Saturday, April 23, 2011

HALF A MILLION KIDS WILL DIE OF STARVATION BEFORE THE G20 MEET TO EAT CAKE

The Growing Food Crisis, and What World Leaders Aren’t Doing About It 

 
If all goes as planned for the G-20 this year, leaders of the world’s most powerful economies will convene to issue bold proclamations, talk past each other, and quietly agree to do virtually nothing. The stakes might be a little higher now, though, as the political poker table will be stacked with millions of the world’s hungriest people. Guess who’ll come away empty handed?
World Bank President Robert Zoellick warned at a recent World Bank-IMF meeting that the planet was hurtling toward a food crisis, akin to the chaos that erupted in 2007-2008 across the Global South. The context this time is in some ways more daunting: a perfect storm of social and economic upheaval in North Africa and the Middle East, natural and nuclear disasters in Japan, debt crises in Europe and the U.S., and epidemic unemployment worldwide.
In the past year, Zoellick said, soaring food prices have plunged some 44 million people into poverty. Another ten million would become impoverished with just a 10 percent further rise in the UN’s food price index, which jumped by 25 percent last year. Poor regions hover on the brink of malnourishment due to depleted safety nets and broken emergency back-up resources.
Following the G20 meeting in Washington this month, Oxfam issued a statement criticizing the conference’s failure to come up with meaningful ways to stave off the coming crisis:
Leaders today said the food crisis is desperately urgent, and that the G20 will act on it at its next meeting in June. That’s 66 days away; nearly half a million children will have died of hunger by then.

The World Bank says we’re one shock away from a full-blown crisis but makes no mention of the three things rich countries have done to cause itburning food for biofuels, gambling in commodity casinos, and subsidizing farmers in rich countries.”
Indeed, even the World Bank’s food fund, a stopgap measure, has been hobbled by underfunding, Oxfam noted.
This is an old story in many ways, one that may evoke more fatigue than sympathy from observers in relatively privileged regions. Hunger in sub-Saharan Africa has become chronic, punctuated regularly by an outbreak of conflict or disease. Intense poverty in India seems intractable despite ever-accelerating economic growth. Even the notoriously insular North Korean regime has admitted its people are close to starvation. Hunger is almost a banal fixture on the global economic landscape.
But it is not a natural disaster. Agricultural policies feed directly into the hunger crisis—policies such as growing crops for fuel while neglecting crops that feed people.
The Times UK reports:
Among the many causes of high food prices are rules in countries, such as the United States, that require a certain percentage of petrol to come from corn-based ethanol.

Some 31 per cent of the corn produced in the US in 2008 was turned into ethanol, and government forecasts show that this will hit 40 per cent this year. Biofuels have been a cornerstone of American attempts to reduce its dependency on imports of oil from the Middle East and elsewhere.
The modern face of famine: A plan to cure a fuel crisis through industrial farming has potentially driven a humanitarian crisis of far greater proportions.
Princeton biofuels expert Tim Searchinger has argued that the government-subsidized expansion of biofuels, including corn-based ethanol in the U.S. and other plants like sugar cane elsewhere, cause displacement of food crops in the agricultural system. The exact impact of the food vs. fuel dilemma is unclear, but the fact that trends in energy markets are eating into the world’s need for basic sustenance says a lot about the disconnect between economic priorities and human rights.
Meanwhile, there’s a growing wariness that ethanol will do little to curb climate change and will prove to be environmentally unsustainable itself. As ethanol crops gobble up precious resources, both food prices and food supplies are taxed. Then there are the global stressors of climate change, population growth and urban migration, and a rising demand for meat. It adds up to a recipe for a collapse of the entire food system that would rival any financial bubble.
Speaking of which, speculation in commodities markets, which reduce critical stable crops to ticks on a stock exchange, are another factor that could drive poor, often aid-dependent countries into deeper hunger and instability.
Remarkably, the World Bank, a financial institution hardly known for putting a high premium on humanitarianism, seems to take a more humane position on the emerging food crisis than the G-20 leaders. Yet many of those leaders represent communities that are dealing with food insecurity and soaring prices within their own borders. Even U.S. farmers are suffering from the economic downturn despite a rise in crop prices, according to a new study by the Global Development and Environment Institute at Tufts University. In other words, even those who should be benefiting from the volatile marketplace are still cheated by its structural inequities.
At the same time, food-justice advocates inform us that the fundamental crisis, which no policymakers wish to confront, is not one of supply, but of access, distribution, and the need for equity-minded agricultural methods that can truly sustain both producers and communities.
Despite poverty, desperation, and even revolt exploding around them, officials and finance ministers are gambling on putting off decisive action, maybe hoping the market will somehow correct itself. But as Zoellick cautioned, “In revolutionary moments, status quo is not the winning hand.”
Michelle Chen
Michelle Chen's work has appeared in AirAmerica, Women's International Perspective, Extra!, Colorlines and Alternet. She is a regular contributor to In These Times' workers' rights blog, Working In These Times. She also blogs at Racewire.org.

Friday, April 22, 2011

McMARKETING "FOOD" TO KIDS = McOBESITY!

FTC Investigating Online Food Marketing to Kids

posted by: Kristina Chew 18 hours ago
FTC Investigating Online Food Marketing to Kids

