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Major Pesticides Are More Toxic to Human Cells Than Their Declared Active Principles

Navdanya Diary - Wed, 04/16/2014 - 14:13

 

Major Pesticides Are More Toxic to Human Cells Than Their Declared Active Principles

by Robin Mesnage, Nicolas Defarge, Joël Spiroux de Vendômois, and Gilles-Eric Séralini
NCBI, 26 February, 2014

Source: http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3955666/

Pesticides are used throughout the world as mixtures called formulations. They contain adjuvants, which are often kept confidential and are called inerts by the manufacturing companies, plus a declared active principle, which is usually tested alone. We tested the toxicity of 9 pesticides, comparing active principles and their formulations, on three human cell lines (HepG2, HEK293, and JEG3). Glyphosate, isoproturon, fluroxypyr, pirimicarb, imidacloprid, acetamiprid, tebuconazole, epoxiconazole, and prochloraz constitute, respectively, the active principles of 3 major herbicides, 3 insecticides, and 3 fungicides. We measured mitochondrial activities, membrane degradations, and caspases 3/7 activities. Fungicides were the most toxic from concentrations 300–600 times lower than agricultural dilutions, followed by herbicides and then insecticides, with very similar profiles in all cell types. Despite its relatively benign reputation, Roundup was among the most toxic herbicides and insecticides tested. Most importantly, 8 formulations out of 9 were up to one thousand times more toxic than their active principles. Our results challenge the relevance of the acceptable daily intake for pesticides because this norm is calculated from the toxicity of the active principle alone. Chronic tests on pesticides may not reflect relevant environmental exposures if only one ingredient of these mixtures is tested alone.

Read More: http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3955666/

                          
Categories: Ecological News

Monsanto primero contamina cultivos y luego busca legalizarse: activista

Navdanya Diary - Wed, 04/16/2014 - 14:03

Por Angélica Enciso – La Jornada, 15 abril 2014

Fuente: http://www.jornada.unam.mx/ultimas/2014/04/15/monsanto-primero-contamina-cultivos-y-luego-busca-legalizarse-activista-8159.html

México, DF. La entrada de Monsanto a los países sigue un mismo modelo: primero contamina los cultivos tradicionales, en India fue el algodón, y en México el maíz, y después busca legalizar su presencia, advirtió Vandana Shiva, científica y activista ambiental.

La activista de India, de visita en México, dijo en conferencia de prensa que en las semillas se pueden ver los ancestros de la vida, pero ahora llega Monsanto, les pone un gen tóxico, lo venden a los campesinos, con lo que le quita la libertad de intercambiar sus semillas, y si encuentran sus productos en un campo, dicen que es biopiratería.

Recordó que cuando se negoció el protocolo de Cartagena sobre diversidad biológica, Estados Unidos quería el acceso a todos los países para legalizar la biopiratería, y como el tratado regularizaba el acceso y los recursos genéticos no lo firmó.

Se deben crear leyes y que estos productos sean ilegales, “la diversidad debe ser la ley de la naturaleza”.

Debemos tener libertad en las semillas, escribir una carta y mandársela a Monsanto, “hay que decirle que el mundo se basa en compartir los regalos de la naturaleza, es la única manera de garantizar la supervivencia”.

Agregó que Monsanto “lo que hizo fue crear un gen venenoso y vendérnoslo. No es el dueño del maíz. si seguimos luchando en los próximos años podremos celebrar el fin de los transgénicos”.

 

                          
Categories: Ecological News

GM crops: PM revealed his assertive self to push for trials

Navdanya Diary - Tue, 04/15/2014 - 22:54

 

GM crops: PM revealed his assertive self to push for trials

By Nitin Sethi
Business Standard, 14 April, 2014

Source: http://wap.business-standard.com/article/economy-policy/gm-crops-pm-revealed-his-assertive-self-to-push-for-trials-114041400028_1.html

Prime Minister Manmohan Singh can be assertive when he chooses to. He has certainly imposed his will on the government to push the case for the controversial genetically-modified (GM) food crops.

Documents reviewed by Business Standard show, for almost two years, Singh and his office have been the moving force behind the decision to go ahead with field trials of GM crops, including food crops, without awaiting regulatory reforms or the conclusion of the ongoing case before the Supreme Court. “Manmohan Singh remained consistent in his insistence about paring the food security Bill and in his advocacy for GM crops,” said a senior official in the United Progressive Alliance (UPA) government.

The Prime Minister’s Office (PMO) declined to comment on detailed queries sent by Business Standard.

Singh had prevailed in the face of stiff opposition from the Union environment & forests minister, Jayanthi Natarajan, before she was shunted out on December 21 last year. When she resigned, stories were leaked about Natarajan having delayed decisions, sat on files and held up projects. She was left to defend herself as Congress Vice-President Rahul Gandhi, a day after her resignation, told industry he preferred a more efficient environmental clearances system.

In fact, being on the wrong side of the debate with the PM over GM crops likely was another factor in her being moved out. Natarajan was replaced by M Veerappa Moily.

In February, the PM said at a public meeting: “While safety must be ensured, we should not succumb to unscientific prejudices against Bt crops.” With one broad stroke, Singh had coloured all opposition to the immediate approval for GM food crop trials as “unscientific”. This included the oppositions from Natarajan, the Parliamentary standing committee on agriculture, the majority of a Supreme Court-appointed expert panel and several state governments.

A couple of weeks later, Moily delivered the goods for the PM. He overruled his predecessor and extended the validity of approvals already granted to GM food crop trials, calling the move a “routine decision”. Moily said the clearances had been pending for long and were not banned by the apex court as his predecessor had wrongly believed. It was a smart wordplay. Those had not been Natarajan’s grounds.

Moily also instructed the environment secretary to sit with the Cabinet secretary and other officials to take a unified position before the Supreme Court. It meant agreeing to the views of Agriculture Minister Sharad Pawar and the PMO. He and the environment secretary said Natarajan had not been against a joint affidavit. Again, a clever finesse: Under pressure from PMO, she had relented days before resigning and agreed to a joint affidavit but only after insisting on a temporary moratorium on field trials of GM food crops.

The debate over introduction of GM food crops in India has remained as polarizing as that on nuclear power, another instance when the prime minister showed plenty of assertive self. The GM crop industry, many scientists in the field, the Union agricultural minister, the prime minister and some states believe GM crops would rejuvenate agricultural productivity and lead to food security. The other side is packed with certain Congress leaders, most state governments, some political parties, scientists, academicians and green activists who remain skeptical. More importantly, they are wary of the unassessed and potentially irreversible damaging impact of releasing GM on people and environment.

At the moment, more than 100 GM food crop varieties are moving through the experimentation pipeline and could fundamentally change the nature of food crops and production in the country.

Days before her resignation, in a three-page note, Natarajan had said: “Despite my insistence that the environment ministry should file a separate affidavit, it has been felt the government should not be seen at cross-purposes and that a common affidavit should be filed.”

She wrote this as part of a three-page note to counter the PM and the agriculture ministry’s insistence to go to the Supreme Court advocating GM crop food trials, without awaiting reforms or review of the regulatory process. The majority report of the Supreme Court-appointed expert panel (Technical Expert Committee) had come out in 2013, demanding radical regulatory reforms and recommending a moratorium on field trials till that happened. The agriculture ministry and the department of science & technology was dead set against it.

PMO WADES IN

The prime minister stepped in for the first time when the Supreme Court panel filed its interim report in October 2012, recommending a moratorium on crop trials. Records show Natarajan relented from her strong on-the-record and oft-repeated position against an immediate go-ahead to the GM crop trials after a conversation with the prime minister.

She wrote: “It is not possible for the Ministry of Environment & Forests to accept the stand of the agriculture ministry that GM crops or field trials can be allowed at this time. I am also of the view that the report of the panel (advocating the moratorium) should be accepted.” But, she changed her view the same day, noting it was done after a discussion with the prime minister, of which the environment secretary and the Cabinet secretary, too, were aware.

The agriculture ministry then filed an affidavit on behalf of the Union of India that opposed the interim report and got another expert nominated on board the apex court’s panel – a retired government agriculture scientist. When this panel filed its final report, this one member filed a dissenting report against a moratorium on trials. All the other five members unanimously reiterated the need for a moratorium.

Natarajan also took the position that no clearances should be given by her ministry’s statutory Genetic Engineering Appraisal Committee for field trial proposals till the Court takes a final call.

By November 2013, the time had come to respond to the final report of the apex court panel. The agriculture ministry again provided the position that the Union government should take before the apex court. It trashed the panel’s majority report and backed the one-member dissent report advocating a go-ahead for the GM crop trials. The environment ministry baulked at the idea. Even junior officers in the ministry warned the position seemed only a rehash of previously stated facts and it “gives the impression that the strategy is to reject the majority report”. The officer noted it was unlikely the Supreme Court would reject the majority report and advised it would be better to clearly state what reforms would be undertaken before trials are approved.

But, under PMO’s instructions, the Cabinet secretary continued to meet to draw up a common affidavit. He reported to the PM directly at times. Business Standard has reviewed some of the affidavit drafts. The fundamental differences could not possibly be resolved till Natarajan keeled over. She kept reiterating her basic opposition to this. She again spoke to the principal secretary to the prime minister on the need for a differing view. The matter was resolved when she was asked to quit.

The government has begun giving clearances – fresh ones are expected in April, even as the UPA government’s tenure comes to an end soon – while the Court has yet to give its judgment. The Parliamentary standing committee on agriculture has castigated the UPA government for going ahead with the GM crop trials in its latest report.

FIELD DAY

Some of the 100-odd GM food crops in the pipeline:

Rice, wheat, okra, onion, groundnut, bamboo, tomato, apple, cucumber, sugarcane, cabbage, cauliflower, tea, coffee, corn, ginger, ragi, yam, castor, sunflower, mustard, black pepper, pea, soybean, papaya, cardamom, carrot, banana, tobacco, orange, pearl millet, potato and pulses

The few states ready to permit food crop trials:

Andhra Pradesh

Gujarat

Punjab

Rajasthan

VARIED VOICES

Parliamentary standing committee: Stop food crop trials, complete overhaul of regulations

Supreme Court expert panel’s majority report: Moratorium on food crop trials till there’s complete overhaul of regulatory reforms and testing systems are made clear; ban some trials

Supreme Court panel’s minority one-member report: Go ahead with trials; some reforms can happen later

Union agriculture ministry: Go ahead with trials; some reforms can follow; not bound by time

Environment ministry (under Natarajan): Follow the Parliamentary standing committee and the SC majority report; no clearances till apex court decides; should take before SC a view other than agriculture ministry’s

Environment ministry (under Moily): SC has not banned trials; go ahead with trials while the agriculture ministry takes the lead before the Supreme Court

Prime Minister’s Office: Single view of agriculture ministry and department of biotechnology should prevail, environment ministry should agree; trials should go on.

More Information:

Promotion of GM crops a trap, say social groups: Prominent social groups working on organic farming in Punjab have reacted strongly to promotion of genetically modified (GM) crops by agri major Mahyco and scientists of the National Bureau of Plant Genetic Resources (NBPGR), describing it as a ‘trap’ by agri business corporations.

Veerappa Moily claims that he has not approved any field trials, when confronted by farmers: When confronted by scores of farmers of the Karnataka Rajya Raitha Sangha (KRRS) and South Indian Coordination Committee of Farmers’ Movements (SICCFM), from four states of South India, Veerappa Moily, the Union Minister for Environment and Forests, today claimed that ‘as far as his knowledge goes, he had not approved any field trials of GM crops’.

 

                          
Categories: Ecological News

World Bank deliberately underestimates poverty

Ground Reality - Tue, 04/15/2014 - 17:05

 Dhravi slum in Mumbai -- National Geographic 
The business of poverty actually extends to sweeping the poor under the carpet. Over the years I find that while most governments across the world have failed to stem poverty (except in countries like China), the international financial institutions are bending backwards to demonstrate that economic liberalisation helps in reducing poverty, and often drastically. This is being achieved by tampering with statistics, and often providing social indicators that don't actually measure up. One such classic example is the dollar a day measure adopted by the World Bank to define the percentage of the population living in extreme poverty.

Global empirical evidence is now emerging challenging the World Bank's deliberate underestimation of poverty. Recent studies (ECLAC 2002, 2011) have conclusively shown that in Latin America for instance actual poverty rates are twice than what the World Bank had projected. More recently, on April 11, 2014, a study by the University of Bristol published in the Journal of Sociology concludes that the World Bank is painting a 'rosy' picture by keeping poverty too low due to its narrow definition. Dr Christopher Deeming of the Bristol University's School of Geographical Sciences is quoted as saying: "Our findings suggest that the current international poverty line of a dallar a day seriously underestimates global poverty."

