Indian farmers confront agribusiness and Hindu nationalist agenda of Modi government

We are pleased to publish a guest post for Red Green Labour by Pritam Singh, Professor Emeritus, Oxford Brookes University, Oxford 

The current Indian farmers’ protest is the largest, mostly peaceful, protest in history. It is against three farm laws India’s farmers fear will privatize India’s agriculture sector and leave over 600 million Indians at the mercy of large corporations. The agricultural market reforms push further the Hindu nationalist BJP[1] government’s agenda of centralising economic power and decision-making. The opposition to the reforms by farmers, many state governments, and regional political formations is a watershed moment in this government’s agenda of deepening the entry of agribusiness capitalism and of increased centralised control.

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UK farmers voice support for India protests

Red Green Labour stands in solidarity with India’s farmers and it is good to see British farmers also voicing their support.

From the Wicked Leeks website:

Farmers and landworkers across the UK are sharing photos of themselves standing in solidarity with ongoing mass farmer protests in India against industrialisation in the food system.

UK farmer protests

The Landworkers’ Alliance is standing in solidarity with farmer protests in India.

The strike action by Indian farmers has made headlines as the largest civil society action by the agricultural community for three decades, with hundreds of thousands of farmers and farm workers protesting on the streets of Delhi for several months. Continue reading “UK farmers voice support for India protests”

An Open Letter on the Food Emergency

Red-Green Labour endorses this open letter calling on the government to act over the food crisis.

The Open Letter is to be found here

Leading food academics call for emergency procedures to protect UK food supplies in open letter to Boris Johnson 

The UK Government is failing in its duty to adequately protect food supplies and support healthy nutrition among its citizens in the face of the twin threats of Covid and Brexit, three eminent food policy experts are warning.

In an open letter to Prime Minister Boris Johnson and senior ministers the trio of senior academics press the case for urgent Government investment in ‘food defence’ measures to ensure adequate infrastructure is in place to protect the population from insecure food supplies.   

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The Oxford Real Farming Conference

The Oxford Real Farming Conference is over and was apparently a great success, though you wouldn’t even know it had taken place from the mainstream media.
We reproduce below a report of it from Wicked Leeks – an online magazine published by Riverford Organic Farmer. This article gives a flavour of the activity that ORFC gives a platform to.
The key themes they showcased in advance were:
  • Resilience and the road to COP26
  • The importance of healthy soil
  • Resisting corporate take-overs of seed and food systems
  • The value of indigenous knowledge
  • Redressing racial inequity in our food system
  • The future of UK farming
  • Biodiversity loss and the impact on our health

A melting-pot of change makers

https://wickedleeks.riverford.co.uk/news/environment-ethics-biodiversity-diversity-ethical-business/melting-pot-change-makers
ORFC small farms
Indigenous farming perspectives, land ownership, agroecological farming and how to enact change were some of the key themes from the seven-day Oxford Real Farming Conference, which took place between 8-13 January.The alternative farming event, which this year went global and virtual for the first time, was attended by thousands of visitors from 75 countries, and was described as a “melting pot” of thinkers and change-makers.

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For public ownership of seeds

This fascinating article in The Guardian points to a burgeoning movement of seed-sharing and exchanging and makes the case for public ownership of seed. Certainly something which should be discussed widely in the Labour and environmental movement.

https://www.theguardian.com/uk-news/2020/dec/28/seed-saving-movement-calls-for-seeds-to-be-publicly-owned

Covid has made people see how the food system is dominated by large corporations, say campaigners

An allotment

The pandemic encouraged an interest in allotments and seed saving. Photograph: Bill Allsopp/Alamy Stock Photo

Alexandra Genova

Seeds need to be brought back into public ownership, rather than belonging to a small group of agrochemical companies, say campaigners, after a year in which seed-swapping and saving has reached new heights of popularity.

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Labour- get your wellies on!

In this overview, Charlie Clutterbuck, who describes himself as a socialist soil zoologist, and author of Bittersweet Brexit: The future of Farming, Food Land and Labour, looks  at what lies in store for food and farming in the UK.

There was much post-Referendum talk about the opportunity to green our farming. There would be ‘public money for public goods’ and we thought that meant improving the earth. There would be a new ‘Environmental Land Management Scheme’ (ELMS) that would replace the old EU system of paying subsidies by land area.

False promises. The real news is not good.  Our author raises the alarm at the way some environmentalists are still seduced by the notion that ‘public money will go to public goods’. He also stresses how supine Labour and the unions have been in general and calls for make food and farming central to our political agenda from now on.

Continue reading “Labour- get your wellies on!”

Public consultation on gene editing lauched

From Beyond GM

https://beyond-gm.org/public-consultation-on-genome-editing-is-launched/

 

 

 

 

The UK government’s public consultation on the deregulation of genome editing is now open.

The plans for the consultation will be set out today by Environment Secretary George Eustice in his speech at the Oxford Farming Conference. Eustice is expected to tell the conference:

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Gene-edited crops unlikely to make food system more sustainable

This article which first appeared at GMWatch.org and details failures of first-generation GM crops and points to unintended effects of new GM.

https://www.gmwatch.org/en/news/latest-news/19596

Report by Claire Robinson

Will genetically modified gene-edited crops, foods and animals improve the sustainability of food and farming? A comprehensive new scientific review addresses this question by investigating the record of old-style transgenic GM crops and the potential and reality of newer gene-edited crops and animals.
Continue reading “Gene-edited crops unlikely to make food system more sustainable”

Re-designing farms systems for the climate crisis

Ben Lilliston argues that the new Biden-Harris administration needs to go much further than its predecessors to build a climate resilient farming system and puts forward a series of policies which have a wider application than just the US.

Re-posted from the Institute Of Agriculture and Trade Policy blog:

https://www.iatp.org/blog/202012/roadmap-biden-harris-administration-re-designing-farm-systems-climate-crisis

As the Biden-Harris transition team rapidly fills key cabinet positions and senior leadership, it also is setting priorities for the first 100 days. If the “Build Back Better” mantra is to become reality, particularly in advancing equitable solutions to the climate crisis, the transition team will have to think systemically — not just agency by agency. Systems thinking is especially critical to create a just transition for farming. Our current policy framework supports an industrial system of production that is pushing out farmers while increasing its greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions and climate risk to the food supply. We need a coordinated approach across multiple agencies to support a more resilient farming system.

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The importance of India’s farmers protests

Reposted from Labour Hub this article by the South East Asia Solidarity Group explains the significance and importance of the ongoing protests by farmers in India and why ecosocialists in the West should stand in solidarity.

India’s Farmers Protests: Why they are important and why the British left must show solidarity

In India, in the middle of the pandemic, a unique struggle is taking place. Hundreds of thousands of farmers from across the country are occupying the borders of Delhi in a protest against the combined forces of corporate power and an ultra-right wing government. On the whole an estimated 2 million people are said to be involved.

It is, however, not only its magnitude, which make it significant. The farmers’ protest represents a potentially transformative moment in the struggle against fascism which has been sweeping India over the last year – fuelled by growing anger against the Modi regime.

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