The Coming Cashless Control Grid

A bundle of related issues from the alternative media lately …

1. The EU is Pushing “Restrictions On Payments In Cash”

In the most far-reaching move toward a cashless society to date, the European Commission proposed enforcing “restrictions on payments in cash” under an all-too-familiar premise — terrorism.

Perhaps the most astonishing and erroneous assumption in the plan is that terrorists and criminals will suddenly abide by the law — as if malicious groups would surmise, ‘Well, damn, large cash transactions aren’t possible, so I guess we’ll have to find another line of work.’

As pointed out by Sovereign Man’s, Simon Black, restricting large-sum cash dealings might have the opposite effect on crime:

If you examine countries with very low denominations of cash, the opposite holds true: crime rates, and in particular organised crime rates, are extremely high.

Consider Venezuela, Nigeria, Brazil, South Africa, etc. Organized crime is prevalent. Yet each of these has a currency whose maximum denomination is less than $30.

Black also presents several examples of countries who have taken the leap away from paper currency only to be hit with soaring crime rates.

In short, banning or severely limiting paper currency is ineffective at what governments claim such programmes are intended to do, as Black continues,

“Bottom line, the political and financial establishments want you to willingly get on board with the idea of abolishing, or at least reducing, cash […]

“Simply put, the data doesn’t support their assertion. It’s just another hoax that will give them more power at the expense of your privacy and freedom.

The freedom to spend, as one desires, on what one chooses comprises such a basic right, governments have had to propagate a massive campaign to conflate physical money with the criminal element.

Reference: Sovereign Man


2. India’s so-called “war on black money”

The same lie is being used to forcibly integrate the rural masses into biometric techno-financial regimes. But it has created tremendous hardships on for ordinary rural people, for whom access to such systems is limited and for whom such systems serve little purpose.

The rise of farmer suicides, the vast majority being related to indebtedness/bankruptcy, highlights the deep distress experienced across India’s agricultural society. It reflects a lack of intimate knowledge about rural economies, and smacks of a financialist agenda.

Demonetisation: whose agenda is it really?

Follow James Corbett down the path to India’s recent demonetisation and as he looks ahead to the coming cashless biometric control grid. (43min.)

Reference: The Norbert Haring article (01.17): A Well-kept Open Secret


3. Australia Biometric Scanning at Airports

As The Sydney Morning Herald reports:

The Department of Immigration and Border Protection has sought technology that would abolish incoming passenger cards, remove the need for most passengers to show their passports and replace manned desks with electronic stations and automatic triage.

Officials are looking to use existing databases coupled with iris scans, facial recognition and fingerprint scans as the final phase of a five-year project called “Seamless Traveller” that is slated for completion by 2020. It’s all a part of the move toward a full-fledged Smart World where YOU become a digitally scanned device in a matrix of online and real-world activity.

Reference: Technocracy News


4. China’s “Sesame Credit” A Blueprint For The West

This online ‘game’ rates Chinese citizens on how closely they adhere to the party line. It pulls data from the internet: social media, online purchases and search histories.
At present it is voluntary but rumours are the government plans to make it compulsory by 2020 …

Seems there are different interpretations of this story but it is something to be aware of in the wider context.
Reference: http://www.bbc.com/news/world-asia-china-34592186


To the smuggies who excuse themselves with …”Well I’ve done nothing wrong, so I’ve got nothing to hide.” … we say … ‘Shame on you for helping to let this come about!


ENDS

Organic farming covers 4.1 million acres

A new report has found that U.S. land allocated to organic farming has reached 4.1 million acres in 2016, a new record – an 11% increase compared to 2014. Organic farming is now big business. As of June 2016, the number of certified organic farms in the U.S. reached 14,979, a 6.2 percent increase of 1,000 farms compared to 2014 survey data.

While in 2015 the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) reported a more than 5% from 2014 and 250% from 2002, when officials began tracking certified organic producers. Worldwide, they noted more than 27,800 organic producers.

