Syngenta convicted in Brazil

Brazil – 19.11.2015:  On October 21st 2007 around 40 gunmen from the NF Segurança company attacked the Via Campesina encampment located at Syngenta’s GMO experimental site at Santa Tereza do Oeste (PR). The site had been occupied earlier that morning by around 150 members of Via Campesina (LVC) and the Landless Rural Workers’ Movement (MST).

With a 19% share of the agrochemical market and the third highest profits from seed sales worldwide Syngenta, along with other transnational companies, exacerbates the scenario of rural violence by imposing a farming model based on monoculture, gross exploitation of farm workers, environmental degradation, use of pesticides and private appropriate of natural and genetic resources.

The case was taken to court in 2010, as an attempt to get a response from the State regarding Syngenta being responsible for the attack perpetrated by private armed militia. The court sentence ruled (17/11/15) that the company must pay compensation for the moral and material damage it caused.

About the Sentence

b_350_0_16777215_00_images_Syngenta_Condenada.pngThe judge found that the fact that took place on Syngenta’s property was nothing less than a massacre. In his sentence the judge states that…

“to refer to what happened as a confrontation is to close one’s eyes to reality, since […] there is no doubt that, in truth, it was a massacre disguised as repossession of property”.

In its defence, Syngenta acknowledged the illegality of the paramilitary action, as well as the ideological nature of the action against Via Campesina and MST. The company stated that…

more than protection of farm properties, it is clear that the militia’s objective was to defend an ideological position contrary to that of the MST [Landless Rural Workers’ Movement], so as to propagate the idea that every action results in a reaction.”

Syngenta’s version; that the attack was not on the orders of landowners, but rather the result of a confrontation between militiamen acting on their own, and members of Via Campesina, was rejected by the Court.

SEED SATYAGRAHA

Through imposing laws related to Intellectual Property Rights (IPR) & patents on seed which deny farmers’ and gardeners’ the right to save and share seed, our diversity, freedoms and right to health are being criminalised.

Higher laws that flow from the laws of the Earth, reaffirmed by the laws of our humanity, compel us to question and resist the imposition of laws based on uniformity as an instrument of control being forced upon our diversity as peoples, cultures and the other species, which we have a duty to protect and defend.

We do not recognise any laws, created by corporate interests, that interfere in our duty to save and share good seed so that the generations to come are as fortunate as we have been in receiving these gifts of diversity and nourishment.
We will not obey, or recognise any law that criminalises our time-tested seeds.
This is our Seed Satyagraha

Two-sheep solution

Morocco: The two-sheep solution

In a region where women still struggle to close the gender gap, Morocco stands out. In the past ten years it has enacted laws to eliminate discrimination against women and guarantee gender equality. But how do these laws make a difference in remote rural areas? It could be as simple as buying two sheep.

Source: | IFAD

Over Land Swap with Mining Company

The powerful grassroots movement to save Arizona’s Oak Flat — a sacred site of the San Carlos Apache — arrived in Washington, D.C., this week with an unmistakable message:

This land, sacred to native people for generations, should not be desecrated by a massive copper mine.

Members of the Apache Stronghold have crossed the country over the past several weeks. As they went they gathered support from tribes and others who oppose a congressional rider, added to a defense spending bill passed in December, that traded away Oak Flat to foreign mining giant Rio Tinto. The caravan made a splash in New York City’s Times Square on Friday before arriving in Washington, D.C.
Source: New York Times

Movement goes global

For years, Feedback have been investigating the supply chains of some of Europe’s largest retailers – what we’ve uncovered is shocking. We’ve met with farmers in the UK, Kenya and Guatemala who have all been forced to waste food on their farms for two major reasons:avaaz

Supermarkets dictate strict product specifications to farmers meaning that they’ll only buy fruits and vegetables that fit demanding size, shape and colour specifications – regardless of the nutrition, taste and value of the food.

On top of this, last minute order cancellations by supermarkets and the businesses they are supplied by leave many farmers without any compensation and no market to sell their food to.

When farmers are forced to waste entire crops some have to resort to taking out loans in order to pay their workers. However, not all workers are paid, meaning they cannot put food on their table or send their children to school.

