Former Minneapolis police officer, Derek Chauvin, convicted of the murder of African-American man George Floyd in 2020 has decided to appeal against his conviction.
Chauvin was sentenced to over 22 years in jail after kneeling on Floyd’s neck for more than nine minutes in March 2020.
His death sparked mass protests against racism and police brutality in the US and all over the world.
He was found guilty of second-degree murder and other charges, was barred from owning firearms for life and also told to register as a predatory offender.
Derek Chauvin, a white man, says there were issues with the jury at the trial and that it should not have taken place in the US state of Minneapolis, citing bias against him.
According to court documents filed on Thursday, September 23, Chauvin alleges that the trial judge abused his discretion at several key points of the case, including denying a request to postpone or move the hearing from Minneapolis due to pre-trial publicity.
Chauvin also said he had no legal representative for the appeal process as the Minnesota police department’s “obligation to pay for my representation terminated upon my conviction and sentencing”,
Chauvin then asked the US Supreme Court to review an earlier decision to deny him a publicly-financed lawyer.
Chauvin, 45, was given 90 days from the date of his sentencing on 25 June to appeal against his conviction.
MINNEAPOLIS-(MaraviPost)-The former Minneapolis police officer convicted of the murder of African-American man George Floyd in 2020 says he will appeal against his conviction.
Derek Chauvin, who is white, says there were issues with the jury at the trial and that it should not have taken place in Minneapolis, Minnesota.
Chauvin was sentenced to over 22 years in jail after kneeling on Mr Floyd’s neck for more than nine minutes.
The late Floyd death sparked mass protests against racism and police brutality in the US.
According to court documents filed on Thursday, September 23, 2021 Chauvin alleges that the trial judge abused his discretion at several key points of the case, including denying a request to postpone or move the hearing from Minneapolis due to pre-trial publicity.
BBC understands that the former officer said he had no legal representative for the appeal process as the Minnesota police department’s “obligation to pay for my representation terminated upon my conviction and sentencing”, the Associated Press news agency reports.
He has asked the Supreme Court to review an earlier decision to deny him a publicly-financed lawyer.
Chauvin aged 45 was given 90 days from the date of his sentencing on 25 June to appeal against his conviction.
He was found guilty of second-degree murder and other charges, was barred from owning firearms for life and also told to register as a predatory offender.
A fisherman displays his catch of the day in Dominica. Credit: Alison Kentish/IPS
DOMINICA, Sep 24 2021 (IPS) – On September 10th, on a sweltering summer afternoon, three fishers drove a van around the residential community of Castle Comfort in Dominica, blowing forcefully into their conch shells – the traditional call that there is fresh fish for sale in the area.
One of the men, Andrew Joseph, urged a customer to double her purchase of Yellowfin Tuna, stating that at five Eastern Caribbean dollars a pound (US$1.85), she was getting the deal of the summer. (In the lean season, that price can double).
“It’s good fish, it’s fresh, it’s cheap,” he told IPS, adding that, “People eat too much meat. This is what is good for the body and the brain.”
Little did he know that he was echoing the words of a scientist who is rallying the world, and the landmark United Nations Food Systems Summit (UNFSS) to put greater emphasis on the financial, nutritional and traditional benefits of aquatic foods.
“Foods coming from marine sources, inland sources, food from water, they are superfood, but this is being ignored in the global debate and at the country level, because we have had a focus on land production systems and we have to change that,” Shakuntala Haraksingh Thilsted, Global Lead for Nutrition and Public Health at World Fish told IPS.
The nutrition scientist is also the Vice-Chair of Action Track 4, Advancing Equitable Livelihoods, at the UNFSS.
As the landmark summit hopes to deliver urgent change in the way the world thinks about, produces and consumes food, issues like the linkages between aquatic systems and health are emerging.
In the case of the UNFSS, it shows how food systems transformation can be achieved if tackled as one part of this network.
“It will assess the state of knowledge, including indigenous and local knowledge, on past, present, and possible future trends in these interlinkages, with a focus on biodiversity and nature’s contributions to people,” IPBES Executive Secretary Dr Anne Larigauderie told IPS.
“The IPBES nexus assessment will contribute to the development of a strengthened knowledge base for policymakers for the simultaneous implementation of the post-2020 global biodiversity framework, under the Convention on Biological Diversity, and the Paris Agreement adopted under the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change and the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development.”
Landscape Ecology Professor Ralf Seppelt was one of the scoping experts for the nexus assessment. He says the science is clear on how food systems impact biodiversity and why agroecology must be a pillar of efforts to transform food systems.