He further states: "If the World Bank had in fact used a poverty line grounded in basic needs, rather in its present artificial one which only looks at one monetary measure, the total number of poor people in the world would increase substantially, perhaps by as much as 30 per cent." (The report can be read here: http://jos.sagepub.com/content/early/2014/04/09/1440783314523867.full.pdf+html).  This is exactly what I have been saying over the years. Take the case of poverty line in India. The stringent poverty measures that the Planning Commission has been adopting for decades actually only estimate the extent of starvation (India's poverty line is actually a starvation line. http://devinder-sharma.blogspot.in/2009/12/indias-poverty-line-is-actually.html).

Following the same prescription, India too has shown that its poverty has come down from 37 per cent to 22 per cent. This shameless demonstration of 'inclusive growth' comes at a time when the Arjun Sengupta committee had in 2007 worked out that 77 per cent of the population or roughly 834 million people were able to spend not more than Rs 20/day (roughly 30 US cents). Even in the United States, poverty is growing with estimates pointing to 1 in 7 living in poverty.  

Unless the World Bank makes an immediate correction, all projections of removing 'extreme poverty' by 2030 would be as farcical as its earlier target set in 1973 to remove 'absolute poverty' in low and middle income countries by the end of the century i.e. the year 2000.  But will the World Bank do this? Your guess is as good as mine. After all, it pays to keep poverty low. Only then you can justify the faulty economic policies.

Further reading: How to keep poverty low
http://www.huffingtonpost.com/devinder-sharma/how-to-keep-poverty-low_b_838329.html

Categories: Ecological News

World Wind Power Poised to Bounce Back after Slowing in 2013

Green Blog - Mon, 04/14/2014 - 20:02
At the end of 2013, the wind farms installed in more than 85 countries had a combined generating capacity of 318,000 megawatts, which would be enough to meet the residential electricity needs of the European Union’s 506 million people. New data from the Global Wind Energy Council show that wind developers built 35,000 megawatts of new generating capacity worldwide in 2013. This was down from 45,000 megawatts installed in 2012—marking only the second time in 25 years that installed capacity increased by less than it did the year before.

The principal reason for the decline in new capacity was a more than 90 percent drop in U.S. wind farm installations from a record 13,000 megawatts in 2012. Although the United States has the second-highest wind power capacity in the world—some 61,000 megawatts—a lack of long-term policy planning has led to several such boom-and-bust cycles.

Despite the dearth of new capacity, there were many bright spots for U.S. wind power in 2013. Wind accounted for at least 12 percent of the electricity generated in nine states, including Iowa (27 percent) and South Dakota (26 percent). Iowa will get another boost from a $1.9 billion deal announced in December 2013: Warren Buffett’s MidAmerican Energy Company purchased Siemens turbines totaling more than 1,000 megawatts, all destined for Iowa wind projects. When complete in 2015, these wind farms will likely bring the wind share of electricity in Iowa to at least 33 percent.

Wind’s contribution to the grid is also growing in Texas, the U.S. wind capacity leader with 12,400 megawatts. The Electric Reliability Council of Texas reports that wind farms produced nearly 10 percent of the electricity delivered to its 24 million customers in 2013. And with the early-2014 completion of state-funded transmission projects linking windy West Texas and the Panhandle to population centers to the east, Texas can accommodate even more clean electricity on the grid. The state has 7,000 megawatts of new wind power capacity under construction, more than half of the 12,000 megawatts currently being built nationwide.

China has led the world in installed capacity since surpassing the United States in 2010. In contrast to the drop in U.S. installations in 2013, China’s wind construction accelerated—adding 16,000 megawatts to reach a total 91,000 megawatts. Wind further solidified its role as the number three electricity source in China (behind coal and hydropower), out-generating nuclear power by an impressive 22 percent. The National Energy Administration aims to make wind-generated electricity cost-competitive with coal by 2020. (See data.)

As in Texas and many other places around the world, some of China’s best wind resources are found far from major cities where electricity demand is high. High-voltage transmission lines now under construction will connect wind-rich provinces in the north and west with more populous ones in the central and eastern provinces. For example, one project linking remote Xinjiang province to the 4 million people in Zhengzhou, the capital of Henan province, was completed in early 2014. Infrastructure projects such as this one will be critical in reaching the official Chinese goal of 200,000 megawatts of grid-connected wind capacity by 2020.

India, the country with the fifth-highest amount of installed capacity, added 1,700 megawatts in 2013 to cross the 20,000 megawatt threshold. Although this was 25 percent less new capacity than in 2012, India is poised to grow its wind power base dramatically in the coming years. In January 2014, the government announced a National Wind Energy Mission—in the spirit of the country’s National Solar Mission—to be launched mid-year. By beefing up the grid and using incentives to attract investment to wind hotspots, the program aims to hit 100,000 megawatts of wind within eight years.

Development is picking up elsewhere in Asia as well. In Pakistan, wind power capacity doubled to 100 megawatts in 2013 and will double again when two 50-megawatt projects go online in 2014. Thailand also doubled its wind capacity in 2013, reaching 220 megawatts. And the Philippines has seven projects due for completion in 2014 that will expand wind capacity there 13-fold to 450 megawatts.

Before China’s recent surge, Europe was the leading wind power region. Germany, which added 3,200 megawatts in 2013, ranks third worldwide in total capacity, with 34,000 megawatts. Four of its northern states regularly get half or more of their electricity from wind farms.

When it comes to wind’s contribution to national electricity needs, European countries top the leaderboard. Denmark gets one third of its electricity from wind, well on its way to a target of 50 percent by 2020. Portugal, Lithuania, Spain, and Ireland come in at around 20 percent each. In fact, wind came within a percentage point of beating nuclear power for the title of Spain’s number one electricity source in 2013. And Germany, Europe’s largest economy, obtained 8 percent of its electricity from wind farms.
While some of the larger European wind power markets, including Spain, Italy, and France, have slowed down, smaller players are speeding up. Poland and Romania each expanded their wind power capacity by 36 percent in 2013, to 3,400 and 2,600 megawatts, respectively. And in Turkey, even though the approval process for projects is slow, wind capacity grew by 28 percent to nearly 3,000 megawatts.

One region with enormous wind potential but little development so far is Latin America. Brazil, best known for getting 80 percent of its electricity from large hydropower, hosts the most wind power capacity in the region—now close to 3,500 megawatts after a 950-megawatt addition in 2013. At government auctions, wind companies have won more than half of all contracts to sell electricity since 2011, according to Bloomberg data. Some 10,000 megawatts of wind may be installed in Brazil between 2014 and 2019. Mexico, Chile, Argentina, and Uruguay also added wind power in 2013.

In all of Africa, just one project added capacity in 2013. The final 90 megawatts of Ethiopia’s 120-megawatt Ashegoda Wind Farm went into operation, more than doubling the country’s wind capacity to 170 megawatts. South Africa has 2,100 megawatts of wind power in the pipeline, including 750 megawatts to be added in 2014 alone.

Offshore projects account for just over 2 percent of the wind capacity installed worldwide. Having hit a seventh straight annual installation record in 2013, however, offshore wind is growing fast. More than half of the 7,100 megawatts of offshore capacity belongs to the United Kingdom, which installed 730 megawatts in its waters in 2013. Denmark, Germany, and Belgium each added at least 190 megawatts to their totals, while China added 39 megawatts. Both Vietnam and Spain added offshore wind capacity for the first time, as did the United States, although the U.S. project was one very small demonstration turbine off the coast of Maine.

Offshore wind is still one of the more expensive electricity generating technologies, but onshore wind is often highly competitive with coal, natural gas, and nuclear power in areas with strong wind resources. And costs continue to fall as wind manufacturers steadily improve turbine efficiency, harnessing more wind per machine. In the United States, the average price of wind-generated electricity has dropped 40 percent since 2009.

After a slower year in 2013, world wind installations will bounce back in 2014, perhaps to a new record—the Global Wind Energy Council sees the potential for 47,000 megawatts. Roughly half of the total will be built in China and the United States (around three times more in the former than in the latter). This is good news for the wind business, for electricity consumers, and for people who value cleaner air and water. But increasingly dire scientific warnings about the consequences of climate change mean that the world will need to accelerate the shift to carbon-free, renewable sources of energy even more so in the years to come.

By J. Matthew Roney.
Categories: Ecological News

Vandana Shiva sows seeds for the future

Navdanya Diary - Mon, 04/14/2014 - 13:54

 

Vandana Shiva sows seeds for the future

by Penney Kome
Rabble, 11 April, 2014

Source: http://rabble.ca/blogs/bloggers/penney-kome/2014/04/vandana-shiva-sows-seeds-future-1

“Food is everyone’s business,: said Dr Vandana Shiva, addressing the 580 people at Public Interest Alberta’s Calgary keynote event. As founder of the Navdanya (seed savers) movement in India, Shiva has made a career of challenging major agricultural and pharmaceutical makers — in the field now called “Life Sciences” — over their attempts to patent traditional medicines like the Neem tree, to promote Genetically Modified Organism (GMO) products, and to seize control of seeds so that farmers have to pay whatever price they want to charge.

Canadian educated (PhD in quantum physics, UWO), Shiva is a frequent visitor to Canada. This visit to Alberta is particularly timely in light of the Harperite government’s new Omnibus Bill C-18, which the National Farmer’s Union fiercely opposes. C-18 would, among other things, allow companies to charge royalties on the crop as well as charging for the seeds.

“The primary purpose of the C-18 measures is to increase revenues for seed companies,” writes Randall Affleck, an NFU Board member. “Farmers will eventually be bound to yet another agri-business profit centre, this time via the seed. Litigation and the gradual de-registration of publicly available varieties will help persuade farmers to replace farm-saved seed with seed purchased from the company every year. Farmers are being promised more variety research and development, and more innovative new varieties through this privatized system. However, farmers will simply end up paying more royalties with no say in how these funds would be used.”

In India, more than 280,000 farmers have committed suicide because of expensive, unreliable patented seeds. “Patenting seeds has huge costs for farmers, biodiversity, and the ecology,” said Shiva. “Fifty percent of Monsanto’s seed price is profit. That represented an 8000 percent price jump for Indian farmers.”

Monsanto justifies the price increase by saying farmers will save money on other supplies, such as fertilizer and pesticides. “But despite Monsanto’s promises, the patented seeds do not eliminate the need for pesticides,” said Shiva. “[Monsanto’s] Bt seeds are failing now in Pakistan. It’s a failed technology.”

“Patenting seeds makes farmers consumers instead of producers, never able to keep up,” she said.

The result in India is that “the same farmer sometimes buys seeds three times in a season, which for him is an unpayable debt. When the company agent comes to take the land because the farmer can’t afford to pay for the seed — land that may have been in his family for many generations — the farmer goes into the field and drinks a bottle of pesticide.”

Canada’s Bill C-18 would give seed producers the right to confiscate farmland for seed nonpayment too.

Shiva cited Mahatma Gandhi’s summation of ecological justice: the earth has enough for everyone’s needs but not for some people’s greed. And she asked: “How did we reach a stage where greed, once seen as a perversion, has become something to celebrate?”

“For most of history, everything that has been vital to living has been held in common. Governments and others are taking the commons, which are the property of all life, and turned them into private property.”

To forestall public resistance, she said, “Every enclosure of the commons has been justified on the grounds of progress.” She offered the story of the Kerala women’s campaign against the Coca Cola plant as an example. Writer Anita Roddick described the sheer destructiveness of the plant, which displaced thousands of agricultural workers from prime farming land.

“As soon as the first nail was hammered, the plant was in violation of India’s Land Utilization Act, which forbids agricultural land from being converted for non-agricultural use. Where thousands of locals once worked the land for a living, just 100 local residents are employed at the plant, and another 150 as casual laborers who have no job security or appreciable benefits.

“The plant drilled more than 60 deep wells on the land in two years, and extracts between 600,000 and 1.5 million liters of water each day, at absolutely no cost to Coca-Cola. The aquifer is so over tapped; the water table has dropped below a measurable level in many areas. The three agricultural reservoirs in the region have dried up completely. What remains of the groundwater is polluted by runoff and rampant dumping along the banks of canals on the plant property.”

With their water polluted, the locals have few options besides purchasing pricey bottled Dasani water from the very plant that destroyed their farmland and their natural water supply. “Anywhere Coke lands, it lowers the local water table.” said Shiva, who worked with the local women to shut down the Kerala plant. She brought a greeting from one of them: “Tell them when they drink Coca Cola, they are drinking the blood of our people.”

Coke follows a familiar two-step pattern to create local markets, similar to the Shock Doctrine: first environmental disaster, then high prices. “In every enclosure of the commons,” said Shiva, “the first step is an enclosure by pollution, as Coke did, by allowing dumping into the local water supply. Then after you’ve created a scarcity, the next enclosure is privatization.”

Such tactics have backfired in India, though. “The World Bank’s demand that India privatize water caused so much civil unrest that the Delhi government had to backtrack. In India we feel that water is our sacred commons, and not a commodity. The River Ganges is Mother to all of us. Village after village blocked privatization of their water tanks.”

