Land Rights Ag and Farmers

October 22, 2013

Resources on Land Rights, Agriculture and Farmers (US-Focused, mainly)

Blain Snipstal on food sovereignty, land and power (11/2013). A video in which returning farmer, Blain Snipstal, speaks on the history of farming, his experiences and more. Posted 11/5/13.

Nitrogen fertilizer remains in soils and leaks towards groundwater for decades (10/21/13). Scientists in France and at the University of Calgary found that nitrogen fertilizer applied to crops lingers in the soil and leaks out as nitrate for decades. Posted 10/22/13.

Study Shows Soil-Building Benefits of Organic Practices (5/28/13). An article posted on the Sustainable City Network's website summarizes a study that finds that using organic practices builds healthy soil and sequesters carbon, making organic agriculture a useful strategy for dealing with climate change. Posted 5/31/13.

Significant Dates on Black Land Loss and Land Acquisition. A timeline by the Federation of Southern Cooperatives Land Assistance Fund. Posted 5/6/13.

Discrimination at USDA: Response to New York Times (5/1/13). An article by Susan A. Schneider, Professor of Law and Director at the University of Arkansas School of Law. Posted 5/6/13.

Resources on Land Rights, Agriculture and Farmers (International)

Family farming vital to ensure world food security (1/13/14).  The United Nations recognizes the importance in family farming to the world. Posted 1/13/14.

Utopia's for Africa (May 2013). An article in Slow Food International's newsletter on landgrabbing in Africa that provides quotes from a dialog between Slow Food's president Carlo Petrini and Sefano Liberti, journalist, documentary filmmaker and author of Landgrabbing: Journeys in the New Colonialism.

Harakles Exposed: The truth behind Herakles Farms false promises in Cameroon. Summary of a report released by the Oakland Institute in September 2012 entitled Massive Deforestation Portrayed as Sustainable Investment: The deceit of Herakles Farms in Cameroon. The report exposes the significant discrepancies between how the company has represented the project to the public. Posted 5/22/13.

Leaked ProSAVANA Master Plan Confirms Worst Fears (4/30/13). A post on GRAIN's website that raises concerns about a recently released plan for the ProSAVANA programme that confirms the government's of Japan, Brazil and Mozambique are secretly paving the way for a massive land grab in Northern Mozambique.

Toxics and Health

Children face asthma risk if moms exposed to legacy pollutants (11/4/13). New research coming out of Denmark concludes that children exposed en utero to 2 commonly used chlorinated chemicals are more likely to develop asthma later in life. Posted 11/4/13.

Common insecticides may be linked to kids' behavior problems (10/31/13).  Commonly used insecticides may be associated with behavior problems in children. Posted 11/4/13.

Cadmium, Mercury and Phthalates--Oh My! (5/1/13). A blog post by Kathleen Schuler on the Institute for Agriculture and Trade Policy website. It reveals that over 5,000 children's products contain toxic chemicals linked to cancer and hormone disruption. Posted 5/13/13.

The Vinyl Plastics Industry: One of the biggest users of mercury in the world (5/6/13). A post by Mike Schade on Backyard Talk, a blog linked to the Center for Health, Environment and Justice that focuses on environmental health and justice. Posted 5/6/13.

EPA Takes Action Against Violators of the Lead Renovation, Repair and Painting Rule (5/2/13). A press release by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency announcing 17 enforcement actions for violations of the Lead Renovation, Repair and Painting rule. One Detroit-area company was listed among the violators. Posted 5/9/13.

Resources on Food and Food Justice

Severe floods 'threaten food security', say farmers and environmental groups (2/8/14). Severe flooding in southern and western parts of the UK are expected to threaten food security. The issue is much broader than the UK and the issues raised in this article can be applied to other regions. Posted 2/10/14.

Track record mixed for GE crops (10/19/13).  Journalist contends that environmental impacts of genetically engineered crops vary depending on the types of genes added to each crop and the traits those genes confer. Posted 10/22/13.

Land & Sovereignty Brief No. 3 - The Great Soy Expansion: Brazilian Land Grabs in Eastern Bolivia. (9/10/13). "In the last two decades, the best agricultural lands in Bolivia have been put into commercial production by large-scale producers closely linked to foreign investors, particularly Brazilians. Posted 9/12/13.

U.S. Staple Crop System Failing from GM and Monoculture (7/10/13).  This article summarizes a new study that shows that the U.S. Midwest staple crop system - predominantly genetically modified - is falling behind other economically and technologically equivalent regions. Posted 7/12/13.

Urban Farming. PBS pilot episode of a show that highlights the benefits and challenges of urban gardening. Posted 7/12/13.

Seeds of Death. A movie that documents the dangers of genetically modified foods. Posted 7/3/13.

Study Shows Soil-Building Benefits of Organic Practices (6/25/13). Article cites a recent study that reports organic crops build healthy soil and sequester carbon, making organic agriculture a useful strategy for dealing with climate change. Posted 6/27/13.

