Seedling - July 2006

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July 2006

GRAIN | 30 July 2006 | Seedling - July 2006

This Seedling is a special combined April and July 2006 issue.

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Plantations, GM trees and indigenous rights

Anne Petermann and Orin Langelle | 26 July 2006 | Seedling - July 2006

The damaging effects of monoculture tree plantations are being resisted around the world. Timber plantations have occupied large tracts of indigenous and agricultural land and have been responsible for the loss of biodiversity and the pollution and depletion of water and soils. Such plantations are owned by large corporations with little concern for the surrounding communities or environment. Now, the addition of genetically modified (GM) tree plantations can only make the situation worse. This article argues that the development of GM trees needs to be stopped now.

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Voices in the green desert

Silvia Ribeiro | 22 July 2006 | Seedling - July 2006

In March 2006 women entered the tree nursery at the Aracruz Celulosa pulp mill in Rio Grande do Sul, Brazil, and destroyed a million eucalyptus seedlings and its laboratory. This was a protest against the serious social and environmental impact caused by the expansion of the “green desert” – the vast eucalyptus monocultures that are spreading across southern Brazil.

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Fairtrade and global justice

James O'Nions | 20 July 2006 | Seedling - July 2006

Until very recently, ‘fairly traded’ goods were only available at shops run by development charities like Oxfam, and church bazaars. The range was small, and awareness of the fair trade concept limited. Yet recently fair trade – or Fairtrade, as it has branded itself – has become big business. You can choose Fairtrade coffee in mainstream outlets like Starbucks across the global North, and in the UK, more than 1,000 products are now certified as Fairtrade with awareness of what the mark means now at 50% of the population according to a recent poll. On an international level, the industry estimates it benefits five million producers worldwide. Yet with multinationals moving to cash in, and supermarkets approaching Fairtrade as just another niche market, can it avoid being co-opted by the market system it was set up to challenge?

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Jusqu'à récemment, on ne pouvait trouver les produits du "commerce équitable" que dans des boutiques gérées par des ONG du développement comme Oxfam et dans les ventes de charité religieuses. Le choix de produits était réduit et la prise de conscience du concept de commerce équitable limitée. Mais récemment, le commerce équitable ou «Commerce Equitable», comme il s'est lui-même attribué le label, est entré dans le monde des affaires. Vous pouvez choisir du café du "Commerce Equitable" dans les principaux centres commerciaux du Nord globalisé comme Starbucks, et au Royaume Uni, plus de 1000 produits sont maintenant certifiés "Commerce Equitable", et selon un sondage récent, 50% de la population sait ce que le label veut dire. Au niveau international, on évalue que cette industrie bénéficie à cinq millions de producteurs dans le monde. Avec les multinationales qui commencent à s'en emparer pour en tirer des profits, et les supermarchés considérant le "Commerce Equitable" comme une niche commerciale de plus, peut-il éviter d'être récupéré par le système du marché qu'il voulait contester quand il a été lancé?

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The tsunami that swept across the Indian Ocean in December 2004 devastated coastal communities in 13 countries. The damage to lives, properties and livelihoods was staggering. Among the badly hit were Indonesia, India, Thailand and Sri Lanka – countries where the liberalisation of the fishing sector has contributed to the intensification of more destructive and exploitative commercial fishing. Clearing natural coastal defences for industrial aquaculture production is a growing trend in these parts of Asia. Along with increased vulnerability of coastal and surrounding rural comunities, marine biodiversity is in serious decline, and there is an escalating dispossession of the small-scale and artisanal fishing sector. GRAIN investigates.

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Backyard or free-range poultry are not fuelling the current wave of bird flu outbreaks stalking large parts of the world. The deadly H5N1 strain of bird flu is essentially a problem of industrial poultry practices. Its epicentre is the factory farms of China and Southeast Asia and - while wild birds can carry the disease, at least for short distances - its main vector is the transnational poultry industry, which sends the products and waste of its farms around the world through a multitude of channels.

Yet small poultry farmers and the poultry biodiversity and local food security that they sustain are suffering badly from the fall-out. To make matters worse, governments and international agencies, following mistaken assumptions about how the disease spreads and amplifies, are pursuing measures to force poultry indoors and further industrialise the poultry sector. In practice, this means the end of the small-scale poultry farming that provides food and livelihoods to hundreds of millions of families across the world.

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Joseph Keve

GRAIN | 16 July 2006 | Seedling - July 2006

I am a farmer by choice, not by birth. Departing from the family business, on completion of my master’s degree I taught at the Uni-versity of Mumbai for a while before moving on to training bank staff and again into urban and rural development work. Finally I found what my soul was looking for: sustainable agriculture and being with nature. During the last ten years, I have focused my attention on the livelihood systems of the poor and one of its components on which I have done a lot of learning from the people and experimenting is the rearing of traditional fowls. I divide my time between working as a journalist when I am in Mumbai and looking after the farm which is located in a tribal village in Palghar Taluka of Thane district in Maharashtra. Joseph Keve

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