Once upon a time food marketing meant TV commercials with cartoon leprechauns or rabbits. Now, kids get blitzed round the clock by advertising for Honey Nut Cheerios and the like in the form websites (McWorld by McDonalds), online games (like General Mills's Create A Comic)  and Facebook ads created by companies from Kelloggs to Pringles. 
In response, the Federal Trade Commission has undertaken a study about marketing to children that is due out this summer. The White House Task Force on Childhood Obesity has pinpointed the marketing of junk food to children as a reason for rising rates of obesity in children. While some might see this as so much hand-wringing, a brief tour of some of the websites created by Kelloggs and others suggests that those companies know who decides what foods to buy at the supermarket and it's not the mom touting the whole wheat English Muffins -- it's children.
Websites like McWorld  and HappyMeal.com receive monthly visitors in the hundreds of thousands, many of whom are under 12 years old. Kelloggs' Apple Jacks site, which has games and features an iPhone app, receives 549,000 visitors, while General Mills's Lucky Charms site had 227,000 visitors in February. Some companies have created websites for children that, while they do not overtly feature any food items, are definitely vehicles to advertise the company's products: Visit McWorld and you'll find that something -- hamburgers, french fries, and the like -- is notable by its absence, as the New York Times Bits blog points out.
As Kelly Brownell, director of the Rudd Center for Food and Policy notes that "these marketing efforts were more cost-effective than TV spots because they were cheaper to produce and disseminate and were promoted by the children themselves — through word of mouth or its online equivalent." 
However, children under the age of 12 often do not understand how advertising works (and parents are themselves not always clear about what is content and what is advertising).  The New York Times interviewed a number of students at Pathways to College, a charter school with 210 students in southern California, about junk food marketing; the students' responses suggest that they neither realize nor care that the real reason for sites like McWorld are to get them to get their parents to buy McDonalds:
In the older grades [i.e., middle school], the children interact with food marketers differently, often on Facebook or through quizzes advertised on product packaging or TV. Many sixth graders say they vote in online surveys for, say, a new flavor of Mountain Dew, or for which kind of Doritos or Cheetos they prefer -- sometimes enticed by the offer of a prize.
"I voted for Jalapeno Cheddar Cheetos and I didn't win anything, which was kind of a rip," said Justin Elliott, 11. He said he did not think of this as advertising: "They just want to see which we like so they can make more of it."
Justin also plays games on the Honey Nut Cheerios site, where, much as on other such sites, a small banner indicates that the visitor is being sold something. This one reads: "Hey kids, this is advertising."
[Fourth grader] Lesly, though she plays regularly, said she had never paid attention to the banner. When it was pointed out to her, she tried to read it: "Hey kids, this is ..." She paused, then said: "I don't know that word."
As Kathryn Montgomery, a communications professor at American University who studies marketing to youth, says "Food marketing is really now woven into the very fabric of young people’s daily experiences and their social relationship."
In other words, those campaigning to reduce rates of childhood obesity have their work cut out for them. I can see good-hearted nutritionists and children's health advocates making calls to create equally slick and fun sites like McWorld but I have a feeling (from my own experience as a parent) that kids will see through these as the educational sites they are. How can we teach children to learn that the games and other sites may seem like free entertainment, but at a huge cost to their health?        Source:
http://www.care2.com/causes/health-policy/blog/ftc-investigating-online-food-marketing-to-kids/

Thursday, April 21, 2011

BAN METHYL IODIDE (CANCER-MISCARRIAGES) ON STRAWBERRIES: TAKE ACTION!


Center for Environmental Health
Take Action!
Field of Nightmares: Keep Cancer-Causing Pesticide
Out of Strawberry Fields
It’s a rare opportunity.
Today you can urge the U.S. Environmental Protection
Agency to change course, protect people's health, and
prevent the pesticide industry from trumping science.
What’s this all about?
In 2007 EPA bended to the will of industry and authorized
the use of a highly dangerous pesticide called methyl
iodide. With your help, CEH and other organizations
that work to keep methyl iodide off our farms has just
convinced EPA to reconsider its approval of this bad
actor chemical.
When EPA first began considering methyl iodide, a group
of scientists (including five Nobel Prize winners) wrote the
agency to share their concern about the pesticide. "It is astonishing" wrote this high-powered
group of researchers, that EPA "is working to legalize broadcast releases of one of the more toxic chemicals used in manufacturing into the environment."
But that's exactly what EPA did, approving the use of this chemical on strawberries and other
crops. In doing so, EPA dismissed serious health concerns, including the fact that methyl iodide causes cancer and miscarriages at strikingly low exposures.
Now EPA's decision to reconsider its approval of methyl iodide gives you a valuable chance to
stop this experiment on our health. It won't be easy - the company that makes and sells methyl
iodide is the largest privately-owned pesticide company in the world.
But with your help, we can make sure EPA does the right thing.
Tell EPA: We don't need this methyl iodide poison!

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

BIG AG CAFO NITROGEN- UK STUDY - WORSE THAN CARBON EMISSIONS

Bruce Friedrich

Bruce Friedrich

Yet Another Reason To Go Meatless On Earth Day -- And Every Other Day

Just in time for Earth Day, April 22, European scientists released a groundbreaking report linking meat consumption to nitrogen pollution. Nitrogen pollution? What on earth is nitrogen pollution?

Nitrogen is commonly used to fertilize crops. Between 70 and 80 percent of agricultural greenhouse gas emissions, including nitrous oxide, comes from the production and use of nitrogen fertilizers, which cause nitrogen pollution.
So there's one more form of pollution -- big deal, right? Sadly, this one is a very big deal. The Telegraph of London explains, "the ground-breaking European Nitrogen Assessment by more than 200 scientists from 21 countries concludes that nitrogen pollution poses an even greater threat to humankind than carbon."
Honestly, I didn't think anything other than nuclear meltdown posed more of a threat to humankind than carbon. But sure enough: "[Nitrogen] leaks into the surrounding environment rather than feeding plants. This causes algae slimes to grow in water and on trees, suffocating wildlife and disturbing delicate ecosystems." As if all that weren't bad enough, nitrous oxide is about 300 times more potent than carbon dioxide when it comes to causing climate change.
While this study focused on Europe, the results are even more relevant in the U.S., where farmers rely heavily on nitrogen-based fertilizers. According to Grist senior food and agriculture writer Tom Philpott, the U.S. burns more nitrogen fertilizer per capita than any other country.
The solution is simple really. Because more than half of the world's crops are grown to feed farmed animals -- and because animal manure contains nitrogen -- cutting down on our consumption of chickens, pigs, and other farmed animals will significantly reduce nitrogen pollution. Dr. Mark Sutton, a British scientist, says people can control the problem simply by eating less meat. He and the other scientists involved in the nitrogen assessment study have pledged to be "demitarians," or to eat half as much meat as they do now.
"It is about cutting down the amount from an environmental perspective," Dr. Sutton says. When you factor in climate change and the other environmental problems that I wrote about in my blog about taxing meat, you'll see why it's wise to go meatless on Mondays, on Earth Day, and on every other day of the year.
And when you look at things from the perspective of animals or your own health, as well as from an environmental one, you'll see that it only makes sense to stop eating meat, eggs, and dairy products entirely.

BAN SUGARED-MILK IN SCHOOLS!!! TAKE ACTION- Jamie Oliver's Food Revolution!



Wow, what a response!

In the past week over 30,000 have signed on to Jamie’s call to stop serving sugary flavored milk in schools and bring back plain, white milk instead.

But to make a REAL difference, we need to find more supporters
– anyone you know who is concerned about their kids getting too much sugar.

Forward this email to your friends and ask them to join the thousands of parents who believe schools should replace flavored milk with wholesome white milk instead.

Thanks,
The Food Revolution team

P.S. Get the full post from @TheSlowCook on flavored milk http://betterdcschoolfood.blogspot.com/2011/04/jamie-oliver-home-run.html

***
Dear Food Revolutionaries,

Too much sugar is threatening the health of our kids and we’ve got to do something about it.1

Flavored milk, the chocolate and strawberry milk which is served for breakfast and lunch at school, is sweetened with sugar that kids don’t need and just adds extra calories to an otherwise healthy drink.

