2015 General Assembly: Live from Seattle - Case study: the AGRA Watch, Community Alliance for Global Justice

Heather Day, Executive Director of CAGJ and Tyler, blogger for CAGJ.
Working towards changing the dominant narrative, especially locally in Seattle, that Gates Foundation does no wrong - one project of Community Alliance for Global Justice (CAGJ), a Seattle-based grassroots organization. The project is called Agra-Watch, and challenges Gates' AGRA project to promote “green revolution” techniques of using “improved” genetically modified seeds, and petrochemical fertilizers in an attempt to solve hunger in Africa. CAGJ felt compelled to challenge the techniques and assumption of Gates' AGRA project, as both CAGJ and Gates are located here in Seattle.
CAGJ instead promotes techniques of agroecology and Food Sovereignty, as promoted by a well known organization called La Via Campesina. For example, learning how to save seed. This has been a lost art due to agribusiness. Agribusiness has encouraged expensive inputs including seed that isn't self-propagating. Over the long term agroecology helps with climate change, helps alleviate hunger more significantly than green revolution.
Heather read from a recent interview with Miguel Ramirez, advocate for agroecology in El Salvador.
“We say that every square meter of land that is worked with agro-ecology is a liberated square of land.”
He makes several other points, including:
  • Prolonged  exposure to pesticides in foods over time causes cancer, diabetes,  and other health problems.  
  • Like a drug,  hard for farmers to stop farming with modified seed and pesticides.  
  • Change will  only be possible if it comes from the ground up, from campesinos  themselves.  
Gates foundation is the richest foundation to ever exist. So, this is a major undertaking to take on the Gates foundation, but taking it on with information is actually working, though Gates has not been accountable or responded to this information.
CAGJ has continued partnering with the global and African Food Sovereignty movements. Culmination was report and then had a recent summit, brought global and national organizations together. Goal was concrete campaigns. One of those campaigns was to stop trials at Iowa state university – of genetically modified bananas. Trial is feeding these GM bananas to 14 female students there. CAGJ trying to pressure them to be open about trials. Trials are supported by Gates foundation. Idea is to bring them to Uganda, where it is a staple crop and trying to enrich with Vitamin A to bring greater nutrition, theoretically interesting, but enriched foods have not been shown to significantly improve nutrition. Goal is to stop the GM bananas. Another outcome was trying to facilitate exchanges of agroecology among campesinos around the world (some seed-saving training came from Mexico.)
Multiple other campaigns – please check out their website. CAGJ.org
Posted under