Posts Tagged ‘books’

A Message From Occupied Wall Street (Day Ten)

A Message From Occupied Wall Street (Day Ten)

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Posted 27 September 2011, by OccupyWallSt, Occupy Wall Street, occupywallst.org

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This is the tenth communiqué from the 99 percent. We are occupying Wall Street.

Liberty Square Photo

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We Are The 99% from socially_awkwrd on Vimeo.

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On September 27th, 2011, we marched on the Financial District’s Luxury Night Out, where couples wore outfits that cost more than we will ever make in a month and looked at cars that cost more than we will ever make in a year, afterward, they went back to one of their many houses that cost more than we will make in our lifetime.

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Liberty Square Library

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Occupied Boston doesn’t need a bullhorn to have their voices heard. They have the people’s microphone.

So does Michael Moore, who addressed us tonight.

Occupied San Francisco grows larger every day.

Occupied Chicago was dispersed but not defeated. They will regroup and reoccupy.

So far at least 52 cities in America are occupied or organizing. We span at least three continents.

Add your home. Make your voice heard.

We are growing. Block by block – city by city. We will see change in this country, in this world.

It will happen sooner than you can imagine.
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I Am Not Moving from socially_awkwrd on Vimeo.

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(Ed Note: please visit the original site to view another photograph associated with this article.)

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https://occupywallst.org/article/day-ten/

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Re-Colonization Of Africa Through Buying Agricultural Land: Wealthy Nations And Their Multinationals On The Rampage

Re-Colonization Of Africa Through Buying Agricultural Land: Wealthy Nations And Their Multinationals On The Rampage

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Posted 26 September 2011, by Akinyi Princess of K’Orinda-Yimbo, Tom Wilt News, tomwilt.com

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The global food crisis of 2007/2008 that triggered riots from Cape to Cairo and from Senegal to Haiti made governments and their agriculturally-engaged companies to get on the saddle and gallop – with their thinking caps on. Export tariffs were slapped on staple food crops to minimise how much could be sold outside their countries.  In my book – Darkest Europe and Africa’s Nightmare: A Critical Observation of Neighbouring Continents, I mentioned, rather apocalyptically, that if we Africans don’t take care then the outside world will turn our continent into “a timber plantation.” This is now happening, but on a worst-case scenario. Africans are being colonised again and this time not with the power of  weapons but through Africans themselves selling their continent willingly. The 99- and 999-year lease – a remnant of colonialists – surely cannot fool anybody. This is equivalent to a full century and/or full millennium which translates into three and a half to thirty-four consecutive generations of Africans.

Africans are selling the one natural resource they can’t afford to sell – their land. Especially arable land. In Antananarivo, Madagascar, earlier in 2009, President Ravalomanana’s government was overthrown by angry urban poor who were already spending two thirds of their income to feed themselves ever since the 2008 massive rise in global prices for commodities like rice and wheat. This was not just because of his own private jet bought from a member of the Disney family for his own use with public funds – no. President Ravalomanana was leasing 1.3 hectares (half the size of Belgium and half of Madagascar’s arable land) to South Korea’s Daewoo for 99 years to grow maize and palm oil and send all harvests during this period back home to feed South Koreans. Daewoo paid nothing: they PROMISED to improve the island’s infra structure. And of course they would provide “jobs for the citizens of Madagascar by farming it, which is good for Madagascar” (read cheap slave labour). As usual the public was kept in the dark. Until the news was leaked by London’s Financial Times. This is the first government in the world to be toppled by angry mobs and the military for “land-grabbing”. Kudos to the people.

There are more than 100 similar land-grabs globally, since September 2008, where huge tracts of farmland are bought up by wealthy countries as well international corporations. Mark Weston, Britain’s international development policy consultant does the colourful canvas thus: “Imagine if China, following a brief negotiation with a British government desperate for foreign cash after the collapse of the economy, bought up the whole of Wales, replaced most of its inhabitants with Chinese workers, turned the entire country into an enormous rice field and sent all the rice produced there for the next 99 years back to China… Imagine that neither the evicted Welch nor the rest of the British public knew what they were getting in return for this, having to content themselves with vague promises that the new landlords would upgrade a few ports and create jobs for the local people.

“Then, imagine that, after a few years – and bearing in mind that recession and the plummeting pound have already made it difficult for the UK to buy food from abroad – an oil-price spike or an environmental disaster in one of the world’s big grain-producing nations drives global food prices sharply upwards and beyond the reach of many Britons. While the Chinese next door in Wales continue sending rice back to China, the starving British look helplessly on, ruing the day their government sold off half their arable land. Some of them plot the violent recapture of the Welch valley.”

This – huge tracts of land being “sold” to foreigners for “promises” – is what is happening all over Africa this very minute. Except that in my experience not many Africans are that good at organising themselves as a unified force to recapture their valley. They would either fall upon each other with machetes for a few grains some “kind” soul dropped them from the air, or they’d turn into a trillion factions with double the number of “generals”.

Even the great pope of the free market, Financial Times, has used words like “rapacious” for the likes of Daewoo, warning that it was the most “brazen example of a wider phenomenon” where rich nations are trotting the globe buying up the natural resources of poor countries. The new colonialism is vast in Africa, with the buyers being wealthy countries unable to grow their own food. The Arabs are back fleeing their barren sands to turn Africa into their granary like they did one and a half millennia ago (in Egypt at the time). The Gulf states are in the lead in this new investment. Bahrain, Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, Oman, Qatar, controlling between them 45% of the world’s oil, are snatching AGRICULTURAL LAND in Egypt, Ethiopia, Cameroon, Zambia, Uganda, but also in Cambodia, Brazil, Kazakhstan, Ukraine and Russia. South Korea has grabbed a staggering 960,000 hectares in Sudan, the largest country in Africa, where at least 6 other rich countries are said to have secured large land-holding – and precisely where the local population are among the hungriest and least secure in the world. The Saudis are negotiating 500,000 hectares (not acres) in Tanzania. Companies for the United Arab Emirates have snapped up 324,000 hectares in Pakistan. Highly populated countries like China, South Korea and India have acquired swathes of African farmland to produce food for export. India recently lowered tariffs for Ethiopian commodities that could enter India after the Indian government lent money to 80 Indian companies to buy 350,000 hectares of farmland in Africa, particularly huge tracts in Kenya and Ethiopia. And this is the same Kenya where, in the year 2008, the locals of African descent were chopping each other’s limbs off, being shot by their own police and armed forces and burning innocent men, women and children locked up in churches – because of the land tenure! This is the Kenya where the Gallmanns, Briatores and Bransons and many others own private ranches the size of 3 Cypruses, where Prince William and his girlfriend spend a bit of “Hollywood in the bush” once or so a year – the rest of the time, all the above celebrities have their small states looked after by their private property “my Africans” – while 75% of Afro-Kenyans have no scratch of land to plant a tomato!

Kenya made a deal with Qatar, an Arab land with only 1% arable land, to acquire 40,000 hectares of land to grow food. A third of Kenya’s population was facing food shortages and President Kibaki had no better answer for hungry Kenyans opposing the deal but to impose a state of emergency and then turn around to appeal for international food relief. Where is the logic here, by the bony ancients? If Qatar can grow food on Kenyan soil to feed Qataris, why can’t Kenya grow food in Kenya to feed Kenyans? The land offered to Qatar is in the fertile Tana River delta with an abundance of fresh water. Some 150,000 Kenyan farming and pastoralist families for whom the land is communal graze their 60,000 cattle there. It is no wonder that, supported by opposition activists and environmentalists fearing the destruction of a pristine ecosystem of mangrove swamps, savannah and forests, the people now threaten armed resistance. When that happens, the rest of the world will only report about “warring African tribes”, not a group of people fighting to keep their land and ecosystem instead of allowing it delivered to Qatari farmers to feed their Arabs.

Next door in Uganda, 400 small farmers comprising a total of 2,000 people, were driven out (using violence through the Ugandan army) of their land in 2001 to make room for the German coffee grower Neumann Kaffee Gruppe. This was against the OECD guidelines for multinational concerns. On 24th August 2001, the concern’s boss, Michael R Neumann, together with President Museveni inaugurated the plantation. The people who were driven off their land can since then neither feed themselves adequately nor pay school fees for their children. This is another in a long line of  violations of social human rights perpetrated by yet another African so-called leader against his own citizens. Are Africans surprised when the rest of the world view them as some strange pathogens? Who is polishing the patina of Africa’s “bad image”?

Mozambique has signed a $ 2bn deal to give 10,000 Chinese “settlers” land in return for $ 3m in military aid from Beijing. Right. Take the land for 99- or 999-year lease and settle down while you give the starving Mozambicans both reason and means to kill each other off, leaving Mozambique a Chinese province. Food is a weapon is a weapon is a weapon….

But the list is long. The British investor Cru Investment Management has grabbed tracts of the fruitful agricultural land in dirt poor Malawi. US investment banker Philippe Heilberg, assisted by a “warlord”, acquired 4,000 square kilometres of land in southern Sudan. Congo-Brazzaville is allegedly selling 10 million hectares to Euroancestral South Africans to farm. Multinational finance concerns such as Deutsche Bank, Blackstone Group, Goldman & Sachs and Dexion Capital all have invested in African agricultural land. The World Bank and International Finance Corporation are engaged in “the development of agro-business” big time in Africa and other developing countries ever since the food crisis of 2008, pumping billions to agro-concerns to ensure food production in Africa for their own countries. All such investors no longer want to depend on speculators, they want to eliminate middlemen and take control themselves. Cru Investment spokesman, Duncan Parker maintains, “Africa has what it takes to be one of the leading food producers worldwide. Her potential in workers is big, her soil productive and there’s plenty of sun and water.”

Is the man not talking about the same Africa whose people are starving and dying of diseases that could be avoided by mere clean drinking water?

And Philippe Heilberg told the US media that whatever political and legal risks he is taking in Africa at the moment will pay most lucratively because he expects several African states in the coming years to simply fall apart. Can Africans legitimately blame Heilberg for his arrogance and indifference? Besides, when one listens between the words, there is always a plan-in-motion behind such blatant utterances. Africans may well be the next Palestinians – pariahs in their own land.

And now food is not the only thing that African land is needed for. Think of the recent EU Desertec cordoning off the Sahara for solar energy for Europe. In the Desertec Concept are the words:

In the upcoming decades, several global developments will create new challenges for mankind. We will be confronted with problems and obstacles such as climate change, population growth beyond earth’s capacity, and an increase in demand for energy and water caused by a strive for prosperity and expansion.The DESERTEC Concept provides a way to solve these challenges.

The question is, SOLVE THEM FOR WHO? Certainly not for Africans. And how does this concept work?

