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.

Seeds of Freedom Tanzania documentary film launched

A new documentary film, "Uhuru wa Mbegu za Wakulima", captures the testimonies of farmers whose customary rights to save, share and exchange seed are threatened by seed laws designed to replace traditional varieties with commercial hybrids and handover control to the global seed companies. The 28-minute film follows a local seed producer, Mathias Mtwale, as he meets with farmers, researchers, seed suppliers, regulators, and legislators to understand the issues, and to make the case for a fair deal for the farmers.

A new documentary film, "Uhuru wa Mbegu za Wakulima", captures the testimonies of farmers whose customary rights to save, share and exchange seed are threatened by seed laws designed to replace traditional varieties with commercial hybrids and handover control to the global seed companies. The 28-minute film follows a local seed producer, Mathias Mtwale, as he meets with farmers, researchers, seed suppliers, regulators, and legislators to understand the issues, and to make the case for a fair deal for the farmers.

Elusive beneficiaries of Mozambique’s $4.2bn agricultural deal uncovered

Despite claims that a massive agricultural development deal in Mozambique will benefit the country’s citizens, there are indications that the project is designed to benefit a select few and could leave 100,000 Mozambicans displaced, write Khadija Sharife and Luis Nhachote. More than 95% of Mozambique’s cultivated land is worked by millions of families that farm for food and income. But the land and its people may be at risk if one of the largest agricultural development deals in Africa is realised. Details leaked from the Panama Papers database show that the Lurio River Valley Development Project, which is valued at $4.2 billion, is being orchestrated behind a web of opaque offshore companies with little in the way of credible track records, financing information, ownership information or even brick-and-mortar offices.

Despite claims that a massive agricultural development deal in Mozambique will benefit the country’s citizens, there are indications that the project is designed to benefit a select few and could leave 100,000 Mozambicans displaced, write Khadija Sharife and Luis Nhachote. More than 95% of Mozambique’s cultivated land is worked by millions of families that farm for food and income. But the land and its people may be at risk if one of the largest agricultural development deals in Africa is realised. Details leaked from the Panama Papers database show that the Lurio River Valley Development Project, which is valued at $4.2 billion, is being orchestrated behind a web of opaque offshore companies with little in the way of credible track records, financing information, ownership information or even brick-and-mortar offices.

Asia-Pacific peoples movements come together to challenge RCEP

More than 80 participants representing trade unions, farming communities, indigenous peoples, health networks, women’s organisations, academia and civil society organizations met on 27-28 July in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia to take stock of the new generation of mega regional free trade agreements (FTAs) emerging in the region. The group shared concerns on the threats to people’s lives and livelihoods posed by the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP). The RCEP is a mega FTA that 16 countries from the Asia-Pacific region are aiming to finalise by 2017.

More than 80 participants representing trade unions, farming communities, indigenous peoples, health networks, women’s organisations, academia and civil society organizations met on 27-28 July in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia to take stock of the new generation of mega regional free trade agreements (FTAs) emerging in the region. The group shared concerns on the threats to people’s lives and livelihoods posed by the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP). The RCEP is a mega FTA that 16 countries from the Asia-Pacific region are aiming to finalise by 2017.

Why is the EU funding Ethiopia's repression of land rights defenders?

On Friday, the EU and German government announced the agreement of providing the Government of Ethiopia with 3.8 million euro for a project to facilitate large-scale commercial land deals amid wide spread human rights abuses and brutal repression of its opponents.

On Friday, the EU and German government announced the agreement of providing the Government of Ethiopia with 3.8 million euro for a project to facilitate large-scale commercial land deals amid wide spread human rights abuses and brutal repression of its opponents.

Global food system absent from Paris Agreement

The global food system—the processes and infrastructure to feed populations—is one of the main drivers of climate change. Yet the issue is hardly talked about at the climate summits that governments hold every year. Why? Article written by GRAIN for Alliance Magazine.  

The global food system—the processes and infrastructure to feed populations—is one of the main drivers of climate change. Yet the issue is hardly talked about at the climate summits that governments hold every year. Why? Article written by GRAIN for Alliance Magazine.  