Air rights are undergoing a similar corporate grab for natural resources. “With the enclosure of the atmospheric commons,” said Shiva, “first polluters dumped excess greenhouse gases (GHGs) into the atmosphere that their stacks didn’t have the capacity to reuse. Then, once the climate destabilized, they used the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change work and the UN convention to say, ‘Now we can privatize – through emissions trading.’”

“I come from the area of the Himalayas that feeds all the branches of the Ganges. The glaciers there are retreating at a rate of 23 meters a year, 50 meters a year. This may not seem obvious, but hydro dams are part of emissions trading. There were 500 dams planned for our region. They only built 50, but those 50 destabilized the whole river system. The rivers rose 20 feet. My whole office was under four feet of water. Our region lost 20,000 people to the flood this year.”

Linear, profit-oriented thinking has shown its limitations – and its intentions. In her 2005 book, Earth Democracy, Shiva argued that “…globalization’s transformation of all beings and resources into commodities robs diverse species and people of their rightful share of ecological, cultural, economic, and political space. The ‘ownership’ of the rich is based on the ‘dispossession’ of the poor – it is the common, public resources of the poor which are privatized, and the poor who are disowned economically, politically, and culturally.”

Vandana Shiva has opposed globalization since even before the 1999 popular uprising in Seattle. Moreover, she has an outstanding track record of mobilizing the people who are most vulnerable to displacement during economic development programs – the (often indigenous) peoples who make their living through subsistence farming and sharing. The1993 Right Livelihood Award Committee called her record that of a “totally committed, very productive and effective activist-advocate-intellectual,” and gave her the prize “for putting women and ecology at the heart of modern development discourse.” She has of course picked up many other awards since then.

Shiva is equally effective in proposing alternatives to the corporatism she opposes. “Another human future is being born,” she wrote in Earth Democracy, “a future based on inclusion, not exclusion; on nonviolence, not violence; on reclaiming the commons, not their enclosure; on freely sharing the earth’s resources, not monopolizing and privatizing them…”

Instead, she calls for “living economies, living cultures, and living democracies” to emerge synergistically. “A global economy which takes ecological limits into account must necessarily localize production to reduce wasting both natural resources and people. And only economies built on ecological foundations can become living economies that ensure sustainability and prosperity for all….We are the food we eat, the water we drink, the air we breathe. And reclaiming democratic control over our food and water and our ecological survival is the necessary project for our freedom.”

No wonder then, that PIA invited Vandana Shiva to be keynote speaker at a conference called, “Re-asserting the Public Good in a Corporatized World” (in Edmonton at the Chateau Lacombe this weekend). Well, there are also a couple of decades of shared campaign history with PIA Executive Director Bill Moore-Kilgannon.

Also on the dynamic conference line-up are former Clerk of the Privy Council Alex Himelfarb; long-term Director of the Childcare Resource and Research Unit Martha Friendly; anti-tarsands activist Crystal Lameman, from the Beaver Lake Cree Nation; and Dr Craig Holman, Public Citizen’s government ethics lobbyist in Washington, DC.

Food is everyone’s business, as Vandana Shiva said. One small step towards reclaiming control over our food would be to heed the National Farmers’ Union, and sign their petition against Bill C-18.

“Food is everyone’s business,: said Dr Vandana Shiva, addressing the 580 people at Public Interest Alberta’s Calgary keynote event. As founder of the Navdanya(seed savers) movement in India, Shiva has made a career of challenging major agricultural and pharmaceutical makers — in the field now called “Life Sciences” — over their attempts to patent traditional medicines like the Neem tree, to promote Genetically Modified Organism (GMO) products, and to seize control of seeds so that farmers have to pay whatever price they want to charge. Canadian educated (PhD in quantum physics, UWO), Shiva is a frequent visitor to Canada. This visit to Alberta is particularly timely in light of the Harperite government’s new Omnibus Bill C-18, which the National Farmer’s Union fiercely opposes. C-18 would, among other things, allow companies to charge royalties on the crop as well as charging for the seeds.

“The primary purpose of the C-18 measures is to increase revenues for seed companies,” writes Randall Affleck, an NFU Board member. “Farmers will eventually be bound to yet another agri-business profit centre, this time via the seed. Litigation and the gradual de-registration of publicly available varieties will help persuade farmers to replace farm-saved seed with seed purchased from the company every year. Farmers are being promised more variety research and development, and more innovative new varieties through this privatized system. However, farmers will simply end up paying more royalties with no say in how these funds would be used.” In India, more than 280,000 farmers have committed suicide because of expensive, unreliable patented seeds. “Patenting seeds has huge costs for farmers, biodiversity, and the ecology,” said Shiva. “Fifty percent of Monsanto’s seed price is profit. That represented an 8000 percent price jump for Indian farmers.”

Monsanto justifies the price increase by saying farmers will save money on other supplies, such as fertilizer and pesticides. “But despite Monsanto’s promises, the patented seeds do not eliminate the need for pesticides,” said Shiva.

“[Monsanto’s] Bt seeds are failing now in Pakistan. It’s a failed technology.”
“Patenting seeds makes farmers consumers instead of producers, never able to keep up,” she said.The result in India is that “the same farmer sometimes buys seeds three times in a season, which for him is an unpayable debt. When the company agent comes to take the land because the farmer can’t afford to pay for the seed — land that may have been in his family for many generations — the farmer goes into the field and drinks a bottle of pesticide.”Canada’s Bill C-18 would give seed producers the right to confiscate farmland for seed nonpayment too. Shiva cited Mahatma Gandhi’s summation of ecological justice: the earth has enough for everyone’s needs but not for some people’s greed. And she asked: “How did we reach a stage where greed, once seen as a perversion, has become something to celebrate? “For most of history, everything that has been vital to living has been held in common. Governments and others are taking the commons, which are the property of all life, and turned them into private property.”

To forestall public resistance, she said, “Every enclosure of the commons has been justified on the grounds of progress.” She offered the story of the Kerala women’s campaign against the Coca Cola plant as an example. Writer Anita Roddick described the sheer destructiveness of the plant, which displaced thousands of agricultural workers from prime farming land,“As soon as the first nail was hammered, the plant was in violation of India’s Land Utilization Act, which forbids agricultural land from being converted for non-agricultural use. Where thousands of locals once worked the land for a living, just 100 local residents are employed at the plant, and another 150 as casual laborers who have no job security or appreciable benefits.

“The plant drilled more than 60 deep wells on the land in two years, and extracts between 600,000 and 1.5 million liters of water each day, at absolutely no cost to Coca-Cola. The aquifer is so over tapped; the water table has dropped below a measurable level in many areas. The three agricultural reservoirs in the region have dried up completely. What remains of the groundwater is polluted by runoff and rampant dumping along the banks of canals on the plant property.”
With their water polluted, the locals have few options besides purchasing pricey bottled Dasani water from the very plant that destroyed their farmland and their natural water supply. “Anywhere Coke lands, it lowers the local water table.” said Shiva, who worked with the local women to shut down the Kerala plant. She brought a greeting from one of them: “Tell them when they drink Coca Cola, they are drinking the blood of our people.”

Coke follows a familiar two-step pattern to create local markets, similar to the Shock Doctrine: first environmental disaster, then high prices. “In every enclosure of the commons,” said Shiva, “the first step is an enclosure by pollution, as Coke did, by allowing dumping into the local water supply. Then after you’ve created a scarcity, the next enclosure is privatization.”

Such tactics have backfired in India, though. “The World Bank’s demand that India privatize water caused so much civil unrest that the Delhi government had to backtrack. In India we feel that water is our sacred commons, and not a commodity. The River Ganges is Mother to all of us. Village after village blocked privatization of their water tanks.”

Air rights are undergoing a similar corporate grab for natural resources. “With the enclosure of the atmospheric commons,” said Shiva, “first polluters dumped excess greenhouse gases (GHGs) into the atmosphere that their stacks didn’t have the capacity to reuse. Then, once the climate destabilized, they used the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change work and the UN convention to say, ‘Now we can privatize – through emissions trading.’”

“I come from the area of the Himalayas that feeds all the branches of the Ganges. The glaciers there are retreating at a rate of 23 meters a year, 50 meters a year. This may not seem obvious, but hydro dams are part of emissions trading. There were 500 dams planned for our region. They only built 50, but those 50 destabilized the whole river system. The rivers rose 20 feet. My whole office was under four feet of water. Our region lost 20,000 people to the flood this year.”

Linear, profit-oriented thinking has shown its limitations – and its intentions. In her 2005 book, Earth Democracy, Shiva argued that “…globalization’s transformation of all beings and resources into commodities robs diverse species and people of their rightful share of econological, cultural, economic, and political space. The ‘ownership’ of the rich is based on the ‘dispossession’ of the poor – it is the common, public resources of the poor which are privatized, and the poor who are disowned economically, politically, and culturally.”

Vandana Shiva has opposed globalization since even before the 1999 popular uprising in Seattle. Moreover, she has an outstanding track record of mobilizing the people who are most vulnerable to displacement during economic development programs – the (often indigenous) peoples who make their living through subsistence farming and sharing. The 1993 Right Livelihood Award Committee called her record that of a “totally committed, very productive and effective activist-advocate-intellectual,” and gave her the prize “for putting women and ecology at the heart of modern development discourse.” She has of course picked up many other awards since then.

Shiva is equally effective in proposing alternatives to the corporatism she opposes. “Another human future is being born,” she wrote in Earth Democracy, “a future based on inclusion, not exclusion; on nonviolence, not violence; on reclaiming the commons, not their enclosure; on freely sharing the earth’s resources, not monopolizing and privatizing them…”

Instead, she calls for “living economies, living cultures, and living democracies” to emerge synergistically. “A global economy which takes ecological limits into account must necessarily localize production to reduce wasting both natural resources and people. And only economies built on ecological foundations can become living economies that ensure sustainability and prosperity for all….We are the food we eat, the water we drink, the air we breathe. And reclaiming democratic control over our food and water and our ecological survival is the necessary project for our freedom.”

No wonder then, that PIA invited Vandana Shiva to be keynote speaker at a conference called, “Re-asserting the Public Good in a Corporatized World” (in Edmonton at the Chateau Lacombe this weekend). Well, there are also a couple of decades of shared campaign history with PIA Executive Director Bill Moore-Kilgannon.

Also on the dynamic conference line-up are former Clerk of the Privy Council Alex Himelfarb; long-term Director of the Childcare Resource and Research Unit Martha Friendly; anti-tarsands activist Crystal Lameman, from the Beaver Lake Cree Nation; and Dr Craig Holman, Public Citizen’s government ethics lobbyist in Washington, DC.

Food is everyone’s business, as Vandana Shiva said. One small step towards reclaiming control over our food would be to heed the National Farmers’ Union, and sign their petition against Bill C-18.

 

                          
Categories: Ecological News

AFSA strongly condemns sleight of hand moves by ARIPO to join UPOV 1991, bypass National Laws and outlaw Farmers Rights

Navdanya Diary - Fri, 04/11/2014 - 13:46

 

AFSA STRONGLY CONDEMNS SLEIGHT OF HAND MOVES BY ARIPO TO JOIN UPOV 1991, BYPASS NATIONAL LAWS AND OUTLAW FARMERS RIGHTS

African Centre for Biosafety – Petitions, 3 April, 2014
Source: http://www.acbio.org.za/index.php/media/64-media-releases/456-afsa-strongly-condemns-sleight-of-hand-moves-by-aripo-to-join-upov-1991-bypass-national-laws-and-outlaw-farmers-rights

PRESS RELEASE

The Alliance for Food Sovereignty in Africa (AFSA) 1) strongly condemns the move by the African Regional Intellectual Property Organisation (ARIPO) to join UPOV 1991, which will effectively outlaw the centuries-old African farmers’ practice of freely using, exchanging and selling seeds/propagating material. These practices underpin 90% of the agricultural system within the ARIPO region 2).

AFSA has learnt that the Secretary General of ARIPO, on 6 March 2014, requested the UPOV Council to consider the Draft ARIPO Protocol for the Protection of Plant Varieties (‘Draft Protocol’) for its conformity with the UPOV 1991 Convention 3). If at the UPOV meeting to be held in Geneva on 11 April 2014, the UPOV Council decides that the Draft Protocol is indeed in conformity with UPOV 1991, and that ARIPO member states that ratify the Draft Protocol can join UPOV 1991, the implications will be far reaching.

According to Duke Tagoe from Food Sovereignty Ghana, a grassroots movement aggressively and successfully opposing Ghana’s Plant Variety Protection Bill, “this will mean that our government in Ghana, who has been struggling to pass our Plant Variety Protection (PVP) Bill because of local resistance that it is based on UPOV 1991, can simply dump our national processes and disregard farmer’ rights, ratify the ARIPO Protocol and become a UPOV 1991 member, all in one foul swoop. This is wholly unconstitutional, violates the rule of law and is totally outrageous.”