The facts deserve to be taken seriously. According to the National Dairy Council, flavored milk contains about 4 teaspoons of added sugar; plain white milk2 doesn’t have any added sugar. It also contains colors, flavors and artificial sweeteners that don’t add any nutritional value. Check out the label and you’ll be able to see for yourself.

Many parents don’t realize this, but chocolate milk has the same amount of sugar as a soft drink (that’s the added sugar plus the natural sugar contained in all milk). Just one additional soft drink per day increases a child’s obesity risk by 60% and is a major contributor to Type 2 diabetes3.

But there is something we can do. Join me in asking schools to promote plain, white milk instead. Help spread the message that wholesome, plain milk is best and that sugary, flavored milk should only be enjoyed as an occasional treat.

Support the Food Revolution campaign to bring back plain milk in schools:

www.jamiesfoodrevolution.com/SugaryMilk

Big Love,

Jamie and the Food Revolution team

P.S. Want to help bring the message of plain, wholesome milk directly to your school? Find a local group near you to get in on the sugary milk day of action! http://www.jamieoliver.com/us/foundation/jamies-food-revolution/activists


Sources

1.The Harvard School of Public Health has shown that there’s strong evidence that sugar-sweetened drinks contribute to the development of type 2 diabetes.

2. The National Dairy Council says that on average, an 8 ounce serving of chocolate milk contains about 4 teaspoons of added sugar. You can read their Flavoured Milk in Perspective report here.

3. There’s been a 10-fold increase in childhood diabetes in the last 20 years; and one additional soft drink per day increases a child's obesity risk by 60%, according to the Harvard Public Health Review.

Monday, April 18, 2011

STOP BILLS CRIMINALIZING VIDEO DOC'S OF BIG AG FARM PRACTICESMinnesota, Florida, Iowa Bill H.F. 589

Have you heard Big Agriculture’s latest move?
TAKE ACTION BELOW: They want to keep you in the dark. Remember those undercover photos and videos of animal abuse and environmental damage at factory farms? Under a proposed Iowa law, broadcasting (and even possessing) these images would be a crime.

Last month, Florida’s state legislature passed a bill that attacks farm photographers and limits their activities. Minnesota just introduced a similar bill that bans documentation at factory farms and puppy mills. Now, it’s Iowa’s turn. Iowa Bill H.F. 589 has already been passed by the Iowa House, and is now up for debate in the Senate. Let’s stop this trend before it can spread to other states.

Protect your rights to free speech and information. Voice your opposition to Sen. Rielly, floor manager for H.F. 589 - click to sign our petition now.

Guess who’s sponsoring this? That’s right, Monsanto has been lobbying heavily for this bill behind the scenes. They’re trying to draw an iron curtain around their operations and scare away potential whistle-blowers with legal threats.

Sunshine is the best disinfectant. Tell the Iowa Senate that they cannot hide unsavory farming practices from vigilant eyes.

We’re here to keep watch on our food, our communities and our environment.

Knowledge is power,

Ana & Crystal
The FRESH Team
© 2008 FRESH the movie - New thinking on what we’re eating.

GLOBAL FOOD SOVEREIGNTY: 15 STEPS


Agriculture: The Unlikely Earth Day Hero

This Earth Day, Worldwatch Institute's Nourishing the Planet team recommends 15 ways that agriculture can address environmental challenges while also alleviating hunger, reducing malnutrition, and lifting people out of poverty.

