Action Aid are organizing a debate on Biofuels on February 16th, London.
See their website for further details:
Debating biofuels influence on food security is vital as one billion people in our world go hungry. In parts of India, women’s knowledge and traditional farming practice, and with it, their position in the village as well as traditional nutritious foods at the household level are all undermined by biofuels. These experiences of cultivating biofuels are indicating gradual erosion of gender (and as a consequent) children rights and the violation of the Right to Foods.
Many of the women who were cultivating biofuels asserted that ‘we want to grow food’, and growing food served as a channel to express a way out of the biofuels impasse and regain power at the grass roots. The simple yet penetrating adage of ‘We want to grow food’ presents an inconvenient question: how does biofuels fit with women’s desires to grow food? And how are biofuels policies morally constructed and judged in the knowing that biofuels, in many cases, undermines universal human rights and environmental sustainability? Martin Luther King once said ‘an injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere’. Perhaps this will help us find meaning and steer our understanding in how we view biofuels?
It is a pity that adivasi women perspectives will not be at the debate, as it is the suffering of women and children in the developing world that matters most. The women farmers’ experience is grounded in the reality of cultivating biofuels and I hope such experiences shape the direction of the debate in London. I look forward to the debate.
Indeed: One does not sell the earth upon which the people walk.
Tashunka Witko, 1840–1877
Tanzania farmers in key arable areas face eviction by multinational corporations out to cultivate agrofuel products, reports the East African news.
The UN’s World Food Programme (WFP) has stated that the number of hungry people will pass the one billion mark this year, reports Al Jazeera.
A short video by Al Jazeera documenting the disturbing situation is available on their web site: http://english.aljazeera.net/focus/2009/09/2009916171540486313.html
It is reported that situation could get worse, and reinforces the urgent need to move from corporate driven food systems to that of people-led food sovereignty.
Delhi was a witness to a recent meeting and protest march against WTO and Free Trade Agreements (FTA) where a range of groups from unions, civil society organizations, people movements, farmers and fisherfolk all combined to oppose the implementations of FTA in India.
FTA harmonizes rules across nation states designed to benefit large corporations. The flow of trade and investment through FTA are free of nation state intervention and hence countries become integrated into the international free market. A process of Globalization.
Proponents argue that FTA will encourage economic growth and the so-called ‘trickle-down’ effect will alleviate poverty. Critics, however, highlight that free trade serves the interests of powerful states and multinational corporations and in fact deepens inequalities. Further still developing nations, poor people (mainly women) and their livelihoods will be undermined by decisions made in democratic vacuums at Delhi, Geneva, Washington and corporate board rooms.
For further details see: http://focusweb.org/; http://www.icrindia.org/?page_id=370; http://www.twnside.org.sg/latestinfo.htm; http://www.viacampesina.org/main_en/index.php?option=com_content&task=view&id=782&Itemid=1
The FTA and the lines of power are being re-drawn and reminds me of some brilliant spoken word by Ambalavaner Sivanandan and music by Asian Dub Foundation:
Tehelka, a public interest journalism group, profiles a selection of activists in India. The Forest Right Act, Bhopal, Dams, North East issues around troops and the adivasi struggle against a steel plant are just a few of the struggles mentioned.