Organic alfalfa/hay was the leading organic crop grown with more than 800,000 acres in 2016. This was followed by organic wheat, corn, and soybeans. Organic oats reached a record level of 109,000 acres in 2016. Organic wheat showed the greatest increase with nearly 150,000 more acres since 2014 and a 44 percent increase since 2011. Plantings of organic corn have increased by 58,000 acres since 2014.

In their recent report Scott Shander, an economist at Mercaris, attributes the increase in organic acres to farm economics and consumer demand for organic foods.

“… production in the U.S. is not growing as fast so more of the production will be international.” he says.

New Zealand farmers would do well to take note of the increase in organic acres overseas, which has been attributed to farm economics and consumer demand for organic foods.

New framework for British Agricultural Policy

The UK Land Workers’ Alliance (LWA) is an official member of the international peasant farming movement La Via Campesina which represents 200 million small-scale producers around the world. They campaign for the rights of small-scale producers and lobby the UK government and European parliament for policies that support the infrastructure and markets central to farm-based livelihoods.

logo - UK Land Worker's AllianceThe task of creating a post-Brexit ‘British Agricultural Policy’ that support producers, protects the environment and prioritizes access to healthy, nutritious food for all is a complex but essential one. It represents a great opportunity if the government is ready to listen to the needs and desires of all stakeholders and put in place a truly long-term plan for resilience, equality and justice in food and farming.

Policy recommendations:

  1. Focus on National Food Security
  2. Direct public money to high quality food and good farming
  3. End the discrimination against small farms
  4. Create and maintain agricultural employment
  5. Improve environmental and welfare standards
  6. Invest in farmer-led research for resilient solutions
  7. Build markets that work for farmers
  8. Democratise agricultural policy making

These can be viewed in more detail here

Over the next 6 months the LWA will carry out an in-depth consultation among our members to draw up comprehensive policy proposals that addresses the needs of food producers in the UK. We will also work with other organizations to draw up a framework for a ‘Peoples’ Food Policy’ that can address the systemic inequalities and misguided policies currently afflicting the food and farming sectors.

Adam Payne, a spokesperson for the LWA said: ‘The UK’s small-scale, ecological and family farms are an amazing resource that nourish a huge amount of our rural culture, and offer us a pathway towards a more resilient and just food system. However, in the past, the UK’s farming strategies have undermined domestic production of healthy, affordable food and left many small farms unfairly disadvantaged in the market place. We are looking forward to dialogue with the government to ensure that post-brexit agricultural policy is more equitable, more resilient and more just.’

Source: A more detailed document outlining the LWA’s 8 point plan can be found here:

To hold Monsanto Corporation accountable for their crimes against humanity

(14-16th October, 2016) Navdanya and the Organic Consumer’s Association are co-organising the Monsanto Tribunal along with  a People’s Assembly for the future of food, the future of the planet – along with multiple civil society organizations – from at The Hague.

The Monsanto Tribunal aims to hold Monsanto and similar corporations accountable for their crimes against humanity, human rights violations and ecocide, no matter what name and form they morph into. Over 800 organizations from around the world are supporting and participating in this process while over 100 people’s assemblies and tribunals are being held across the world.

Over the last century big agribusiness companies have poisoned millions of people; destroyed the biodiversity over vast areas; pushed small farmers off their land and attempted to take over every aspect of our food system. The potential impacts of such outcomes increase as these corporations become fewer and bigger. An example is the recent bid by Bayer to buy Monsanto. 1

Corporations are becoming a threat to the planet

Using free trade (WTO) neoliberal policies and the deregulation of commerce to enlarge their empires, these corporations are downgrading life on earth and its biodiversity. They have broadened their control over our seed, our food and freedom, robbing us of our human rights and democracy. They have established monopolies and threatened farmers rights to seed and people’s rights to affordable medicine through patents and IPRs.