“Micronutrients are lacking a lot. Micronutrients are provided by fruits and vegetables, which need pollination. So, the nexus is really strong between agroecological principles and the nutritional value of what we are producing,” he told IPS.
“Wherever we have to increase production, we should do it on agroecological principles. We should consider what farmers say and do, their needs, their access to production goods such as fertilizers and seeds, and it’s equally important to change our diets. It’s not just reducing harvest losses and food waste, but also about moving away from energy-rich, meat-based diets and feeding ourselves in an environmentally friendly way,” he said.
Professor Seppelt is also hoping that the voices of small farmers and indigenous communities are amplified in the global food transformation conversation. “IPBES made an enormous effort to work with indigenous peoples and local communities and include indigenous and local knowledge in its reports. We organized workshops, to collect a diversity of views about nature and its contributions to people, or ecosystem services to make the assessment as relevant as possible to a range of users,” he said.
For Thilsted, any plan to revamp food systems must come with a commitment to weed out inequality. She says from access to inputs and production to consumption and waste, inequality remains a problem.
“This unequal distribution of who wins, who loses, who does well, who does not do too well, who profits and who does not is putting a strain on food and nutrition and it is limiting our progress towards a sustainable development future,” she told IPS.
“COVID-19 has shown the fragility of the system and it is further displacing the vulnerable, for example, women and children who are being more exposed to food and nutrition insecurity.”
The IPBES nexus assessment hopes to better inform policymakers on these key issues.
Now, the current nexus assessment on interlinkages among biodiversity, water, food and health will explore options for sustainable approaches to water, climate change, adaptation and mitigation, food and health systems.
IPBES Executive Secretary Dr Anne Larigauderie says it also shows that there is hope for restoring the balance of nature.
“I would like people to remember and know that they are a part of nature, that the solutions for our common future are in nature; that nature can be conserved and restored to allow us, human beings, to simultaneously meet all our development goals. We can do this if we work together, act more based on equity, social and environmental justice, reflect on our values systems, and on our visions of what a good life actually is.”
An European Institute for Innovation and Sustainability (EIIS) programme focusses on production, distribution, and consumption issues of food systems. Credit: Joyce Chimbi/IPS
NAIROBI, KENYA, Sep 22 2021 (IPS) – Food security experts have raised an alarm that with as many as 811 million people the world over or 10 percent of the global population going hungry, the world is off-track to ending hunger and malnutrition.
More so, after a decade of steadily declining, the number of malnourished people grew by 161 million from 2019 to 2020 alone, a spike attributed to complex global challenges such as COVID-19, climate change and conflict, according to the United Nations.
“Our aim is to provide a comprehensive base for a deeper understanding of the complex dynamics of food, giving course participants the tools and insights to perform better at work, shift careers, and become even more conscious and responsible consumers,” says Sveva Ciapparoni, the Food and Sustainability course coordinator.
With a special focus on G20 countries, as they are most representative of the world’s population and economy, the EIIS food sustainability programme uses the Food and Sustainability Index (FSI) to help learners understand the dynamics behind food systems and their inherent power to promote or derail the attainment of UN’s Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).
Developed by the Economist Intelligence Unit with the Barilla Center for Food and Nutrition Foundation, the food index collects data from 67 countries worldwide to showcase best practices and highlight key areas for improvement towards the production and consumption of sufficient, sustainable and healthy food.
The EIIS programme breaks away from traditional food courses solely centred around gastronomy, culinary management and hospitality to focus on production, distribution and consumption issues at the very heart of the SDGs.
Marcela Villarreal, the Director of Partnerships and UN Collaboration Division at the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), indicates that the “course directly addresses several SDGs. These include fighting hunger (SDG 2), promoting the health of both people and planet (SDGs 3, 13, 15), and encouraging conscious and responsible consumption (SDG 12).”
“The food system approach adopted by the course through specific challenges is particularly conducive to understanding the SDG agenda and proposing solid and interconnected solutions,” Villarreal, also one of the foremost experts from the Food and Sustainability course’s faculty, says.
As such, participants, who were part of the May 2021 cohort of learners, had an opportunity to intersect the three critical pillars of any food system, including sustainable agriculture, nutritional challenges and food loss and waste, with the three areas where food experts say solutions to the broken food systems lie: innovation, education and policy.
Also unique to the course, the programme is taught through a Challenge Based Learning approach that “allows for the practical application of the concepts learned throughout the modules.
“How to feed 10 billion healthy foods, preserving the health of people and planet is the ambitious challenge tackled by the participants,” says Villarreal.
