INCLUDES NEWS OF AN IMPORTANT CONFERENCE - ITEM 2
1.Will the G8 please leave us alone
2.Sustainable World conference
1. Will the G8 please leave us alone
Among those speaking in Edinburgh at the protests and events this weekend in the run up to the G8 summit is Devinder Sharma. Devinder's message for the G8 is uncompromising: "LEAVE US ALONE!"
At first sight it might seem extraordinary that anyone from the developing world might be extending less than a warm welcome to the prospect of debt relief and increased aid.
But like George Monbiot, Devinder sees the G8's plans as little better than an extortion racket.
The G8's help comes on the G8's terms. These include the requirement that recipients of debt relief "boost private sector development" and eliminate "impediments to private investment, both domestic and foreign." What this means, as George Monbiot points out, is new opportunities for western money via commercialisation, privatisation and the liberalisation of trade and capital flows.
Developing countries are also under pressure to further open up their markets. And, at the level of aid, we are also seeing a consistent pattern of resolutely tying assistance into "science and technology".
This is a mantra that is being taken up enthusiastically by an industrially-aligned Northern science community, as well as by its friends in the South, who see it as a way of channeling increasing sums of public money into projects of which they and their corporate-science agenda are among the principal beneficiaries.
In the case of genetic engineering, we've seen that as the biotech industry has faced growing public opposition, the entry of biotechnology has been promoted increasingly via ostensibly public sector and philanthropic initiatives and the activities of USAID and the UK's Department for International Development. These initiatives add up to GM by the back door.
The real preoccupations of the political leader chairing the G8 summit were revealed recently by Tony Blair when addresing the European Parliament. Blair gave this explanation as to why he was such a passionate pro-European:
"The idea of Europe, united and working together, is essential for our nations to be strong enough to keep our place in this world." In this context he complained of "more science graduates [being] produced by India than by Europe", of "skills, R&D, patents, IT... going down, not up". He also noted, "India will expand its biotechnology sector fivefold in the next five years."
You get the picture. What really matters for Blair in terms of our global future is making sure that we (ie the industrlaised North) continue to have the biggest share of the money and power, and biotechnology and patents are seen as a key element in determining whether "we" manage to "keep our place in the world."
Our industrially-aligned science community has an identical agenda. Prof Derek Burke helped the UK to radically restructure its public funding so that science could be made to contribute most fully to the UK's economic competitiveness. Burke also helped identify "building businesses from biology and genetics" as a generic priority for UK science, engineering and technology.
Prof Burke was also part of the Nuffield Council on Bioethics which produced a report saying there was a "moral duty" to invest in GM research for the sake of developing countries. In a comment to other scientists on the opposition to GM, Burke has explained: "...the consequence of the loss of this technology for society is the loss of the ability to create new wealth. It's my grandchildren that I'm concerned about. How will they earn their living in 20 years? The answer may lie partly in your hands."
There's a story about a patient making their first visit to a psychoanalyst. The analyst explains that he can helpthem with their condition via an intensive programme of analysis - twice weekly sessions for at least the next 3 years. "That," comments the patient, "takes care of your future. Now what about mine?"
As has often been pointed out, the poor and hungry need low-cost, readily available technologies and practices in order to increase food production. And the approaches are already there that can produce the results.
As even the New Scientist noted in an editorial, after reviewing the research evidence, "Low-tech 'sustainable agriculture,' shunning chemicals in favour of natural pest control and fertiliser, is pushing up crop yields on poor farms across the world, often by 70 per cent or more... The findings will make sobering reading for people convinced that only genetically modified crops can feed the planet's hungry in the 21st century... A new science-based revolution is gaining strength built on real research into what works best on the small farms where a billion or more of theworld's hungry live and work... It is time for the major agricultural research centres and their funding agencies to join the revolution."
But those agencies have been designed to focus on the kind of wealth and patent creating R&D that Tony Blair is eulogising. In other words, the very forces that could help to end Southern rural poverty, have an agenda that is about actively derailing such solutions.