Also Read: Six Questions to Monsanto

The People’s Assembly will be a gathering of movements, seed savers, seed defenders, farmers and growers and civilians to address the crimes against nature and against humanity perpetrated by chemical and biotechnology corporations.

The Tribunal will look at how WTO and Free trade policies have introduced patents on seed and promoted the GMO invasion, and also look at the new free trade agreements like TTIP and TPP. Through the experience of ecocide and genocide over the last century, the Tribunal will also chart the road to our future based on Seed Freedom and Food Freedom, agroecology and farmers rights, our commons and economies of sharing, rights of nature and earth democracy.

The draft agenda for the People’s Assembly includes the following issues:

A Century of Ecocide and Genocide

  • Owning Life and Poisoning Life
  • Attack on Farmers and Farming
  • Attack on science and scientists
  • Attack on Food Freedom and Democracy

Corporate Control and New Threats

  • New corporate concentration – the Monsanto-Bayer Merger
  • New Free Trade Agreements – TPP and TTIP
  • New GMO Technologies, synthetic biology and gene editing

People’s vision for the future of food and the future of planet

  • Seed Saving and community Seed Banks
  • Reclaiming the seed as commons
  • Agroecology feeds the world
  • Organic Agriculture and Poison Free food
  • From Degeneration to Regeneration
  • Rights of Mother Earth
  • Sowing the Seeds of Earth Democracy

Sources & References

  1. Update (3 Oct ’16) – http://seedfreedom.info/the-monsanto-tribunal-and-the-peoples-assembly/
  2. http://www.cnbc.com/2016/09/05/bayer-in-advanced-talks-with-monsanto-on-deal-after-raising-offer.html (accessed 10/09/16)
  3. http://seedfreedom.info/campaign/peoplesassembly-at-mt-the-hague/  (accessed 10/09/16)
  4. https://www.organicconsumers.org/press/international-monsanto-tribunal-names-panel-distinguished-international-judges (accessed 10/09/16)

Monsanto spells failure – peasants want it gone

Many of the studies Monsanto uses to justify its claims did not look at hybridised and indigenous seed (non-GM).

In Argentina

Monsanto has now announced that it will dismantle its multi-million dollar GMO seed plant in Malvinas.
A spokesman for the company conceded that protests, local pressure, and resistance by environmentalists, anti-GMO activists and local residents was indeed part of the reason the company decided to dismantle the plant. In addition, a number of lawsuits have been filed against Monsanto over the legality of the construction permit as well as environmental impacts.

It’s been almost three years that Monsanto has not been able to put a brick or a wire at the construction site… The company is leaving the field but does not yet recognize its defeat in this battle. We remain on alert and continue blocking, waiting to see what will happen. We want the site to now be devoted to organic and sustainable agriculture.” – Sofia Gatica, one of the main activists and leaders of the protest blockade.

In India

The Indian government is now actively promoting the use of indigenous seed, and has called Monsanto out for profiteering illegally on Bt cotton seed.

Monsanto has already lost nearly $75 million in royalties this year (5 billion rupees) due to the change in seed choice by farmers. Sales in India have fallen by 15 percent, and though this is a relatively small market share, it is still making a huge impact on the company’s bottom line.

This could be the end of Monsanto altogether, in India. Just wait for the crucial three to four years to see a complete, natural turnaround. By then most farmers will give up Bt cotton and go for the indigenous variety.” – Keshav Raj Kranthi, head of India’s Central Institute for Cotton Research

In Africa

Drought-hit Burkina Fasso (West Africa) also recently rejected Monsanto’s Bt cotton seed after finding the seed produced a poor quality cotton that fetched low prices for the farmers who bothered to grow it.

In Russia

In 2015 Russian Deputy Prime Minister Arkady Dvorkovich, at the 12th International ‘Science and Technology in Society (STS) forum’ in Kyoto, stated that it is not necessary to use genetic modification to feed the world. The Russian Government has stood firm against increasing pressure from U.S. biotech companies, managing to see through the U.S-based pro-GMO forces’ misleading claims and pseudoscience.