According to Mariam Mayet of the African Centre for Biosafety, an AFSA member, “ARIPO is acting way beyond its legal mandate. Furthermore, we are of the firm view that this move by ARIPO is in violation of several African regional instruments, including and especially the fundamental rights and freedoms protected by the African Charter on Human and People’s Rights. We will seek the necessary redress in this regard.”

AFSA has made several submissions to ARIPO detailing its many concerns with the content of the Draft Protocol, which is based on UPOV 1991, and the bias and lack of transparency in the accompanying processes 4). These concerns have fallen on deaf ears. In this regard, AFSA has warned ARIPO and its member states that UPOV 1991 is a wholly inappropriate, inflexible and restrictive regime designed for developed countries (particularly European nations) and the development of large-scale commercial farming and breeding focused on producing uniform plant varieties. Such a “one-size-fits-all” regime is unsuitable for African conditions, particularly for the “Least Developed Countries”, which make up the majority of ARIPO members.

According to Dr Million Belay, AFSA Coordinator, “We are appalled by the provisions of ARIPO’s draft protocol based on UPOV 1991, that forbids farmers from freely exchanging or selling farm-saved seed/propagating material even in circumstances where breeders’ interests are not affected (e.g. small amounts or local rural trade). Use of farm-saved seeds on a farmer’s own holdings is allowed only for certain crops and this too may be subject to the payment of royalties to the breeder. Further, farmers will be required to provide information to breeders on the use of farm-saved seed. This is totally unacceptable.”

The informal seed system prevailing in ARIPO member states is the primary source of subsistence, employment and income for the majority of the population in the ARIPO region, which consists mainly of the rural poor. About 80-90% of all seed used in the ARIPO region originates from the informal seed system (i.e. from farm-saved seed, exchanges, barter and local markets) independent of whether farmers cultivate local or modern varieties. According to Dr Belay, “The proposed draft protocol dismisses the millions of smallholders in ARIPO member states who depend on agriculture for their livelihoods, with the vast majority using farm-saved seed to ensure their food security. ARIPO appears to be intent on handing over our food and seed sovereignty to foreign corporations, reducing the availability of local plant varieties, weakening our rich biodiversity, and denying millions of farmers the right to breed, share and sell farm saved seed needed to feed their families and sustain livelihoods.”

AFSA demands that UPOV member states not allow ARIPO to join UPOV 1991 and that the Draft Protocol be sent back to the drawing board; that ARIPO consult with smallholders; and, especially, that it discuss appropriate seed laws for Africa, with the obligation of protecting biodiversity, farmers’ rights and overall ecological productivity entrenched as a primary objective.
Ends

Notes to Editors:

A positive ruling by the UPOV Council in favour of the Draft Protocol being in compliance with UPOV 1991 will most likely result in the Draft Protocol being adopted as a final Protocol at an ARIPO Diplomatic Conference to be held later this year.
The ARIPO PVP Protocol will come into force when only four member states of ARIPO ratify the Protocol, and any of these members will be able to join UPOV 1991, even if that member does not have a national PVP law in place, in the event that the UPOV Council deciding that member states of ARIPO who ratify the Protocol can join UPOV 1991.

Contact:

Dr Millon Belay, Coordinator AFSA
Email: millionbelay@gmail.com
Mr Duke Tagoe, Food Sovereignty Ghana
Email: dukezulu@yandex.com
Tel: +233 277776686/ +233 265743484
Ms Mariam Mayet,
Email: Mariam@acbio.org.za

  1. The Alliance for Food Sovereignty in Africa is a pan-African platform that represents small-scale farmers, pastoralists, hunter/gatherers, indigenous peoples, citizens and environmentalists from Africa. It comprises networks and farmer organisations working in Africa including the African Biodiversity network (ABN), Coalition for the Protection of African Genetic Heritage (COPAGEN), Comparing and Supporting Endogenous Development (COMPAS) Africa, Friends of the Earth-Africa, Indigenous Peoples of Africa Coordinating Committee (IPACC), Participatory Ecological Land Use Management (PELUM) Association, Eastern and Southern African Small Scale Farmers Forum (ESAFF), La Via Campesina Africa, FAHAMU, World Neighbours, Network of Farmers’ and Agricultural Producers’ Organizations of West Africa (ROPPA), Community Knowledge Systems (CKS) and Plate forme Sous Régionale des Organisations Paysannes d’Afrique Centrale (PROPAC).
  2. The African Regional Intellectual Property Organisation, ARIPO was mainly established to pool the resources of its member countries in industrial property matters. The following countries are members of ARIPO: Botswana, Gambia, Ghana, Kenya, Lesotho, Malawi, Mozambique, Namibia, Sierra Leone, Liberia, Rwanda, Somalia, Sudan, Swaziland, Tanzania, Uganda, Zambia and Zimbabwe (Total: 18 Member States).
  3. International Convention for the Protection of New Varieties of Plants of December 2, 1961, as revised at Geneva on November 10, 1972, on October 23, 1978, and March 19, 1991.
  4. Submission by African CSOs to ARIPO on its Draft PVP Law and Policies, November 2012 http://www.acbio.org.za/images/stories/dmdocuments/CSOconcernsonARIPO-PVPframework.pdf. AFSA’s Comments on ARIPO’s Response to Civil Society: Draft Legal Framework for Plant Variety Protection, March 2014. http://www.acbio.org.za/images/stories/dmdocuments/AFSA-letter-ARIPO-March2014.pdf.

 

                          
Categories: Ecological News

Sin maíz no hay paíz | Sign Letter to Mexican President Peña-Nieto!

Navdanya Diary - Thu, 04/10/2014 - 15:28

Cocodrillo rojo. Artwork by Francisco Toledo.

 

Sin maíz no hay paíz (No Maize, No Country) | Sign Letter to Mexican President Peña-Nieto!

Devon G. Peña
Environmental and Food Justice, 8 April, 2014

Source: http://ejfood.blogspot.it/2014/04/sin-maiz-no-hay-paiz-sign-letter-to.html

Moderator’s Note: Yesterday we posted a letter by Dr. David Schubert, an eminent immunologist from the Salk Institute in La Jolla, CA. It was addressed to Mexico’s President Lic. Enrique Peña Nieto and explained the scientific evidence and logic that Mexico should consider in moving to adopt policies resulting in a permanent ban on future planting of GMO corn inside Mexican territory. Mexico is one of the world’s principal Vavilov Centers and its indigenous farmers have over thousands of years developed the enormous diversity of more than 60 land race varieties of corn, or Zea mays. Schubert also argues that the place of corn as the definitive staple of the Mexican diet has unique health implications and no one else has ever eaten the amount of GMO corn that would be the case if the transgenic varieties are approved for future planting.

To follow-up on yesterday’s post, I am sharing a second letter with a link to a Spanish language website of the Union of Scientists Committed to Society (Mexico). The link serves the Mexican civil society movement that is seeking 1 million signatures for a letter to be sent by Mexican and global civil society to President Peña Nieto. It is essential that followers and readers of this blog sign the letter and share the link with friends and colleagues; everyone may of course repost and circulate this information to listeners. Let’s participate in the 1 million signatures against Monsanto in Mexico.

The letter below was prepared by Francisco Toledo, a renowned painter and eco-activist, and José Márquez, a respected archaeologist of Oaxaca. Toledo is the founder of PRO-OAX, Patronato, Defensa, y Conservación del Patrimonio Cultural y Natural del Estado de Oaxaca, A.C. The letter is addressed to President Lic. Enrique Peña Nieto and the authors end with call on people to join in the 1 Million against Monsanto in Mexico.

Direct link to sign the letter: Union of Scientists Committed to Society Letter to the President of Mexico on Opposition to GMO Corn

 

WE WHO LOVE MEXICO : A LETTER TO THE MEXICAN PRESIDENT

30 March 2014

Lic Enrique Peña Nieto

Presidente Constitucional de los

Estados Unidos Mexicanos

We who sign this letter are women and men who love Mexico. We are farmers, workers, students, business people, and researchers. Mexico’s diversity and peoples’ solidarity is reflected in us. On directing this letter to you, we are thinking about the future of our country and of humanity. In the first place, we are concerned for the health of our children.

We are convinced that transgenic corn is bad for Mexico. The transnational corporations that promote these seeds are seeking to make money. For us the health of our bodies and the health of the land do not have a price. We know that transgenic maize will contaminate our native maize varieties cultivated in Mexico. We know this contamination cannot be remedied once it starts. We know that this contamination signifies profit for a few, with a high cost for the majority of Mexicans.

Dr. David Schubert is an eminent researcher with international prestige. His experience permits him to understand the long-term effects of transgenics. He sent you a letter in October of last year to explain why Mexico should not approve the planting of transgenic maize. We ask you to listen to the words of scientists as respected as Dr. Shubert. And on reviewing the reasons provided by science, we ask that you also listen to the voice [sic] of indigenous communities, the voice of the farmers and the voice of the people in the cities who do not want these seeds. We reject transgenics because to contaminate our maize is to injure the heart of Mexico.

Attentively,

Maestro Francisco Toledo - Founder of PRO-OAX

Arq. José Márquez - President, PRO-OAX

—-

More information:

Mexican Judge Throws out Monsanto Appeal to Confirm GM Maize Ban
Sustainable Pulse, 30 December 2013

A Mexican judge has thrown out the appeals of Mexico’s SEMARNAT (Environment and Natural Resources Ministry), and Monsanto, who were attempting to overturn a September court ruling that banned the planting of GM maize in Mexico.
Read more: http://sustainablepulse.com/2013/12/30/mexican-judge-throws-monsanto-appeal-confirm-gm-maize-ban/#.U0ZYFFfesTA

-

Mexico’s GM Crops Battle Attracts Expert Attention
Sustainable Pulse, 18 March 2014

Mexico is one of the most extraordinary places on Earth when it comes to agricultural biodiversity, with the majority of the country being globally recognized as a Vavilov center (1) or in other words a center of crop origin and evolution. Maize, one of the world’s most widely grown agricultural crops and the main ingredient in the famous Mexican tortilla, is even known to have originated from the beautiful Tehuacan Valley (2).
Read more: http://sustainablepulse.com/2014/03/18/mexicos-gm-crops-battle-attracts-expert-attention/#.U0ZZGlfesTC

#SeedFreedom Action, 15 April 2014

MEXICO CITY: Dr. Vandana Shiva’s Public Conference on “Farmers’ Seeds” – Semillas Campesinas: http://bit.ly/1qvIRbL (click on map marker for details)

Dr. Shiva will be with Ana de Ita and the group that faught the class action suit against Monsanto.

—-

30 November 2013 Maize Celebration: https://www.facebook.com/photo.php?fbid=465660436879738&set=a.270252479753869.54028.238484846263966

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120.000 signatures Campaign: http://www.maizlibre.org/
https://www.facebook.com/photo.php?fbid=412390235540092&set=pb.238484846263966.-2207520000.1397045944

The Flower of Corn from The Perennial Plate on Vimeo.

 

 

                          
Categories: Ecological News

Farmers are cheated in Bt Brinjal ‘field cultivation’: A failed attempt at the cost of risks to human health and environment

Navdanya Diary - Wed, 04/09/2014 - 17:57

Bt Brinjal Curley leaves.Photo by Nowsher Roman

 

Farmers are cheated in Bt Brinjal ‘field cultivation’: A failed attempt at the cost of risks to human health and environment

Farida Akhter
UBINIG, 9 April, 2014

Source: http://www.ubinig.org/index.php/home/showAerticle/56/english

On 22nd January, 2014 twenty farmers from four districts were given saplings of Bt Brinjal in a ceremony organized by the Bangladesh Agricultural Research Institute (BARI) at the Bangladesh Agricultural Research Council (BARC). The Agricultural Minister Matia Chowdhury gave out the trays of saplings along with a booklet.

The farmers selected by BARI were happy because they thought they were fortunate to be chosen for such a ceremonial distribution of saplings. Matia said in her address as the chief guest, “We have decided to start cultivating Bt brinjal after different necessary tests at home and abroad. We took a long time to experiment for the pros and cons of introducing the cultivation of this variety. There is no alternative, but to accept the reality of GM crops to ensure food security of the people. The government is always alert for any kind of “negative reaction to the public’s health and the environment”.

However, there was no sign of taking any precaution for the safety of public health and environment at the field level. Even in the meeting there was no representative from the Ministry of Environment and Ministry of Health. The special guest was Ms. Janina Jarulski, Mission Director, USAID, Dhaka as the programme was sponsored by ABSP-II, USAID. The ceremony was chaired by Mr. S. M. Nazmul Islam, Secretary, Ministry of Agriculture, GOB, with other important guests such as M. Showkat Ali, Former Advisor to the Caretaker Government (who was also a promoter of biotechnology) Md. Kamaluddin, Executive Chairman, BARC and Md. Rafiqul Islam Mondol, Director General, BARI.

