Bulletin boardThe bulletin board is a place where GRAIN staff and others post their comments, suggestions, hints and assessments of documents, places or events. Or just share information that we think is interesting.

 


 

Why is the EU funding Ethiopia's repression of land rights defenders?

Nyikaw Ochalla, Anywaa Survival Organisation | 21 July 2016 | land grabbing | Ethiopia, EU

On Friday, the EU and German government announced the agreement of providing the Government of Ethiopia with 3.8 million euro for a project to facilitate large-scale commercial land deals amid wide spread human rights abuses and brutal repression of its opponents.

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The global food system—the processes and infrastructure to feed populations—is one of the main drivers of climate change. Yet the issue is hardly talked about at the climate summits that governments hold every year. Why? Article written by GRAIN for Alliance Magazine.  

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Early this July, a spate of news from pro-GMO camps (which includes IRRI and Mark Lynas) struck the headlines wherein they praised the report made by the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering and Medicine regarding safety of GM crops. According to the news, the elite panel concluded that no ‘substantiated’ evidence exists that genetically engineered crops have caused health problems in humans or damaged the environment. Alongside this is the letter by more than 100 Nobel laureates urging environmental group Greenpeace to cease and desist from its campaign against Golden Rice specifically, and crops and food improved through biotechnology in general.

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Tanzania’s Southern Agricultural Growth Corridor, a huge farm production project that lies across the country’s southern highlands, seems to represent incisive thinking about Africa’s potential to produce jobs and feed the world. The $US 3.4 billion project envisions improving the capacity of 100,000 small Tanzanian farms to produce and market more of their grain, vegetables, dairy, and meat products. Keith Schneider of "Circle of Blue" provides an analysis that references GRAIN's latest land grabbing report and database.

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Cambodia: Sugar company's compensation deals leave families bitter in Kampong Speu

Jack Davies and Bun Sengkong, Phnom Penh Post | 30 June 2016 | land grabbing | Cambodia

In 2010, more than 1,500 families in Kampong Speu’s Oral district were evicted from the land they had cultivated since the fall of the Khmer Rouge regime in 1979 to make way for a Phnom Penh Sugar Company mega-plantation. After years of campaigning, many of those families in recent weeks accepted compensation packages from the company, owned by Ly Yong Phat, a ruling party senator. However, recipients, community leaders and NGOs have since raised concerns that the company obtained the settlement agreements through bullying and coercion.

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By amending Thailand's Plant Varieties Protection Act, seeds will become 200-600% more expensive as the rights of corporations are extended along with expanded patent protection, reducing farmers rights in saving seeds. Food will become more expensive as production costs go up, while food diversity suffers. Farmers will lose the ability to save seeds for planting the next season or for swapping with their neighbors.

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On 1 and 3 June, protestors occupied the headquarters of Socfin (Luxembourg) and Bolloré (Paris) demanding that the two companies respect the rights of local communities. Socfin and Bolloré have agricultural investments in several countries in Asia and Africa, primarily for oil palm plantations. See an overview of the days' mobilisations, which were live-tweeted by GRAIN and others.   

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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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Tanzania is at the forefront in the battle for control over Africa's food system. With the help of the UK government (and others in the G7) corporations are scrambling to expand their markets in seeds, fertilisers, agrochemicals and land. But small-scale farmer organisations are fighting back by strengthening farmers' knowledge of land, seeds and soil. A video by Global Justice Now.

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On 23 December 2015, Venezuela’s national assembly passed a new seed law banning the import, production and planting of GMO seeds and protecting the production and free exchange of seed varieties of Venezuela’s farming communities (indigenous, peasant and Afro-descendant) among other provisions. The law is significant both for its content and for the process through which it was passed.

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