2019 ہفتہ وار زرعی خبریں

اگست 8 تا 14 اگست، 2019

پانی
وزیر اعظم عمران خان نے سندھ میں پانی سے متعلق دیرینہ مسائل کے حل کے لیے واپڈا کو باضابطہ طور پر دریائے سندھ پر بیراج تعمیر کرنے کی منظوری دیدی ہے۔ منصوبے کا مقام ٹھٹھہ سے 65 کلو میٹر جنوب اور کراچی سے 130 کلو میٹر مشرق میں دریا کے سمندر میں گرنے کے مقام سے 45 کلو میٹر اوپر واقع ہے جسے ”سندھ بیراج“ کا نام دیا گیا ہے۔ سندھ بیراج کو کوٹری بیراج کے زریں علاقوں سے شروع ہونے والے پانی کے تقریباً تمام مسائل بشمول زیر زمین سمندری پانی بڑھنے سے لیکر ڈیلٹا میں زمینی کٹاؤ تک، موسمی تبدیلی کے منفی اثرات سے لیکر دلدلی زمین، مینگروز، سمندری حیات کے خاتمے اور آبپاشی و گھریلو استعمال کیلئے پانی کی عدم دستیابی کے مسائل حل کرنے کے لئے ایک بڑا منصوبہ قرار دیا جارہا ہے۔ وزیر اعظم کو چیئرمین واپڈا ریٹائرڈ لیفٹننٹ جنرل مزمل نے منصوبے سے متعلق فراہم کردہ معلومات میں کہا ہے کہ منصوبے کے مقاصد میں 4.1 ملین ایکڑ فٹ کے قیمتی آبی وسائل کو استعمال کرنے کے لئے دو سے تین ملین ایکڑ فٹ پانی ذخیرہ کرنا، اردگرد کے علاقوں میں زراعت کے لئے پانی کی فراہمی، کوٹری بیراج کے علاقے میں دریائے سندھ کے ماحولیاتی نظام کو بہتر بنانا، آس پاس کی 75,000 ایکڑ زمین کو سیلاب سے محفوظ بنانا اور کراچی و دیگر علاقوں کو گھریلو استعمال کے لئے پانی کی فراہمی شامل ہے۔ منصوبہ کی ابتدائی تجزیاتی رپورٹ (پی سی ٹو فزیبلٹی رپورٹ) پر تقریباً 350 ملین روپے لاگت آئیگی۔ مجوزہ منصوبہ دسمبر 2024 تک مکمل ہوگا۔
(ڈان، 8 اگست، صفحہ2)

پانی کے بہاؤ کی جانچ کے لیے ارسا کی تشکیل کردہ آبی ماہرین کی ٹیم نے گڈو اور سکھر بیراج کے پانی کی پیمائش کے تقریباً تمام مراکز پر آبپاشی عملے کی مل بھگت سے بڑے پیمانے پر پانی کی چوری، بد انتظامی و بدعنوانی کا انکشاف کیا ہے جو 30 فیصد پانی کے زیاں کا سبب بن رہا ہے۔ گڈو، سکھر اور کوٹری بیراجوں پر پانی کے اخراج کی پیمائش کے ذریعے حد سے زیادہ پانی کے زیاں کا پتا لگانے کے لیے اعلی سطح کی ایک چار رکنی ٹیم تشکیل دی گئی تھی۔ وزارت آبی وسائل کے حکام کا کہنا ہے کہ حکومت کو جمع کرائی گئی رپورٹ کے مطابق جانچ کیے گئے تمام 13 مراکز میں پانی کے اخراج کے حوالے بڑے پیمانے پر غلط معلومات کی فراہمی، غلط پیمائش، چوری اور دیگر بے ضابطگیاں پائی گئی ہیں۔ رپورٹ میں نہروں کی مرمت کے حوالے سے بدترین صورتحال کی بھی نشاندہی کی گئی ہے۔
(ڈان، 8 اگست، صفحہ17)

