May 2009

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Tasks for a Rural Development Ministry

Picture: Sideshow_NYC Stephen Greenberg - The new appointments to the 'economic cluster' have dominated media discussion of the Zuma Cabinet. Receiving far less coverage is the restructuring of the 'rural' ministries of agriculture, land and forestry. The Ministry of Agriculture and Land Affairs has been split, and forestry has been separated from water affairs and joined to agriculture. The Department of Land Affairs (DLA) has become a newly-formed Ministry of Rural Development and Land Reform. Given the stress the ANC has placed...

Are GM Crops Really a Panacea for Africa and the Developing World?

Picture: World Bank Glenn Ashton - We are more than a decade into the global experiment to utilise biotechnology to genetically engineer some of our major food crops, yet the facts around this supposed agricultural revolution remain as disputed as ever. We were told there were two primary motivations to promote genetically modified (GM) crops. The first was that they would be able to increase agricultural productivity in order to feed a burgeoning global population on less land. The second was that we would be able to...

Corporate Agriculture Is to Blame for the Hundreds of Thousands of Farmer Suicides in India

Picture: World Bank Tara Lohan - Last month, the world got a glimpse of an epidemic that has hit India in the last decade when news reports alerted readers to the suicides of 1,500 farmers in the Indian state of Chattisgarh. But this has been only a fraction of the suicides committed by farmers since 1997, says Vandana Shiva, Ph.D., a physicist, environmentalist, feminist, science policy advocate and director of Navdanya and the Research Foundation for Science, Technology and Ecology. While initial news reports blamed the...

Big Business Should Get with the Programme

Picture: United Nations Ebrahim-Khalil Hassen - The ultimate conceit in policy debates is to dismiss one’s adversaries with the words: "They just don't get it." In the run up to the elections this year and on the occasion of Cabinet announcements, a common refrain from private sector commentators is that the ‘left’ simply does not get it. The central argument presented is that the market offers the best options for continued success. The corollaries to this argument are that change takes time, but also that the...

Left Wing Parties Take a Beating in Indian Elections

The ruling Indian National Congress-led coalition has just emerged victorious after the five-week-long national elections that saw a 60 percent voter turnout from the over 700 million eligible voters. The Congress-led United Progressive Alliance, or UPA, captured a decisive 262 seats in India’s 543-seat Parliament, just ten seats short of an outright majority. The Congress is now seeking allies from smaller regional parties to form the new government. The biggest defeat, however, was...

The Geopolitics of Energy in Eurasia: Oil, Gas and the Real Afghan War

Picture: TomDispatch.com Pepe Escobar - As Barack Obama heads into his second hundred days in office, let's head for the big picture ourselves, the ultimate global plot line, the tumultuous rush towards a new, polycentric world order. In its first hundred days, the Obama presidency introduced us to a brand new acronym, OCO for Overseas Contingency Operations, formerly known as GWOT (as in Global War on Terror). Use either name, or anything else you want, and what you're really talking about is what's happening on the immense energy...