Sustainable Livelihoods

Protestor Assasinated During Direct Action in Brazil

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.

Days of Action

Today is Blog Action Day and more than 15,000 bloggers with a combined reach of more than 12 million subscribers are joining forces to blog about the environment. 

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.

The ABCs of Rainforest Destruction

The Rainforest Action Network (RAN) officially launched their new Rainforest Agribusiness campaign this week, targeting ADM, Bunge and Cargill (ABC) for the role they are playing in the massive expansion of soy and palm oil plantations throughout the world. Global South movements including our partners in the Via Campesina are doing similar campaigns in various parts of the world.

Congress Urged to Ditch Energy Bill Renewable Fuel Standard

WASHINGTON -- Congressional leaders are being urged by environmental, family farmer, and social justice organizations to ensure that a radical biofuels provision passed by the Senate be left out of final energy legislation under consideration this fall.

In a letter being sent to House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid today, the groups warn that the massive Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS) passed by the Senate earlier this year could lead to significant environmental and social harm. The RFS would mandate the use of 36 billion gallons of biofuel by 2022, a five-fold increase over current levels.

Biofuels: The Beautiful Dream and the Painful Reality

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.

Central America's Women Fighting Oppression

[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.

Continuing Coverage of the Agrofuels Controversy

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.

Protecting Threatened Livestock and Seed Strains in the Face of Global Extinctions

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.

Bittersweet Victory for Anti-Wall Protestors in West Bank

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.