16 Days of Global Action on Land and Resources: 31 groups from 19 countries push for food sovereignty and climate justice

In a series of collective action of farmers, movements and advocacy groups from different countries from October 1 to 16, PAN Asia Pacific (PANAP) organises once again the “16 Days of Global Action on Land and Resources”.

This global campaign addresses the most urgent crises faced by small-scale farmers and food producers, especially in poor countries- climate change, hunger, food insecurity, and land grabbing.

For PANAP, a global campaign on land and resources is urgent, necessary and just, now more than ever. Apart from the massive impact of climate change in their communities, small-scale farmers and food producers are directly affected by aggressive expansion of corporate agriculture in different forms, such as land grabbing. For instance, the latest report of non-government organization GRAIN exposed 491 deals on land grabbing, covering 30 million hectares spanning 78 countries. Under these land deals, small food producers’ rights to land and resources are taken away, undermining their food sovereignty.

On the other hand, it needs to be stressed that when the people resist, it is often met with state aggression and violence. From January 2015 to August 2016 alone, Land Rights and Watch, (LR Watch) has listed 4,651 human rights violations from January 2015 to August 2016 due to land conflicts and struggles. LR Watch is an initiative of PANAP and its partners and networks to closely monitor and expose human rights abuses against communities opposing land and resource grabbing,

Seventy percent of world food is produced by small farm holders, according to a 2014 UN Food and Agriculture Organisation (UN FAO) report. Ironically though, among those who suffer the most are the small food-producers.

This year’s 16 Days of Global Action on Land and Resources campaign aims to generate solidarity in the struggle for collective rights, mobilise people to be involved in the people’s resistance against corporate agriculture, land grabbing and all forms of repression. It also aims to gather broader support and promote initiatives of small food producers and farming communities on food sovereignty and agroecology as an alternative to corporate agriculture. The campaign will also highlight the different activities of participating groups in putting forward solutions and positive actions within the communities. There will be workshops, educational exchanges, song festival and theatre performances that are aimed at strengthening communities’ resilience amid the crises they are faced with.

In South Asia, women groups are organising training-workshops, public meetings and rallies that will tackle issues such as food security, impact of climate change in agriculture, impact of pesticides use, and rural women’s role in food production. On the other hand, participating groups in Africa will hold workshops and dialogues among farmers and government officials on the issues of local agricultural situation, food injustice and repression. Meanwhile, groups from Southeast Asia are tackling the issues of landlessness, hunger, and food security in different activities during the 16 days of global action.

The 16 Days of Global Action on Land and Resources 2016 will also highlight the Monsanto Tribunal on October 14-16 in Hague, The Netherlands. As part of its support to the tribunal, PANAP will gather signatures all over the world through a petition that will highlight the agrochemical giant’s crimes against humanity. The petition calls on the people to resist corporate takeover on agriculture.

The 16 Days of Global Action on Land and Resources will culminate on International Rural Women’s Day (15 October) and World Foodless/Hunger Day (16 October) through rallies and mass actions across the globe.

Reference: Sarojeni Rengam, Executive Director, PAN Asia Pacific, 16daysofaction@panap.net

Defend food sovereignty!
Support Agroecology! Support Climate-resilient Agriculture!
Fight for climate justice!
Resist Corporate Takeover on Agriculture!
Uphold women’s rights!
Land to the Landless! Land to the Tillers!

12th Chemical Review Committee Of The Rotterdam Convention Fails To Make Sufficient Progress On Atrazine

Blog by Dr. Meriel Watts

(Rome) – The technical committee of the Rotterdam Convention on Prior Informed Consent (PIC) in the Trade of Certain Hazardous Chemicals and Pesticides met in Rome from Sept 14th to 16th, to consider notification of final regulatory action on several pesticides and industrial chemicals. Notable amongst these was the reconsideration of notification from the EU and 8 West African countries of their bans of the herbicide atrazine, which stalled at the meeting last year. And it stalled again this year. Unsurprisingly politics seem to be playing a part in this process as suddenly a higher standard of risk evaluation is required for this widely used herbicide to progress through the listing process than has been seen for other chemicals. Some countries have particularly targeted the decision making process in the EU where atrazine was banned because of its presence in drinking water but no assessment of adverse effects on people was carried out. The non-party observer USA even tried to stop the Committee considering atrazine again. However, PAN AP’s Meriel Watts was able to get the committee to progress discussion at this meeting despite reluctance from a number of committee members to do so.

