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News about our programmes 30, Sept. 2014

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Pambazuka News Pambazuka News is produced by a pan-African community of some 2,600 citizens and organisations - academics, policy makers, social activists, women's organisations, civil society organisations, writers, artists, poets, bloggers, and commentators who together produce insightful, sharp and thoughtful analyses and make it one of the largest and most innovative and influential web forums for social justice in Africa.

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African Sexualities

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Emerging Powers Digest: 14th Edition, 5 December 2014

In today’s newsletter the Emerging Powers project announces a call for grant applications; gives a summary of Zuma's travels to China and the signing of the 5-10 Year Framework on Cooperation between the two countries; highlights Ethiopia's budding textile industry and relations with China; India's growing investment presence in Africa; militarization of the continent by the emerging actors. The news digest also provides analyses and news reports on China's evolving foreign policy and diplomatic relations. Read these and other news items in this week's edition of the Emerging Powers in Africa news digest.

Call for Grant Proposals

The Emerging Powers in Africa Project is issuing a call for grant proposals. The grants are aimed at examining the political, economic, social and cultural impact of the emerging powers footprint in Africa. The grant is specifically related to empowering civil society actors in gaining the appropriate knowledge and developing the necessary tools to articulate an informed perspective on the emerging powers in Africa and the corresponding impact.

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Pambazuka broadcasts feature audio and video content with cutting edge commentary and debate from social justice movements across the continent.

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AU MONITOR

This site has been established by Fahamu to provide regular feedback to African civil society organisations on what is happening with the African Union.

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This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 3.0 Unported License.

Food Justice

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Global: Without women there is no food sovereignty

2012-11-12, Issue 605

This article analyzes the impact of agro-industrial policies on women and the key role that peasant women in the Global North and South play in the production and distribution of food. It analyzes how the dominant agricultural model can incorporate a feminist perspective and how the social movements that work towards food sovereignty can incorporate a feminist perspective.

Global: Call for a ban on GMOs

2012-11-14, Issue 605

African civil society organistions are calling for an immediate and complete ban on the growing, importing and exporting of genetically modified organisms (GMOs) on the African continent. 'We call upon the governments of Africa to take the necessary steps to protect the health of their populations by supporting this call and commit to conducting independent and authoritative long-term food safety studies.' A petition can be signed online.

Africa: Addressing food wastage to fight hunger

2012-11-01, Issue 604

Experts have called on governments and development organizations to put in place measures to significantly reduce the amount of food lost in the global food delivery chain. 'The amount of food lost along the food supply chain should be reduced as a way of reducing wastage within the food production system and also as a way dealing with global food insecurity,' Joseph Alcamo, chief scientist at the UN Environment Programme (UNEP), told IRIN.

Global: UN warns of worldwide food crisis in 2013

2012-10-15, Issue 601

World grain reserves are so dangerously low that severe weather in the US or other food-exporting countries could trigger a hunger crisis next year. Failing harvests in the US, Ukraine and other countries this year have eroded reserves to their lowest level since 1974. The US, which has experienced record heatwaves and droughts in 2012, now holds in reserve a historically low 6.5% of the maize that it expects to consume in the next year, says the United Nations.

Global: Building markets or building society?

2012-10-15, Issue 601

Some 154 million people were reportedly driven further into poverty in Southern countries as a result of speculation-induced food price hikes in 2007-08. What are the best strategies for bringing about the structural change needed that progressive activists can lend their support to? asks this Corner House report. The workshop presentation, while endorsing regulatory measures including banning certain investment vehicles such as exchange-traded funds and vetting of derivative-based financial instruments, cautions against becoming focussed on regulation alone as an answer. Also crucial is the promotion of non-derivative, socially-based mechanisms to protect farmers and consumers from volatile food prices, as well as price interventions that do not pit Northern farmers against their Southern counterparts.

Malawi: 1.7 million face hunger

2012-10-04, Issue 600

The number of people in need of humanitarian assistance between October 2012 and March 2013 in Malawi has jumped from 1.63 million to 1.76 million, but response plans remain inadequate and maybe exhausted be by November to December 2012. The new figure is contained in a report by the Famine Early Warning Systems Network (Fewsnet), which provides an update on the food security conditions in Malawi from August 2012 through March 2013.

