Updates on the Open Source Seed Movement
There are Better Places for Growing Food than California
California is in the midst of a mega-drought, the worst in over 1000 years with no end as yet foreseable. There are other places for growing food in the U.S. and they are nearly perfect. [Read more ...]
Plant Breeders Release First Open Source Seeds
A group of scientists and food activists is launching a campaign to change the rules that govern seeds. [Read more ...]
Invasive Kudzu Bug Found in Southeastern U.S.
For updates, indentification, distribution map, and additional information see www.kudzubug.org
Climate Wizard - Interactive Map of Climate Change
In August 2009 The Nature Conservancy added an interactive climate change map to its website. With their online tool called Climate Wizard you can calculate the effects of climate change up to the year 2100, or 50 years into the past. Selectable map options include regions, country, month of the year, temperature, precipitation, and type of climate model used to make the projection. The anticipated climate changes will have profound effects on farming practices and types of crops grown. Vegetable varieties adapted to hot, humid conditons will become increasingly imporant. Increased temperatures will also cause increased disease and pest pressure on plants.
Updated Plant Hardiness Zone Map
Global warming has already caused dramatic changes in the U.S. Plant Hardiness Zone Map. To view the changes that have occurred between 1990 and 2006 visit 2006 ArborDay.org Hardiness Zone Map. After the page loads, click the play button to see how the hardiness zones have changed.
Radiator Charlie's Mortgage Lifter tomato
A portion of the story of 'Radiator Charlie's Mortgage Lifter' tomato aired on National Public Radio on September 23, 2005. A link to this story (with its wider implications) may be found in the archives of the NPR Living on Earth website. This story is based on an interview of Radiator Charlie (M.C. Byles) by his grandson Edward Martin, and an interview with Jeff McCormack, who tracked down the developer of the 'Mortgage Lifter' tomato and his story. A full length article on this story based on two hours of interviews will later be published.
Iraqi farmers prevented from saving their own seed
When the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) celebrates biodiversity on World Food Day on October 16, 2004 Iraqi farmers will be mourning its loss.
A new report by GRAIN and Focus on the Global South has found that new legislation in Iraq has been carefully put in place by the US that prevents farmers from saving their seeds and effectively hands over the seed market to transnational corporations. This is a disastrous turn of events for Iraqi farmers, biodiversity and the country's food security. While political sovereignty remains an illusion, food sovereignty for the Iraqi people has been made near impossible by these new regulations. "The US has been imposing patents on life around the world through trade deals. In this case, they invaded the country first, then imposed their patents. This is both immoral and unacceptable", said Shalini Bhutani, one of the report's authors.
The new law in question heralds the entry into Iraqi law of patents on life forms - this first one affecting plants and seeds. This law fits in neatly into the US vision of Iraqi agriculture in the future - that of an industrial agricultural system dependent on large corporations providing inputs and seeds.
In 2002, FAO estimated that 97 percent of Iraqi farmers used saved seed from their own stocks from last year's harvest or purchased from local markets. When the new law - on plant variety protection (PVP) - is put into effect, seed saving will be illegal and the market will only offer proprietary "PVP-protected" planting material "invented" by transnational agribusiness corporations. The new law totally ignores all the contributions Iraqi farmers have made to development of important crops like wheat, barley, date and pulses. Its consequences are the loss of farmers' freedoms and a grave threat to food sovereignty in Iraq . In this way, the US has declared a new war against the Iraqi farmer.
"If the FAO is celebrating 'Biodiversity for Food Security' this year, it needs to demonstrate some real commitment", says Henk Hobbelink of GRAIN, pointing out that the FAO has recently been cozying up with industry and offering support for genetic engineering. "Most importantly, the FAO must recognize that biodiversity-rich farming and industry-led agriculture are worlds apart, and that industrial agriculture is one of the leading causes of the catastrophic decline in agricultural biodiversity that we have witnessed in recent decades. The FAO cannot hope to embrace biodiversity while holding industry's hand", he added.
CLARIFICATION - February 2005
The report jointly issued by Focus on the Global South and GRAIN in October 2004 on Iraq's new patent law has received a lot of attention worldwide. It has also generated a misunderstanding that we wish to clarify.
The law does not prohibit Iraqi farmers from using or saving "traditional" seeds. It prohibits them from reusing seeds of "new" plant varieties registered under the law - in practical terms, this means they cannot save those seeds for re-use. The report has been revised to express this more clearly.
For more information and updates to this report visit: GRAIN