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By The Oakland Institute
April 29th, 2008
"Burning food today so as to serve the mobility of the rich countries is a crime against humanity" said Jean Ziegler, United Nations Special Rapporteur on the Right to Food criticizing the growing push for using food crops as fuel crops and diverting land use from food cultivation to fuel cultivation. In the face of the growing global crisis that he said could lead to "widespread hunger, malnutrition and social unrest on an unprecedented scale" United Nations Secretary General Ban Ki-moon convened a global task force to respond, and called for closing the $755 million funding gap in the UN's World Food Programme.
In recent weeks, several UN agencies have issued warnings against impending food riots because of the acute hike in prices of rice, corn, wheat, and other staples. Morocco, Guinea, Egypt, Mexico, Haiti, Yemen, Mauritania, Senegal, Indonesia, and Uzbekistan have already been rocked by mass protests. The World Food Program (WFP), which feeds 73 million people in almost 80 countries, has called upon donor governments to close the $500 million funding gap by May 1, 2008 or it may not be able to make its food aid commitments. Worst affected by resulting hunger are the poor, surviving on less then $2 a day, in developing countries.
Food activists, scientists, and representatives from governments and corporations around the world will begin meeting in Johannesburg on Monday, April 7th, to finalize a report on how the world can tackle the deeply interrelated issues of hunger, poverty, power, and global agriculture.
But global agribusinesses Monsanto, Syngenta, and BASF have refused to participate. They complained recently that genetic modification of agriculture was under-valued by the 4,000 scientists and experts working on the report, and that the report should not have stated that biotechnology in agriculture poses risks.
By Nikhil Aziz
March 31st, 2008
From the capital, Port Au Prince, we take a small five-seater plane to the Central Plateau in Haiti's interior. My colleague Maria Aguiar and I are flying to Hinche, the capital of the Department of the Centre. From there we will drive to Papaye to visit Grassroots International's partner the Mouvman Peyizan Papay (Peasant Movement of Papaye), which is convening to celebrate its 35th anniversary and chalk out a plan of action for the next five years.
What Does Heating Homes in New York City with Biodiesel Have to do with Deforestation in the Brazilian Amazon?
Many of us think we’re doing the climate and the environment a big favor when we consider meeting our liquid fuel needs through biodiesel. I don’t want to be the bearer of bad news, but it’s time to think again.
Agribusiness is seeing dollar signs as cities and states across the country consider using biodiesel to fuel municipal vehicle fleets and heat homes and businesses. In New York City, over a million households depend on petroleum heating oil to stay warm every winter. Legislation currently wending its way through City Council proposes adding biodiesel to future supplies.
But where does this biodiesel come from and at what environmental cost?
Grassroots International is pleased to highlight "The Story of Stuff ," a newly-released, highly informative and entertaining Web video that documents the destructive impacts of consumerism and waste. The video features activist Annie Leonard taking viewers through the process of creating a consumer good - from the extraction of materials to the disposal. Check it out but beware: Your trash will never look the same.
It’s becoming apparent that climate change is negatively affecting farmers around the world. Erratic weather patterns force farmers to find new ways of growing crops, but sometimes people who work the land are helpless in the face of droughts or excessive rains. When farmers are unable to adapt to changes in climate, local food shortages affect whole communities.
A recent background paper by the Via Campesina summarizes how industrial-scale agriculture fuels climate change and thereby threatens small-scale farmers. But the paper also outlines how many farmers around the world are helping to slow climate change through the practice of sustainable grazing, the use of solar power, and other farm-based endeavors. You can read the background paper here.
The new magic bullet for our energy woes - industrial agrofuels - is already exacting heavy costs on food security and rural communities around the world. The anticipated increase in agrofuel production could lead to catastrophic impacts on the world's ability to feed itself.
In this report, Grassroots International, the Community Food Security Coalition, World Hunger Year, Food First and several other food justice organizations tackle these impacts and identify actions that would buffer communities from increased hunger, poverty, and environmental degradation.
In times of war and institutionalized terrorism, examples of solidarity between people in the United States and the Global South give us hope for a better world. In fact, it is only through solidarity with people that we will never actually meet that we can build the "global movement for social justice".
Here is a case that has re-energized us at Grassroots International this end of year.
Last spring, Grassroots made a brief presentation to students of Boston's Philbrick School about our work to support rural communities throughout the globe to reclaim their rights to land, water and food.
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.