No wonder some like Devinder are saying, "LEAVE US ALONE!"
2.The Independent Science Panel
Promotion of Science for the Public Good http://www.indsp.org
Feeling paralysed by politicians spreading gloom and doom over global warming, oil and water depletion, and poverty in Africa? There’s plenty we can do to dispel despair and galvanise governments and people into effective action. At last, a conference of new ideas and approaches to provide food security and health for all, eradicate poverty and mitigate global warming. Not to be missed!
Sue Edwards - Alan Simpson - Mae-Wan Ho - Martin Khor - Michael Meacher - Peter Bunyard - Erkki Lähde - Caroline Lucas - David Hywel Davis David Woodward - Joe Cummins - Ingrid Hartman - Lilian Joensen Julia Wright Hannu Hyvönen - Elenita Neth Dano
(Note changes in speakers list, now expanded, as are the topics covered. We are especially sorry to lose Tewolde, who has been called away to an emergency international conference on biosafety for which he is the world's most important negotiator. But we are very fortunate to have as replacement, Sue Edwards, the Director of the Institute of Sustainable Development, Tewolde's partner and key player in all his projects.)
Times and venues:
14 July (16:00h 19:00h; Atlee Suite, House of Commons, Westminster, London
Conference dinner (19:30 to 22:00; RAF Club, 128 Piccadilly W1J 7PJ)- SOLD OUT FULLY BOOKED
15 July (9:00h - 17:00h; Small Meeting House, Friend's House, 173 Euston Road, London, opposite Euston tube station)
Register online: http://www.i- sis.org.uk/Swreg.php
Register by post: fill in the registration form below and mail cheque to: Sustainable World conference, ISIS, PO Box 32097, London NW1 0XR, UK.
For more information : Peter Saunders: 44-(0)20-7848-2218; Rhea Gala: 44- (0)1994-231-623; Sam Burcher 44-(0)-20-8452-2729
Thanks to generous donations from sponsors & partners, we are able to extend the special offer for anyone registering on or before 13 July 2005. Registration Fees for the conference are waived for Friends of ISIS, and half-price for Sustainable World sponsors.
Registration form for Sustainable World conference
Organisation (if any):
Please tick appropriate boxes below
Sponsor of Sustainable World : yes __ no__
Friend of ISIS : yes __ no__
Entire conference (£40) ___ 14 July only (£25) ___ 15 July only (£30) ___
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Total amount to pay £_____
The Sustainable World Global Initiative was launched by the Institute of Science in Society (ISIS) and the Independent Science Panel (ISP) on 6 April 2005 ( http:/ /www.i-sis.org.uk/SustainableWorldInitiativeF.php ).
Session 1: The Big Picture
Chaired by Peter Ainsworth MP, Chair of all-party Environmental Audit Committee in the last Parliament
Director of the Institute of Sustainable Development Ethiopia ( Sustainable World partner) that played a key role in promoting African Model Law on Protecting the Rights of Local Communities, Farmers and Breeders and Regulating Access to Biological Resources
Sustainable World, a Global Initiative for Food Sovereignty and Food Security
Member of Parliament, UK, leading voice in debates about a sustainable future, from ending fuel poverty to food justice, voted "Environmental Politician of the Year", Sustainable World sponsor
Food and Energy Security: Local Systems, Global Solidarity
Director of Sustainable World , pioneer of a new physics of organisms and sustainable systems, well known critic of GM crops and genetic determinism
Sustainable Food Systems for Sustainable Development
Director of Third World Network based in Malaysia, Sustainable World partner, prominent spokesperson for the Third World at the World Trade Organisation
How Globalisation Stands in the Way of a Sustainable World
Member of Parliament, UK, ex-Environment Minister negotiating the Biosafety Protocol, Kyoto Protocol and other important international treaties, champion of green issues and independent science, Sustainable World sponsor
Policies for Food and Sustainable Systems, National and Global
Caroline Lucas MEP will lead a Conference Dinner Discussion on Common Agricultural Policy
Session 2: Knowledge-based Actions 1
Chaired by Peter Saunders , Professor of Applied Mathematics, King's College, London
