Grain, an international non-profit focused on supporting small farmers, and community controlled food systems, provided an update on the free trade agreements that affect farmer’s rights to save and plant seeds of their choosing, in a piece calledNew Trade Deals Legalize Corporate Theft, Make farmer’s Seeds Illegal. The article is the latest in a series of opinion pieces called Against the Grain, published by the non-profit.
The article points out that these trade deals, negotiated on entirely in secret and outside of the World Trade Organization (WTO), have gone far beyond the existing international standards for patenting forms of life. The 1994 WTO agreement for trade related aspects of intellectual property rights (TRIPs) was the first international agreement on the owning of organisms. Through TRIPs, representatives of Dow, Syngenta, and Monsanto ensured that their companies could make a profit off of the seeds they had spent the money to engineer. By preventing farmers from re-using seeds, farmers were forced to buy new seeds every year from the same companies, making their seeds and livestock more expensive, and transforming life into a commodity that corporations can own and control.Continue reading “Trade Deals like the TPP Further Criminalize Farmer Seed Saving, Legalize Corporate Theft”
CAGJ /AGRA Watch is proud to be co-hosting the award ceremony for the 8th annual Food Sovereignty Prize at Town Hall on Saturday October 15, and very excited to announce that our partners in AFSA – Alliance for Food Sovereignty in Africa – were awarded the prize, along with Farmworker Association of Florida!
“Lauded as an alternative to the World Food Prize, the Food Sovereignty Prize champions real solutions to hunger and is recognized by social movements, activists and community-based organizations around the world. The 2016 honorees are strident in their resistance to the corporate control of our food system, including false solutions of biotechnology that damage the planet while exacerbating poverty and hunger. Their programs and policies support small-scale farmers and communities, build unified networks, and prioritize the leadership of food providers, including women, farmworkers, peasants, indigenous peoples and other marginalized communities within the system.”
The Agroecology Fund and the Alliance for Food Sovereignty in Africa (AFSA) hosted a learning exchange summit from May 10-13, 2016. Farmers and farmer advocates convened in Masaka, Uganda, with the collective vision to “amplify agroecology solutions.” Attendees documented the summit using the hashtag #AgroecologyVoices.
The Agroecology Fund is a multi-donor fund committed to supporting and encouraging the established practices of local farmers and their communities globally. It aims to sustain viable food systems, promote the economic well-being of small farmers and their communities, and address climate change.
CAGJ and AFSA have collaborated in the past, most recently at the Fall 2014 US-Africa Food Summit.
March 2014, World Development Movement(WDM) campaigners dressed as business people from Monsanto, Diageo, SABMiller and Unilever delivered a cake to the Department For International Development to “thank” the UK government for its support in allowing them to carve up Africa.
In early June the EU Parliament voted to accept a report put out by it’s development committee, in which The New Alliance for Food Security and Nutrition, an initiative of the Obama administration and the G-8, including the Gates Foundation, was heavily criticized for being ineffective as a means for improving world development.
In their article, EU parliament slams aid scheme that uses big agribusiness to ‘feed Africa’, Global Justice Now applauded the decision, as does AGRA Watch, agreeing that the New Alliance is an initiative meant to benefit big agribusiness instead of helping small-scale farmers, and vulnerable communities. It’s past time that world governments are held responsible for the funding of such initiatives that serve their own business interests over those of farmers and local communities.
Pushing Pro-Business Policy Change by Funding a Pro-Business Ratings System
By Johanna Lundahl, AGRA Watch Intern
The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation(BMGF) is a major donor to a World Bank affiliate known as Enabling the Business of Agriculture (EBA), a group that rates 40 developing countries on their policies that affect agriculture and agribusiness markets. The Oakland Institute, a partner of AGRA Watch, critiqued the connection in their April article, With a Little Help From Bill Gates, The World Bank Creates it’s Own Aid Conditionality. According to the EBA, it’s mission is “…identifying and monitoring regulations that negatively affect agriculture and agribusiness markets.” It frames these ratings as a way to encourage higher levels of food production, believing that this will combat world hunger, claiming that it’s encouraging countries to become more efficient, while “increasing market competitiveness and growth”. The Oakland Institute, as well as the UN disagree with this idea, understanding that hunger is not caused by insufficient food production.
