On 24 July 2018, Focus on the Global South, ETC Group, and the Chulalongkorn University Research Institute (CUSRI) organized a forum in Bangkok on corporate concentration in agriculture and food, and its implications on food sovereignty in South East Asia. The forum brought speakers from a number of national, regional and international organisations, and the audience of around 60 individuals comprised representatives from social movements, civil society organisations, academia, and the general public.

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Five years ago today, more than 400 farmers, women, youth and consumers uprooted the secret Golden Rice field trials in Pili, Camarines Sur, decisively showing the rejection of the people against the genetically modified rice. The historic action has resulted to increased awareness and renewed debate globally and has driven the International Rice Research Institute (IRRI) to postpone the commercialization slated in 2016 supposedly due to the lower yields of the Golden Rice.

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How do major oil palm companies manage to get their palm oil sold as a “green”, “sustainable” and “climate-friendly” product when it is none of that? How does this green image help corporations to expand even further, as is happening now in Africa? This article looks into the case of OLAM International, which in February 2017 published its Draft Global Policy on Forests. OLAM’s promising words are merely a smokescreen around what is still its main objective: increasing profits.

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As a new year dawns, it is hard not to be dazzled by the current pace of technological change in food and agriculture. However, there is a risk that these technologies blind us to the very real problems facing modern agriculture – problems that are rapidly undermining the previous round of technological advances. Crop-breeding innovations are merely a short-term solution for falling yields. Only agricultural diversity can ensure food security and resilience.  An excellent reflection by  Olivier De Schutter and Emile Frison.
 

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For the past five years, the people of Merauke Regency, in Indonesia's Papua province, have been resisting a large-scale agriculture project that threatens the livelihoods of more than 50,000 people. But their government has recently announced new and ambitious plans for the Merauke Integrated Food and Energy Estate (MIFEE) project.

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The latest report by EJOLT, a global alliance of environmental justice organisations, on the nature and impact of the increasing global biomass trade. The report examines the global evolution of food production and international food trade and identifies related drivers of socio-environmental conflicts. In the late 20th and early 21st centuries, global trade in agricultural products grew more than three times faster than agricultural production. Nearly all the new land that had been put into production since 1986 was used to produce export crops. The authors conclude that the EU should revise the Common Agricultural Policy to strengthen small-scale farming, promote shorter production chains, support fair trade schemes, as well as to increase organic and permaculture practices. Henk Hobbelink from GRAIN said that “On this topic, the only real policy recommendation that I see is that the expansion of the commodity crops should be stopped and reversed, and land should be reverted to food production in the hand of small farmers.”

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Tycoon-controlled oil palm groups in Indonesia

Rahmawati Retno Winarni and Jan Willem van Gelder | 20 February 2015 | land grabbing, corporations | Indonesia

The rapid expansion of Indonesian oil palm plantations creates serious environmental and social problems. A report analyse the ownership and financing of 25 large tycoon-controlled business groups that control 31% (3.1 million hectares) of the total planted oil palm plantation at present. These groups still have at least 2 million hectares of undeveloped land banks under control. The most important business groups - in terms of their planted areas - are Sinar Mas Group, Salim Group, Jardine Matheson Group, Wilmar Group and Surya Dumai Group.

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Farmers and sectoral organisations attending a conference in the Philippines have united to stop the commercialisation of transgenic Golden Rice, saying this will decimate indigenous rice genetic diversity, and affect farmers’ rights, people’s health and the environment.

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We, the Buol community united in the Buol Farmers Forum (FTB), ask for national and international support to demand that PT Hardaya Inti Plantation immediately return the land belonging to members of Buol Farmers Forum (FTB); that Buol District government take immediate action to reclaim the contested land; that land outside the concession be declared the object of Land Reform; and immediately distributed to members of FTB who have fought for many years to reclaim it.

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Our seed, our sovereignty - seed law victory in Indonesia

Indonesian Human Rights Committee for Social Justice | 22 August 2013 | seeds & biodiversity, laws & policies | Indonesia

Since 2005, 14 farmer breeders in East Java have been prosecuted for "stealing seed" from corporations. But a judicial review by Indonesia's constitutional court has just found key parts of the law used to go after the farmers are unconstitutional.

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