When it rains, it pours. This week has seen a deluge of global food and trade strategies, all of which may deeply impact food and agriculture policies for Grassroots International, our partners and our allies.
The Honorable Barack Obama President of the United States The White House Washington, D.C. 20500
March 24, 2009
Dear Mr. President:
In 2008, the price of basic food staples rose by incredible proportions. Between May 2007 and March 2008, hard red winter wheat rose 137 percent, from July 2007 to June 2008 corn prices rose 98 percent. Other food commodities rose in a similar fashion putting daily sustenance out of reach for 200 million more people in the developing world.
The information below is adapted from a press release by Code Pink.
GAZA CITY, GAZA STRIP - A 60-member aid delegation was allowed entry into war-torn Gaza today through the Egyptian border crossing today. Two Grassroots International staff and board members (in the middle of the photo above) are part of the delegation, which includes Pulitzer Prize-winning novelist Alice Walker.
The British solidarity organization, the Haiti Support Group, today wrote to Josette Sheeran, the Executive Director of the United Nations World Food Program (WFP), requesting information about the type of rice that the organization is distributing in Haiti.
The Haiti Support Group is concerned about the nutritional content of the rice that the WFP is distributing to hundreds of thousands of hungry and starving Haitians. In particular, the organization is seeking reassurance that the WFP is not distributing imported rice that has undergone the usual commercial milling process, thereby considerably reducing the rice's mineral, vitamin, and fibre content.
Grassroots International and the National Family Farm Coalition announce the release of a new popular education tool that can help you understand and fix the world food crisis: Food for Thought and Action: A Food Sovereignty Curriculum.
It's been said that "you are what you eat." In the face of a global food crisis, it's clear that we've been forced to swallow far more than what's on our plates. Our global food system is broken, with nearly a billion hungry people around the world and millions more forced from their failed farms as industrial agriculture privatizes and despoils our water, soil and biodiversity.
The principle of food sovereignty places local control of food production and distribution at its core. Unfortunately, throughout the world industrial farms, corporations and the policies that benefit them take that control away from local farmers and communities. In a recent report , Grassroots International's colleagues at the Oakland Institute describe this situation and its dire consequences in Indonesia where "excessive dependence on global markets, followed by the collapse of traditional agricultural structures, as well as almost non-existent social policies, have manufactured widespread hunger in Indonesia today."
Our partners in Guatemala have told us: the current food crisis will continue unless we guarantee the land, water and seeds rights of communities necessary to grow food. The same message is being echoed in Brazil, Mexico and many neighborhoods in the U.S.
In two separate statements, Guatemala's National Peasant and Indigenous Coordination (CONIC) and Brazil's Small Producers Movement (MPA) put forth food sovereignty as a solution to the crisis: the right of communities to produce food for local markets and for consumers to have access to local healthy foods. Both organizations denounce the expansion of industrial agriculture and growing control of agribusinesses for contributing to the hunger of urban and rural communities.
Hello from Port au Prince! I've just returned to Haiti for the first time since May 2004 and wanted to share my impressions with you.
It's safe to say that beets have never been a hot topic in the U.S. financial world.
But now a group of more than 300 socially-concerned institutional investors is asking consumers to urge major food corporations not to buy genetically engineered sugar beets. The Interfaith Center on Corporate Responsibility (ICCR) has launched a web site that helps consumers write effective letters to corporations like Kraft and Heinz about their desire not to see Monsanto's soon-to-be-released "Roundup Ready" sugar beets used in food products.
Grassroots International was selected as a finalist for the MySpace Impact Awards. Grassroots is in the final 3, with the winner receiving a $10,000 donation and extensive promotion throughout the MySpace website. If you are a MySpace user, please vote for us right now, then each day until December 24th and forward this to others: http://www.myspace.com/impactawards.
Amidst talk of "peace-making" at Annapolis, the situation in Gaza grows worse by the day and any lingering hopes Palestinians may have had for a just peace are fading fast.
