputs, which could have triggered a shift towards a more transparent and democratic trade policy with the protection of the environment and people’s fundamental rights at its core. But our concerns have not been addressed in the CETA as signed in October 2016. This is why we are stating our firm opposition to the ratification of the agreement.

We, the undersigned civil society organisations from Canada and Europe, hereby express our deep concern about the Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement (CETA) between the EU and Canada. During the long process of the deal’s negotiations and legal check, we repeatedly pointed out major problems with the CETA text. We provided concrete inputs, which could have triggered a shift towards a more transparent and democratic trade policy with the protection of the environment and people’s fundamental rights at its core. But our concerns have not been addressed in the CETA as signed in October 2016. This is why we are stating our firm opposition to the ratification of the agreement.

Solidarity statement: The repression and criminalization of Brazil’s Landless Workers Movement must stop!

Early on the morning of November 4, armed police raided the “Escola Nacional Florestan Fernandes” (ENFF) in Guararema, Sao Paulo, detained members of the Landless Rural Workers’ Movement (MST) members and fired live ammunition. We call for an immediate end to the repression and criminalization of the MST and other grassroots organizations in Brazil, and for the release of all those arrested on groundless charges. Advocacy for land rights and peaceful protest are not a crime. They are essential rights protected under Brazil’s constitution and that must be respected by all Brazilian authorities.

Early on the morning of November 4, armed police raided the “Escola Nacional Florestan Fernandes” (ENFF) in Guararema, Sao Paulo, detained members of the Landless Rural Workers’ Movement (MST) members and fired live ammunition. We call for an immediate end to the repression and criminalization of the MST and other grassroots organizations in Brazil, and for the release of all those arrested on groundless charges. Advocacy for land rights and peaceful protest are not a crime. They are essential rights protected under Brazil’s constitution and that must be respected by all Brazilian authorities.

Ethiopia: What is there to hide in the Omo Valley?

This report is both a travel story and analysis of the “Italian system” in Ethiopia. It is also an exploration of increased repression carried out by the Addis Ababa government against any form of dissent, and the impact of its development policies, which are interwoven with infrastructure projects often characterised by strong Italian interests. Such is the case of dams in the Omo Valley, a place where we were prevented to go.

This report is both a travel story and analysis of the “Italian system” in Ethiopia. It is also an exploration of increased repression carried out by the Addis Ababa government against any form of dissent, and the impact of its development policies, which are interwoven with infrastructure projects often characterised by strong Italian interests. Such is the case of dams in the Omo Valley, a place where we were prevented to go.

Baek Nam-gi: agriculture and state violence

On Nov. 14, 2015, Baek Nam-gi, a farmer and activist, was knocked to the ground by a water cannon fired by police. For 317 days afterward, he was unconscious and fought for his life in an intensive care unit, hovering between life and death. He ultimately passed away on Sept. 25. Baek, a farmer of life and peace, went Seoul to protect agriculture, the basis of life and peace. It was right after he had finished planting wheat seeds.

On Nov. 14, 2015, Baek Nam-gi, a farmer and activist, was knocked to the ground by a water cannon fired by police. For 317 days afterward, he was unconscious and fought for his life in an intensive care unit, hovering between life and death. He ultimately passed away on Sept. 25. Baek, a farmer of life and peace, went Seoul to protect agriculture, the basis of life and peace. It was right after he had finished planting wheat seeds.