Participant Anant Saraf confirmed that being taken through online tuition combined with practical workshops enabled them to analyse food systems, understand the complexities of the food systems, and identify the most pressing problems facing specific food systems to provide solutions.
Importantly, Ciapparoni says that the course is an opportunity to interact with topics increasingly crucial to food production, distribution, and consumption in line with the SDGs and the UN’s first-ever food systems summit that kicks off on September 23, 2021.
Held within the UN General Assembly week in New York, the virtual UN Food Systems Summit will set the stage for global food systems transformation.
To do so, the UN will engage citizens from all over the world, including youth, researchers, food producers, indigenous people, civil society, and the private sector, in a discourse to transform how the world produces and consumes food.
As with the EIIS food sustainability course, the UN Food Systems Summit is a golden opportunity to empower people to understand and use the power of food systems to recover from COVID-19 and get back on track to end world hunger and malnutrition.
Ciapparoni indicates that course participants were aware that they would be contributing to the Summit.
The course challenge aligns with the UN Food Systems Summit agenda as it was developed in consultation with Martin Frick, deputy to the UN Secretary-General Special Envoy for the UN Food Systems Summit 2021, he added.
Therefore, at the heart of the EIIS course was an urgent need to build a generation of food leaders that can effectively transform food systems for food security, improved nutrition, and affordable healthy diets for all.
Towards this objective, Villarreal says that course participants were “divided into teams based on their backgrounds, diversity being the main criteria and that each team got assigned a G20 country to be analysed, with a specific focus on its food system.”
“After identifying the country’s key challenges, each team proposed possible solutions to improve their assigned country’s food system. The underlying idea is that, by proposing ways in which single countries can improve the sustainability of their food systems, participants will be able to suggest how to promote food sustainability globally – and thus address the course’s main challenge,” Villarreal adds.
Team South Africa, for instance, discussed the country’s rapid urbanisation and unfolding food production and security challenges in light of climate change and complex social, economic, and environmental challenges.
As for Saudi Arabia, the team concluded that the food system faces numerous challenges, as highlighted in the food and sustainability index of 2021 that ranked Saudi Arabia last compared to other G20 countries.
Saudi Arabia has the highest reliance on food imports among the G20 countries. The team aimed to identify how the country could overcome the food production challenges caused by its dry and hot climate.
Team India had the task of identifying how the country, ranked 13th among the world’s extremely water-stressed countries due to inefficient irrigation systems, groundwater depletion, and high production of water-consuming crops, can overcome these challenges.
With regard to the USA, the team analysed how the country, which has the highest food waste per capita globally, can address this problem.
Team Russia sought to fix the country’s faulty food production systems, processing, and transportation.
Team South Korea’s challenge was found in the globalisation of the country’s food system has increased consumption of highly processed foods leading to a food crisis.
Participants navigated through these challenges under the guidance of food and sustainability experts, including Villarreal. By providing solutions to fix broken food systems in specific countries, the EIIS course will have contributed towards practical solutions on how to feed 10 billion people by 2050 healthy food without harming the planet.
Oxen have been used to plough in agriculture for at least 3,000 years. They are still used today. Painting from the burial chamber of Sennudjem c, 1200 BC, Egypt. Credit: Trevor Page
LETHBRIDGE, Canada, Sep 21 2021 (IPS) – Why is the UN holding a Food Systems Summit? Two issues that need discussion at the international leadership level are: Long before the Covid crisis was upon us, the number of hungry people in the world was increasing. Why ? What is the cause of this disturbing trend? And, can a country really claim to be food secure, unless it produces or can buy enough food to feed its population and its people can access sufficient quantities to keep themselves fit and healthy? Disquietening questions as extreme weather begins to show the destructive power that climate change will have on the planet and its people.
A whole range of food system issues will be discussed at the summit, among them: production, processing, supply chain, consumption, nutrition, malnutrition, food aid and waste.
Food, or the nutrients it contains, is fuel for the body. Agriculture and the production of food in an organized way is one of the earliest human endeavors. It started in the fertile crescent of the Middle East, some 10,000 BCE. While mechanization dominates the way food is produced today in the major food producing countries, animal traction is still important in many parts of the world.
Million dollar combines handle reaping, threshing, gathering and winnowing in a single operation on North American and European cereal fields today. GPS programmed, they are set to become driverless within a decade. Fruit and vegetables grown in vertical farms in cities using aquaponics are already springing up around the world. Aquaculture too can be moved to vertical farms, making fish much cheaper for urban dwellers. Vertical farms will greatly reduce labour costs and transportation requirements. Mechanization hugely reduces the number of people engaged in farming and consequently, the cost. Robotics and digital agriculture are already with us in some parts of the world. But where most people live in the world, traditional manual methods and animal traction are set to continue until the high investment needed for cutting-edge technology becomes doable.
