Feeding the world

Marcia Ishii-Eiteman's blog
By Marcia Ishii-Eiteman,

Last month, the 2013 World Food Prize was bestowed on Monsanto and Syngenta in recognition of their development of genetically engineered seed technologies. The news shocked the sustainable food and farming community — driving farmers, people’s movement leaders, reknowned scientists and development experts the world over to express their outrage and dismay.

Many excellent responses blasting the decision have been published (here, here and here). Perhaps the most powerful rebuke came from 81 laureates of the Right Livelihood Award and members of the prestigious World Food Council, who shredded the Prize organizers’ argument that GE seeds are feeding the world.

Marcia Ishii-Eiteman's blog
By Marcia Ishii-Eiteman,

Governments are gathering in Brazil, twenty years after the historic 1992 Earth Summit where nations around the world pledged to devote themselves to ending hunger and conserving the planet’s resources for future generations.

This week, governments gather once again, and food and agriculture are high on the agenda of “Rio+20.” Global leaders will be discussing which way forward to feed the world amidst growing food, climate and water crises. Monsanto & Co. have geared up with slick websites and sound bytes — to the point where some have dubbed the official meeting “Greenwash +20.” But the good news is that people around the world are mobilizing like never before for a new food system.

Marcia Ishii-Eiteman's blog
By Marcia Ishii-Eiteman,

Media are all atwitter about a new Nature study by researchers at McGill University and the University of Minnesota that compares organic and conventional yields from 66 studies and over 300 trials. In extrapolating the study's findings to the charged question of how to feed the world, more than a few got it all wrong.

The core finding of the study is that “yield differences [between organic and conventional] are highly contextual, depending on system and site characteristics.” In other words, sometimes organic does better, sometimes conventional does. In fact, the sheer variety of comparisons led Mother Jones columnist Tom Philpott to observe that the study “like a good buffet… offered something for every taste.” 

Heather Pilatic's blog
By Heather Pilatic,

Influential philanthropists like Bill Gates hold a responsibility to be well informed about the impacts of their spending — and their words. Late last month in his annual letter on his foundation's priorities, Gates asserted that lack of support for genetically engineered (GE) crops allows world hunger to endure. He is wrong. 

We engaged the editorial team at TakePart.com, which covered Gates' letter, in a dialogue to correct a few of the key points that Gates gets wrong about world hunger, the Green Revolution and the broken promises of GE. 

Kathryn Gilje's blog
By Kathryn Gilje,

I was born 20 miles from the Canadian border, as the crow flies. Childhood runs for a 'mack' and regular trips to the border were common. But this week, my Canadian journey was quite different: to Ottawa, seat of the Canadian government, and to a convergence of over 50 pesticide regulators from 30 countries, the global CEO of the pesticide industry, grower organizations, and PAN.

I had the honor of representing PAN at the 1stInternational Gathering of Heads of Pesticide Regulatory Authorities, convened by the Canadian government. The meeting offered a rare opportunity to think outside the box with pesticide rulemakers from around the world.