Growing conflicts over who owns water and how to manage it are emerging all over the world. Although debates at the UN and among civil society have moved toward the recognition of water as a basic human right, the United States still lags behind. Washington has instead largely supported private-sector approaches that will likely exacerbate conflicts over water resources. What is perhaps new is that the U.S. intelligence community is also looking at water as a potential national security concern.
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.
Last October, 100 farmers gathered to protest against the Sierra Leone branch of the multinational corporate agribusiness giant, Socfin. The farmers were furious over the company’s lack of transparency, its refusal to consult with local communities, its miserly compensation for dispossessed farmers, and its brazen pressuring of local leaders.
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.
With its muddy roads, humble huts, and constant military patrols, Bajo Aguán, Honduras feels a long way away from the slick polish of the recurring UN climate negotiations in the world’s capital cities. Yet the bloody struggle going on there strikes at the heart of global climate politics, illustrating how market schemes designed to “offset” carbon emissions play out when they encounter the complicated reality on the ground.
At a World Social Forum event in 2006, Walden Bello warned that the Doha Round of the World Trade Organization (WTO) was careening down a track to disaster. Civil society needed to insist that negotiators pull back before the Round went off a cliff, the founder of Focus on the Global South said. Although the global economy has certainly changed since then, the WTO seems stuck on the same track.
A prominent part of holiday festivities is chocolate, one of our most adored comfort foods. Chocolate is made from the beans (actually the seeds) of the pods that grow on the trunk and main branches of the cocoa plant. In a fitting tribute to the Mayan (and later the Aztec) belief in the divine origin of cocoa, Swedish scientist and father of modern plant taxonomy, Carolus Linnaeus, gave the cocoa tree the name Theobroma cacao. Theobroma is Greek for “food of the gods,” and cacao is derived from the Mayan word ka’kau.
Thanks to the US’s 2009 Global Food Security Act, food aid policy for the first time mandates the use of genetic modification technologies. Nidhi Tandon looks at how this legislation helps biotechnology companies monopolise the seed industry at the expense of farmers, and explores some of the dubious links between these corporations, the Gates Foundation and the Alliance for a Green Revolution in Africa.
As the blood-spattered violence of the drug war takes over the headlines, many Mexican men, women, and children confront the slow and silent violence of starvation. The latest reports show that the number of people living in “food poverty” (the inability to purchase the basic food basket) rose from 18 million in 2008 to 20 million by late 2010.
On April 29, 2011 the Chamber of Deputies approved the constitutional reform that establishes the right to food in Mexico. On August 17, the Senate received reports that the required majority of the states in the country had approved the reform and ordered its publication in the official federal record.