Philippines: Corporate science subdues the poor

Early this July, a spate of news from pro-GMO camps (which includes IRRI and Mark Lynas) struck the headlines wherein they praised the report made by the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering and Medicine regarding safety of GM crops. According to the news, the elite panel concluded that no ‘substantiated’ evidence exists that genetically engineered crops have caused health problems in humans or damaged the environment. Alongside this is the letter by more than 100 Nobel laureates urging environmental group Greenpeace to cease and desist from its campaign against Golden Rice specifically, and crops and food improved through biotechnology in general.

Early this July, a spate of news from pro-GMO camps (which includes IRRI and Mark Lynas) struck the headlines wherein they praised the report made by the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering and Medicine regarding safety of GM crops. According to the news, the elite panel concluded that no ‘substantiated’ evidence exists that genetically engineered crops have caused health problems in humans or damaged the environment. Alongside this is the letter by more than 100 Nobel laureates urging environmental group Greenpeace to cease and desist from its campaign against Golden Rice specifically, and crops and food improved through biotechnology in general.

Water scarcity, public protest slow foreign farmland purchases

Tanzania’s Southern Agricultural Growth Corridor, a huge farm production project that lies across the country’s southern highlands, seems to represent incisive thinking about Africa’s potential to produce jobs and feed the world. The $US 3.4 billion project envisions improving the capacity of 100,000 small Tanzanian farms to produce and market more of their grain, vegetables, dairy, and meat products. Keith Schneider of "Circle of Blue" provides an analysis that references GRAIN's latest land grabbing report and database.

Tanzania’s Southern Agricultural Growth Corridor, a huge farm production project that lies across the country’s southern highlands, seems to represent incisive thinking about Africa’s potential to produce jobs and feed the world. The $US 3.4 billion project envisions improving the capacity of 100,000 small Tanzanian farms to produce and market more of their grain, vegetables, dairy, and meat products. Keith Schneider of "Circle of Blue" provides an analysis that references GRAIN's latest land grabbing report and database.

Cambodia: Sugar company's compensation deals leave families bitter in Kampong Speu

In 2010, more than 1,500 families in Kampong Speu’s Oral district were evicted from the land they had cultivated since the fall of the Khmer Rouge regime in 1979 to make way for a Phnom Penh Sugar Company mega-plantation. After years of campaigning, many of those families in recent weeks accepted compensation packages from the company, owned by Ly Yong Phat, a ruling party senator. However, recipients, community leaders and NGOs have since raised concerns that the company obtained the settlement agreements through bullying and coercion.

In 2010, more than 1,500 families in Kampong Speu’s Oral district were evicted from the land they had cultivated since the fall of the Khmer Rouge regime in 1979 to make way for a Phnom Penh Sugar Company mega-plantation. After years of campaigning, many of those families in recent weeks accepted compensation packages from the company, owned by Ly Yong Phat, a ruling party senator. However, recipients, community leaders and NGOs have since raised concerns that the company obtained the settlement agreements through bullying and coercion.

Impacts for farmers and consumers of amending the Plant Varieties Protection Act

By amending Thailand's Plant Varieties Protection Act, seeds will become 200-600% more expensive as the rights of corporations are extended along with expanded patent protection, reducing farmers rights in saving seeds. Food will become more expensive as production costs go up, while food diversity suffers. Farmers will lose the ability to save seeds for planting the next season or for swapping with their neighbors.

By amending Thailand's Plant Varieties Protection Act, seeds will become 200-600% more expensive as the rights of corporations are extended along with expanded patent protection, reducing farmers rights in saving seeds. Food will become more expensive as production costs go up, while food diversity suffers. Farmers will lose the ability to save seeds for planting the next season or for swapping with their neighbors.

#OccupySocfinBolloré: Overview of international mobilisation at Socfin and Bolloré headquarters

On 1 and 3 June, protestors occupied the headquarters of Socfin (Luxembourg) and Bolloré (Paris) demanding that the two companies respect the rights of local communities. Socfin and Bolloré have agricultural investments in several countries in Asia and Africa, primarily for oil palm plantations. See an overview of the days' mobilisations, which were live-tweeted by GRAIN and others.   

