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Seed laws that criminalise farmers: resistance and fightback

Seeds are under attack everywhere. Under corporate pressure, laws in many countries increasingly put limitations on what farmers can do with their seeds and with the seeds they buy. Seed saving, a thousand-year-old practice which forms the basis of farming, is fast becoming criminalised. What can we do about this?

Seeds are under attack everywhere. Under corporate pressure, laws in many countries increasingly put limitations on what farmers can do with their seeds and with the seeds they buy. Seed saving, a thousand-year-old practice which forms the basis of farming, is fast becoming criminalised. What can we do about this?

Seed aid, agribusiness and the food crisis

The world food crisis, rapidly defined by those in power as a problem of insufficient production, has become a trojan horse to get corporate seeds, fertilisers and, surreptitiously, market systems into poor countries. As past experience shows, what looks like “seed aid” in the short term can mask what is actually “agribusiness aid” in the long term. We look at what is going on.

The world food crisis, rapidly defined by those in power as a problem of insufficient production, has become a trojan horse to get corporate seeds, fertilisers and, surreptitiously, market systems into poor countries. As past experience shows, what looks like “seed aid” in the short term can mask what is actually “agribusiness aid” in the long term. We look at what is going on.

What's wrong with biofortified crops? The fight for genuine solutions to malnutrition is on

GRAIN and friends issue a call to action; inviting women's groups and peasant organisations to examine the issue of biofortification—locally, regionally, nationally or globally. We think there is enough information and experience to justify a boycott of all biofortified crops and foods, coupled with demands for investment in a different approach to agricultural research based on agroecology, local culture and food sovereignty.

GRAIN and friends issue a call to action; inviting women's groups and peasant organisations to examine the issue of biofortification—locally, regionally, nationally or globally. We think there is enough information and experience to justify a boycott of all biofortified crops and foods, coupled with demands for investment in a different approach to agricultural research based on agroecology, local culture and food sovereignty.

GRAIN rejects the UN Food Systems Summit - and shuts down in protest

As our own form of protest against this dangerous summit, GRAIN will shut down its website and social media platforms that day. We need real solutions to overcome the global food crisis -- based on the needs of small-scale farmers, fisherfolk, pastoralists and indigenous people – and to move us towards food sovereignty.

As our own form of protest against this dangerous summit, GRAIN will shut down its website and social media platforms that day. We need real solutions to overcome the global food crisis -- based on the needs of small-scale farmers, fisherfolk, pastoralists and indigenous people – and to move us towards food sovereignty.

The great climate robbery

"How the food system drives climate change and what we can do about it" A new book by GRAIN

"How the food system drives climate change and what we can do about it" A new book by GRAIN

Biofortified crops or biodiversity? The fight for genuine solutions to malnutrition is on

GRAIN took a look at the current status of biofortification in Asia, Africa and Latin America and the emerging critiques from feminist perspectives and food sovereignty movements. What we found is a worrisome push for a top-down and anti-diversity approach to food and health that may ultimately undermine people’s capacities to strengthen their local food systems.

GRAIN took a look at the current status of biofortification in Asia, Africa and Latin America and the emerging critiques from feminist perspectives and food sovereignty movements. What we found is a worrisome push for a top-down and anti-diversity approach to food and health that may ultimately undermine people’s capacities to strengthen their local food systems.

Sorghum: a crop to feed the world or to profit the industry?

When maize withers and rice shrivels, people in many parts of the world depend on sorghum. Apart from eating the grain, farmers can make beer and use the stalks to build houses and fences, as well as produce animal feed and medicine.They have nurtured and adapted sorghum for 5,000 years, and it has spread along trade routes from its origin in Ethiopia. GRAIN reports on Ethiopian wheat and sorghum farmers who recovered from famine and on Indian farmers who came through the Green Revolution to restore their food sovereignty. Their stories contrast starkly with biotechnologists’ plans to turn yet another food crop into an export commodity.

When maize withers and rice shrivels, people in many parts of the world depend on sorghum. Apart from eating the grain, farmers can make beer and use the stalks to build houses and fences, as well as produce animal feed and medicine.They have nurtured and adapted sorghum for 5,000 years, and it has spread along trade routes from its origin in Ethiopia. GRAIN reports on Ethiopian wheat and sorghum farmers who recovered from famine and on Indian farmers who came through the Green Revolution to restore their food sovereignty. Their stories contrast starkly with biotechnologists’ plans to turn yet another food crop into an export commodity.

Glossary No. 2: Agricultural Research: What's in a name? (More than you might think)

Many of us often have to struggle with words and concepts that are used as though they have one single and simple meaning, while in reality they hide strong bias and very specific worldviews. Not surprisingly, they are usually biased towards the worldviews of those in power. There have also been words and concepts which were well-intentioned when coined but that have been corrupted over time through inappropriate usage, thereby acquiring more complicated connotations and implications. When we use these words, we often unwillingly but unavoidably become trapped in political and philosophical frameworks which block our ability to challenge the power that backs those views. In the following pages, GRAIN takes a critical look at some such key concepts related to agricultural research. This follows an earlier effort to look at key concepts related to knowledge, biodiversity and intellectual property rights that we undertook in the January 2004 Seedling . Many of the following words and phrases look innocent enough at a first glance, but on deeper examination, we can see how they are used to serve particular agendas. Some are used to constrain us and lock us into a particular way of thinking, and others are used against us. This is not an exercise aimed at drawing final conclusions, but an invitation to deconstruct some definitions and start the search for new terminology and ways of thinking that may help us untangle some of the conceptual traps we are stuck in. Your comments are welcome.