سیکرٹری محکمہ آبپاشی ڈاکٹر سعید احمد منگنیجو کے مطابق سکھر و گڈو بیراج کی بحالی اور اسے جدید بنانے کے دو بڑے منصوبوں پر عالمی بینک کی فراہم کردہ 80 فیصد رقم سے کام کا آغاز ہوچکا ہے۔ مقامی پریس کلب پر ایک پریس کانفرنس کے دوران ان کا کہنا تھا کہ دونوں منصوبوں کی تخمینی لاگت 36 بلین روپے ہے۔ گڈو بیراج کی بحالی پر 16 بلین روپے جبکہ سکھر بیراج پر 20 بلین روپے لاگت آئیگی۔ دونوں منصوبوں کے بقیہ 20 فیصد اخراجات وفاقی و سندھ حکومت یکساں طور پر برداشت کرینگی۔ انھوں دعوی کیا ہے کہ گڈو بیراج منصوبے کا 20 فیصد کام مکمل کرلیا گیا ہے۔ دونوں منصوبوں کو آئندہ تین سالوں میں مکمل ہونا ہے تاہم کوشش کی جارہی ہے کہ منصوبے طے شدہ وقت سے چھ ماہ قبل ہی مکمل کرلیے جائیں۔
(ڈان، 10 اگست، صفحہ17)

سیلاب
صوبہ سندھ کے اہم بیراجوں میں پانی کی سطح میں مسلسل اضافے کے باعث قدرتی آفات کی روک تھام کا صوبائی ادارہ پرونشل ڈیزاسٹر مینجمنٹ اتھارٹی (پی ڈی ایم اے) نے سیلاب کا انتباہ جاری کیا ہے جس سے جان و مال کے نقصان کا خدشہ ہے۔ پی ڈی ایم اے کی جانب سے 15 اضلاع کی انتظامیہ کو انتباہ جاری کیا گیا ہے جس میں ہدایت کی گئی ہے کہ متوقع سیلاب سے نقصانات کو کم سے کم کرنے کے لئے مناسب انتظامات کو یقینی بنایا جائے۔ ضلع سکھر، لاڑکانہ، گھوٹکی، کشمور، خیرپور، شکارپور، دادو، جامشورو، ٹنڈو محمد خان، مٹیاری، حیدرآباد، ٹھٹہ، سجاول، نوشہروفیروز اور ضلع بے نظیر آباد کی انتظامیہ کو انتباہ جاری کیاگیا ہے۔
(ڈان، 11 اگست، صفحہ16) Continue reading

PCFS Statement – To AIIB: Stopbankrolling landgrabs

The Peoples Coalition on Food Sovereignty (PCFS) demands the members of the Asian Infrastructure and Investment Bank (AIIB) to stop funding projects especially of China’s Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) that result to landgrabbing and rural peoples’ displacement. On the occasion of the AIIB’s annual meeting this July 12-13 in Luxembourg, we stand with the rural peoples on their call for greater accountability and transparency, as well as justice for the violations of the people’s rights.

While AIIB asserted that it is a multilateral bank for the longest time, recent pronouncements show that it is ultimately a financing institution of the BRI with over 7,000 China-funded projects that focus on transportation, maritime navigation, energy, and trade spanning more than 60 countries in the Global South.

As a multilateral lender, AIIB has been consistently behind most of the BRI projects – as a co-funder or as a key lender. This will surely accelerate as AIIB President Jin Liqun declared to focus more on the bank’s own portfolio and sees the bank as a “twin engine” with BRI.[i] More than 60 out of the 87 member countries of the AIIB are part of the BRI. As it is, AIIB is currently bankrolling China’s expansionist lending strategy that ultimately impacts the most vulnerable in the Global South – the rural peoples.

Last month in Hong Kong, PCFS together with the Asia Pacific Research Network (APRN) conducted a forum on China’s BRI and its impact on the rural peoples.  Discussions and accounts of the participants from Asia, Africa, and Latin America regions paint a dismal picture of the BRI projects’ impacts to rural peoples and the right to food sovereignty. Numerous cases of rights violations such as displacement, landgrabbing, harassment, corrosion of traditions, and aggravation of fragility in regions have been reported.

A threat to the right to land. Without adequate environmental and social assessment in the regions and countries, AIIB has been co-funding multiple BRI projects that are opaque and inaccessible to the public. As mentioned above, these include megadams, large roads, ports, and energy plants that often result in landgrabbing and displacement.

Today, China is the fastest growing landgrabber in the world. With over 5.6 million concluded deals and 12.7 million in the past decade alone,[ii] the BRI is fast becoming one of the key drivers of rural peoples ruin in the Global South.

In Cambodia alone, around 370,000 hectares under 42 ELCs have been granted to Chinese companies, including the 36,000-hectare sugarcane plantation of Guangdong Hengfu Sugar Group Co., Ltd. in the province of Preah Vihear. Thousands of farmers and Indigenous Kuy peoples are being displaced to produce sugar for export.

In the Philippines, the China government funded New Centennial Water Source-Kaliwa Dam Project in Quezon worth USD 374 million. It was pitched to be funded by the AIIB, and is set to displace thousands of farmers and Indigenous Peoples while tens of thousands more affected.