The ceremony and its guests, clearly showed that the event had nothing to do with orienting farmers with a particular GM crop that has been given to them, which in fact needed special attention against its potential hazards. Rather the newspapers supporting such an introduction stated that “Bangladesh formally started the cultivation of the country’s first genetically modified (GM) crop–Bt Brinjal today (22nd January, 2014). As part of the initiatives, Bangladesh Agricultural Research Institute (BARI) distributed saplings of the new crop among 20 farmers of four regions from 4 areas (Jamalpur, Rangpur, Pabna and Gazipur). Four varieties of Bt Brinjal including Bt Brinjal 1 (Uttara), Bt. Brinjal 2 (Kajla), Bt Brinjal 3 (Nayantara) and Bt. Brinjal 4 (Bari ISD006) were given to farmers in each area. That means all the four varieties are going to be cultivated in all the four areas by four different farmers.

We, the coalition against Bt. brinjal, formed in December 2013 by farmers and environmental groups protesting against the premature approval by the National Committee on Biosafety under the Ministry of Environment of limited open field cultivation, monitored by the planting of the saplings.

We noticed two things. Firstly, the farmers who are given the saplings for cultivation have no idea, no such training given, as requirement for approval. We couldn’t understand by talking to the farmers, what the farmers were told at the time of the distribution of saplings. The booklet given to them explained in a very technical and sophisticated way the methods of planting of seeds and how they should be taken care of. The farmers hardly seemed to have read it or followed it. The ceremony in Dhaka was for the media, to show that Bangladesh is well prepared to join a group of 29 countries that grow GM crops as if that is something Bangladesh needs! It is like becoming a champion of corruption.

Secondly, any opposition to Bt Brinjal was seen as opposing the ruling party, and particularly the Agricultural Minister Matia Chowdhury. So in the local area, it was the local Awami League Party cadres who reacted to any critical remarks on Bt. Brinjal saying that it is the “child” of the Agricultural Minister. So no opposition was allowed.

In the first visit to Bharoimari village, I was with Nayakrishi farmers. The plan was to hold a human chain by the farmers to create awareness among the village people about the safety aspects of this Bt. Brinjal which is not just any common brinjal, it is a GMO. The farmer Tarikuzzaman Sumon (35) is a young commercial vegetable farmer. He also runs a shop. Sumon was contacted the day before our visit and he had no objection. On 9th March, when we went there and I wanted to visit the field where Bt. brinjals was cultivated, at first there was no reaction. The Assistant Agricultural Officer Mr. Abdur Rashid was present. He called ‘someone’ and immediately his mood changed and he got very angry. He did not allow Sumon to accompany us to his field. The Agricultural officer took us there on his motor bike. We followed him in our mini-bus. On the motor-bike one UBINIG member of staff was with him. The officer told him, “Why are you making so much noise against this?”. The plants are not performing very well, so what’s the point in resisting it. He also said, we have to follow the government orders, that’s all.”

A few journalists, my colleagues and I, saw the field. It was fenced off by a synthetic fish-net with a bamboo-gate to enter the field. The size of the plot was 33 decimal, and here the Bt brinjal saplings are planted. There was no sign board and therefore no way to know which variety was planted. The condition of the plants was not good. Over 50% were drying out, despite the fact that, they had been watered in the morning. The soil was wet but looked it like dry land. In the four surrounding areas of the field there was wheat on one side, sweet gourd on the other and okra on the third side. The field was open in front.

The local journalists came, and I spoke to them. In the meantime, we got message from the rally point that they were being disbanded by the Awami League local leaders, and they were saying these plants were given by Matia Chowdhury so there cannot be any opposition to it. Clearly they took a partisan position, although we did not even mention anything about Matia Chowdhury. We were only raising concerns about its safety aspects. Soon our farmers came to the field chased by the party people with sticks in their hand. They hit several people and used abusive language against the women farmers. One woman farmer complained that she never was insulted in this way before.

Then we talked to one of the leader Wazed who was not willing to listen to us. However, we insisted on talking to him and said that we want to know if they find out that it will be harmful will they stop it. Finally with the mediation of the journalists, it was decided that we will sit down with the local leaders and share our concerns. They promised to provide support in they are convinced. Afterwards, our farmers demanded to hold the rally in front of a nearby school in Dashuria, on the highway of Pabna-Ishwardi.

The news of the attack appeared in several newspapers which led to reaction among the civil society against Bt Brinjal. A group of lawyers, journalists and environmentalists visited the field sites again in Pabna on 31st March, 2014. This time the plants in Sumon’s field looked fresh but the leaves were all curled, affected by pests. Sumon was not available. He closed his shop and went away somewhere, clearly trying to avoid the visitors. They were giving some compost in the field. The plants were too small to have fruit, although the local brinjal plants in the nearby fields have already been harvested few times.

Then we went to the field of farmer Amjad Hossain, in village Bakterpur who is basically a horticulture farmer, commonly known as Peyara (guava) Amzad. He also cultivates Litchi. He did not have any separate land allocated for Bt. Brinjal; those were planted in the Litchi garden. Peyara Amzad knew about the visit of the Coalition members, so he decided not to be at home. However, other farmers came to talk to us. No one has any idea about Bt Brinjal. They only said they were told it will not have fruit and shoot borer pest. But what about the plants? One farmer said, may be the plant will be infested by the pest and only the fruit will be safe from pests.

The seedlings were planted very late, in the second week of March 2014. An overview of the field shows the seedlings were transplanted in a line with 75 cm (approx.) spacing between rows and 75 cm between plants in the rows. The plants were 15-27 cm high at the time of visit. As an Agricultural scientist Dr. M. A. Sobhan accompanied the team. He identified that the Brinjal plants in both plots were infested by aphids, white fly and red mite. Most of the leaves of the brinjal plants were curled due to infestation of insects and mite. The Bt. brinjal plot of Shumon Mia was relatively less affected by the insects and mite. But the scale of infestation by insects and mite in the field of Amjad Hossain was such that the plants may not survive up to bearing stage.

Interestingly, while Sumon’s field can have “no pesticide spraying”, Amzad’s field will be sprayed with pesticide because of the litchi garden. How can they save Bt. Brinjal plants from pesticides which are just under the Litchi trees?

In a plot of this size, if they have proper production then they may get almost 200 kilos of brinjals. With local variety of brinjals they usually harvest 2 or 3 times a week, which means there will be enough to sell. It is unlikely that farmers are going to consume all their produce. They have to sell their product otherwise the farmers will be at loss. What are they going to do with such huge amount of brinjal.

We asked, how these brinjals can be distinguished from the normal varieties? Farmers said, we don’t know.

Bangladeshi soil is rejecting the GM crops, as it is an insult to a country which is so rich in biodiversity and has so many varieties of brinjals. Farmers were cheated by modern agriculture by believing in modern science and adopted HYV package. Then it has taken the corporate control of Hybrid seeds and became dependent on fertilizers and pesticides. Now they are given false promises – being saved from pest attack, claiming that “usually farmers have to spray pesticides up to 80 times in a cropping season of brinjal against a recommended dose of 25, making the vegetable highly toxic and that Bt gene insertion in brinjal makes it resistant to fruit and shoot borer (FSB) that causes 50 to 70 percent loss of brinjal yield.

But now, the farmers who felt that they were lucky because they were “chosen” for Bt Brinjal are now feeling cheated, yet they cannot talk about it. But farmers like Amzad who is not vegetable grower said, “Why should we bother? We took it because government gave it to us. If it is harmful, why should I care?”

                          
Categories: Ecological News

Carovana Internazionale di Solidarietà per i Semi – Festival dei Semi, del Cibo e della Democrazia della Terra a Firenze

Navdanya Diary - Wed, 04/09/2014 - 17:05

Carovana Internazionale di Solidarietà per i Semi – Festival dei Semi, del Cibo e della Democrazia della Terra a Firenze

Comunicato Stampa

Il 28 e 29 aprile Firenze ospita il Festival dei semi, del Cibo e della Democrazia della Terra Con Vandana Shiva per una nuova economia 

Il Festival costituisce una tappa della “Carovana dei semi” una manifestazione itinerante  che porterà in Europa la voce di chi vuole un’agricoltura libera da veleni e da OGM e a favore dei semi locali e delle biodiversità.

Perché i semi della Libertà?

Navdanya International è impegnata da anni nella “Campagna Globale per i semi della libertà” per sensibilizzare l’opinione pubblica e i governi sull’importanza di difendere le sementi locali, un bene pubblico quindi libero da brevetti e dai monopoli delle multinazionali.

Perché un Festival?

Promosso da Seed Freedom, Navdanya International, la Fierucola con il Patrocinio della Regione Toscana è un evento aperto a tutte le associazioni,   e istituzioni che lavorano sui semi, sul cibo e per la democrazia della terra. Un programma pensato per tutti, dai bambini ai produttori. Oltre 20 le associazioni che hanno già aderito.

La Carovana

Il 26 Aprile a Mesochori, Paranestiou, Grecia la comunità “Peliti” organizzerà la XIVa Celebrazione dello Scambio Nazionale delle varietà locali sul proprio territorio.

Da lì partirà il giorno seguente la Carovana Internazionale di Solidarietà per i Semi. Dopo aver attraversato il Mediterraneo ed essere approdata ad Ancona, inizierà il suo viaggio attraverso l’Italia, facendo tappa a

Firenze: il 29 aprile, con la partecipazione di Vandana Shiva, dove si terrà il Festival per la Libertà dei Semi, del Cibo e della Democrazia della Terra in Piazza SS Annunziata.

Il 30 aprile, il Caravan sarà a Genova con Terra Onlus! per poi ripartire e raggiungere il sud della Francia (Le Mas d’Azil), dove prenderà parte al Festival Internazionale dei Semi dal 1 ° al 4 maggio organizzato da Kokopelli (https://kokopelli-semences.fr).

La Carovana è stata organizzata grazie alla collaborazione di varie associazioni, tra cui Peliti (Grecia), L’Alleanza Globale per la Libertà dei Semi (Seed Freedom – Internazionale), Navdanya International e Kokopelli (Francia).

La Promessa dei bambini

Il Festival si apre all’Orto Botanico con  la firma della “Promessa” tra i bambini e ragazzi e Vandana Shiva  insieme agli agricoltori custodi. La consegna alle giovani generazioni dei semi da parte degli agricoltori è un gesto simbolico che richiama le più antiche tradizioni di condivisione dei saperi.

Il Festival

Piazza SS. Annunziata, nel cuore di Firenze, è la sede del Festival. Incontri, dibattiti, il mercato della Fierucola e della rete dei mercati contadini con la vendita e lo scambio di semi autoprodotti, laboratori, musica.

Il Programma

1. 28 Aprile: 

Palazzo Budini Gattai

inizio ore 14:30 -“Per un’alleanza sui semi” Incontro riservato tra Navdanya International, Vandana Shiva, la Rete Semi Rurali, il Coordinamento Europeo Liberiamo la Diversità.

inizio ore 17:30- “Terra bene comune”, incontro  Navdanya International, Vandana Shiva  con il movimento “Verso Mondeggi-Bene Comune”.

2. 29 Aprile:

Orto Botanico (via Micheli 3)

ore 10.00 benvenuto da parte dell’Orto Botanico e di Orti Dipinti ai bambini (attività elaboratori nell’orto)

ore 11.00 Firma della Promessa sui semi tra i bambini e Vandana Shiva insieme agli agricoltori custodi

Piazza SS. Annunziata

ore 11:00 apertura del mercato

ore 12:30 presentazione del Festival con Vandana Shiva

Nel corso del pomeriggio: interventi sul palco intervallati a musica e teatro

ore 15:30 Sotto le logge, laboratorio sui semi per bambini e ragazzi

Palazzo Budini Gattai 

inizio ore 14:30 -Incontro aperto con Associazioni e movimenti impegnati sui semi, sul cibo e sull’accesso alla Terra  per condividere strategie per il futuro e rafforzare il movimento per i Semi della Libertà, la libertà del cibo e La Democrazia della Terra.

inizio ore 17:00 – “Semi di cultura”, incontro con Regione Toscana, Banca Popolare Etica, Navdanya International e i partner di Terra Futura

Conclusione del festival in piazza - Testimonianza Salvatore Ceccarelli e conclusione di Vandana Shiva - Finale in musica - Piazza SS. Annunziata

INGRESSO LIBERO

info: www.navdanyainternational.it

Il Festival è organizzato da Seed Freedom, Navdanya International e La Fierucola con il Patrocinio della Regione Toscana e di Banca Popolare Etica. In collaborazione con: Rete Semi Rurali; Donne in Campo; Museo di Storia Naturale, sezione Orto Botanico di Firenze; Community Garden con Orti Dipinti; Peliti; Associazione Italiana per l’Agricoltura Biodinamica; Coordinamento Toscano Produttori Biologici; Associazione Italiana per l’Agricoltura Biologica; Rete dei mercati contadini; Associazione fiorentina per la Permacoltura; AAM Terra Nuova; Biblioteca delle Oblate; Sportello Eco Equo con Orti Volanti e altre in via di adesione. Saranno inoltre presenti esponenti di altre associazioni europee tra cui Demeter, Red de Semillas, Arche Noah, Open House e altre in via di adesione.