It works just like a coal steam power plant, with the difference that concentrated solar power is used for steam production, instead of coal. Large mirrors are positioned in such a way that they reflect and concentrate the sunlight onto a certain point much like capturing sunlight through a magnifying lens. A major advantage of this technology is that a part of the sun’s heat can be collected in heat storage tanks during the day and then run through steam circuits at night or specifically during peak hours, depending on the demand. With this technology, renewable and controlled energy can be provided according to the demand of the electricity grid.

Yet Africans, fifty years down independence road and with the technology already existing and sitting their for a price they can more than afford, cannot position large mirrors in such a way that they reflect and concentrate the abundant African sunlight like capturing sunlight through a magnifying lens! Africans have had the Sahara forever – but they just couldn’t come up with the idea of getting some solar energy from this vast desert. No idea from the whole of Sunny Africa? Yes they could, if Africans start thinking of themselves as worthwhile human beings too, and join forces to keep what is theirs theirs. Otherwise Africans might as well follow the butcher meekly to the slaughter house because that’s where they’re going to end up – in “native reserves” dying off as a people until the few Africans left are put in museums like they were once the main attraction in circuses all over the West in the 18th through early 20th centuries.

German, British and American companies have also bought land in Tanzania and Ethiopia to grow biofuels. Ethiopia – the byword for famine – argues that since it imports oil, biofuels will set off price fluctuations and dependency on oil! What about the environmental impact – 75% of the land allocated to the foreign biofuel firms are forested and these forests will have to be chopped off! The Chinese chopstick manufacturers are delighted.

A Norwegian biofuel company will create “the largest jatropha plantation in the world” by deforesting vast tracts of land in northern Ghana. The company was back to darkest Europe when it flagrantly cheated an illiterate chief to sign 38,000 hectares with his thumbprint. Jatropha is a non-too-demanding plant that produces oily seeds from which biodiesel can be made.

This entire new scramble for poor countries’ land is the result of the food crisis of 2007-2008 when the price of wheat, rice and other cereals skyrocketed across the globe. When the food-grower countries applied tariffs to minimize the amount of staple crops that left their countries, the supply was further tightened resulting in prices shooting further up. It was a policy-created scarcity rather than the true-and-tried traditional supply and demand. A situation arose where rich countries reliant on massive food imports put on their thinking caps. They began to put the fundamentals of global trade (that each country should concentrate on its best product and then trade it) under the microscope. The Gulf states, among other rich countries, with their unimaginable amounts of cash from trading oil suddenly realised you can’t eat cash dipped in oil. Nor can you gnaw on a Rolls-Royce. Or feed your children computer chips. The sheikhs & associates saw that the costs of food imports had doubled in five years. The future boded for worse – both regional and global markets were no longer reliable.

The perfect answer was to own agricultural land. “Control of foreign farmland”, writes Paul Vallely, “would not only secure food supplies, it would eliminate the cut taken by middlemen and reduce food-import bills by more than 20 percent. And the benefits could only increase.” Because the fundamental conditions that had ushered in the worldwide food crisis remain unchanged and could easily get worse.

According to the UN the world population will double by 2050. To grow enough food to feed 9bn people choke the planet. So, long term strategies are the right response. When the Prime Minister Taro of Japan (the world’s largest food importer) asked the G8 leaders in Italy: “Is the current food crisis just another market vagary?” he answered his own question: “Evidence suggests not; we are undergoing a transition to a new equilibrium, reflecting a new economic, climatic, demographic and ecological reality.”

Not that the market is asleep either. The cost of land is rising rapidly, making the irresponsible but insatiable African leaders salivate. And we Africans sit with our hands folded on our laps, waiting for some force of nature to come to our rescue. Many are not even aware of the fact that their ancestral land is being offered for re-colonisation, because their governments are big boys who believe informing their citizens of what is going on puts the boys in a subservient position. These are the chaps in this world who are unaware that they are servants of their people.

The food and financial crises combined have made agricultural farmland the new strategic asset. Veteran speculator Jim Rogers, in league with fellow veterans like Lord Jacob Rothschild, said in July 2009: “I’m convinced that farmland is going to be one of the best investments of our time.” This should actually augur well for Africa because there is land in abundance in the continent, and the agricultural sector – Africa’s backbone – is in need of capital and technology. A win-win situation. Except that Africans are auctioning their continent’s most sacred possession for nought and a staggering 99- or 999-year lease (depending on which salivating leader is dealing with whom. There are leaders out there offering the old colonial 999-year lease). That interprets into three and a half to thirty-four generations of Africans – left in limbo. Or as eventual specimens in museums of the wealthy.

Producing enough food to feed 9bn people in 2050 will crush the planet, denuding forests and drainage rivers and ruining arable land. In Copenhagen, capital saw to it that their lackeys, known as governments the world over, treated climate change as Father Christmas – a fairy tale. But, to capital’s delight, oil prices continue to rise in direct relation to fertilizer and tractor fuel – hence biofuels to further cut the land that would be available for food crops. The horrors are ahead because the fat harvest times are over – there won’t be enough food for the table even for the filthy rich – unless they can afford €3m a day residency in outer space. The market economy will this time – as always – not provide for all and sundry as falsely proclaimed. Land prices have jumped from 15% to 30% globally.

After the financial crisis in mortgage-based derivatives, agricultural land is the new strategic asset. An asset that nobody can manufacture or erect, and then sell. Once given away, it is gone and there’s no replica or spare parts, Africans.

Marginally seen, it could be a good thing for African countries. Apart from the staggering and varied natural resources, some of which cannot be found anywhere on the planet, land, as already said, is what Africans have in plenty. All Africa needs is capital to develop her agriculture. A mammoth share of this capital is ferreted out of the continent by the handful few wrongly-wired Africans to develop economies NOT AFRICAN. The Big Curse for which Africans only have themselves to blame. The rest of the world call it capital flight – as if this staggering amount of money simply made up its mind to take to the air and fly to the West – the mad terminologies of our times where human beings call their own dead “collateral damages”.

The financial global players who brought on the crisis are the very same ones now roaming the agricultural landscape and grabbing chunks of it. These land deals should bring investments, technology and know-how to local farmers, reduce dependency on food aid and similar maladies. They should provide infrastructure that goes beyond roads leading from the foreign leaseholder’s farms to the port that transport 100% of their harvests back to their own countries. The deals should enable the building of schools and health centres for the whole community. They should provide enough taxes to the government for more development – assuming African governments would at last invest in their own countries and people instead of castles and numbered accounts overseas. African so-called leaders have some inborn dread of educated and healthy citizens. Instead of recognising the greatest potential to their nations of human resources they see adversaries.

Then there is the problem of monoculture in growing plantation of large-scale food crops dependent of huge amounts of pesticides and fertilisers. This would ruin the long-term sustainability of tropical soils not suited to intensive cultivation, as well as damage the local water table. Soil erosion will occur and ruin long-term land fertility. The diversity of plants, animals and insect life will be drastically threatened while the intensive usage of agrochemicals bring in water-quality maladies. In addition the irrigation of the foreign investors’ plantations would take water away from the indigenous users. So these grabs are in effect water grabs – the most valuable part of these deals – instead of land grabs, since once you own the land you own the water beneath it.

The chief executive of Nestlé, Peter Brabeck-Letmathe puts it this way: “Water withdrawal for agriculture continue to increase rapidly. In some of the most fertile regions of the world (America, southern Europe, northern India, north-eastern China), over-use of water, mainly for agriculture, is leading to sinking water tables. Groundwater is being withdrawn, no longer as a buffer over the year but in a structural way, mainly because water is seen as a free good.”

It is not. The average person in the world uses 3,000-6,000 litres of water daily, less than a tenth of which is used for hygiene or manufacturing. The rest goes to farming. Meat-eating has increased and meat requires ten times more water per calorie than plants. The thirstiest products on earth are biofuels. To grow Soya for one litre of biodiesel takes up to 9,100 litres of water and up to 4,000 litres to transform corn into bioethanol. Brabeck-Letmathe predicts, “Under the present conditions and with the way water is being managed, we will run out of water long before we run out of fuel.” India and the USA combined produce a third of the world’s cereals, but Frank Rijsberman of the International Water Management Institute cautions, “we could be facing annual losses equivalent to the grain crops” of India and the USA.

The land grabs are now a pandemic. As with natural resources in Africa, there is no transparency and foreign governments and multinationals engaged in bribes have no great fear of prosecution in poor countries. In their own wealthy countries, at least somebody may publicly cry foul or demonstrate with huge placards in the streets without fearing being shot down by the police or armed forces.

In Africa land rights are not just written, they also exist through custom and practice. There should indeed be (if nothing else) compulsory sharing of benefits such as construction of schools and health centres. Short leases, or better still contract farming, would leave smallholders in control of their land and contract to investors. On the other hand the investors must never have the right to export entire harvests especially during a food crisis in the host country.

Land-grabs represent a serious violation of the human right to food. Humankind’s most primordial fight was over food. It is food that makes the fittest who then survives. I therefore call to all Africans, Continental and Diaspora, and all friends and fans of Africa, to join me in this fight by going to my web site – www.akinyi-princess.de – and signing in the with both your name, the words and your valid email address. In addition, please spread the word to your friends, families, social network chums and pals, chat room and forum acquaintances around the globe to join us in the fight. I need at least 25,000 authentic email “signatures” to enable me to write a petition to the AU Commissioner in Addis Ababa demanding that African governments may not simply “negotiate” land grab deals with foreign governments and multinationals without prior consultations with their respective citizens in the form of a referendum. The petition is now being professionally drafted and will be posted in my web site ASAP.

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A graduate journalist – the London Schools of Journalism as well as an economics graduate of the London School of Economics. Been writing as a freelance journalist since 1980, columnist with various dailies and monthly magazines in Africa and Europe. Gives lectures and seminars in various German universities, colleges and high schools on topics ranging from socio-economy in Africa, Business English, African literature and the socio-ethnological conflicts in the traditions of Africans and the West in general. Written and published articles, papers, novels in Engish and German. Her non-fiction book “Darkest Europe and Africa’s Nightmare: A critical Observation of the Neighbour Continents” published in 2008 by a New York publisher. Full CV –  www.akinyi-princess.de. More works as yet unpublished and a children’s fantasy/thriller.

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http://www.tomwilt.com/re-colonization-of-africa-through-buying-agricultural-land-wealthy-nations-and-their-multinationals-on-the-rampage/8548161/

Forest gardens: Trunk call

Forest gardens: Trunk call

They are the latest horticultural must-haves. But how to get one? Anna Pavord drops in on an expert

Martin Crawford in front of his Szechuan pepper tree at the Agroforestry Research Trust. Click the image to be taken to a photo gallery associated with this article.

