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food

Corporate investors lead rush for control of poor countries' farmland

By GRAIN, October 2009

With all the talk about "food security," and distorted media statements like "South Korea leases half of Madagascar's land,"[1] it may not be evident to a lot of people that the lead actors in today's global land grab for overseas food production are not countries or governments but corporations. So much attention has been focused on the involvement of states, like Saudi Arabia, China or South Korea. But the reality is that while governments are facilitating the deals, private companies are the ones getting control of the land. And their interests are simply not the same as those of governments.

Declaration of the Africa People's Movement on Climate Change

Confronting the climate crisis: Preparing for Copenhagen and beyond

Nairobi, Kenya, August 30, 2009 -- We, the leaders of various people's movements, community-based groups, academia, NGOs and civil cociety organisations, met in Nairobi under the banner of the People's Movement on Climate Change (PMCC) to discuss strategies to confront the climate change crisis for Copenhagen and beyond from August 27 to 28 , 2009.

Do hereby affirm that:

How the West exploits Africa

Ghana's elected President Kwame Nkrumah was overthrown in a US-backed coup in 1966.

By Tony Iltis

July 18, 2009 -- US President Barack Obama used his African heritage in his July 11 speech to the Ghanaian parliament in Accra as justification for proceeding to blame Africa’s problems on its own people. 

He acknowledged historical Western crimes, but denied that ongoing suffering is caused by the current policies of the West. Western aggression and exploitation, Obama claims, are things of the past. A July 15 Los Angeles Times editorial said: “It was the same message about good governance they’d heard from presidents [Bill] Clinton and George W. Bush. No new programs or initiatives for Africa. But just because the message is old doesn't mean it's not worth repeating.”

Obama played up his own ancestry to appeal to his audience. He referred to the indignities his grandfather suffered under British colonial rule in Kenya, including being briefly imprisoned during the independence struggle of the 1950s and ’60s.

G8 and Africa: Some give, plenty of take

By Yash Tandon

July 16, 2009 -- Pambazuka -- The summit of the world’s richest and most powerful Northern countries that constitute the G8 took place in L'Aquila, Italy from July 8-10, 2009. In attendance also were the heads of state and government of a host of other minor or lesser countries, some of whom were admitted to the inner sanctum of the G8 summit, and some simply hovered around in the corridors at the call of the G8 waiting to be ``invited'' for ``breakfast meetings'' or press conferences or ``bilaterals''. At one of these ``breakfast meetings'' the G8 broadened their participants to take in the African countries of Algeria, Angola, Egypt, Ethiopia, Libya, Nigeria, Senegal and South Africa, as well as the IEA, World Bank, IMF, ILO, OECD, WTO and United Nations and the African Union Commission’s representatives. At this meeting the G8 graciously agreed to increase aid to Africa for food security and agricultural development from an earlier figure of US$15 billion to US$20 billion.

World farmers’ alliance Vía Campesina challenges food profiteers (excerpt from new pamphlet)

The following review is an excerpt from a new pamphlet, La Vía Campesina: Farmers North and South Confront Agribusiness, by John Riddell and Adriana Paz, published by Socialist Voice in Canada. To download the pamphlet, please click HERE.

More on Via Campasina.

* * *

Review by John Riddell

La Vía Campesina: Globalization and the Power of Peasants by Annette Aurélie Desmarais. Fernwood Publishing, 2007.

May 31, 2009 -- The neoliberal assault that has driven labour into retreat over the last two decades has also sparked the emergence of a peasants’ international, La Vía Campesina. Based in 56 countries across five continents, this alliance has mounted a sustained and spirited defence of peasant cultivation, community and control of food production.

Annette Desmarais’s book on La Vía Campesina has given us a probing and perceptive account of the world peasant movement’s origins, outlook and activities. (”La Vía Campesina” means “Peasant Path” or “Peasant Way”. See “Peasants or Farmers?” at the end of this article.)

Mexico's Revolutionary Workers Party (PRT) statement on swine flu epidemic

Statement by the Revolutionary Workers Party (PRT)

April 30, 2009 -- The health emergency brought about by the swine flu epidemic has important political and social repercussions, in addition to consequences for public health, that need to be explained in the midst of the confusion and distrust that contradictory governmental versions generate. It is also necessary to open the way to scientific information, truth and political criticism.