A threat to the right to food. Securing China’s position in the global agricultural trade is at the heart of the numerous BRI projects in agriculture. In a span of 14 years, China has invested USD 98 billion in agriculture[iii] – 75% of which were in the last five years.[iv] According to a study by GRAIN , China has “gone on massive shopping sprees, buying up operations in global production chains like pork in the US and soybeans in Brazil, and gaining greater control over the global seed industry by taking on majority ownership of the Swiss-based seed giant Syngenta.”[v]

These agricultural land deals include large agro-industrial parks in Mozambique, Uganda, Zambia, Kazakhstan, and Laos. The pressure of Chinese imports in Brazil’s soybeans is one of the key drivers of the catalyzed destruction of the Amazon forest and the ejection of farmers and Indigenous Peoples in the region.

In Sri Lanka, the BRI Colombo Financial District, which AIIB funds some of the periphery projects,[vi] has dramatically reduced fishers’ access to their waters and decimated their fish catch. Beach erosion from offshore sand extraction for the reclamation project is displacing whole villages of fisherfolk.

The large-scale acquisition of farmlands and establishment of agro-industrial parks in Kazakhstan is a threat to the regional food sovereignty. Central Asia largely relies on the said area for grain and grain production. With China buying and controlling the agricultural production and supply chain in the region, rural hunger and malnutrition will not be abated.

A threat to biodiversity. According to World Wildlife Fund Hong Kong, China’s BRI will affect hundreds of already threatened animal species. This includes endangered tigers, giant pandas, saiga antelope, and much of the biologically richest real estate on the planet – some 1,800 important bird areas, key biodiversity areas, global biodiversity hotspots and global 200 eco-region.

The push of China’s BRI, with the full backing of the AIIB, will continue to adversely impact the rural peoples of the Global South. We call on the members of the AIIB to investigate and pursue the impacts of the projects funded by the multilateral bank. We call on the members and networks of the PCFS to actively engage their governments on AIIB funded project and demand for transparency and accountability. Finally, we reiterate our call that decisions and plans on infrastructure should be founded on the right of rural communities to decide their needs and development priorities. ###

[i] https://www.chinadailyhk.com/articles/18/35/125/1557557982955.html

[ii] Landmatrix (as calculated April 2019)

[iii] https://www.aei.org/china-global-investment-tracker/

[iv] Ibid

[v] https://www.grain.org/en/article/6133-the-belt-and-road-initiative-chinese-agribusiness-going-global

[vi] https://www.aiib.org/en/news-events/news/2019/20190404_002.html

WHY WE MUST OPPOSE GENETICALLY MODIFIED SEEDS?

A Brief prepared by Pakistan Kissan Mazdoor Tehreek and Roots for Equity

Seed was born free. It has multiple functions: it is the reservoir of genetic resources, it is the basic unit for our food, it holds life in its core, essential for maintain human and all life on this planet.  Commodification of seed is commodification of life!

Following are some points elaborated to highlight why Sojhla for Social Change, Pakistan Kissan Mazdoor Tehreek (PKMT), Roots for Equity and other people’s and civil society organizations have been opposing in general the Trade-related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights Act (TRIPs) and specifically the Pakistan Seed (Amended) Act 2015, and the Plant Breeders Rights Act 2016.

Farmers Collective Rights over Seed and Patenting of Life Forms

Seed, a genetic resource is a gift of nature and belongs to no one person or corporation but is owned collectively. But there is no doubt, that it was farmers who over many millennia experimented, re-generated, sorted, propagated and saved seeds. It was the collective knowledge of farmers and rural communities that allowed hundred of varieties of grains, vegetables, fruits, and flowers to be domesticated for human civilization. Farmers saved seed from one generation to the next, a process that went on for millions of years. There were thousands of varieties that were developed by farmers, but even though we farmers came out with new varieties we respected and followed the rules of nature, and shared the genetic resources openly with all. We, who have our history based in the Indus Valley Civilization, were the first to domesticate seed and through our knowledge and experience pass the best of genetic resources to our generations. Therefore, we farmers believe that first seed is free; it is a carrier of life and being a living thing it cannot be shackled, it cannot be owned by individuals or companies. If at all, it is the collective property of farmers; we have been its custodians, its guardians. We have respected our position of custodians and hence shared it fully and openly with all those who wish to use it as food, as a source of health, as a source medicine and of life.

Risks to Biodiversity:

It needs to be pointed out that with the advent of Green Revolution in the 1960s, seed has been forced out of our care and custody and turned into a commodity. With corporate control over seeds, with promotion of hybrid varieties and now genetically modified seeds we have lost much of the indigenous varieties in just 50 years; genetic diversity which was saved through hundreds of millennia were lost in less than half a century!