Combines harvesting barley for the 2021 annual Canadian Food Grains Bank (CFGB) food drive, Alberta, Canada. The grain is auctioned and the proceeds matched 4:1 by the Canadian government and used by CFGB to promote agriculture in developing countries. Credit: Trevor Page
Wrestling with nature
Despite the advances in technology, drought can badly affect a crop. Cereal crops in western Canada and the United States have been seriously affected by drought this year. Climate change presents the greatest challenge yet to agriculture, and to the human species, generally.
Agriculture is the largest emitter of greenhouse gasses contributing to climate change. According to FAO, the rearing of livestock accounts for the highest proportion because of the methane produced from enteric fermentation as well as manure left on pastures. Also according to FAO, 44% of GHGs are emitted from Asia, 25% from the Americas, 15% from Africa, 12% from Europe and 4% from Oceania.
Is organic agriculture the answer to healthier food and also the way to go because it’s kinder to the planet? Studies have found that there are higher antioxidant levels in organically grown plant-based foods. There is also evidence that organic food has lower toxic, heavy metal levels and less pesticide residue, for instance organic eggs, meat and dairy products. Organic farms use less energy and have lower GHG emissions. They also reduce the pollution caused by the widespread use of nitrogen fertilizer on industrial farms, with the runoff causing the eutrophication of water bodies. Organic agriculture is based on nourishing the soil with composts, manure and regular rotations, keeping it covered with different crops throughout the year. That sequesters carbon, building healthier soil.
The problem is that organically grown food is more expensive that industrially produced food. On average, it retails around 25% more than food sold in supermarkets. Also, most organic farmers need to supplement their income from an additional occupation in order to make ends meet. So, despite the benefits to human health and to the planet, does organic farming have a future? The answer is a resounding “yes!”, both from producers and consumers. Although globally, only 1.5% of farmland is organic, in 16 countries 10% or more of all agricultural land is organic, and the proportions are growing. The countries with the largest organic share of their total farmland are Liechtenstein at 38.5 %, Samoa at 34.5% and Austria 24.7%, according to IFOAM Organics International. Today, organic food is more of a lifestyle choice, both by the producer and the consumer. But if its growth is an indicator of concern for our health and for that of the planet, and more and more people are willing and able to pay the extra cost involved, then organics can be seen as an indicator of wellbeing and a reduction of inequality, which is a major cause of conflict in the world today.
Healthy root formation on Mozart red potatoes on The Perry Farm in Taber, Canada. Regenerative agriculture is practiced on this farm. Credit: Trevor Page
Although humankind has grown up largely on a diet of just three cereals: wheat, corn and rice, potatoes are actually more nutritious. Furthermore, potatoes can be grown on marginal land and they require only one-third of the water needed to grow the world’s three main cereals. Five years ago, China moved to double its potato production and to add them to the diet of its growing population. Should Africa be following suit?
The Food Systems Summit kicks off in New York on September 23 during the UN General Assembly High-Level Week. World leaders will come together to find common ground and form alliances that accelerate our way to realizing the SDGs in this remaining decade of action before 2030 is upon us. Will we succeed in making Zero hunger a reality? If we are serious about this goal, the answer includes rethinking and redesigning our food systems to make them more sustainable.
Trevor Page, resident in Lethbridge, Canada, is a former Emergencies Director of the World Food Programme. He also served with the UN Food & Agriculture Organization, FAO, the UN refugee agency, UNHCR and what is now the UN Department of Political and Peace Building Affairs.
Women produce more than 50 percent of the food in the world but are disadvantaged when it comes to access to resources such as land and financial services. Credit: Busani Bafana, IPS
BULAWAYO, Zimbabwe, Sep 17 2021 (IPS) – Women, key contributors to agriculture production, are missing at the decision table, with alarming consequences, says Food Tank President Danielle Nierenberg in an exclusive interview with IPS.
Giving women a seat at the policymaking table could accelerate Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and keep the world fed and nourished. This necessitates a transformation of the currently lopsided global food system, she says.
Food Tank President Danielle Nierenberg.
Nierenberg, a top researcher and advocate on food systems and agriculture, acknowledges that women are the most affected during environmental or health crises. The COVID-19 pandemic disrupted global food production, affecting women farmers and food producers who were already excluded from full participation in agricultural development.
“We still have a long way to go in making sure that policies are not gender blind and include the needs of women at the forefront when mass disasters occur,“ Nierenberg told IPS, adding that policymakers need to understand the needs of farmers and fisherfolk involved in food systems.