The Economic Consequences of Cutting Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (3/19/13). This site provides links to reports by the Center for American Progress that show the economic impact of cutting SNAP benefits.

Monsanto Is Currently Testing GMO Wheat In Two States (6/3/13). A strain of GMO wheat was discovered on an Oregon farm 8 years after Monsanto reported that it stopped field-testing its GM wheat. Posted 6/6/13.

Building a Racially Just Food Movement (4/7/13). Detroit Black Community Food Security Network's ED Malik Yakini writes that the effectiveness of movements for food sovereignty is rooted in engaging communities and more. Posted 6/6/13.

Monsanto and The Farm Bill: Big Ag Just Keeps Winning (5/24/13). A blog post by Praxis Project on the ways big ag continue to win while the rest of us have to subsist on what remains. The author provides several links to additional information. Posted 5/28/13.

New Analysis of Wikileaks Shows State Department's Promotion of Monsanto's GMOs Abroad (5/20/13). A blog post by Leslie Hatfield on Huff Post Green that discusses a report by Food & Water Watch that sheds light on the U.S. government's promotion of agricultural biotechnology abroad. Posted 5/23/13.

Online Planning Tool Aids in Developing Local Food Systems (8/15/12). Summary by Candace Pollock about a tool developed by researchers at Virginia Tech, North Carolina A&T and North Carolina State University. Posted 5/16/13.

The Problem with Walmart's Hunger Games (5/1/13). An Op-Ed by Anna Lappe that critiques Walmart's annual anti-hunger competition as being more about winning favor with the public than addressing hunger; on the contrary, it deepens poverty with its practices.

Doubts Surface about Safety of Common Food Additive, Carrageenan (3/18/13).  An article by Monica Eng in the Chicago Tribune about carrageenan, a commonly used food additive that has been linked to colitis, irritable bowel syndrome and higher rates of colon cancer. Posted 5/13/13.


Submit Student and Youth Produced Short Films to 7th Annual Green Screen!

October 15, 2013

Teachers, educators and organizers are invited to submit student and youth produced short films to the 7th annual East Michigan Environmental Action Council’s youth environmental film festival, Green Screen. Entry deadline is October 31, 2013.

Green Screen provides a forum where students and youth from across southeast Michigan and beyond can showcase their short films with environmental themes. These films allow young filmmakers to express what they think is most crucial to their health and to the natural environment. Past films have focused on the the importance of recycling, the Detroit Incinerator, lack of grocery stores in particular neighborhoods and why the quality and health of dirt is so essential to the quality of food that can be grown.

By using media as a means of spreading a youth centered message about the environment, EMEAC hopes to challenge and redirect the current corporate dominated narrative centered on “going green.”  Beyond simply receiving messages, youth can create media  messages that tell our own community and individual stories and encourage dialogue on issues facing us today via information channels that are becoming more and more commonplace as a means of sharing experiences.  

As defined by EMEAC’s Media Director, Lottie Spady, “Youth are dangerously disconnected from an accurate narrative that unpacks our relationship with and impact on the environment. EMEAC’s environmental justice media work has centered around the development of a working knowledge of the role that the media plays in shaping attitudes, beliefs, and behaviors about environment through media literacy, deconstruction, and reconstruction of media messages. Youth-produced environmental media provides a platform for their collective voice and opinions as well as educational opportunities for peers and the public through the creation of media campaigns, local documentaries, and multi-media presentations.”

While the topic range is very broad, there are guidelines every Green Screen entrant must follow:
  1. Films may be up to 5 minutes in length.
  2. Film must be about an environmental issue facing your community, city or county.
  3. Topics may include but not limited to;
    1. Environmental health
    2. Alternative energy
    3. School bus emissions
    4. Urban sprawl
    5. Brownfields
    6. Recycling
    7. Climate change
    8. Stream and wetland protection
    9. Trash/ recycling

  1. Film must be suitable and appropriate for an audience of all ages. Films that promote violence will not be accepted.
  2. There are no restrictions on the art form of your film. Films may be live action, animation, claymation, still photography or any combination.
  3. Entry must be in Mini DV or Quick Time movie file on a DVD
  4. Entry must be labeled with film, title, filmmaker's name, e-mail and phone number.
  5. Participants must fill out and return an application form.
Selected films will be shown from 3:00pm-6:00pm, Saturday, November 9th in the D. Blair Theater of the Cass Corridor Commons at 4605 Cass Avenue, Detroit.

The films are judged for cinematic merit, relevance to Southeastern Michigan, and creative messaging.  A panel of judges consisting of independent directors, environmental activists, youth activists, and journalists will use a judging rubric to help guide their decisions.

Anyone interested entering a film for Green Screen 2013, sponsoring a film, volunteering or making a donation of support should call 313 354-4469 or stay tuned to and for continuing updates on the Green Screen 2013. You can also follow hashtag #GreenScreen2013.