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.

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.

Voices from the Global Convergence of Land and Water Struggles

During a public event held in Paris in December 2015 at the time of the COP21, representatives of frontline communities discussed and denounced the false solutions to the climate crisis, and promoted the real solutions that are rooted in peoples’ knowledge and experiences. They stressed how converging provides hope, opportunities and solidarity and, importantly, advances the struggle for systemic change. The purpose of this report is to amplify the voices of frontline communities and to share the political messages of the 16 social movement leaders – who spoke at the meeting – with the masses who form the base of social movements all over the world. The report is meant to trigger deepened political consciousness and to support mass based movements in their resistance against the privatization agendas promoted by the political and economic elites.

During a public event held in Paris in December 2015 at the time of the COP21, representatives of frontline communities discussed and denounced the false solutions to the climate crisis, and promoted the real solutions that are rooted in peoples’ knowledge and experiences. They stressed how converging provides hope, opportunities and solidarity and, importantly, advances the struggle for systemic change. The purpose of this report is to amplify the voices of frontline communities and to share the political messages of the 16 social movement leaders – who spoke at the meeting – with the masses who form the base of social movements all over the world. The report is meant to trigger deepened political consciousness and to support mass based movements in their resistance against the privatization agendas promoted by the political and economic elites.

Open letter to Mr. Han Chang-fu: Stop export of Paraquat produced by Syngenta and others in China!

We welcome the suggestion of the Agricultural Ministry of China on 9 May 2016 to re-classify the toxicity of the pesticide Paraquat from “medium toxic” to “extremely toxic” as well as the decisions taken by your ministry to ban the use of all Paraquat formulations in China. Further, we appreciate that the Institute for the Control of Agrochemicals (ICAMA) correctly stated that Paraquat has "no specific antidote, that accidental application is dangerous, and that illness duration is long and painful, and could be life-threatening". However, we are strongly concerned that the Agriculture Ministry of China on April 24 2012, and again on May 9 2016, officially allows production of Paraquat for export to be used in other parts of the world, harming the health of agricultural workers, farmers and the environment in these countries.

We welcome the suggestion of the Agricultural Ministry of China on 9 May 2016 to re-classify the toxicity of the pesticide Paraquat from “medium toxic” to “extremely toxic” as well as the decisions taken by your ministry to ban the use of all Paraquat formulations in China. Further, we appreciate that the Institute for the Control of Agrochemicals (ICAMA) correctly stated that Paraquat has "no specific antidote, that accidental application is dangerous, and that illness duration is long and painful, and could be life-threatening". However, we are strongly concerned that the Agriculture Ministry of China on April 24 2012, and again on May 9 2016, officially allows production of Paraquat for export to be used in other parts of the world, harming the health of agricultural workers, farmers and the environment in these countries.

UN recognizes meat production’s impact on deforestation and land grabbing

The United Nations Committee on Food Security (CFS), adopted a set of recommendations at its annual meeting in Rome this week that emphasize the need to address the impacts of unsustainable meat and dairy production on deforestation, land grabbing and food security.

The United Nations Committee on Food Security (CFS), adopted a set of recommendations at its annual meeting in Rome this week that emphasize the need to address the impacts of unsustainable meat and dairy production on deforestation, land grabbing and food security.

Feeding public policies: local public policies for food sovereignty, 16-17 November

EHNE-Bizkaia, Bizilur and EHESK, together with support from Hands on the Land alliance partners TNI, FIAN and ECVC invite you to join the first International Seminar on Local Public Policies for Food Sovereignty. Under the banner of “feeding public policies”, the seminar will provide a space to discuss, exchange ideas, share experiences and initiatives between relevant actors who are currently working to develop public policies for food sovereignty.

EHNE-Bizkaia, Bizilur and EHESK, together with support from Hands on the Land alliance partners TNI, FIAN and ECVC invite you to join the first International Seminar on Local Public Policies for Food Sovereignty. Under the banner of “feeding public policies”, the seminar will provide a space to discuss, exchange ideas, share experiences and initiatives between relevant actors who are currently working to develop public policies for food sovereignty.