Global: World food prices rise, stay close to crisis levels

2012-10-04, Issue 600

World food prices rose in September and are seen remaining close to levels reached during the 2008 food crisis, the United Nations' food agency said, while cutting its forecast for global cereal output. The worst drought in more than 50 years in the United States sent corn and soybean prices to record highs over the summer, and, coupled with drought in Russia and other Black Sea exporting countries, raised fears of a renewed crisis.

'We Let Them Starve,' says former UN envoy Jean Ziegler

2012-10-08, Issue 600

'According to the UN World Food Programme, there is enough food in the world for 12 billion people. If today people are still starving, then this is organized crime, mass murder. Every five seconds, one child under the age of ten dies, one billion people are permanently and heavily undernourished.' This is a quote from Jean Ziegler, who was until recently (2000-2008) the United Nations Special Rapporteur on the Right to Food, in an interview about a new book that he is published. Blog Africa is a Country has translated parts of the interview in their discussion about Ziegler and the book.

Global: Land acquired over past decade could have produced food for a billion people

2012-10-08, Issue 600

International land investors and biofuel producers have taken over land around the world that could feed nearly 1 billion people. Analysis by Oxfam of several thousand land deals completed in the last decade shows that an area eight times the size of the UK has been left idle by speculators or is being used largely to grow biofuels for US or European vehicles.

Global: Arab spring teaches food security

2012-09-27, Issue 599

African leaders should take note of the lessons learned from the Arab Spring and realise that ensuring good governance and food security will avoid crises on the continent, says Kofi Annan, chairman of the Africa Green Revolution Alliance. The former United Nations Secretary General said that food shortage was one of the triggers of the protests in North African and Middle-Eastern countries that lead to the ousting of Tunisian President Zine El Abidine Ben Ali in January 2011 and Egypt’s President Hosni Mubarak in February that same year.

Africa: Gates foundation-led green revolution promotes false solutions to hunger in Africa

2012-09-27, Issue 599

Environmental Rights Action/Friends of the Earth Nigeria and Friends of the Earth International has warned against damaging industrial farming promoted by the Gates Foundation at the Agricultural Green Revolution Forum 2012, Arusha, Tanzania on 26-28 September. 'Donors controlling the Alliance for a Green Revolution in Africa (AGRA) are representing the interests of biotechnology corporations rather than African small farmers,' warns Friends of the Earth International on the eve of the annual AGRA Forum in Tanzania.

Global: French study finds cancer link to GM corn

2012-09-24, Issue 598

The French government has ordered an investigation into genetically-modified corn after a study found it was linked to cancer. France's government asked a health watchdog to carry out a probe, possibly leading to EU suspension of a genetically-modified corn, after a study in rats linked the grain to cancer.

South Africa: Seed mergers deepen inequality

2012-09-16, Issue 597

In this briefing, the African Centre for Biodiversity (ACB) deal with the Pioneer/Pannar seed merger, outlining the evidence led by the ACB in opposing the merger, what is at stake for South Africa if the merger is approved and the extent to which the merger will deepen structural imbalances in the South African economy.

Global: Time to scrap EU biofuels mandates

2012-09-17, Issue 597

Land used to power European cars with biofuels for one year could produce enough wheat and maize to feed 127 million people, Oxfam reveals ahead of today’s important EU Energy Ministers’ meeting. With the world’s poorest at greater risk of hunger as a result of spiraling food prices, the international agency is calling on the EU to rethink its dangerous love affair with biofuels. In a new GROW campaign report, 'The Hunger Grains', Oxfam warns that Europe’s growing appetite for biofuels is pushing up global food prices and driving people off their land, resulting in deeper hunger and malnutrition in poor countries.

Zambia: ‘Public should be consulted over GMOs’

2012-07-30, Issue 595

Zambia must engage the public and other stakeholders before deciding whether to start accepting Genetically Modified Organisms (GMOs) or not, the country’s National Biosafety Authority (NBA) has said. NBA registrar Alfred Sumani said that the Zambian public and stakeholders need to be given balanced information on the merits and demerits of accepting GMOs into the country.