If we allow genetically modified seeds to take over our food and agriculture this will further the process of destroying biodiversity. Hybrid varieties and genetically modified seeds are based on monoculture and uniformity; they belie the intricate interwoven complexity of all forms of biodiversity with each other. Seed has been turned into a machine whose worth is weighed by productivity. But seed’s function is not only productivity: its function is in promoting various forms of life, of which human intelligence has as yet not grasped enough to turn it into a only an addition, subtraction formula. Plant life is very complex, it’s a food chain as well as shelter for millions of other life forms from birds to reptiles, to insects and millions and millions of microorganisms.  Uniformity in plant life negates diversity of life, and is fast leading to various forms of ecological disasters.

It needs to be added, that high yielding varieties are at least not an irreversible biological change in the plant, and over time genetic material can be retrieved from these seeds. But GM seeds are formed through a biological process that is irreversible. The GM seed can carry out reproduction with natural seeds; this means vast, irreversible contamination of our genetic resources. Once GM seeds have spread in nature, it’s like having a child with genetic abnormalities – one cannot take away the defect and it will keep on producing itself, contaminating and polluting natural varieties in the environment.

Corporate Control over Food and Agriculture

Agro-chemical corporations and seed corporations have worked hard to create a legal policy framework based on which seed can be called their property. This is because seed has an amazing characteristic – even only a single seed can generate hundreds of replicas and hence it is impossible to create control over seed – this is only possible through a legal system that allows these mega-corporations to control and own life. With control over seed by profit-driven corporations, a nation loses the ability to control its food production. The corporations can choose the price at which a seed would be sold. They can easily refrain from marketing seeds in any particular country; in these times of conflict and war – seed control is only one more added dependency. Today farmers cannot decide what they would like to grow; they have to depend on what seed the corporations provide in the market and have little choice but to grow that. Please note that today, nearly all vegetables in Pakistan are grown from corporate controlled seeds and each one of them is heavily doused with toxic pesticides. This is the food that all citizens are forced to consume –rich or poor.

It is important to note that a majority of seed is now in the hands of only four big corporations: Bayer, BASF, ChemChina and Corteva; in a handful of years, these four corporations have monopolized the seed sector. These four seed corporations control 60% percent of seed sales, globally. Just ten years ago, in 2009 there were at least 100 seed companies. Only in the last 2-3 years, there have been huge mergers such as Bayer purchasing Monsanto to be the largest seed company today. In 2017, DuPont had merged with Dow to form the US Corporation DowDupont; this year the company has separated its agricultural wing and named it Corteva agriscience. Continue reading

Feeding our “Swarming Millions”

Azra Talat Sayeed

The question of “feeding the stomach of our swarming millions’ keeps getting raised over and over again. It seems that there is no other way to reach this objective without accepting genetically modified seeds. But such a myopic viewpoint can only be termed nonsensical. Hunger can easily be assuqged without GMO crops, if only our government would not allow wheat to rot in godams, and instead give it to the people facing acute hunger and malnutrition. With surplus wheat production in the country, the constant harping on the hunger of the people seems a bit silly. GM seeds have been used in cotton which is not a food crop, but has ultimately resulted in further impoverishment of our masses, especially rural women. The cotton harvest has been destroyed systematically. From cotton to maize seems the next corporate driven agenda. We know very well, that GM maize is not meant as food but for ethanol.

In Pakistan, we have shifted to sugarcane from cotton: driven by the profit driven market for ethanol. Now, maize follows the same ‘logic’. Do we know that hybrid and GM variety of maize seeds, apart from producing ethanol are also being developed purely to produce fodder that would increase the quantity of animal manure which would then be used for producing bio-diesel? We are turning agriculture into an ‘assembly line production system’ to meet the unquenchable thirst of capitalism on oil? Can we forget the ‘weapons of mass destruction’ in Iraq? Was it WMD or oil? So, it goes on – oil of course remains top priority – but so is ethanol. Do we recall the food crisis of 2008? It was driven by corn production in the US to produce ethanol. Fuel is life blood of capitalism – its industrialised economy cannot run without energy. And capitalism is blood thirsty: history has shown this over and over again. We would be fools to forget what the search for profits has resulted in the short history of capitalism.