In February (2016) they banned all imports of U.S. soybeans and corn due to microbial and GMO contamination. Russian authorities are now stepping up efforts to limit the import of GMO animal feed, the country’s food safety regulator Rosselkhoznadzor announced in August. The move comes following a complete ban on the cultivation of GM crops and the breeding of GMO animals that was signed in to law by President Vladimir Putin in June.

In July Russia introduced temporary bans on imports from a number of Brazilian, Chinese, Argentinian and German trading companies, due to the large percentage of GMOs in their animal feed products.


References

  1. Monsanto Backs Out of Seed Plant in Argentina After Protests: Activist Post
  2. Argentina Has A “City Of Death” Thanks To Monsanto: Natural Blaze
  3. India Calls Out Monsanto: Underground Reporter
  4. Russia Sets Limits to Animal-feed Imports: Sustainable Pulse

Russian Dacha Gardening – 30+ times more efficient than industrial food production

Dacha gardening or self-provisioning gardening was the foundational reason that the Russian people did not experience a famine in the early 1990s after the USSR collapsed, and the state sponsored, heavily subsidised, industrial commercial agriculture collapsed along with it.

This was not reported outside of Russia, as it wasn’t considered newsworthy. What is truly newsworthy today is that we as a nation aren’t in as favorable of a position if there were a similar catastrophic occurrence in our food distribution, power grid or dollar value. We are all too dependent on outside sources for our food, with consumers tied to the grocery store and its 3 day supply of food being constantly trucked in.

Dacha GardeningRussian household agriculture – dacha gardening – is likely the most extensive system of successful food production of any industrialised nation. This shows that highly decentralized, small-scale food production is not only possible, but practical on a national scale and in a geographically large and diverse country with a challenging climate for growing. Most of NZ has far more than the 110 days average growing season that Russia has.

Today’s dacha gardening closely resembles the peasant gardening production of the late 19th and early 20th centuries. This shows a continuation of methods and techniques that have proven effective in a small scale garden that works as well today as 200 years ago. The Russians do not use machines – tillers or tractors – or animals on their garden plots, cultivating them in much the same way as the peasants did in the 18th Century.

Dacha gardening is not and never has been simply a survival strategy – a response to poverty, famine, adverse weather or social unrest. Recent studies have shown that Russian food gardening is a highly diverse, sustainable and culturally rich method of food production. This was initially recognized almost a century ago and has been confirmed more recently.

If examined through a strictly economic lens, dacha gardening makes no sense at all. There is much more labor as a dollar value invested than is harvested, but that isn’t the point of this type of system at all. The function of dacha gardens goes well beyond their economic significance, because they serve as an important means of active leisure as well as a way to reconnect with the land. Traditional economic calculations fail to realize the true value and benefits of a dacha garden. Clearly, a wider viewpoint is needed to realize all of the benefits! Time spent in the garden is seen as relaxation, education, entertainment and exercise – all in one. Food production is a very valuable bonus.

Despite their significant contribution to the national food economy, the majority of dachas mostly function outside of the cash economy, as most dacha gardeners prefer to first share their surplus with relatives and friends after saving enough to feed them through the winter, and only then look at selling what remains. A few will sell the remainder at local markets, and move into a small market production model for extra cash.

The Russian mindset relating to the sharing of surplus food is important to examine, as it is one of the keys that ensure the success of the dacha gardening model. In dacha gardening, people will share their excess food out of a sense of abundance or plenty. It is a very positive and powerful motivator which creates an upward, positive spiral of sharing among the community.

In addressing the question of “How are we going to feed ourselves?”, we have a lot to consider in looking at the effective, proven and ongoing examples that Russian dacha gardening has to offer us. A closer study of the methods and especially the mindsets will help all of us become more resilient and self-sustaining in our food systems right here at home.

