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By Beverly Bell
October 16th, 2013
Jose Luis Patrola is a history professor, farmer, and member of the Brazilian land reform group, the Rural Landless Workers’ Movement, or MST. He lived in Haiti for three years as part of the Dessalines Brigade, an exchange of agricultural and technical cooperation between Haitians and Brazilians. In a departure from many international programs of “teaching” and “aiding” Haitians, Patrola speaks here [with Beverly Bell] about mutual learning and respect.
By Mina Remy
October 10th, 2013
Strength through unity.
That is the motto on the Haitian flag, and it is being played out now in a new collaboration among the country’s leading social movements.
Each of the four largest Haitian peasant movements have storied histories individually and now collectively under the umbrella of the Group of Four (G4). In Kreyol the G4 is called “4 Je Kontre” or “4 Eyes Meet.”
Twenty years after La Vía Campesina International was founded, the global network of rural organizations has agreed to a new worldwide action plan based on small-scale farming and agro-ecology, food sovereignty, and self-determination of communities. At the same time, the group is reaffirming its stance against transnational corporations, industrial agriculture and agri-business.
The embattled northeastern Brazilian state of Maranhão is experiencing its worst drought in 50 years. Yet in the midst of this brutal dry spell, one farmer settlement is brimming with abundant vegetables, fruits and crops.
Once again, TIAA-CREF has denied its shareholders the right to have their voices heard through the ballot box at this year’s shareholder meeting.
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.
"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.