The latest from GRAIN

"Grabbing the bull by the horns: it’s time to cut industrial meat and dairy to save the climate"

While energy companies are the most frequent targets of climate activism, a new report by GRAIN shows that large food corporations—especially in the meat and dairy sector—are huge contributors to global climate change. According to the UN Food and Agriculture Organisation, meat production alone now generates more greenhouse gas emissions than all the world’s transport combined. In a new report, GRAIN outlines the contributions of industrial meat and dairy to global climate change, arguing that reducing their production and consumption is one of the most important actions we can take to address the climate crisis now.  

While energy companies are the most frequent targets of climate activism, a new report by GRAIN shows that large food corporations—especially in the meat and dairy sector—are huge contributors to global climate change. According to the UN Food and Agriculture Organisation, meat production alone now generates more greenhouse gas emissions than all the world’s transport combined. In a new report, GRAIN outlines the contributions of industrial meat and dairy to global climate change, arguing that reducing their production and consumption is one of the most important actions we can take to address the climate crisis now.  

Grabbing the bull by the horns: it’s time to cut industrial meat and dairy to save the climate

When we think of the big drivers of climate change, cars and air travel often come to mind. But transformations over the past century in the way food is produced and consumed have resulted in more greenhouse gas emissions than those from transportation. The biggest culprits? Industrial meat and dairy. The most widely cited official estimate holds that the food system is responsible for up to 30 per cent of all greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions. Some of these emissions are due to the growth of packaged and frozen foods, the increased distance foods are shipped and the rise in food waste. But the most important source of food system-related GHG emissions is the escalation of meat and dairy consumption—made possible by the expansion of industrial livestock and chemical-intensive feed crops. The UN Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) says meat production alone now generates more GHG emissions than all the world’s transport combined.

When we think of the big drivers of climate change, cars and air travel often come to mind. But transformations over the past century in the way food is produced and consumed have resulted in more greenhouse gas emissions than those from transportation. The biggest culprits? Industrial meat and dairy. The most widely cited official estimate holds that the food system is responsible for up to 30 per cent of all greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions. Some of these emissions are due to the growth of packaged and frozen foods, the increased distance foods are shipped and the rise in food waste. But the most important source of food system-related GHG emissions is the escalation of meat and dairy consumption—made possible by the expansion of industrial livestock and chemical-intensive feed crops. The UN Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) says meat production alone now generates more GHG emissions than all the world’s transport combined.

Trade deals threaten peasant farmers' stewardship of seed biodiversity

Skillful selection and nurturing of the seeds best suited to a particular location are at the heart of peasant farming and agroforestry systems. The resulting agrobiodiversity of hundreds of thousands of crop varieties and animal races found in peasants’ fields around the globe provides the corner stone of the world’s food system. Peasant farmers and the local varieties that they developed are still feeding the majority of us. By contrast, industrial agriculture dominated by a small number of transnational corporations has drastically reduced the agrobiodiversity of crop varieties grown. It has also encroached rapidly on the land that peasant farmers rely on to produce food and on peasants’ access to the diversity of seeds which forms the basis of peasant farming and agroforesty systems.

Skillful selection and nurturing of the seeds best suited to a particular location are at the heart of peasant farming and agroforestry systems. The resulting agrobiodiversity of hundreds of thousands of crop varieties and animal races found in peasants’ fields around the globe provides the corner stone of the world’s food system. Peasant farmers and the local varieties that they developed are still feeding the majority of us. By contrast, industrial agriculture dominated by a small number of transnational corporations has drastically reduced the agrobiodiversity of crop varieties grown. It has also encroached rapidly on the land that peasant farmers rely on to produce food and on peasants’ access to the diversity of seeds which forms the basis of peasant farming and agroforesty systems.

Grow-ing disaster: the Fortune 500 goes farming

Some of the world's largest food companies are rolling out a programme called Grow, promising to apply “market-based solutions” to poverty, food insecurity and climate change. Under a logic of “public-private partnership”, the companies participating in Grow are fostering close ties with governments in order to increase their control over markets and supply chains. While claiming to promote food security and benefit small farmers, Grow’s focus on a few high-value commodities—like potatoes, maize, coffee, tea and palm oil—exposes the programme’s real objective: to expand the production of a handful of commodities to profit a handful of corporations. The impacts on communities, biodiversity, nutrition and the climate are potentially disastrous.

Some of the world's largest food companies are rolling out a programme called Grow, promising to apply “market-based solutions” to poverty, food insecurity and climate change. Under a logic of “public-private partnership”, the companies participating in Grow are fostering close ties with governments in order to increase their control over markets and supply chains. While claiming to promote food security and benefit small farmers, Grow’s focus on a few high-value commodities—like potatoes, maize, coffee, tea and palm oil—exposes the programme’s real objective: to expand the production of a handful of commodities to profit a handful of corporations. The impacts on communities, biodiversity, nutrition and the climate are potentially disastrous.