On 1 and 3 June, protestors occupied the headquarters of Socfin (Luxembourg) and Bolloré (Paris) demanding that the two companies respect the rights of local communities. Socfin and Bolloré have agricultural investments in several countries in Asia and Africa, primarily for oil palm plantations. See an overview of the days' mobilisations, which were live-tweeted by GRAIN and others.   

New GRAIN article: ADM’s offshore links to Wilmar, world’s worst environmental offender

The Panama Papers leak has focused global attention on tax havens. While most of the initial stories have been about politicians, attention is slowly turning to corporations, by far the biggest users of tax havens. The top 50 US corporations alone are said to have hidden about US$1.4 trillion in tax havens. Food companies like Archer Daniel Midlands (ADM) and Wilmar are heavy users of offshore company structures.

The Panama Papers leak has focused global attention on tax havens. While most of the initial stories have been about politicians, attention is slowly turning to corporations, by far the biggest users of tax havens. The top 50 US corporations alone are said to have hidden about US$1.4 trillion in tax havens. Food companies like Archer Daniel Midlands (ADM) and Wilmar are heavy users of offshore company structures.

Tanzania: Fighting for seeds and soil

Tanzania is at the forefront in the battle for control over Africa's food system. With the help of the UK government (and others in the G7) corporations are scrambling to expand their markets in seeds, fertilisers, agrochemicals and land. But small-scale farmer organisations are fighting back by strengthening farmers' knowledge of land, seeds and soil. A video by Global Justice Now.

Tanzania is at the forefront in the battle for control over Africa's food system. With the help of the UK government (and others in the G7) corporations are scrambling to expand their markets in seeds, fertilisers, agrochemicals and land. But small-scale farmer organisations are fighting back by strengthening farmers' knowledge of land, seeds and soil. A video by Global Justice Now.

Statement of international solidarity with Venezuela’s seed law

On 23 December 2015, Venezuela’s national assembly passed a new seed law banning the import, production and planting of GMO seeds and protecting the production and free exchange of seed varieties of Venezuela’s farming communities (indigenous, peasant and Afro-descendant) among other provisions. The law is significant both for its content and for the process through which it was passed.

On 23 December 2015, Venezuela’s national assembly passed a new seed law banning the import, production and planting of GMO seeds and protecting the production and free exchange of seed varieties of Venezuela’s farming communities (indigenous, peasant and Afro-descendant) among other provisions. The law is significant both for its content and for the process through which it was passed.

New GE report misses its own point

Last week, the National Academies of Science (NAS) attracted much media attention with the release of its new report, "Genetically Engineered Crops: Experiences and Prospects." According to report authors, genetically engineered (GE) crops have failed to live up to the hype advertised by corporate manufacturers. And more rigorous monitoring and oversight by regulatory agencies is needed, they say, to protect against unexpected adverse outcomes. Unfortunately, these and other important findings are buried within the report’s 400+ pages—and then glossed over in the authors’ own recommendations, as well as in the NAS press release that paints a decidedly more upbeat picture of the impacts of GE crops.

Last week, the National Academies of Science (NAS) attracted much media attention with the release of its new report, "Genetically Engineered Crops: Experiences and Prospects." According to report authors, genetically engineered (GE) crops have failed to live up to the hype advertised by corporate manufacturers. And more rigorous monitoring and oversight by regulatory agencies is needed, they say, to protect against unexpected adverse outcomes. Unfortunately, these and other important findings are buried within the report’s 400+ pages—and then glossed over in the authors’ own recommendations, as well as in the NAS press release that paints a decidedly more upbeat picture of the impacts of GE crops.

Thailand: Food safety advocacy group Thai-Pan takes government to court

A food safety advocacy group will file negligence and dereliction of duty complaints against the Department of Agriculture, after finding more than half the fruit and vegetables awarded a government "Q mark" for quality had harmful residue levels.

A food safety advocacy group will file negligence and dereliction of duty complaints against the Department of Agriculture, after finding more than half the fruit and vegetables awarded a government "Q mark" for quality had harmful residue levels.