Many of us often have to struggle with words and concepts that are used as though they have one single and simple meaning, while in reality they hide strong bias and very specific worldviews. Not surprisingly, they are usually biased towards the worldviews of those in power. There have also been words and concepts which were well-intentioned when coined but that have been corrupted over time through inappropriate usage, thereby acquiring more complicated connotations and implications. When we use these words, we often unwillingly but unavoidably become trapped in political and philosophical frameworks which block our ability to challenge the power that backs those views. In the following pages, GRAIN takes a critical look at some such key concepts related to agricultural research. This follows an earlier effort to look at key concepts related to knowledge, biodiversity and intellectual property rights that we undertook in the January 2004 Seedling . Many of the following words and phrases look innocent enough at a first glance, but on deeper examination, we can see how they are used to serve particular agendas. Some are used to constrain us and lock us into a particular way of thinking, and others are used against us. This is not an exercise aimed at drawing final conclusions, but an invitation to deconstruct some definitions and start the search for new terminology and ways of thinking that may help us untangle some of the conceptual traps we are stuck in. Your comments are welcome.

Don’t get fooled again! Unmasking two decades of lies about Golden Rice

In a now iconic Time magazine cover back in 2000, Golden Rice was hailed as the “rice that could save millions.” The optimistic prediction of commercialising the genetically-modified (GM) rice in the early 2000s turned out to be a dud: two decades hence and the Golden Rice has yet to fulfill its messianic promise of solving Vitamin A Deficiency (VAD) among kids in poor countries.

In a now iconic Time magazine cover back in 2000, Golden Rice was hailed as the “rice that could save millions.” The optimistic prediction of commercialising the genetically-modified (GM) rice in the early 2000s turned out to be a dud: two decades hence and the Golden Rice has yet to fulfill its messianic promise of solving Vitamin A Deficiency (VAD) among kids in poor countries.

Unravelling the “miracle” of Malawi’s green revolution

Malawi’s green revolution success story has been lauded around the world. While it is good to see a government investing in local food production, it is doubtful whether the achievements will be sustainable unless radical changes are implemented. Above all, land needs to be redistributed so that farmers have holdings that are big enough to produce surpluses, and the government needs to move away from its narrow focus on chemical fertlisers and hybrid maize seeds.

Malawi’s green revolution success story has been lauded around the world. While it is good to see a government investing in local food production, it is doubtful whether the achievements will be sustainable unless radical changes are implemented. Above all, land needs to be redistributed so that farmers have holdings that are big enough to produce surpluses, and the government needs to move away from its narrow focus on chemical fertlisers and hybrid maize seeds.

Nerica - another trap for small farmers in Africa

Nerica rice varieties, a cross between African and Asian rice, are being hailed as a "miracle crop" that can bring Africa its long-promised green revolution in rice. A powerful coalition of governments, research institutes, private seed companies and donors are leading a major effort to spread Nerica seeds to all the continent's rice fields. They claim that Nerica can boost yields and make Africa self-sufficient in rice production. But outside the laboratories, Nerica is not living up to the hype. Since the first Nerica varieties were introduced in 1996, experience has been mixed among farmers, with reports of a wide range of problems. Perhaps the most serious concern with Nerica is that it is being promoted within a larger drive to expand agribusiness in Africa, which threatens to wipe out the real basis for African food sovereignty-- Africa's small farmers and their local seed systems.

Nerica rice varieties, a cross between African and Asian rice, are being hailed as a "miracle crop" that can bring Africa its long-promised green revolution in rice. A powerful coalition of governments, research institutes, private seed companies and donors are leading a major effort to spread Nerica seeds to all the continent's rice fields. They claim that Nerica can boost yields and make Africa self-sufficient in rice production. But outside the laboratories, Nerica is not living up to the hype. Since the first Nerica varieties were introduced in 1996, experience has been mixed among farmers, with reports of a wide range of problems. Perhaps the most serious concern with Nerica is that it is being promoted within a larger drive to expand agribusiness in Africa, which threatens to wipe out the real basis for African food sovereignty-- Africa's small farmers and their local seed systems.

Seeds

“Miracle crop” not so miraculous after all, The colony of Puerto Rico, We haven’t seen anything yet …., and, Clan fights to save sacred sites.

“Miracle crop” not so miraculous after all, The colony of Puerto Rico, We haven’t seen anything yet …., and, Clan fights to save sacred sites.

Food sovereignty for sale: supermarkets are undermining people's control over food and farming in Asia

In the past decade, food corporations have been taking over a bigger and bigger slice of the retail pie in Asia, with major implications for the entire food chain. Corporate supermarkets are expanding faster in this region than anywhere else on the planet. And as supermarkets and their procurement chains expand, they take revenue out of traditional food systems – and out of the hands of peasants, small scale food producers and traders. They also exert increasing influence over what people eat and how that food is produced.

In the past decade, food corporations have been taking over a bigger and bigger slice of the retail pie in Asia, with major implications for the entire food chain. Corporate supermarkets are expanding faster in this region than anywhere else on the planet. And as supermarkets and their procurement chains expand, they take revenue out of traditional food systems – and out of the hands of peasants, small scale food producers and traders. They also exert increasing influence over what people eat and how that food is produced.