 

Ulteriori Informazioni

Contatti:

info@seedfreedom.in

Italia – info@navdanyainternational.it/info@terraonlus.it

Grecia – caravan@peliti.gr

Francia – dominique@kokopelli-semences.fr

Greco: Διεθνές Καραβάνι Αλληλεγγύης για τους Σπόρους – 14η Πανελλαδική Γιορτή Ανταλλαγής Ντόπιων Ποικιλιών

Francese: Caravane Internationale de Solidarite pour les Semences et Journées internationales de la semence

Italiano: Carovana Internazionale di Solidarietà per i Semi e Festival per la Libertà dei Semi a Firenze

Spagnolo: Caravana Solidaria Internacional por las Semillas

 

                          
Categories: Ecological News

World's first airborne wind turbine will be tested in Alaska

Green Blog - Wed, 04/09/2014 - 17:05
A big helium-filled wind-turbine will soon float just south over the city of Fairbanks in Alaska, USA. The floating wind turbine, which is designed and built by Altaeros Energies, will hover at nearly 305 meters up in the sky and generate electricity for more than a dozen families living off the grid.

Airborne wind turbines is nothing new. We wrote about similar wind power technology as early as 2008 with the MARS prototype from Magenn. But this will be the first long-term demonstration of an airborne wind technology. The BAT-Buoyant Airborne Turbine will be in the sky for 18 months, with a total project cost of $1.3 million. Altaeros Energies hopes that BAT-Buoyant Airborne Turbine, and similar wind solutions, will play a role in tackling high energy costs in remote regions such as Alaska.

“We are pleased to work with the Alaska Energy Authority and TDX Power to deploy our flexible, low cost power solution for remote communities,” stated Ben Glass, Altaeros Chief Executive Officer. “The project will generate enough energy to power over a dozen homes.”

There are some obvious advantages with this type of wind turbines. They can be transported and setup in remote locations without the need for large cranes, towers or foundation works which are required for more traditional wind turbines. Despite its floating, kite like design, the airborne wind turbine is able to be used in harsh weather conditions. The wind turbine will also generate substantially less noise and requires very little maintenance. Besides electricity, it can also provide cell service, data coverage (i.e. Wi-Fi) and local weather data.

Because of its high altitude, the BAT-Buoyant Airborne Turbine will be able to catch air currents that are five to eight times stronger than winds closer to the ground. It’s estimated the floating wind turbine design will generate twice the electricity output of its ground-based counterparts. The floating wind turbine will feed energy into the grid through cables that are connected to the ground.

Album: Airborne Wind Turbine 13 images 0 comments
Categories: Ecological News

High-Level Roundtable on «Food and Nutrition Security through Sustainable Agriculture and Food Systems in the Post-2015 Agenda»

Navdanya Diary - Wed, 04/09/2014 - 03:48

 

High-Level Roundtable on Food and Nutrition Security through Sustainable Agriculture and Food Systems in the Post-2015 Agenda

Message from the High Level Roundtable held on 27th and 28th March 2014 in New York:

Download the pdf here to read the complete message/report: NOURISH OUR PEOPLE, NOURISH OUR PLANET – SHIFT: Food and Nutrition Security through Sustainable Agriculture and Food Systems in the Post-2015 Agenda

High-level Roundtable Calls for 7 Targets on Food and Nutrition Security

Post 2015 Policy and Practice, 28 MArch, 2014
Source: http://post2015.iisd.org/news/high-level-roundtable-calls-for-7-targets-on-food-and-nutrition-security/

Participants in the High-level Roundtable on ‘Food and Nutrition Security through Sustainable Agriculture and Food Systems in the post-2015 Agenda’ have issued a message titled ‘SHIFT: Food and Nutrition Security through Sustainable Agriculture and Food Systems in the Post-2015 Agenda.’ The event, convening in New York, US, on 27-28 March 2014, was hosted by the Government of Benin, Biovision Foundation, and the Millennium Institute, with support from the Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation, the German Federal Environment Agency, IDDRI, the Third World Network and WSPA.

Participants included high-level representatives from governments, the UN System, research, civil society, farmers, and the private sector.

The message calls for “SHIFT” in the post-2015 development agenda and specifically a goal on Sustainable Agriculture, Food Security and Nutrition. SHIFT refers to five elements: Small-scale food producers empowered; Hunger and all forms of malnutrition ended, and full access to food ensured; Inclusiveness in decision-making on sustainable agriculture, food security and nutrition; Food systems established which are sustainable, diverse and resilient, less wasteful, restore soil fertility and halt land degradation; and Trade policies reshaped and food price volatility mitigated.

The message also includes seven proposed targets to be achieved by 2030: Secure year-round access to safe, adequate, nutritious and affordable food for all; End hunger and malnutrition in all its forms, with special attention to stunting; Ensure small-scale food producers, especially women and youth, have secure access to knowledge, productive resources and services to sustainably improve their livelihood, including income, productivity and resilience; Implement productive, resilient, and diverse sustainable agriculture and food systems that maintain and regenerate natural resources and ecosystems; Reverse land degradation through prevention and restoration; Halve the global rate of food losses and waste throughout the food supply chain; and Ensure markets are functioning and accessible for all, especially smallholders and women, through reshaping trade policies, including phasing-out export and other harmful subsidies, and measures to mitigate excessive food price volatility.

The roundtable’s message also suggested that climate, ecosystems and biodiversity, economic growth, gender equality, health, infrastructure, means of implementation, oceans sustainable consumption and production, urbanization and water be included in other focus areas of the post-2015 agenda.

In addition, it notes that guiding and monitoring of the implementation of the post-2015 agenda related to food and nutrition security and sustainable agriculture and food systems, can best be provided by the Committee on World Food Security (CFS).

Discussions during the two-day event covered/highlighted: the integration of the issue with other thematic areas; the transformation needed in the agricultural sector; the livelihoods of small-holder farmers; the challenges of food production and access; the need to craft limited and concise targets; and the availability of data for measurement. Participants considered how to balance the multiple, detailed ideas for target areas with the need for a goal that everyone can understand. Debate also centered on how to craft a goal and targets that are “transformative” and that provide the right signals and incentives to change behavior in the economic sector.

The agreed recommendations from the Roundtable will be submitted to the co-chairs of the UN General Assembly’s Open Working Group (OWG) on Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). A meeting report also is being prepared by the co-hosts and organizers, detailing discussions of the issues presented in the Message. [IISD RS Sources] [High-level Roundtable Website] [High-level Roundtable Press Release] [Outcome Message]

High-Level Roundtable on SDG in New York

Biovision, March 2014

With a high-level Roundtable in New York, Biovision seeks to win support from important stakeholders for its ideas for a Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) on Food Security, Nutrition and Sustainable Agriculture.

Read More: http://www.biovision.ch/en/news/details/article/high-level-roundtable-on-sdg-in-new-york/

                          
Categories: Ecological News

Seed Freedom Caravan: Seed, Food and Earth Democracy Festival in Florence.

Navdanya Diary - Tue, 04/08/2014 - 21:03

Seed Freedom Caravan: Seed, Food and Earth Democracy Festival in Florence

Media Release

On the 28th and the 29th of April, Florence will be hosting the Seed, Food and Earth Democracy Festival, with Vandana Shiva for a new economy.

The Festival is one of the stages of the “Seed Caravan”, a traveling event to bring to the attention of Europe the voices of those who want their agriculture to be free of poisons and GMOs and in favour of local seeds and biodiversity.

Why Seed Freedom?

For many years now, Navdanya International has been working on the “Global Campaign for Seed Freedom”, aiming to increase both government and public awareness of the importance of defending local seed, a commons, and therefore free from patents and monopolies of multinational companies.

Why a Festival?

Sponsored by Seed Freedom, Navdanya International and la Fierucola, and with the Patronage of the Regione Toscana, this event is open to all associations and institutions working on seed, food and for the promotion of Earth Democracy. The programme has been thought out keeping everyone in mind, from children to producers. Already, more than 20 associations have signed up.

The Caravan

  • On the 26th  of April, in Mesochori, Paranestiou, Greece, The “Peliti” community will be celebrating a Day of Exchange of local seed varieties.
  • The Caravan will start in Greece and will be in Florence on the 28th and 29th of April,
  • On the 30th of April, the Caravan will be in Genoa with Terra Onlus! and then move on to France.
  • In Le Mas d’Azil, France from the 1st to the 4th of May, as part of the Kokopelli programme, the International Days of the Seed will be held.
  • The Caravan has been organised through the collaboration of various associations, namely Peliti (Greece), Seed Freedom, Global Movement, Navdanya International and Kokopelli (France).

The children’s Pledge

The Festival will begin at the Orto Botanico, Florence’s historic botanical garden with the conferring of the care of the seed to school children and youth by Vandana Shiva and farmer-custodians followed by a joint signing of a  “Pledge” of the children  and young adults. The handing-over of seeds by the farmer-custodians is a symbolic gesture which recalls the age-old tradition of the handing-down and sharing of knowledge.

The Festival

The Festival will be held in Piazza Santissima Annunziata in the heart of Florence. People will be able to meet, take part in debates, participate in workshops, enjoy the market of La Fierucola with its country-market stalls allowing the exchange, as well as the sale, of farm-fresh, homegrown and homemade produce.  There will be much music.

 

The Programme: 

1. 28th April: 

Palazzo Budini Gattai

At 14:30 - “An alliance for seed” - Meeting reserved to Navdanya International, Vandana Shiva,  Rete Semi Rurali,  Coordinamento Europeo Liberiamo la Diversità.

At 17:30 - “Land, a common good”, a meeting with the movement “Verso Mondeggi-Bene Comune”

2. 29th April: 

Orto Botanico (via Micheli 3)

At 10:00 - Welcome speech for children, given by the Orto Botanico and Orti Dipinti (activities and workshops held in the vegetable garden of Orti Dipinti)

At 11:00 - The signing of the Pledge between the children, Vandana Shiva and the farmer-custodians.

Piazza Santissima Annunziata

At 11:00 - The market opens at 12:30 Presentation of the Festival with Vandana Shiva

During the afternoon: Various talks on stage with intervals of music and theatre

At 15:30 - Beneath the Loggia, a workshop on seed for children and young adults

At 18:00 - Salvatore Ceccarelli speaks, followed by Vandana Shiva’s conclusive speech.

Palazzo Budini Gattai

At 14:30 - Open meeting with Associations and movements concerned with seed, food and access to the Soil, to debate and share strategies for the future and to strengthen the movement for Seed Freedom, Food Freedom and Earth Democracy.

At 17:00 - “Seeds of Culture”, meeting with Regione Toscana, Banca Popolare Etica, Navdanya International and the partners of Terra Futura

FREE ENTRY

info: www.navdanyainternational.it

The Festival is organised by Seed freedom, Navdanya International and La Fierucola, with the patronage of Regione Toscana and Banca Popolare Etica.

Also in collaboration with: Rete Semi Rurali; Donne in Campo; Orto Botanico di Firenze (as part of Museo di Storia Naturale); Community Garden with Orti Dipinti; Peliti; Associazione Italiana per l’Agricoltura Biodinamica; Coordinamento Toscano Produttori Biologici; Associazione Italiana per l’Agricoltura Biologica; Rete dei Mercati Contadini; Associazione Fiorentina per la Permacoltura; AAM Terra Nuova; Biblioteca delle Oblate; Sportello Eco Equo con Orti Volanti and more still signing up.

Other European associations will be present, some amongst them being Demeter, Red de Semillas, Arche Noah, Open House and more still signing up.

More Information

Contact:

info@seedfreedom.in

For Italy – info@navdanyainternational.it/info@terraonlus.it

For Greece – caravan@peliti.gr

For France – dominique@kokopelli-semences.fr

 

More information:

Greek: Διεθνές Καραβάνι Αλληλεγγύης για τους Σπόρους14η Πανελλαδική Γιορτή Ανταλλαγής Ντόπιων Ποικιλιών

French: Caravane Internationale de Solidarite pour les Semences et Journées internationales de la semence

Italian: Carovana Internazionale di Solidarietà per i Semi e Festival per la Libertà dei Semi a Firenze

Spanish: Caravana Solidaria Internacional por las Semillas

 

                          
Categories: Ecological News

Pest Resistant BT Brinjal comes under pest attack in Bangladesh

Navdanya Diary - Tue, 04/08/2014 - 17:08

 

Pest Resistant BT Brinjal comes under pest attack

The Financial Express, 7 April, 2014
Source: http://www.thefinancialexpress-bd.com/2014/04/07/27497

Bt Brinjal, introduced in the country by the government for its pest resistance, has severely been attacked by pests this season for which farmers are now forced to spray a lot of pesticides, farmers alleged.

