GroundTruth Blog

Marcia Ishii-Eiteman's blog

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Several of my friends have just returned from The Hague, Netherlands, where they joined nearly 1,000 people from 80 countries in a Global Conference on Climate, Agriculture and Food Security. With the planet on the precipice of climate chaos and nearly a billion people hungry, the stakes in finding genuine solutions could not be higher. And with only three weeks left til the UN Conference on Climate in Cancun, the Hague meeting had the potential to do something really useful. Like champion a global transition to climate-resilient ecological agriculture, with enough financial and policy support to enable farmers around the world to adapt to and survive the stresses of climate change. Alas, it did not.

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25,000 villages in Pakistan are about to lose their fertile farmland to wealthy investors from oil-rich Gulf states. That’s villages, not villagers.  In Tanzania, a Swedish agrofuels company is in the process of acquiring a lease on up to 500,000 hectares of land, in order to produce sugarcane ethanol on an industrial scale. That’s about 2,000 square miles of land. Lack of informed consent among villagers who reside on the land, and potentially enormous impacts on the communities’ food and water supply are at issue.

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Have you voted? I just did. But not for someone who stands for peace, justice and ecological sanity. No, this time I voted for Monsanto. You can too! Check out Grist’s Villains of Food poll. It was a tough choice—so many good candidates (Bayer! Smithfield! DeCoster!). After voting, I found that Monsanto leads the pack by 40 percentage points. Seems like people are noticing the effects of a century's worth of misdeeds.

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Monsanto’s humiliations are all over the news these days. Last week we heard that Monsanto is actually paying farmers to spray their fields with competitors’ weedkillers. Monsanto’s latest press release announces it is offering RoundupReady cotton farmers up to $20/acre to pour on extra herbicides. In fact, The Organic Center reports that this bizarre practice—a reversal of Monsanto’s traditional exhortations to rely on its own chemical Roundup—has actually been going on for over a year now, a response to the Monsanto-induced epidemic of superweeds now ravaging the country. As Tom Philpott explains, it’s a desperate last-hour attempt by the giant seed and pesticide company to slow the wildfire spread of noxious weeds resistant to Roundup, an epidemic which essentially spells the demise of Monsanto’s entire RoundupReady “system of weed management.” Other last-ditch efforts by Monsanto to keep revenue coming in include genetically engineering its Roundup Ready seeds for “enhanced resistance,” that is the ability to withstand—at least temporarily—even heavier dousings of Roundup. Talk about trying to smother a fire with gasoline.

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I’m writing from warm, sunny New Orleans, where 900 food justice activists attending the Community Food Security Coalition conference have just wrapped up five days of workshops, conversations and field trips to the region’s innovative and indomitable farmers, fisherfolk, urban gardeners, food workers and local organizers. These brave souls are—against all odds—reinventing healthy and sustainble food systems in their communities.