Russian Dacha Gardening Research – Dr. Leonid Sharashkin

 

African Peasants Protect Indigenous Seed Rights

Elizabeth Mpofu of Zimbabwe

Elizabeth Mpofu of Zimbabwe is General Coordinator of the international peasant movement, La Via Campesina.

We need to go back to indigenous knowledge-based farming systems, what is now called agroecology, because we know that these systems work peacefully with nature and don’t damage the environment.

Elizabeth Mpofu of Zimbabwe, General Coordinator of La Via Campesina, speaks out about the need for seed sovereignty in Africa.

Via Campesina members organise seed exchanges and fairs which allow farmers to learn how others are producing and mobilise them to join to peasant movement. We also prioritise building relationships and working hands-on with policy-makers. We lobby governments to incorporate and protect our indigenous, local seeds as they develop policies, while asking that GMO seeds are not promoted. Of course, this is a big challenge because the commercial industrial seed companies have a lot of money to give our governments.

The biggest challenges to peasant farmers in Africa are threats to our agriculture and native, local seeds. Transnational corporations and the green revolution for Africa have introduced contract farming whereby a farmer commits to producing a product in a certain manner and the company commits to purchasing it – and GMO seeds without being transparent about the implications. Usually farmers provide both the land, the cheap labour, and carry most of the risk

Peasant farmers without the resources to produce enough food are pressured to accept these contracts and new means of production. They are forced to pay corporations back for what they’ve received [GMO seeds or loans]. If a season doesn’t go well, they are left to suffer, selling their livestock or being jailed for not being able to pay.

Harmonised seed laws, which require that seeds be ‘officially registered’ in order to be traded pose another challenge across Africa, as this introduces the slippery slope of intellectual property rights over seeds. Regional bodies like the Southern African Development Community (SADC) and the Common Market for Eastern and Southern Africa (COMESA) are developing rules that will increase the availability of commercial seeds, only benefiting corporations like Syngenta and Monsanto. Indigenous seeds are not recognised. Meanwhile, peasant farmers are not provided with adequate information about these laws and are not invited to participate in the policy formulation process. Because of this, we are forced to take action and put our concerns on the table.

In Zimbabwe, a member-state of the regional bodies COMESA and SADC, we are most focused on the harmonised seed laws. We’ve organized dialogues with relevant ministers and members of parliament about the policies and how we can work together to develop our country’s agricultural sector. The Via Campesina member group Zimbabwe Organic Smallholder Farmers Forum has been leading the process, together with women farmers. We’ve had success in rural areas, where we had a minister-facilitated workshop on seeds and cooperative African agriculture development.

Peasant farmers push for a Universal Declaration of Rights

Many people and organizations beyond Via Campesina now support the Declaration of the Rights of Peasants and are campaigning for it to be accepted by the United Nations Human Rights Council (UNHRC) and the Food and Agricultural Organisation (FAO). Support for the peasant rights declaration has been growing in the UNHCR, since drafting the declaration began in 2012. This comprehensive declaration includes issues from agricultural policies that recognise peasants: privatisation of water, seeds, and energy, and respect for gender in agriculture.

“We are organised and we know what we want. If the money syndrome continues to rule the world, the struggle won’t come to an end. We are fighting this fight together and we must strengthen our resilience together.” ~ Elizabeth Mpofu

Going Organic in India

Going organic in India – Sikkim state

A mountainous region in eastern India, Sikkim recently became the first state in that country to go fully organic.

The Chief Minister of Sikkim announced this vision for the state’s 290 square miles of agricultural land in 2003, in response to the serious environmental and health problems resulting from chemically intensive farming methods. A combination of political will, use of local farmer’s traditional knowledge and the willingness to share technical know-how made this vision a reality.

Photo - Sikkim farmers in pineapple fieldThis news is especially encouraging coming from India, which has very high rates of pesticide use — and where media stories abound about farmer suicides and pesticide related cancer clusters. This is also a wonderful model to point to as we struggle to make our own agricultural system in California safer for some of the most vulnerable members of society — our children.

