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.
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The country has its sights firmly placed on the spectacle occurring over the hack/leak of documents that may or may not have influenced the election. It’s irrelevant. The people of the United States cannot grant the Central Intelligence Agency (or any intelligence agency) the power to cast doubt on the results of elections via unconfirmed, unsourced, and politically biased findings. At the end of the day, the precedent set by allowing a secret agency to veto election results is the death of democracy.
So what did you miss while this was occupying the national narrative? Lots. Troops are deploying to Afghanistan, the Boko Haram is back in the headlines, a new pipeline fight, and much more.
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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.
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The Bayer – Monsanto merger, announced last week, will no doubt be good for shareholders in the short term, with the sale price of seed and GMO giant Monsanto ending up at $66 billion, or $128 cash for each share. But the result for farmers across the globe will likely be far less rosy.
The Bayer – Monsanto merger deal, which took months of negotiations to finalize, will create the largest agribusiness in the world. Bayer, mostly known for their aspirin and other pharmaceutical products (including, long ago, heroin) are actually an agriculture product giant in and of themselves,with a large chunk of their yearly profits being from the sale of agricultural chemicals.
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