WASHINGTON - April 18 - Rising temperatures, erratic weather, population growth, and scarce water resources - along with growing civil unrest and skyrocketing food prices - are putting unprecedented stress on people and the planet. For over 40 years, Earth Day has served as a call to action, mobilizing individuals and organizations around the world to address these challenges. This year, Worldwatch Institute's Nourishing the Planet project (www.NourishingthePlanet.org) highlights agriculture - often blamed as a driver of environmental problems - as an emerging solution.
Agriculture is a source of food and income for the world's poor and a primary engine for economic growth. It also offers untapped potential for mitigating climate change and protecting biodiversity, and for lifting millions of people out of poverty.
Nourishing the Planet, a two-year evaluation of innovations in agriculture, offers 15 sustainable solutions that are working on the ground to alleviate global hunger while also protecting soil, water, and other vital natural resources. "Agriculture encompasses such a large chunk of the planet that creating healthy economies, mitigating climate change, and improving livelihoods will require a longstanding commitment to the world's farmers," says Danielle Nierenberg, Nourishing the Planet co-project director.
Past attempts to combat hunger have tended to focus narrowly on a few types of crops, rely heavily on chemical fertilizers, and ignore women farmers. "There's been relatively little focus on low-cost ways to boost soil fertility and make better use of scarce water, and on solutions that exist beyond the farm and all along the food chain," says Worldwatch President Christopher Flavin. From urban farming projects that are feeding our growing cities to rotational farming practices that store carbon in the soils and help mitigate climate change, small-scale and low-input innovations can go a long way in protecting the environment - not only on Earth Day, but every day.
This Earth Day, Nourishing the Planet offers 15 solutions to guide farmers, scientists, politicians, agribusinesses and aid agencies as they commit to promoting a healthier environment and a more food-secure future.
1. Guaranteeing the Right to Food. Guaranteeing the human right to adequate food - now and for future generations - requires that policymakers incorporate this right into food security laws and programs at the regional, national, and international level. Governments have a role in providing the public goods to support sustainable agriculture, including extension services, farmer-to-farmer transmission of knowledge, storage facilities, and infrastructure that links farmers to consumers.
2. Harnessing the Nutritional and Economic Potential of Vegetables. Micronutrient deficiencies, including lack of vitamin A, iodine, and iron, affect 1 billion people worldwide. Promoting indigenous vegetables that are rich in micronutrients could help reduce malnutrition. Locally adapted vegetable varieties are hardier and more dependable than staple crops, making them ideal for smallholder farmers. Research organizations like AVRDC/The World Vegetable Center are developing improved vegetable varieties, such as amaranth and African eggplant, and cultivating an appreciation for traditional foods among consumers.
3. Reducing Food Waste. Experts continue to emphasize increasing global food production, yet our money could be better spent on reducing food waste and post-harvest losses. Already, a number of low-input and regionally appropriate storage and preservation techniques are working to combat food waste around the world. In Pakistan, farmers cut their harvest losses by 70 percent by switching from jute bags and containers constructed with mud to more durable metal containers. And in West Africa, farmers have saved around 100,000 mangos by using solar dryers to dry the fruit after harvest.
4. Feeding Cities. The U.N. estimates that 70 percent of the world's people will live in cities by 2050, putting stress on available food. Urban agriculture projects are helping to improve food security, raise incomes, empower women, and improve urban environments. In sub-Saharan Africa, the Educational Concerns for Hunger Organization (ECHO) has helped city farmers build food gardens, using old tires to create crop beds. And community supported agriculture (CSA) programs in Cape Town, South Africa, are helping to raise incomes and provide produce for school meals.
5. Getting More Crop per Drop. Many small farmers lack access to a reliable source of water, and water supplies are drying up as extraction exceeds sustainable levels. Only 4 percent of sub-Saharan Africa's cultivated land is equipped for irrigation, and a majority of households depend on rainfall to water their crops, which climate scientists predict will decline in coming decades. Efficient water management in agriculture can boost crop productivity for these farmers. By practicing conservation tillage, weeding regularly, and constructing vegetative barriers and earthen dams, farmers can harness rainfall more effectively.
6. Using Farmers' Knowledge in Research and Development. Agricultural research and development processes typically exclude smallholder farmers and their wealth of knowledge, leading to less-efficient agricultural technologies that go unused. Research efforts that involve smallholder farmers alongside agricultural scientists can help meet specific local needs, strengthen farmers' leadership abilities, and improve how research and education systems operate. In southern Ethiopia's Amaro district, a community-led body carried out an evaluation of key problems and promising solutions using democratic decision-making to determine what type of research should be funded.
7. Improving Soil Fertility. Africa's declining soil fertility may lead to an imminent famine; already, it is causing harvest productivity to decline 15-25 percent, and farmers expect harvests to drop by half in the next five years. Green manure/cover crops, including living trees, bushes, and vines, help restore soil quality and are an inexpensive and feasible solution to this problem. In the drought-prone Sahel region, the Dogon people of Mali are using an innovative, three-tiered system and are now harvesting three times the yield achieved in other parts of the Sahel.
8. Safeguarding Local Food Biodiversity. Over the past few decades, traditional African agriculture based on local diversity has given way to monoculture crops destined for export. Less-healthy imports are replacing traditional, nutritionally rich foods, devastating local economies and diets. Awareness-raising initiatives and efforts to improve the quality of production and marketing are adding value to and encouraging diversification and consumption of local products. In Ethiopia's Wukro and Wenchi villages, honey producers are training with Italian and Ethiopian beekeepers to process and sell their honey more efficiently, promote appreciation for local food, and compete with imported products.
9. Coping with Climate Change and Building Resilience. Global climate change, including higher temperatures and increased periods of drought, will negatively impact agriculture by reducing soil fertility and decreasing crop yields. Although agriculture is a major contributor to climate change, accounting for about one-third of global emissions, agricultural practices, such as agroforestry and the re-generation of natural resources, can help mitigate climate change. In Niger, farmers have planted nearly 5 million hectares of trees that conserve water, prevent soil erosion, and sequester carbon, making their farms more productive and drought-resistant without damaging the environment.
10. Harnessing the Knowledge and Skills of Women Farmers. According to the U.N. Food and Agriculture Organization, women represent 43 percent of the agricultural labor force, but due to limited access to inputs, land, and services, they produce less per unit of land than their male counterparts. Improving women's access to agricultural extension services, credit programs, and information technology can help empower women, while reducing global hunger and poverty. In Uganda, extension programs are introducing women farmers to coolbot technology, which uses solar energy and an inverter to reduce temperatures and prolong the shelf life of vegetables.
11. Investing in Africa's Land: Crisis and Opportunity. As pressure to increase food production rises, wealthy countries in the Middle East and Asia are acquiring cheap land in Africa to increase their food productivity. This has led to the exploitation of small-scale African farmers, compromising their food security. Agricultural investment models that create collaborations between African farmers and the foreign investing countries can be part of the solution. In Ethiopia's Rift Valley, farmers grow green beans for the Dutch market during the European winter months, but cultivate corn and other crops for local consumption during the remaining months.
12. Charting a New Path to Eliminating Hunger. Nearly 1 billion people around the world are hungry, 239 million of whom live in sub-Saharan Africa. To alleviate hunger, we must shift our attention beyond the handful of crops that have absorbed most of agriculture's attention and focus on ways to improve farmers' access to inputs and make better use of the food already produced. Innovations - such as the human-powered pump that can increase access to irrigation and low-cost plastic bags that help preserve grains - offer models that can be scaled-up and replicated beyond Africa.
13. Moving Ecoagriculture into the Mainstream. Agricultural practices that emphasize increased production have contributed to the degradation of land, soil, and local ecosystems, and ultimately hurt the livelihoods of the farmers who depend on these natural resources. Agroecological methods, including organic farming practices, can help farmers protect natural resources and provide a sustainable alternative to costly industrial inputs. These include rotational grazing for livestock in Zimbabwe's savanna region and tea plantations in Kenya, where farmers use intercropping to improve soil quality and boost yields.
14. Improving Food Production from Livestock. In the coming decades, small livestock farmers in the developing world will face unprecedented challenges: demand for animal-source foods, such as milk and meat, is increasing, while animal diseases in tropical countries will continue to rise, hindering trade and putting people at risk. Innovations in livestock feed, disease control, and climate change adaptation - as well as improved yields and efficiency - are improving farmers' incomes and making animal-source food production more sustainable. In India, farmers are improving the quality of their feed by using grass, sorghum, stover, and brans to produce more milk from fewer animals.
15. Going Beyond Production. Although scarcity and famine dominate the discussion of food security in sub-Saharan Africa, many countries are unequipped to deal with the crop surpluses that lead to low commodity prices and food waste. Helping farmers better organize their means of production - from ordering inputs to selling their crops to a customer - can help them become more resilient to fluctuations in global food prices and better serve local communities that need food. In Uganda, the organization TechnoServe has helped to improve market conditions for banana farmers by forming business groups through which they can buy inputs, receive technical advice, and sell their crops collectively.
Researchers with Nourishing the Planet traveled to 25 countries across sub-Saharan Africa, where they met with over 250 farmers' groups, scientists, NGOs, and government agencies. Their stories of hope and success serve as models for large-scale efforts beyond Africa. The project's recently-released State of the World 2011: Innovations that Nourish the Planet report draws from over 60 of the world's leading agricultural experts and provides a roadmap for the funding and donor communities. "One of our main goals is to ensure that the increasing amount of agricultural funding goes to projects that are effective and long-lasting, and help build up local agricultural resources," says Brian Halweil, Nourishing the Planet co-project director.
###
The Worldwatch Institute is an independent research organization recognized by opinion leaders around the world for its accessible, fact-based analysis of critical global issues. Its mission is to generate and promote insights and ideas that empower decision makers to build an ecologically sustainable society that meets human needs.
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
April 18, 2011
10:43 AM
CONTACT: Worldwatch Institute
Janeen Madan, jmadan@worldwatch.org, (+1) 202-452-1999 x514

