On 5 December 2011, GRAIN received the 2011 Right Livelihood Award, often referred to as the ‘Alternative Nobel Prize’, at the Swedish Parliament in Stockholm. GRAIN was awarded “for its worldwide work to protect the livelihoods and rights of farming communities and to expose the massive purchases of farmland in developing countries by foreign financial interests”. GRAIN seized on the opportunity to demand an immediate end to land grabbing and a restitution of lands to local communities. The following speech was delivered to the Swedish Parliament by GRAIN during the Awards Ceremony.
May 15 marks 40 years since Okinawa “reverted” from US military administration to Japan, but the celebrations in 2012 will be muted. While few Okinawans regret the fact of reversion, there is widespread resentment over the fact that the national government continues to insist the prefecture serve US military ends first and foremost. Newspaper opinion surveys taken on the eve of the commemoration found that 69 percent of Okinawans believed they were the subject of inequitable and discriminatory treatment because of the heavy concentration of US military bases, and nearly 90 percent took the position that the Futenma Marine Base should either be unconditionally closed and the land simply revert to Ginowan township or else be moved away, whether elsewhere in Japan or beyond it. That figure exceeds even the opposition of the time of the Hatoyama government (84 percent) less than two years ago. A similar 90 percent oppose the deployment within Okinawa of the accident-plagued MV22-Osprey VTOL (vertical takeoff and landing) aircraft that the Pentagon, backed by the government of Japan, promises to deploy in Okinawa from July.1
There remains no legislative structure in place to deal with the long-term effects of a nuclear disaster of the scale of Fukushima.
Our focus in this presentation is on modern biotechnology in crops and animal species. Traditional biotechnology is as old as agriculture and quite harmless. We are not also looking at hybridisation of crops or animals. We will also not advance into any detail on the area of nanotechnology, or the newer and probably more worrisome, synthetic biology.
As I survey my life, which is coming near its end, I want to set down a few thoughts that might be useful to those coming after. It will soon be time for me to give back to Gaia the nutrients that I have used during a long, busy, and happy life. I am not bitter or resentful at the approaching end; I have been one of the extraordinarily lucky ones. So it behooves me here to gather together some thoughts and attitudes that may prove useful in the dark times we are facing: a century or more of exceedingly difficult times.
Rafe Sagarin, the author of Learning from the Octopus, is a marine ecologist and security expert. Years of marine research provide him with a unique perspective on security issues. His new book’s conclusion: we can learn from nature about being more secure by being more adaptable. Nature, after 3.5 billion years of dealing with risk, is an experienced teacher.
We are all trust fund babies living off the wealth of our ancestors. I’m not talking Mommy and Daddy. I’m talking Barney. That cuddly T-Rex and all his dinosaur friends, along with those giant ferns and tiny trilobites, died millions of years ago only to become, very gradually, the energy that fuels our modern life. Until very recently, in geologic time at least, the earth held virtually all of that powerful carbon in a lockbox. “You can’t touch this buried treasure until you come of age,” the earth told humanity.
In 1992, in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, the United Nations held its landmark Conference on Environment and Development. Also known as the Earth Summit, the Conference set the global environmental agenda for the next two decades. Now, twenty years on, the world’s governments, development practitioners, and environmental activists are set to reconvene once again, in Brazil, in June 2012, for the UN Conference on Sustainable Development-Rio +20.
Through the night, coated in frost,
the woods around my town wait for the light of dawn.
Like closed leaves, the monarch butterflies
cover the trunk and branches of the trees.
Superimposed, one upon the other, like a single organism.
Homero Aridjis is the author of more than 40 books of poetry and prose and is one of Latin America’s leading environmental activists. In this interview, he discusses his involvement in environmental issues and his public life as a poet.