|GreenStar's "China Boycott" Ends After 18 Years|
By Dan Hoffman,
An unexpected side effect of the recent controversy over a proposed referendum on whether GreenStar should boycott certain goods from Israel has been the sudden end of the Co-op's longstanding boycott of most goods originating in the People's Republic of China. How did that happen and what will it mean for the Co-op?
In 1997, long-time GreenStar member Becca Harber was concerned about China's treatment of Tibet, including human rights violations and denial of independence (lost in the 1950s, when the new, communist government of China took over Tibet). She brought a request to the Co-op's Council: namely, that GreenStar join a boycott of goods from China (with an exception for
Wednesday, 03 June 2015 01:53
By Alexis Alexander,
In 1995, the United Nations General Assembly proclaimed the first Saturday of July as the International Day of Co-operatives (IDC), an annual celebration of cooperatives worldwide. They chose this particular day in order to coincide with the International Co-operative Alliance's International Co-operative Day, established in 1923.
The purpose of IDC is to increase general awareness of co-ops and to promote the movement's successes and ideals of international solidarity, economic efficiency, equality, and world peace. IDC also provides an opportunity to strengthen and extend partnerships between the international cooperative movement and other groups, including governments, at local, national, and international levels.
This year, IDC fortuitously falls on July 4, American Independence Day. The chosen theme for the 2015 celebration is Equality, with the slogan "Choose co-operative, choose equality."
This slogan highlights the fact that inequality around the world is on the rise, and that co-ops offer a viable solution to reverse this trend. According to a Credit Suisse report, the top 1 percent of the world's population is estimated to possess nearly half of the world's wealth, whereas the entire bottom half of the population holds less than 1 percent of its wealth. Money, however, is only one component of the world's growing inequality crisis — with issues of ethnicity, gender, age, religion, and more making their mark. Inequality, in all its varied forms, impedes economic growth, hinders people from earning fair wages and accumulating wealth, and prevents equal access to high-quality, unadulterated products and services.
Wednesday, 03 June 2015 01:42
By Joe Romano,
Like the seeds dreaming beneath the snow your heart dreams of spring.
— Kahlil Gibran
It's spring, in Ithaca, the time when a local person's fancy lightly turns to thoughts of planting. The frost of winter has grudgingly trundled off to the mountaintops, and the soil has warmed and softened, ready to yield to the hands and tools of the farmer and gardener. Now has also begun the planting of starts and seeds. Saved from previous bounties or obtained from reputable sources, seeds have been stored, protected, and sown since time immemorial.
Right this minute, a secure storage vault sits silently, buried deep beneath the permafrost in a man-made cave inside a frozen mountain on a remote Arctic archipelago near the North Pole. Equipped with ventilators designed to maintain subzero temperatures, the vault was designed to house millions of boxes of dormant seeds. Though it sounds like the lair of a James Bond villain, the vault is very real and was created to protect the security of food plants from all manner of assault, including nuclear winter. Called the Global Crop Diversity Trust, according to its executive secretary, Cary Fowler, "It [has] the capacity to store samples of every crop variety we think exists now, plus [has] room to add new collections."
Designed as a sort of Noah's Ark for seeds, the trust is "the ultimate backup for plant material." Though it is functionally little more than cold storage to protect plant varieties, the lengths to which scientists will go to protect species is actually quite dramatic, as this story related by SciDev.net relates:
As an increasingly bloody civil war raged around them, a team of scientists in the Syrian capital Aleppo quietly packaged and shipped a series of nondescript cardboard boxes to an island not far from the North Pole. The boxes bore no sign of the conflict that had surrounded them or the precious material they contained ... "It was extraordinary," says Ola Westengen, one of the scientists' Norwegian colleagues who received the seeds. ... "These seeds are extremely valuable." The samples from Syria now sit alongside hundreds of thousands of others — sent by teams in countries from Burundi to Uzbekistan. Westengen, who was until recently coordinator of operations at the Vault and now works at the Norwegian University of Life Sciences, describes his colleagues' work shipping seeds from Syria as "heroic."
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