BAN THE GLOBAL LAND GRAB!!! 50M hectares GOOD AG land – enough to feed 50 million families – Transferred FROM FARMERS to corporations

Time for Food Sovereignty

It's Time to Outlaw Land Grabbing, Not to Make It "Responsible"!

by Food Sovereignty Organizations

On 18-20 April 2011, a gathering of some 200 farmland investors, government officials and international civil servants will meet at the World Bank headquarters in Washington DC to discuss how to operationalise "responsible" large-scale land acquisitions. Over in Rome, the Committee on World Food Security, housed at the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organisation, is about to start a process of consultation on principles to regulate such deals. Social movements and civil society organisations (CSOs), on the other hand, are mobilising to stop land grabs, and undo the ones already coming into play, as a matter of utmost urgency.Why do the World Bank, UN agencies and a number of highly concerned governments insist on trying to promote these land grab deals as "responsible agricultural investments"?

Today's farmland grabs are moving fast. Contracts are getting signed, bulldozers are hitting the ground, land is being aggressively fenced off and local people are getting kicked off their territories with devastating consequences. While precise details are hard to come by, it is clear that at least 50 million hectares of good agricultural land – enough to feed 50 million families in India – have been transferred from farmers to corporations in the last few years alone, and each day more investors join the rush. 1 Some of these deals are presented as a novel way to meet food security needs of countries dependent on external markets to feed themselves, such as Qatar, Saudi Arabia, South Korea or China. Others are bluntly exposed for what they really are: business deals and hot new profit opportunities. Despite the involvement of states, most of these transactions are between host governments and private corporations. Firms involved estimate that US$25 billion have already been committed globally, and boast that this figure will triple in a very near future. 2
What is RAI?
Nervous about the potential political backlash from the current phase of land grabbing, a number of concerned governments and agencies, from Japan to the G-8, have stepped forward to suggest criteria that could make these deals acceptable. The most prominent among these is the World Bank-led Principles for Responsible Agricultural Investment that Respect Rights, Livelihoods and Resources (RAI). The RAI were jointly formulated by the World Bank, the International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD), the UN Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD) and the UN Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO). 3 They consist of seven principles that investors may wish to voluntarily subscribe to when conducting large-scale farmland acquisitions (see box). It is noteworthy that the RAI principles were never submitted for approval to the governing bodies of these four institutions.
RAI (or seven principles for "win-win" landgrabbing):
1. Land and resource rights: Existing rights to land and natural resources are recognised and respected.
2. Food security: Investments do not jeopardise food security, but rather strengthen it.
3. Transparency, good governance and enabling environment: Processes for accessing land and making associated investments are transparent, monitored, and ensure accountability.
4. Consultation and participation: Those materially affected are consulted and agreements from consultations are recorded and enforced.
5. Economic viability and responsible agro-enterprise investing: Projects are viable in every sense, respect the rule of law, reflect industry best practice, and result in durable shared value.
6. Social sustainability: Investments generate desirable social and distributional impacts and do not increase vulnerability.
7. Environmental sustainability: Environmental impacts are quantified and measures taken to encourage sustainable resource use, while minimising and mitigating the negative impact.
The main RAI pushers (since 2009):
EU, FAO, G8, G20, IFAD Japan, Switzerland, UNCTAD, US, World Bank
In April 2010, some 130 organisations and networks from across the world, including some of the most representative alliances of farmers, pastoralists and fisherfolk, denounced the RAI initiative. Their statement debunked RAI as a move to try to legitimise land grabbing and asserted that facilitating the long-term corporate (foreign and domestic) takeover of rural people's farmlands is completely unacceptable no matter which guidelines are followed. 4
This statement was endorsed by many more groups and social movements from around the world following its release. Shortly after, the UN's Special Rapporteur on the Right to Food  publicly criticised RAI for being "woefully inadequate" and said, "It is regrettable that, instead of rising to the challenge of developing agriculture in a way that is more socially and environmentally sustainable, we act as if accelerating the destruction of the global peasantry could be accomplished responsibly." 5
In September 2010, the World Bank released its much anticipated report about large-scale land acquisitions. After two years of research, the Bank could not find any convincing examples of "wins" for poor communities or countries, only a long list of losses. In fact, companies and governments involved in the land deals refused to share information about their transactions with the Bank, so it relied instead on a website (farmlandgrab.org) managed by the CSO GRAIN for its data. Even though the report noted the lack of consultation behind the RAI initiative, the Bank still advocated RAI as the solution.
Despite the RAI framework's serious credibility problem, the CFS debated a motion on whether or not to endorse it in October 2010. Some governments, such as the US and Japan were in favour. Others, including South Africa, Egypt on behalf of the Near East group and China, expressed strong opposition due to lack of an appropriate consultative process. A coalition of movements and organisations released a detailed critique of the RAI framework and principles prior to the CFS meeting. 6 This catalysed rural social movements, particularly those affiliated with the International Planning Committee for Food Sovereignty (IPC), and other civil society groups to call on the CFS to reject RAI. In the end, the CFS did not endorse RAI, agreeing only to pursue an inclusive process to consider it.
By the end of 2010, it looked as though the high-level push for socially acceptable or "win-win" land grabbing was floundering. Social movements and other CSOs, meanwhile, continued to build popular opposition to RAI. At the World Social Forum in Dakar in February 2011, farmers' movements, and human rights, social justice and environmental organisations gathered to share experiences and consolidate their struggles against land grabbing without the distraction of this code of conduct nonsense, and launched a public appeal to reject RAI and resist land grabbing that continues to gather support. 7
The RAI proponents, however, refuse to give up.
The CFS Bureau is currently discussing a proposal for a process of consultation on RAI. 8 An initial draft circulated for comment drew sharp criticism from social movements and CSOs. The IPC stated that it will oppose a process whose main focus is to try to alleviate the negative impacts of large-scale land acquisitions and endorse RAI. Instead, it argued, the CFS should first analyse if RAI is the adequate response to the problems on the ground and re-focus the discussion on the question of what kind of agricultural investment is needed to overcome hunger and support small-scale farmers, particularly women. The IPC further recommended that the CFS stop using the term RAI because it is heavily associated with land grabbing, not investment. But the four agencies behind RAI seem keen to push on.
