tagged w/ Food Freedom
One of the most evil schemes concocted for businesses to legally steal the land from under the feet of poor farmers for their own profit. This is what is causing rising food costs and world hunger, and it is being exacerbated by the very organizations and corporations that claim they want to feed the world. The only world they wish to feed is their own. This is a stark look at what we are up against in preserving food freedom and environmental democracy. Permaculture, sustainable agriculture, and bringing land back to local farmers to plant the food they need to live instead of being indebted to the World Bank and WTO is what will save the world from hunger and famine and preserve biodiversity and healthy soil. Not Monsanto and Cargill. It is time to lift the veil on this atrocity and human rights abuse.One of the most evil schemes concocted for businesses to legally steal the land from... more
Most of us would agree that there is a serious problem vis-a-vis access to food in the developing world. According to the UN food agency, there are now more than one billion undernourished people worldwide. The need to do something about the broken food system is especially apparent in Haiti, where I have been on a working assignment with Grassroots International for the past few weeks.
Last year, before the financial crisis spun out of control, the global food crisis was front and center in the media in Haiti and around the world. Hungry rioters took to the streets of Port-au-Prince demanding fair prices for rice and grain. Some Haitians even built a micro-industry selling patties made from mud, oil, and sugar -- an ancient remedy to help alleviate hunger pangs.
Just because the financial crisis is getting all the attention these days doesn't mean that the food crisis is any less severe. Actually, the two have much in common, arising from 30 years of failed economic and agricultural policy.
Like many other countries, Haiti was subjected to trade liberalization and privatization in the mid 1980s by international financial institutions such as the World Bank and donor countries like the U.S. During this time, U.S. agribusinesses flooded the local market with massive quantities of cheap subsidized staple foods with which Haitian peasants couldn't compete. After the large-scale imports had succeeded in paralyzing local production, prices skyrocketed. A kilo of imported rice is now worth an average day's salary in the Artibonite, a region once known as Haiti's "rice bowl."
Dumping is not unique to the Artibonite, let alone Haiti. Mexican farmers import corn from the Midwest, Indian producers often depend on Texan basmati rice, and mass-produced U.S. beef fills the shelves of Korean supermarkets. Of course, many of these countries are also exporting their own agricultural products -- but from a place of comparative, rather than competitive advantage, leaving them vulnerable to shock and speculation on the marketplace.
Unfortunately, many aid and relief programs perpetuate these trade and agriculture policies in an attempt to achieve "food security." Traditional food security, on the most basic level, is access to enough food for survival. To that end, public and private aid has invested heavily in shipments of food aid to the most vulnerable parts of the world. These policies fail to stipulate that people have a right to define their own food sources and sustainable future access -- which would amount to real food security. What happens when these cartels inevitably dry up? Food insecurity returns with vengeance.
Take the U.S. Agency for International Development's (USAID) "Food for Work" program in Haiti as an example. USAID and international NGOs have continually implemented "Food for Work" in Haiti's most rural areas, especially during times of crises. Instead of spending their money revitalizing the agricultural sector, these programs round up small-scale farmers to build roads and clean out sewage systems. In return, they receive vouchers for imported rice, flour, and cooking oil. Since these programs usually work on a project-to-project basis, when the work runs out so does the food (not to mention that their farms were left inactive the entire time). "Charity" with the goal of "food security" is often redefining dependency in these cases, deepening the fissures between the "periphery" and "core" of wealth in the world.
But there's an alternative to this pseudo-food security -- and it is growing fast. "Food Sovereignty" is the new progressive version of "food security." Via Campesina, the more than 150 million-member strong global network of farmers and small-scale producers first coined the term in 1996. Food sovereignty rejects the proposition that food is just another commodity for international agribusiness. Instead, it puts providers and consumers at the center of decision-making.Most of us would agree that there is a serious problem vis-a-vis access to food in the... more
I have to admit that when I read the second story listed here, it got my attention. Here's the snippet:
Antitrust Enforcers Begin Visiting Farm Belt
Wall Street Journal, August 8 2009 [shortened]
ST. LOUIS -- The Obama administration will take an extensive look at concentration in U.S. agriculture as part of its increased emphasis on antitrust enforcement, a Justice Department official said Friday.
Philip J. Weiser, a telecommunications-law expert who was recently named deputy assistant attorney general, told a farmer gathering here that federal antitrust regulators are "committed to examining" the level of competition in several agribusiness sectors, such as the marketing of genetically modified seed, dairy processing and meatpacking.