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Posted 24 September 2011, by Mark Passmore, The Independent, independent.co.uk

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The forest garden is an attractive prospect, an edible landscape where the gardener can roam, collecting spiritual refreshment along with dinner. Those two strands were equally important to Robert Hart, whose smallholding at Wenlock Edge in Shropshire became a place of pilgrimage for his disciples. His book Forest Gardening (1996), written four years before he died, explored different and more holistic methods of producing crops. Why labour at digging the earth, planting fresh seed each year, when you could copy nature’s way of providing a harvest?

Working in his own orchard, Hart developed a forest-garden model built up from seven different layers of planting. At the top is the canopy provided by mature fruit trees and under that a lower layer of smaller fruit and nut trees. Shrubs such as currants make up a third layer, with a herbaceous layer of perennial vegetables under that. Any remaining bare earth is covered with horizontal mats of herbs, or sprawling crops such as cranberry (if the soil is sufficiently acid). Hart built into his system an underground dimension of edible tubers and rhizomes and a final flurry of vines and other climbers that could pull their way up into the trees. It’s the kind of mix you find in many English woodlands, though the plants there will not necessarily be edible.

Now, if you want to learn about the forest garden, your pilgrimage will take you west, to Martin Crawford and the Agroforestry Research Trust, based in a two-acre plot at Dartington in Devon. In fact, Crawford has plots scattered in several places round here, because he can scarcely keep up with demand for the plants he grows and the courses he runs each year. What is the draw, I asked, as we cowered in a polytunnel, waiting for the worst of the rain to pass. “A bit of it is the back-to-nature stuff,” he replied. “And a lot of people now lead very busy lives. They think of the forest garden as a low input system.”

Which it is. But only up to a point. “There’s no such thing as a do-nothing garden,” says Crawford robustly. “You can’t just plant up a forest garden and walk away.” Shelter is critically important, particularly if you aim to grow the more unusual plants that for some devotees is the whole point of the forest garden: blue honeysuckle, Szechuan pepper, tuberous nasturtium, plum yew. Most new converts want to get straight on with planting their crops. But, says Crawford, the shelter belt must come first.

Hart made his forest garden within an already established orchard. Crawford thinks it’s simpler to begin with open ground, as he did at Dartington where he took over a piece of unused pasture. Getting the trees in is the easy bit, he says. It’s the underlayers that need some thought. He used thick plastic sheets (Terram) to kill off the grass between the trees, gradually planting up one area at a time. Shade lovers will be more at home than plants that need sun. In Crawford’s plot, apple mint romps away very successfully in what Hart might have called the fifth dimension, with Solomon’s seal spearing up between.

I’ve never eaten Solomon’s seal, but Crawford says the young shoots are excellent, gathered and cooked like asparagus. I’ve never eaten lime leaves either, but Crawford coppices his limes hard to get plenty of young growth and uses the leaves in salads. It’s one of his best crops, he says, though it’d be a brave greengrocer who tried to sell them. Raspberries are a great success, because they can wander where they want, rather than being constrained to grow in the strip of ground to which we gardeners usually confine them. Crawford’s canes were enormous. And his Solomon’s seal hadn’t been stripped by caterpillars, as mine always are.

Diversity, said Crawford. That’s the secret. He reckons he’s got at least 500 different kinds of plant growing in his Dartington plot. And because one plant muddles into the next in an amiable way, it’s not so obvious which is what to a pest such as the Solomon’s seal sawfly (Phymatocera aterrima). But if self-sufficiency is your aim, you’d be hard-pressed, even with these 500 plants, to feed yourself adequately. Hart was a vegan and lived mostly on raw food. But on a cold winter’s evening, I’d be looking for something a little more comforting.

And a forest garden can’t provide much carbohydrate, apart from sweet chestnuts which make a superb flour. I always buy it when we go to see my brother in France as, over here, it’s absurdly expensive (£6.99 for 500g). Crawford mills his own which he gathers from the trees he planted when he first took on this plot, 20 years ago. This year there’s a heavy crop and the squirrels leave them alone because they don’t like the prickles.

Hart saw the sustainable forest garden as the ideal way to transform city wastelands, reconnecting the urban with the natural. Would I plant a forest garden, if I were starting afresh in our plot? No, but that’s chiefly because I live surrounded by the spiritual refreshment of the real thing. There are hazelnuts in every hedgerow. Sweet chestnuts, too. Sloes and bullaces are abundant; so are elders and nettles and we use them all. This year, there’s been an astonishing crop of parasol mushrooms in the fields around. And the irony is that, while people queue up to learn about the forest garden, I’ve not seen a single person out brambling, though luscious blackberries are bursting out all over.

Agroforestry Research Trust, 46 Hunters Moon, Dartington, Totnes, Devon TQ9 6JT. Send 4 x 1st class stamps (or visit agroforestry.co.uk) for a copy of Martin Crawford’s excellent catalogue of fruit and nut trees as well as unusual vegetables and spices. Weekend (non-residential) courses in forest gardening cost £160. 2012 dates will be announced on the website. Meanwhile you can subscribe to ‘Agroforestry News’ for £21 a year (4 issues). Look out for Martin Crawford’s book ‘Unusual Vegetables’, to be published next spring by Green Books (£14.95)

Five fabulous plants for a forest garden

Szechuan pepper (Zanthoxylum schinifolium) An intensely aromatic small tree or large shrub growing to 3m (10ft) with bunches of small, hard, red fruit that provide the pepper. The leaves can be used as flavouring. Hardy to -20C. £8.

Mashua (Tropaeolum tuberosum) A scrambling plant with very pretty, slightly glaucous leaves, peppery in taste like the garden nasturtium. Grown for its tubers, a staple in the Andes, unstarchy but nutritious. Two tubers for £4.

Turkish rocket (Bunias orientalis) A deep-rooted perennial brassica that comes into growth early in the year. Cook young new leaves like cabbage and the flowerheads – they come later – like broccoli. They have a mustardy flavour. £6.

Umbrella pine (Pinus pinea) All pines produce pine nuts but some are easier to get at than others. This is the best species to plant for nuts, eventually growing to 15m (50ft). £12.

Chinese mountain yam (Dioscorea batatas) The Crawford children’s favourite vegetable, the yams produced like little potatoes all the way up a twining stem that can get to 3-4m. They do best in fertile soil. £5.

 

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http://www.independent.co.uk/life-style/house-and-home/gardening/forest-gardens-trunk-call-2359124.html

Is Green the New Red? Thinking About Political Repression Today


Is Green the New Red? Thinking About Political Repression Today

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Posted 22 September 2011, by Craig Hughes and Kevin Van Meter (posted by , Left Eye on Books, lefteyeonbooks.com

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“While corporations and the state have certainly targeted activists as ‘eco-terrorists,’ too many other populations have also been targeted for repression to sufficiently pair the Red Scares and the Green Scare.”

“McCarthyism is Americanism with its sleeves rolled,” said Joe McCarthy to a public audience at the height of the second Red Scare that marked the years between 1947 and 1957. While we presume the first part of the sentence to be correct, the rolling of sleeves is a bit more complex, as it can connote both gearing up for a fight as well as preparing for hard work.

The “Green Scare” — a period of government repression of radical earth and animal liberationists, wherein the government has utilized anti-terrorism rhetoric and legislation — as with the Red Scare before it, has both reinvigorated direct violence of the state and attempted to produce a particular form of American society. It is the subject of Will Potter’s important new volume, “Green Is the New Red: An Insider’s Account of a Social Movement under Siege.”

Potter has undoubtedly written a valuable book. While animal rights activists, animal liberationists, environmentalists and earth liberationists have increasingly been targets of repression for decades under the guise of attacks on “eco-terrorism,” the increased repression they’ve faced, particularly following Sept. 11 2001, is not always included in discussions of the hysteria that followed that tragic day. As importantly, the slow linkage of “terrorism” with animal rights and environmental direct action through legislation and shifts in political discourse is an important but little known history. In “Green Is the New Red” Potter has provided us with a well researched, easily accessible and engaging work that tells the story of the corporate and government assaults on environmental and animal rights activists, which has led to dozens of arrests, and numerous convictions — including some with so-called “terrorism enhancements.” Potter explains in clear terms the development of repressive legislation, identifies the major corporations and lobbying units involved, and illuminates the emergence of a policing apparatus that has enforced the criminalization of a wide array of dissenters in the name of “anti-terrorism.”

We hope in this review to supportively, but critically, explore Potter’s book. We do this first by summarizing the volume, then by relaying a story from our own past, which is briefly mentioned in Potter’s work. We think that the conclusions from our own experiences add to the story Potter tells, and may point to other ways to think about the development of the Green Scare. From here, we want to think through the meaning of the Green Scare by questioning the concept in relation the more generalized state of siege that activists and other communities are under, as well as the co-optation of the environmental and animal rights movements.

Green is the New Red

This volume is divided into eleven chapters that span the course of thirty years, but focus primarily on the last twenty. Potter begins with his own limited experience of animal rights activism in Chicago, which led to attempted intimidation by FBI agents who told him that, unless he cooperated and provided them information, he would be labeled a terrorist. Potter’s story is alarming although by no means unique particularly in the post-September 11 period.

The majority of the book is focused on two major subjects: those convicted under the Animal Enterprise Protection Act (AEPA) as part of the “SHAC 7” (the handful of activists involved in the Stop Huntingdon Animal Cruelty campaign, who also received convictions for conspiring “to violate the Animal Enterprise Terrorism Act” (AETA)); and those arrested in Operation Backfire for Earth Liberation Front (ELF) and Animal Liberation Front (ALF) actions that occurred in the West and Northwest near around the millennium turn. SHAC, the ELF, as well as the ALF, are often grouped together under the rubric of “eco-terrorism,” though not a single individual was harmed in any of the hundreds of ELF or ALF actions.

The SHAC convictions were focused on the organization’s website, which functioned as a clearinghouse for information for direct-action — activists could use this information for interventions against individuals and corporations with ties to Huntingdon Life Sciences. The multi-pronged approach worked, as underground actions combined with relentless above ground protests succeeded in shifting business as usual — the SHAC campaign was so successful in targeting Huntingdon that it wiped the corporation from the New York Stock Exchange and nearly caused it to go bankrupt.

The Operation Backfire arrests focused on a series of arsons committed under the name of the ELF by a group of about 20 people. The arrests sprang from the work of Jacob Ferguson, the first person to ever commit an ELF arson in the U.S., who later began to work for the FBI to round up his past comrades. Ferguson was able to escape without jail time in this case because he was so instrumental in solving the string of ELF actions, which had caused millions of dollars in damage. Some of those convicted in the Operation Backfire incidents received “terrorism enhancements,” which could add significant years to their sentences and increase the hardship they faced throughout their prison terms and after release.

