If the Netherlands wants to make its agriculture and livestock industry sustainable and to ensure that farmers get a fair price for their products, it will also have to look beyond its own borders. The Netherlands is the world's second largest exporter of agricultural products. We have a great impact because, through our trade relations, we uphold a system of intensive agriculture that destroys ecosystems and undermines local production. Partly due to our trade in agricultural products, the Dutch economy is has a large, and growing, footprint. That should and can be different: the Netherlands is in a good position to lead the required transition in agriculture. Fortunately, the party manifestos for the coming elections offer sufficient opportunities to set that in motion. A new coalition can thus take decisive new steps.
Two weeks ago, the Monsanto Tribunal took place in The Hague. With this civil tribunal, activists from all over the world aim to add 'ecocide' as a crime in international laws. Zinaba Rasmane from Burkina Faso states that "currently we can't sue multinationals like Monsanto in our country for the damage they are causing."
Globally, the area that is suffering desertification and land degradation is ever expanding. Unsustainable and often large-scale agricultural practices, including the copious use of pesticides and fertilisers, are a major driver of land degradation, aprocess that is further exacerbated by climate change, causing more erratic rainfall patterns, longer periods of drought and unpredictable growing seasons. This is very problematic not only for the hundreds of millions of people who directly depend on land and water for their livelihoods, but also for life on earth as a whole. It is clear that this process must be stopped and reversed, better sooner than later. But how to go about it?
In the beginning of October 2011, Tim Senden travelled to Tanzania for Both ENDS. In Tanzania he interviewd a number of organisations that are working on small-scale jatropha production. Thousands of small-scale farmers grow the jatropha seeds - which give a rich oil that can be used for energy production - along sides their food crops. Most of the seeds are sold to a company that exports the oil to Europe. From the remaining seeds they make soap which is sold on the local market. Is this a sustainable production model - unlike the big jatropha plantations - from which Tanzanian small-scale farmers can profit? Watch the clips and place your reactions on our Youtube channel, or on our Facebook or Twitter page.
The European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD) plans to give multinational Monsanto 40 million dollars to sell seeds and pesticides in Eastern Europe. Farmers and environmental groups from all around the world are shocked, since Monsanto is known for promoting genetically modified crops and pesticides. Today Both ENDS and partners from Eastern Europe requested the EBRD to stop this project.