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By Carol Schachet
September 13th, 2010
Big business wants to gobble up our resources—grabbing land, privatizing water, patenting seeds and trying to squeeze out anyone who gets in the way of their profits. Fortunately, an alternative exists that places the rights of people and communities ahead of big business. The alternative is resource rights.
Grassroots International produced a short video that explains the challenges and hope surrounding the movement for Resource Rights, starting with the story of our partner, Dona Maria. By sharing it through social networks like Facebook, you can help spread word of this powerful movement to secure land, water and food right for all.
All people have the right to decide what they eat and to ensure that food in their community is healthy and accessible for everyone. This is the basic principle behind food sovereignty. If you want to support domestic food security through the production of healthy food at a fair price, and you believe that family farmers and fishers should have the first right to local and regional markets, then food sovereignty is for you.
For several months brave activists and residents have built protest tents outside of the Jerusalem gate in Eizaria. The Israeli military has destroyed their tents 11 times—but each time the determined activists build them again. They are saying no to an Israeli plan remove 2,500 Bedouins shepherds from their land, their homes and their traditional way of life while also displacing fellow Palestinians in Abu Dis and Eizaria. What will Israel do with the land in an area they term “E1” to the North and East of Jerusalem? Expand its largest illegal settlement: Maale Adumin.
By Leah Penniman
March 27th, 2015
In August, five young men showed up at Soul Fire Farm, a sustainable farm near Albany, New York, where I work as educator and food justice coordinator. It was the first day of a new restorative justice program, in partnership with the county’s Department of Law. The teens had been convicted of theft, and, as an alternative to incarceration, chose this opportunity to earn money to pay back their victims while gaining farm skills. They looked wary and unprepared, with gleaming sneakers and averted eyes.
“I basically expected it to be like slavery, but it would be better than jail,” said a young man named Asan. “It was different though. We got paid and we got to bring food home. The farmers there are black like us, which I did not expect.
According to our partner the Movement of People Affected by Dams (MAB), approximately 10,000 families in the city of Altamira in Brazil will be directly affected by the flooding and subsequent lake created from the construction of the Belo Monte mega-dam. Meanwhile Norte Energia, the company responsible for this mega-project, has only built 4,100 poorly-constructed houses for the displaced without any other infrastructure like schools, medical facilities, and public transportation for the displaced communities. These are only a few of the reasons is why hundreds of people came together on March 11 to protest against the Belo Monte dam.
Grassroots International celebrates the courageous work of frontline women defending the human rights of peasant and indigenous women around the world. One of these women is Yazmín López, a national coordinator for the Council for the Integral Development of the Peasant Woman (CODIMCA). A partner of Grassroots International, CODIMCA is the lead organization for the Women’s Regional Commission of La Vía Campesina–Central America, and one of the first peasant women-led organizations formed in Honduras with the explicit objective of reclaiming women’s land rights. Below is an excerpt of my interview with Yazmín.
What inspires you to work for women’s rights in Honduras?
The long-standing Afro-Brazilian, or Quilombola, village of Tambor, Amazonia received a nasty surprise last year. A federal judge sent notice, from his office 3,600 kilometers away in Brazil’s capital, to these descendants of fugitive slaves that their village wasn’t actually Quilombola, and therefore the entire village needed to be evicted.
This was in spite of the fact that the Quilombola families have lived and raised their families there for over 100 years. They had also applied for and secured official recognition and status as a protected Quilombola village, which gave them the legal right to the territory on which the village stands.
Humanity cannot solve its problems with one hand effectively tied behind its back. Yet, given the state of women’s rights globally, this is metaphorically the case. One of the guiding principles of Grassroots International's work is the recognition and support of women’s agency in the struggle for justice and liberation – not just to advance women’s leadership (though that is a goal) but also because women’s engagement and leadership are necessary to push us all forward.
In yet another setback for the claims by Monsanto and other biotech giants that GMOs are safe, a group of 300 scientists and legal experts have recently found that there is no consensus on GMO safety, and that claims to the contrary are misleading. As one scientist who was originally involved in the creation of GMO tomatoes now puts it, to assume there is scientific consensus “is little more than wishful thinking.” The following is the statement, which Grassroots International signed onto, from the European Network of Scientists for Social and Environmental Responsibility (ENSSER).
“No scientific consensus on GMO safety” statement published in peer-reviewed journal
Contrary to Western assertions, Africa is not a blank slate.
Africans have a long history of vibrant culture, politics, economics and agriculture. However, since Europe’s first encounter with Africa through present day, international “decisionmakers” have approached the African continent as though it was devoid of people along with history. Africa is imagined out of context, and those projections become the basis for policy.
In our times, the battle for Africa is being waged one plot of agricultural land at a time. Control of Africa’s food system is being wrested away from peasant farmers and being turned over to agribusinesses such as Monsanto under the guise of agricultural development.