Washington has often sympathized with farmers who find themselves selling their commodities to fewer and larger processors. But the Obama administration is taking a further step, with plans for a nationwide series of sessions next year for the U.S. Agriculture Department to hear competitive concerns of farmers.
Mr. Weiser's remarks are another sign the Obama administration intends to step up enforcement of antitrust laws. In May, the Justice Department's antitrust division withdrew anti-monopoly legal guidelines issued under the Bush administration and signaled closer scrutiny of some industries.
While Mr. Weiser didn't single out any agricultural companies for criticism, his 30-minute appearance came in the hometown of St. Louis crop-biotechnology titan Monsanto Co., where he addressed the annual convention of a farmers advocacy group called the Organization for Competitive Markets. Officials of the group have complained about Monsanto's dominance over genetically modified seeds.
The vast majority of the genetically modified crops grown in the U.S. farm belt contains at least one gene from Monsanto.I have to admit that when I read the second story listed here, it got my attention.... more
“THE Philippines is in danger of losing its organic farming capital because a provincial ordinance promoting sustainable agriculture is under attack,” said Greenpeace.
Greenpeace launched a series of deliberations in Negros Occidental which could repeal a landmark provincial ordinance aimed at transforming Negros Island into the premier organic food bowl of Asia.
“Revival of and rigorous reversal to traditional sustainable agricultural practices are key in adapting to the ongoing and impending impacts of climate change. Negros Occidental has been steadily building an international reputation as a showcase of sustainable farming practices.
It has banned the entry of genetically-modified organisms (GMOs) in the province as part of this noteworthy initiative,” said Greenpeace Southeast Asia Sustainable Agriculture Campaigner Daniel Ocampo.
“Negros public officials and citizens should question the motivations of parties who want this ordinance repealed: GMOs will reverse the province’s efforts to protect safe, organic farming, putting both farmers and consumers at risk.”
The province is one of the pioneers banning GMOs in the country with Provincial Ordinance 007, or the “Safeguard Against Genetically Modified Organisms," in 2007. Last April, the provincial government, upon order of Governor Isidro Zayco, upheld the ban by rejecting shipments of illegal GMO corn at the BredCo Port in Bacolod City.
GMO lobby groups reacted by questioning the ordinance. This prompted the provincial government to reiterate that it is maintaining the ban to prevent GMO contamination of normal crops in the province. Last month, however, “anti-organic farming parties were able to sway the Provincial Board (PB) of Negros Occidental to hold hearings to reconsider the ordinance,” said a statement from Greenpeace.
People of Negros, however, are starting to speak up in defense of their way of life. “Organic farming is not merely an option for Negros. It is the only means towards sustainable agricultural development and food security for the rural poor,” said Kid Bañas of the Negros Organic Alliance Movement. “There’s no place for GMOs in an organic Negros Occidental.”
It is, however, up to the PB to uphold the ordinance and ensure the safety of sustainable agriculture in the country’s organic food capital, said Ocampo.
“With the ordinance, Negros Occidental is clearly leading the way towards an agriculture that ensures food security, promotes biodiversity and is not anchored on the use of agrochemicals.”“THE Philippines is in danger of losing its organic farming capital because a... more
Add Egypt to the growing number of countries seeing the dangers of GMOs and acting accordingly. I would say the US better get its act together as well before it finds itself out in the cold both agriculturally and economically. People on the whole in this world DO NOT WANT GMO, and want food freedom. Perhaps this is the only way to get the point home. Good for Egypt.
Any agricultural imports to Egypt must have a certificate from the country of origin that the product is not genetically modified and the rule will also apply to Egyptian exports, the official news agency said on Wednesday.
The debate in Egypt over food quality has become politically heated after some Russian wheat was rejected over quality concerns. Members of parliament have been calling for stricter rules and greater agricultural self sufficiency.
Traders expressed surprise at the move, saying some of Egypt's main food imports at the moment included genetically modified products.
Officials could not independently confirm the decision by Agriculture Minister Amin Abaza, as reported by the official news agency MENA.
Abaza was quoted as saying that "it was necessary that all crops imported from abroad and exported from Egypt be accompanied by a certificate from the country of origin stating they are free of genetically modified materials."
"No agricultural products especially wheat, corn and soya bean would enter except after examining samples from the cargo," MENA reported him as saying.