Science editor and a founding editor of The Ecologist , author of numerous books and articles, much sought-after speaker on climate change and nuclear energy, Fellow of the Linnean Society
Saving the Amazon Forest for Sustainable Uses
Finland's foremost forester, Union of Ecoforestry, Finland, Sustainable World sponsor
Multiple Uses of Forests; Experience in Finland
Director of Institute of Sustainable Development Ethiopia, played a key role in making organic agriculture a national strategy for food security in Ethiopia
Organic Agriculture as a National Strategy for Food Security
Member of European Parliament, prominent spokesperson against GMOs and globalisation and champion of important green issues, Sustainable World sponsor
How the European Union Can Pave the Way to a Sustainable World
David Hywel Davies
Distinguished, much published physician from Switzerland specialising in child development, cardiology and nutrition, representing Weston A. Price Foundation, Sustainable World sponsor
Foods, Sustainable Agriculture, and Coronary Disease of the Young
Director of Global and National Economies Programme at New Economics Foundation, UK, Sustainable World sponsor
The New Economics and Sustainable Food Systems
Session 3: Knowledge-based Actions 2
Chair: Eva Novotny , Scientists for Global Responsibility
Emeritus Professor of Plant Genetics, University of Western Ontario, Canada; veteran campaigner on numerous environmental issues and one of the first critics of genetic engineering
Terminator Corporations' Suicide Seeds
Humboldt University, Germany, Member of UN Steering Committee of Nutrition, the African Ecological Economic Society and German-Ethiopian Association for the promotion of cultural exchange and academic and economic collaborations
Soil, Climate, Productivity and Environmental Justice
Molecular biologist researching Chagas' disease, Member of Grupo de Reflexion Rural, Argentina
"Sustainable Agriculture": the Latin American Experience
Manager of International Programme of HDRA (UK's leading organic horticulture charity with over 30 000 members and Sustainable World sponsor), gained her Ph. D. on Cuba's experience in heading off its food crisis
Feeding the World with Organic Agriculture: So What's Stopping Us? The Experience of Cuba
Session 4: Knowledge-based Actions 3 & General Discussion
Chair: Lim Li Ching, Third World Network
Journalist, broadcaster and Chair of Northern Heritage, Finland, Sustainable World sponsor
Recovering Local Varieties for Agricultural Biodiversity in Northern Finland
Elenita Neth Dano
Associate of Third World Network from the Philippines; 12 years experience in conservation and development of community plant genetic resources across Southeast Asia
Third World Farmers Conserving Local Biodiversity in Biodynamic Farming General Discussion
...there are signs that a quiet revolution in the world food system is beginning to occur.
* some 223,000 farmers in southern Brazil using green manures and cover crops of legumes and livestock integration have doubled yields of maize and wheat to 4-5 tons/ha;
* some 45,000 farmers in Guatemala and Honduras have used regenerative technologies to triple maize yields to some 2-2.5 tons/ha and diversify their upland farms, which has led to local economic growth that has in turn encouraged re-migration back from the cities;
* more than 300,000 farmers in southern and western India farming in dryland conditions, and now using a range of water and soil management technologies, have tripled sorghum and millet yields to some 2-2.5 tons/hectare;
* some 200,000 farmers across Kenya who as part of various government and non-government soil and water conservation and sustainable agriculture programmes have more than doubled their maize yields to about 2.5 to 3.3 t/ha and substantially improved vegetable production through the dry seasons;
* 100,000 small coffee farmers in Mexico who have adopted fully organic production methods, and yet increased yields by half;
* a million wetland rice farmers in Bangladesh, China, India, Indonesia, Malaysia, Philippines, Sri Lanka, Thailand and Vietnam who have shifted to sustainable agriculture, where group-based farmer-field schools have enabled farmers to learn alternatives to pesticides whilst still increasing their yields by about 10%.
- excerpt from: Feeding the world?