The World Bank has just released the programme for this year's annual conference on land and poverty at its Washington DC headquarters. 9 RAI is at the very heart of the discussions. The Bank's main goal now is to start "operationalising" RAI by building on experiences of other "corporate social responsibility" (CSR) schemes such as the Roundtables on Responsible Soy, Sustainable Palm Oil and Sustainable Biofuels, as well as the Extractive Industry Transparency Initiative. 10
In the meantime, countries are scrambling to contain growing opposition to the global land rush. With all the talk of "win-win" outcomes ringing hollow against the reality of impacts of these deals on local communities, smallholder agricultural producers and workers, some governments, such as Argentina, Brazil and New Zealand, are responding with promises of legislation to cap or discipline foreigners' abilities to acquire domestic farmland. Others, such as Cambodia, Ethiopia and Ghana, are using legal and brute force to suppress local contestation. In the run-up to the 2012 elections in Mali, the opposition Party for National Renewal has challenged President Touré to disclose all details of land leases amounting to several hundred thousands of irrigated hectares granted in the Office du Niger. In Sudan, the most "land grabbed" country in Africa, villagers are now rising up against the government in Khartoum for having seized their lands.
What is wrong with RAI
The push for RAI is not about facilitating investment in agriculture. It is about creating an illusion that by following a set of standards, large-scale land acquisitions can proceed without disastrous consequences to peoples, communities, ecosystems and the climate. This is false and misleading. RAI is an attempt to cover up power imbalances so that the land grabbers and state authorities who make the deals can get what they want. Farmers, pastoralists and fisherfolk, after all, are not asking for their lands to be sold off or leased away!
Land grabbing forecloses vast stretches of lands and ecosystems for current and future use by peasants, indigenous peoples, fisherfolk and nomads, thus seriously jeopardising their rights to food and livelihood security. It captures whatever water resources exist on, below and around these lands, resulting in the de facto privatisation of water. The violation of international human rights law is an intrinsic part of land grabbing through forced evictions, the silencing (and worse) of critics, the introduction of non-sustainable models of land use and agriculture that destroy natural environments and deplete natural resources, the blatant denial of information, and the prevention of meaningful local participation in political decisions that affect people's lives. No set of voluntary principles will remedy these facts and realities. Nor can they be misconstrued and presented as public policy or state regulation.
Land grabs, which target 20% profit rates for investors, are all about financial speculation. This is why land grabbing is completely incompatible with ensuring food security: food production can only bring profits of 3-5%. Land grabbing simply enhances the commodification of agriculture whose sole purpose is the over-remuneration of speculative capital.
There are some who believe that promoting transparency in land acquisition deals can somehow lead to "win-win" outcomes. However, even if done "transparently," the transfer of large tracts of land, forests, coastal areas and water sources to investors is still going to deprive smallholder farmers, pastoralists, fisherfolk and other local communities from crucial, life sustaining resources for generations to come. In many countries, there is an urgent need to strengthen systems that protect land tenure of peasants and small-scale food producers, and many social movements have been fighting for recognition of their rights to land for many years. The RAI principles will make any progress on agrarian reform or land rights meaningless.
As for the big private players themselves, RAI can only amount to another feather in their "CSR" cap, a public relations act that they can point to when convenient. In the real world, they will continue to rely on bilateral trade and investment agreements, legal loopholes, compliant states, political risk insurance schemes and support from international institutions that promote RAI, to protect their interests and save them from any financial pain or responsibility.
The problem is obvious. These agribusiness projects – from the 100,000 hectare Malibya deal in the Office du Niger, Mali, to the 320,000 hectare Beidahuang Group deal in Rio Negro, Argentina – do great harm and are profoundly illegitimate. Trying to compensate for this absence of legitimacy by getting investors to adhere to a few principles is deceitful.
Invest in food sovereignty!
RAI is out of step with the times. The whole approach to so-called agricultural development that it embodies – a greenhouse gas pumping, fossil fuel guzzling, biodiversity depleting, water privatising, soil eroding, community impoverishing, genetically modified seed-dependent production system – belongs in the 20th century rubbish heap of destructive, unsustainable development. Just as our Arab sisters and brothers have been breaking the shackles of old regimes to recover their dignity and space for self-determination, we need to break the shackles of the corporate agriculture and food system.
Rather than be codified and sanctioned, land grabbing must be immediately stopped and banned. This means that parliaments and national governments should urgently suspend all large-scale land transactions, 11 rescind the deals already signed, return the misappropriated lands to communities and outlaw land grabbing. Governments must also stop oppressing and criminalising peoples for defending their lands and release detained activists.
We reiterate the demands made repeatedly by social movements, CSOs and numerous academics to urgently implement actions agreed at the 2006 International Conference on Agrarian Reform and Rural Development – the most authoritative and consensual multilateral framework for land and natural resources – as well as the conclusions of the 2008 International Assessment of Agricultural Knowledge, Science and Technology for Development. We equally call on the CFS to adopt the FAO Guidelines on the Governance of Land and Natural Resources which are strongly rooted in human rights law so that they can be effectively used to protect and fulfill the rights to land and natural resources of all rural and urban constituencies at national and international levels.
It is obvious to us that a broad consensus has grown over the past several years around the real solutions to hunger, the food crisis and climate chaos, namely that:
- peasant agriculture, family farming, artisanal fishing and indigenous food procurement systems that are based on ecological methods and short marketing circuits are the ways forward toward sustainable, healthy and livelihood-enhancing food systems;
- production, distribution and consumption systems must radically change to fit the carrying capacity of the earth;
- new agricultural policies that respond to the needs, proposals and direct control of small-scale food producers have to replace the current top-down, corporate-led, neoliberal regimes; and
- genuine agrarian and aquatic reform programmes have to be carried through to return land and ecosystems to local communities. 12
This is the path to food sovereignty and justice, quite the opposite of "responsible" land grabbing. And we will continue to push and fight for it with many allies the world over.
17 April 2011
▪ Centro de Estudios para el Cambio en el Campo Mexicano (Study Centre for Change in the Mexican Countryside)
▪ FIAN International
▪ Focus on the Global South
▪ Friends of the Earth International
▪ Global Campaign on Agrarian Reform
▪ GRAIN
▪ La Via Campesina
▪ Land Research Action Network
▪ Rede Social de Justiça e Direitos Humanos (Social Network for Justice and Human Rights)
▪ World Forum of Fisher Peoples

