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.

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.

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.