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By Sara Mersha
May 29th, 2014
During the Engaged Donors for Global Equity (EDGE) conference in Berkeley, Grassroots International facilitated a discussion about the history and vision of social movement struggles for trade justice. Activists and thought leaders from Mexico, the US and the Philippines – including Grassroots’ allies and grantees – shared the first-hand damages of Free Trade Agreements versus the dignity of Trade Justice.
We co-organized the workshop with our allies at International Development Exchange (IDEX). Participants included:
For too many people and communities around the world, the dominant agricultural model is causing economic hardship, the destruction of biological diversity, and the exploitation of earth’s ecological commons. It is a model based on the commodification of life. We can no longer continue the status quo that enables multi-national corporations to corner our food system and our seed commons. Every element that is foundational to life (food, water, land, air) is under threat of privatization and marketization by an economic order that seeks to profit and own our common wealth.
By Jonathan Leaning
April 17th, 2014
In honor of the International Day of Peasants' Struggle (April 17), the U.S. Food Sovereignty Alliance today released A Preliminary Report on Seeds and Seed Practices across the US based on surveys of seed savers and seed advocates from around the United States.
Resilience. Defiance. Courage. Those words usually describe Grassroots International’s partners around the world and their stand for human rights in the face of relentless dangers.
But not today.
Today those words apply, too, to our neighbors here in Boston. Runners. Families. Communities that for years have lined the roads from Hopkinton to Copley Square to cheer for strangers.
After going into hospice care, the Rev. Dr. John Fish decided that he wants to distribute some of his lifetime of savings to organizations he believes in while he is still alive because, as he says, “if we are going to achieve social justice, it will have to come from strengthening those on the bottom because it is never going to happen from the top down. And I am so glad I can help. I encourage others to do so also.”
When asked why he so consistently supported Grassroots International over the years and chooses to include Grassroots in his legacy giving, John’s response is both humble and profound.
Chavannes Jean-Baptiste of Haiti’s Peasant Movement of Papaye (MPP) muses, “In the old days, Haitian peasants never sold seeds; seeds were for sharing and exchanging.”
Today the old ways have been pushed aside. Seeds have become big business.
This assault on the basic human right to food commercializes and commodifies one of life’s most essential assets. It jeopardizes human health, threatens the global food supply and steals away the livelihoods of small farmers around the world.
Food sovereignty within several African countries is on the verge of a complete neo-colonial take-over, critics of a recent agricultural initiative being developed by a new G8 alliance warn.
According to a Guardian report published Tuesday, the G8's New Alliance for Food Security and Nutrition initiative, supported by the Obama administration, has connected African leaders with major agribusiness corporations in an effort to map out a plan for agricultural development on the African continent in the coming years, which will loosen export and tax laws, award "huge chunks of land" for private investment and change seed laws to benefit international corporations and their GMO products.
The new version of the Farm Bill passed by Congress on February 4, 2014, and signed by President Obama three days later leaves several critical programs around nutrition and programs to support family farmers underfunded. The legislation is problematic on many levels, starting with the three below.
John Kinsman was far more than a Wisconsin dairy farmer, though he proudly was that. He was a pioneer of organic and sustainable farming in the United States and a tireless advocate for global food sovereignty. John Kinsman died yesterday, on Martin Luther King Day, after a long life of struggle, humor and compassion.
A fourth generation farmer, John founded Family Farm Defenders to empower farmers to speak for and respect themselves in their quest for social, economic and racial justice. A 2012 profile in The Progressive, describes some of his accomplishments: