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April 2nd, 2013
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.
By Jonathan Leaning
March 27th, 2013
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?
Local residents from San Dionisio del Mar (Isthmus of Tehuantepec, Oaxaca, Mexico) are protesting the construction of a huge wind farm in their community. Their prolonged and energetic resistance has been met with violent repression and even death threats made against several opposition leaders.
To take action in support of the community, click here.
Bhoodevi (second from left) is a young Savaara woman from Srikakulam district (county) in Andhra Pradesh (AP) state in India. Her name means Earth Goddess or Mother Earth. The Savaaras are an Adivasi (ɑːdɪˈvɑːsi/ literally, earliest inhabitants) indigenous group that straddle the forests and hills in the border regions of modern day AP and Odisha states in east-central India. In Srikakulam they along with the Jataapus form the core of the indigenous population.
The Peasant Movement of Papaye (MPP) is one example of the amazing work peasant organizations are doing across rural communities in Haiti. In those communities, peasant organizations are working hard with limited resources. While post-2010 earthquake relief funds from big international funders (like USAID) are being squandered building large industrial complexes on productive agricultural land, peasant organizations are planting trees to stave off soil erosion, preserving Creole seeds to ensure seed sovereignty for future generations, and improving access to life-giving water.
I recently had a chance to interview Grassroots International friend and ally Niaz Dorry, Executive Director of the Northwest Atlantic Marine Alliance (NAMA). The organization brings together fishing communities in Grassroots’ own backyard (from southern New England up to Atlantic Canada). As a self-organizing and self-governing organization, NAMA seeks to restore and enhance an enduring marine system supporting a healthy diversity and an abundance of marine life and human uses. NAMA is a member of Grassroots’ the National Family Farm Coalition (a Grassroots’ grantee), which in turn a member and anchor group of the Via Campesina (a Grassroots’ partner). I’m happy to share highlights of this interview during the month of World Fisheries Day (November 21).