The triple bottom line

The transition of Sikkim to a 100% organic state means three things: the state’s environment is better protected, the health of Sikkim families is not undermined by pesticides, and farmers get a better price for their crops. The state’s tourism sector has also gotten a boost. A few resorts have started marketing themselves as destinations where tourists can pluck, cook and relish fresh organic food from kitchen gardens.

So with people, planet and profits all covered, the triple bottom line concept has been successfully implemented in Sikkim.

To make the state fully organic, every farm needed to get organic certification from an independent certifying body. The state government passed a law banning the use and sale of any pesticide in Sikkim, with a substantial fine and jail term penalizing anyone breaking this law. On January 18, 2016 the Prime Minister of India declared the state fully organic.

Along with a variety of vegetables, Sikkim’s organic food products include paddy, wheat, spices (such as large cardamom, turmeric and ginger), flowers and mandarin oranges. While the state’s farmers get a good price for their crops, they continue working hard to improve yields from their organic farms, with the support of the state government.

The best way forward

Organic agriculture, as part of an agroecological approach to farming, provides real solutions to a variety of problems, including:

  • improving farm resiliency in the face of changing and unpredictable climate
  • protecting the health of communities from agrochemcials
  • conserving biological diversity and natural resources
  • improving economic stability for farmers

In a world facing increasingly fickle weather patterns, falling economic returns for industrial farmers and an avalanche of pesticide-related health harms, agroecology seems the only logical way forward. Sikkim is one more case in a string of many that shows the feasibility of moving towards agroecological practices.

Source: Pesticide Action Network

Organic agriculture key to feeding the world sustainably, and better profits

(Feb 2016):  A recently released study which analysed 40 years of research comparing organic (biological) to conventional (chemical) farming methods, using 4 areas of sustainability, Washington State University has concluded that feeding a growing global population with sustainability goals in mind is possible.

Their review of hundreds of published studies provides evidence that organic farming can produce sufficient yields, be profitable for farmers, protect and improve the environment and be safer for farm workers.

An assessment of organic farming relative to conventional farming

An assessment of organic farming relative to conventional farming illustrates that organic systems better balance the four areas of sustainability. Credit: Reganold and Wachter, WSU.

The review study, “Organic Agriculture in the 21st Century,” is featured as the cover story for the February issue of the journal Nature Plants and was authored by John Reganold, WSU regents professor of soil science and agroecology, and doctoral candidate Jonathan Wachter.

It is the first study to analyse the science comparing organic and conventional agriculture across the four goals of sustainability identified by the National Academy of Sciences: productivity, economics, environment and community well being.

“Hundreds of scientific studies now show that organic ag should play a role in feeding the world” said lead author Reganold (http://css.wsu.edu/people/faculty/john-p-reganold). “Thirty years ago, there were just a couple handfuls of studies comparing organic agriculture with conventional. In the last 15 years, these kinds of studies have skyrocketed.”

Organic production accounts for one percent of global agricultural land, despite rapid growth in the last two decades.

Critics have long argued that organic agriculture is inefficient, requiring more land to yield the same amount of food. The review paper describes cases where organic yields can be higher than conventional farming methods.

“In severe drought conditions, which are expected to increase with climate change, organic farms have the potential to produce high yields because of the higher water-holding capacity of organically farmed soils,” Reganold said.

However, even when yields may be lower, organic agriculture is more profitable for farmers because consumers are willing to pay more. Higher prices can be justified as a way to compensate farmers for providing ecosystem services and avoiding environmental damage or external costs.

The study recommended policy changes to address the barriers that hinder the expansion of organic agriculture. Such hurdles include the costs of transitioning to organic certification, lack of access to labor and markets, and lack of appropriate infrastructure for storing and transporting food. Legal and financial tools are necessary to encourage the adoption of innovative, sustainable farming practices.