Grow-ing disaster: the Fortune 500 goes farming

Some of the world's largest food companies are rolling out a programme called Grow, promising to apply “market-based solutions” to poverty, food insecurity and climate change. Under a logic of public-private partnership, Nestlé, PepsiCo, Monsanto and other companies are fostering close ties with governments in order to increase their control over markets and supply chains. While claiming to promote food security and benefit small farmers, Grow's focus on a few high-value commodities (potatoes, maize, coffee, palm oil, etc.) exposes the programme’s real objective: to expand the production of a handful of products to profit a handful of corporations. The impacts on communities, biodiversity, nutrition and the climate are potentially disastrous.

Some of the world's largest food companies are rolling out a programme called Grow, promising to apply “market-based solutions” to poverty, food insecurity and climate change. Under a logic of public-private partnership, Nestlé, PepsiCo, Monsanto and other companies are fostering close ties with governments in order to increase their control over markets and supply chains. While claiming to promote food security and benefit small farmers, Grow's focus on a few high-value commodities (potatoes, maize, coffee, palm oil, etc.) exposes the programme’s real objective: to expand the production of a handful of products to profit a handful of corporations. The impacts on communities, biodiversity, nutrition and the climate are potentially disastrous.

Comic book: Together we can cool the planet!

Based on the video Together we can cool the planet! co-produced by La Vía Campesina and GRAIN in 2015, we have created a comic book to support training activities of social movements and civil society organisations around climate change. This comic book looks at how the industrial food system impacts our climate and also explains what we can do to change course and start cooling the planet. We say loud and clear: it is peasants and small farmers, along with consumers who choose agroecological products from local markets, who hold the solution to the climate crisis. We must all rise to the challenge!

Based on the video Together we can cool the planet! co-produced by La Vía Campesina and GRAIN in 2015, we have created a comic book to support training activities of social movements and civil society organisations around climate change. This comic book looks at how the industrial food system impacts our climate and also explains what we can do to change course and start cooling the planet. We say loud and clear: it is peasants and small farmers, along with consumers who choose agroecological products from local markets, who hold the solution to the climate crisis. We must all rise to the challenge!

Connecting smallholders to markets

In 2014, the Committee on World Food Security (CFS) established a special work area or “work-stream” on Connecting Smallholders to Markets with the aim of exploring the relationships between markets, food security and smallholder agriculture. Organisations of small-scale food producers in the CFS’s Civil Society Mechanism (CSM) decided to participate in this work-stream because it offered an opportunity to recognise the contributions of small-scale food producers to global food security and nutrition.

In 2014, the Committee on World Food Security (CFS) established a special work area or “work-stream” on Connecting Smallholders to Markets with the aim of exploring the relationships between markets, food security and smallholder agriculture. Organisations of small-scale food producers in the CFS’s Civil Society Mechanism (CSM) decided to participate in this work-stream because it offered an opportunity to recognise the contributions of small-scale food producers to global food security and nutrition.

Big business in Marrakech: fertiliser industry and finance dominate COP22

Africa will be centre-stage at this year’s Conference of Parties on climate change (COP 22) in Marrakech. According to the Moroccan steering committee, this is the “African COP”. The event will feature an “Africa Pavilion”, with activities supported by the African Development Bank (AfDB), the New Partnership for Africa’s Development (NEPAD) and the United Nations Economic Commission for Africa (ECA)—institutions that work to create favourable conditions for corporate investments in Africa. Thus, in Africa (and globally), the debate on climate change is captured by banks and corporations—the very institutions that, through their relentless pursuit of profit above all else, are the main drivers of global climate change.

Africa will be centre-stage at this year’s Conference of Parties on climate change (COP 22) in Marrakech. According to the Moroccan steering committee, this is the “African COP”. The event will feature an “Africa Pavilion”, with activities supported by the African Development Bank (AfDB), the New Partnership for Africa’s Development (NEPAD) and the United Nations Economic Commission for Africa (ECA)—institutions that work to create favourable conditions for corporate investments in Africa. Thus, in Africa (and globally), the debate on climate change is captured by banks and corporations—the very institutions that, through their relentless pursuit of profit above all else, are the main drivers of global climate change.

Pension funds fuel land grabs in Brazil

Around the world, farmers are losing their lands, often violently, to large companies and speculators who see farmland as a lucrative investment. But what are the complex mechanisms behind these processes? Could your pension fund be contributing to land grabbing in places like Brazil? This animated video shows how a global farmland fund, managed by US financial giant TIAA-CREF, used a complex company structure to avoid restrictions on foreign investment in farmland in Brazil. It then acquired lands from a Brazilian businessman who has used violence and fraud to grab large areas of farmland from small farmers and indigenous peoples.

Around the world, farmers are losing their lands, often violently, to large companies and speculators who see farmland as a lucrative investment. But what are the complex mechanisms behind these processes? Could your pension fund be contributing to land grabbing in places like Brazil? This animated video shows how a global farmland fund, managed by US financial giant TIAA-CREF, used a complex company structure to avoid restrictions on foreign investment in farmland in Brazil. It then acquired lands from a Brazilian businessman who has used violence and fraud to grab large areas of farmland from small farmers and indigenous peoples.

