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.
Last week, hundreds of people poured into the Women’s Building here in San Francisco to take part in the Justice Begins with Seeds conference, organized by the California Biosafety Alliance and co-sponsored by PANNA and several other partner groups. Abuzz with activities from September 13-17, the conference provided a forum for Californians to engage in movement building that challenges the corporate food system, pushes back against genetically engineered food and seeds, and nourishes the roots of food democracy.
The ecological, economic and agronomic disaster accompanying herbicide-tolerant transgenic crops is by now well known: over 10 million acres of superweeds resistant to Monsanto’s weedkiller, RoundUp; farm machinery breaking on RoundUp-resistant pigweed thick as a baseball bat; Monsanto paying farmers to spray their fields with competitors’ herbicides; a new generation of transgenic crops in the pipeline engineered to withstand older even more dangerous chemicals like 2,4-D.
Last week brought more bad news for Monsanto: the same phenomenon is also occurring in insect pest populations that are developing resistance to transgenic “Bt corn” in the Midwest.
Warning! Nina Federoff — former “Science and Technology Advisor” to the U.S. State Department and well-known genetic engineering apologist — is back on her soapbox. In an Op Ed published in the New York Times last week, Federoff strings together one blazing falsehood after another, extolling the virtues of a technology that much of the rest of the world has rightly rejected. What is behind her evangelical commitment to this particular technology? Let’s take a look.
My kids had a great baseball season playing in Little League this Spring. We've now moved on to other summery things like swim lessons in Berkeley's freezing fog. So I was caught off-guard by last week's surprise collision between my work and home worlds, namely the revelation that USDA has just given Scotts Miracle Gro (the lawn chemical company and much decried sponsor of Major League Baseball), the go-ahead for a new and once again totally unnecessary genetically engineered product: Roundup Ready lawn grass. And they may have pulled off a de facto deregulation of all future GE products in the process.
This morning, while my boys are eating breakfast, I’m going to take a moment to mentally thank our local dairy farmers for the milk on our table and our chicken farmers for our eggs. Then I’m going to pick up the phone and call the President. It won’t take long, and it’s really important. Family farmers and ranchers' livelihoods are on the line.