Source: | WSU News

France Goes Organic

The vision for 2025 starts with showing the way for future generations

In the autumn of 2014 the French state employed over 200 new researchers and tutors to teach agro-ecology across the country as a core part of its new national agricultural educational programme. Beside the environmental benefits the hope is to create more jobs in the sector.

Espousing ‘produisons autrement’, (let us produce in other ways), the Loi d’Avenir (Future Law) looks to agroecology for solutions to current problems.

With 40% of France’s agricultural work-force either set to retire within five years or already past retirement age, there is a pressing need to train a new generation of farmers who can take on the nation’s farms and its anticipated legislated commitment, Loi d’Avenir to applying agro-ecology on 200,000 holdings by 2025. The new law includes promoting crop diversity and biodiversity as guiding principles.

Being careful not to define agro-ecology too closely, it is being promoted through education and research. In addition, it encourages economic and environmental stakeholders to join forces and manage resources at a landscape level in cross-sector groups, called Groupings of economic and environmental interest (GIEE), providing= official recognition by the state of a collective commitment of farmers in modifying or consolidating their practices for economic, environmental and social purposes.

The law also makes a fundamental change in land policy, protecting farmland from competing land uses and to making it easier for young farmers to get started in agriculture. Both these aims are achieved by re-organising the regional farmland management bodies (known as SAFERs) which can now intervene in land sales to compulsorily purchase farmland that might otherwise be built over.

It’s 10 point checklist for agro-ecology

A local SAFER also helps young farmers get started in agriculture by assigning them land from its land bank. Rue de Varenne issued a 10-point checklist of agroecology’s key components. These are:

  • Education: training the farmers of today and tomorrow,
  • Stakeholder involvement: developing (GIEEs),
  • Crops: reduce the use of pesticides,
  • Biocontrols: or natural methods to protect crops, eg ladybirds to control aphids,
  • Livestock: reduce the use of veterinary antibiotics,
  • Bees: engage in developing sustainable beekeeping,
  • Methanisation: extract value from livestock effluent,
  • Organic: promote organic farming,
  • Seeds: choose and select locally-adapted seed stock,
  • Agroforestry: use trees to improve production.

Unlike some agricultural policies, the Loi d’Avenir takes public expectations of agriculture into account, requiring a degree of public accountability for spraying. The Loi d’Avenir sets out to protect vulnerable members of the population from exposure to crop chemicals, notably the young, the old and the sick. It will require hedges around fields to catch spray drift and users will be required to post warnings of upcoming crop treatments in public buildings, like schools, nurseries, retirement homes and clinics.

French Peasants are Unconvinced

For some of the agricultural unions, the Loi d’Avenir is too little, too late, with blind-spots that could still trip it up. The Confédération Paysanne (Conf’) speaks directly for those pushed aside by intensive farming. While many welcome a long-awaited political initiative to bring agriculture back into harmony with the environment, the Conf’ is alarmed at the ease with which good intentions can be waylaid by political expediency.

In February last year, the Conf’ greeted the minister’s announcement that this was the: “…Year One of agro-ecology” with incredulity.

The drive for agro-ecology cannot sit alongside public policies which favour so-called ‘competitivity’, the industrialisation [of agriculture] [or] the exclusion of small or diversified farms.” Confédération Paysanne.

While containing “interesting elements” the Conf’ is disappointed that the minister’s plan for implementing agroecological farming lacks: “…systemic and territorial approaches … as well as social factors.” Its foundations are based on technical assumptions and “…leave no place for peasant know-how. The scale of farm holdings is not questioned, although its implications for the environment are well known.”

A number of peasant organisations have developed diagnostic frameworks for agro-ecological approaches, which they are asking the minister to use with peasants to “…really go in the direction of agro-ecology. And, to ensure that this policy makes sense and is more than just a communications exercise, it is essential to re-envisage agricultural policies in the light of agro-ecology.”