Posted: December 2, 2013 Filed under: AGRA Watch
As members of La Via Campesina
, African men and women farmers came together this month in Zimbabwe to strategize ways to defend themselves against the corporate control of seeds by transnational companies. The gathering provided a platform for small-scale farmers to hold discussions and formulate actions to help defend their seeds against current corporate attacks. According to La Via Campesina’s press release
, “We reject the push for technologies within the frame of the green revolution…It is yet another attempt of TNCs to conquer new markets. As Africans, we refuse to be the new playfield of agribusiness and become seed slaves for the corporations…”
AGRA Watch stands in solidarity with La Via Campesina’s commitment to reclaim farmers’ autonomy! It is imperative that seed sovereignty and farmer’s valuable knowledge of saving, sowing, selling and exchanging seeds is respected and upheld.
Posted: November 21, 2013 Filed under: AGRA Watch
The African Centre for Biosafety (ACB) recently issued a critique of the Alliance for a Green Revolution in Africa’s (AGRA) report, “Africa Agriculture Status Report 2013.”
The ACB’s report, “Giving With One Hand and Taking With Two: A Critique of AGRA’s African Agriculture Status Report 2013
,” sheds light on AGRA’s rejection of agroecological solutions to food production. Instead, ACB asserts that “solutions” proposed by AGRA draw resources away from farmers and communities to benefit agribusiness. As stated in the report, “The analysis of AGRA’s ‘Africa Agriculture Status Report 2013′
reveals that AGRA’s vision is premised on Public Private Partnerships in which African governments will shoulder the cost and burden of developing regulatory procedures and infrastructure to enable private agribusiness to profit from new African markets.”
In conjunction with the African Centre for Biosafety, AGRA Watch stresses the necessity of shifting toward agroecological production methods as a way of improving the sustainability of our current food system.
Posted: November 7, 2013 Filed under: AGRA Watch
A report by the African Centre for Biosafety (ACB) has confirmed a scheme by the Gates Foundation, in partnership with Monsanto, to force its ineffective genetically modified maize crop, MON810, on Africa. According to ACB, MON810, which failed and was withdrawn from South African markets due to the development of insect resistance, is now being pushed on the rest of the continent. Monsanto is offering their GM crop “royalty free” to Water Efficient Maize in Africa (WEMA), a project funded by the Gates Foundation. As stated by Haidee Swanby, a researcher of ACB, “WEMA is a convenient vehicle for Monsanto to gain regulatory approval for its controversial technology in African countries. However, ‘royalty-free’ seed simply means that resource strapped commercial farmers will get the seed at the same price as hybrid seed, which means that these seeds will be prohibitively expensive. The patents on the gene sequences still reside with Monsanto, and farmers will have to pay premium prices for the GM/GE seeds.”
AW strongly condemns these “philanthropic” ventures which trap farmers in cyclical debt and only benefit the pockets of Big Ag shareholders.
To find out more and read the full report, please visit www.acbio.org
Posted: November 4, 2013 Filed under: AGRA Watch
Election day is tomorrow and AGRA Watch would like to remind you all to vote YES on I-522 to get genetically modified foods labeled in Washington State!
Although the Grocery Manufactures Association and Big Ag corporations have spent more than $20 million to defeat Washington State’s labeling initiative, polls
showed last week that YES on 522 was slightly in the lead.
Why vote to label GM food in Washington State? In an interview for the Seattle Times
, AGRA Watch’s Phil Bereano explains “It’s about the consumer’s right to know what’s in their food!”
We are down to the wire now! Make sure your ballots are postmarked by tomorrow, Tuesday, November 5th.
Posted: October 28, 2013 Filed under: AGRA Watch
Seeds for Life: Scaling up Agrobiodiveristy, a new report by the Gaia Foundation, Ecumenical Advocacy Alliance and the African Biodiversity Network, highlights why agricultural biodivesrity is required for successful food systems in the face of climate change. The report explains how industrialized farming techniques and agribusiness methods do not provide viable solutions to food production. Programs such as UPOV/Plant Breeder’s Rights, The G8 New Alliance for Food Security and Nutritional, AGRA, as well as attempts to harmonize African seed laws, all lead to the erosion of biodiversity by favoring farmers’ dependence on seeds owned by multinational corporations. These schemes focus on small varieties of seeds grown in monocultures and aim to criminalize farmers’ tradition of exchanging and saving seeds which, as a result, has led to a loss of 75% of agricultural diversity in the last few decades. As the study states, genetic diversity, rather than uniformity, allows farmers to increase the likelihood that a portion of their seeds will germinate under difficult conditions.
AGRA Watch supports the report’s conclusion that “farmer’s complex farming knowledge, and their right to save, adapt, exchange and sell seed must be recognized and protected in policy and practice…[and] any serious response to climate change must support agroecological practices, seed diversity, and farmers’ knowledge systems.”
To read Seeds for Life: Scaling up Biodiversity and view a list of recommendations to support resilient food systems and food sovereignty, visit www.gaiafoundation.org
Posted: October 7, 2013 Filed under: AGRA Watch
The Council of Ministers of the Common Market for East and Southern Africa (COMESA) issued a draft policy statement aggressively “promoting the wholesale proliferation of GMOs on the African continent by way of commercial plantings, commodity imports and food aid.”
The Alliance for Food Sovereignty in Africa (AFSA) expressed outrage over the COMESA Policy’s undermining of international, regional and national biosafety policies and legislation such as the Cartagena Protocol on Biosafety which all COMESA member states have ratified. According to AFSA, the COMESA policy is not a result of the national regulatory authorities responsible for biosafety in the COMESA countries. Rather, the policy is the “brainchild of the Regional Approach to Biotechnology and Biosafety Policy in Eastern and Southern Africa (RABESA), a US funded initiative that seeks to transform biosafety into a free trade agenda.”
COMESA’s policies are geared towards removing trade barriers, but they also would undermine national sovereignty.
AGRA Watch full-heartedly supports AFSA’s call upon Member States of COMESA to abandon the policy in its entirety and leave biosafety regulation and decision making to each Member State, not to the vested interests of biotech companies and their subsidiaries.
Posted: October 7, 2013 Filed under: AGRA Watch
The Alliance for Food Sovereignty in Africa (AFSA) recently issued a statement strongly condemning the Council of Minister’s of the Common Market for East and Southern Africa (COMESA) approval of the draft COMESA Seed Trade Harmonization Regulations.
The COMESA Seed Regulations are geared towards “creating an enabling environment for massively increased private sector participation in seed trade in the COMESA region.” It will greatly facilitate agricultural transformation in the COMESA member states towards industrialized farming systems which produce registrable genetically uniform, commercially bred seed varieties. Due to the COMESA Seed Certification System and Variety Release System which implements strict “distinctness, uniformity and stability” (DUS) requirements of seeds, many small farmers in Africa seeking to produce or maintain locally adapted seed varieties will be excluded and unable to participate in the COMESA system.
The extent of how the variety release and seed verification provisions will impact the conservation of plant genetic diversity of heirloom, traditional, open pollinated varieties (which are typically unregistered plant varieties which do not meet the DUS requirements) remains an enormous concern.
According to AFSA, the COMESA seed trade regulations draft does nothing to safeguard genetic diversity from being eroded, but rather, lays “the groundwork for the commercialization and commodification of African agriculture.”