In order to explain the development of the Green Scare and the notion of “eco-terrorism,” Potter has to explain a significant amount of history. Accordingly, we are treated to a succinct and well-conceived explanation of the development of post-‘60s environmental radicalism in the States. There is also a lengthy and insightful analysis of the word “terrorism,” which, as Potter points out, is rarely clear in meaning, ever-expanding, and always intended to “demonize the other.”

The ALF first appeared in the 1980s but the use of arson was not used until later. As ALF actions increased underground during the 1990s, above ground activism intensified and their combined effectiveness led the animal-product industry to actively lobby for repressive legislation. Similarly, as environmentalism gained ground and was increasingly effective in the 1980s and 1990s, the industries under pressure from environmentalists began to work hard to target activists and prevent further victories. Accordingly, Potter points out that corporations “needed to displace activists from their moral highground,” and “[a] key development in orchestrating this fall from grace was the decision to wield the power of language.” He points out that a lobbyist from the Center for the Defense of Free Enterprise coined the absurdly defined term “eco-terrorism” — “a crime committed to save nature,” in 1983. Think tanks like the Center for Consumer Freedom, Center for the Defense of Free Enterprise, the National Association for Biomedical Research, and others have had influence on politicians and in political discourse, which has played a significant role in labeling direct action, or support of direct action in the case of SHAC, as “terrorism.” As corporations and think tanks have built relationships with congress and developed PR campaigns, and as legislation has been passed and “anti-terrorism” has become the driving force in law enforcement, animal rights and environmental activists have increasingly seen even banal behavior, like flyering, become criminalized.

Potter traces environmental and animal rights intra-movement developments along with those in legislation and discourse. The ELF’s use of arson and sabotage caused a split inside Earth First!, which was undoubtedly the cutting edge of radical environmentalism in the States during the ’80s and ’90s. In the post-September 11 period some of the major environmental organizations have actively supported legislation that explicitly targets direct-action-oriented environmentalists; some have passively supported the repression of targeted activists through refusals to speak out in support of them during their cases. The above-ground animal rights movement has also had a tricky relationship with underground activists; although groups like PETA have refused to denounce ALF actions. As activists have found legal, above-board action insufficient to deal with issues like vivisection and factory farming, some have taken to clandestine direct action to damage the animal-abuse industries.

Environmental and animal rights activists have become targets due to the effectiveness of their campaigns that cut into profit margins. Further, Potter points out that within the policing apparatus “anti-terrorism” is a significant career ladder for individual agents. Particularly following Sept. 11, the government has sought to sponsor and fund “anti-terrorism” initiatives that then need to locate targets to justify themselves. Potter’s research on the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC), which brings together state lawmakers, think tanks and corporations to draft legislation is particularly salient. Potter points out that “[b]y 2010, thirty-nine states had passed laws carving out special protections for animal and environmental enterprises and special penalties for activists.” In 2006, in light of the ELF, ALF, and the SHAC campaign, the Animal Enterprise Protection Act was expanded to create the Animal Enterprise Terrorism Act – this was done, simply, to increase the penalties activists faced for using direct action. And activists have felt the pressure of this change, where simple actions of flyering can bring the wrath of being called, and punished as an “eco-terrorist,” or simply a “terrorist.”

The feeling of terror that activists have thus felt, and the crazy but very real ways the government has codified processes that evoke it, are at the core of Potter’s notion of the Green Scare, which of course harkens back to the anti-Communist hysteria of the 1950s (he does not address the first Red Scare that targeted the Industrial Workers of the World and others around the 1920s). Potter’s argument here is that the second Red Scare, like the Green Scare today, functioned through legislative, legal and extra-legal levels — the latter, “scare-mongering,” he argues “was by far the most dangerous” because it had the “sole intention of instilling fear.” Potter does not argue that we are today seeing something equivalent to the Red Scares of old, but rather something historically contingent, which thrives from the confluence of corporate involvement in American politics, the power of PR campaigns and the post-September 11 political environment.

In his discussion of SHAC, the ELF, ALF, and the Operation Backfire convictions, Potter successfully humanizes those who have been targets of anti-“eco-terrorism” efforts. The SHAC defendants had long histories in organizations like Food Not Bombs and a variety of charitable groups. Operation Backfire defendant Daniel McGowan, the subject of the recent documentary “If a Tree Falls: A Story of the Earth Liberation Front”, is the son of a New York City police officer, who felt an urgency to save the environment after painfully experiencing the ineffectiveness of above ground activism. Though efforts were taken to avoid injuring any human being in any action — and these efforts have always been successful — people like Daniel have been labeled “terrorists” and imprisoned in the Communications Management Unit, which some have labeled “little Guantanamo.”

In contrast, Potter powerfully points out that right-wing activists, particularly those who have waged brutal campaigns against abortion providers and in the course harmed human beings, have rarely been a target of anti-terror legislation. He points out that for the FBI, “in the three years following September 11, every act of domestic terrorism, except for one, was the work of animal rights and environmental activists.” In contrast, he points out that “[f]rom 1977 to 2008, anti-abortion activists committed eight murders” — in addition to the hundreds of other acts that include assaults, arsons, vandalisms, bomb threats, death threats, and anthrax threats — and “[n]one of these crimes are recorded by the FBI as acts of domestic terrorism.” In 2005 the FBI publicly announced that “The No. 1 domestic terrorism threat is the eco-terrorism, animal-rights movement…” That’s the absurdity of the current circumstance.

With this brief summary in mind, we now turn toward our own experience with anti-“eco-terrorism” efforts in order to expand on Potter’s story and raise some questions. We want to stress that our points and questions are comradely in intent. Potter’s work adds to our understanding of the current situation, and deepens the sophistication of activist attempts to understand repressive state and corporate activities today. There’s just more to say.

Days We Struggle to Remember

In April of 1998 a handful of radicals on Long Island formed the Modern Times Collective. In our approximately four years of existence we attracted significant local attention, especially for a small group spread across many miles that compose suburban Suffolk and Nassau Counties. Various press outlets ran stories on what they called a ‘rag tag’ group of radicals organizing small protests and cultural events such as DIY flea markets. Significant players in the establishment-Left on Long Island categorized us as “bomb throwing anarchists,” for little more reason than that we challenged the overwhelmingly boring and ineffective approach to social justice politics so dominant in the area at the time. Then, in early 2001, the FBI arrested Conor Cash, one of our main organizers, and charged him with conspiracy to commit arson as part of the ELF, which had committed a series of actions in the region during the last days of 2000. On Sept. 19, 2001 his charges were upped to include a “terrorism enhancement” that could have added decades to a potential sentence if convicted — he became the first person to be charged as a “domestic terrorist” after Sept. 11. He was swiftly acquitted after a two-week trial nearly three years later, in 2004. This is a story that while included in Potter’s narrative, only appears briefly. His basic summary of the case is as follows:

 By 2000, the FBI reassigned one of the Joint Terrorism Tasks Forces to investigate ELF arsons in Long Island, New York. The task force had previously investigated the bombings of U.S. embassies in Africa and the first bombing of the World Trade Center. Then came September 11th.

Modern Times had thought, from early on, that we were being surveilled, if only because anarchist groups on Long Island are few and far between and we were also increasingly aware that we were part of a larger movement that was rapidly gaining momentum and visibility. As the turn of the millennium social justice protest cycle intensified in the U.S. –from the Millions for Mumia march in Philadelphia, where we participated in one of the first significant black blocs on U.S. soil, through the Battle of Seattle, International Monetary Fund and World Bank protests in DC, the 2000 Republican and Democratic Conventions, the Free Trade Area of the Americas resistance in Quebec, and so on — we became more and more aware of policing, surveillance and, to some extent, infiltration. Simultaneously, we became swept up in what we perceived as a new cycle of struggle.

In 2000, Modern Times members inspired by Reclaim the Streets (RTS) actions in New York City and Britain, organized a local May Day protest, where a few dozen people held a main intersection in Huntington Village with a street party for about an hour during a busy shopping weekend day. Our desire to disrupt privatized-public space and create a ‘carnival against capital,’ was complemented by the attention we sought to bring to rising living expenses and falling wages. It was an important coup for us in the end, as we successfully disrupted traffic and business in a place that isn’t well known for its use of direct action or proliferating radicalisms. For a short period of time, as the crowds gathered around, it was irresistible. For the FBI and local police, who videotaped the event from start to finish, it was alarming; taken in the context of our increasing involvement in national street mobilizations, it was particularly concerning for them.

As street mobilizations like RTS were gaining momentum, and local manifestations of the global justice movement developed in numerous areas across the U.S., repressive rhetoric on the part of the government intensified. Thus, on May 10, 2001, in light of the increasing presence of radical protests and organizing, the federal government declared RTS a terrorist organization. An FBI reported explained,

 Anarchists and extremist socialist groups — many of which, such as the Workers’ World Party, Reclaim the Streets, and Carnival Against Capitalism –have an international presence and, at times, also represent a potential threat in the United States. For example, anarchists, operating individually and in groups, caused much of the damage during the 1999 World Trade Organization ministerial meeting in Seattle.

Our local Joint Terrorism Task Force (JTTF) — the locally based coalitions of FBI agents and police departments that focus on disrupting and stopping “terrorism” — began following Modern Times members by May of 2000; this was confirmed during court testimony. The JTTF/FBI agent charged with pursuing the case against our friend had been flown to Seattle and later to Philadelphia to learn about protestors and anarchists, and to use this information in his work on Long Island.

Starting in November 2000 and continuing through to early January 2001, the ELF claimed responsibility for a string of actions at construction sites and a duck farm. The FBI started door knocking, targeting some of those arrested during the May Day RTS protest the MTC organized. They offered monetary compensation to at least one member of Modern Times, who was also an organizer of the RTS action, to infiltrate the ELF culture that the government presumed he had access to; he turned their offer down and later testified about it in court as a defense witness. The FBI had determined Conor to be a leader in the MTC, and hence, the ELF. During the RTS action he sat on top of the 21 foot tripod that allowed us to hold the street and unfurled a banner that read “this is what democracy looks like,” with a circle around the ‘A’ in democracy. In August of that year he would be arrested along with three dozen other Modern Times members at the 2000 Republican National Convention protests in Philadelphia. A few months later, Conor was arrested — supposedly for playing a leading role in the ELF actions.

What became clear to many of us before 2004, but certainly during our friend’s trial, was that the government’s case was much less about specific incidents of arson or vandalism than it was about breaking apart our communities and slowing down the ‘movement of movements’ — even in the suburbs, even on Long Island. We watched as the FBI showed a clearly doctored video during the trial — and we laughed at such an impressive example of tragic comedy, but that concocted video was used as evidence against someone we loved. One of those convicted for the ELF actions, a cooperating witness and high school student at the time of his arrest, stated bluntly on the stand that the FBI had “coerced” him. The FBI had the gall to visit a prominent New York University professor the eve before he testified for the defense to question him about his testimony. Perhaps most ridiculous, was that at the center of the government’s case was this argument: because Conor had a ‘circle-A’ tattoo on his shoulder, and the ‘A’ in democracy was circled on the banner during our May Day protest, and because someone had spray-painted a circle-A symbol at one of the arson sites, clearly our friend was guilty. That was the plain of absurdity the U.S. government played on. Absurd. Tragic, but real; and terrifying, which, of course was their point.

