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By Nikhil Aziz
June 17th, 2013
Ingredients: 183 member organizations. 88 countries. 5 continents. 500 representatives of 200-plus million women and men. Numerous allies from movements of women, indigenous peoples, fishers, pastoralists, environmental/climate justice activists and more. One global peasant movement. All with fearless commitment to social, economic and gender justice.
Our Palestinian partners frequently tell us: “To stay – and, frankly, to exist – is to resist.” I heard this same message during the 3rd International Youth Assembly of La Via Campesina (LVC). In a world where the ability to live a dignified life as a small farmer is increasingly challenging whether in Iowa or Indonesia the act of staying, and in some cases “going back” to the land is an act of resistance and courage.
On May 25 activists, farmers and consumers in 52 countries and 436 cities around the world united to March Against Monsanto. The grassroots Facebook campaign was started by Tami Monroe Canal who wanted to protect her two daughters. “I feel Monsanto threatens their generation’s health, fertility and longevity,” said Tami.
By Jonathan Leaning
May 23rd, 2013
"A seed is miraculous. A seed has life – you sow one and you reap hundreds.” – Nandini Jairam, La Vía Campesina member, India
Seeds have been a key issue of concern for the Via Campesina since its inception in 1993. As an autonomous, independent movement uniting 250 million small-scale farmers and producers from 70 countries from Africa, Asia, Europe and the Americas, the Via has now become a major player in the seed, food, agriculture, trade and climate debates, and is listened to by international institutions such as the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) and the United Nations Human Rights Council.
The stories of industrial agriculture as the only solution to end hunger re-emerge here and then, like weeds. At least, as biological indicators of soil quality and fertility, weeds are telling us the truth. The myth that we need to have petroleum-based agriculture and monocrops to feed the world is a lie that agribusinesses like Monsanto want to feed us.
But, as stewards of the Earth, we will need to continue uprooting those myths. GRAIN has published another great report (GMOs: Fooling – er “feeding”- the world for 20 years) that debunks the myths of GMOs and industrial agriculture.
It is a great educational material. Kudos to our colleagues at GRAIN.
In the news lately for asserting its [extended] patent rights and squelching attempts to label genetically modified foods, the mention of the word ‘Monsanto’ likely conjures up images of family farmers being sued, Agent Orange, the notorious rBGH growth hormone for cows, the suspected carcinogen saccharin, and many other notorious legacies. Now Grassroots International’s ally Food and Water Watch has produced a fascinating and comprehensive report that traces the corporation’s history and close links to legislators, academic researchers, and government regulators.
On this International Day of Peasants’ Struggle, we recognize the courage, tenacity and absolute necessity of grassroots struggles across the world for rights to land, life and dignity.
And we recognize that all-too-often peasants continue to face threats, repression and even death. In fact, that is why this day was first commemorated, following the murder of 19 peasant land rights activists in Brazil in 1996.
Thousands of small farmers joined students, activists, unionists , human rights advocates and others at the World Social Forum in Tunisia last week. Among the many demonstrations and calls for action, the plea for seed sovereignty resonated with the peasant organizers who have seen their lands and livelihoods threatened by the “Green Revolution” and the incursion of industrial agriculture.
For 37 years, March 30 has been celebrated as Palestinian Land Day, a day of action for land rights. On this date in 1976, Palestinians inside Israel mobilized to protest Israel’s plans to take 2,000 hectares of land from Palestinian communities in Galilee. Six Palestinian citizens of Israel were killed by Israeli forces, and hundreds more were injured and arrested. Though the repression was severe, people around world celebrate this date as an important moment in history, bringing Palestinians together in a common struggle for their rights to land wherever they live.