After declaring the Gaza Strip an "enemy entity" in September, the Israeli Cabinet last week approved the cutoff of fuel supplies and electricity to the Gaza Strip in response to ongoing rocket attacks. Israeli Defense Minister, Ehud Barak gave the order to cut electricity for increasing periods and to reduce fuel shipments.
The Farm Bill is one of the last major pieces of legislation that will make it to the floor of the Senate during the current legislative season, which makes it a ripe target for political maneuvering and special-interest pork.
Grassroots is working with a coalition of allies to fight for farming policies that will protect the human right to food, support family farmers in the United States and abroad and build a healthier food and farming system for consumers, communities and the environment.
The Senate's plan to set aside $25 million for locally-sourced food aid is a big win for family farmers in some of the world's poorest regions, but there is a lot that is still at stake in this farm bill.
The Government of Israel continues to tighten the noose on the Palestinian People through imposing the economic closure on the Gaza Strip as a form of collective punishment. Israel has declared the Gaza Strip "a hostile entity," and is beginning to translate this declaration into practical steps; for example, Israel doesn't permit any access to raw materials, so 85% of Gaza manufacturing business has been closed down with over 35,000 workers laid off. An additional 35,000 workers have been laid off from other sectors including construction, trade and service sectors. All imports and exports remain blocked while few basic materials are allowed to enter the Strip. Medical supplies are lacking in the hospitals which reduces hospitals' capacity to treat patients.
We have some exciting news to share.
Your voice was heard in the U.S. Senate.
The Farm Bill, scheduled to be voted on by the full Senate next week, includes funding for a $25 million pilot project for locally-sourced food aid for hungry people around the world.
We want to thank you for your support of this crucial legislation.
This is a big win.
At the last minute, Senator Pat Roberts (KS-R) threatened to call an amendment that would have squashed the pilot project. Thanks to the support of activists like you, this program that will offer support to family farmers around the world and improve our ability to feed the hungry is alive.
When Hope Triumphs Over Fear: An Invisible Global Revolution: Frances Moore Lappé at the Jamaica Plain Forum
Thursday, November 1st
First Church in Jamaica Plain
Unitarian Universalist Sanctuary
6 Eliot St (Across from the Monument)
Jamaica Plain, Massachusetts 02130
In 2006 an energized electorate seemed poised to reassert ownership of the democratic process. Since the elections, however, polls show that citizens confidence in government has resumed its downward trend. Far from waning, disillusion and disengagement continue to spread.
Why is this happening, and how can we stop it?
The Rainforest Action Network (RAN) officially launched their new Rainforest Agribusiness campaign this week, targeting ADM, Bunge and Cargill (ABC) for the role they are playing in the massive expansion of soy and palm oil plantations throughout the world. Global South movements including our partners in the Via Campesina are doing similar campaigns in various parts of the world.
We can do it with your help.
There are promising signs that this crucial legislation may pass the Senate, but we need your help to make it happen. Every call counts as the Farm Bill gets closer to a vote.
Call your Senators now and ask them to support food aid that works.
Armed forces, including local and Federal police (in and out of uniform) and various paramilitaries loyal to Governor Ulysses Ruiz have seized control of the streets of Oaxaca city, showing complete disregard for the human rights of activists who have been rallying for months against the policies of Ruiz. The current clampdown took place in the wake of the latest "megamarch" on November 25.
The Via Campesina and the Landless Workers Movement (MST) have successfully advocated for removing the global agribusiness Syngenta from a national park in Santa Teresa do Oeste, Paraná, in the south of Brazil.
The Via Campesina, a global movement of family farmers, agricultural workers, landless, fisherfolk and indigenous peoples, brought their message of food sovereignty to Pascal Lamy, Director General of the World Trade Organization. The very fact that Lamy agreed to meet with them demonstrates that their members have hugely affected the outcome of the WTO negotiations. Among social movements, including labor and environmental circles, there is a growing sentiment that the global food system should serve the needs of the producers, workers and communities most connected to it.
While the Via Campesina is making global leaders hear this message of food sovereignty, Grassroots International is bringing this message, in conjunction with the National Family Farm Coalition, to the U.S. where movement building for rights to land, water, food and seeds are sorely needed. Today, we are lifted by this new global political opportunity.