GRAIN's work can be broadly divided into two fields: information work and movement building. On the information side, we specialise in monitoring and analysing trends that are affecting farmers' and rural communities' control over agricultural biodiversity. Many of these trends -- like the push for genetic engineering or the aggressive expansion of laws that prevent farmers from saving seeds -- are global, though they have their unique expressions at national or regional level. Others come from the grassroots, national or regional levels -- such as initiatives to prevent genetic contamination from GM crops -- and we help to place them in a global perspective. Our unique setup allows us to plug into these developments and, together with others, produce useful analyses for different people.
On the movement-building side, GRAIN has long been active in networking, capacity sharing, linking people up and supporting strategy development among organisations and activists. This work is often hidden from view, but it is crucial in at least two ways. The struggle over biodiversity, and over our food systems, is a struggle for power. As transnational corporations gain control of farming, people's autonomy, culture and capacity to lead a better life are trampled and taken away from them. The struggle against this is a long and arduous one that can only be collective, as is the struggle to develop meaningful alternatives. As an organisation with its feet spread around the world, GRAIN facilitates a lot of sharing, learning, and common agenda-setting across cultures and regions. In that way, we contribute to the empowerment of groups active on the ground.
Below is a look at GRAIN's work in 2012.