Defending Human Rights

Trade Deals Criminalize Farmers' Seeds

What could be more routine than saving seeds from one season to the next? After all, that is how we grow crops on our farms and in our gardens. Yet from Guatemala to Ghana, from Mozambique to Malaysia, this basic practice is being turned into a criminal offence, so that half a dozen large multinational corporations can turn seeds into private property and make money from them.

But people are fighting back and in several countries popular mobilisations are already forcing governments to put seed privatisation plans on hold.

Exposing the “Green Revolution” in West Africa

Farmers have worked the rugged land in Western Africa for generations, moving seasonally from field to forest for food and livelihood. While life was never easy, the community worked together, in harmony with their surroundings, to provide for themselves and their neighbors.

All that changed when the government planted a virtual “For Lease” sign on the land. China and other buyers grabbed it up, quickly draining the land of nutrients with vast fields of monocrops for export.

This is the plight of many farmers across the Global South. Massive land grabs – combined with the influx of genetically modified seeds under the banner of the “Green Revolution” – come with empty promises of increased agricultural productivity and the end of hunger.

Video of Grassroots International Palestinian Partner Accepting 2014 Food Sovereignty Prize

On October 15, 2014 Ali Abd El Rahman  accepted the 2014 Food Sovereignty Prize on behalf of the Union of Agricultural Work Committees (UAWC). UAWC shares the prize with Community to Community Development/Comunidad a Comunidad (C2C) of Bellingham, Washington.

UAWC is a Grassroots International partner and has been a leading force for the promotion of food sovereignty (not just food security) in Gaza and the West Bank.

Land Rights and Food Sovereignty in Brazil

When Maria and Rubem dos Santos were pushed off their land in northeast Brazil to make way for a sugar cane plantation, their lives changed forever. In previous years, the family supported itself by growing food for a balanced diet. Now, instead of farming, Rubem had to work in the cane fields. The chemicals made him sick, and his meager income didn’t stretch far. The family was going hungry.

Keep your Coins, I Want Change

This spring, Grassroots International was invited to participate in a project of the Kindle Project called the "Indie Philanthropy Initiative." For more information about the project, visit indph.org.  The interview below includes reflections from Nikhil Aziz and Sara Mersha.

How do you do your funding and please describe your organization’s approach and process, explaining how it is different from conventional philanthropy.

Palestinian Farmer Spotlights Food Sovereignty

Ali Abd El Rahman has been in the United States for only a few days, but it’s the longest he’s ever lived without having to go through a military checkpoint.

El Rahman lives in Jerusalem, and as a Palestinian, his actions, resource use, transportation, and work are under Israeli government control. He doesn’t even have a legal passport; the Israeli government issues Jerusalem Palestinians travel documents that require a lot of explanation when he attempts to cross international borders.

Honduran Garifuna Communities Evicted by Tourism Interests

In the morning of September 30, 2014, members of the National Police and military conducted an eviction in the Afro-descendant and indigenous (Garifuna) community of Barra Vieja, Tela, in northern Honduras. Members of the Black Fraternal Organization of Honduras, or OFRANEH, are demanding respect for their right to their ancestral home and an immediate return of the usurped lands.

Climate Smart Agriculture Isn’t so Smart – Agroecology Is

We are writing to update you on crucial developments in advancing agroecology at the international level while strengthening opposition to the intentionally misleading “Climate Smart Agriculture” model being promoted by the World Bank, FAO, and newly launched corporate-dominated Global Alliance for Climate Smart Agriculture.

As recognition of the legitimacy of agroecology grows, large-scale agribusiness is driving a concerted, pre-emptive effort to counter it. It is called Climate Smart Agriculture (CSA). But do not be fooled by this title.  The model incentivizes destructive industrial agricultural practices by tying it to carbon market offsets based on unreliable and non-permanent emissions reduction protocols.

Speaking out for Climate Justice and Food Sovereignty

Miriam Miranda’s journey from Honduras for the People’s Climate Justice Summit put her on the podium in front of thousands of people in New York this weekend. A leader of the Black Fraternal Organization of Honduras (OFRANEH, a Grassroots International partner), Miriam and her community have been on the front lines of work for climate justice. She boldly told the crowd, “We cannot accept nor perpetuate this supposed development which does not take into account or respect nature and the earth’s natural resources… We should and must have the obligation to leave water, air, food and secure the safety for our sons and daughters and other living things.”

Human Rights Defenders in Haiti Continue Despite Personal Risk

by Jen B.

Human rights defenders in Haiti risk their lives to protect the basic rights of Haitian citizens. Exile, intimidation, death threats, and assassinations have become part and parcel with human rights work in Haiti. Since January 2014, 15 local human rights defenders have been the targets of physical attacks and death threats that aim to end their critical work.