Talking about alienating hunger through modern agriculture is really nothing new. I would like to quote a US senator. In 1957, Senator Hubert Humphrey said:

“I have heard . . . that people may become dependent on us for food. I know that was not supposed to be good news. To me, that was good news, because before people can do anything they have got to eat. And if you are looking for a way to get people to lean on you and to be dependent on you, in terms of their cooperation with you, it seems to me that food dependence would be terrific.” (Global Rift, Third World Comes of Age, L. S. Stavrianos, p 443)

And in wake of such an imperialist vision came the Green Revolution. Today Pakistan is totally dependent for its seed on mega agro-chemical corporations, with nearly all of them based in North America and Europe with China recently jumping in. So let us be clear: GM technology is furthering the imperialist agenda of controlling our agriculture sector, ensuring a trade deficit, keeping us drowned in debt. It is not about ‘feeding our swarming populations.”

It is unfortunate that these debates are no longer only about getting our people out of debt and hunger, this is now about saving our world; saving ourselves from global warming. I would remind us that the ‘swarming millions’ right now are suffering from unbearable heat across the nation. Our biodiversity across the globe is on the verge of collapse. Science is no more independent and corporations are coming up with short-term profit seeking destructive technologies.

Humans and all living things on this planet are suffering, which seems such a mild statement for the unbearable misery and impoverishment of the masses across the globe. We really need to read history, and learn and go forward. Colonization may be dead but it seems to have given birth to an unnatural monster: Neo-colonization which is now a grotesque reality. We need to stop saying, believing and fighting for what are colonial and Neo-colonial masters and mistresses dictate. If we really want a peaceful, prosperous world, free from hunger and poverty, there is no other way but to fight for our liberation.

Stop Killing Farmers! Global Day of Action Negros Killings!

Philippines: On March 30, 14 farmers were victims of extrajudicial killings following police and military operations in Negros Oriental. The farmers, who are already suffering through years of neglect, are repeatedly being subjected to these atrocities. We stand alongside the families of the victims, and express our intention to arduously exhaust all platforms for justice and accountability.

To mark the Global Day of Action April 10, members of Roots for Equity, hold up sign calling for an end to peasant killings in the Philippines.

Panelists call for ending role of corporate sector in agriculture

March 30, 2019

PESHAWAR: Speakers at a seminar on Friday demanded an end to the role of international corporate sector in agriculture, opposed the ever-increasing allotment of land to the corporate sector and called for just and equitable distribution of land among small and landless farmers in order to turn Pakistan into a real agricultural country.

The event organised at the Peshawar Press Club to commemorate the International Day of the Landless Farmers was arranged by Pakistan Kissan Mazdoor Tehreek (PKMT), and Roots for Equity in collaboration with Asian Peasant Coalition, Pesticide Action Network, Asia Pacific and International Women’s Alliance.

PKMT national coordinator Altaf Hussain, Asian Peasant Coalition’s general secretary Raja Mueeb, PKMT’s coordinator Peshawar Shehzad Baig and KP coordinator Fayyaz Ahmed were the main speakers.

They said the day highlighted the struggle of the landless farmers for genuine land reforms and food sovereignty.

They said farmers were being evicted from lands that had been tilled for generations by their ancestors. They demanded that development projects across the country, including those for special economic zones as well as land lease to investors, should be scrapped.

On the occasion, Altaf Hussain said from 2000 onwards, transnational corporations worldwide had grabbed more than 50 million hectares of land through over 1,500 agreements.

Similarly, Raja Mueeb said more than 200 deals spanning almost 20 million hectares of land were further being negotiated. Most of the land deals were being carried out in countries like Pakistan that are rich in natural resources, he pointed out.

It was pathetic that only eight per cent of these land deals were exclusively for food production, and 60 percent of these, were for export purposes, he said, adding around 70 per cent of these deals were reserved for agro-fuel production, which was only fulfilling the needs of the rich capitalist countries.

Mr Mueeb said in the past few years, China’s One Belt One Road initiative had further accelerated land grab.

Fayyaz Ahmed pointed out that various development projects for energy and infrastructure under the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor project had resulted in land grab across the country.

He pointed out that 1,000 acres of land had been leased in Haripur for a special economic zone, the Northern Bypass Peshawar; 6,500 acres of land was leased for growing high yield seeds to a foreign corporation in Punjab; and 140 acres of land were leased in Khairpur, Sindh for a special economic zone.

He said farmers and fishermen were losing their livelihoods due to these measures.

Shehzad Baig said small and landless farmers were facing exploitation because of unjust distribution of land, corporate agriculture. He said the government was also planning to build a cement factory in Palai area of Malakand, a greenbelt famous for its farmlands and orange orchards.

