By Carol Schachet
January 21st, 2014
John Kinsman was far more than a Wisconsin dairy farmer, though he proudly was that. He was a pioneer of organic and sustainable farming in the United States and a tireless advocate for global food sovereignty. John Kinsman died yesterday, on Martin Luther King Day, after a long life of struggle, humor and compassion.
A fourth generation farmer, John founded Family Farm Defenders to empower farmers to speak for and respect themselves in their quest for social, economic and racial justice. A 2012 profile in The Progressive, describes some of his accomplishments:
January 14th, 2014
Land grabs -- the large-scale and sometimes shady acquisition of massive tracts of land by powerful financial interest -- have become a serious problem in the Global South. As a result, peasant farmers, particularly in indigenous communities, are being driven from their ancestral lands. Fortunately, a growing and increasingly well-organized movement of resistance to land grabs is fighting back --and succeeding. The following story, from Grassroots ally GRAIN, shows how one community leader and his community are pushing back against the grabs.
Haiti’s peasant movements are reforesting the countryside, building irrigation systems, feeding communities – just to name a few activites that are improving lives for rural communities across the nation. In the video below, members of Haiti’s Group of Four (G4) and the Dessalines Brigade describe how Haiti’s peasant movement connects with the struggle for food sovereignty in the United States, and globally. The video includes Grassroots International partners from Haiti and Brazil speaking at an Occupy the Food Prize rally on October 17, 2013 in Des Moines.
This last year has seen many advances around the globe for communities and activists pushing to regain their fundamental human rights to land, water, and food. As we now approach the end of 2013, we take this opportunity a look back at some of the accomplishments that have marked the year. In spite of the great challenges—and seemingly insurmountable odds—there is much to celebrate. Below are some of many highlights from the last year.
Winning land for formerly landless farmers in Brazil
The Peasant Unity Committee (CUC) announced the redistribution of land last month to 140 indigenous and peasant families. The families were part of the largest violent eviction in the recent history of Guatemala in March 2011 when non-state actors, police, military forces and the government forced nearly 800 indigenous Q’eqchí families of their land without notice, destroyed their crops and burned their homes.
Agroecology is not just a way of doing agriculture but, equally importantly, a way of thinking about agriculture holistically, systemically, and ecologically. Along with respect for nature -- the soil, water, seeds, etc. -- there is equally respect for the people (especially women) engaged in agriculture, including their knowledge, experience, leadership and rights. It is a way of thinking about and doing agriculture that is fundamental to addressing pressing global problems like hunger and climate change.
Carlos Henríquez can talk about fertilizer for hours. He knows what mix of ingredients will help certain crops grow better, the right “recipe” for creating well-balanced compost and fertilizers, the best ways to keep moisture in the soil even in dry spells.
In Des Moines Iowa last week, in a stunning example of irony three genetic engineers were given the World Food Prize. The award winners are major developers of the now 20-year-old science and technology behind genetically modified organisms (GMOs), a highly contentious and potentially hazardous substitute for age-old agricultural knowledge and technology. By presenting representatives from Monsanto and Syngenta with the World Food Prize, its sponsors are attempting to elevate the status of GMOs and lend credence to the [false] argument that we need GMOs to feed the world’s burgeoning population. The truth is that most of the GMOs grown today are for U.S.
In an unprecedented move last week, a Federal Mexican Tribunal suspended authorization for the planting of all genetically modified corn by transnational corporations such as Monsanto, Pioneer and Syngenta. The Tribunal recognized the legal interests of 53 individuals and 20 civil associations that filed a class action lawsuit against the Ministries of Agriculture and Environment, the federal government and the transnational corporations that applied for permits to plant transgenic corn. While this decision is not a permanent one, it is a groundbreaking victory in preventing commercial GMO plantations until the collective action lawsuit is resolved.
Strength through unity.
That is the motto on the Haitian flag, and it is being played out now in a new collaboration among the country’s leading social movements.
Each of the four largest Haitian peasant movements have storied histories individually and now collectively under the umbrella of the Group of Four (G4). In Kreyol the G4 is called “4 Je Kontre” or “4 Eyes Meet.”