This post is focused on a segment of a more far ranging article in DieM25 regarding the platform economy and unionization in the European Union. We focus on how, in Germany, a group of food delivery riders set up the Kolyma2 collective that has been able to successfully operate on a local level with the use of Coopycyle, an open source software platform that helped them go from 60 orders on a weekend to 80 orders a day.
Alexandre Segura, who goes by the moniker Mex, thought that…
cooperatives belonged in the 19th century, as he vaguely remembered some socialist writings by thinkers like Charles Fourier or Robert Owen. However, he suddenly realized that the concept makes perfect sense in the modern world.
The idea arose that he could develop an app that belonged to delivery riders and that it could act as the “factory” they commonly own. Riders could run the platform on a local scale without global structures involved. “Technology is not everything, for sure”, he adds, “but you need to have an app and a functional website to compete.”
Mandy Adwell at The 9 Billion blog notes that “it has been a rough year for Monsanto, especially in Europe.”
After several countries banned the use of genetically modified seeds and several others banned the use of certain pesticides, the company has announced it will withdraw all pending approval requests for new genetically modified crops in the European Union, due to a lack of prospects for cultivation.
In an interview with Reuters, Monsanto president Jose Manuel Madero cited this as a strategic business move, saying it will allow the company to focus more on conventional seeds such as maize, soybeans, and sugar beets in Europe. It will also maintain the application to renew the approval of MON810 maize, the only GMO crop that is commercially cultivated in parts of Europe. France, Italy, and Germany have all passednational bans on the crop, even though it is still approved by the EU.
Despite recent bans and widespread public opposition to genetically modified crops, the company’s seed business still accounts for more than 98% of its $1.72 billion turnover in Europe.
While this isn’t a drastically huge move that will forever change the food industry, it’s still a sign of the possibility that Monsanto is feeling pressure from the public to change its ways or get out. It will be a long time before we see a positive shift in how it is incorporated into the food industry – if that ever happens – but small steps in our favor are always good news. Maybe the March Against Monsanto back in May did send them a loud message.
The recent revelations concerning widespread US government access to electronic communications data (including the PRISM system apparently run by the National Security Agency) leave many questions unanswered, and new facts are constantly emerging. Thoughtful commentators should be hesitant to make detailed pronouncements before it is clear what is actually going on.
Nevertheless, given the potential of these developments to fundamentally reshape the data protection and privacy landscape, I cannot resist drawing a few high-level, preliminary conclusions, from a European perspective:
Legal protection without political commitment is insufficient to protect privacy. In the regulation of data flows across national borders, trying to resolve conflicts between privacy regulation and government access requirements solely through legal means puts more pressure on the law than it can bear. In addition to strong legal measures, we need greater commitment to privacy protection at the political level, which unfortunately is lacking in many countries.
Government access to personal data is a global issue. International Data Privacy Law recently published a detailed legal analysis last year of systematic government access to private-sector data in nine countries (Australia, Canada, China, Germany, India, Israel, Japan, the UK, and the US), and concluded that a lack of adequate transparency and clear legal standards in this area is a global problem. Revelations about the US programs should not distract attention from issues regarding government access to data in other countries. Continue reading →
The two concepts are usually seen in complete opposition in our political discourse. The more capitalism and wealth, the familiar argument goes, the better able we are to do without a safety net for the poor, elderly, sick and young. And that’s true so far as it goes. What it doesn’t get at is that the forces that free market capitalism unleashes are precisely the forces that undermine traditional forms of community and family that once served as a traditional safety net, free from government control. In the West, it happened slowly – with the welfare state emerging in 19th century Germany and spreading elsewhere, as individuals uprooted themselves from their home towns and forged new careers, lives and families in the big cities, with all the broken homes, deserted villages, and bewildered families they left behind. But in South Korea, the shift has been so sudden and so incomplete that you see just how powerfully anti-familycapitalism can be:
[The] nation’s runaway economic success … has worn away at the Confucian social contract that formed the bedrock of Korean culture for centuries. That contract was built on the premise that parents would do almost anything to care for their children — in recent times, depleting their life savings to pay for a good education — and then would end their lives in their children’s care. NoSocial Security system was needed. Nursing homes were rare.
But as South Korea’s hard-charging younger generations joined an exodus from farms to cities in recent decades, or simply found themselves working harder in the hypercompetitive environment that helped drive the nation’s economic miracle, their parents were often left behind. Many elderly people now live out their final years poor, in rural areas with the melancholy feel of ghost towns.
The result is a generation of the elderly committing suicide at historic rates: from 1,161 in 2000 to 4,378 in 2010. The Korean government requires the elderly to ask their families for resources if they can pay for retirement funding – forcing parents to beg children to pay for their living alone – a fate they never anticipated and that violates their sense of dignity. Hence the suicides.