Winona LaDuke | April 2012
In a true sense of the words, Winona LaDuke is a force of nature.
An environmentalist, farmer, activist, writer, and advocate for native communities and ways of life, she is an Anishinaabe force to be reckoned with. As the Ms. Magazine Woman of the Year (1997), Ralph Nader’s vice presidential running mate on the 1996 and 2000 Green Party tickets, and recipient of the International Slow Food Award, her contributions have been widely recognized. But in January she was honored by an unlikely party—the Tucson United School District board, which became infamous for banning Mexican-American studies. Her response to the ban: “Recently, I had the distinction of becoming one of a select list of authors banned by the Tucson United School District. Now this is no small feat.” She went on to name the essay that had been specifically banned, and then wrote, “Interestingly enough, if I were going to ban one of my essays from a public school, this would probably not be the one.”
A few days ago, I was lucky enough to spend some time with Ms. LaDuke and ask which of her books is more ban-worthy. Read More >
What do Archer Daniels Midland, Cargill, Coca-Cola, DuPont, Monsanto, Kraft Foods, and Wal-Mart have in common?
Some of the most financially successful companies in the world? Absolutely. Exploiters of workers and the environment? Some say so. The newest solution to global food insecurity and natural resource conservation? Apparently so.
These seven global companies, along with ten others spanning the agricultural value chain (including BASF, Bunge Limited, General Mills, Metro AG, Nestlé, PepsiCo, SABMiller, Syngenta, Unilever, and Yara International) are at the center of a new strategy presented at the World Economic Forum’s Annual Meeting in Davos-Klosters, Switzerland on January 28th. Announced by Rajiv Shah, Director of U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID), the strategy is called “Realizing a New Vision for Agriculture: A roadmap for stakeholders” and aims to increase food production in an environmentally sustainable way while spurring economic growth. Each decade, the initiative aims to: (1) increase agricultural production by 20% to eliminate hunger and undernourishment; (2) reduce greenhouse gas emissions per tonne of production by 20%; and (3) decrease rural poverty by 20%.
Why is a “new vision for agriculture” needed?First and foremost, even in our world of plenty, nearly a billion people remain undernourished, 98% of who live in developing countries.The world’s population continues to grow at a rate of about 200,000 people per day, putting greater pressure on food production systems. At the same time, the intensity of food consumption is growing in emerging markets such as China; as people’s incomes rise, so does their demand for meat and dairy products, foods which are much more land and energy-intensive to produce.Another challenge arises as urban populations grow. We passed the point at which just as many people live in urban areas as do rural areas in 2007. This trend of urbanization will likely continue, requiring additional resources for packaging, shipping, storing, and distributing food to urban populations.
More food is needed, but it must be produced in environmentally sustainable ways if we expect the earth to continue to support us. The 2005 Millennium Ecosystem Assessment revealed the horrifying extent to which humans have degraded the natural environment through our efforts to secure food, water and fuel (most of this damage has occurred over the past 50 years). One of the most alarming repercussions of human activity on the environment is global climate change, which will have dire consequences for health – including food security – in the coming years. Agriculture both contributes to and is threatened by environmental degradation and climate change. Additionally, the current agricultural system is heavily reliant on oil, and considering that oil is believed to have reached global peak production, the food system must undergo a massive transition if it is to function in a world of energy scarcity. Read More >