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Supermarket Watch Asia Bulletin reviewed: subscribe now

It has been two years since we first published this quarterly information bulletin about developments in the food retail and distribution sector in Asia. A few months ago, we thought it was time to assess whether the bulletin served its purpose and how it could improve. So we decided to run a survey and dedicate this issue to sharing some of its results.

It has been two years since we first published this quarterly information bulletin about developments in the food retail and distribution sector in Asia. A few months ago, we thought it was time to assess whether the bulletin served its purpose and how it could improve. So we decided to run a survey and dedicate this issue to sharing some of its results.

Civil society decries FSANZ approval of Golden Rice

The recent release of Food Standards Australia New Zealand (FSANZ) approval report of the International Rice Research Institute (IRRI) application for a Golden Rice ‘safety stamp’ and trade liability clearance have garnered negative reactions and widespread critique. 

The recent release of Food Standards Australia New Zealand (FSANZ) approval report of the International Rice Research Institute (IRRI) application for a Golden Rice ‘safety stamp’ and trade liability clearance have garnered negative reactions and widespread critique. 

The Latin American Seeds Collective presents the documentary "Seeds: commons or corporate property?"

Jointly produced by eight Latin American organisations and edited by Radio Mundo Real, the documentary "Seeds: commons or corporate property?" draws on the experiences and struggles of social movements for the defence of indigenous and native seeds in Ecuador, Brazil, Costa Rica, Mexico, Honduras, Argentina, Colombia, and Guatemala. 

Jointly produced by eight Latin American organisations and edited by Radio Mundo Real, the documentary "Seeds: commons or corporate property?" draws on the experiences and struggles of social movements for the defence of indigenous and native seeds in Ecuador, Brazil, Costa Rica, Mexico, Honduras, Argentina, Colombia, and Guatemala. 

Land conflict in Côte d'Ivoire: local communities defend their rights against SIAT and the state

It all started one morning in August 2011 when three village communities in eastern-central Côte d’Ivoire learned that a Belgian corporation called SIAT was about to move onto their land. Not long afterward, an agribusiness firm started putting in a rubber monoculture on 11,000 ha that the communities had neither sold nor ceded and that SIAT was not entitled to exploit.

It all started one morning in August 2011 when three village communities in eastern-central Côte d’Ivoire learned that a Belgian corporation called SIAT was about to move onto their land. Not long afterward, an agribusiness firm started putting in a rubber monoculture on 11,000 ha that the communities had neither sold nor ceded and that SIAT was not entitled to exploit.

Supermarkets, transnational supply chains and labour rights’ abuses

According to different sources, transnational supply chains currently account for 30 to 60 per cent of all global trade, and depend on the work of over 100 million workers globally. On average, companies relying on transnational supply chains only directly hire 6 per cent of the labour force they actually employ. The rest is “outsourced”, often scattered across several countries and amongst thousands of suppliers.

According to different sources, transnational supply chains currently account for 30 to 60 per cent of all global trade, and depend on the work of over 100 million workers globally. On average, companies relying on transnational supply chains only directly hire 6 per cent of the labour force they actually employ. The rest is “outsourced”, often scattered across several countries and amongst thousands of suppliers.

Trade agreements that impact seed laws in Africa

The autonomy of African states on seed policy is limited by trade deals, such as free trade agreements or investment treaties, signed by States. Certainly, in principle, each country has sovereignty to sign or not sign these agreements. But they are very often forced to conclude them for financial, geopolitical, security or other reasons. GRAIN published a baseline study of these agreements, either signed or in the process of being negotiated, in June 2016 (see “Trade agreements that privatise biodiversity outside the WTO, Annex 1”). Today, what is the situation?

The autonomy of African states on seed policy is limited by trade deals, such as free trade agreements or investment treaties, signed by States. Certainly, in principle, each country has sovereignty to sign or not sign these agreements. But they are very often forced to conclude them for financial, geopolitical, security or other reasons. GRAIN published a baseline study of these agreements, either signed or in the process of being negotiated, in June 2016 (see “Trade agreements that privatise biodiversity outside the WTO, Annex 1”). Today, what is the situation?

Big meat and dairy’s supersized climate footprint

Three meat companies - JBS, Cargill and Tyson - emitted more greenhouse gases last year than all of France and nearly as much as some of the biggest oil companies like Exxon, BP and Shell. Few meat and dairy companies calculate or publish their climate emissions. So for the first time ever, we have estimated corporate emissions from livestock, using the most comprehensive methodology created to date by the UN’s Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO). And before the meat and dairy industries descend upon COP23 to broadcast their “feed the world” narrative, let’s set the story straight: their emissions could lead us to a point of no return.  

Three meat companies - JBS, Cargill and Tyson - emitted more greenhouse gases last year than all of France and nearly as much as some of the biggest oil companies like Exxon, BP and Shell. Few meat and dairy companies calculate or publish their climate emissions. So for the first time ever, we have estimated corporate emissions from livestock, using the most comprehensive methodology created to date by the UN’s Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO). And before the meat and dairy industries descend upon COP23 to broadcast their “feed the world” narrative, let’s set the story straight: their emissions could lead us to a point of no return.  

Africans demand real climate action

Morocco will hand the presidency over to Fiji at the Conference of Parties (COP23) of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change taking place in Bonn, Germany.