1     In 2010, the World Bank reported that 47 million hectares were leased or sold off worldwide in 2009 alone while the Global Land Project calculated that 63 million hectares changed hands in just 27 countries of Africa. See "New World Bank report sees growing global demand for farmland", World Bank, Washington DC, 7 September 2010, http://farmlandgrab.org/post/view/15309, and Cecilie Friis & Anette Reenberg, "Land grab in Africa: Emerging land system drivers in a teleconnected world", GLP Report No. 1, The Global Land Project, Denmark, August 2010, http://farmlandgrab.org/post/view/14816, respectively.
2     See High Quest Partners, "Private financial sector investment in farmland and agricultural infrastructure", OECD, Paris, August 2010, http://farmlandgrab.org/post/view/16060.
3     The four agencies have also created an internet-based knowledge platform to exchange information about RAI. See http://www.responsibleagroinvestment.org/
4     "Stop land grabbing now! Say NO to the principles on responsible agro-enterprise investment promoted by the World Bank", available online at http://www.landaction.org/spip/spip.php?article553
5     "Responsibly destroying the world’s peasantry" by Olivier de Schutter, Brussels, 4 June 2010, http://www.project-syndicate.org/commentary/deschutter1/English
6     "Why we oppose the principles for responsible agricultural investment", available at http://www.landaction.org/spip/spip.php?article570
7     See "Dakar appeal against the land grab", which is open for endorsement by organisations until 1 June 2011: http://www.petitiononline.com/dakar/petition.html.
8     See http://cso4cfs.files.wordpress.com/2010/11/proposal-for-consultation-process-on-rai-principles.pdf
9     See http://go.worldbank.org/YJM5ENXKI0.
10   For background see John Lamb, "Sustainable Commercial Agriculture, Land and Environmental (SCALE) management initiative: Achieving a global consensus on good policy and practices", World Bank, July 2009, http://farmlandgrab.org/post/view/7649.
11   By this we mean, taking possession of and/or controlling a scale of land for commercial and/or industrial agricultural production which is disproportionate in size in comparison to the average land holding in the region.
12   This consensus is reflected in the work of the UN Special Rapporteur on the Right to Food, Olivier de Schutter. His March 2011 report on agroecology and the right to food captures a large body of today's public opinion on how to move forward. See http://www.srfood.org/index.php/en/component/content/article/1-latest-news/1174-report-agroecology-and-the-right-to-food.

Sunday, April 17, 2011

Asking for Your VOTE for Scholarship This Summer-2011!!

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CLASS ACTION: 60 FARMERS SUE MONSANTO - CHALLENGING GMO SEED PATENTS, more...

FARM TO CONSUMER LEGAL DEFENSE FUND
in Suit over Monsanto GMO Seed
  
Falls Church, Virginia (April 13, 2011) - On behalf of 60 family farmers, seed businesses and organic agricultural organizations, the Public Patent Foundation (PUBPAT) filed suit on March 29 against Monsanto Company to challenge the chemical giant's patents on genetically modified seed. The organic plaintiffs were forced to sue preemptively to protect themselves from being accused of patent infringement should they ever become contaminated by Monsanto's genetically modified seed, something Monsanto has done to others in the past. The action seeks a ruling that would prohibit Monsanto from suing organic farmers and seed growers if contaminated by Roundup Ready seed.
The case, Organic Seed Growers & Trade Association, et al. v. Monsanto, was filed in federal district court in Manhattan and assigned to Judge Naomi Buchwald. Plaintiffs in the suit represent a broad array of family farmers, small businesses and organizations from within the organic agriculture community who are increasingly threatened by genetically modified seed contamination despite using their best efforts to avoid it. The plaintiff organizations have over 270,000 members, including thousands of certified organic family farmers. The Farm-to-Consumer Legal Defense Fund (FTCLDF) is a plaintiff in the suit.
"This case asks whether Monsanto has the right to sue organic farmers for patent infringement if Monsanto's transgenic seed should land on their property," said Dan Ravicher, PUBPAT's Executive Director and Lecturer of Law at Benjamin N. Cardozo School of Law in New York. "It seems quite perverse that an organic farmer contaminated by transgenic seed could be accused of patent infringement, but Monsanto has made such accusations before and is notorious for having sued hundreds of farmers for patent infringement, so we had to act to protect the interests of our clients." 
Once released into the environment, genetically modified seed contaminates and destroys organic seed for the same crop. For example, soon after Monsanto introduced genetically modified seed for canola, organic canola became virtually extinct as a result of contamination. Organic corn, soybeans, cotton, sugar beets and alfalfa now face the same fate, as Monsanto has released genetically modified seed for each of those crops, too. Monsanto is developing genetically modified seed for many other crops, thus putting the future of all food, and indeed all agriculture, at stake.    
In the case, PUBPAT is asking Judge Buchwald to declare that if organic farmers are ever contaminated by Monsanto's genetically modified seed, they need not fear also being accused of patent infringement. One reason justifying this result is that Monsanto's patents on genetically modified seed are invalid because they don't meet the "usefulness" requirement of patent law, according to PUBPAT's Ravicher, plaintiffs' lead attorney in the case. Evidence cited by PUBPAT in its opening filing today proves that genetically modified seed has negative economic and health effects, while the promised benefits of genetically modified seed - increased production and decreased herbicide use - are false.    
"Some say transgenic seed can coexist with organic seed, but history tells us that's not possible, and it's actually in Monsanto's financial interest to eliminate organic seed so that they can have a total monopoly over our food supply," said Ravicher. "Monsanto is the same chemical company that previously brought us Agent Orange, DDT, PCB's and other toxins, which they said were safe, but we know are not. Now Monsanto says transgenic seed is safe, but evidence clearly shows it is not." 
"Transgenic seed should not be on the market. They are a threat to the future of farming and consumer freedom of choice," asserted Pete Kennedy, Esq., President of FTCLDF. "Monsanto should not be suing farms whose land the company's products contaminate; Monsanto should be paying them damages." 
PLAINTIFFS
The plaintiffs in the suit represented by PUBPAT are:
Abundant Acres Adaptive Seeds, LLC
Alba Ranch Baker Creek Heirloom Seed Co., LLC
Bryce Stephens California Cloverleaf Farms
Canadian Organic Growers Chispas Farms LLC
Chuck Noble Comstock, Ferre & Co., LLC
Countryside Organics Cuatro Puertas
Demeter Association, Inc Donald Wright Patterson, Jr.
Family Farm Defenders Inc. Family Farmer Seed Cooperative
Farm-to-Consumer Legal
Defense Fund
FEDCO Seeds Inc.
Food Democracy Now! Frey Vineyards, Ltd.
Genesis Farm Global Organic Alliance
Gratitude Gardens Interlake Forage Seeds Ltd.
Jardin del Alma Kirschenmann Family Farms Inc.
Koskan Farms LaRhea Pepper
Levke and Peter Eggers Farm Maine Organic Farmers and Gardeners Association
Mendocino Organic Network Midheaven Farms
Mumm's Sprouting Seeds Nature's Way Farm Ltd.
Navdanya International North Outback Farm
Northeast Organic Dairy
Producers Alliance
Northeast Organic Farming Association of Vermont
Northeast Organic Farming Association of Vermont Northeast Organic Farming Association/Massachusetts
Chapter, Inc.
Northern Plains Sustainable Agriculture Society OCIA Research and Education Inc.
Ohio Ecological Food &
Farm Association
Organic Crop Improvement Association International, Inc.
Organic Seed Growers and
Trade Association
Paul Romero
Philadelphia Community Farm, Inc Quinella Ranch
Richard Everett Farm, LLC Ron Gargasz Organic Farms
Rural Vermont Seedkeepers, LLC
Siskiyou Seeds Southeast Iowa Organic Association
Southern Exposure Seed Exchange Sow True Seed
Sustainable Living Systems T & D Willey Farms
Taylor Farms, Inc. The Cornucopia Institute
Wild Plum Farm  
STATEMENTS BY PLAINTIFFS
Many of the plaintiffs made statements upon filing of the suit.
Jim Gerritsen, a family farmer in Maine who raises organic seed and is President of lead plaintiff Organic Seed Growers and Trade Association (OSGATA) based in Montrose, Colorado, said, "Today is Independence Day for America. Today we are seeking protection from the Court and putting Monsanto on notice. Monsanto's threats and abuse of family farmers stops here. Monsanto's genetic contamination of organic seed and  organic crops ends now. Americans have the right to choice in the marketplace - to decide what kind of food they will feed their families - and we are taking this action on their behalf to protect that right to  choose. Organic farmers have the right to raise our organic crops for our families and our customers on our farms without the threat of invasion by Monsanto's genetic contamination and without harassment by a reckless polluter. Beginning today, America asserts her right to justice and pure food."    
Dr. Carol Goland, Ph.D., Executive Director of plaintiff Ohio Ecological Food & Farm Association (OEFFA) said, "Consumers indicate, overwhelmingly, that they prefer foods made without genetically modified  organisms. Organic farms, by regulation, may not use GMOs, while other farmers forego using them for other reasons. Yet the truth is that we are rapidly approaching the tipping point when we will be unable to  avoid GMOs in our fields and on our plates. That is the inevitable consequence of releasing genetically engineered materials into the environment. To add injury to injury, Monsanto has a history of suing  farmers whose fields have been contaminated by Monsanto's GMOs. On behalf of farmers who must live under this cloud of uncertainty and risk, we are compelled to ask the Court to put an end to this unconscionable business practice."
   
