2009-06-19 |

Africa: Agricultural Knowledge

"The key message of the report [by the International Assessment of Agricultural Knowledge, Science and Technology for Development (IAASTD)] is that small-scale farmers and agro-ecological methods provide the way forward to avert the current food crisis and meet the needs of local communities. More equitable trade arrangements and increased investments in science and technologies and in sharing knowledge that support agroecologically based approaches in both small farm and larger scale sectors are urgently required." - Civil Society Statement, April 2008

2009-06-19 |

Africa: Subsidies That Work

In the 2008/2009 agricultural season, Malawi is spending $186 million to subsidize fertilizer and seeds for poor farmers, tripling the previous year's figure of $62 million. Malawi's success in this program, against donor advice, has made the country a grain exporter and helped contain food costs. The emerging consensus is that such subsidies are essential for African agriculture. In November the UN's Food and Agricultural Organization rewarded Malawi President Bingu wa Mutharika, who also serves as his country's Minister of Agriculture, with the Agricola Prize.

Ironically, donor opposition to agricultural subsidies in Africa was coupled with refusal by rich countries to reduce their own expensive subsidies to commercial farmers in their own countries.

2009-06-19 |

Agriculture does not need ‘business as usual’

I’m sorely disappointed in George McGovern and Marshall Matz’s disturbing commentary piece, “Agriculture’s next big challenge” (Jan. 4), which makes a failed argument to continue with business as usual for industrial agriculture. Our current fossil-fuel based system has led to severe degradation of the land, while encouraging giant livestock feedlots and factory farms that severely degrade air and water quality.

Industrial agriculture has also given us diets loaded with high-fructose corn syrup and cheap fast food. No wonder obesity, particularly among low-income Americans, is now an epidemic.

2009-06-19 |

European Parliament resolution on the Common Agricultural Policy and Global Food Security

On January 13th 2009 The European Parliament adopted by 482 votes to 24, with 59 abstentions, a resolution on the Common Agricultural Policy and Global Food Security. The resolution affirms that global food security is a question of the utmost urgency for the European Union and calls for immediate and continual action to ensure food security for EU citizens. It stresses that food should be available at reasonable prices for consumers while, at the same time, a fair standard of living for farmers should be ensured.

2009-06-19 |

There's No Place for Brazil's Ethanol and Biofuels in a Real Green World

An assorted alliance of organizations published an open letter this Thursday, January 15, in the U.S. and internationally, warning of the dangers of industrially produced biofuels (called agrofuels by critics).

The letter explains why large-scale industrial production of transport fuels and other energy from plants such as corn, sugar cane, oilseeds, trees, grasses, or so-called agricultural and woodland waste threatens forests, biodiversity, food sovereignty, community-based land rights and will worsen climate change.

2009-06-03 |

What price more food?

WHAT do a student in New York, a farmer near Mexico City, a family in London and a nurse in Bangkok have in common? Increasing trouble paying their grocery bill. Since 2000, the average price of food around the world has nearly doubled. In the UK, food prices are rising at three times the rate of inflation. In the US, the price of eggs has risen by 40 per cent in the past year alone, while rice in Thailand and tortillas in Mexico have shot up in price, in some places trebling. This year the soaring cost of food has triggered street demonstrations in 30 countries, some of which tipped over into riots.

2009-05-28 |

Family Farmers Demand Real Change

As President-elect Barack Obama confronts the current economic crisis, in the shadows lurks an issue that demands equal attention, despite it's low profile during the campaign: agriculture. As an African-American farmer from Mississippi, I am hopeful that our next president will also recognize we cannot afford business as usual when it comes to the subject of our broken food system.

2009-05-28 |

Rodale Calls for "Organic Green Revolution"

A combination of high energy and food prices as well as a slumping world economy has resulted in an additional 77 million people suffering from malnutrition in 2008, according to the Food and Agriculture Organization.

With that in mind, the Rodale Institute has issued a fresh call for more research into organic food production as a possible solution.

In a report issued last month, entitled “The Organic Green Revolution,” the Kutztown, Pa.-based organization pointed to its own research as well as research done by other organizations in calling for an increased use of organic and “natural” ag practices as a way to increase crop yields and protect the environment while doing it on the same land being used today.

2009-05-28 |

Hope for the New Year - PAN 2008 Highlights

Pesticide Action Network North America produces the weekly PAN Updates Service (PANUPS) to keep hearty activists and thoughtful citizens informed on the latest developments related to health, pesticides and alternatives. We’re pleased that thousands of people rely upon the service – and were heartened by recent feedback. One subscriber wrote, “As we draw near to the end of 2008, I’d like to focus on hope.” We agree.

Below is a quick digest of some of the more hopeful PANUPS stories of the last year.

2009-05-28 |

Why the IAASTD failed

With great promise the international community began a multiyear project designed to evaluate the role of agricultural science and technology with the goal to help reduce hunger, malnutrition and poverty. This International Assessment of Agricultural Science and Technology for Development (IAASTD) brought together people from many different walks of life. The first meeting was held in 2004 with 185 different groups represented. They included 45 governments, 86 NGO/civil societies, 29 co-sponsoring agencies (World Bank, UNESCO, UN-FAO, WHO etc) and representatives from international biotechnology companies.

The mission statement of the IAASTD promised to evaluate the relevance, quality and effectiveness of agricultural knowledge, science and technology (AKST) in reducing hunger, improving sustainability, improving nutrition, health and livelihood of the world rural populations.

The interim report of their findings was recently published [1]. In the four years since the inception of this project, the science of agriculture seems to have taken a backseat to ideology.

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