Published in Dawn, March 30th, 2019

https://www.dawn.com/news/1472729

March 29 International Day of the Landless

Press Release

March 29,2019

Pakistan Kissan Mazdoor Tehreek (PKMT) and Roots for Equity in collaboration with Asian Peasant Coalition, Pesticide Action Network, Asia Pacific and International Women’s Alliance commemorated the International Day of the Landless, which was marked by the slogan “We Will Take Back Our Land, Our Future!” Globally, the Day of the Landless highlights the struggle of the landless farmers for genuine land reforms and food sovereignty, where they are being evicted from lands that had been tilled for many generations by their ancestors. It is in this context that the many protests and demonstrations have been planned in Pakistan, Bangladesh, Sri Lanka, Nepal, India, Mongolia, Cambodia, Malaysia, Thailand, and Indonesia among others Asian countries.

PKMT carried out press conferences at the Peshawar, Multan Press Clubs and a protest rally in Ghotki against the landlessness of farmers, as well as countrywide happenings of land grabs and in the name of foreign investments and development projects.

According to the PKMT National Coordinator Altaf Hussain stated that from 2000 till now, transnational corporations worldwide have land grabbed more than 50 million hectares of land through 1,591 agreements. Further, 200 more negotiations are in ongoing for acquiring 20 million hectares. No doubt, rich capitalist countries along with their imperialist institutions such as the World Bank, the IMF and the WTO have wrought changes in policies which has allowed the massive push in land grab, drowning the farmers in debt and deprivation, all methods which give transnational corporations control over production and markets.

According to the Raja Mujeeb, Secretary General Asian Peasant Coalition, imperialist corporate agriculture is here to plunder our lands, take away our livelihood and poison our lands. No doubt, most of the land deals are being carried out to in countries like Pakistan that are rich in natural resources. It is draconian that only 8% of these land deals are exclusively for food production and 60% of this is for export. Further, most of these land deals, around 70%, are reserved for agro-fuel production – industry bound oil seed production of oil palm, jathropa, corn, wheat, and sugar. This push for agro-fuel is fulfilling the needs of the rich capitalist countries. In the past few years, China’s One Belt One Road (OBOR) initiative has further accelerated land grab, and China is now second to the US, in the number of concluded transnational land acquisitions. In Africa alone, land acquired by Chinese companies range from 240,000 to 6 million hectares.

According to the KPK Provincial Coordinator, Fayyaz Ahmad after leasing an additional 1,000 acres of land in Haripur for a special economic zone, and eviction of farmers from their land for building the Northern Bypass, Peshawar, the next target for investors seems to be Palai in Malakand, a green belt famous for its farmlands and orange orchards. The government of KPK is planning to build a cement factory in the area and has imposed Section 4 for acquiring 400 acres of land. The critical importance of this land for the local communities and its fertility can be gauged by government figures which state that Palai has 171,000 fruit trees which are not only a source of livelihood and food security for the local communities but also critical for the environment; all this happening in a country which is in the frontline of vulnerable countries from climate change impacts. Similarly, for the construction of the Swat Expressway precious agricultural land of local farmers has been acquired for pittance, and on top of that farmers are facing delay in payments for the land.

According to PKMT Sindh Provincial Coordinator Ali Nawaz Jalbani, small and landless farmers were facing exploitation and deprivation because of the unjust distribution of land, corporate agriculture, and the imperialist neoliberal policies inflicted on the command of capitalist countries. At the same time, feudalism is not only forcing misery on the landless farmers but the women face further discrimination based on their gender. They are forced to work under scorching heat for harvesting crops such as wheat and cotton; Hindu are forced to bear not only the oppressive feudal mechanisms but also face further discrimination based on religion. According to Mir Babal, a youth PKMT member from Ghotki, various development projects for energy and infrastructure under the China Pakistan Economic Corridor agreement has resulted in land grab in the area for a number of years.

It was pointed out that in Sanghar, a district where the landless facing acute exploitation with a very high percentage of the population suffering from malnutrition, the government under different guises was taking back land that had been distributed to landless farmers in 2004. The much higher percentage of children suffering from malnutrition in this district was proof of the impact of the industrial agricultural production, which takes its toll on impoverished farmer communities. The Sindh government in many districts of the province for the past many decades has been evicting small farmers. On the other hand, farmers have been forcefully evicted from centuries old villages so that big property dealers and investors, who are well known to have acquired land illegally, are given further opportunities for land grabbing.

PKMT Provincial Coordinator Maqsood Ahmed stated that the government of Punjab after leasing 6,500 acres of land for growing high yielding seeds to foreign corporation in Punjab has recently adopted a policy for leasing state land to national and foreign corporations. The Punjab government has provided state forestland to the corporate sector for planting commercial forests. In South Punjab, proposals by investors for developing commercial forests on 99,077 acres of land have been approved. On the other hand, the same Punjab government in district Rajanpur, South Punjab is bent on displacing small farmers from an area called Rakh Azmat Wala, where the farmers have lived for more than a century.

