Jake Miller's blog

Food Security, Clean Environment and Diversity at Stake in Farm Bill

The Farm Bill is one of the last major pieces of legislation that will make it to the floor of the Senate during the current legislative season, which makes it a ripe target for political maneuvering and special-interest pork.

Grassroots is working with a coalition of allies to fight for farming policies that will protect the human right to food, support family farmers in the United States and abroad and build a healthier food and farming system for consumers, communities and the environment.

The Senate's plan to set aside $25 million for locally-sourced food aid is a big win for family farmers in some of the world's poorest regions, but there is a lot that is still at stake in this farm bill.

Activists Attacked in Brazil: Update

Isabella Kenfield and Roger Burbach of Center for the Study of the Americas have written an article with more details about a vicious, deadly attack on activists from the Via Campesina and the Landless Workers Movement (MST) in Parana, Brazil on October 21.

A peaceful protest against genetically-modified seed testing turned into an a bloody shooting that resulted in the death of a local leader and the wounding of eight other activists i.

The gunmen, who were carrying illegal firearms including automatic weapons, worked for a security company hired by Syngenta, one of the biggest producers of seeds and agricutural chemicals in the world.

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.

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.

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.

Small Farmers and Agrofuels in Mexico

Victor M. Quintana is an adviser to the Frente Democrático Campesino de Chihuahua , researcher at the Universidad Autónoma de Ciudad Juárez and collaborator with the Americas Policy Program, at www.americaspolicy.org. He works with the Rural Coalition and the Via Campesina, Mexico and has spoken and written widely about agrofuels, especially about their impact on the price of staple foods like tortillas in Mexico.