In “Green is the New Red” Potter points to this case, stating that the government’s “first victory against the number one domestic terrorism threat was the conviction of three seventeen-year-old high school students” (this requires a slight clarification — three people were convicted, two of these functioned as cooperating witnesses against Cash, and a mysterious fourth who confessed to involvement to the FBI, according to court testimony, was never formally charged).

In our view, this case deepens and complicates Potter’s account in a couple of important ways. First, it points to the fact that pre-September 11 the government had sought to vilify radical activists, like those who host unpermitted street parties, as “terrorists,” and to target them accordingly. Secondly, in our view, it points to the importance of placing the Green Scare within context of the counter-globalization struggles at the turn of the millennium.

The Seattle resistance against the World Trade Organization in 1999, and the organizing surrounding it, was a watershed moment in U.S. social movement history. The “Battle of Seattle” is referenced various times in the book — indeed, some of those convicted as part of Operation Backfire were involved in protesting at the WTO and in the infamous black bloc actions — but Potter does not adequately draw out how the state conceived of “Seattle,” nor its consequences, and does not adequately draw out the organizing surrounding it, which upped the ante for both the movements and the state. For example, as mentioned above, RTS had been designated a “terrorist” threat at least months before Sept. 11, but Potter does not mention this in the book. This designation occurred largely in the context of the Seattle actions. That perception, and the government concern about the global justice movement, certainly played an important, indeed decisive role in our experience with repression on Long Island.

The counter-globalization protests against the WTO in Seattle shows up in various Green Scare indictments and in the narratives of various activists mentioned in the book. And certainly some of those involved in the ELF actions in the Northwest, those targeted in Operation Backfire, would point to this moment as anomalous, inspirational and motivational. Notably, for example, current ELF political prisoner Daniel McGowan, whose case is a major focus of Potter’s work, stated to one of us in a personal conversation that the oft quoted slogan spray painted on buildings during the Seattle protests — “We are winning” — was taken by him and others as a sign of radicals actually winning. We felt similarly, although we turned down different roads.

Indeed, the years surrounding the turn of the century were a time when a culmination of decades of radicalism came to a crescendo. Activisms exploded nationally — not just in the environmental and animal rights movements, but in the anti-corporate movements, the myriad of immigrant rights struggles, the prison justice movements, and various others; these struggles challenged the bottom line and impacted popular discourse, to the detriment of corporate profits, in critical ways. As corporations and politicians sought to stifle the environmental and animal rights movements, the rhetoric of “terrorism” and pre- and post-September 11 government repression intensified because the policing apparatus also sought to dismantle the counter-globalization movements — both their local manifestations and their militant street demonstrations. In our view this context is very important for understanding both movement history and the development of government repression over the past couple of decades.

 Is Green the New Red?

Potter’s research is particularly impressive in tracing the roots of the two major pieces of legislation against the animal rights movement — the Animal Enterprise Protection Act (1992) and its expanded and amended version, the Animal Enterprise Terrorism Act (2006). The former was created in the context, at least rhetorically, of numerous ALF actions in the late 1980s and early 1990s. The latter development is contextualized through the SHAC campaign and is largely about intensifying penalties faced by activists and increasing the risk associated with animal rights activism. What Potter shows throughout his work is that a well-funded group of industry lobbyists and think tanks, their politician friends and allies, and the Department of Homeland Security (DHS), have created a web of legislation and policing powers intended to dismantle earth and animal rights campaigns, and to punish activists, like those convicted for politically motivated arsons.

Potter’s ultimate point is that the Green Scare is not just about money, not about profits alone. Rather, he argues, the repression is about spreading fear and about winning a “culture war” — “[t]he only way to explain the conflation of mainstream and radical groups as terrorists is to assume that all of it — from ballot initiatives to sabotage — poses a threat.” He summarizes:

Ultimately, the rise of the Green Scare was no conspiracy. It does not seem to be the result of any secret planning document drafted jointly by industry and the FBI. The shift was gradual, slowly merging the rhetoric of industry groups with that of politicians and law enforcement. Eventually, what was once a fringe argument became official government policy.

Potter’s case is strong, but calling this all “the Green Scare,” while compelling, isn’t sufficient or precise enough given the context. While corporations and the state have certainly targeted activists as “eco-terrorists,” too many other populations have been targeted simultaneously for repression to sufficiently pair the Red Scares and the Green Scare. This would require almost endless caveats about the substantive differences between the two. That doesn’t make this volume less valuable, but rather speaks to the need more nuanced analyses and broader conceptualizations of the current situation.

This bigger picture extends far beyond the counter-globalization movement, and far beyond the animal rights and environmental movements. It extends to Middle Eastern and Islamic communities that are only marginally mentioned here, even though these communities have faced the brunt of the government’s daily assault in the name of “anti-terrorism.” It also extends to the massive round up and deportation of immigrant peoples after the successful Sí, Se Puede movements defeated a major piece of federal anti-immigrant legislation — the Sensenbrenner Bill – in 2006. It extends to the arrests of Black Panthers for decades-old charges. It extends to the rhetoric used against anti-nuke, South African divestment, and Central American Solidarity activists roughly twenty years ago.

While it’s understandable to focus on animal rights and environmental activists, who have been one significant focus of government and corporate attacks, one is left to wonder how something like the Green Scare relates to a much larger situation where all of society has been mobilized to be on consistent alert for “threats,” and to be constantly ready to become police in the day-to-day. How do we read the many scares in the name of “anti-terrorism,” –one inclusive of the assault on environmentalists and animal rights activists and the many, many others who’ve suffered similar repression in recent decades? How do we read the many “scares” and develop a coherent concept that reflects the intensified repression in the name of “anti-terrorism?” Is it better to think about “Green” as a “new red,” rather than the new red?

Additionally, it also seems worthwhile to explore the differences between the ELF and SHAC in terms of effectiveness and repression when describing and thinking through the Green Scare. Potter doesn’t effectively differentiate environmental and animal rights groups. While the powers that be may see them as interchangeable, and composed of many of the same activists, it’s highly doubtful that they always are, and it’s not necessarily clear that in terms of repression that the government sees them as the same. In terms of effectiveness, each used a different approach – including entirely different models, approaches to research, approaches to media, and tactics – and weighing these out seems worthwhile for understanding how activists have impacted social change. In terms of repression, we were also left with some curiosity in thinking through the Green Scare. The framing of Green Scare came into being prior to the SHAC 7 trial, prior to the cooperation of many of the Operation Backfire defendants, though four of the latter individual pled guilty while maintaining a non-cooperating stance with the government. There was no clear reformulation of the concept with these developments since that point.

If under the second Red Scare most people did not commit the “crime” of involvement with the Communist movement, but under Operation Backfire those accused turned out to actually be involved in the ELF, how do we perceive the meaning of the Green Scare in thinking through government repression? Does this conceptualization need to be more nuanced? It also seems worthwhile to explore fundamental differences between how the repression against the SHAC 7 and the Operation Backfire functioned; since, for those considering a defense against future and current repression it is important to understand these particulars and the aspects of the situation they are encountering.

Perhaps most controversially within our own communities, we were also left with questions related to issues of political economy. Potter discusses FBI targeting of mainstream groups like PETA, and the impression one gets is that environmentalism and animal rights as a whole face repression, and are threats to the established order of some sort. Potter makes a point similar to this explicitly when describing the theoretical strands that underlie contemporary animal rights and environmental organizing: “Their confluence is the redefinition of what it means to be a human being.” Going on, he summarizes a DHS report that argued “Animal rights and environmental movements directly challenge civilization, modernity and capitalism,” and directly quotes the report as saying that if victorious these movements “not only would fundamentally alter the nature of social norms regarding the planet’s living habitat and its living organisms, but ultimately would lead to a new system of governance and social relationships that is anarchist and antisystemic in nature.”

This is debatable. Capital is tricky, and what was liberatory one moment is a profitable investment the next, and sometimes there is never a separation between the two. Green capitalism is a major industry and it only looks to be growing. Co-opting the language of environmentalism has been profitable for sectors of capital in the current crisis as — buzzwords such as ‘sustainable,’ ‘green,’ ‘local,’ and even ‘vegan’ become opportunities for new markets. Indeed, the animal rights movement is gaining significant cultural ground. But even as vegans ourselves, we are under no illusion that a shift toward healthier, somewhat less brutal diets, in anyway leads to some sort of gradual process toward a more liberatory, post-capitalist world. How the growth of more compassionate capitalism as a direct response to the supposed threat of the animal rights and environmental movements is very much unclear. These aren’t questions that Potter’s volume sought to tackle, but it is worthwhile to point out the issues here.

In conclusion, in “Green is the New Red,” Potter did an impressive job tracing the various threads that played a role in developing the contemporary animal rights and environmental movements. In doing so, we are offered the opportunity to follow the leads and learn more. Potter has created an easily accessible volume that helps document some of the dangers radicals currently face. And while one can only hope the book reaches far and wide, it is important to consider the various scares — green, red, and otherwise — that are both acts of violence against our movements and part of the State’s attempt at creating a society without said movements. We must roll our sleeves as well — there are many waves of repression to fight against and a new world to work for.

Craig Hughes and Kevin Van Meter co-edited, with Team Colors Collective, “Uses of a Whirlwind: Movement, Movements and Contemporary Radical Currents in the United States” (AK Press, 2010) and co-authored the short book “Wind(s) From Below: Radical Community Organizing to Make a Revolution Possible” (Team Colors & Eberhardt Press, 2010). Both have been involved in various organizing efforts together over the past 14 years. Hughes and Van Meter, along with Conor Cash, are currently writing a chapter titled “The Curious Case of Conor Cash” for a forthcoming volume on counter counter-insurgency.

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The Magic of Chickens

 

The Magic of Chickens

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Posted 20 September 2011, by Robyn Lawrence, Care2, care2.org

 

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If Harvey Ussery were stranded on a desert island and could bring only one thing, he would bring a flock of chickens.

“They would feed themselves by foraging over the island, keep me supplied with eggs, one of the most perfect foods,” says the Virginia homesteader and author of The Small-Scale Poultry Flock. “In the process, they would continually improve my island’s soil by working in plant covers and their droppings, increasing its productivity for whatever food crops I was able to grow. Hens who went broody would hatch out chicks to renew the flock each year.”