PKMT demands that development project across the country including those for special economic zones as well as land lease to investors should be stopped. In addition, the role of international corporate sector in agriculture should be eliminated, the ever-increasing allotment of land to the corporate sector should be stopped and instead just and equitable distribution of land to small and landless farmers should be carried out immediately.

Released by Pakistan Kissan Mazdoor Tehreek & Roots for Equity

Peoples’ Voice at UNEA-4

Statement of the Farmers Major Group at the fourth session of the United Nations Environment Assembly

Delivered by Mr. Wali Haider

FARMER MAJOR GROUP STATEMENT AT UNEA-4

Thank you chair.

Honorable excellences, distinguished delegates and colleagues:

I am Wali Haider from Roots for Equity, Pakistan and I’m speaking on behalf of the Farmers Major Group.

The dominant paradigm of unsustainable consumption and production continue to devastate and worsen the situation of the environment and the people along with promotion of Trade-Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights which force GMOs and commodification of seeds and water. This crisis is further compounded by unabted land grabs by the transnational corporations. This is manifest in the crises in food, climate, environmental degradation, reduced biodiversity, depleted natural resources, and increasing violation of people’s rights and exacerbating inequality.

The industrial model of agricultural production and perverse subsidies in the agricultural sector are destroying the sources of livelihoods of small-scale food producers and their communities, resulting in hunger and forced migration.

To tackle the challenges we are facing in nourishing a growing global population and ensuring food sovereignty require innovations. People-centred and community solutions are innovations and appropriate technologies that protect the environment, promote sustainability, community ownership, social solidarity and mutuality and based on development justice. Innovative solutions that make a difference in people’s lives are often not technological but social innovations, linked with traditional practices and based on indigenous and local knowledge systems. Dimensions of environment, economy and society, the three pillars of sustainable development, are all taken into account in people’s solutions and community innovations towards sustainable consumption and production.

It is proven that in food production, agroecology as a practice based on constant innovation of farmers, a science and a social movement, is known to improve soils, protect health and the environment, improve livelihoods, and increase household income. Agroecology also harnesses traditional and indigenous knowledge systems supported by people’s science and builds community unity.

Therefore, we call for the strengthening and promotion of agro-ecology through appropriate laws, policy and programs as well as the protection of local, indigenous and traditional knowledge in agriculture, and create markets for traditional and heirloom produce. Subsidies, incentives and development aid should be re-targeted away from industrial agriculture, towards agro-ecological solutions and small-scale, local production.

We also call for action to be taken on the following:

  • Policies in national and regional level supporting local and community innovations can be strategic, as such in governance of natural resources and community-based resource development. Participatory and community action researches on the issues surrounding sustainable consumption and production will provide evidence-based solutions and should be supported.
  • Assert and protect public control over natural resources and prioritize cultivation of nutritious food for local consumption.
  • Provide an enabling policy environment for farmers including land to the landless, genuine agrarian reform, access to productive resources including seeds, participation in policy-making and policy coherence at the national and international levels.
  • Advance good governance with increased accountability and transparency, removing all anti-people policies to protect natural resources.
  • Member states should mainstream biodiversity protection and enhancement across sectors and engage indigenous people and ensure the protection of their rights to land, resources, establish accountability mechanism to ensure compliance to human rights, social and environmental safeguards.
  • Call on member states to actively participate in the intergovernmental working group on the elaboration of legally-binding treaty on TNCs and other businesses with respect to human rights.
  • Recognition and promotion of the role of women in providing innovative solutions to environmental problems and SCP.
  • Ensure participation of civil society, grassroots movements and other stakeholders in assessing new and emerging technologies as a
    key component of environmental governance. Due importance should be given to capturing the interpretation of evidences by different actors and enabling broad participation in societal deliberation on technologies.
  • Provide mechanisms for equitable, effective and inclusive participation of civil society based on recognition of existing inequalities and the need to level the playing field.

We also note with concern that the negotiations are tilted more in the favour of big business than ecology and farmers. However, we call on member states to protect the interest of the small and landless farmers. The farmers of the world stand ready to support you so we can work together on these.

Thank you.

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MONSANTO WEED KILLER ROUNDUP WAS ‘SUBSTANTIAL FACTOR’ IN CAUSING MAN’S CANCER, JURY SAYS

By Mihir Zaveri

March 19, 2019

A federal jury found Tuesday that Monsanto’s popular weed killer Roundup was a “substantial factor” in causing a California man’s cancer, dealing a significant blow to the company as it aggressively defends its products against thousands of similar claims.

