ITPGR: farmers' rights or a fools bargain?

The Governing Body of the International Treaty on Plant Genetic Resources for Food and Agriculture (ITPGR) held its third session on 1–5 June 2009 in Tunis. Many fine words and declarations of intent were addressed to farmers, while the seed companies consolidated both their unfettered access to all the farmers’ seeds on the planet and their monopoly over seed markets. Notwithstanding the sometimes lively clashes between countries of the South and those of the North, does this “seed treaty” offer any new opportunities to farmers?

The Governing Body of the International Treaty on Plant Genetic Resources for Food and Agriculture (ITPGR) held its third session on 1–5 June 2009 in Tunis. Many fine words and declarations of intent were addressed to farmers, while the seed companies consolidated both their unfettered access to all the farmers’ seeds on the planet and their monopoly over seed markets. Notwithstanding the sometimes lively clashes between countries of the South and those of the North, does this “seed treaty” offer any new opportunities to farmers?

CGIAR joins global farmland grab

An internal document recently posted on the International Rice Research Institute (IRRI) website reveals that IRRI has been advising Saudi Arabia in the context of its strategy to acquire farm land overseas for its own food production.

An internal document recently posted on the International Rice Research Institute (IRRI) website reveals that IRRI has been advising Saudi Arabia in the context of its strategy to acquire farm land overseas for its own food production.

Mauritius leads land grabs for rice in Mozambique

Mauritius' Minister of Foreign Affairs says his government has secured a large area of land in Mozambique to produce rice for his country. Speaking at a "brainstorming session" on August 13, Arvin Boolell says his Ministry "used all its diplomatic weight to acquire prime land" for rice production covering 20,000 ha. Most of the land is in the district of Marracuene in the southern province of Maputo where conflicts over land are already intense.

Mauritius' Minister of Foreign Affairs says his government has secured a large area of land in Mozambique to produce rice for his country. Speaking at a "brainstorming session" on August 13, Arvin Boolell says his Ministry "used all its diplomatic weight to acquire prime land" for rice production covering 20,000 ha. Most of the land is in the district of Marracuene in the southern province of Maputo where conflicts over land are already intense.

The other 'pandemic'

Recent figures show that today more people than ever - over one billion - are permanently hungry. It is shocking to realise that 80% of these people are either farmers or farm labourers. Yet those in power continue to support an international food system that doesn’t feed the hungry but, instead, deprives even more people of adequate food.

Recent figures show that today more people than ever - over one billion - are permanently hungry. It is shocking to realise that 80% of these people are either farmers or farm labourers. Yet those in power continue to support an international food system that doesn’t feed the hungry but, instead, deprives even more people of adequate food.

Saying 'no' to mining

Over the last decade communities around the world have become more vociferous in their opposition to large mining projects that destroy their way of life, damage biodiversity and exacerbate the climate crisis. In this special feature, activists from India and Ecuador describe their struggles.

Over the last decade communities around the world have become more vociferous in their opposition to large mining projects that destroy their way of life, damage biodiversity and exacerbate the climate crisis. In this special feature, activists from India and Ecuador describe their struggles.

Endangered tribals up against the terror of Vedanta

The British mining company Vedanta is pushing ahead with plans for an open-cast mine in the Indian state of Orissa to extract bauxite from the Niyamgiri Hills, a forested mountain range inhabited for centuries by the Dongaria Kondh tribal people. The move is being fiercely resisted by the Dongaria Kondh, who regard the mountain peak as sacred. They are receiving widespread support, at home and abroad, for their struggle.

The British mining company Vedanta is pushing ahead with plans for an open-cast mine in the Indian state of Orissa to extract bauxite from the Niyamgiri Hills, a forested mountain range inhabited for centuries by the Dongaria Kondh tribal people. The move is being fiercely resisted by the Dongaria Kondh, who regard the mountain peak as sacred. They are receiving widespread support, at home and abroad, for their struggle.

Yours today, 'mine' tomorrow!

The story of mining in Niyamgiri is one of people’s truth, bureacratic lies and judicial failure. It is deeply enmeshed in India’s growth agenda and is symbolic of a world view which puts industrial expansion first, even if it will ravage lives, cultures, livelihoods and natural spaces.

The story of mining in Niyamgiri is one of people’s truth, bureacratic lies and judicial failure. It is deeply enmeshed in India’s growth agenda and is symbolic of a world view which puts industrial expansion first, even if it will ravage lives, cultures, livelihoods and natural spaces.

Mining law in Ecuador is anti-constitutional

Ecuador has based its economy on the extraction of natural resources. This process has arbitrarily used, abused and polluted the environment, and established an economic model characterised by external dependence, growth in internal and external debt, and the destruction of ecosystems. The recent introduction of the Ecuadorian Mining Law inaugurated a new episode in this story, which has characterised Ecuador since the country was founded: namely, basing economic development on a single commodity and degrading its natural resources.

Ecuador has based its economy on the extraction of natural resources. This process has arbitrarily used, abused and polluted the environment, and established an economic model characterised by external dependence, growth in internal and external debt, and the destruction of ecosystems. The recent introduction of the Ecuadorian Mining Law inaugurated a new episode in this story, which has characterised Ecuador since the country was founded: namely, basing economic development on a single commodity and degrading its natural resources.

Roger Moody

Roger Moody is an expert on mining and mining transnationals. He has spent years uncovering the facts about how mining companies operate. He edits the Mines and Communities website, which exposes the social, economic and environmental impacts of mining, particularly as they affect indigenous and traditional communities.

Roger Moody is an expert on mining and mining transnationals. He has spent years uncovering the facts about how mining companies operate. He edits the Mines and Communities website, which exposes the social, economic and environmental impacts of mining, particularly as they affect indigenous and traditional communities.

The struggle against IPR in the Andes

In Ecuador, Bolivia and Peru, initiatives have been taken recently that raise hopes that mechanisms might be created to stop the further privatisation of knowledge and life. So far, progress has been disappointing, with fundamental problems remaining unsolved. Once again, it is up to local people to defend knowledge and biodiveristy against destruction and privatisation.

In Ecuador, Bolivia and Peru, initiatives have been taken recently that raise hopes that mechanisms might be created to stop the further privatisation of knowledge and life. So far, progress has been disappointing, with fundamental problems remaining unsolved. Once again, it is up to local people to defend knowledge and biodiveristy against destruction and privatisation.

Empty coasts, barren seas

Gaining access to the territorial waters of many developing countries has been a goal of expanding global capital in recent years. It comes in different forms and under different names but with the single objective of extracting profits for big business. The European Union (EU) is at the forefront of this drive. Through fisheries partnership agreements (FPAs), the EU is able to sustain its lucrative fishing industry and export its overfishing problems to other parts of the world – Africa, the Caribbean, the Pacific – often with disastrous consequences for local small fishers. Now the EU is testing Asia’s waters. In this article, GRAIN investigates how Asia’s small fishers stand under the proposed EU–ASEAN free trade agreement (FTA).

Gaining access to the territorial waters of many developing countries has been a goal of expanding global capital in recent years. It comes in different forms and under different names but with the single objective of extracting profits for big business. The European Union (EU) is at the forefront of this drive. Through fisheries partnership agreements (FPAs), the EU is able to sustain its lucrative fishing industry and export its overfishing problems to other parts of the world – Africa, the Caribbean, the Pacific – often with disastrous consequences for local small fishers. Now the EU is testing Asia’s waters. In this article, GRAIN investigates how Asia’s small fishers stand under the proposed EU–ASEAN free trade agreement (FTA).