By Jordan Riefe for Truth Dig – Maybe Jack wasn’t the fool son when he traded the family cow for a handful of magic beans. Seeds are the givers of life, the minute building blocks of family farms and agri-empires alike. They are powerful and often sacred objects woven into local customs and cultures around the world. America’s own Thomas Jefferson was a famous horticulturist and seed saver who grew 330 varieties of vegetables and 170 varieties of fruit. Among his illustrious titles was that of patent examiner, basing his decisions on laws he himself had written. Items deliberately excluded from patents included plants and animals, placing public interest over private gain. Throughout human existence, seed diversity has been a constant, including drought-resistant strains, or those able to withstand floods or wide temperature swings. For countries plagued by war and poverty, this can mean the difference between life and death. “The Irish potato famine is a clear and elementary example of what happens when you rely on too little diversity—[you get a] mass refugee situation, many of them fleeing to the U.S.,” Jon Betz tells Truthdig. He and co-director Taggart Siegel are the filmmaking team of “Seed: The Untold Story,” a documentary that premieres on PBS’s Independent Lens on April 17, and streams online beginning April 18.
By Staff of Oakland Institute – The Enabling the Business of Agriculture index is used to promote pro-corporate agricultural reforms around the world. In the seed sector, it rewards countries that implement intellectual property rights (IPRs) to allow companies to profit from the use of their seeds by farmers. The EBA also benchmarks how easy it is for the private sector to produce and register seeds, to access genetic resources in national seed banks, and to achieve predominant representation in the committees deciding to introduce new seed varieties in countries. While the Bank claims to encourage “smart and balanced policies,” the Enabling the Business of Agriculture index largely ignores farmer-managed seed systems, which provide 80 to 90% of farmers’ seed supply in developing countries and are key to preserving agro-biodiversity and fostering resilience against climate and economic shocks.
By Stephen Fox for Op Ed News – California can require Monsanto to label its popular weed killer Roundup as a carcinogen, according to a ruling by a judge in Fresno, California, although the corporation predictably sings its weary mantra that maintains that the product is “harmless,” now beginning to seem like a losing battle. It is far beyond my powers of comprehension to understand how it is that Bayer want to take on this rat’s nest of liability and cancer labels by buying Monsanto for $66 billion, not even a fire sale price! California would be the first state to order this level of labeling if this decision by the California Carcinogen Identification Committee is sustained by further court action.
By Stephen Fox for Op Ed News – “It’s going to take a long while for all the evidence to be presented. I think we’re talking years.” Monsanto’s yellow corn imports will increase by 20+ percent the next season, because of increasing production costs and the weakening peso. Mexico is self-sufficient when it comes to the country’s white corn, they rely on GMO corn that comes from the United States to feed livestock. As reported by Reuters’ David Alire Garcia in Mexico City: Mexico is the birthplace of modern corn, domesticated about 8,000 years ago and today the planet’s most-produced grain.
By Alice Martin-Prevel of the Oakland Institute. Oakland, CA—Ahead of World Bank’s release of the 2017 “Enabling the Business of Agriculture” (EBA) report this month, 157 organizations and academics from around the world denounce the Bank’s scheme to hijack farmers’ right to seeds, attack on food sovereignty and the environment. In a letter to the World Bank President Jim Yong Kim and EBA’s five Western donors, the group demands the immediate end of the project, originally requested by the G8 to support its industry-co-opted New Alliance for Food Security and Nutrition. “The EBA dictates so-called ‘good practices’ to regulate agriculture and scores countries on how well they implement its prescriptions,” said Frederic Mousseau, Policy Director at the Oakland Institute. “But the EBA has become the latest tool, to push pro-corporate agricultural policies, notably in the seed sector—where it promotes industrial seeds, that benefit a handful of agrochemical companies,” he continued.
By Colin Todhunter for Counter Currents – We don’t have to dig too deep to see where Modi feels at home. Describing itself as a major ‘global communications, stakeholder engagement and business strategy’ company, APCO Worldwide is a lobby agency with firm links to (part of) the Wall Street/US establishment and functions to serve its global agenda. Modi turned to APCO to help transform his image and turn him into electable pro-corporate PM material. It also helped Modi get the message out that what he achieved in Gujarat as Chief Minister was a miracle of economic neoliberalism, although the actual reality is really quite different. In APCO’s India brochure, there is the claim that India’s resilience in weathering the global downturn…
By Georgina Gustin for Inside Climate News – By allowing countries to decide how to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, the landmark Paris climate agreement opened the door to new solutions. And over the past year, many countries, particularly in the developing world, decided that an especially effective way to reach those targets is through their farms. Nearly 80 percent of the countries said they would use agricultural practices to curb climate change, and more than 90 percent said they would use those practices in addition to changes in forestry and land use linked to farming. “2016 has been a very good year for agriculture and climate,” said Martin Frick, director of climate, energy and tenure at the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) of the United Nations.
