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By Daniel Moss
July 7th, 2007
What single bill – albeit with a great many tentacles – currently sits before Congress and will define the future of so much of the commons – our land use, soil and water quality, the future of our rural communities?
Look no further than the tip of your fork: the Farm Bill.
Michael Pollan, in the New York Times magazine, April 22, 2007, described it this way: “This resolutely unglamorous and head-hurtingly complicated piece of legislation…sets the rules for the American food system – indeed to a considerable extent, for the world’s food system.”
“Our Youth is not the Future, Our Youth is the Present” – Julian Moya, Southwest Organizing Project (SWOP), Albuquerque, New Mexico
“We cannot choose the historical conditions we find ourselves in, but we can choose how we respond to them” – Ajamu Baraka, Director, U.S. Human Rights Network, Atlanta, Georgia
These two quotes, among many other hopeful messages I heard at the U.S. Social Forum (USSF) from June 27 to July 1, 2007 in Atlanta epitomized for me the USSF – what it stands for and envisions in terms of a different kind of United States. Both represent the truth embedded in the official slogan of the USSF – Another World is Possible; Another US is Necessary.
1,200 indigenous people, fishermen and peasant farmers occupied the construction site of a major river rerouting project of the São Francisco river in protest. Members of different organizations and social movements in northeast Brazil are demanding that the federal government stop the implementation of this project and guarantee indigenous people’s land rights in the area.
“We are being evicted from our land for this by people who are not concerned with the river or with the livelihood of our families” said Neguinho Truká, leader of the Truká ethnic group.
Please join Grassroots International at the United States Social Forum, Atlanta, June 27-30, 2007. The US Social Forum is more than a conference, more than a networking bonanza, more than a reaction to war and repression, more than a collection of local solutions. It's an important moment to further build the global movement for social justice.
Grassroots International and Food and Water Watch teamed up to issue an informative and compelling report that shows how food sovereignty will not only benefit small farmers all over the world, but will also give environmentalists and consumers what "free” trade and bad farm policies have failed to deliver. Conventional agriculture is a major cause of global warming, and as Congress and the United Nations grapple with a new environmental treaty, a strong food sovereignty movement is more critical than ever. Please read the report to find out more about this remarkable movement, how bridges can be built, and why the time to work together has arrived.
Reports about a backroom deal between Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Rep. Charles Rangel and the White House on "fast track" -- the authorization the President sought to extend that gives him power to practically bypass Congress on free trade deals because it can only vote on and cannot amend the deals President makes -- in return for concessions in other areas were floating around Washington for some time. The Institute for Agriculture and Trade Policy's Dennis Olson and Alexandra Spieldoch report on what this means for agriculture, here in the U.S. and in the global South.
A Report from Brazil's Pastoral Land Commission (CPT) and Social Network for Justice and Human Rights (Rede Social).By Edivan Pinto, Marluce Melo and Maria Luisa Mendonça*
Recent studies about the impacts caused by fossil fuels contributed in highlighting the theme of bioenergy . The energy matrix is composed of petroleum (35%), coal (23%) and natural gas (21%).On their own, the ten richest countries consume 80% of the energy produced in the world. Amongst these, the USA is responsible for 25% of pollution to the atmosphere. Analysts estimate that within 25 years, the world demand for petroleum, natural gas and coal may have an increase of 80%.
The 17th of April is International Peasants' Struggle Day, established after the massacre of 19 landless peasants belonging to the Landless Movement (MST) in Brazil on the 17th of April 1996 which occurred during the second conference of the Via Campesina in Tlaxcala Mexico. Many of Grassroots International's partners, including the MST are members of the Via Campesina, and Grassroots directly works with the Via as well.
In commemoration of International Peasants' Struggle Day, the Via Campesina and its allies are organizing activities and actions all over the world. Peasants and friends will rally around the demands that the Via posted on its website.
Article three in a three issue series on biofuel in Brazil.
The memorandum of understanding between Brazil and the United States signed during the visit of President Bush to Brazil early this month has been under intense scrutiny. For one, the high U.S. tariffs on Brazilian ethanol make the initiative unrealistic for now. But speculative investors are already rushing to expand the "green desert", as activists have taken to calling the vast areas of monocrops like sugar cane, soybean and castor seed that bring high profits for agribusiness and industry at the cost of rural livelihoods and biodiversity. This expansion takes land and water rights and the possibility of a dignified livelihood away from rural families.