The Noah Project

Rebuilding a sustainable world.


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FAO Announces International Symposium on Agroecology

The U.N. Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) will host an International Symposium on Agroecology for Food Security and Nutrition on September 18 and 19, 2014. The symposium, at FAO headquarters in Rome, will explore recent scientific research and knowledge around agroecological practices, promote open dialogue, and showcase existing experiences and programs on agroecology. Food Tank is excited to be participating in this event.

The event will bring together international experts in the field of Agroecology and falls within the new FAO Strategic Framework, which aims to “increase and improve provision of goods and services from agriculture, forestry, and fisheries in a sustainable manner.”

The symposium will provide a forum for taking stock of the current state of science and practices of agroecology. Discussions will focus on current initiatives underway around the world contributing to the development of an international framework for research on agroecology, with consideration of economic, social and environmental aspects in industrialized and developing countries.

The symposium aims to produce an action plan for a follow up process in Africa and Asia including potential activities in the context of the FAO Strategic Framework. Following the symposium, the FAO will release scientific proceedings and other informational media content for online sharing.

Registration is now open for interested participants.

Maia Reed holds a B.A. in International Development Studies from McGill University and recently received her Permaculture Design Certificate.


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Indian Bio-Diversity Board to Open up 110 Seed Banks in States of Andhra Pradesh and Telangana

News like this gives me great hope that we are wising up and moving away from mono-cultures and industrial farming.

HYDERABAD: To preserve indigenous seed varieties and also promote organic farming, the state bio-diversity board will soon open over 110 seed banks across the two states. With the requisite budgets sanctioned for this pilot project, the board is all set to start the programme in the coming weeks.
The concept is inspired by the activities of a Karnataka-based NGO which was able to do the same in a small scale. A similar project is underway in Gujarat too.
‘’The idea is to start one such seed bank in every village. Farmers can take seeds of various traditional crop varieties free of cost and return double the seeds to the bank after cultivation,” said R Hampaiah, chairman, AP State Biodiversity Board. The board has proposed to open about 60 seed banks in Andhra Pradesh and about 50 in Telangana.
‘’This will not only preserve the local varieties of crops but also promote organic farming, which will in turn reduce the cost of cultivation and yield better output and returns,’’ chairman of the board said adding that huge numbers of farmer suicides in the region was a result of farmers resorting to cultivation of crops not suitable for their region.
According to him, the yield and quality in modern day agriculture were unfortunately inversely proportional though a very small number of farmers practice low cost agriculture and ensure better prices for their yield. The Biodiversity Management Committees (BMC) of the respective villages will also be provided aid to market these varieties so that more and more farmers are encouraged to sow indigenous varieties, he said.

You can read the entire article here.


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Big Food Produces “Illth” to Boost Profits

The New York Times has a great article  by Mark Bittman in the Op-Ed Section.  He writes about how Big Food is killing its customers in its quest to increase profits :

You can buy food from farmers — directly, through markets, any way you can find — and I hope you do. But unless you’re radically different from most of us, much of what you eat comes from corporations that process, market, deliver and sell “food,” a majority of which is processed beyond recognition.

The problem is that real food isn’t real profitable. “It’s hard to market fruit and vegetables without adding value,” says Marion Nestle, a professor of nutrition, food studies and public health at New York University. “If you turn a potato into a potato chip you not only make more money — you create a product with a long shelf life.” Potatoes into chips and frozen fries; wheat into soft, “enriched” bread; soybeans into oil and meat; corn into meat and a staggering variety of junk.

How do we break this cycle? You can’t blame corporations for trying to profit by any means necessary, even immoral ones: It’s their nature.

You can possibly blame them for stupidity: Even a mindless parasite knows that if it kills its host the party’s over, and by pushing products that promote “illth” — the opposite of health — Big Food is unwittingly destroying its own market. Diet-related Type 2 diabetes and cardiovascular disease disable and kill people, and undoubtedly we’ll be hearing more about nonalcoholic steatohepatitis, or NASH, an increasingly prevalent fatty liver disease that’s brought on by diet and may lead to liver failure.

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Vermont on Track to Mandate GMO Labeling

By Reuters:

The Vermont Senate passed a bill on Wednesday that would make it the first state to mandate labeling of foods made with genetically modified organisms, or GMOs.
Unlike bills passed last year in Maine and Connecticut, which require other states to pass GMO labeling laws before they can be enacted, Vermont’s contains no such trigger clause.
The developers of genetically modified crops and the $360 billion packaged food industry pushed for passage of an opposing bill, introduced in Congress last week, that would nullify any law that would require labeling of foods made with GMO crops.
Consumers increasingly are demanding to know where their food comes from, advocates say.
“We have a growing food movement in which people are demanding more transparency,” said Michele Simon, a public health attorney.
But GMO crop developers such as Monsanto and their backers say the biotech crops have been proven to be safe.
“This debate isn’t about food safety,” said Karen Batra, spokeswoman for the Biotechnoloy Industry Organization. “Our science experts … point to more than 1,700 credible peer-reviewed studies that find no legitimate concern.”
Vermont’s bill, approved 28-2 by the Senate, has passed the state House. It will go back to the House to vote on changes made by the Senate. If passed, the law would take effect in 2016.
GMO labeling bills are under consideration in 29 states.