Australian agriculture -- a carbon-neutral future?

By Renfrey Clarke

May 8, 2009 -- With its belching cows and giant diesel-powered tractors, the farm sector is widely understood as an important contributor to Australia’s impact on climate change. Just how important, however, is not often recognised.

In its latest National Greenhouse Gas Inventory, for the year 2006, the Australian Greenhouse Office calculates the share of national greenhouse gas emissions coming from agriculture and stock-raising at 15.6 per cent, expressed as carbon dioxide equivalent. Though substantial, this figure is much less than the 49.9 per cent attributed to “stationary energy”, which consists mainly of power station emissions.

But scientists are increasingly recognising the figure of 15.6 per cent for the farm sector as misleading –- and only partly because the official greenhouse data count the tractors and other farm machinery under the headings of stationary energy.

Mike Davis: Capitalism and the flu

Agri-biz at root of swine flu? Real News Network report, April 30, 2009.

* * *

April 27, 2009 -- Socialist Worker (USA) -- Mike Davis, whose 2006 book The Monster at Our Door warned of the threat of a global bird flu pandemic, explains how globalised agribusiness set the stage for a frightening outbreak of the swine flu in Mexico.

Food sovereignty: Accelerating into disaster -- when banks manage the food crisis

January 26, 2009 -- Against the dramatic background of a profound global food and general economic crisis the Spanish government organised the “High Level Ministerial Meeting on Food Security for All” on the January 26-27, 2009, in Madrid.

The emergency of today is rooted in decades of neoliberal policies that dismantled the international institutional architecture for food and agriculture and undermined the capacity of national governments to protect their food producers and consumers. The central cause of the current food crisis is the relentless promotion of the interests of large industrial corporations and the international trade that they control, to the detriment of food production at the local and national levels and the needs and interests of local food producers and communities. At the World Food Summit in 1996, when there were an estimated 830 million hungry people, governments pledged to halve the number by 2015. Today, in the midst of a terrible food crisis, the figure of hungry people has risen to well beyond 1 billion.

World economic crisis: No room for band-aid solutions in the Third World

By Reihana Mohideen

December 29, 2008 -- According to recent Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) figures, another 40 million people have been pushed into poverty and hunger so far this year as a result of spiralling food prices, and the total number of people suffering hunger and malnutrition has reached 963 million worldwide.

While the prices of major cereals have fallen by more than 50per cent of their peak in 2008, they still remain high compared to previous years.[1] Nearly two-thirds of the world's hungry live in Asia (583 million in 2007). In sub-Saharan Africa, one in three people -- or 236 million (2007) -- are chronically hungry. Most of the increase in the number of hungry occurred in a single country, the Democratic Republic of Congo, as a result of widespread and persistent conflict. The FAO predicts that the impact of the economic crisis, on the heels of the food price crisis and oil price increases, could further exacerbate malnutrition and hunger levels.

The coming economic & environment meltdowns ... and the possibilities for fighting back

July 15, 2008 --The planet is facing a meltdown -- from the global financial system to the unprecedented environmental crisis. Almost everyone from stockbrokers to scientists to economists agree the situation is dire.

Yet Wall Street banks are given hundred-million-dollar bailouts, while millions face home foreclosures. In the Third world it's worse -- crops are used to provide fuel for thirsty rich-world SUVs, while 100 million more people face starvation due to the growing food crisis. The disregard for the hardship of the majority has seen food riots and strikes hit over 30 countries.

Stuffed and Starved: `Snapping' the power of agribusiness

Review by Leo Zeilig

Stuffed and Starved, by Raj Patel, Black Inc., 2007

At the end of the 19th century huge areas of the globe where violently incorporated into the world market. Whole regions that had for generations been farmed for local consumption were transformed for the production of cash crops. In captured and occupied lands new food crops were introduced that had little or no local nutritional use: ground nuts (peanuts) in what is now Senegal and Nigeria, cocoa in Cote d’Ivoire, cotton and rubber production across thousands of square kilometres of Central Africa.

Argentina: It's only a small step from sectarianism to support for Kirchner

By Sergio Garcia, translated and introduced by Federico Fuentes for Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal

After more than 100 days of intense conflict between supporters and opponents of the Cristina Fernandez de Kirchner government in Argentina, centred on the conflict over the divisive move to increase taxes on exports of foodstuff such as soya and sunflower oil, Fernandez has been forced to put the resolution to debate in congress.

