African “Pirates” in Hamburg

Somali pirates are about to face trial in Germany for the first time since the EU launched its operation against piracy off the Somali coast in 2008. It’s a clear-cut case — the 10 men were caught red-handed. But it poses a legal and diplomatic headache for the German authorities. Will this be the first trial of many? Read more

Film Series: “Another World is Plantable!”

In the film series, “Another World is Plantable!”, community gardens in different parts of the world are presented. At the core of the film series are the activists from the community gardens, the gardens themselves, and the visions the activists have of them. They recount how and why their gardens are not just green oases in the middle of the city, but much more than that projects that bring into being ‘another world’. The documentary film series takes up these ideas and connects them to emancipatory projects in different parts of the world.

Visualizing Consolidation in the Global Seed Industry: 1996–2008

agThe commercial seed industry has undergone tremendous consolidation in the last 40 years as transnational corporations entered this agricultural sector, and acquired or merged with competing firms. This trend is associated with impacts that constrain the opportunities for renewable agriculture, such as reductions in seed lines and a declining prevalence of seed saving. To better characterize the current structure of the industry, ownership changes from 1996 to 2008 are represented visually with information graphics. Since the commercialization of transgenic crops in the mid-1990s, the sale of seeds has become dominated globally by Monsanto, DuPont and Syngenta. In addition, the largest firms are increasingly networked through agreements to cross-license transgenic seed traits. Read more

Futures Group about the future of food

The Futures Group looks at possible futures in the timeline 2020-25 for opportunities and threats. It straddles both Asian and Western perspectives. In their own words:

Trends/shifts are like seeds today. Some seeds sprout to become towering trees, some seeds will grow for a short while but have no staying power and will die off. Some seeds never make it. What we try to do is make an educated guess how these seeds will contribute to the forest of tomorrow. Then we backcast and ask “How do we prepare ourselves to survive and thrive in this forest?” We’ve covered a variety of topics from Arctic Melt, Food, Global Cities to Little economy, Augmented human beings, Batteries and Electric Cars.

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Pirates save fishes

Fischen jetzt wieder mit Erfolgsaussichten für Küstenbewohner in OstafrikaIn past years, illegal commercial trawlers parked off Somalia’s coast and scooped up the ocean’s contents. Now, fishermen on the northern coast of neighboring Kenya say, the trawlers are not coming because of pirates. “There is a lot of fish now, there is plenty of fish. There is more fish than people can actually use because the international fishermen have been scared away by the pirates,” said Athman Seif, the director of the Malindi Marine Association. Read more

Neoliberalism in the oceans: ‘‘rationalization,’’ property rights,

Neoliberalism, with its emphasis on privatization and marketization, is becoming a dominant mode of ocean governance. In this paper I show that neoliberalism in ocean fisheries has a specific form and history based on the ways that, for the last 50 years, regulation debates have centered on the question of the commons. Focus on the role of the commons in problems such as overfishing and overcapacity has contributed to convergence of different viewpoints around neoliberal, market-oriented approaches that try to harness the profit motive to conservation and economic efficiency. I trace the idea of property rights in fisheries from the point in the 1950s when economists first identified the commons as the underlying cause of fisheries problems, through extended political jurisdiction, to recent emphasis on the benefits of common property. Despite their differences, proponents of these different viewpoints all take property as their central problematic and contribute to the idea that creating market incentives, by specifying property rights, is the foundation upon which proper use of ocean resources rests. I illustrate these ideas with a description of the shift toward privatization in the fisheries of the US portion of the North Pacific, which have a direct annual value of almost $1 billion. Neoliberal approaches to fisheries regulation are not simply spillover from larger trends toward market-based governance, but instead are influenced by the ways that past policy orientations toward fisheries have centered on enclosing the oceans within carefully delimited regimes of property rights, be those regimes of collective, state, or private control. Download the article as PDF

NGO warns against biopiracy of climate-resilient crops

Navdanya, a non-governmental organisation (NGO) in India, has sought government intervention to stop biopiracy of climate-resilient crops by global gene giants who are reported to have applied for patents on farmers’ innovation of seeds that are resistant to drought, floods and salinity. By attempting to patent farmers’ innovations, the multi-national gene companies are not only out to make profits but also want to position themselves as saviours of the world against climate change said Vandana Shiva, the founder of Navdanya.

Madagascar: The New Land Grab

aa-transJust when colonialism was considered dead and buried, along comes neo-colonialism in its latest guise. Allied with its close relatives globalisation, free marketeering and lack of transparency, it is currently launching a new offensive on the disempowered population of this continent. Kwame Nkrumah, along with others in the post-colonial Pan Africanist movement, coined the term ‘neo-colonialism’ to describe continued access to the resources of less developed nations, by both national and private interests allied to wealthy nations. He warned against the continued impacts of colonialism if the risks inherent to neo-colonialism were neither addressed nor dealt with. Read More