In December, staff and members of CAGJ and AGRA Watch traveled to Mexico to present in a conference in Mexico City on the current state of genetic engineering, participate in the UN Conference on Biodiversity in Cancun, and organize a side event with our African and European partners on the Gates Foundation and philanthrocapitalism.
The UN Conference on Biodiversity included meetings and negotiations of the 13th Conference of Parties (COP 13) to the UN Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD), the 8th Meeting of Parties to the COP (COPMOP 8) of the Cartagena Protocol, and the 2nd Meeting of Parties to the COP (COPMOP 2) of the Nagoya Protocol.
Taking Stock – 20 Years of GM Crops – 40 Years of ‘Genetic Engineering’
By Simone Adler
On December 1st and 2nd, AGRA Watch member Phil Bereano and CAGJ Organizing Director Simone Adler joined scientists from around the world for a conference held at the National Autonomous University of Mexico (UNAM) in Mexico City to present where we are in regards to genetic engineering in agriculture and other fields, where we’ve come, and where we are going. The conference, titled “Taking Stock – 20 Years of GM Crops – 40 Years of ‘Genetic Engineering’” was hosted by the European Network of Scientists for Social and Environmental Responsibility (ENSSER), Third World Network (TWN), the Mexican Union of Scientist Concerned with Society (UCCS), and the Latin American Union of Scientist Concerned with Society and Nature (UCCSNAL).
The two days of presentations (with simultaneous Spanish and English interpretation) were organized on topics ranging from the “human cost of GM crops in South America” to “CRISPR Gene Drives and the implication of extinction technologies and population-scale engineering”, from “the failure of Bt cotton in Burkina Faso” to “legal framework for GMO risk assessment: excluding public science”. AGRA Watch member Phil Bereano gave a presentation entitled “Philanthrocapitalism: the Gates Foundation’s African Programs are not Charity” as part the session “GMOs in Developing Countries”.
Preceding the Conference of Parties on the Convention on Biological Diversity and Meeting of the Parties on the Cartagena and Nagoya Protocols held in Cancun, this conference presented an opportunity to review and share analysis on issues of concern at COP13 and MOP8 in particular, such as synthetic biology and gene drives.
This excellent infographic sums up two potential food systems of our future.
By Johanna Lundahl, AGRA Watch Intern
The UK based activist organization Global Justice Now(GJN) released a powerful new infographic this summer which illustrates an all too familiar story– a farmer-controlled farm relies on traditional seed systems and farm-produced fertilizers, while a corporate-controlled farm must purchase seeds, chemical fertilizers, and pesticides. Although both farms in the graphic are initially identical, they grow and change in radically different ways. The farmer-controlled farm adds animals and vegetables, the skies are blue, soil is healthy, and the farm is teeming with biodiversity. Meanwhile, the corporate-controlled farm grows bleak and grey. The seeds and pesticides that farmers in this system are forced to use grow crops in higher quantities in the short term. In the long term they leech nutrients from the soil, ultimately degrading soil quality. A farmer in the corporate-controlled farm is chained to a system of debt and dependence on the corporation.
As an alternative to the World Food Prize awarded the same weekend in Iowa, the Food Sovereignty Prize recognizes that transformation of our food system comes from the grassroots, frontlines, and communities building power – not corporate, biotech, and Big Ag industries focused on profit over people and the planet. Coming together for the Prize and events was an opportunity to reflect on strengthening our organizing and advocacy for agroecology, food as a human right, dignity for workers across the food chain, and community-led solutions to hunger and climate change
With banners and signs reflecting messages of the movement in the center of a circle, folks gathered Wednesday night and Thursday at the WA State Labor Council to discuss the current political moment of the USFSA and the new methodology being proposed for building up grassroots leadership and regional structure in the Alliance.
The Alliance for Food Sovereignty in Africa is an alliance of civil society and farmer organizations across Africa dedicated to promoting a strong, united voice of African-driven solutions of food sovereignty, agroecology, and social justice.
By Johanna Lundahl, AGRA Watch Intern
The Alliance for Food Sovereignty in Africa (AFSA) works to influence policy in Africa around community rights, family farming, promotion of traditional knowledge, the environment and natural resource management. This Saturday, October 15th, AFSA, along with the US-based Farmworkers Association of Florida, will be awarded the 2016 Food Sovereignty Prize by the US Food Sovereignty Alliance. AFSA will be honored for its work in building a strong movement of people directly impacted by expanding corporate agriculture, including land and water grabs, and advancing food production systems controlled by food producers, making nutritious food produced in harmony with planet available to everyone.
Bernard Guri, Chairperson of AFSA, who will accept the Food Sovereignty Prize on its behalf, explains in a press release that traditional, more stable, and environmentally-friendly African agriculture is under attack from foreign corporations’ business interests: “Africa has a myriad of ways to feed her people and to keep her environment safe. However, a few international corporations from the global North have generated approaches strictly for their own profit by misleading our leaders and our people, stealing our seeds and culture, and destroying our environment.”Continue reading “Food Sovereignty Prize Winner: Alliance for Food Sovereignty in Africa”
If you aren’t familiar with agroecology, this infographic is a great introduction.
The UK based Agroecology Group released this infographic called Soil to Sky, created by The Christensen Fund. The graphic follows the impact of industrial agriculture compared to agroecology, on soil, food, water, communities, and the atmosphere.
In mid July the African Center for Biodiversity(ABC) published Soil Fertility: Agro-Ecology and Not the Green Revolution for Africa, a comprehensive report on the consequences of the Green Revolution push in Africa, based on it’s fieldwork done in Malawi, Mozambique, Tanzania, Zambia, and Zimbabwe over the last three years.The report asserts that the promotion of increased synthetic fertilizer use in Africa for enhancing soil fertility is a short term fix, and is actually harmful in the long term.
Interventions pushing for high tech solutions such as genetically modified seeds, increased pesticide use and increased use of synthetic fertilizers have been spearheaded by fertilizer g
iant Yara, and the Alliance for a Green Revolution in Africa(AGRA), an initiative of the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation. The ABC believes that, “the obsession with increasing adoption and uptake of synthetic fertilizers on the continent seems to be more about opening up fertilizer markets for multinational corporations, and stimulating commercial output markets than about identifying and responding to the specific needs of farmers in their socio-ecological context.”