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By Jake Miller
October 5th, 2007
In the last month or so, magazines as diverse as the venerable National Geographic and the next-gen Wired have featured stories about the almost magical properties of industrial-scale agrofuel production, claiming that biofuels will lift the rural poor out of misery by providing high-paying jobs, reversing global warming and ending war in the Middle East.
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.
SciDec.net has a story this morning about a new report from the UN Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) and the Nairobi-based International Livestock Research Institute (ILRI) says that over-reliance on high yield, factory-farming style breeds is causing the extinction of an average of one local breed of animals per month. Meanwhile, in the last 100 years we've lost 75 percent of crop diversity.
The BBC reports that, "Israel's supreme court has ordered the government to redraw the route of the West Bank barrier near Bilin village, a key focus of anti-barrier protest."
The Separation Wall is often used as a tool to destroy Palestinian villages, separating farmers from the fields that surround their communities, shutting producers off from local markets and depriving communities of access to traditional sources of water.
Victor M. Quintana is an adviser to the Frente Democrático Campesino de Chihuahua , researcher at the Universidad Autónoma de Ciudad Juárez and collaborator with the Americas Policy Program, at www.americaspolicy.org. He works with the Rural Coalition and the Via Campesina, Mexico and has spoken and written widely about agrofuels, especially about their impact on the price of staple foods like tortillas in Mexico.
[This is a final report by George Naylor, President of the National Family Farm Coalition from the Via Campesina's International Forum on Agrofuels and Food Sovereignty, August 30-31, 2007 in Mexico City. --Ed.]
Would it seem strange to you if your country had become dependent on food imports, but your government starts promoting the idea that the agricultural system needs to produce agrofuel, too?
How about if 3.5 million of your fellow citizens migrated out of the country since 2000, many because they could no longer make a living on the farm?
We can do it with your help.
There are promising signs that this crucial legislation may pass the Senate, but we need your help to make it happen. Every call counts as the Farm Bill gets closer to a vote.
Call your Senators now and ask them to support food aid that works.
The Nyeleni communications team just sent us a link to a very inspirational video, a trailer for a documentary on the global food sovereignty movement and Nyeleni 2007, the Forum for Food Sovereigty.
The video is subtitled in Spanish, but for those who don't speak Spanish, many of the interviews were conducted in English.