Egypt is one of the world's largest wheat importers and also imports other products such as corn, edible oils and sugar. It exports products such as vegetables and fruits particularly to Europe.
Hey Monsanto, better forget about that GM wheat.Add Egypt to the growing number of countries seeing the dangers of GMOs and acting... more
On a plot of soil, nestled against the backdrop of skyscrapers in downtown Atlanta, Georgia, a group of residents are turning a lack of access to fresh produce into a revival of old traditions and self-empowerment.
Urban farming is a way for African-Americans to connect with the earth, says Cashawn Myers of HABESHA.
HABESHA Gardens is one of many urban gardens sprouting up around the country. Fruits and vegetables are thriving in this community garden located in an economically depressed area of the city known as Mechanicsville.
But the garden serves an even greater purpose. The harvest helps feed some of the neediest members of the neighborhood.
"It's a reawakening going on. It's almost like it's a renaissance," says Cashawn Myers, director of HABESHA Inc.
"There's a Ghanaian proverb that says Sankofa. Sankofa means return to your past so you can move forward. Even if you look at coming over here during our enslavement, we were brought here to cultivate the land because that's something we did on the continent. So really, that's what many of the people are doing now," he said.
Myers believes urban farming is a way for many African-Americans to reconnect with their past. iReport.com: Show us your urban farm
"They are going through a process of Sankofa and going to what they traditionally did, which is connect to the Earth so they can move forward and grow," he says.
But HABESHA Gardens isn't unique.
Former pro basketball player Will Allen, who is considered to be one of the nation's leading urban farmers and founder of Growing Power Inc., estimates that there are hundreds of thousands of urban gardens in inner cities across America. Urban farms help feed people, sustain neighorhoods »
"It's beyond a movement at this point. Its more like a revolution," says Allen.
Both Allen and Myers agree that the boom in urban farming for African-Americans is born out of necessity and not just echoing traditions.
"Minority people are affected by poor food, more than any other groups," and many inner cities lack access to quality fruits and vegetables, Allen says. "Our food system is broken."
"When you're poor, when you don't have access to resources, you have to create your own," says Myers. "So this is a way for people of African descent to use their creativity to grow their own food."
Many poorer communities don't have full-scale grocery stores. Allen charges that companies have red-lined those areas and won't build stores there.
So community activists like Myers have taken up the fight.
"[Starting] community gardens in local communities, specifically in urban areas, is important, so you create your own food security network," says Myers. "You're not relying on large grocery stores to provide food for everyone because if those grocery stores have problems, your access to food is done."
HABESHA Gardens makes the fresh food accessible to people in Mechanicsville by opening up the garden to people in the community every Sunday from noon to 4 p.m.
"We invite people from the local community here, the immediate community but also from the greater Atlanta community ... to come out, work in the garden; learn, reconnect with the Earth and also be able to take food home with them after the harvest."
In addition to providing food for those that work in garden, HABESHA partners with organizations such as the Atlanta Community Food Bank and the MLK Senior Center to provide food from the garden to the hungry and elders in the community.
more at the linkOn a plot of soil, nestled against the backdrop of skyscrapers in downtown Atlanta,... more
Biodynamic farming goes beyond avoiding the use of chemical pesticides, herbicides and fertilisers. It views the farm as a self-contained ecosystem.
IF YOU see a farmer getting up in the middle of the night to go outside and stare at the moon, it doesn’t mean he is crazy. Chances are he practises the biodynamic way of farming.
The practice of watching the movements of celestial bodies, the burying of cow horns and others may seem mystical and strange but to biodynamic farmers, they all have a logical, common sense purpose, albeit spiritual in some ways.
Biodynamics is a part of what is known as anthroposophy, a spiritual philosophy founded by Austrian philosopher Rudolf Steiner in the 1920s. It is “an approach to science which integrates natural phenomena and the immaterial into the scientific study of human beings and nature.”
In the early 1920s, Steiner was sought by a group of farmers for advice after they noticed declining fertility in their lands and animals. Steiner subsequently gave a series of eight lectures which established biodynamic farming.
Biodynamic farming is described as ‘extreme organic’ as it goes beyond avoiding chemicals – it treats the soil, plants and animals as a whole unit.
Biodynamics is described as “a method of farming that treats farms as unified and individual organisms, with an emphasis on balancing the holistic development and inter-relationship of the soil, plants, animals as a closed, self-nourishing system, where each farm activity affects the other.”
