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This report, which documents the human and environmental costs of the industiral biofuel model in Latin America, is the result of a seminar about the expansion of sugarcane plantations in Central and South America. The seminar, which took place in São Paulo, Brazil, from February 26-28, 2007 was organized by Brazil's Pastoral Land Commission and Grassroots' Partner, The Social Network for Justice and Human Rights.
By Nikhil Aziz
November 9th, 2007
World Food Day was recently observed around the world with people everywhere taking the opportunity to organize and act on our obligations to ensure "The Right to Food." Here in the United States, the Right to Food is as relevant as anywhere, especially in light of our recent imported food safety crisis that is causing many citizens to question their grocery purchases.
By Nikhil Aziz
November 8th, 2007
"Punjabis are poisoning themselves" declared the Economist not too long ago, quipping that the poster child of India's green revolution is now "in the throes of a grey revolution." We take heart that the Economist, a cheerleader for "free trade" and neoliberal economic policies, is raising questions about policies that have caused massive environmental degradation and serious public health consequences for India's bread basket state.
Over the last few months, we've reported on the damaging impact of agrofuels on human rights, the environment and food security.
Private security forces hired by the multinational agribusiness Syngenta shot and killed Valmir Motta de Olivera, a leader of the Landless Workers Movement (MST) and the Via Campesina during a direct action protest on Sunday, Oct 21 in the southern Brazilian state of Paraná. Eight other protestors were wounded in the attack. The landless workers were occupying the site, where Syngenta runs field trials for genetically modified seeds. The land borders an ecologically important national park area, and the Via have proposed that the land be developed instead as a center for agroecology and creole seed production.
More and more people around the world are taking up the call by peasant and small farmers, indigenous peoples and pastoralists for food sovereignty as an expression of, and a way to realize the right to food. Earlier this year members of the Via Campesina and other organizations met in Mali to put in motion an action plan for achieving food sovereignty. On October 16th, World Food Day, the International Federation of Organic Agriculture Movements (IFOAM) endorsed food sovereignty as the right to food. As IFOAM notes, food sovereignty as the right to food means the right to feed oneself as opposed to the right to be fed.
Tomorrow is World Food Day, a day created by the UN's Food and Agriculture Organization, a day that's dedicated to bringing awareness to the struggles of the 800 million people who go hungry every day. Thousands of people around the world will take action to fight hunger.
It's too bad these two days didn't coincide, because so many of the problems related to hunger are environmental, and so many of the solutions are ecological.
Agrarian Reform and Peasant and Women's Leadership Strengthened at the Francisco Morazan Central America Peasant School
It is my seventh day traveling around Central America and I have filled many, many pages with notes. As much as I want to know, it is impossible to absorb so much information and history in a week. Conversations here are a rich experience often sprinkled with bountiful details of local and Latin American history.
Over the last two days, I have been participating as an observer in the Central American Regional Conference on Agrarian Reform of the Via Campesina at the Francisco Morazan Central American Peasant School, named after the 19th century Central American leader who tried to create a united, progressive Central America.
[In September 2007, Saulo Araujo, our Global Programs Assistant, is visiting our partners in Mesoamerica. He'll be reporting back about resource rights and food sovereignty issues in the region. This is the first of a series of three articles. --Ed.]
As I waited for my flight to El Salvador on Tuesday, I decided to browse the newspapers for news about the election in Guatemala and saw a small blurb about the defeat of Rigoberta Menchu. The newspaper article reads that Rigoberta Menchu, a Nobel Peace Prize laureate, received only 3% of the valid ballots in last Sunday's presidential election in Guatemala.
When something sounds too good to be true, it often is.
Clean, green, biofuels that magically reduce dependance on fossil fuels and reduce global warming with no negative impacts are a myth.
Our friends at the IRC Americas program are continuing to cover the realities of the booming agrofuel industry: increased hunger, consolidation of the food and farming system and environmental degradation and decreased human rights, food sovereignty and local autonomy.
Here's their latest article, by Laura Carlsen, the director of the Americas Program, based in Mexico City.