A high price: mounting debt means tragedy for tens of thousands of farmers in Vietnam

Behind the vast yellow maize hills spreading out onto the horizon of Son La province in northwestern Vietnam lies tragedy for tens of thousands of small farmers. Once self-sufficient rice producers, the ethnic minority Xinh Mun people were convinced to trade in their rice crop for hybrid maize, a shift that created growing debt and deep sadness as many lost their lands as a result. 

Behind the vast yellow maize hills spreading out onto the horizon of Son La province in northwestern Vietnam lies tragedy for tens of thousands of small farmers. Once self-sufficient rice producers, the ethnic minority Xinh Mun people were convinced to trade in their rice crop for hybrid maize, a shift that created growing debt and deep sadness as many lost their lands as a result. 

Five food system lessons we can learn from Africa

Small farmers who sell their food locally still produce around 80 percent of the food in sub-Saharan Africa. But that does not mean that farmers and food activists on the African continent can be complacent. Quite the opposite. Corporate industrialization of African agriculture is resulting in massive land grabs, destruction of biodiversity and ecosystems, displacement of indigenous peoples, and destruction of livelihoods and cultures. A recipient of the 2016 Food Sovereignty Prize from Ethiopia shares his insights on food and farming, threats to smallholder farmers in Africa, and communicating across ideological differences.

Small farmers who sell their food locally still produce around 80 percent of the food in sub-Saharan Africa. But that does not mean that farmers and food activists on the African continent can be complacent. Quite the opposite. Corporate industrialization of African agriculture is resulting in massive land grabs, destruction of biodiversity and ecosystems, displacement of indigenous peoples, and destruction of livelihoods and cultures. A recipient of the 2016 Food Sovereignty Prize from Ethiopia shares his insights on food and farming, threats to smallholder farmers in Africa, and communicating across ideological differences.

No, giant farms are not feeding the world. They’re feeding Canada.

Can US exports really help "feed the hungry and malnourished in developing nations around the world," as the industry-funded site Facts About GMOs puts it? A new report from Environmental Working Group basically destroys that claim & Tom Philpott summarizes the data.

Can US exports really help "feed the hungry and malnourished in developing nations around the world," as the industry-funded site Facts About GMOs puts it? A new report from Environmental Working Group basically destroys that claim & Tom Philpott summarizes the data.

Farming mega-mergers threaten food security, say campaigners

Until recently, six or seven global agri-food businesses competed with each other for a share of the world market for seeds and chemicals. But if EU and US regulators allow a series of mega-mergers to take place, within months just three companies will be left in control of nearly 60% of the world’s seeds, nearly 70% of the chemicals and pesticides needed to grow food and nearly all of the world’s GM crop genetic traits.

Until recently, six or seven global agri-food businesses competed with each other for a share of the world market for seeds and chemicals. But if EU and US regulators allow a series of mega-mergers to take place, within months just three companies will be left in control of nearly 60% of the world’s seeds, nearly 70% of the chemicals and pesticides needed to grow food and nearly all of the world’s GM crop genetic traits.

Latin American scientists reject letter from Nobel Prize laureates in support of GMOs

The Union of Latin American Scientists Committed to Society and Nature (UCCSN-AL) rejects the letter signed by several Nobel Prize laureates in favour of genetically modified crops and the transgenic rice called "golden rice."   

The Union of Latin American Scientists Committed to Society and Nature (UCCSN-AL) rejects the letter signed by several Nobel Prize laureates in favour of genetically modified crops and the transgenic rice called "golden rice."   

Full-time job position AFSA West Africa staff

The Alliance for Food Sovereignty in Africa (AFSA) is a broad alliance of different civil society actors who are part of the struggle for food sovereignty and agro-ecology in Africa. These include: African farmers' organisations, African NGO networks, specialist African NGOs, consumer movements in Africa, international organisations who support the stance of AFSA, and individuals. Its’ members represent small holder farmers, pastoralists, hunter/gatherers, indigenous peoples; Faith based institutions, and environmentalists from across Africa. AFSA is seeking qualified applicants for the position of West Africa Staff to be based in any of the West African countries. This position will be responsible for developing and implementing a research and advocacy agenda focusing on food sovereignty and agroecology in Africa.