By Staff of Sustainable Pulse – A unique new study published Monday in the scientific journal Nature has used molecular profiles to reveal major differences in composition between a GMO corn and its non-GMO parent. These findings question industry and regulatory position of “substantial equivalence” and have serious safety implications. The new peer-reviewed study led by Dr Michael Antoniou at King’s College London describes the effects of the process of genetic engineering on the composition of a genetically modified Roundup-resistant GMO corn variety, NK603.
By Staff of Sustainable Pulse – Farmers in northeast China’s Heilongjiang province, China’s top grain producer, will be prohibited from growing Genetically Modified (GM) crops, according to a provincial regulation passed on Friday. The regulation will become effective on May 1, 2017. Growing of GM corn, rice and soybean will be banned, while illegal production and sales of GM crops and supply of their seeds will also be prohibited. The new regulation also bans illegal production, processing, sale and imports of edible GM farm produce or edible farm products that contain GM ingredients.
By Katherine Paul for Organic Consumers Association. If ever conditions were ripe for revolution, that time is now—especially for anyone who cares about their health, and the health of planet earth. President-Elect Donald Trump’s short lists for his environment and agriculture cabinet appointments are dominated by entrenched D.C. insiders, career politicians and industry lobbyists. Not one of these proposed “leaders” supports policies that would lead to healthier food, a cleaner environment or a cooler planet. So much for “draining the swamp.” And so much for an easy road to forward progress on food, ag and climate policy under our future fast-food leader. At the federal policy level, consumers will have little or no say over matters that have a dramatic—sometimes devastating—impact on our health and the environment. That means we’ll need to take our battle to the marketplace.
By Ben Lilliston for the Institute for Agriculture and Trade Policy. The power of the so-called fly over states in the election is impossible to ignore. The electoral maps tell the story. A swath of red, often mostly rural, states in the middle and south of the country, bookended by blue states on the coasts. Even within the few Midwest blue states like Minnesota and Illinois, you can see the stark divide between how urban and rural counties saw the candidates. A look back at the 2012 electoral map tells us this divide is not new, but perhaps wasn’t taken seriously by many Democrats because President Obama won. As the Daily Yonder reports, the long-standing urban-rural voting gap is widening. At least part of this voting gap can be attributed to the Democratic Party’s loss of credibility on a number of core issues that affect the lives of rural communities in those so-called fly over states.
By Staff for Center for Food Safety. The United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit issued its decisions on whether federal and Hawai‘i state laws preempt Hawai‘i counties’ authority to regulate genetically engineered (GE) crops and pesticide use. Of significance to state and local communities throughout the United States, the Ninth Circuit ruled that federal law—specifically, the Plant Protection Act—does not prohibit states and counties from passing local laws to regulate and ban commercially-grown GE crops. “Today’s decision to allow states and counties to ban or regulate GE crops is an important victory for GE-free seed sanctuaries and small communities and farmers around the country,” said George Kimbrell, senior attorney for the Center for Food Safety. In granting its decision the Court recognized potential harm to farmers and environment from the widespread planting of GE crops, asserting, “the cultivation and testing of GE plants raise several well-documented concerns.” Notably, the Court affirmed, “transgenic contamination has previously caused significant economic impacts on farmers of conventional, non-GE crops.”
By Jan Rocha for Climate News network – SÃO PAULO, 30 October, 2016 – The UN’s latest State of Food and Agriculture (SOFA) report warns that rainfall patterns will have changed so drastically by the end of this century that agriculture, forestry and fishing will all be seriously affected. “It will become more and more difficult to harvest crops, rear animals and manage forests and fisheries in the same places and in the same way as before,” says the report by the UN’s Food and Agriculture Organisation(FAO).
By Staff of Tele Sur – On World Food Day, teleSUR spoke to Professor Raj Patel, an award-winning writer and defender of food security and sustainable models of agriculture. In Cuba, where the external conditions—the U.S. blockade and the collapse of the USSR—along with internal socialist planning, have compelled Cuban farmers to adopt an independent model of agriculture to feed the population, without importing expensive chemicals, the model that has developed is a world leader in sustainability.
By Thom Hartmann for AlterNet – The US is increasingly no longer a country; instead, we’re being run like a business, and in some cases, it’s literally killing us. Take for example, the ongoing problem of foodborne illnesses like Salmonella, which infects more than 1 million Americans every year. One of the most common ways of contracting Salmonella is by eating eggs.