Tag: farmers

FOR OUR FOOD SYSTEM’S SAKE, LET’S SAY “NO” TO CORPORATE CONSOLIDATION

Mergers puts food workers and small-scale farmers at risk and increase vertical integration, hurting farm­ers’ ability to compete.

When you look to the year ahead, what do you see? Ensia recently invited eight global thought leaders to share their thoughts. In this interview with Ensia contributor Lisa Palmer for Ensia’s 2017 print annual, Real Food Media founder Anna Lappé responds to three questions: What will be the biggest challenge to address or opportunity to grasp in your field in 2017? Why? And what should we be doing about it now?

The food system is one of the largest forces impacting our planet’s environment and people’s health. The choices about what crops are grown, where and how they are produced, who gets access to that food and who makes those decisions all have global consequences.

HOW “OPEN SOURCE” SEED PRODUCERS FROM THE U.S. TO INDIA ARE CHANGING GLOBAL FOOD PRODUCTION

Around the world, plant breeders are resisting what they see as corporate control of the food supply by making seeds available for other breeders to use.

Frank Morton has been breeding lettuce since the 1980s. His company offers 114 varieties, among them Outredgeous, which last year became the first plant that NASA astronauts grew and ate in space. For nearly 20 years, Morton’s work was limited only by his imagination and by how many different kinds of lettuce he could get his hands on. But in the early 2000s, he started noticing more and more lettuces were patented, meaning he would not be able to use them for breeding. The patents weren’t just for different types of lettuce, but specific traits such as resistance to a disease, a particular shade of red or green, or curliness of the leaf. Such patents have increased in the years since, and are encroaching on a growing range of crops, from corn to carrots — a trend that has plant breeders, environmentalists and food security experts concerned about the future of the food production.

A determined fellow dedicated to the millennia-old tradition of plant breeding, Morton still breeds lettuce — it just takes longer, because more restrictions make it harder for him to do his work.

Mining for Red Gold

Workers in Italy’s tomato industry are organising against exploitation and poor working conditions in one of the country’s most important sectors. Migrant workers find themselves at the sharp end of industry abuses, which local government has continually failed to tackle and anti-slavery legislation proves wildly insufficient to prevent.

On 25th August, some 400 migrant farm workers totally blockaded two of the largest tomato processing factories in Europe, located in the industrial hub in the outskirts of the city of Foggia, in Puglia, southern Italy. They brought processing and logistics operations to a halt for more than six hours, The strike was the culmination of a year’s cycle of struggles, and was directed against the processing plants of Futuragri S.C.A. and Princes Industrie Alimentari S.r.L. The latter is a subsidiary of the multinational food giant Princes Ltd., owned since 1989 by the Mitsubishi Group and based in Liverpool, UK. Many of the 300 lorry drivers affected by the blockade also joined the farm workers in protesting against their employers, who force them to wait unpaid outside the factory for up to 24 hours.