Americans gave away almost $400 billion in 2016. Billionaires like Bill Gates, Warren Buffet and Mark Zuckerberg are applauded for their generosity. But who actually benefits from their donations? For every dollar of charitable giving, the U.S. taxpayer has to fork out 50 cents in lost tax revenue. An interesting podcast by Tara Cleary, including an interview with GRAIN about our 2014 report about the role of the Gates Foundation in Africa.

 

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Bringing farming back to nature

Daniel Moss and Mark Bittman | 27 June 2018 | technologies, food sovereignty, seeds & biodiversity

Farming the land as if nature doesn’t matter has been the model for much of the Western world’s food production system for at least the past 75 years. The results haven’t been pretty: depleted soil, chemically fouled waters, true family farms all but eliminated, a worsening of public health and more. But an approach that combines innovation and tradition has emerged, one that could transform the way we grow food. It’s called agroecology, and it places ecological science at the center of agriculture. It’s a scrappy movement that’s taking off globally.

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A good article on the need for agroecology, denouncing that the bulk of development cooperation funding goes to supporting industrial agriculture.

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A good summary of the concerns about the role of philantropy pushing corporate agendas into health and agriculture programmes in the Global South.

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Agritech in Africa promoted in Davos

Catherine Morand | 14 February 2018 | corporations, technologies

Bill Gates, at the World Economic Forum (WEF), which opens today in Davos, Switzerland, alongside agrobusiness multinationals in corpore, pursues a strategy of predation and transformation in continental African agriculture. In the name of world hunger and climate change.

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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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This week, international conservation and environmental leaders are calling on governments at the 2016 UN Convention on Biodiversity to establish a moratorium on the controversial genetic extinction technology called gene drives. Gene drives, developed through new gene-editing techniques- are designed to force a particular genetically engineered trait to spread through an entire wild population – potentially changing entire species or even causing deliberate extinctions. The statement urges governments to put in place an urgent, global moratorium on the development and release of the new technology, which poses serious and potentially irreversible threats to biodiversity, as well as national sovereignty, peace and food security.

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Can US exports really help "feed the hungry and malnourished in developing nations around the world," as the industry-funded site Facts About GMOs puts it? A new report from Environmental Working Group basically destroys that claim & Tom Philpott summarizes the data.

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Until recently, six or seven global agri-food businesses competed with each other for a share of the world market for seeds and chemicals. But if EU and US regulators allow a series of mega-mergers to take place, within months just three companies will be left in control of nearly 60% of the world’s seeds, nearly 70% of the chemicals and pesticides needed to grow food and nearly all of the world’s GM crop genetic traits.

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