Andrea Brower on Social & Environmental Justice

Interviewed by Tim LynchApril 23, 2014
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The largest pesticide companies in the world use Kauai and other islands in Hawaii to experiment with genetically engineered crops. Crops are created to either be herbicide resistant, or to create their own resistance.

Monsanto, Dow, Dupont, Bayer, BASF and Syngenta all operate their research and development programmes there. Virtually every type of GM seed variety passes through Hawaii and is tested in open air field trials for their new technologies. This involves very high use of pesticides and herbicides. 15,000 acres of land on Kauai are used for this research.

Ecological and health concerns are growing as a result of this continual onslaught of chemical residue which blows onto communities on as many as three hundred days a year.

Last year Kaua'i passed a county law that would allow greater public disclosure of pesticide use, as well as modest no-spray protection zones around schools and other places where children live, learn and play. Now Dow, DuPont Pioneer and Syngenta have contested this and filed a law suit against Kauai.

Andrea began with a degree in environmental studies and feminism in California. Then she returned to Kauai to work with a non profit organization called Malama Kauai. Here she worked on issues of food, energy, economics and sustainability. Malama Kauai have community gardens and while there Andrea also looked at global systems, larger processes and structures that affected how they could operate even at this local level.

This drove Andrea to study further and she attended Sussex University in the UK where she did her masters in International Development and the Environment.

She is now working on her PHD at Auckland Universitys sociology department where she is preparing a thesis on Social Movements that Change Food Systems.

Andrea is most concerned about the capital structure that incentivises profit making in scientific research around our food, and not for the public good. Now decades of research is finding genetically engineering highly unsuccessful so increasingly these companies are buying up conventional seeds . It now seems almost unable for even small community gardens to be free of these corporate giants who aim to control global markets.

Angela cites a book called Foodopoly . In Foodopoly the author, Wenona Hauter, pulls the curtain back from the little-understood but vital realm of agricultural policy, showing how it has been hijacked by lobbyists, driving out independent farmers and food processors in favour of the likes of another GE giant Cargill, and Tyson, Kraft and ConAgra. She demonstrates how the impacts ripple far and wide, from economic stagnation in rural communities at home, to famines overseas. In the end, Hauter argues that solving this crisis will require a complete structural shift—a change that is about politics, not just personal choice.

Andrea talks passionately about this and her own research into our food systems.

She is not convinced that the labeling of GE food is an answer, although important, as it just means good food for the elite market and is not an answer for those consumers who cannot afford good food.

She is keen to see policies and economic structures changed to stop a handful of global companies controlling the food market. Some of these structures that need rolling include trade agreements, national policies, and laws that allow banks to speculate on the price of food. Changes are required to subsidy structures so they can support local and co-operative initiatives.

Above all Andrea would like to see grassroots opposition to the corporatization of our food.

A vivacious and intelligent young lady, Andrea Brower is has much to contribute and I really recommend that you listen closely to what she has to say.

This programme was sponsored by The Awareness Party.

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Tim Lynch

Tim Lynch, is a New Zealander, who is fortunate in that he has whakapapa, or a bloodline that connects him to the Aotearoan Maori. He has been involved as an activist for over 40 years - within the ecological, educational, holistic, metaphysical, spiritual & nuclear free movements. He sees the urgency of the full spectrum challenges that are coming to meet us, and is putting his whole life into being an advocate for todays and tomorrows children. 'To Mobilise Consciousness.'

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