The six-member jury delivered the unanimous verdict in the United States District Court in San Francisco, months after a groundskeeper who said Roundup caused his cancer was awarded about $80 million in a separate case in California.

Tuesday’s verdict concluded the first of two phases in the federal case about the possible health risks of Roundup and whether Monsanto misled the man, Edwin Hardeman, about those risks.

Mr. Hardeman used Roundup to control weeds and poison oak on his property for 26 years. He was diagnosed with non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma in 2015.

The second phase of the case, which begins Wednesday, will focus on whether Monsanto, which was acquired by Bayer AG last year, should be held liable for partly causing Mr. Hardeman’s cancer, said his lawyer, Jennifer Moore. Ms. Moore said lawyers would seek to prove that Monsanto manipulated public opinion and science to play down Roundup’s health risks.

Lawyers will argue that Monsanto knew or should have known that Roundup causes cancer, Ms. Moore said in an interview Tuesday. Mr. Hardeman’s team will ask that the jury have the company pay his medical bills and an undetermined amount of damages, she added.

“We feel confident based on the evidence that a jury, when presented with all of the evidence, will see that Monsanto has committed 40 years of corporate malfeasance,” Ms. Moore said.

Bayer said in a statement Tuesday that it was disappointed in the jury’s verdict and that “the evidence in phase two will show that Monsanto’s conduct has been appropriate and the company should not be liable for Mr. Hardeman’s cancer.”

“We have great sympathy for Mr. Hardeman and his family, but an extensive body of science supports the conclusion that Roundup was not the cause of his cancer,” Bayer said in the statement. “Bayer stands behind these products and will vigorously defend them.”

In December 2017, the Environmental Protection Agency issued a draft human health risk assessment that said glyphosate was most likely not carcinogenic to humans.

Central to the criticism of Roundup, however, is a decision by the World Health Organization’s International Agency for Research on Cancer in 2015 to declare glyphosate a probable carcinogen.

That spurred Mr. Hardeman to file a lawsuit in February 2016, and prompted California to declare glyphosate a chemical that is known to cause cancer.

In August, a California jury found that Monsanto had failed to warn a school groundskeeper of the cancer risks posed by Roundup, which he used as part of his job as a pest control manager. Monsanto was ordered to pay $289 million in damages.

In October, a judge reduced that total to about $80 million, saying the jury’s award was too high. Monsanto is appealing that verdict, a spokesman said.

Mr. Hardeman’s case was the first federal case to go to trial, Ms. Moore said. She said the legal team presented expert testimony and research that Roundup causes mutations in human cells and that human populations that are exposed to Roundup are more likely to develop non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma.

Documents unsealed in 2017 in Mr. Hardeman’s case suggested that Monsanto had ghostwritten research that was later attributed to academics. The documents indicated that a senior official at the E.P.A. had worked to quash a federal review of glyphosate.

The documents also revealed that there was some disagreement within the E.P.A. over its own risk assessment.

UGANDA INVESTIGATES UN FOOD AID AFTER THREE DIE, POLICE SAY

KAMPALA (Reuters) – Uganda is investigating a supply of food from the World Food Program after three people died and 262 others got sick, police said.

People suffered diarrhea, nose bleeds and other health problems after eating food provided by the United Nations food agency, police said in a statement late on Monday.

The food was part of a community feeding program in the northeastern Karamoja region, a semi-arid area where the UN has long provided food aid for people facing poor harvests.

Police are “actively investigating the death of three people … from eating adulterated or poisonous food supplied by the World Food Program,” the statement said.

Samples of the food and the patients’ urine and blood had been sent to a government laboratory for analysis.

The food agency said on Saturday it had suspended distribution of Super Cereal – a fortified blended food – at all its operations in Uganda.

In a statement on Tuesday, WFP said some 262 people had reported falling sick after eating the cereal, with some exhibiting “mental confusion, vomiting, headache, high fever and abdominal pain.”

The organization also said it was aware of “reports of three deaths” that had occurred on March 16 and that extra samples of the cereal had been sent to Kenya and South Africa for testing.

Uganda hosts a large population of refugees, mostly from South Sudan and the Democratic Republic of Congo, where conflict and widespread insecurity has uprooted hundreds of thousands of people.

Reporting by Elias Biryabarema; editing by Larry King

https://www.reuters.com/article/us-uganda-relief/uganda-probes-un-relief-food-after-three-deaths-police-idUSKCN1R00GD