Seeds of the genetically modified (GM) vegetable variety, which is being permitted to be cultivated at farmers’ level despite huge protest from the biodiversity experts and common people, were given to farmers on January 20 this year.

The Bangladesh Agricultural Research Institute (BARI), under an agreement with multinational seed giant Monsanto-Mahyco, developed Bt Brinjal after inserting Bt gene to nine local brinjal seed varieties.

The BARI said the variety is resistant to pests and farmers do not need pesticides any more.

The Institute got permission from the National Committee on Biosafety (NCB) for a limited scale cultivation of Bt Brinjal in October last year.

From January 22 this year, 20 farmers from Rangpur, Pabna, Jamalpur, Gazipur and Sherpur districts in the country were given Bt Brinjal seeds. Haidul Islam at Shaitail village under Telihati union at Sripur upazila under Gazipur district is one of these farmers.

Visiting his brinjal field on Tuesday, the FE correspondent found 25-30 per cent of the plants dead and the rest were struggling for survival. Haidul Islam said:  “Agriculture officials told me that I am one of the 20 fortunate farmers who got Bt seeds. It will reduce cost for pesticide.”

“But the reality is pests have attacked my plants severely,” he said.

“Last year, I grew local varieties and made profit. This year Allah knows what will happen to me”, he said. He informed the FE that his field now required more pesticides compared to that of last year.

Another farmer of the same village Mojibur Rahman has the same experience. ”Primarily, the plants grew well, then the leaves were attacked first and later the plants were attacked severely by pests”, he said.

During visits to his fields on Tuesday, he told the FE that BARI officials suggested him to spray fungicide ‘Bebistine’ and pesticide ‘Vertimec’ to save the plants.

Sub-assistant agricultural officer of Telihati Union Md Shahdat Hossain told the FE that fertility of the lands has been reducing day by day in his area as farmers now cultivate only one crop: brinjal.

He said Bt Brinjal fields have been attacked by pests as they do in case of other brinjal fields. Local farmers at Telihati told the FE that farmers, who cultivated Bt Brinjal, were given Tk 8,000 in two installments.

They said farmers were not aware about the seed. Later they knew about its controversy from the newspapers. Shankar Chandra Roy at Khotkhotia village in Rangpur Sadar upazila said over cell phone that half of his Bt Brinjal plants have died. The rest of the plants were attacked by ‘jab’ pest, he said. He also said that agricultural officials have asked him to spray various kinds of pesticides.

Chairman of Bij Bistar Foundation and crop specialist Dr MA Sobhan told the FE that a team of his organisation visited the Bt Brinjal fields at Bhoroimari and Boktarpur village under Iswardi upazila in Pabna district last week.

He said, “We visited two fields where plants have been attacked by red and white fly, jab and other pests.” He said, “It is natural. Bt Brinjal is resistant only to shoot borer, but nearly 37 kinds of pests attack brinjal. The genetic engineering might have made the brinjal variety further weak to other pest attacks.”

However, the government approved Bt Brinjal in Bangladesh, but it has been banned in India and the Philippines amid massive protests from environmentalists, biodiversity experts and ordinary citizens there.

Bangladeshi experts also expressed their grave concern that GMO brinjal would affect biodiversity and could cause severe health hazards to humans, other animals and plants.

Multinational seed giant Monsanto and its Indian ally Mahyco, with the financial assistance of the USAID, developed the BT Brinjal seeds.

However, the Philippines government banned Bt Brinjal in the country at a time (October 30, 2013) when the Bangladesh National Committee on Bio-Safety (NCB) gave approval to it in the country.

 

 

                          
Categories: Ecological News

Russia will not import GMO products – PM Medvedev

Navdanya Diary - Mon, 04/07/2014 - 13:36

 

Russia will not import GMO products – PM Medvedev

RT News, 6 April, 2016
Source: http://rt.com/news/russia-import-gmo-products-621/

Russia will not import GMO products, the country’s Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev said, adding that the nation has enough space and resources to produce organic food.

Moscow has no reason to encourage the production of genetically modified products or import them into the country, Medvedev told a congress of deputies from rural settlements on Saturday.

“If the Americans like to eat GMO products, let them eat it then. We don’t need to do that; we have enough space and opportunities to produce organic food,” he said.

The prime minister said he ordered widespread monitoring of the agricultural sector. He added that despite rather strict restrictions, a certain amount of GMO products and seeds have made it to the Russian market.

Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev speaks at a meeting of United Russia deputies from Russian rural villages in Volgograd on April 5, 2014. (RIA Novosti / Ekaterina Shtukina)

Earlier, agriculture minister Nikolay Fyodorov also stated that Russia should remain free of genetically modified products.

At the end of February, the Russian parliament asked the government to impose a temporary ban on all genetically altered products in Russia.

The State Duma’s Agriculture Committee supported a ban on the registration and trade of genetically modified organisms. It was suggested that until specialists develop a working system of control over the effects of GMOs on humans and the natural environment, the government should impose a moratorium on the breeding and growth of genetically modified plants, animals, and microorganisms.

Earlier this month, MPs of the parliamentary majority United Russia party, together with the ‘For Sovereignty’ parliamentary group, suggested an amendment of the existing law On Safety and Quality of Alimentary Products, with a norm set for the maximum allowed content of transgenic and genetically modified components.

There is currently no limitation on the trade or production of GMO-containing food in Russia. However, when the percentage of GMO exceeds 0.9 percent, the producer must label such goods and warn consumers. Last autumn, the government passed a resolution allowing the listing of genetically modified plants in the Unified State Register. The resolution will come into force in July.

 

 

                          
Categories: Ecological News

UN orders Japan to end whale hunt

Green Blog - Sat, 04/05/2014 - 21:19
The UN's International Court of Justice has ordered Japan to halt its yearly whale hunt, a cruel practice that gives no consideration to the welfare of the animals. Japan is one of several countries that persisted in this practice after whaling was banned worldwide in 1986, in this case using "scientific research" as an excuse. But there is nothing scientific about whale killing, and the UN has called them out on it.

Currently, Japan's whaling program is killing about 1,000 whales a year under the guise of "scientific purposes." It was Australia that took the matter to the International Court this year, claiming the supposed research was little more than a ruse to circumvent the UN's whaling ban. The presiding judge, Peter Tomka, agreed that Japan's assertion that its whale hunt has a scientific basis is, by and large, false.

"The evidence does not establish that the program's design and implementation are reasonable in relation to achieving its stated objectives," Tomka remarked. He noted that it failed to justify the brutality of the killings, and that a moratorium on whaling would remain in place for Japan unless and until it could somehow produce a program with an actual basis in scientific research.

Japanese Foreign Ministry official Koji Tsuruoka said Japan will abide by the order. "While Japan is disappointed, it will abide by the judgment of the court as a state that places great importance on the international legal order," he said. However, he added that Japan "regrets and is deeply disappointed by the decision."

Among those who don't share that sentiment are animal rights activists and countries like Australia, who maintain that whale killing is immoral and unethical. Patrick Ramage, director of the International Fund for Animal Welfare's whale program, said the court decision is reason to rejoice, and could have an effect on other countries that ignored the UN's moratorium, like Norway and Iceland - two countries that still engage in commercial whaling outright.

"The ruling certainly has implications ultimately for whaling by Iceland and Norway as well," said Ramage. "I think it will increase pressure on those two countries to re-examine their own whaling practices and the various reasons and pretexts given for that whaling activity."

Jeff Hansen, managing director of Sea Shepherd Australia, said, "The International Court has just acknowledged that what Japan is doing is illegal. Our hope is that Japan can be a nation that loves whales and sees the huge benefit from eco-tourism that Australia does, which was also a nation that used to hunt whales."

Greenpeace writer Tom Ganderton stated, "The news confirms what we've been saying all along: this lethal whaling program is not necessary, and is harmful to the health of our oceans. It's high time this industry was consigned to the history books. The Japanese government claims that whaling is a long-standing part of Japanese culture that the international community should not interfere with. But the Australian government was quick to challenge this idea, as Greenpeace has consistently done in the past. They pointed out that whaling only began there in the 1930s."

Moreover, said Ganderton, "The whale meat industry is dying in Japan. Statistics commissioned by Greenpeace Japan found that up to 80 percent of respondents disagreed with whaling. What's more, thousands of tons of whale meat today remain in frozen storage in Japan because demand is so low.

"We need an end to commercial whaling so we can turn the focus onto some of the big conservation challenges facing the world's remaining whale populations, like climate change and destructive fishing. We won't stop until this dying industry is ended for good."

This article was first published in People's World by Blake Deppe.
Categories: Ecological News

IPCC: Global warming impact will be severe and irreversible

Green Blog - Sat, 04/05/2014 - 18:00
The effects of global warming will be “severe, pervasive and irreversible” and will leave no one untouched. That is the conclusion of the newly released IPCC report, which scientists and officials say is the most comprehensive study to date on the impacts of climate change. This report is “the most solid evidence you can get in any scientific discipline,” said Michel Jarraud, secretary-general of the World Meteorological Organization. Earlier we could, to a certain extent, say that people damaged the Earth’s climate out of “ignorance”. But “now, ignorance is no longer a good excuse,” he said.

“Nobody on this planet is going to be untouched by the impacts of climate change,” IPCC chairman Rajendra Pachauri said at a news conference in Yokohama, Japan, where the report was presented.

While the world’s natural systems are currently bearing the brunt of climate change, the impact on us humans is expected to grow significantly in the near future, the IPCC report warns. Rising global temperatures will result in more floods and cause changes to crop yields and water availability – effectively threatening our homes, health, food and safety. Or in the words of the report itself: “increasing magnitudes of warming increase the likelihood of severe, pervasive and irreversible impacts.” We will be able to adapt to some of these changes, but only within certain limits.

In response to the IPCC report, Ed Davey, the UK Energy and Climate Secretary said that “the recent flooding in the UK is a testament to the devastation that climate change could bring to our daily lives.”

“The science has clearly spoken,” Davey said. “Left unchecked, climate change will impact on many aspects of our society, with far reaching consequences to human health, global food security and economic development.”

The IPCC report, which is based on 12,000 peer-reviewed scientific studies, details both short-term and long-term impacts of global warming. These include threats to natural systems that in turn will have severe effects for humans.

A 2C rise in temperatures would mean a “very high” risk to unique natural systems such as Arctic sea ice and coral reefs. Oceans will become more acidic, which will threaten coral and the species that depend on them. Fish species, that are a critical source of food for many people, will move to new territories because of warmer waters. It is expected that in some parts of the tropics and in Antarctica, potential fish catches could decline by more than 50 percent. Plants, animals and other species on land will also begin to move towards higher grounds, towards the poles as the climate gets warmer and their current habitats changes.

As mentioned earlier, the natural systems will feel the worst impacts first. Humans will be increasingly affected as the century goes on, the IPCC report claims. Highlighted in the report for being a significant concern is food security. Crop yields for rice, wheat and maize are all expected to be taking severe hits leading up to 2050, with projections showing potential losses of over 25 percent in yields. And after 2050, the risk of even more severe impacts on yields increases. At the same time, a rising population estimated at around 9 billion people will increase the demand for food.

“Going into the future, the risks only increase, and these are about people, the impacts on crops, on the availability of water and particularly, the extreme events on people's lives and livelihoods,” said Professor, and co-author of the IPCC report, Neil Adger from the University of Exeter in England.

The IPCC report also raises concerns over human migration due to climate change, as well as increasing risks of conflicts that will pose a threat to national and global security. As climate change worsens, so will society’s current problems. Poverty, violence, sickness, and refugees will all get worse according to the report. Climate change will also slow down the modernization of our society and effectively hampering economic growth, among other things. But although the impacts of climate change will be felt everywhere and hit everyone, the severity won’t affect people equally. Poor people, and developing countries, will feel the impact first and hardest. Climate change is expected to further increase the gaps between rich and poor.

But the rich won’t be able to escape from the realities of global warming. “The rich are going to have to think about climate change,” said Dr Saleemul Huq, a lead author on one of the chapters in the IPCC report. “We're seeing that in the UK, with the floods we had a few months ago, and the storms we had in the US and the drought in California. These are multibillion dollar events that the rich are going to have to pay for.”

