Asia-Pacific peoples movements come together to challenge RCEP

APRN, APWLD, AFTINET, Focus on the Global South, Forum against FTAs-India, GRAIN, PSI, TWN and TNI | 01 August 2016 | laws & policies | Malaysia

More than 80 participants representing trade unions, farming communities, indigenous peoples, health networks, women’s organisations, academia and civil society organizations met on 27-28 July in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia to take stock of the new generation of mega regional free trade agreements (FTAs) emerging in the region. The group shared concerns on the threats to people’s lives and livelihoods posed by the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP). The RCEP is a mega FTA that 16 countries from the Asia-Pacific region are aiming to finalise by 2017.

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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 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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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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Organizations that are advocating for agroecology among smallholder farmers in Uganda and Africa at large have urged government of Uganda to support small farmers in terms of finances and knowledge to increase food production for their families and income earning, instead of opening Uganda to genetically modified organisms.

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Signed in February 2016, the Trans Pacific Partnership (TPP) will have a major impact on farmers’ access to and control over seeds. The US-led agreement, which covers 12 countries of the Asia-Pacific region (excluding China), opens the door to trade in genetically modified seeds and encourages member countries to apply intellectual property rights to the realm of “traditional knowledge” about plants and animals. While the TPP is certainly cause for concern, another mega trade deal is being negotiated behind closed doors that could threaten farmer seed sovereignty in Asia even further.

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Agroecology: Voices from social movements

Centre for Agroecology, Water and Resilience | 04 October 2015 | technologies, seeds & biodiversity, laws & policies

This video explores the different perspectives of food providers on agroecology and the calls from social movements to embed agroecoogy in the struggle for food sovereignty. It focuses on the International Declaration for Food Sovereignty which has been advanced by social movements to claim agroecology as a bottom up practice, science and movement and the most important pathway towards a most just, sustainable and viable food and agriculture system.

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A short movie about climate change and trade agreements by the Norway Social Forum

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Activists in both China and the United States have raised concerns about just two corporations having so much influence over the world food supply, with so little transparency. But these fears miss the larger point of what such companies represent: the intent of the U.S. government to use food as an ever-more powerful point of leverage to wield over large, increasingly hungry nations like China.

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Civil war in Syria is the result of the desertification of the ecologically fragile Syrian steppe, writes Gianluca Serra - a process that began in 1958 when the former Bedouin commons were opened up to unrestricted grazing.

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