Agriculture, Beverages & Food

With a history tied to colonial exploitation, union busting, presidential influence peddling, and environmental degradation, it's obvious the banana is much more than a topping for breakfast cereal or a nutritious snack food. The banana has been at the center of a controversial World Trade Organization ruling and just last month the world's top banana producer (Chiquita Brands International) appeared to teeter on the brink of bankruptcy even as it filed a half-billion dollar lawsuit against the European Union.
Indonesia's economy is riding the recent wave of high global commodity prices. But local pressure is arising towards steel makers and power producers in China and India who have diverted coal supplies abroad by locking in 20-year supply contracts with Indonesian miners.
Trace amounts of a little-researched toxic metal have been found in bottled water brands in PET bottles across Europe and Canada, says new research from Germany.
Nestlé, the world's largest food company, has been found guilty of spying on Swiss activists in 2003 with the help of Securitas, a private security company. Jean-Luc Genillard, president of the Lausanne civil court, told the two companies to pay $3,267.55 to each of nine victims.
Here is the annual Top 10 Worst Corporations of 2000 list compiled by Russell Mokhiber and Robert Weissman. This year, rushing to the head of the pack of irresponsible biotech companies was the French corporation Aventis, the maker of Cry9C corn, sold under the name StarLink.
Negotiations on an international tobacco control treaty failed to make progress last week as anti-smoking groups accused Washington of siding with the tobacco industry in trying to water down the draft.
Olam International, a Singapore based multinational, is growing coffee for export in Paksong, southern Laos. The land for the plantation was seized by Sonesay Siphandone, the district governor, from the upland Nha Huen/Yahern community who have been left without food to eat.
Sathianath Sarangi, Nityanand Jayaraman, Ananthapadmanabhan,Adarsh Vansay, Shailendra Yeshwant, two reporters from an independent European media and 3 local activists were beaten this morning by the local police at Bhopal .They were then taken taken to the Shajahanabad police station and are being detained there as I write this.
A combination of two widely used agricultural pesticides - but neither one alone - creates in mice the exact pattern of brain damage that doctors see in patients with Parkinson's disease. The research offers the most compelling evidence yet that everyday environmental factors may play a role in the development of the disease.
ADM has moved beyond the days of blatant price-fixing that landed its top execs behind bars. But the company's forays into new global agricultural markets bring charges of complicity in forced child labor and rampant deforestation. Critics assert that the conglomerate's embrace of self- regulation and voluntary guidelines is but a cynical ploy to deter effective reform.