As frost silvers the still-green grass outside, and I take advantage of the mild Berkeley winter to sow a small cover crop in my garden, I’m reminded that winter is a precious time of renewal and regeneration: not only in the soil and on our farms, but also within our communities and our minds.
Why? For 13 years, ordinary Europeans have stood firm in challenging the right of biotech companies to dump their risky genetically engineered (GE) seeds onto their fields and have steadfastly rejected the intrusion of GE foods onto their plates. They built up an informed and powerful citizens’ movement that has made itself heard, even over the din of the monied GE lobby. For this, hearty congratulations are due to our cousins across the Atlantic!
You’ve all heard the news: farmers across the country are losing their fields to superweeds so formidable and fast-spreading that they break farm machinery and render millions of acres of farmland useless. These superweeds have evolved as a direct consequence of Monsanto’s RoundUp Ready pesticide-seed package. Now superbugs are emerging, resistant to Monsanto’s transgenic insecticidal crops.
I spent the weekend glued to coverage of the high drama unfolding at the climate talks in Durban, South Africa. I watched closely because there is so much on the line affecting our and our children's future. In the final turbulent days, there were critical moments when a binding treaty with relatively ambitious and fair emissions cuts seemed almost possible. And then, well — the U.S. and our cronies played power politics behind closed doors, just as they have before.
Not coming to movie theaters near you, but taking place right now in Durban, South Africa is “The Great Escape 3.” This is how Pablo Solon, Bolivia’s former lead climate negotiator, describes the scene at the UN climate talks.
“It’s the same movie — it happened in Copenhagen, in Cancun, and it will happen in Durban. The richest nations are trying to escape their responsibility to reduce greenhouse gas emissions now... It’s really a genocide and an ecocide.”
What a week! PAN and over 1,000 food movement activists from around the country have just wrapped up the Community Food Security Coalition’s 15th Annual National Conference, Food Justice: Honoring our Roots, Growing the Movement, which filled five days with stimulating field trips, workshops and discussion in Oakland and around the Bay area. As Jim Embry of Sustainable Communities Network in Kentucky observed, “More than 1,000 kindred folks from USA, 1st Peoples Nations, Canada, Mexico, Brazil, Kenya and all in between attended. The conference held near Occupy Oakland was a blessing. The healing (between groups) was so needed and inspiring!”
What do an American businessman, Iowa State University and 162,000 refugees in Tanzania have in common?
Answer: they are all either directly involved in or soon-to-be impacted by a small group of U.S. investors’ plans to acquire 800,000 acres (1,250 square miles) of land in Tanzania and transform it into large-scale industrial crop, beef and agrofuel production. They plan to use genetically engineered (GE) seed and other inputs supplied by Monsanto, Syngenta and other global agribusinesses.
Earlier this summer, my ten-year old called the White House to ask President Obama to “please support fair farm rules for family farmers and ranchers.” It was a mouthful, but he added “I’m talking about GIPSA” – to be sure there would be no mistake.
Today we are at another crucial moment in this campaign to protect American farmers from the worst sort of corporate abuses that go on every day in this country. And we need your help.
Senators are debating the Agricultural Appropriations bill right now and could vote on it as soon as Thursday.
On October 13, I joined fellow food democracy activists from around California at a press conference on the steps of San Francisco’s City Hall. We were there to welcome the release of a new Global Citizens’ Report on transgenic crops, aptly entitled The GMO Emperor Has No Clothes.
As World Food Day approaches (Sunday, October 16), what better way to honor and support small-scale and family farmers around the world than by publicizing the report’s message: genetically engineered crops have utterly failed to deliver, it’s time to cut our losses, save our seeds, defend our rights and Occupy the Food System.
“Sin Maíz, No Hay País!” The chant is ringing out this morning across the fields, villages and towns of Mexico, in recognition of Mexico’s National Day of Corn, September 29. “Without corn, there is no country!” is the literal translation of this ongoing national campaign to celebrate and protect the cultural heritage and significance of corn to the Mexican people.
With the campaign entering its fourth year, Mexicans can also celebrate the good news that the maize that Mexican farmers have been cultivating in traditional farming systems for thousands of years already contains much of the genetic diversity they’ll need to weather the challenges of climate change in the coming century.