We are told that it is big agribusiness, with its flashy techno-fixes and financial clout, that will save the world from widespread hunger and malnutrition and help food systems weather the impacts of climate change. However, a new report from ETC Group shows that in fact, it is a diverse network of small-scale producers, dubbed the Peasant Food Web, that feeds 70% of the world, including the most hungry and marginalized people.
(Read the news release about the report launch.)
Who Will Feed Us, now in its third edition, compares the industrial food system with peasant farming. Industrial farming gets all the attention (and most of the land). It accounts for more than 80% of the fossil fuel emissions and uses over 70% of the water supply used in agriculture, but it actually produces only about 30% of the world's food.
Companies are sneaking new GMO foods into our food and cosmetics: gene-silenced apples, a GMO potato, synthetic biology flavors and fragrances are on their way to market, or already there — and they may even be marketed as “natural.” This webinar will tell you everything you need to know to avoid the new wave of GMOs and find truly natural and sustainable options.
Where to find us and what we'll be up to at the World Social Forum in Montreal, QC, from August 9-14, 2016.
GROWING POWER IN PEASANT SEEDS SYSTEMS: Farmers seeds and struggle against GMOs, AGRA- 2nd Green Revolution. Tunis, March 29.
It has become crucial to defend seeds. In the past 20 or 30 years, what was once seen as normal – peasant farmers growing, selecting, saving and exchanging seeds – has come under attack from corporations seeking to control and commodify the very basis of agriculture.
Geoengineering – the intentional, large-scale technological manipulation of the Earth’s systems – is another false solution to climate change being pushed from the global North. High-risk and high-tech schemes under development, including blasting reflective particles into the stratosphere, whitening clouds and dumping chemical compounds into the oceans, could have devastating consequences for ecosystems and for the food and water sources for billions of people. States responsible for most of the historic greenhouse gas emissions are pushing for geoengineering as they see it as “the perfect excuse” to continue business as usual – keep emitting CO2 while making new profits selling the geoengineering technologies. No government, industrial sector or billionaires club has the right to own the planet’s thermostat. Geoengineering diverts attention and resources from real solutions to climate change. In this workshop, we will provide a brief introduction to geoengineering technologies before discussing strategies to stop them. Hands Off Mother Earth!
New, high-risk technologies, ranging from the very small (synthetic biology, nanotechnology) to the very large (geoengineering), are being rapidly developed. Promoters promise solutions, but the precautionary principle and social and economic impacts are often ignored in the rush to deploy the latest technofix. Without the strict application of the precautionary principle, and a transparent and real participatory way to assess impacts, these new technologies could wreak more havoc on our already fragile planet, battered by reckless and unsustainable forms of production. To deal with the onslaught of ever more powerful technologies, civil society organizations, movements, indigenous peoples and peasant organizations need to self-organize to create Technology Observation Platforms (TOPs).
ETC Group will be participating at the 3rd World Forum on Science and Democracy and the World Social Forum 2013 that will take place in Tunis, capital city of Tunisia between 23-30 March 2013. Come join us in various activities, workshops and assemblies! We hope to meet you there!
To know more about our side event Geoengineering: Resisting Climate Manipulation, click here.
Pat Mooney analyses the different threats to be addressed at Rio+20 in 2012 and the counter proposals global civil society and its allies could avance. Interview made at the World Social Forum in Dakar in February 2011 for "The commons on the global agenda" chapter in remixthecommons.org.
Here's a grim prediction to chew on. This biotech craze dubbed "synthetic biology"—where hipster geeks design quirky life-forms: That technology is going to wind up costing lives—likely a lot of them. I'm not suggesting a direct kill by rogue viruses. These will be economic deaths. The dead will not be noteworthy: farmers, pastoralists, and forest dwellers who live in poor nations that depend on plant commodities.
Syn bio is feted as the next big thing, but we should be clear-eyed about what makes syn bio such a big deal and about whom it will harm. Its advocates predict that synthetic bio will lead to the "New Bioeconomy," in which we harness biology to perform tasks now accomplished by manufacturing.
The New Bioeconomy seems innocently green. It involves yeast and bacteria being repurposed as bio-factories to churn out the plastics, chemicals, and fuels we are already addicted to. Since microbes feast on plant-stuff—whether algae, wood chips, or sugar—plants would replace petroleum as the key feedstock for industrial production. The sourcing of strategic raw materials, including medicines, rubber, and oils, will shift from the hands of farmers in the global South to fermentation vats controlled by the North.
ETC Group brings a new report – "The Big Downturn? Nanogeopolitics" to the conversation at the World Social Forum in Dakar, Senegal, 2011. ETC Group’s 68-page report provides a current snapshot of global investment, markets, governance and control of nanotechnology, including patenting.
This week (02/2011) ETC Group travels to Dakar to meet friends and partners – new, old and yet-to-be – to learn, listen and share information about corporate power and emerging technologies, including their impacts on marginalized communities. In the run-up to the Rio+20 Summit in May 2012, the international community will be confronted with a challenging list of so-called ‘green economy’ technology and policy proposals – as well as major agricultural and environmental institutional decisions.
You can fool some of the people all of the time; and, all of the people some of the time; but, you can't fool all of the people all of the time... However, you may be able to persuade enough of the people to monitor everyone all of the time.
Over 30 years ago, Oxford ethologist, Dr. Richard Dawkins, took sabbatical leave to write The Selfish Gene, one of the most disturbing books in a time of many disturbing books. Dawkins espoused the theory that human evolution is nurtured by numerous forces -- the gene, or DNA -- being only one. Human beings, Dawkins speculated, could evolve cultural memes capable of Darwinian replication. It was an outlandish concept without "coat tails" -- at least that chapter of his book didn't attract many followers.
ETC Group would have given the idea of cultural memetics a pass were it not for a high-level meeting of US government officials, scientists, and industry held in Washington three months after 9/11 that made research into cultural memetics a priority. Then, two years later, a book by Britain's much-respected Astronomer Royal brought us back to memetics with his concern that it may be possible to medicate social attitudes and manipulate human nature.
But, the most compelling reason to track this potentiality is because it makes sense. If, as the UN University‘s 2005 State of the Future Report suggest, we are entering the era of the Massively Destructive Individual - where anyone, anywhere could be devastatingly violent, using anything - then massive surveillance is, at best, a partial response. Aggressive surveillance will elicit a massive social reaction. Better than surveillance is surrender. If society can be cajoled into surrendering its information than the likelihood of a successful defense increases. Better still, if society can be convinced to surrender control over its own actions, then the world's dominating corporate/government partnership can sleep at night. Civil society needs to dissect the logic and the feasibility of all this...
The Biosafety protocol on GM crops was a big thing in January, but the meeting about to begin in Neuchatel addresses a "clear and present danger" to world food security. A brave little band of "biocrats" could decide the fate of the scientific exchange of crop genetics. Their political bosses don’t even