Via Campesina farmers to heads of state: Time to change food policies!

Via Campesina

Rome, June 3, 2008 -- Now that the FAO expects that hunger will affect an extra 100 million people by the end of the year, heads of states and leaders from around the world are gathering in Rome for the FAO "High-Level Conference on World Food Security: the Challenges of Climate Change and Bioenergy".

The international peasant’s movement Via Campesina welcomes this sudden high level interest in food and agriculture production, but reminds governments and international institutions that the current climate and food crisis are not the result of any sudden natural disaster. They are the fruit of decades of policies of trade ``liberalisation'' and of the vertical integration of production, processing and distribution by corporate agriculture.

Therefore, governments today have to take full responsibility for the current crisis and take resolute actions to solve it.

Malaysia: PSM -- a decade of struggle

Port Dickson, Malaysia, June 1, 2008 -- The Socialist Party of Malaysia (PSM -- Parti Sosialis Malaysia) successfully concluded its 10th congress at a time when the ruling Barisan Nasional Party faces its biggest threat to its survival in Malaysian politics and while capitalism faces its biggest challenge -- the world food crisis. It is an exciting time and it is time for change.

The PSM's successful three-day (May 30-June 1) national congress was attended by around 150 people, including delegates from seven states, three front organisations and invited guests who have been strong supporters of PSM for the past years.

The congress was held at the National Union of Banking Employees (NUBE) centre, Port Dickson. The road leading to NUBE was decorated in red. Banners greeted the delegates. [The PSM is] the vibrant and only remaining socialist party in Malaysia... [This congress marked] 10 years of uncompromising politics -- to uphold class politics against communal politics, to advance the working-class agenda against the ruling capitalist class. Ten years of survival without legal political registration.

Cuba's vice-president: `We can confront the food crisis'

Address by José Ramón Machado Ventura, vice-president of Cuba’s Councils of State and Ministers, to the high-level conference on World Food Security: The Challenges of Climate Change and Bioenergy.

(English translation by Climate and Capitalism, from Juventud Rebelde, June 4, 2008)

Two years ago, in this very hall, the international community agreed to eradicate world hunger. It adopted a goal of halving the number of malnourished people by 2015. Today that modest and inadequate goal seems like a pipe-dream.

The world food crisis is not a circumstantial phenomenon. Its recent appearance in such serious form, in a world that produces enough food for all its inhabitants, clearly reveals that the crisis is systemic and structural.

La pulseada por la renta

Por Claudio Katz[1]

19.05.08 -- El prolongado conflicto entre el ruralismo y el gobierno ha derivado en una agobiante pugna política. El primer bloque busca acaparar la renta agraria a costa de la mayoría popular y el oficialismo necesita exhibir autoridad, para implantar un Pacto Social que favorezca al conjunto de los capitalistas.

Argentina: The clash over rent

Following the March 11 decision by the Cristina Fernandez de Kirchner government to introduce a sliding tax increase – varying from 35% to 45% – on soya exports, Argentina has been rocked by a wave of protests by agricultural producers. For 21 days, the “countryside” – including the four organisations that unite large, middle and small agricultural producers – organised a rural lockout, blocking the circulation of agricultural produce to the cities. On April 1, one-hundred thousand government supporters

Fidel on Obama: The empire's hypocritical politics

By Fidel Castro Ruz

May 25, 2008 -- It would be dishonest of me to remain silent after hearing the speech Barack Obama delivered on the afternoon of May 23, 2008, at the Cuban American National Foundation, created by Ronald Reagan. I listened to his speech, as I did [John] McCain's and Bush's. I feel no resentment towards Obama, for he is not responsible for the crimes perpetrated against Cuba and humanity. Were I to defend him, I would do his adversaries an enormous favour. I have therefore no reservations about criticising him and about expressing my points of view on his words frankly.

Timor Leste - Fretilin's comeback; literacy and governance

May 13, 2008 (Latin Radical) -- Estanislau Da Silva was a prime minister of Timor Leste (East Timor) when Fretilin was the party in government. Before that, he was the minister for agriculture. He was in Australia this week to attend the launching of a book by a Timorese man, Naldo Rei, who grew up in Indonesian-occupied Timor Leste, as a committed supporter of the Fretilin-led resistance movement.

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