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.

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.

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."