Harvey Ussery makes his chickens partners in food production. Photo courtesy of Harvey and Ellen Ussery/Mother Earth News

Harvey, a Mother Earth News writer who produces much of his own food on 3 acres, manages chickens holistically, enlisting them as partners for soil improvement, making compost, insect control and more. He’s been raising a mixed poultry flock, which he considers a key to greater food independence, for almost 30 years. “I am constantly reaching for new ways to integrate the flock with the work of food production, to make them happy and content, and to provide them more live, natural foods right on the homestead,” he says.

Harvey’s been experimenting for years to find new ways to convert organic “wastes” (chicken poop) into resources for greater soil fertility. “To truly imitate nature, we must banish all notion of ‘waste,’ remembering that in natural systems one critter’s waste is another’s priceless resource,” he says.

He’ll talk about this alchemy during his workshop, “Trash to Treasure: Bioconversion of Waste to Resources” at the Mother Earth News Fair in Seven Springs, Pennsylvania, on September 24. Harvey says he looks forward to “sharing ideas with people who are passionate about finding saner, more sustainable ways to produce our food.”

Harvey’s chickens are housed in a comfortable roost with room to roam. Photo courtesy of Harvey and Ellen Ussery/Mother Earth News

I was at the Fair last year, and I wholeheartedly agree with Harvey–there’s nothing quite like this opportunity to swap ideas and learn from masters. I can’t make it this year, but I’m having fun reading about the passionate, sane voices that will be heard there at the Mother Earth News Fair blog. Check it out to join the conversation–and possibly win free tickets if you live near Seven Springs. There’s just nothing quite like connecting with likeminded others in a beautiful mountain setting (and checking out chickens and livestock while you’re at it).

Robyn Griggs Lawrence writes the daily Natural Home Living blog for Mother Earth News, the original guide to living wisely. The editor-in-chief of Natural Home magazine from 1999 until 2010, Robyn’s goal is to help everyone create a nurturing, healthy and environmentally friendly home. Her book, Simply Imperfect: Revisiting the Wabi-Sabi House, introduces Americans to the 15th-century Japanese philosophy of simplicity, serenity and authenticity.

 

More on Birds (104 articles available)
More from Robyn Lawrence (31 articles available)

 

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http://www.care2.com/greenliving/the-magic-of-chickens.html

 

 

Women and Agriculture: A Conversation on Improving Global Food Security

 

Women and Agriculture: A Conversation on Improving Global Food Security

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Posted  19 September 2011, by Staff, United States Department of State, state.gov

 

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Remarks

Hillary Rodham Clinton
Secretary of State
Intercontinental Hotel
New York City
September 19, 2011

Moderated by Nick Kristof

MODERATOR:  Ladies and gentlemen, please join me in welcoming the Honorable Hillary Rodham Clinton, Secretary of State of the United States; Nick Kristof, moderator and columnist for The New York Times; Reema Nanavaty, director for economic and rural development for the Self-Employed Women’s Association; Paul Polman, chief executive officer of Unilever; His Excellency, President Kikwete of the United Republic of Tanzania; Kathy Spahn, president and CEO, Helen Keller International; Dr. Jose Graziano Da Silva, assistant director general of the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization.  (Applause.)

SECRETARY CLINTON:  Well, thank you very much and welcome to all.  You will have the opportunity in just a few minutes to hear from all of our distinguished panelists.  In addition to those who have been introduced, I want to recognize the UN Food and Agriculture Organization director general, Mr. Jacques Diouf.  Thank you, sir, for being here.  (Applause.)

I also want to recognize a longtime friend and leader in efforts against poverty and on behalf of human dignity, Dr. Muhammad Yunus.  (Applause.)

And on a personal note, I am pleased that I will be joined shortly in this program by USAID Administrator Dr. Raj Shah and I’m also pleased that one of our two congressional representatives, Representative Russ Carnahan from Missouri, is here.  So welcome to one and all.

And it’s a great pleasure for me for the third year in a row to meet during the United Nations General Assembly to focus on an issue that is critical to the global economy, global health, and the prosperity and well-being of billions of people worldwide:  agriculture and food security.

I don’t need to tell this audience that while we meet here in this beautiful hotel, nearly 1 billion people are suffering from chronic hunger, and in the Horn of Africa we are seeing the devastating impact of acute hunger and starvation.

Now, at the root of the crisis in the Horn of Africa is a man-made problem.  And we are all working together to try to alleviate the suffering and to save lives, and we’re also as an international community sending a very strong plea to the group al-Shabaab, which is continuing to prevent humanitarian organizations from getting aid to the people who need it, primarily women and children.  As a result, the United Nations warns that up to 750,000 people living in famine-stricken areas of Somalia could die in the next 120 days.

Now, all of us – my country, the international community – are supporting organizations that are saving lives, and we’re going to continue to do our part and we are going to redouble our efforts to press al-Shabaab to let us help.

Later today, USAID Administrator Raj Shah will outline ways that the international community and people all over the world can get involved in supporting those who are suffering in the Horn of Africa.

As we respond to this and other immediate crises, it is imperative that we stay focused on the long-term goal of strengthening global agriculture in order to produce more food, more nutritious food, and reduce hunger.  The United Nations estimates that we need to increase global food production by 70 percent by the year 2050 in order to meet growing demand.  That is a very serious challenge.

So what are we going to do to meet it?  Well, one way that we know would yield significant results is investing more in women.  This comes down to a simple matter of numbers.  Women make up the majority of the agricultural workforce in many developing countries.  They’re involved in every aspect of agricultural production, from planting seeds to weeding fields to harvesting crops.  Yet women farmers are 30 percent less productive than male farmers, for one reason:  they have access to fewer resources.  They certainly work as hard and they, like farmers everywhere, are at the mercy of nature.  But these women have less fertilizer, fewer tools, poorer quality seeds, less access to training and the ownership of land.

As a result, they grow fewer crops, which means less food is available at markets, more people go hungry, farmers earn less money, and we’re back in to that vicious cycle.  The production gap between men and women farmers disappears when that resource gap is closed.  If all farmers, men and women, had access to the same resources, we could increase agricultural output by 20 to 30 percent.  That would feed an additional 150 million people every year.

And the incomes of women farmers would increase, which means more financial security for their families and more money circulating in local economies, which in turn will help other businesses grow.  Furthermore, because women tend to devote more of their money to the health, education, and nutrition of their children, a rise in their incomes pays off over generations.

In the report provided to you today, you will find several examples of the progress that can be achieved by supporting women farmers.  In Ghana, for example, if women and men held equal land rights, and if they both had the ability to use land as collateral to make major investments like irrigation systems or draft animals, women farmers would double their profits from farming.  Multiple studies in places from Honduras to Nepal, from the Philippines to Rwanda, South Africa and Zambia, find that when women are involved in the design and field testing of new technologies, those technologies are actually adopted more rapidly, which increases productivity and incomes faster.

It is for reasons like these that the United States has focused on women farmers and our Feed the Future Food Security Initiative, which is a centerpiece of U.S. foreign policy in the Obama Administration.  We have worked closely with our partners, including other nations, NGOs, private sector companies, and of course the multilaterals, to help make reaching women farmers a top priority for everyone working on this issue.

Today, I’m pleased to announce that the United States is allocating $5 million this year for a new gender program within Feed the Future.  This money will be used to fund innovative approaches to promoting gender equality in agriculture and land use and to integrate gender effectively into agricultural development and food security programs.  It will be used to expand our knowledge base.  We know that women farmers represent a major untapped resource, but we don’t know nearly enough about which approaches will change that.  So we need concentrated research about the obstacles facing women farmers worldwide so we know how to remove them, so women can contribute even more.

I would urge everyone here today and everyone working in this critical field around the world to bring us your best research proposals and programs to support women farmers.  We are looking for good ideas to support.

Conversations like the one we will have here today make me hopeful that we will succeed.  We have with us a distinguished panel of experts who will help us better understand the policies, programs, laws, and societal changes we must make in order to unleash the full productive capacity of women farmers.

I’m very pleased to welcome Nick Kristof as our moderator.  As many of you know, he and his wife, the journalist Sheryl WuDunn, have written a book Half the Sky about the role of women in society.  And they write, “Women and girls aren’t the problem.  They’re the solution, along with men.”  As we will discuss today, and as the short film we are about to watch on the role of women in agriculture will underscore, that’s a reality that we need to embrace worldwide.

As I said last week at the Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation Summit, I believe we are entering the participation age, with political transitions opening opportunities for people to shape their own destinies, and economic transformations creating new platforms for broad-based growth.  Every individual, men and women, boys and girls, everyone is poised to be a contributing and valued member of their societies.  When we liberate the economic potential of women, we elevate the economic performance of communities, nations, and the world.

So let us now turn our attention to the film – I think that’s the next item on the agenda – and then following the film, our moderator, Nick Kristof, will come to the podium or maybe sit here.

MR. KRISTOF:  I think I’ll – I’m lazy, I’ll sit here.

SECRETARY CLINTON:  Okay.  (Laughter.)  He’ll just sit here to moderate our discussion.  Thank you all very much.  (Applause.)

(The film is shown.)

(Applause.)

MR. KRISTOF:  Thank you all very much for coming.  If you’re from out of town, then welcome to New York.  We have a terrific panel, and I’m going to start by asking each of the panel members a question or two, then we’ll move onto a bit of a conversation here and then open it up to questions as well.  Secretary Clinton has to leave at 2 o’clock, and at that point, she will be succeeded by Raj Shah right here very seamlessly.  And it truly is sort of extraordinary for a Secretary of State to be hosting an event focusing not only on agriculture and food, but on a gender focus to improve that.  This is really something very new it seems to me.

And so, Secretary Clinton, maybe let me start with you, and you’ve made the economic case for investing in women to improve agriculture.  You also just gave an important speech a couple days ago for APEC on the same thing, but there’s still this gulf between this research, the evidence that you cited, the economic case, and the actual investments that happen and what actually happens on farms around the world.  So – and also I think that there’s – everybody in the room probably frankly agrees with you, but there are an awful lot of skeptics out there who think this is just kind of the latest politically correct fad.  So how do we go from bridging that evidence, that economic case into actually having an impact on the ground?

SECRETARY CLINTON:  Well, Nick, I think that’s the stage we’re at, and I’m very pleased we are at that stage because up until now, many of us have been making the case.  We’ve made it on moral grounds, on cultural grounds, on social and political grounds, and we’ve seen progress, but I think making the case on economic grounds is what finally begins to open minds and change policies.  It is clear to us who are in this room – this is like preaching to the choir because I look out and I see so many leaders from around the world who have been working on agricultural and food issues, on gender issues, on poverty issues – it’s clear to us that the case now can be made.  We didn’t even collect data for decades.  We had no way of knowing what additional inputs provided to women farmers in Tanzania or Brazil or Bangladesh or anywhere else would actually mean.  And therefore, it was a harder case for us to make.