Land conflicts and shady finances plague DR Congo palm oil company backed by development funds

European and US development funds are bankrolling palm oil company Feronia Inc despite land and labour conflicts at its plantations in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC). New information now raises questions as to whether the Canadian-based company misused millions of taxpayer dollars destined for international aid by way of companies connected to a high-level DRC politician.

European and US development funds are bankrolling palm oil company Feronia Inc despite land and labour conflicts at its plantations in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC). New information now raises questions as to whether the Canadian-based company misused millions of taxpayer dollars destined for international aid by way of companies connected to a high-level DRC politician.

Land for the women who work it: struggles in Latin America

Lack of access to land is one of the most serious problems facing rural women in Latin America and around the world—and is the cause of numerous other problems that are often “invisible” for society at large. Its consequences affect women everywhere, humanity in general and the planet. This issue of Against the grain explores the conditions of oppression and exclusion that rural women experience throughout Latin America and the impacts of patriarchy including the gendered division of labour, the invisibilisation of women’s work and the exploitation of both women and men. The piece also addresses women’s ongoing struggle for the right to land at a time when the role of women is increasingly recognised as central to the reproduction of peasant agriculture and to solving the problem of global hunger.      

Lack of access to land is one of the most serious problems facing rural women in Latin America and around the world—and is the cause of numerous other problems that are often “invisible” for society at large. Its consequences affect women everywhere, humanity in general and the planet. This issue of Against the grain explores the conditions of oppression and exclusion that rural women experience throughout Latin America and the impacts of patriarchy including the gendered division of labour, the invisibilisation of women’s work and the exploitation of both women and men. The piece also addresses women’s ongoing struggle for the right to land at a time when the role of women is increasingly recognised as central to the reproduction of peasant agriculture and to solving the problem of global hunger.      

Mega trade and investment deals destroy local markets

This issue of Supermarket watch Asia bulletin highlights the impacts of trade and investment agreements on farmers, fishers and street vendors. We begin with a statement from the international peasant movement La Vía Campesina on trade, markets and development, which was issued during the Fourteenth Session of the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD), 17 – 22 July 2016 in Nairobi, Kenya. We then look at how Hanoi, Vietnam has criminalised street vendors who are already threatened by the expansion of foreign retailers caused by new trade regulations. Finally, we examine the experience of a food safety organisation in Thailand that is suing the Thai government over its failure to protect food safety with regards to fruits and vegetables sold in supermarkets.

This issue of Supermarket watch Asia bulletin highlights the impacts of trade and investment agreements on farmers, fishers and street vendors. We begin with a statement from the international peasant movement La Vía Campesina on trade, markets and development, which was issued during the Fourteenth Session of the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD), 17 – 22 July 2016 in Nairobi, Kenya. We then look at how Hanoi, Vietnam has criminalised street vendors who are already threatened by the expansion of foreign retailers caused by new trade regulations. Finally, we examine the experience of a food safety organisation in Thailand that is suing the Thai government over its failure to protect food safety with regards to fruits and vegetables sold in supermarkets.

DR Congo communities pressured to cede land rights by plantation company controlled by development banks

Over the past few days, Feronia Inc., a Canadian-based company majority-owned by European and US development banks, has been pressuring local communities to sign a memorandum of understanding (MOU) that would endorse the company’s continued operation and expansion of oil palm plantations within their territories. Despite severe pressure and intimidation, the communities have rejected the MOU and are appealing for international support to demand that Feronia respect their decision.  

Over the past few days, Feronia Inc., a Canadian-based company majority-owned by European and US development banks, has been pressuring local communities to sign a memorandum of understanding (MOU) that would endorse the company’s continued operation and expansion of oil palm plantations within their territories. Despite severe pressure and intimidation, the communities have rejected the MOU and are appealing for international support to demand that Feronia respect their decision.  

Court rules that Brazilian businessman who sold lands to TIAA-CREF acquired lands illegally

A Brazilian businessman involved in the acquisition of farmland by US, Canadian, German and Swedish pension funds could face criminal charges for land grabbing. The Agrarian Prosecutor for the Court of the Brazilian state of Piauí has issued an order for the cancellation of 124,400 ha of lands illegally acquired by businessman Euclides De Carli. The decision was issued on 5 July 2016, by state prosecutor Francisco Santiago, citing land grabbing (“grilagem”) and the illegal use of lands assigned to agrarian reform. The prosecution is now considering filing criminal charges.

A Brazilian businessman involved in the acquisition of farmland by US, Canadian, German and Swedish pension funds could face criminal charges for land grabbing. The Agrarian Prosecutor for the Court of the Brazilian state of Piauí has issued an order for the cancellation of 124,400 ha of lands illegally acquired by businessman Euclides De Carli. The decision was issued on 5 July 2016, by state prosecutor Francisco Santiago, citing land grabbing (“grilagem”) and the illegal use of lands assigned to agrarian reform. The prosecution is now considering filing criminal charges.