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Organics Under Attack

The OCA has a long history of defending the integrity of organic standards.

Last September, the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA), under pressure from corporate interests represented by the Organic Trade Association, made our job harder.

They also made it more important than ever for consumers to do their homework, even when buying USDA certified organic products.

Without any input from the public, the USDA changed the way the National Organic Standards Board (NOSB) decides which non-organic materials are allowed in certified organic. The change all but guarantees that when the NOSB meets every six months, the list of non-organic and synthetic materials allowed in organic will get longer and longer.

The USDA’s new rule plays to the cabal of the self-appointed organic elite who want to degrade organic standards and undermine organic integrity. For consumers, farmers, co-ops and businesses committed to high organic standards, the USDA’s latest industry-friendly move is a clarion call to fight back against the corporate-led, government-sanctioned attack on organic standards.

Read the essay

 


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Live Streamed Lecture by Vandana Shiva

Arts-Vandana Shiva poster

Internationally renowned eco-feminist, philosopher, and activist Vandana Shiva will be paying a visit to Winnipeg this weekend, and while her ticketed event is now sold out, local organizers have arranged an alternate, free live-streamed teach-in.

Shiva will be speaking to a group of paying attendees on the evening of March 28 as part of the “Fragile Freedoms” lecture series, presented by the University of Manitoba’s centre for professional and applied ethics, the Canadian Museum for Human Rights, and the CBC.

On March 29, Shiva will be giving a lecture about Earth democracy from 90 Sinclair Street, which will be broadcast as a live-streamed teach-in to other locations across Canada, including a secondary location in Winnipeg.

The organizers of this event state that “there is no lecture hall or community centre with the capacity to hold everyone who should hear her inspirational and empowering message,” which is why they are offering this free, live-streamed event “in the spirit of decentralized knowledge-sharing and radical self-education.”

The notion of radical education, and radical self-education, is part of a larger movement to create spaces of knowledge-sharing outside of formal educational structures.

British scholar David Hicks believes that in its current form education “inevitably reproduces the social, political and economic norms of the dominant ideology. In the west this is capitalist, technocratic, individualistic, materialist, and patriarchal.”

In contrast to the Fragile Freedoms event, the teach-in on March 29 is free, and organizers of the second Winnipeg location—the University of Winnipeg Womyn’s Centre and the Women’s and Gender Studies Students’ Association—are attempting to make it as accessible as possible.

Free snacks, coffee, tea, bus tickets, and childminding are all offered as part of the event. It’s also being offered in a wheelchair accessible room in proximity to accessible washrooms.

For those who may be unfamiliar with the concept of Earth democracy, organizers of the teach-in provide a definition to use as a starting point before hearing Shiva’s thoughts: “Earth democracy is the worldview that we as humans can be part of a healthy planet, but we must take action to protect peace and swaraj (sovereignty) for all living beings: Let us learn about our right to water, our right to seed and to food, and our right to life.”

Join in the live-streamed teach-in at 7:00 p.m. on March 29 at room 2M70 at the University of Winnipeg.


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Russia Bans GMO’s

'GMO products cause cancer and obesity' - food safety expert

According to a recent article in The Voice of Russia. food safety experts in the nation have banned GMO’s as research shows they cause obesity and cancer.

Russia is firm: no genetically modified organisms in food production, the head of Russia’s Ministry of Agriculture Nikolay Fyodorov stated at the All-Russian Meeting of Agrarians. GMO-foods controversies between scientists, ecologists and producers have a long history. Russia, which is now going organic, has faced these problems just recently.
The battle is being waged by two camps: while scientists lack arguments and evidence that GMO is harmful, huge and powerful production corporation have resources and political links. Scientists say they will need another couple of decades for a comprehensive research, but some threats are obvious already now, says Biology Professor and international expert on eco and food safety Dr. Irina Ermakova:
“These organisms are all dangerous because the very technology of their production is far from being perfect ­– it features pathogenic bacteria and viruses. When scientists tested the aftermath of GMO-produce on animals, they were horrified with the results – cancer and obesity. So the best things would be to ban such foods at all, as European countries do”. Continue reading