by Yali Banton-Heath
The Covid-19 crisis has rusted the already weak links holding the UK’s food supply chain together. From just-in-time logistic strategies to a desperate reliance on imported goods and labour, supermarkets have struggled to keep up with panic buying, farmers have feared that their vegetables will rot in fields, and farm to table supply chains have been hugely disrupted.
It is exposing our food system’s incapacity to respond to emergencies in the short-term, whilst also beckoning reform in terms of its sustainability in the longer-term.
by Lotty Clare
Land is a topic that is not at the centre of political news or conversations in the UK, yet land and how we value it is central to environmental, social and economic sustainability worldwide. Land is central to food security, culture, conflict and peace, and society as a whole. Food is a human right, and yet it is a commodity privy to the powers of the market, and not guaranteed for many people. Power is concentrated in the hands of a few mega corporations who monopolise global agriculture and food systems.
by Yali Banton-Heath
Some positive news! A solid step has been taken towards the wider global push for an increased protection of rural workers rights. In Geneva on Friday 28th September 2018, the UN Human Rights Council (UNHRC) passed a resolution culminating in the adoption of the Declaration on the Rights of Peasants and Other People Working in Rural Areas.
With 33 votes in favour, 3 against (one of which being the UK), and 11 abstentions, the declaration will now be taken to the 3rd committee session of the UN General Assembly in New York in October, where it will be open for adoption by all UN member states. Once adopted, it will serve to strengthen the obligations of governments in upholding the rights of its nations rural populations: of peasants, indigenous communities, migrant workers, and small-scale farmers alike. Some argue that we must be wary of such expansions of rights. I disagree.
by Yali Banton Heath
A figure which always captures my attention at the end of each year is the number of environment and land defender murders that have taken place over those past dozen months.
2016 was bloody. 200 people lost their lives that year while protecting their land and natural resources. The Guardian and Global Witness have estimated that last year, in 2017, there were 185 such deaths. Sadly, yet unsurprisingly, these figures are always underestimations, as in reality far more deaths occur over land and environmental struggles than get reported.
As the country with the third highest environmental defender death toll globally (beneath Brazil and Colombia), the Philippines continues to have the highest environmental activist death toll for any Asian country. The archipelago of over 7,000 islands is seen to be one of South East Asia’s booming economies. But what will 2018 bring with regard to the country’s piss poor human rights and all too frequent environmental killings?Continue Reading
by Carmina Masoliver
With the Feminist movement having become more a part of the mainstream, there is a tendency to call it a new wave. But Feminism is something that is always flowing, with plenty of grassroots activists doing work ‘to end sexism, sexist exploitation, and oppression’ (as defined by bell hooks, Feminism is for Everybody, 2000). Whilst the movement’s popularity means there are films with stronger female characters, and Feminist comedians can easily be seen on Netflix, it also means that various corporations try to sell us back our politics. Continue Reading
By Olivia Hanks
It is at the heart of our housing crisis, provides our food, and is still the principal determiner of wealth in the UK. Yet most of us in England do not spend very much time thinking about land. So it was an exciting and stimulating experience to attend a panel discussion at the recent Global Greens congress in Liverpool about land rights and how they form a vital part of the green movement worldwide.
by Olivia Hanks
Our grandparents might have been rather nonplussed to hear growing your own food described as a radical act, but in a society that views people chiefly as consumers, any step towards self-sufficiency is pretty subversive.
In France, where citizens generally attach more importance to food and its origins than in the UK, the last few years have seen an explosion in the number of small-scale organic food producers: in 2015, an average of 200 new organic farms sprang up every month.Continue Reading
by Rowan Van Tromp
Weighing in at an estimated 15m tonnes per annum, the UK’s food waste mountain is an issue that is finally been given the kind of attention it warrants, thanks to the persistence of campaigning groups like Feedback and The Real Junk Food Project, who both featured on Channel Four’s series Hugh’s War on Waste – the latest in a long line of environmental food campaigns lead by TV chef Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall.
Launched in conjunction with the series, a petition by This Is Rubbish has gained nearly a quarter of a million signatures. In an open letter to the CEO’s of the ‘Big 4’ supermarkets, it calls on retailers to collaborate with each other, as well as WRAP (Waste Resources Action Programme), to measure on-farm food waste so that it can be benchmarked by 2018 and ambitious targets can be set to reduce it by 2025.Continue Reading
By Rowan Van Tromp
In 2013 the UN Commission on Trade and Development released a report titled “Wake Up Before It’s Too Late: Make Agriculture Truly Sustainable Now for Food Security in a Changing Climate”. It recommended a rapid and significant shift away from “conventional, monoculture-based… industrial production” of food that depends heavily on external inputs such as nitrogen fertiliser, agro chemicals, and concentrate feed. Instead, it says that the goal should be “mosaics of sustainable regenerative production systems that also considerably improve the productivity of small-scale farmers and foster rural development”.