On a brighter note, the proposal to list a severely hazardous pesticide formulation of carbofuran containing 330 gm active ingredient per litre was successful – Colombia had proposed this formulation after finding that 95% of people poisoned by carbofuran were poisoned with this formulation. Of 699 cases of pesticide poisoning recorded between 2011 and 203, 408 were caused by carbofuran. Draft Decision Guidance Documents for the active ingredients carbosulfan and carbofuran were also agreed and will be forwarded to the Conference of Parties next April for a decision on listing under the Convention.

And the meeting was rounded out by an excellent presentation from PAN UK scientists Stephanie Williamson, on nonchemical alternatives to highly hazardous pesticides, particularly carbofuran on coffee and tomato in Costa Rica, and Rina Guadagnini on PAN UK’s project with FAO on HHPs in former Soviet Union Countries.

PAN Shows Support to Upcoming Tribunal vs. Monsanto

As the date for the historic Monsanto Tribunal draws near, an increasing number of civil society organizations are expressing support to the initiative that aims to make the agrochemical giant to answer for its various crimes against the people and the environment.

In her video message as a “patron” for the Monsanto Tribunal, PAN Asia Pacific (PANAP) executive director Sarojeni Rengam on behalf of PAN International said, “We are concerned that Monsanto and other agrochemical TNCs (transnational corporations) produce poisons that continue to harm human health and the environment.”

The video may be viewed here – https://www.facebook.com/monsantotribunal/

According to its organizers, the Monsanto Tribunal is an international civil society initiative to hold Monsanto accountable for human rights violations, for crimes against humanity, and for ecocide. Eminent judges will hear testimonies from victims, and deliver an advisory opinion following procedures of the International Court of Justice.

The Tribunal will take place from 14 to 16 October 2016 in The Hague, Netherlands.

Rengam specifically identified Monsanto’s glyphosate called Roundup as one of the highly toxic products that the company produces and permanently damaged the environment and poisoned countless people.

Roundup is a probable carcinogen classified by the International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) and yet Monsanto persists in marketing the said product. The PANAP official pointed out that use of Roundup has increased tremendously due to the aggressive public relations and marketing efforts by Monsanto. Consequently, it has caused untold poisonings such as the death of 11-year old Sylvino Talavera from Paraguay.

“We hope that this unique Tribunal will bring justice to Sylvino and others who been poisoned, harassed and devastated by the actions of Monsanto. We encourage more people and organizations around the world to support it,” Rengam said.

In a monograph prepared by PANAP for PAN International, the group noted that glyphosate herbicides have been frequently used in self-poisonings and many deaths have occurred, especially in Asia, from as little as 3/4 of a cup of formulated product. There have also been many cases of unintentional poisonings amongst users and bystanders, the former often experiencing severe chemical burns and respiratory problems.

Widespread poisonings have occurred in Latin America as a result of aerial spraying of genetically modified GM soybean crops, and of coca crops in Colombia—effects being recorded as far as 10 km away from the supposed spray zone. The coca spraying (instigated by a US government funded program to eliminate cocaine production in Colombia) was also reported to have also resulted in widespread animal deaths.

Reference: Ms. Sarojeni Rengam (sarojeni.rengam@panap.net)

PANAP joins PH peasant groups in condemning massacre of farmers in disputed military land

Press Release
07 September 2016

PENANG, Malaysia – Regional advocacy group PAN Asia Pacific (PANAP) joins Filipino peasant groups in condemning the recent killing of four farmers in a military reservation that is the subject of a land conflict.

Members of the quick response team of BAYAN-Central Luzon and KARAPATAN-Central Luzon. (Photo credit: Radyo Natin Guimba facebook page)
Members of the quick response team of BAYAN-Central Luzon and KARAPATAN-Central Luzon. (Photo credit: Radyo Natin Guimba facebook page)

In a report by the Alyansa ng mga Magbubukid ng Gitnang Luzon (Alliance of Farmers in Central Luzon – AMGL), the farmers were shot and killed by unknown assailants while resting from their farm chores last Saturday afternoon, 3 September. Victims Baby Mercado, Violeta Mercado, Eligio Barbado and Gaudencio Bagalay were part of an AMGL-initiated land cultivation campaign inside Fort Magsaysay Military Reservation in Nueva Ecija province, more than 179 kilometers north of the capital, Manila.

Another victim, Angelita Milan was injured and rushed to the hospital. Land cultivation campaign – locally called “bungkalan” – is a symbolic protest to assert land rights among Philippine farmers.

