Trade

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.

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.

Will the WTO fast-track trade at the expense of food security?

The General Council of the World Trade Organization begins a two-day meeting in Geneva today, with India and other developing countries threatening to block implementation of an agreement on trade facilitation. They would be justified in doing so.
 
The potential gains from that agreement, reached last December in Bali, Indonesia, are vastly overstated, and they flow primarily to rich countries and private sector traders. Meanwhile, the United States and other developed countries have made little effort to resolve the legitimate demands that developing country food security programs be exempted from archaic stipulations of the WTO’s Agreement on Agriculture (AoA).

Which Ways Forward for Trade Justice

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:

UN Report Calls for Radical, Democratic Food System

The current global food system needs to be "radically" and "democratically" changed in order to alleviate global hunger and serve human rights over the profits of major agribusiness corporations, according to a report released Monday by the United Nations Special Rapporteur on the right to food.

A Path toward Better Agricultural Investment

The food crisis of 2008 led to a broad agreement in the agricultural development community that the lack of appropriate investment in agriculture had been a key contributing factor to unstable prices and food insecurity. The crisis coincided with an increase in land grabbing in many parts of the world, but especially in Africa. It is in response to these events that the idea of developing some criteria on agricultural investments came up in international policy and governance arenas.

If Farming Is Hard, Free Trade Makes It Harder

Being a farmer is hard.  This is true no matter what policies exist. The work itself is difficult, and making money from farming requires many, many factors to line up just right.  Get too much rain, too dry a season, too many bugs and the crop can be destroyed.  Prices might be higher, but there’s just not that much to sell.  Even a big harvest when everything goes well doesn’t guarantee success. A bumper crop means that there are a whole lot of tomatoes, corn, peaches, or eggplants at the market, so prices go down.

Scaling up Agroecology: A new report from IATP offers a tool for policy

Agroecology is not just a way of doing agriculture but, equally importantly, a way of thinking about agriculture holistically, systemically, and ecologically. Along with respect for nature -- the soil, water, seeds, etc. -- there is equally respect for the people (especially women) engaged in agriculture, including their knowledge, experience, leadership and rights. It is a way of thinking about and doing agriculture that is fundamental to addressing pressing global problems like hunger and climate change.

Dismantling the Free Trade Regime

In January 1994, the Zapatistas - autonomous indigenous communities who organized themselves in a system of liberated zones within Chiapas, Mexico – emerged out of the jungles with a clear and unified voice in opposition to the system of neoliberalism being imposed upon their lives through the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA).  A trade deal between Canada, the US, and Mexico, NAFTA instituted a set of regulations that made it easier for transnational corporations to make profits across borders, no matter what the costs or consequences to people and the environment.  As a result, thousands of workers in the US lost their jobs as companies moved their operations to Mexico where the costs of production were cheaper.