Other publications

In this section we list publications and materials that don't fit any of the other publication categories. They include publications written by GRAIN for others, and the results of collaborative research and writing projects with partners.

 

The village of Yalifombo, on the banks of the Congo River in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC), was an essentially agricultural community. In this village it is possible to observe how the local economy, which revolved around traditional cultivation of oil palm, has collapsed from the dramatic increase in industrial plantations. Throughout the Congo Basin sub-region, whether in Mundemba (Cameroon) or Mboma (Gabon), we see agribusiness increasingly competing with local agricultural economies. The system that certain public policies promote today is destroying systems that have been beneficial to peasant communities for a long time.

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When the European colonizers invaded Central and West Africa during the nineteenth century, they came to understand (in a very narrow way) the possible wealth that could be generated from oil palm cultivation. They began taking over the local people’s large oil palm groves and tearing down forests to set up plantations. One of the pioneers of this effort was Britain’s Lord Leverhulme, who, through a campaign of terror against the local people, took over community palm groves and turned vast swathes of the Congo’s forests into slave plantations. His company’s oil palm plantations would eventually expand throughout West and Central Africa and then to Southeast Asia, and provide the foundation for the multinational corporation Unilever, one of the world’s largest food companies.

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The Panama Papers leak has focused global attention on tax havens. While most of the initial stories have been about politicians, attention is slowly turning to corporations, by far the biggest users of tax havens. The top 50 US corporations alone are said to have hidden about US$1.4 trillion in tax havens. Food companies like Archer Daniel Midlands (ADM) and Wilmar are heavy users of offshore company structures.

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Ever since the ink dried on the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP), people have become aware of another mega-trade deal being negotiated behind closed doors in the Asia-Pacific region. Like the TPP, the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP) threatens to increase corporate power in member countries, leaving ordinary people with little recourse to assert their rights to things like land, safe food, life-saving medicines and seeds.

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2015 was a prolific year for GRAIN. We produced a large number of high impact research reports and databases that became reference points for many groups and individuals working on land, food, seed and climate-related issues—including many who don't necessarily agree with us. At the same time, we worked with partners on the ground, supporting their capacity and strategy building efforts and helping to mobilise international solidarity for their causes. We look forward to another great year of work helping to build stronger movements for diverse, community-based food systems around the world. 

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We are 40 participants who have united in Mundemba, Cameroon, for an international workshop on the tactics and strategies of oil palm companies, from 28 to 31 January 2016. We have gathered to share our experiences from Cameroon, West and Central Africa, Asia and South America, and to understand the realities of the local communities in Ndian Division, Southwest Region of Cameroon. We share the concerns of local communities regarding the growing interest in community land for corporate oil palm plantations. 

 

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The undersigned representatives of civil society organisations convey our concerns and express our opposition to what would be the biggest acquisition by a Chinese company to date—ChemChina's bid to acquire Syngenta Corporation, the inventor and primary manufacturer of highly hazardous agrochemicals, including atrazine and paraquat.

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A genetically modified organism (GMO) is an animal, plant or micro-organism that has been modified in the laboratory by adding or subtracting a gene such that a given characteristic—which was not present before—is expressed. The example closest to us is Bt cotton. 

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Just when the biotech companies that make transgenic seeds are merging, the corporate vision of biotechnology is showing up at FAO. At today’s opening of the three-day international symposium on agricultural biotechnologies convened by the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) in Rome, more than 100 organisations have issued a statement denouncing both the substance and structure of the meeting, which appears to be another attempt by multinational agribusiness to redirect the policies of the UN agency toward support for GMOs.

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A day before the start of yet another trial brought by the Bolloré Group against French journalists, organisations denounce the imprisonment on February 5th of six local community leaders affected by the investments of Socfin Agricultural Company Sierra Leone Ltd (SAC), a subsidiary of Socfin, linked to Bolloré.

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