The Alliance for Food Sovereignty in Africa (AFSA) is a broad alliance of different civil society actors who are part of the struggle for food sovereignty and agro-ecology in Africa. These include: African farmers' organisations, African NGO networks, specialist African NGOs, consumer movements in Africa, international organisations who support the stance of AFSA, and individuals. Its’ members represent small holder farmers, pastoralists, hunter/gatherers, indigenous peoples; Faith based institutions, and environmentalists from across Africa. AFSA is seeking qualified applicants for the position of West Africa Staff to be based in any of the West African countries. This position will be responsible for developing and implementing a research and advocacy agenda focusing on food sovereignty and agroecology in Africa.

Killing our livelihoods: the dairy crisis in India

Domestic milk markets in India are in crisis. A price war is raging between dairy processors, to sell milk at extremely low prices in urban areas. This has been accompanied by a steep reduction in milk procurement prices paid and a reduction in the volume of milk procured by dairy processors from producers. Small farmers, whose livelihoods depend on selling milk and who are the backbone of this market, have been hardest hit. This has also severely affected the people’s milk market, commonly referred to as the “informal” or “unorganised” milk markets. Video produced by Food Sovereignty Alliance India. 

Domestic milk markets in India are in crisis. A price war is raging between dairy processors, to sell milk at extremely low prices in urban areas. This has been accompanied by a steep reduction in milk procurement prices paid and a reduction in the volume of milk procured by dairy processors from producers. Small farmers, whose livelihoods depend on selling milk and who are the backbone of this market, have been hardest hit. This has also severely affected the people’s milk market, commonly referred to as the “informal” or “unorganised” milk markets. Video produced by Food Sovereignty Alliance India. 

Towards seed sovereignty: new easy to read seed law training posters for CSOs

Previously, the African Centre for Biodiversity shared with you, easy to read seed posters on intellectual property rights, UPOV 1991, the Arusha Plant Variety Protection Protocol etc. and implications for small holder farmers and farmers’ rights. Now, we are happy to announce the release of a second set of easy to read seed posters, dealing with seed laws that regulate the release, certification and marketing of seed nationally and regionally. These posters represent our continuing efforts to share knowledge and information about the threats these laws pose to the protection of farmers’ rights, farmer managed seed systems and food sovereignty.

Previously, the African Centre for Biodiversity shared with you, easy to read seed posters on intellectual property rights, UPOV 1991, the Arusha Plant Variety Protection Protocol etc. and implications for small holder farmers and farmers’ rights. Now, we are happy to announce the release of a second set of easy to read seed posters, dealing with seed laws that regulate the release, certification and marketing of seed nationally and regionally. These posters represent our continuing efforts to share knowledge and information about the threats these laws pose to the protection of farmers’ rights, farmer managed seed systems and food sovereignty.

Monsanto in retreat: movement from the grassroots

Since August 1st, the news is spreading that Monsanto had to abandon the construction of one of the biggest factories in the world for producing transgenic seed that was to be installed in Córdoba, Argentina, in the municipality of Malvinas Argentinas. From there they had planned to distribute seeds to Latin America and beyond. This is an occurrence of enormous importance, that the company has not wanted to admit publicly, because the reason for their exit is the persistent popular resistance from neighbourhoods, youths and mothers, who have blocked the factory since 2013.

Since August 1st, the news is spreading that Monsanto had to abandon the construction of one of the biggest factories in the world for producing transgenic seed that was to be installed in Córdoba, Argentina, in the municipality of Malvinas Argentinas. From there they had planned to distribute seeds to Latin America and beyond. This is an occurrence of enormous importance, that the company has not wanted to admit publicly, because the reason for their exit is the persistent popular resistance from neighbourhoods, youths and mothers, who have blocked the factory since 2013.