This week's editor

AdamWidth95.jpg

Adam Ramsay is co-editor of OurKingdom.

Do we have a choice between the global and local food systems and culture? How far can we influence food policy and food traders? What happens when modified genes spread to unaltered crops? We invite individual stories from around the world so that we can understand the pressures and opportunities that prevail. Ian Christie outlines the remit of the debate in his introductory article, Food: what we eat is who we are.
We invite you to respond to this theme and contribute your views and knowledge. Please send your ideas to sophie.jeffreys@opendemocracy.net

Why are so many children in the UK going hungry?

More children in UK rely on food aid than ever before.  What chance of tackling the complexities of poverty if the government is not even working to prevent children from going hungry?

Mazí Mas, “with us”

Women have played a seminal role in keeping food cultures all over the world alive. Nikandre Kopcke discusses her inspiration for setting up a pop-up restaurant which showcases the culinary talents and diverse cultural heritages of migrant women in London.

The new food movement: politics and pleasure

The emergent movements around the politics of food are a vital component of debates on the planet’s future, says Geoff Andrews.

The price of food: ingredients of a global crisis

Prices are surging for food commodities worldwide, posing a tough policy challenge for developing countries - can they protect poor consumers without crushing new opportunities for farmers?

Heidi Fritschel is a writer and editor.
This article is also published on the website of the International Food Policy Research Institute (IFPRI).
Poor consumers across the globe are protesting about their rising food bills. In December 2007, Mexicans rioted in response to an enormous jump in tortilla prices, which quadrupled in some parts of the country; in January 2008, Indonesians took to the streets to protest high soybean prices; in February, protesters in three major towns in Burkina Faso, angry about the rising cost of food and other basic goods, attacked government offices and shops; unrest linked to food markets has occurred also in Guinea, Mauritania, Morocco, Senegal, Uzbekistan, and Yemen.

The dumping-ground: Africa and GM food aid

Unequal power relationships in the world economic system mean that hungry Africans often have no choice but to eat genetically-modified food. Patrick Mulvany argues that food aid policies can be driven by the commercial policies interests of rich nations rather than the interests of the most vulnerable people.

GM Canola on the Prairie: gene patents, farmers' rights

Can a 73-year old Canadian farmer’s legal challenge to biotechnology giants succeed in altering global rules on patent law?

In praise of wine

The litmus test of a healthy, civilised life, the convivial route to harmony between people and nations: Frank Ward glimpses a better world in the mirror of a wine glass.

Absinthe: demon drink

When alcohol is imagined as evil, absinthe, the legendary 19th century French drink of the mad and bad, plays the role of the devil. Why its links with social unrest and sexual deviance?

A problem with drink?

Britain’s city and town centres float on a sea of alcoholic excess. After years of promoting the benefits of the “leisure economy”, can its public policy help restore alcohol to its truer place as a lubricant of life and laughter?

Ireland's alcoholic curse

Irish people’s high alcohol consumption has been transformed in the public mind from a cultural trait into a major medical and social problem. How did the country’s drinking culture acquire its harder, violent edge?

A drunken kiss, and then farewell

A combination of pagan roots, national traditions, and modern attitudes has shaped the Scottish New Year celebration called Hogmanay. Without the myths, is it any more than an inebriated street party?

GM: Africa's opportunity

The marketing and developing of GM crops across Africa is intensely controversial. But in an interview with Sophie Jeffreys and Ian Christie of openDemocracy, Walter Alhassan argues that African farmers have little to fear from biotechnology when it is correctly monitored, and much to gain.

Biotechnology against food security: the choice for Africa

From Zambia to Ghana, African countries have very different attitudes to the application of biotechnology to food production. In a context of systemic inequality, the process raises key issues of good governance and global justice as well as science. Can the new technology be used to address poverty and advance sustainability, or will it be a means of increasing global corporate control?

Small is dangerous? Schumacher, science, and social development

The promise of micro-technology as a tool of social progress is balanced by fear of its use to reduce freedom and widen global divisions. The benign if flawed vision of E.F. Schumacher still holds lessons for how a better social application of science can serve the interests of the world’s poor and the planet’s sustainability.

Biotechnology: the case for sustainability

Many environmentalists see biotechnology solely in terms of threat and danger. This is short-sighted, says John Elkington of SustainAbility. The challenges of the 21st century – climate change, poverty, disease, demography – make biotechnology a potentially valuable tool. The question is: can it be used in ways that sustain democracy and public trust?

Marketing GM: the making of poverty

Marginal farmers in India find it difficult enough to ensure a modestly sustainable life on existing patterns of land ownership and seed availability. But when manipulative marketing strategies introduce GM seeds, cash dependency and debt, their poverty becomes a cruel trap.

Andhra Pradesh: the land is ours

In the Indian state of Andhra Pradesh, local farmers are under pressure to embrace a future of large-scale monoculture producing crops for the global market. But the farmers themselves, especially women, are convinced that traditional practices and knowledge are the best guarantee of their livelihood and food security.

GM crops: the voice of Canadian farmers

One voice is too often missing in the debate about genetically-modified (GM) foodstuffs – that of experienced, practical farmers themselves. In a wide-ranging interview with Sophie Jeffreys and Caspar Henderson of openDemocracy, three Canadian farmers explain why they think it is time to bring the GM rollercoaster under control.

Poland and the CAP: snatching defeat from the jaws of victory

As the European Union initiates widespread reform of the Common Agricultural Policy (CAP), Krzysztof Mularczyk tells the sorry tale of Poland’s failure to prepare its huge agricultural sector to meet the challenge of accession. Is Poland set to benefit from the new CAP?

Does the CAP fit?

The European Union’s common agricultural policy is coming under sustained attack from all sides. Should it be scrapped, or reformed? An insider from the office of the commissioner for Agriculture for the EU explains some of the principles of reform – decoupling, degressivity, modulation – and argues that the reformed Common Agricultural Policy (CAP) emerging from the Doha Development Round, will lead to a fairer, and sustainable, Europe wide policy.

Africa's arsenal: the sustainable village

Africa needs a radically different vision of its future from that on offer from the developed world. It should look to the Songhai Centre, where Godfrey Nzamujo has built that most realisable utopia, a sustainable African village.

India: facts, lies and GM potatoes

The GM potato, far from being the answer to India’s food security as has recently been argued, would displace the richest source of traditional protein in the sub-continent’s diet. Rather, it would intensify the problems already being suffered by the country’s small producers as a result of trade liberalisation policies.

GM and the intensification of farming

The argument over genetically-modified organisms (GMOs) needs to be seen in the context of wider agricultural policy. In itself, the technology is neutral and may even have possible benefits. But the use of GMOs by farmers tied to the distorting economics of the EU’s Common Agricultural Policy (CAP) will only intensify the latter’s disastrous environmental impact. Rather than ban GMOs, it would be better to reform the CAP and tax agrochemicals.

Ending African hunger: GM or agro-ecology?

Where Gordon Conway champions biotechnology as a solution to hunger in developing countries, Liz Orton offers a radically different vision of agriculture for Africa – sustainable, low-tech and founded on local knowledge.

Biotechnology and hunger

The food security, life-chances and freedom of African farmers can be immeasurably improved by the greater use of biotechnology – as is already evident in China. Scientific research, terms of trade, and global politics still present obstacles, but the direct choices of poor farmers themselves will resolve this passionately contested argument.
Syndicate content