Malawi: Can subsidies last?

2012-07-18, Issue 594

What is the future of the Farm Input Subsidy Programme (FISP)? This was President Mutharika's flagship programme, which put Malawi on the forefront of international development debates and provided subsidies for seeds and fertiliser. Through the FISP, which was implemented against fierce donor resistance, Malawi was able to break free from a vicious cycle of hunger and food insecurity. This article from Africa Report examines whether the FISP will continue under new president Joyce Banda.

Malawi: Massive crop failure imperils millions

2012-07-10, Issue 593

A report on Monday said 1.63-million Malawians, out of a population of 13-million, would need food aid after crops failed in the south of the country, despite a bumper harvest of three-million tonnes nationwide. The study was conducted by the Malawi Vulnerability Assessment Committee, which comprises several government departments, the United Nations, embassies and humanitarian agencies. Only 200,000 people required food aid last year.

Swaziland: People dying of hunger, MP says

2012-07-15, Issue 593

People in the Swaziland lowveld have died of hunger, a member of the Swazi Parliament has reported. Nkululeko Mbhamali, Matsanjeni North MP, said hunger was rife in his constituency and some people had died at Tikhuba. Crops have failed this year due to poor rains. Mbhamali said a ‘food-for-work’ scheme organised by World Vision that was supposed to distribute food supplied by overseas’ donors had not been implemented properly and many people were not receiving food.

Africa: Gates Foundation pours $10 million into GM crops

2012-07-16, Issue 593

In a decision outraging campaigners for food sovereignty and agroecological approaches, the Gates Foundation has awarded a $10 million grant to develop genetically modified (GM) crops for use in sub-Saharan Africa. The grant is for the John Innes Centre in Norwich, which hopes to engineer seeds for corn, wheat and rice that will fix nitrogen (take nitrogen from the air) so that the crops would not need fertilizers. But GM Freeze, which campaigns against GM food, crops and patents, says that 'nitrogen fixing wheat and other cereals have been promised by the GM industry for several decades' and that other, non-GM methods are the solution. Pete Riley, campaign director GM Freeze, adds that 'GM is failing to deliver'.

Global: New report on the dangers of Genetically Modified Foods

2012-07-09, Issue 592

A new study from Earth Open Source called 'GMO Myths and Truths' - authored by two well known genetic engineers with help from an investigative reporter - conducted an exhaustive survey of hundreds of peer-reviewed scientific studies. The report concluded not only that GM food crops pose significant, if largely under-evaluated, health risks, but that they have so far failed to deliver on their promise to increase crop yields and lower herbicide and pesticide use.

Global: Syngenta charged for covering up livestock deaths from GM corn

2012-06-17, Issue 589

Biotech giant Syngenta has been criminally charged with denying knowledge that its genetically modified (GM) Bt corn kills livestock during a civil court case that ended in 2007. Syngenta’s Bt 176 corn variety expresses an insecticidal Bt toxin (Cry1Ab) derived from the bacterium, Bacillus thuringiensis (Bt) and a gene conferring resistance to glufosinate herbicides. EU cultivation of Bt 176 was discontinued in 2007. Similar varieties however, including Bt 11 sweet corn are currently cultivated for human and animal consumption in the EU. The charges follow a long struggle for justice by a German farmer whose dairy cattle suffered mysterious illnesses and deaths after eating Bt 176.

Global: Brazilian farmers sue Monsanto

2012-06-07, Issue 588

Five million Brazilian farmers are locked in a lawsuit with US-based biotech giant Monsanto, suing for as much as 6.2 billion euros. They say that the genetic-engineering company has been collecting royalties on crops it unfairly claims as its own. The farmers claim that Monsanto unfairly collects exorbitant profits every year worldwide on royalties from 'renewal' seed harvests.

