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By Timothy A. Wise
May 12th, 2014
On April 21, a Mexican judge dealt a blow to the efforts of agricultural behemoth Monsanto and other biotech companies to open the country to the commercial cultivation of genetically modified (GM) maize. The ruling upheld the injunction issued last October that put a halt to further testing or commercial planting of the crop, citing “the risk of imminent harm to the environment.”
In a fitting tribute to Mexican surrealism, Monsanto had accused the judge who upheld the injunction of failing to be “impartial.” I don’t know if the presiding judge smiled when he denied Monsanto’s complaint, but I did.
I had just arrived in Mexico to look at the GM controversy, and I could tell it was going to be quite a visit.
By Mina Remy
April 25th, 2014
Farmers everywhere need certain things to thrive: Land, water, seeds, and a little help from the weather. But Palestinian farmers face relentless obstacles even to get to their fields, let alone irrigate them.
For almost a decade Grassroots International has supported the work of the Union of Agricultural Work Committees (UAWC) in the West Bank. UAWC has been a key ally for Palestinian farmers exerting their right to farm in the face of settler violence, restricted access to farmland, confiscation of olive trees, and destruction of farms. In the videos below, UAWC farmers in two West Bank towns (Wadi Qana and Al Falamyeh) detail the many ways in which the Israeli occupation affect their livelihoods.
For too many people and communities around the world, the dominant agricultural model is causing economic hardship, the destruction of biological diversity, and the exploitation of earth’s ecological commons. It is a model based on the commodification of life. We can no longer continue the status quo that enables multi-national corporations to corner our food system and our seed commons. Every element that is foundational to life (food, water, land, air) is under threat of privatization and marketization by an economic order that seeks to profit and own our common wealth.
Campesina(o), camponês(a), paysan, peasant…
Berta Caceres, a Lenca indigenous woman who has been on the front lines defending the territory and the rights of the indigenous people for the last 20 years, is one of six finalists for the Front Line Defenders Award. Nominated for the award by Grassroots International, Berta is one of the founding directors of the National Council of Popular and Indigenous Organizations of Honduras (COPINH), a Grassroots grantee and ally.
The Israeli occupation of Palestinian territories not only takes Palestinian land for Israeli use. The settler-only structures and infrastructure also annex land and cut off Palestinians from each other, curtail their ability to move freely, and make it difficult – and often impossible – for students to go to schools, patients to visit hospitals, and farmers to access their land and grow food.
On Palestinian Land Day (March 30) the world has an opportunity to learn some of the facts of the ongoing land grabs in the region. The Israeli occupation of Palestinian territories not only takes Palestinian land for Israeli use. The settler-only structures and infrastructure also annex land and cut off Palestinians from each other, curtail their ability to move freely, and make it difficult – and often impossible – for students to go to schools, patients to visit hospitals, and farmers to access their land and grow food.
Land defenders in Guatemala are celebrating. In a country not known for its respect for human rights and due process of law, indigenous community activists have scored a recent victory whose impact will surely ripple through the nation.
In this remarkable video, the Gaza branch of Grassroots International partner the Union of Agricultural Work Committees, documents the plight of fishers and farmers in the Gaza Strip. This video is a testament to Palestinians’ commitment to their land and livelihoods despite overwhelming Israeli military pressure to give up. Palestinian farmers and fishers continuously risk their lives by pursuing their craft amidst the Israeli blockade of Gaza. For them giving up their way of life, and a means to sustain their families, is not an option.
Chavannes Jean-Baptiste of Haiti’s Peasant Movement of Papaye (MPP) muses, “In the old days, Haitian peasants never sold seeds; seeds were for sharing and exchanging.”
Today the old ways have been pushed aside. Seeds have become big business.
This assault on the basic human right to food commercializes and commodifies one of life’s most essential assets. It jeopardizes human health, threatens the global food supply and steals away the livelihoods of small farmers around the world.