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Raj Patel: This Land is Our Land?

Source: Civil Eats

Imagine a country where ideologues bent on land reform turn agriculture into the plaything of the world’s richest investors, and poor local farmers are locked out of millions of acres prime agricultural land. Then stop imagining some African country run by a despot and his friends and start picturing the United States. Rural America is on the cusp of one of the greatest transfers of land in its history and no one’s talking about it.

At its worst, land reform lets plutocrats kick poor people off their ancestral land. But land reform is not only the tool of dictators. At its best, sensible policies about how land is used, transferred, and owned can make it possible for young people to farm with dignity, a living wage, and a future. It can help poor people stop being poor. It can let young farmers who want to farm break through the barriers to entry. It can provide a secure retirement for America’s older farmers. It can happen and should happen in countries as democratic and as rich as the United States. read more

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Feeding the World: Hunger Management

Source: The New Statesman

Experts predict that there will be ten billion of us by 2100. Feeding the world could be the political challenge of the century.

How will we eat in the future? By 2100, the world’s population is projected to reach ten billion. The highest levels of consumption will be in Europe and North America, most people will live in Asia and the highest population growth rates in Africa – where the population could triple over the next 90 years. If tomorrow augurs ill, today is already pretty dire. The global recession has lowered incomes, raised food prices and pushed the number of hungry people to one billion. read more

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We Have Yet to See The Biggest Costs of the BP Spill

Source: The Nation

We’re almost at the happily-ever-after stage of the Gulf oil spill story. The well has been killed, the beaches are being scrubbed and wicked Tony Hayward has been banished to Russia. All that’s left now is for BP to make good on the damage it has caused. The company has set aside $32 billion to meet its liabilities, while doing everything in its power to keep the damages below that figure. But even if it has to pay the full price, it will have won one of the biggest bargains in corporate history. BP’s true debt is far higher than any of the figures that have been floated to date. The biggest costs to the Gulf have yet to be seen. read more