Malawi: Farm Input Subsidy gets K40 billion

2012-06-11, Issue 588

Malawi’s Farm Input Subsidy program, touted for improving food security for the past six years, has been allocated a whopping K40.6 billion in the 2012/13 budget which represents about 60 per cent of the Ministry of Agriculture allocation. 'The major allocation is for the Farm Inputs Subsidy Program (FISP) which has been allocated a total of K40.6 billion for the purchase of 150,000 metric tonnes of fertilizers comprising 75,000 metric tonnes of Urea and 75,000 metric tonnes of NPK fertilizers which will be distributed to 1.5 million farm families at a price of K500 per bag,' said Lipenga when he presented the financial plan.

Global: Biofuels goals 'may lead to food shortages'

2012-05-29, Issue 587

Parts of the developing world, particularly India and countries in Sub-Saharan Africa, will suffer food shortages if their planned biofuels targets are implemented by 2020, a study has warned. The study, which looked at 25 countries and geographical regions, including Latin American and the Caribbean, Sub-Saharan Africa and the United States, found that the targets will also affect national wealth.

Global: ‘Forgotten foods’ can be an important tool to fight hunger, FAO and scientists say

2012-05-31, Issue 587

Indigenous foods, neglected and derided by many in the agro and food industries as well as urban consumers, can be an important component in alleviating hunger, malnutrition and protecting the environment, the regional representative for the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) of the United Nations told a symposium. A century of globalization has reduced the number of plant species used for food and other purposes from roughly 100,000 to about 30. With the global population expected to reach 9 billion by 2050, FAO is concerned that the world may not be able to produce enough food to meet demand. Today, an estimated 925 million people suffer from hunger and malnutrition, with over 60 percent of them residing in the Asia-Pacific region.

Global: Preserving agricultural traditions

2012-06-03, Issue 587

In this Birthing Justice narrative, Nayeli Guzman, a young Mexican woman who went to New Mexico to be part of the effort to restore traditional agriculture, talks about how she and other farmers are using long-abandoned farmland to grow long-abandoned crops, building up seed libraries, and teaching others ecological methods for growing food. Birthing Justice: Women Creating Economic and Social Alternatives is a series features twelve alternative social and economic models which expand the possibilities for justice, equity, and strong community.

Global: Mexican farmers block Monsanto law to privatize plants and seeds

2012-06-04, Issue 587

Progressive small farmer organizations in Mexico scored a victory over transnational corporations that seek to monopolize seed and food patents. When the corporations pushed their bill to modify the Federal Law on Plant Varieties through the Committee on Agriculture and Livestock of the Mexican Chamber of Deputies on March 14, organizations of farmers from across the country sounded the alarm. By organizing quickly, they joined together to pressure legislators and achieved an agreement with the legislative committee to remove the bill from the floor.

South Africa: Seed systems and the challenges for food sovereignty

2012-05-22, Issue 586

The African Centre for Biosafety and Trust for Community Outreach and Education have released a new study which provides an overview of the structure of the seed system in South Africa, the types of seed in use and their pros and cons, the legislative and policy environment, and the role of the public sector in seed production and distribution in South Africa. It aims to identify the trends in the seed sector and consider possible points of intervention to advance the agenda of strengthening small-scale resource-poor farmers in control over and access to appropriate seed for seed sovereignty, which sits at the heart of food sovereignty.

Africa: Economic growth equals ongoing food security

2012-05-16, Issue 585

Everlyne Wanjiku, a single mother of five, has earned a living selling vegetables in the sprawling Kibera slum in Nairobi, Kenya, for over three decades. And even though her earnings were meagre, she was able to provide all her children with a tertiary education. But now, like her many fellow poverty-stricken slum dwellers in this East African nation, she is feeling the pinch of the high cost of food and other commodities, which have skyrocketed globally.

South Africa: False 'made in Israel' labeling to be banned

2012-05-21, Issue 585

The South African government decided last week to draw attention of consumers that products they buy labeled “Made in Israel” could have been made in illegal Jewish settlements mushrooming the occupied Palestinian territories, a press release issued by the Popular Struggle Coordination Committee said. It said that after more than a year of joint work between Palestinian and South African organizations, South Africa’s Minister of Trade and Industry Rob Davies announced he will forbid false and misleading labeling of settlements products.

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