The latest update in an ongoing pro-GMO campaign uses Nobel laureates to claim that Greenpeace is blocking the introduction of genetically modified Golden Rice into the market, while ignoring that globally, groups have criticized the legitimacy and effectiveness of this product. Respected commentators, Claire Robinson and Jonathan Latham, expose the Golden Rice sham and the players behind the campaign.
Robinson’s post features University of Washington anthropologist and friend of CAGJ, Devon Peña, who breaks down why the laureates in question do not have the qualifications to push for this GM product.
February 15, 2016: Petition calling for halt of GMO banana human trials delivered to Gates Foundation and Iowa State University
Photos -See professional photographer Jonathan Lee’s photos on Facebook here. -See CAGJ’s photos on Facebook here.
Delivering over 57,000 signatures gathered through CREDO Action’s online petition, AGRA Watch and Iowa State University graduate students had a successful simultaneous action on Monday, Feb. 15 at ISU in Ames, Iowa, and at the Gates Foundation in Seattle. The petition asks the University and the Gates Foundation to cease supporting the transgenic banana study, including human feeding trials, and to change the trajectory for this type of research conducted at public universities. For more information, please read the press release.
In Seattle we delivered the petitions in the form of a prop to represent the 57,000+ signatures on the petition – a box filled with the 1600+ pages of names we received from CREDO – along with the actual file on a thumb-drive. We were pleased that, unlike at past demonstrations, Gates Foundation staff, including the head of media relations, met our delegation, and, while TV news cameras filmed, accepted our prop while we laid out our concerns.
Ames Contact: Hannah Dankbar 515-867-1731
Seattle Contact: Heather Day 206-724-2243
Salk Institute Contact: David Schubert 858-453-4100 x1528
Over 57,000 Express Concern with Human Feeding Trials of GMO Bananas
Simultaneous demonstrations in Ames and Seattle highlight controversy surrounding Gates Foundation-funded Transgenic Banana Study at Iowa State University
Ames, IA and Seattle, WA: On Monday February 15th, Iowa State University graduate students will deliver 57,309 petition signatures to the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences at ISU while AGRA Watch members deliver the same petition to the headquarters of the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation in Seattle, Washington. (The petitions will be delivered at 9:30am PST and 11:30am CST.) The petition asks the University and the Gates Foundation to cease supporting the transgenic banana study, including human feeding trials, and to change the trajectory for this type of research conducted at public universities. Petition signatures were collected by ISU graduate students, AGRA Watch and CREDO Action.
Last month, Other Worlds, an organization that promotes economic and environmental justice, published the second article of their seven part series on African seed and food sovereignty. The article, titled “Dangers of the Gates Foundation: Displacing Seeds and Farmers,” features information gathered from the founder and director of the African Centre for Biodiversity, and AGRA Watch partner, Mariam Mayet. It discusses the role that the Gates Foundation plays in displacing traditional agricultural practices through investment in a green revolution in Africa.
Investments made by the Gates Foundation, along with those made by the US government, the UK, and the Netherlands have created costly agricultural projects that rely on the products of multinational corporations, and that African farmers can only participate in if the public subsidizes them, which it does. In other words, the Gates Foundation is helping to create a system in which subsidies generate profit for multinational corporations, not farmers. While empowering corporations, the projects that the Gates Foundation invests in have disempowered farmers by allowing these multinational companies to make agricultural production decisions in “laboratories or in far-away board rooms.”
Earlier this month, Other Worlds, an organization that promotes
economic justice, environmentally sound systems, and meaningful democracy, published the first article of their seven part series on African seed and food sovereignty. The article, “We Are the Solution: African Women Organize for Land and Seed Sovereignty,” features information gathered during an interview with Mariama Sonko, a farmer and organizer in the Casamance region of Senegal. Sonko is the National Coordinator of We Are the Solution, a campaign for food sovereignty led by West African women.
The article discusses the discrepancy between the important role that African women play in agriculture, and the minimal control that they have over agriculture. In terms of conserving native seeds, producing and processing agricultural products, and marketing and selling those products, women dominate African agriculture. However, when it comes to land access, land use, and land ownership, female control is extremely limited, and as a result, land is underutilized. We Are the Solution works to raise awareness of this issue and to advocate for more rights for female farmers.