By Nikhil Aziz
November 8th, 2007
"Punjabis are poisoning themselves" declared the Economist not too long ago, quipping that the poster child of India's green revolution is now "in the throes of a grey revolution." We take heart that the Economist, a cheerleader for "free trade" and neoliberal economic policies, is raising questions about policies that have caused massive environmental degradation and serious public health consequences for India's bread basket state.
More and more people around the world are taking up the call by peasant and small farmers, indigenous peoples and pastoralists for food sovereignty as an expression of, and a way to realize the right to food. Earlier this year members of the Via Campesina and other organizations met in Mali to put in motion an action plan for achieving food sovereignty. On October 16th, World Food Day, the International Federation of Organic Agriculture Movements (IFOAM) endorsed food sovereignty as the right to food. As IFOAM notes, food sovereignty as the right to food means the right to feed oneself as opposed to the right to be fed.
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.
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.
The Union of Agricultural Work Committees (UAWC), one of Grassroots International's newest partners in Palestine, is organizing an olive harvest campaign directed at bringing internationals in to help Palestinian families access their lands and pick their olives during the upcoming harvest season. This is a great way to express solidarity with the Palestinian people and support their right to stay on the land. Here is the flyer we received from UAWC:
In a few weeks, Guatemalans will cast their votes in the final round of the Presidential elections. They will choose between two candidates, the impresario Alvaro Colom and the army general Otto Perez Molina. So far, it seems that the next president will be elected with a small margin of votes with the two candidates disputing every vote in the capital of Guatemala City, where the election is expect to be decided.
Far in the mountains, the votes of Mayan peasants will have almost no impact on the final outcome of the election. This lack of impact is evident in both political platforms, which fail to address the main issues and concerns of the Mayan population, including landlessness and the dire agrarian situation in the country.
Agrarian Reform and Peasant and Women's Leadership Strengthened at the Francisco Morazan Central America Peasant School
Over the last two days, I have been participating as an observer in the Central American Regional Conference on Agrarian Reform of the Via Campesina at the Francisco Morazan Central American Peasant School, named after the 19th century Central American leader who tried to create a united, progressive Central America.
By International Forum on Globalization
September 14th, 2007
Victoria Tauli-Corpuz, indigenous Igarot activist from the Philippines and Chair of the UN Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues, stated: “The 13th of September 2007 will be remembered as an international human rights day for the Indigenous Peoples of the world, a day that the United Nations and its Member States, together with Indigenous Peoples, reconciled with past painful histories and decided to march into the future on the path of human rights.”
The first ever Boston Palestine Film Festival starts on September 29th and runs through October 7th. The festival, organized by Tawassul, an organization committed to sharing and celebrating Palestinian arts and culture, will feature more than 40 films, Q&As with visiting directors and an opening and closing celebration.
Tawassul has pulled together an impressive line up of documentaries, dramatic features, rare early works (1969-1980) and films by emerging artists. Many of these films depict vividly the hard life ordinary Palestinians, including members of Grassroots International's partner organizations live and the challenges they confront daily under Israeli occupation.
The New York Times reports today that, "CARE, one of the world's biggest charities, is walking away from some $45 million a year in federal financing, saying American food aid is not only plagued with inefficiencies, but also may hurt some of the very poor people it aims to help." (CARE Turns Down Federal Funds for Food Aid)