In June 2017, Amazon, the world’s third largest e-commerce company, announced its acquisition over Whole Foods Market for US$ 13.7 billion. Amazon’s move seems to follow the footsteps of Alibaba, the world’s largest e-commerce company that invested US$ 1.25 billion in buying the Chinese online food delivery service Ele.me in late 2015. 

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Since 2002, African, Caribbean and Pacific (ACP) countries have negotiated a reciprocal free trade agreement known as the Economic Partnership Agreement (EPA) with the European Union (EU). While it was marketed as the magic bullet towards the ACP countries’ industrialisation and development, it is in fact an unfair agreement that is anchored in a colonial framework.

Though not highly publicised, the EPA has faced continued opposition from across the ACP countries, not least because of its devastating effect on small scale farmers. The case of some African countries presented here is illustrative of the way communities are fighting to regain control over their resources and protect their markets from the flooding of cheap EU processed foods, along with pesticides and genetically modified organisms. 

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Four years after the first militant uprooting of Golden Rice, waves of protest mobilisations stir anew in the Philippines and Bangladesh against its commercialisation, while debate rages on in Indonesia, India and other Asian countries where Golden Rice is planned for commercial release.

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Hundreds of people gathered in Hyderabad, India, between 22 and 26 July 2017, in opposition to the 19th round of negotiations of the 16-nation Free Trade Agreement (FTA) called the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP). 

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This issue of Farming Matters addresses the intersection of agroecology, food sovereignty and the climate crisis. Climate change is a political problem that highlights the need for systemic change to the way food is produced, processed and distributed. From agroecological practices that build resilience, to social movements that resist land grabbing, the articles presented here not only argue for changes to the food system but demonstrate some of the possibilities.

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“In these supposedly win-win contracts, I would like to know what our communities are gaining. On the contrary, we are losing and even dying a slow death.” With this cry of despair, Célestine Ndong describes the bitter situation in Mouilla, Gabon, where the GRAINE [“seed” in French] program has been underway for several years.

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As temperatures rise across the globe, meat and dairy have been found to be a major culprit. Still, the industrial meat industry actively facilitates the growth in consumption rates. We can only solve the climate crisis if we take meaningful steps towards agroecology and food sovereignty.

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The Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP) is a mega-regional trade deal being negotiated among 16 countries across Asia-Pacific. If adopted, RCEP will cover half the world’s population, including 420 million small family farms that produce 80% of the region’s food. RCEP is expected to create powerful new rights and lucrative business opportunities for food and agriculture corporations under the guise of boosting trade and investment. Several RCEP countries are also part of the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP), another mega-regional agreement setting some of the most pro-big business terms seen in trade and investment deals so far. While the fate of the TPP is uncertain, these two agreements may have to co-exist and there is pressure to align them on numerous points. What will this mean for food and farmers in the region?

 

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A new joint report from Community Network in Action (CNA), Ponlok Khmer, GRAIN, Cambodia Indigenous Youth Association (CIYA), and the Asia Indigenous Peoples Pact (AIPP) exposes the devastating consequences of land grabs for indigenous communities in Preah Vihear province, northern Cambodia. 

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The struggle to resolve conflicts around land deals continues. Yesterday it was at Socfin’s general assembly in Luxembourg, and today it was at Bolloré’s in Paris.

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