The ingredients are all there — an amazing movement in France just won a law making supermarkets give unsold produce to the poor and homeless. But this is only a small part of the problem, the vast majority of food is being wasted before it’s even left the farm. Now the EU is working out how to stop supermarkets dumping their waste and responsibilities on farmers, using ridiculous reasons to reject huge quantities of food.

Historical agreement for all wildlife

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency this week finally agreed to analyse the effects of atrazine and glyphosate — the two most commonly used pesticides in the United States — on 1,500 endangered plants and animals across the country. The agreement is part of a settlement with the Center for Biological Diversity in litigation seeking to protect wildlife from dangerous pesticides.

Up to 80 million pounds of atrazine are used in the United States each year. In addition to causing severe harm to endangered species, the chemical may be linked to increased risks of thyroid cancer and birth defects in people. It’s the second most commonly used pesticide after glyphosate, more commonly known as Monsanto’s Roundup, which has been linked to massive declines in monarch butterflies.

The EPA has, for decades, continued to register and allow the use of pesticides without considering their impacts on endangered species. The Center has filed a series of lawsuits to force the agency to conduct those analyses and better understand how these chemicals affect everything from Florida panthers to California tiger salamanders.

The Center for Biological Diversity is a national, nonprofit conservation organization with more than 900,000 members and online activists dedicated to the protection of endangered species and wild places.

Organics wins out

Three New Zealand vineyard managers recently agreed to participate in a sort of reality show by switching half of their land to organic methods while the industry watched their every move via the internet, scientific reports, and on the ground at public events.

“We created the project in response to an industry need for accurate information on organic conversion and management,” said Jonathan Hamlet, chair of Organic Winegrowers NZ. “Production costs, quality and yield, disease levels, soil quality and wine quality were all monitored to provide clear information on the costs and benefits for growers and wine companies.”

Though the project produced reams of scientific data, perhaps most telling was the outcome after it ended – all three wineries decided to either maintain or expand their organic vineyard areas.

The full report from the Organic Focus Vineyard Project has just been released. It can be found on organicfocusvineyard.com, along with blogs and photos documenting the vineyards’ journeys.

Source: NZ Herald;  19 June 2015

Bologna’s Experiment in Urban Commoning

It all began with park benches.

In 2011, a group of women in Bologna, Italy wanted to donate benches to their neighborhood park, Piazza Carducci. There was nowhere to sit in their park. So they called the city government to get permission to put in benches. They called one department, which referred them to another, which sent them on again. No one in the city could help them. This dilemma highlighted an important civic lacuna — there simply was no way for citizens to contribute improvements to the city. In fact, it was illegal.

Fast forward to May 16, 2015. The mayor, city councilors, community leaders, journalists, and hundreds of others gathered at the awe-inspiring MAST Gallery for the opening ceremony of Bologna’s Civic Collaboration Fest celebrating the one year anniversary of theBologna Regulation for the Care and Regeneration of the Urban Commons, a history-making institutional innovation that enables Bologna to operate as a collaborative commons. Now Bologna’s citizens have a legal way to contribute to the city. Since the regulation passed one year ago, more than 100 projects have signed “collaboration pacts” with the city under the regulation to contribute urban improvements with 100 more in the pipeline.

It was an impressive event filled with ceremony, emotion, historical significance all in a context of tough political realities.

The MAST Gallery in Bologna

City Councilor Luca Rizzo Nervo opened the ceremony with a rousing speech. He said a new day was dawning where “no you can’t” was turning into “yes we can together,” where citizens are self-determining, and where a new, empowering relationship between citizens and city had begun. He said he was tired of the old, pessimistic rhetoric and that the regulation opened up a new, hopeful development path that takes “active citizenship” to the next level. He ended with a vision of Bologna as an entire city powered by sharing and collaboration as part of a global network of other cities on the same path.

Administrator Donato Di Memmo, the urban commons project leader, spoke to the importance of the urban commons for urban art, digital innovation and social cohesion and the need for improvement in the application of the regulation. He said that relationships are the starting point and that with training and more visibility the regulation could meet the high expectations for it.