“I think it is time we need more people who are involved with agriculture to run for political office because they understand its challenges,” she said. “If we had more farmers in governments around the world, imagine what that would look like. If we had women farmers running municipalities, towns and even countries, that is where change would really happen.”
According to the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO), women contribute more than 50 percent of food produced globally and make up over 40 percent of the agricultural labour force. But while women keep families fed and nourished, they are disadvantaged in accessing critical resources for food production compared to men. They lack access to land, inputs, extension, banking and financial services.
“Until we end the discrimination of women around the globe, I doubt these things will change even though women are in the largest part of the world’s food producers,” said Nierenberg, who co-founded and now heads the global food systems think tank, Food Tank.
Arguing that COVID-19 and the climate crisis were not going to be the last global shocks to affect the world, Nierenberg said women and girls had been impacted disproportionately; hence the need to act now and change the food system. Women have experienced the loss of jobs and income, reduced food production and nutrition and more girls are now out of school.
“It is not enough for me to speak for women around the globe. Women who are actually doing the work need to speak for themselves; they need to be included in these conversations,” Nierenberg said.
“What happens is that in conferences, there are a lot of white men in suits talking on behalf of the rest of the world. But we need the rest of the world, and women included, to be in the room.”
A food system is a complex network of all activities involving the growing, processing, distribution and consumption of food. It also includes the governance, ecological sustainability and health impact of food.
Noting that the COVID-19 pandemic has highlighted invisible issues, like the interconnectedness of our food systems, she said it was urgent to invest in regional and localized food systems that included women and youth. Food Tank and the Barilla Center for Food and Nutrition (BCFN) work collaboratively to investigate and set the agenda for concrete solutions for resetting the food system.
Divine Ntiokam, Food Systems Champion and Founder and Managing Director, Climate Smart Agriculture Youth Network Global (GCSAYN), agrees. While youth are ready to engage in promoting a just and inclusive transformation of rural areas, it was unfortunate they were rarely involved in decision-making, she said. They are excluded from the household level to larger political institutions and companies and need better prospects of financial security to remain in the farming sector.
“Young men and women need to be given special attention in formulating legislation to purchase land and receive proper land rights,” Ntiokam told IPS.
“International donors and governments need to invest in youth, particularly young women and girls, for their meaningful participation along with the food systems value network,” he said.
“Youth need to have a ‘seat at the table’, as they have at the Summit, in terms of decision-making on where governments and international donors invest their resources to make agriculture and food a viable, productive and profitable career.”
Researchers say current food systems are unfair, unhealthy, and inequitable, underscoring the urgency to transform the global food system. According to the FAO, more than 800 million people went to bed hungry in 2020, and scores of others are malnourished.
Jemimah Njuki, Director for Africa at IFPRI and Custodian for the Gender Equality and Women’s Empowerment Lever of the UN Food Systems Summit.
For food systems to be just, there is an urgency to close the gender resource gap, says Jemimah Njuki, Director for Africa at IFPRI and Custodian for the Gender Equality and Women’s Empowerment Lever of the UN Food Systems Summit.
UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres will, on September 23, 2021 host the UN Food Systems Summit during the UN General Assembly High-Level Week. The Summit is billed as a platform to push for solid support in changing the world food systems to help the world recover from the COVID-19 pandemic while spurring the achievement of the SDG by 2030.
The Summit, the UN says will “culminate in an inclusive global process, offering a catalytic moment for public mobilization and actionable commitments by heads of state and government and other constituency leaders to take the food system agenda forward”.
“They (food systems) must also transform in ways that are just and equitable, and that meaningfully engage and benefit women and girls,” Njuki told IPS. She added that harmful social and gender norms creating barriers for women and girls by defining what women and girls can or cannot eat, what they can or cannot own, where they can go or not go should be removed.
“This transformation has to be driven from all levels and all sectors in our food systems: global to local, public to private, large scale producers to smallholder farmers and individual consumers,” Njuki said.
Leaders should enact policies that directly address injustices – such as ensuring women’s access to credit, markets, and land rights, Njuki said, noting that individual women and men need to confront social norms and legal prejudices and demand changes.
Njuki believes that current food systems have contributed to wide disparities among rich and poor.
“These negative outcomes are intimately linked with many of the biggest challenges facing humanity right now – justice and equality, climate change, human rights – and these challenges cannot be addressed without transforming how our food systems work,” Njuki told IPS.
“We are at a pivotal moment on the last decade before the deadline for the UN Sustainable Development Goals. This must be the decade of action for food systems to end hunger.”