September 20, 2013
A monumental and very slick land grab in Cameroon, west Africa by a US-based company appears to be heading for collapse. The Herakles Farm project “appears to have now gone off the rails”, the Oakland Institute, which monitors land grabbing, said in a press release.
“Herakles Farms had purported to herald a new era of ‘sustainable agriculture’ by replacing old-growth rainforest with palm oil plantations”, Read the rest of this entry »
January 14, 2013
Between 30% and 50% of all food produced – 1.2-2 billion tonnes/year – is wasted or lost, a report by the Institution of Mechanical Engineers (IME) says. It argues that the waste is caused mainly by marketing techniques in rich countries, along with poor practice and/or insufficient investment in harvesting, storage and transportation.
The report, published last week, highlights the vast amounts of farmland, energy, fertilisers and water swallowed up by the production of food that is thrown away or left to rot.
In my view the report points to an important conclusion: it is the way food is produced and sold for profit, in a process controlled by agri-industrial giants and supermarkets – rather than food consumption or human population growth as such – that pushes at the earth’s natural limits.
The IME says that in poor countries, “wastage tends to occur Read the rest of this entry »
November 11, 2012
Financial markets on which speculators can bet on the cost of clean water supplies are getting closer, STEVE DRURY writes.
Food policy commentator Frederick Kaufman has called on financial market regulators to stop the betting on water supplies before it starts, in an article in the renowned scientific weekly Nature.
“Currently, no-one is trading water futures, but it won’t take much to spark the market into life”, Kaufman warned. After the recent drought in the USA, Read the rest of this entry »
August 12, 2012
This is the first of two linked posts, by Steve Drury. The second one is HERE.
The global land grab now in progress is being touted by international agencies as the way to improve food security for people in the least developed countries. But the reality is that small farmers are being forced from the land, opportunities to raise small-farm productivity are being squandered, and class divisions deepened. The World Bank, through its private sector arm the Read the rest of this entry »
April 1, 2012
Twenty-first century socialism needs a critique of cities. Why don’t we ask ourselves whether these monsters in which most of us live – at the same time awful and wonderful – will survive in a communist future?
Kibera slum outside Nairobi (population estimated between 170,000 and 1 million)
We might question the assumptions in much twentieth-century socialist thinking that cities are a necessary part of human development … and revive and rethink nineteenth-century communist ideas that envisaged communism breaking down the division between city and countryside.
This article sets out some ideas on this, and aims to put in context a prescient article on this subject written by Amadeo Bordiga, the Italian left communist, in 1952 – which People & Nature publishes here in a new English translation for the first time.
The rise of the city is one of capitalism’s most obvious achievements. In 1800, the urban population was 3% of the world’s total population (27 million people); in 1900, it was 14% (225 million); and in 2000 it was 47% (2.9 billion). In this decade, the majority of humans – in 2010, 50.5% (3.5 billion) people – are living in urban areas for the first time, according to a recent UN report.
Read the rest of this entry »