Despite all the doom and gloom, the report makes it clear that we still have time to act to limit and adapt to some of the climate changes. In their next report, which will be published on April the 13th, IPCC will discuss what we can do to stop this negative progress. “Climate change is really important but we have a lot of the tools for dealing effectively with it - we just need to be smart about it,” said the IPCC report's chair, Dr Chris Field.
Categories: Ecological News

UK ‘aid’ is financing a corporate scramble for Africa

Navdanya Diary - Sat, 04/05/2014 - 14:11

Sadias Adam Imam collects millet, El Fasher, Darfur. Photo: UNAMID via Flickr.com

 

UK ‘aid’ is financing a corporate scramble for Africa

By Miriam Ross
The Ecologist, 3 April, 2014

Source: http://bit.ly/QO5YE7

 

Judging simply by its name, the New Alliance for Food Security and Nutrition sounds like a worthy initiative.Just the kind of thing we should be spending international aid money on, you might think.But look just a little closer, and it becomes clear that the scheme, launched by the G8 governments along with the biggest global food and agriculture companies, has little to do with feeding undernourished people.

In fact, a new report from the World Development Movement suggests that the New Alliance, which is receiving £600 million from the UK’s aid budget, will actually increase poverty and inequality in Africa.

The myth of ‘growing more food’

The rhetoric being used to promote the New Alliance is all about growing more food. But the myth that the solution to hunger is to grow more food has been busted many times over.The world currently produces enough food to feed an estimated 12 billion people, yet of the current population of 7 billion, around one in seven people are chronically undernourished.

The experience in Africa itself is further testimony to the failure of rising production to solve the problem of hunger. Sub-Saharan Africa produced 10% more food per person in 2011 than in 1991. But the numbers of undernourished people rose by 40% in the same period.

Through the New Alliance, a handful of the world’s biggest food and agriculture companies have agreed to ‘invest’ in the ten African countries whose governments have so far signed up to the scheme: Ethiopia, Ghana, Tanzania, Burkina Faso, Côte d’Ivoire, Mozambique, Nigeria, Benin, Malawi and Senegal.

The great African land-grab unfolds

But in return, each of the African countries has had to agree to make major changes to their laws – all intended to make life easier for big business.

The reforms required of African countries will make it much easier for companies to get hold of large tracts of farmland. In Ethiopia for example, a scheme is being set up to fast-track investors’ access to land.Like the European colonists of the 19th century, proponents of the expansion of agribusiness see Africa’s land as under-used and ripe for exploitation.But much of the land being targeted is already home to people who grow crops or tend animals on it, or who depend on it for water, firewood, medicinal plants or hunting.

At least 56 million hectares of land have been sold or leased in Africa since 2001, and inevitably, the further transfer of land to multinational corporations will dispossess many people whose livelihoods rely on it. Many big companies arrive with promises of jobs. But jobs that do materialise are often too few, and tend to transform family farmers into poorly paid wage labourers with little bargaining power, and few become available to women.

Restricting and privatising seeds

The New Alliance is also privatising seeds, in some countries demanding reforms that restrict small farmers’ ability both to save seeds from a crop to plant the following year and to exchange seeds among themselves.

Giant seed companies like Monsanto, Syngenta and DuPont are big players in the New Alliance, and have pushed for new seed laws that will give farmers little choice but to buy seeds from them. As well as making farmers pay for what they could previously grow and share with each other, reliance on corporate seed will reduce the genetic diversity that is crucial in helping small-scale farmers respond to a changing climate.

Fertilisers and pesticides

Seed companies are not the only ones with a product to sell to African farmers. The world’s biggest agrochemical company, Yara, wants to expand the market for its fertilisers. As with seeds, reliance on agrochemicals puts farmers at risk of getting heavily into debt, especially since fertiliser degrades soil.

In India, reliance on chemical inputs has had tragic consequences, with a staggering quarter of a million farmers thought to have committed suicide in the 15 years to 2010, after getting into debt through buying agrochemicals.

In sub-Saharan Africa, the UN estimates that health problems from pesticide poisoning will have cost around US$90 billion between 2005 and 2020.

The colonial model resurfaces – exporting ‘cash crops’

While the opportunity for multinational companies to push patented seeds and agrochemicals to African farmers is part of the impetus for the New Alliance, the chance to export out of Africa is an even bigger draw. Tellingly, the security of exports is prioritised over the needs of local people even in the official agreements signed by each country.

Tanzania, for example, has made a commitment as part of its New Alliance agreement to reduce controls on the export of food, even at times of food shortage among its own population.

Such a policy can hardly be conceived as being intended to enhance the food security of Tanzanian people.

Connecting prime farmland to ports

Just as the colonialists of the 19th century justified their scramble for Africa by talking up the ports and railways they built, much is made of the infrastructure being constructed through the New Alliance and related schemes.

But just as it was in the 1880s, the clear purpose of today’s developments is to ship raw materials out of the continent. Several transnational ‘agricultural growth corridors’ - the brainchild of Yara - are under development, connecting prime agricultural land with coastal ports.

The drive to shift to an export economy is nothing new: in the past few decades the World Bank and the IMF has forced many of the world’s poorer countries to produce for export and open their markets to imports – with disastrous consequences.

When agriculture is geared to cash crops for export, countries have tended to become reliant on importing food to feed their people. As a result, when global grain prices skyrocket as they did in 2008, millions of people are left unable to buy enough imported food.

Despite the human cost, the New Alliance aims to further orient Africa’s food system towards export and away from producing food for local populations.

A different way

While there are likely to be some winners among African businesses and the biggest farmers, small-scale food producers across the continent will be big losers

They can see that the corporate take-over of their land, their seeds their countries’ laws will take away their control over their lives. And they are determined to defend themselves. As a coalition of farmers’ groups from east, west and central Africa declares,

“Family farming is the basis for modern food provision in Africa, today and tomorrow … Backed by appropriate research, supportive investments and adequate protection, it can out-perform industrial commodity production.”

Small producers feed at least 70% of Africa’s people, and they are demanding to be supported and valued as the experts they are.

A grievous abuse of UK ‘aid’ funds

The UK aid budget is intended to tackle poverty – not to create business opportunities for the world’s wealthiest and most powerful companies.

The UK government must end its support for the New Alliance, and instead help the small producers who feed most of Africa to keep control of their land and resources and produce food for local populations.

 

                          
Categories: Ecological News

Sustaining Agrobiodiversity: Conservation works best as lived Experience

Navdanya Diary - Thu, 04/03/2014 - 16:01

By Devon G. Peña
Environmental and Food Justice, 31 March, 2014

Source: http://ejfood.blogspot.it/2014/03/seed-sovereignty-svalbard-navdanya-and.html

Navdanya logo represents unity
of seed saving and plant breeding

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The struggle over the control of seed stocks did not start with the advent of modern agriculture at mid-20th C. The Romans built granaries from rough-hewn granite and guarded their wheat, rye, barley, and seed stores for a reason (Rickman 1971). The Colhua Mexica raided the seed dispensaries of Azcapotzalco after burning the codices in the libraries of the tyrant Maxtla when they first achieved independence from their Tecpanec oppressors in a revolt led by Tlacaélel (León-Portillo 1963 [1990]). Today, a handful of global biotechnology corporations and their philanthrocapitalist allies are seeking an oligopolistic level of global control over seed stocks. This is once again pushing the frontiers of the struggle over seed into an extraordinary period of conflict that will redefine the nature of our collective future relationship with the Earth, its ecosystems, and fellow organisms.

At its heart, this is a conflict over how best to define and accomplish the end goal of conservation of agricultural biodiversity or ‘agrobiodiversity’. There are two principal schools of thought and policy on this issue. Both involve the collection and sharing of various forms of germplasm mostly but not just seeds as some of the latest technologies make use of plant embryogenic tissue cultures. That is where the similarities end. The two schools are the in situ (In-Place) and ex situ (Out-of-Place) models.

Also, as part of the discourse surrounding the proposed USDA policy of coexistence for GMO, non-GMO, organic, biodynamic, and other farming systems it is important for the public to understand the implications posed by the various paths to conservation of agrobiodiversity. This report is an introductory historical and political ecological account of the two principal schools of agrobiodiversity conservation to inform and enlarge the scope of an important public policy discussion.

Ex situ | Centralized; displaced; commoditized; transgenic

The dominant and better-funded school of conservation insists that efforts to create highly centralized depositories managed by scientific experts and funded by global powers is the safest insurance against catastrophic scenarios in which vital seed stocks are irreversibly lost. Their discourse obscures how the precipitation of biodiversity losses actually happens precisely because of the role played by these very same global actors and the fact they have made food a political weapon of foreign policy and empire building in the name of Western capitalism. Our scientific colleagues in molecular biology need to understand that they are participating in the imposition of a truly evil Empire

The recent case of the Abu Ghraib wheat vaults illustrates this deeper irony but most mainstream press accounts of that sad episode accept the line that Iraqi ‘looting’ was the chief force that destroyed most of these rare and invaluable wheat stores. They conveniently overlook the fact that this occurred under the watchful eye of the US military; there are indications U.S. Special Forces were among the first of the so-called looters. Don’t be surprised if some Iraqi landrace wheat varieties end up on ice at Svalbard or as part of some future Monsanto transgenic ‘event’ (cf. Engdahl 2005; and more recently Cummins 2008).  Some may yet emerge in the fields of the rightful heirs – traditional Iraqi farmers themselves.

 

To Access the full article: http://ejfood.blogspot.it/2014/03/seed-sovereignty-svalbard-navdanya-and.html

                          
Categories: Ecological News

World Bank Accused of Destroying Traditional Farming to Support Corporate Land Grabs

Navdanya Diary - Thu, 04/03/2014 - 15:01

 

World Bank Accused of Destroying Traditional Farming to Support Corporate Land Grabs

By Kristen Thomaselli
Oakland Institute, 31 March, 2014

Source: http://www.oaklandinstitute.org/press-release-world-bank-accused-destroying-traditional-farming-support-corporate-land-grabs

Press Release

Today, the Oakland Institute and /The Rules, along with other NGOs, farmer and consumer organizations from around the world launch a campaign, Our Land Our Business, to hold the World Bank accountable for its role in the rampant theft of land and resources from some of the world’s poorest people–farmers, pastoralists, and indigenous communities, many of whom are essential food producers for the entire planet.

“The World Bank is facilitating land grabs and sowing poverty by putting the interests of foreign investors before those of locals,” said Anuradha Mittal, Executive Director of the Oakland Institute.

“Smallholder farmers and herders are currently feeding 80 percent of the developing world. Casting them aside in favor of industrial farming corporations from the West betrays the World Bank’s reckless and short term approach to development,” said Alnoor Ladha, Executive Director of /The Rules.

The Bank’s “Doing Business” rankings, which score countries according to how Washington officials perceive the “ease of doing business” there, have caused many developing-country leaders to deregulate their economies in hopes of attracting foreign investment. But what the World Bank considers beneficial for foreign business is very often the exact opposite for existing farmers and herders.

In the agricultural sector, the rankings encourage governments to commoditize their land–and to sell or lease it to foreign investors, regardless of environmental or social impact. Smallholder farmers, pastoralists, and indigenous people are casualties of this approach, as governments and foreign corporations work hand-in-hand to dispossess them of their land–and gain World Bank approval in the process.

The results have already been devastating. Thanks to reforms and policies guided by the Bank, Sierra Leone has taken 20 percent of its arable land from rural populations and leased it to foreign sugar cane and palm oil producers. And in Liberia, British, Malaysian, and Indonesian palm-oil giants have secured long-term leases for over 1.5 million acres of land formerly held by local communities.

Now the land grab problem is about to get worse. Under pressure from the G8 and with funding from the Gates Foundation, the Bank is doubling down on its rankings fetish by introducing a new program called “Benchmarking the Business of Agriculture” (BBA). The BBA’s explicit goal is to promote “the emergence of a stronger commercial agriculture sector.” Its rankings will prize deregulation of the agriculture sector and is expected to enable further land grabbing around the world.

“We’re standing up with farmers, herders, and indigenous peoples of the developing world who are being steamrolled by the World Bank’s pro-corporate agenda,” added Mittal. “Initiatives like the World Bank’s ‘Doing Business’ rankings encourage governments to steal from the poor in order to give to the rich. That must end.”

For more information or to schedule an interview with Anuradha Mittal and Alnoor Ladha, please contact Kristen Thomaselli at (202) 471-4228 ext. 101 or kristen@keybridge.biz.

To read the report, Willful Blindness: How the World Bank’s Doing Business (DB) Rankings Impoverish Smallholder Farmers, as well as country fact sheets about the World Bank’s bad business in the developing world, please visit: www.oaklandinstitute.org/our-land-our-business.

Communiqué de presse en français

 

About the Oakland Institute
The Oakland Institute is an independent policy think tank whose mission is to increase public participation and promote fair debate on critical social, economic and environmental issues (www.oaklandinstitute.org).

About /The Rules (/TR)
/TR is a global network of organizers and activists that aim to challenge and redistribute power in favor of those among us who are currently the most marginalized and impoverished. /TR works with existing civil society organizations, social movements, and grassroots organizers to create trans-local campaigns that mobilize people to change the policies, practices, beliefs and cause inequality and poverty (www.therules.org).

 

                          
Categories: Ecological News
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