Morocco will hand the presidency over to Fiji at the Conference of Parties (COP23) of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change taking place in Bonn, Germany.

New free trade agreements: normalising the brutality of transnational supply chains

The new wave of free trade agreements, written by and for corporate interests, provides little or no benefits for workers, communities, or the environment. Provisions being laid in these new trade deals turn most developing countries into sources of cheap and unprotected labour for transnational companies. Labour rights are being redefined in a way that allows transnational companies to impose brutal working conditions. Once these agreements are signed and ratified, the only legal protection that will fully stand is the abolition of slavery. All other labour rights will be disposable at the companies’ discretion under a wide range of circumstances. 

The new wave of free trade agreements, written by and for corporate interests, provides little or no benefits for workers, communities, or the environment. Provisions being laid in these new trade deals turn most developing countries into sources of cheap and unprotected labour for transnational companies. Labour rights are being redefined in a way that allows transnational companies to impose brutal working conditions. Once these agreements are signed and ratified, the only legal protection that will fully stand is the abolition of slavery. All other labour rights will be disposable at the companies’ discretion under a wide range of circumstances. 

RCEP in India: A creamy deal for transnational dairy corporations, growing resistance from farmers

India is being cornered to open up its markets at the ongoing negotiations of the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP). A free trade agreement between 16 Asian countries, including massive manufacturers like China, RCEP will bring down import duties to zero on goods, both agricultural and industrial, for more than 92 per cent of tariff lines. Being the world’s largest trade agreement, it will impact half of the world’s population including 420 million small family farms that produce 80 per cent of Asia’s food.

India is being cornered to open up its markets at the ongoing negotiations of the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP). A free trade agreement between 16 Asian countries, including massive manufacturers like China, RCEP will bring down import duties to zero on goods, both agricultural and industrial, for more than 92 per cent of tariff lines. Being the world’s largest trade agreement, it will impact half of the world’s population including 420 million small family farms that produce 80 per cent of Asia’s food.

Turono Karuturi (“Bye-bye Karuturi” in Anuak)

Land activists around the world celebrated the news of the collapse of one of the world’s biggest land grabs: the Indian company Karuturi Global Ltd’s 300,000 hectare farmland deal in Ethiopia. CEO Sai Ramakrishna Karuturi claimed he would bring food security to the horn of Africa while boasting he would soon join the ranks of the world’s biggest food producers.

Land activists around the world celebrated the news of the collapse of one of the world’s biggest land grabs: the Indian company Karuturi Global Ltd’s 300,000 hectare farmland deal in Ethiopia. CEO Sai Ramakrishna Karuturi claimed he would bring food security to the horn of Africa while boasting he would soon join the ranks of the world’s biggest food producers.

Behind Amazon's acquisition over Whole Foods: the next phase of food distribution

In June 2017, Amazon, the world’s third largest e-commerce company, announced its acquisition over Whole Foods Market for US$ 13.7 billion. Amazon’s move seems to follow the footsteps of Alibaba, the world’s largest e-commerce company that invested US$ 1.25 billion in buying the Chinese online food delivery service Ele.me in late 2015. 

In June 2017, Amazon, the world’s third largest e-commerce company, announced its acquisition over Whole Foods Market for US$ 13.7 billion. Amazon’s move seems to follow the footsteps of Alibaba, the world’s largest e-commerce company that invested US$ 1.25 billion in buying the Chinese online food delivery service Ele.me in late 2015. 

Colonialism's new clothes: The EU’s Economic Partnership Agreements with Africa

Since 2002, African, Caribbean and Pacific (ACP) countries have negotiated a reciprocal free trade agreement known as the Economic Partnership Agreement (EPA) with the European Union (EU). While it was marketed as the magic bullet towards the ACP countries’ industrialisation and development, it is in fact an unfair agreement that is anchored in a colonial framework. Though not highly publicised, the EPA has faced continued opposition from across the ACP countries, not least because of its devastating effect on small scale farmers. The case of some African countries presented here is illustrative of the way communities are fighting to regain control over their resources and protect their markets from the flooding of cheap EU processed foods, along with pesticides and genetically modified organisms. 

Since 2002, African, Caribbean and Pacific (ACP) countries have negotiated a reciprocal free trade agreement known as the Economic Partnership Agreement (EPA) with the European Union (EU). While it was marketed as the magic bullet towards the ACP countries’ industrialisation and development, it is in fact an unfair agreement that is anchored in a colonial framework. Though not highly publicised, the EPA has faced continued opposition from across the ACP countries, not least because of its devastating effect on small scale farmers. The case of some African countries presented here is illustrative of the way communities are fighting to regain control over their resources and protect their markets from the flooding of cheap EU processed foods, along with pesticides and genetically modified organisms. 

Asia farmers' network resounds strong call to Stop Golden Rice!

Four years after the first militant uprooting of Golden Rice, waves of protest mobilisations stir anew in the Philippines and Bangladesh against its commercialisation, while debate rages on in Indonesia, India and other Asian countries where Golden Rice is planned for commercial release.

Four years after the first militant uprooting of Golden Rice, waves of protest mobilisations stir anew in the Philippines and Bangladesh against its commercialisation, while debate rages on in Indonesia, India and other Asian countries where Golden Rice is planned for commercial release.