Rose Marie Burroughs of plaintiff California Cloverleaf Farms said, "The devastation caused by GMO contamination is an ecological catastrophe to our world equal to the fall out of nuclear radiation. Nature, farming and health are all being affected by GMO contamination. We must protect our world by protecting our most precious, sacred resource of seed sovereignty. People must have the right to the resources of the earth for our sustenance. We must have the freedom to farm that causes no harm to the environment or to other people. We must protect the environment, farmers' livelihood, public health and people's right to non GMO food contamination."
    
Ed Maltby, Executive Director of plaintiff Northeast Organic Dairy Producers Alliance (NODPA)said, "It's outrageous that we find ourselves in a situation where the financial burden of GE contamination will fall  on family farmers who have not asked for or contributed to the growth of GE crops. Family farmers will face contamination of their crops by GE seed which will threaten their ability to sell crops as organically  certified or into the rapidly growing 'Buy Local' market where consumers have overwhelmingly declared they do not want any GE crops, and then family farmers may be faced by a lawsuit by Monsanto for patent infringement. We take this action to protect family farms who once again have to bear the consequences of irresponsible actions by Monsanto."
    
David L. Rogers, Policy Advisor for plaintiff NOFA Vermont (Northeast Organic Farming Association of Vermont) said, "Vermont's farmers have worked hard to meet consumers' growing demand for certified organic and non-GE food. It is of great concern to them  that Monsanto's continuing and irresponsible marketing of GE crops that contaminate non-GE plantings will increasingly place their local and regional markets at risk and threaten their livelihoods." 
  
Dewane Morgan of plaintiff Midheaven Farms in Park Rapids, Minnesota, said, "For organic certification, farmers are required to have a buffer zone around their perimeter fields. Crops harvested from this buffer  zone are not eligible for certification due to potential drift from herbicide and fungicide drift. Buffer zones are useless against pollen drift. Organic, biodynamic, and conventional farmers who grow identity-preserved soybeans, wheat and open-pollinated corn often save seed for replanting the next year. It is illogical that these farmers are liable for cross-pollination contamination."   
Jill Davies, Director of plaintiff Sustainable Living Systems (SLS)in Victor, Montana, said, "The building blocks of life are sacred and should be in the public domain. If scientists want to study and manipulate them for  some supposed common good, fine. Then we must remove the profit motive. The private profit motive corrupts pure science and increasingly precludes democratic participation."    
David Murphy, founder and Executive Director of plaintiff Food Democracy Now! said, "None of Monsanto's original promises regarding genetically modified seeds have come true after 15 years of wide adoption by commodity farmers. Rather than increased yields or less chemical usage, farmers are facing more crop diseases, an onslaught of herbicide-resistant superweeds, and increased costs from additional  herbicide application. Even more appalling is the fact that Monsanto's patented genes can blow onto another farmer's fields and that farmer not only loses significant revenue in the market but is frequently exposed to legal action against them by Monsanto's team of belligerent lawyers. Crop biotechnology has been a miserable failure economically and biologically and now threatens to undermine the basic freedoms that farmers and consumers have enjoyed in our constitutional democracy."
Mark Kastel, Senior Farm Policy Analyst for plaintiff The Cornucopia Institute said, "Family-scale farmers desperately need the judiciary branch of our government to balance the power Monsanto is able to wield  in the marketplace and in the courts. Monsanto, and the biotechnology industry, have made great investments in our executive and legislative branches through campaign contributions and powerful lobbyists in Washington. We need to court system to offset this power and protect individual farmers from corporate tyranny. Farmers have saved seeds since the beginning of agriculture by our species. It is outrageous that one corporate entity, through the trespass of what they refer to as their 'technology,' can intimidate and run roughshod over family farmers in this country. It should be the responsibility of Monsanto, and farmers licensing their technology, to ensure that genetically engineered DNA does not trespass onto neighboring farmland. It is outrageous, that through no fault of their own, farmers are being  intimidated into not saving seed for fear that they will be doggedly pursued through the court system and potentially bankrupted." 
CONTACT
Daniel B. Ravicher, Executive Director  
PUBLIC PATENT FOUNDATION  
Benjamin N. Cardozo School of Law 
Phone:  (212) 545-5337       
Email:   press@pubpat.org