But since we’ve been gathering such data – and I thank FAO and other organizations that have been leaders in doing this – we can now put this movie together and talk about what happens when you have a leader like President Kikwete, who focuses on agriculture, creates corridors for agricultural productivity, and further focuses on making women more productive.  It works.  So you’ll hear from the champion architect of the Zero Hunger Program in Brazil.  It works.  So now when we go to heads of state or parliaments or international bodies and we make the case, it’s no longer that we’re making a case rooted in our sense of equality and justice and morality; we’re making an economic case that it’s going to raise incomes, it’s going to increase productivity, and given the economy in the world and given the severe challenges our food systems face, this is now an argument that can no longer be ignored.

MR. KRISTOF:  You alluded to this a moment ago when you mentioned the $5 million for research, but can you just speak briefly about what the government, what the Administration is planning to do to build that economic case and to make it at home and around the world?

SECRETARY CLINTON:  I can.  Let me give you a few examples.  Let me start with land reform, which is one of the most challenging issues that demands major political commitment.  If we do not have land reform that gives women co-ownership rights, gives women inheritance rights, we won’t crack the code on greater agricultural productivity because the women need to have more financial security, to be protected in case they’re widowed.  I mean, really some of the saddest stories that I’ve encountered in 20-plus years of doing this work are widows who are pushed off the lands that they tilled with their husbands.  And if we don’t protect against theft and give greater investment incentives, then we won’t get the productivity that is promised.  So Feed the Future will work on land reform.  Feed the Future will also support entrepreneurship development to encourage agricultural growth sector.

For example, in Mali, Feed the Future addresses women’s limited access to finance by providing training in financial management and completing loan applications.  I mean, it’s one thing to go to a woman farmer and say, “Gee, you could get credit.”  Well, they’ve never done that in their lives, and they’ve got to have support in understanding that.  And we know that land reform doesn’t have to be complex.  Let me just end with this one example.

In Ethiopia, the government is instituting a simple remedy:  Joint titles that have room for the names and photos of both husbands and wives.  It’s these kinds of interventions that we can draw attention to because then a woman’s photo, her name, is right there on the land title, and nobody can come and push her off her family land in the event she is widowed.

So there’s a lot of ideas, but that’s why I’m inviting this very distinguished group to give us more and better ideas, because we are open to making policy investments and research projects that will help us develop a new index to determine women’s productivity and access to resources, and to make sure that that’s then shared not only within Feed The Future and our own government, but broadly across the international community.

MR. KRISTOF:  President Kikwete, Secretary Clinton alluded to your focus on agriculture.  You also spent a lot of time in rural Tanzania listening to people.  I wonder to what extent does this make sense to you?  In Tanzania, are investments in women and agriculture going to get a better return?  What is the situation like in rural Tanzania, for example?

PRESIDENT KIKWETE:
  Well, first, let me thank Secretary Clinton for convening this discussion and for inviting me this time.

Well, the truth of the matter is women are the major labor force for agriculture in Tanzania, I think for the rest of Africa.  They do the work of the farm, they till the farms, they take care of the farms, they hold harvest, and the men will take the crops to the market and take the money – (laughter) – and decide how to spend that money.

And for polygamist cultures of ours, the view is that very same money made another wife from the labor – (laughter) – of the one.  This is – but of course, the – of course, we are poor, but women are poorer than men in Africa.  The majority of us live in rural areas – Tanzania 80 percent.  We depend on agriculture, if we have good returns, to make an impact on alleviating poverty, then tackle the agricultural question.  Because agriculture is backward, agriculture, little use of science and technology in production.  The hand hoe, as you saw in the picture, is the dominant technology, very little mechanization, and because it’s the women who are working, then the women shoulder all this burden.

But women don’t own property in many of our societies.  They don’t own the land; the husband owns the land.  The women work on the land.  So what we really need to do to help the women, one is make sure that women have access to property.  And of course, it’s cultural, because in our country, for example, there are some societies where the girl child doesn’t inherit anything from the father.  It’s cultural.  But anyway, we’ve got to look into ways of changing some of these cultures.  Of course, some of them, we do it through legislation.  We make legislations that override the traditional cultures.  So if the lady continues to use the traditions, go to the local chiefs, she’ll be subjected to the cultures.  But if she goes to the national courts of law, then she gets these advantages.  So we’ve been trying to use the legislation to try to help women.

But of course, we need to help women get the inputs, get the high-yielding seeds, get the fertilizers, get the pesticides, the herbicides, but also benefit from mechanization.  We cannot continue to leave the women continue to till the land using the hand hoe.  Of course, it is a question of government policies on making these inputs available.  In our case, we have subsidies, subsidies for seeds, for fertilizers.  We have also studied a program of making small tractors available in the rural areas at affordable prices, where the government also subsidizes these prices.  But of course, one thing also important is credit systems; make it possible for women to access – to have access to credit so that they can get the input and so on.

MR. KRISTOF:  Mr. President, if one gives those – that kind of assistance to women, though, isn’t there a risk of a backlash among men, a sense of resentment that may undermine output?

PRESIDENT KIKWETE:  Well, of course, those who enjoy privileges will always like to – to maintain them is not easy, but I think times are changing, also, because times are changing with education, with economic realities on the ground.  You find less and less of the younger men having the inclination of becoming polygamists.  It’s more an old tradition, because it gives you – it’s many challenges.

Of course, those who remain traditional will have problems with that, but I think times are changing.  Times are changing with education and so on.  We don’t have a bigger problem now and we will not have a bigger problem in the future as more and more people have access to education and modern ways of living.

MR. KRISTOF:  Thank you.  Reema Nanavaty, this is your life’s work.  This is what you do every day in Gujarat and around India.  So can you tell us what the lessons are that you’ve learned?  What does work, specifically?  Where is there sort of robust evidence of an intervention that actually – in terms of gender, that actually does improve nutrition and improve agricultural output?

MS. NANAVATY:  Thank you so much, and thank you, Secretary Clinton.  I carry a special message from our president, whom you had met.  And when I read out the invitation, she said, “Oh, please do,” that the president is now thinking of the right thing that the world needs, and please share our experience that – how did we turn the food crisis into a development opportunity.

So what I’m going to share today in some of our lessons is the work of the 1.5 million women members that, today, I speak here on behalf of.  And I think the first and the foremost is organizing – organizing, first recognizing women as farmers, organizing them.  It’s a first, a must, and no shortcut to that.  And I think we also feel that once organizing women around work as farmers, getting meaningful productive work, then women are also, we feel, much more stable,
much more future oriented, and they build communities which are eager to take on new information, new opportunities.  And that’s what our whole experience – when we had the food crisis looming around, how we organized not a few thousand but around 254,000 women farmers.  We began from Gujarat, and this is their own agribusiness company.

So I think one lesson is that one has to invest in women, in poor, and letting them build their own agriculture based or farm-based enterprises.  And today, I think, as a result of our agribusiness initiative, we have our own brand, which touches around 1.1 million households and ensures them nutrition and food security.  We call – it is RUDI.  This is also our rural distribution network, and as a result of that, women have taken charge.  And we have around 4,000 seed banks.  We have fodder banks.  We have grain banks in 4,000-plus villages as well.

So I think this is – say that how do you integrate the financial market, the labor market, and the community market.  And it has to happen at all levels – the local, the national, and the regional and international levels.

MR. KRISTOF:  And one of the problems in development is that often something – either you experiment with something and it’ll be a wild success; you try to scale it up and it’s much less successful.  So how do you go from some kind of a small-scale success to actually scaling up the kinds of things we’re talking about so that they really work on a large scale?

MS. NANAVATY:  I think we all need to be much more tolerant, much more patient in order for women to scale up their own initiatives.  And our experience of four decades now shows that when (inaudible) in women in their enterprises, women are able to take it to scale.  I think the barriers are that the governments, the financial institutions, the private sector – everybody needs to come together and invest in women-owned, women-managed, and women-led enterprises in the field of agriculture.

Today, our RUDI is not only scaling itself in India alone, but we are taking it to Afghanistan, we are taking it to Sri Lanka, we are taking it to Nepal.  We have sisters who come from Ghana, who come from Malawi, and they all want to take it to their – into their folds.  So I think one has to invest, and basically it’s the governments, the private sector, and the financial institutions.  One – they need to invest so that women have access to and also control over land and grains and information, both.  And then they are able to integrate themselves into the mainstream markets.

MR. KRISTOF: 
One of the things I’ve learned is the degree to which business can be a huge engine for change.  And so Paul Polman, you’re from that world.  Can you talk a little bit – at Unilever – about how you go about making these kinds of business decisions and whether it is increasingly apparent in the business community that there is a real business case for these investments that put more money in the hands of women farmers, for example?

MR. POLMAN:  Yeah.  I’ll start – well, first of all, again, thanks for the opportunity as well to be here.  I’ll start with a confession.  To be honest, before I was on the panel, I really did not spend much time to look at it from an angle of women.  Now, I apologize for that, but then it became very apparent that when I looked at all the examples – I’m chairing right now a task force on the G-20 for food security, for example, leading up to the November meetings.  And the more examples I looked at, that – just the women kept popping up, and it was very, very clear that looking – not surprising, no? – looking at the programs that we are working with, that most of that is actually driven by women.

When we select things – to be honest, we are a 65 billion company; we buy agricultural materials, about 12 billion worth a year.  Fifteen percent of the world tea was our brand, Lipton, and some other things.  But it’s very clear when I called our people and I said, “Look at our tea plantations in Muvindi and – which is in your territory – or in Kericho in Kenya, the bulk of them are women.”  And then I said, “Are they more productive or not?  Because I have to be on the panel.”  (Laughter.)  And they are, so – (laughter) – so just to know.

The – and I was looking at the report we were writing for the food security, which goes to Sarkozy, and the U.S. Government has been actively involved in this as well, and getting the B-20, as we call it, the Business 20 input into the G-20.  And again, I’m ashamed to say we look at all the recommendations we make on increasing investments in agriculture, R&D, making it more sustainable, looking at nutrition as a driving factor, all the things that I’m sure you’re all well familiar with.  But again, we failed to look at it from the angle of women.

So one of the commitments I made this morning to someone – and I’ll make it here publicly – that I’ll take this report back home, and it cost me a few more hours, but we have to write it also from the angle of if we – with these statistics that the Secretary shared with us – if we could make that come alive, indeed it will go a long way to filling the gap of the 70 percent that we need in production to get to the 2050 targets.