Fort Magsaysay is a 3,100 hectare disputed land where incidents of human rights violations such as displacement and killings have been previously reported by local farmers and human rights organizations.

A portion of land under land cultivation campaign on lot 28, Fort Magsasay. (Photo credit: Radyo Natin Guimba facebook page)
A portion of land under land cultivation campaign on lot 28, Fort Magsasay. (Photo credit: Radyo Natin Guimba facebook page)

The Kilusang Magbubukid ng Pilipinas (Philippine Peasant Movement – KMP) claims that Fort Magsaysay has been ruled for distribution since 1991 under government’s land reform program. But until today, no one of the 5,000 farmer beneficiaries was given genuine land ownership.

A 2015 report by the Global Witness has tagged the Philippines as one of the most dangerous places for environment and land defenders. Meanwhile, PANAP’s Land & Rights Watch has monitored 48 cases of human rights violations related to land grabbing from January 2015 to August 2016.

PANAP expressed hope that the new Philippine administration will be able to put an end to the longstanding violence and human rights abuses against landless farmers and poor rural people.

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Kadrinche*: Turning Bhutanese

Blog by Danica Castillo

Bhutan is a small country with a total of 47,000 sq km land area and a total population 700,000 people relying mainly on agriculture and forestry as a means of livelihood. Apart from the lush greeneries and colourful temples, Bhutan takes pride of its well-preserved culture, tradition and the principle of “Gross National Happiness” (GNH).

I went to Bhutan as a participant to the Chula University Right Livelihood Summer School (CURLS). It is a study-cultural exchange to learn more about food sovereignty and sustainable agriculture in the context of the Bhutanese culture. I was excited to be in the trip because I have learned beforehand that Bhutan is a carbon-negative country with a self-sustaining agricultural system – something most countries should emulate nowadays.

The writer on far-right together together with some of her fellow group-mates wearing Kira at the College of Natural Resouces.
The writer on far-right together together with some of her fellow group-mates wearing Kira at the College of Natural Resouces.

The trip started off in the Royal University of Bhutan where my fellow participants and I were given an overview of the country. This is where we have learned that the Bhutanese constitution ensures protection of the forestry and that it has remained independent versus the WTO, IMF and the World Bank.

There were 25 participants in the CURLS coming from different countries around the world. It is safe to say that the village trip is the most memorable part of our trip to Bhutan. We lived in three separate villages for three (3) nights and three (3) days. We were accommodated by our hosts wherein we lived with, shared their food as well as their stories.

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The writer with some of her fellow group-mates watching a villager make an organic, homemade butter straight from her own livestock.

We entered the village wearing traditional costumes for women called Kira. Kira is a three-piece clothing with ankle-length skirt, an inner long sleeve blouse and an outer long sleeve blouse clasped together by a Kira belt and fancy brooches. The fabric is usually made from warm, hand-woven cotton – perfect for the chilly weather.

We stayed with the family of Amm Khandu in Jazhika village, Shengana, Punakkha Valley. She is a 43 year old woman and is the head of her household. Her livestock is a constant source of fresh milk, butter, cheese and eggs every day for the whole village.  She, her family and other neighbours work together in the farm.

Amm Khandu serving traditional Bhutanese snack as she welcome the writer and her group mates in her house.
Amm Khandu serving traditional Bhutanese snack as she welcome the writer and her group mates in her house.

The young help feed the chickens and cows from kitchen scraps and pick edible mushrooms from the forest. The older people keeps traditional seeds and farming methods. Her neighbor’s elder keeps a heirloom of traditional seeds consisting of beans, cucumber and different variety of chilies.

She practices organic farming and enjoys bountiful harvests from her rice and buckwheat farm of three (3) hectares. True to their natural and organic lifestyle, Bhutanese farmers usually use the combination of ashes (from burnt wood and leaves) and neem oil as pesticides.

I have also learned that their government gives them a lot of support such as free water supply, farming inputs and sometimes even livestock. Farmers are also encouraged to join the community forest group as their contribution to conserve and protect their country’s natural resources.

Amm Khandu watches over her son (on the left) and her nephew (on the right) as they draw a map of their village
Amm Khandu watches over her son (on the left) and her nephew (on the right) as they draw a map of their village

Children enjoy free education and medication. I saw them roaming freely and happily around farms, hiking within the hills, playing in the river and sometimes even in the forest when accompanied by a guardian. Indeed, a bright and pesticides-free future awaits them.

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*Kadrinche means “thank you” in Dzongkha, Bhutan’s national language