“In anthroposophy, it’s not only about developing the land and being good to the land and doing the right husbandry with the land, but at the same time, you also develop yourself,” explained anthroposophist Hans van Florenstein Mulder, who was in town recently to give a talk on biodynamic agriculture. “It is discovering the spirit in yourself – who am I, what is my task in my life? These are all questions, and in that sense, the farmer needs to develop herself or himself as much as she or he needs to develop the land in a healthy way.”
Organic farming, said Mulder, had been around for thousands of years before biodynamic agriculture came along in the 1920s. Our forefathers had practised it but along the way, humankind “lost” the method.
“Organic farming has to be rediscovered,” said Mulder. “The difference now is that we have started to understand that our forefathers did it by instinct. They were in tune with the land.”Biodynamic farming goes beyond avoiding the use of chemical pesticides, herbicides and... more
Passage of the FSEA into law would amend the Federal Food, Drug and Cosmetic Act (FFDCA). The bill proposes a substantial increase in power and resources for the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and would significantly diminish existing judicial restraints on actions taken by the agency. Although the bill includes some provisions that could improve the mainstream food system, many of these are vaguely worded and do not clearly define the scope of the agency’s power, creating the potential for inappropriate application and enforcement. Small farms and local artisanal producers are part of the solution to the food safety problem in this country; the bill would impose on them a one-size-fits-all regulatory scheme and would disproportionately impact their operations for the worse. A detailed analysis of some of the key provisions is below [the citations are to the relevant section and page number of the June 10 version of the bill].
The Farm-to-Consumer Legal Defense Fund is opposed to HR 2749 because it would adversely impact small farms and food producers, without providing significant reforms in the industrial food system. HR 2749 does not address the underlying causes of food safety problems, including industrial agriculture practices and the consolidation of our food supply.
I. REGISTRATION REQUIREMENTS
Under current law, all “food facilities” are required to register with the Secretary of the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) [21 USC § 350d]. The registration requirement is for one time only and no fee is charged. The FSEA would amend the current law to add significant requirements.
A. ANNUAL REGISTRATION FEE
The FSEA would require facilities to register annually [section 101(b)(1)–p. 3], rather than a one-time registration. Registrants would also be required to pay an annual fee of $500, to be adjusted for inflation [section 101, Part6, sec 743(b)(1)(A)–p. 10].
B. LIMITED EXCLUSION FROM REGISTRATION FOR FARMS
The term “facility” does not include “farms” for purposes of registration in either the current law or under the bill [21 USC § 350d(b)(1)]. But what exactly is a “farm”? The FDA’s current regulations take a very narrow view of what qualifies as a farm:
“…a facility in one general physical location devoted to the growing and harvesting of crops, the raising of animals (including seafood), or both. Washing, trimming of outer leaves of, and cooling produce are considered part of harvesting. The term “farm” includes:
“(i) Facilities that pack or hold food, provided that all food used in such activities is grown, raised, or consumed on that farm or another farm under the same ownership; and
“(ii) Facilities that manufacture/process food, provided that all food used in such activities is consumed on that farm or another farm under the same ownership.” [21 CFR § 1.227(3)] (emphasis added)
“Manufacturing/processing” is defined as “making food from one or more ingredients, or synthesizing, preparing, treating, modifying or manipulating food, including food crops or ingredients. Examples of manufacturing/processing activities are cutting, peeling, trimming, washing, waxing, eviscerating, rendering, cooking, baking, freezing, cooling, pasteurizing, homogenizing, mixing, formulating, bottling, milling, grinding, extracting juice, distilling, labeling, or packaging.” [21 CFR § 1.227(6)] In other words, any farm that makes jam, cans vegetables, or packages cut fruit would not be considered a “farm” under the regulation unless the food is consumed only on the farm!
much more at the link.Passage of the FSEA into law would amend the Federal Food, Drug and Cosmetic Act... more
Sales of Round Up are down, so what will they do? Push another untested GM crop on the world that will require more Round Up of course... and this time it will be devastating as wheat is found in most breads, cereals, and pastas. We must not allow Monsanto to gain such a control over our food supply! This is truly important not only to the sustainability of this planet, but the health of us and our children.
To allow GM wheat would be to strip the very soul of agriculture from us all.Sales of Round Up are down, so what will they do? Push another untested GM crop on the... more