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Celebrating the International Day of the World's Indigenous Peoples, with the Meaning of Living Well
By Sara Mersha
August 9th, 2013
In 1994, the United Nations designated August 9 as the International Day of the World’s Indigenous Peoples. Today, we at Grassroots International celebrate the lives, leadership and struggles of Indigenous Peoples around the world, including our partners who courageously defend their rights to land, territory, water, and food sovereignty, as well as the rights of Mother Earth.
By Sara Mersha
July 12th, 2013
President Obama announced his new Climate Action Plan before an audience of college students at Georgetown University on June 25, Countless young people, environmental activists, and most importantly, communities most impacted by climate change both in the US and around the world, have long awaited the chance to hear President Obama lay out a concrete roadmap to take action to address climate change.
Ingredients: 183 member organizations. 88 countries. 5 continents. 500 representatives of 200-plus million women and men. Numerous allies from movements of women, indigenous peoples, fishers, pastoralists, environmental/climate justice activists and more. One global peasant movement. All with fearless commitment to social, economic and gender justice.
"A seed is miraculous. A seed has life – you sow one and you reap hundreds.” – Nandini Jairam, La Vía Campesina member, India
Seeds have been a key issue of concern for the Via Campesina since its inception in 1993. As an autonomous, independent movement uniting 250 million small-scale farmers and producers from 70 countries from Africa, Asia, Europe and the Americas, the Via has now become a major player in the seed, food, agriculture, trade and climate debates, and is listened to by international institutions such as the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) and the United Nations Human Rights Council.
Thousands of small farmers joined students, activists, unionists , human rights advocates and others at the World Social Forum in Tunisia last week. Among the many demonstrations and calls for action, the plea for seed sovereignty resonated with the peasant organizers who have seen their lands and livelihoods threatened by the “Green Revolution” and the incursion of industrial agriculture.
The real costs of the industrial food system on people’s lives and the planet are as extensive as they are hidden. The article below by long-time Grassroots International friends, Beverley Bell and Tory Field of Other Worlds, offers a thought-provoking summary of those costs—all of which challenge small farmers in the Global South on a daily basis.
The True Costs of Industrialized Food
Peasant farmers from Brazil’s central plateau delivered more than three tons of fresh vegetables and homemade cakes, cookies and cheese to local schools last week. This was the first delivery as part of the National Program of School Meals (PNAE) and marks a significant step toward food sovereignty in a region threatened by the expansion of agro-fuels plantations and GMO seeds.
Spearheaded by Grassroots International partner, the Popular Peasant Movement (MCP), 40 families delivered the locally grown, organic food to local schools in Goiás state. And MCP families are already working in the next batch.
January 28, 2013 was marked around the world as an International Day of Solidarity with Idle No More, a movement sparked in November 2012 by First Nations women in Canada, in resistance to legislative threats to indigenous sovereignty. One particular piece of legislation which Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper is promoting, Bill C-45, would nullify provisions of provisions of the Navigable Waters Protection Act which since 1882 has mandated consultation and approval by First Nations for projects that could affect waterways on indigenous territories.
Below is a letter from the National Union of Autonomous Regional Peasant Organizations (UNORCA) to officials in Mexico. UNORCA members began a hunger strike last week to prevent Monsanto from large-scale planting of genetically modified corn. They have called for international support in their efforts to protect their the biodiversity of this essential seed and staple of their lives.
“The contractor even determines who our daughters will get married to!” said Zainab bibi. “That is how much we are in bondage to these contractors. Are we not human? Do our children not have dreams of education? Don’t we have hopes for them?