Groups Defending Human Rights to Food and Water Receive Food Sovereignty Prize
The US Food Sovereignty Alliance (USFSA), a network of organizations working to assert food and water as basic human rights and advocate for community control rather than the industrial food model as the solution to world hunger, has named Palestine's Union of Agricultural Work Committees (UAWC) and Bellingham, Washington's Community to Community Development/Comunidad a Comunidad (C2C) as co-recipients of its 2014 Food Sovereignty Prize.
While seemingly far-flung, each fights for a community whose access to a reliable food supply is threatened.
Palestine's story is widely known, of course, with news of bombings in the headlines almost every day. But beyond the dramatic and heart-wrenching stories of schools and apartment buildings destroyed and hundreds of civilians, including children killed, is the story of the struggle for daily survival in Gaza and the West Bank.
UAWC aims to mitigate the impacts of war by creating farm cooperatives and seed banks while fighting for the right to food, land and water.
Washington State is not experiencing war, but the situation for the migrant immigrant farm workers, often undocumented, that are essential to its agricultural economy is challenging as well. Community to Community Development helps by developing farm worker-owned cooperatives, organizing a successful nutrition education project called Cocinas Sanas, promoting domestic fair trade, supporting a new farm worker union and organizing a national boycott of Sakuma Farms, which has withheld pay, provided poor housing and retaliated against the workers.
“In honoring Community to Community, the USFSA honors indigenous farmworkers in the U.S. displaced by NAFTA," said C2C executive director Rosalinda Guillen. "These peasant farmers from Mexico are practicing a tradition of struggle for justice. Together, C2C and Familias Unidas are promoting food sovereignty in rural Washington State and challenging the corporate agricultural interests that are controlling our food system."
The prize will be awarded in Des Moines, Iowa on Oct. 15.
“For the sixth year in a row, the Food Sovereignty Prize is an exciting opportunity to highlight the hard work that small-scale farmers, farmworkers and other food producers do to feed their communities and create lasting solutions to the root causes of hunger, climate change and poverty," said Sara Mersha, director of grantmaking and advocacy at Grassroots International. "These successful strategies are the alternative to the damaging effects of the corporate agribusiness model, proving that, in the words of Arundhati Roy, ‘another world is possible [and] she is on her way.’ Grassroots International is proud to stand with the US Food Sovereignty Alliance in recognizing and celebrating this year's winners!”
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EcoWatch Daily Newsletter
By Naomi Larsson
For centuries, the delicate silver dove has been a symbol of love and fidelity.
Biodiversity and Habitat Loss<p>Their near extinction is a symbol of the <a href="https://www.dw.com/en/global-biodiversity-outlook-targets-extinction-summit-new-york-pledge/a-54932895" target="_blank">biodiversity crisis</a> in the UK, largely driven by habitat destruction. Britain is now one of the countries with the most <a href="https://www.wwf.org.uk/future-of-UK-nature#:~:text=The%20UK%20is%20one%20of,than%20half%20are%20in%20decline" target="_blank">depleted nature</a> in the world according to the World Wildlife Fund. Half its plant and animal species are in decline and more than <a href="https://www.rspb.org.uk/about-the-rspb/about-us/media-centre/press-releases/let-nature-sing-wales/#:~:text=a%20natural%20tragedy.-,Over%2040%20million%20birds%20have%20vanished%20from%20UK%20skies%20in,unaware%20of%20the%20impending%20danger" target="_blank">40 million birds</a> have vanished in just half a century.</p><p>"[Turtle doves] are the canary in the [coal] mine because there are all these other species before it and after it," said Tree. "It's an umbrella for all the other species that are heading that way."</p><p>Turtle doves migrate south through Europe to sub-Saharan Africa between July and September, ending up in dry woodland and farmland areas of countries like Mali and Senegal for winter. </p><p>Droughts in West Africa and the Sahel region are believed to have contributed to the fall in turtle dove species recorded in northern Europe, with low rainfall reducing supplies of the seeds and insects the birds rely on for energy for the long journey home.</p>
Conservation and Farming<p><a href="https://www.operationturtledove.org/" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">Operation Turtle Dove,</a> a partnership project of charities including the Essex Wildlife trust, works with landowners and farmers to actively build turtle dove habitat.</p><p>Outten works with <a href="https://www.ebws.org.uk/birdsites/blue-house-farm-ewt-north-fambridge" target="_blank">Blue House Farm</a>, a 660-acre nature reserve in the UK county of Essex, where they have replicated weedy fallow plots. </p><p>"We work on it every year to make sure it's in the condition it needs to be with plants such as clovers and black medic," Outten said. "These plants are native to the landscape and produce the seed the birds feed on." </p><p>The birds eat a wide range of seeds from various plants that would have been abundant 50 or 100 years ago, added Guy Anderson, program manager for species recovery with The Royal Society for the Protection of Birds (RSPB). </p><p>"But it's simply true that with the gradual process of <a href="https://www.dw.com/en/farming-without-pesticides-how-can-we-make-agriculture-greener/a-52216796" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">intensifying our agricultural production</a>, the availability of those seeds has dropped and dropped," said Anderson.</p><p>Part of the project includes supplementary feeding — providing sources of food in the form of seed or grain. Under the Countryside Stewardship Scheme in England, farmers can receive financial support to create a turtle dove habitat. </p><p>Though they haven't recorded an increase in doves across the sites in the four years of working on the project, Outten said they are seeing improvements in how landowners and farmers manage habitat for the birds. </p>
A Turtle Dove Haven<p>The 3,500-acre Knepp Estate in West Sussex is another project taking a different approach and one of the few places where turtle dove numbers are increasing.</p><p>Isabella Tree and her husband Charlie Burrell converted their intensively farmed land into a rewilding project almost 20 years ago. They have let the land return to nature.</p><p>Just one year after they'd finished <a href="https://www.dw.com/en/uks-most-talented-architects-are-not-human/a-35952128" target="_blank">rewilding</a> the southern part of their property, they heard turtle doves for the first time. It's now a breeding hotspot for the birds with an estimated 19 pairs. Knepp is also home to <a href="https://www.rewildingbritain.org.uk/rewilding/rewilding-projects/knepp-estate" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">2% of the UK's population</a> of nightingales. </p><p>Tree is critical of supplementary feeding schemes that, in her view, are short term. She questions the chances of turtle doves getting to feed on scattered seeds before other mammals eat them first.</p>
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Green groups applauded Sen. Jeff Merkley on Wednesday for introducing a pioneering pair of bills that aim to "protect the long-term health and well-being of the American people and their economy from the catastrophic effects of climate chaos" by preventing banks and international financial institutions from financing fossil fuels.