The way we now – if I look at our programs, to be honest, from our company’s point of view, be it the small-hold farmer projects that we – that we’re having, originally a company like ours, with the volumes we need, you go to the world market, the ADMs, the Cargills, some of the origin markets, be it palm oil from Indonesia or Malaysia.  So that’s how you buy 80 percent, and otherwise, you simply cannot get the quantities you need.  But increasingly, it is important that we look at this a little bit differently and take core responsibility of some of the challenges that we’re facing on the same food, energy, water nexus that we’re talking about and going to tremendously more sustainable sourcing.

So we as a company have made a commitment to source all of our agriculturally based materials sustainably by 2020.   And that’s not an easy thing to do, and we will do that with small-hold farming.  And one of the reasons we’re sitting next to each other as a coincidence is not only finding it’s – we’re all on the same panel, but the green growth corridor in Tanzania, for example, is a wonderful example for us.  We currently work with about a million small-hold farmers.  We have made a public commitment to add another 500,000.  Again, not surprisingly, most of those will be women, and increasingly under an angle of the social, equitable, and sustainable elements of that.  And that is now becoming increasingly a part of our sourcing strategy.

MR. KRISTOF:  Kathy Spahn, one thing that I’ve learned from your organization, Helen Keller International, is that one of the keys of nutrition is not just calories, but is micronutrients.  And are we – I mean, have we become too focused on sort of quantities in trying to address this?  And do we kind of need to change the way we think about promoting nutrition and getting – and what women, indeed, need to focus on?

MS. SPAHN:  Well, first, I thank you for a question that is so near and dear to the lifeblood of Helen Keller International, but I also want to thank Secretary Clinton not only for convening this panel, but for ensuring there was a seat for civil society on the panel.  It’s very much appreciated.

And yes, we do need to take a broader view.  Calories are important.  They provide energy, but that’s not enough.  We need to ensure that foods are nutritious, and there’s a difference between food and nutrition.  You need to have food that has vitamins and minerals in it, what we call micronutrients.  A lot of staple crops that we’re talking about growing in larger quantities – maize, rice, cassava – they provide energy in their calories, but they are lacking in the micronutrients that are essential to meet the nutritional needs of very young children, and also to meet the nutritional needs of women of reproductive age.

Micronutrients like vitamin A, iron, zinc – they’re essential for physical and cognitive development.  They’re essential for the immune system to function properly.  So children who grow up deficient in those micronutrients can have really negative consequences in terms of their survival, in terms of health, in terms of growth, in terms of productivity.

Take vitamin A, which is at the core of our work, and it’s found in dark green, leafy vegetables; in orange fruits, the really good ones like mangoes and papayas; in egg yolks; in liver, vitamin A is essential to prevent blindness in young children, but it is also essential for child livelihood and child survival because vitamin A is necessary for immune system function.  So a child who gets calories that don’t have vitamin A in it is not going to be able to fight off common illnesses, whether they get a respiratory illness, they have diarrhea, a child who’s vitamin A deficient may die because their immune system can’t fight that off.  And in deference to the Secretary’s remark about the need for research and an evidence base, there is a solid evidence base about this.

Another key micronutrient that you’re all familiar with is iron.  Deficiencies in iron can result in reduced IQ in children, increased risk of maternal mortality, and decreased worker productivity from anemia.  And in times when food prices go up, what happens is that poorer families, to save money, buy the cheaper staple foods that are lacking in the micronutrients because micronutrient-rich foods – milk, meat, fruits, and vegetables – are much more expensive.  And this can have a horrible impact on growth and on health.

But there are solutions; I think that’s a key message.  There are solutions in supplementation with vitamin A, with zinc, with iron, but we also need to look, as we are today, at broader food base solutions.  So food fortification, wherein the processing of staple foods like cooking oil, you add vitamin A or in the milling of wheat flower, you add iron folate.  And then as we’ve been talking about, there is the agricultural aspect.  Homestead food production is a great example of community-based, women-centered, small-holder agriculture.

MR. KRISTOF:  Thank you.  If Kathy had her way, you would all come up and go away with a little pack of micronutrients or orange-flesh sweet potatoes or something as you left.  (Laughter.)

SECRETARY CLINTON:  And you’d be happy.  (Laughter.)

MR. KRISTOF:  Yeah.  And full of vitamin A.

Dr. Da Silva, you – in Brazil, you wrestled with and made extraordinary progress in these areas, but there must have been enormous cultural battles along the way when you did, indeed, put more emphasis in bringing women into the front.  So I wonder what lessons you can offer us from Brazil’s experience, from your effort there about how one can overcome these kind of cultural obstacles and how one avoids a backlash among men.

MR. DA SILVA:  Well, thank you for the question and thank you for an invitation, Secretary Clinton.  Yes, I would like to emphasize another – let’s say the other side of the coin – women’s not important for food production but also for food access and distribution.  This is the – perhaps the – in my opinion, the DNA of the mother.  The mother is who distributes the food in the house, especially (inaudible).  In Brazil, people that are hungry, they are hungry because they don’t have money to buy the food.  We have lots of food.  We are big exporters.  So the problem is how to access the food.  And what we did was to have a kind of cash transfer that’s more or less a Brazilian version of the food stamps.  In fact, I have spent six months in Santa Cruz, California searching for a good practice because this is another lesson.  You don’t need to reinvent the wheel to do good things.  You just copy and adapt them.

And that’s exactly what we did.  We give to the mother a credit card – a visa credit card like that to buy food.  And why did we give her the money?  The reason that the president of Tanzania told us:  because when the man get the money from the market to the house, it disappears part of the money.  (Laughter.)  And money – mothers are sure that food first is not a slogan.  So we have been able to progress quickly in the (inaudible) and especially nutrition as we suffer from the (inaudible) in that sense.  There were resistance.  For sure there were resistance.  We – in the first moment, we made some legal consultation formally to the supreme court, and after we have been recommended to put in a law, now it’s a law in Brazil that the preference goes to the women.  So we have now around two million families receiving this kind of cash transfer, and 90, 95 percent goes to the mother.

How to avoid the resistance, involving civil society, especially organized civil society, but also the private sector.  From the beginning, from planning to implement the program and keep monitoring closely the program to – well, to find a way out of the problems.  It’s a big mistake if you try to make a pilot and then try to scale up.  As you said, this will incentivize immigration across the country from poorer areas to the cities, et cetera.  We try to do our best to do it quickly; not in a hurry, but quickly with participation of the organized society.  And it works.  And at the same time, it was very important to have the president directly involved, in fact.  This is an issue that the president should address directly his commitment, his self, to push the program.

And the whole idea of the Hunger Zero Program, let’s say the more important, is to improve local markets because when you have subsistence agriculture, poors live in poor areas, especially in rural areas.  Their – what they have is subsistence agriculture.  This is not enough to push local development.  So you have to, with the cash transfer, you give (inaudible) to improve local pushers power locally.  And you take this opportunity to implement structural programs like planting reform, like settlements, giving to the women the land rights, et cetera.  All of those things need to come together.  It’s false that you need urgency first and then structural change; you need to address both at the same time.

MR. KRISTOF:  Thank you.  At this point, we’d like to welcome Raj to join us and thank Secretary Clinton for joining us and for a really terrific engagement here.  (Applause.)
PRN: 2011/1535

 

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http://www.state.gov/secretary/rm/2011/09/172739.htm

“Ethical Oil” is Not an Oxymoron

Ethical Oil” is Not an Oxymoron

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Posted 08 September 2011, by , No Unsacred Place, nature.pagannewswirecollective.com

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As a follow up to John’s recent coverage of the controversial Keystone XL Pipeline, below is a video of a speech given at the Tar Sands Action protests in Washington D.C. this past weekend by Naomi Klein, an activist and author of books such as The Shock Doctrine and No Logo:

I have never seen anything quite as audacious as the campaign to rebrand the Tar Sands “Ethical Oil.” Do you know that Bill McKibben was on a debate with one of these guys on BBC, and he compared the Tar Sands oil to fair trade coffee and free range chickens? Do you know that they’re running ads on Oprah’s Network saying that by buying Tar Sands oil, you’re helping to free women in Saudi Arabia?

I mean, I’m from Canada, and let me tell you something. We don’t have ‘ethical oil’ in Canada. We have Tar Sands oil, which is like regular oil, but a whole lot dirtier. It ravages the earth as it is extracted. Ravaging bodies, ravaging the land as you just heard from our brothers and sisters from the Indigenous Environmental Network. And it ravages the earth at the point of combustion. When all of that carbon, three times as much carbon, three times as much greenhouse gas is emitted as it takes to produce a regular barrel of crude. And all of that carbon enters the atmosphere, and destroys and threatens the lives and livelihoods of millions of people around the world. And it also threatens the earth when it is transported in pipelines like the proposed Keystone XL Pipeline. It threatens waterways, drinking supplies, ranches, the land that people and animals depend on.

“Ethical Oil” is not an oxymoron. It is an outrage. It is an insult.

Meanwhile, today over on Spirituality and Ecological Hope, Margaret Swedish asks if we can still talk about “hope” in a culture that seems so hell-bent on denial, self-destruction and environmental devastation:

But, seriously, how is it possible to approach the challenging concept of hope in a nation of this much cultural denial, media manipulation, and irrational religious extremism (you know, the kind where God gave us brains and then demands that we not use them), in a nation in which we have allowed a few very wealthy billionaires and mega-corporations involved in fossil fuel production to make off with the truth about our situation? […] I long ago gave up equating ‘hope’ with a belief that we can still keep very bad stuff from happening. Bad stuff is already happening and more bad stuff is going to happen, and we still can’t address our reality like adults fully cognizant of the danger we are in.

So what are we hoping for? What does it mean to hold on to hope in the face of on-going environmental disasters, heat waves, droughts, floods, raging fires and ever-larger storms. For Klein, hope is a stubborn commitment to keep fighting and working towards a better way of life:

As we gather today, new tropical storms are gathering, and people are in that familiar state of huddling by their television sets, wondering, wondering if they will be safe. We don’t really have summers anymore, we have disaster season. And disaster season just seems to be longer and longer. […] We are here because we don’t want to live this way, careening from disaster to disaster. […] We are here because we know that we can do better. That we do not have to attack our earth with ever greater violence in order to live happily and fulfilled. We know that there are energy sources based on renewing and amplifying life, not sucking it dry. And that on this path there are tens of millions of safe and dignified jobs, jobs that workers can be proud to go to every day.

For Swedish, hope rests on the evolving ecological concept of conviviality — living in “good company” with the earth and with each other, accepting and embracing a lifestyle of responsibility and limits as a first step towards greater abundance for everyone.

After a long summer of disasters and bad news for the environment — how do you hold on to hope? And what do you do to pass it on to others?

Categorized: Nature in the News.

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http://nature.pagannewswirecollective.com/2011/09/08/ethical-oil-is-not-an-oxymoron/