The world is awash with millennial beer traditions, but this frothy cornucopia is increasingly under threat as the Big 5 Brewers globalize their way to domination, according to Chris O’Brien, author of Fermenting Revolution: How to Drink Beer and Save the World and of this article, from which I borrowed the title of this post. The disappearance of home-brewing would adversely affect social bonds, community identity, women’s position in society and their income, and rural people’s health and nutrition. What to do? Here’s a taste:
“Domestic policies that favor small-scale, local production, just like the ones that now support the American craft-brewing renaissance, must be applied to foreign policy as well. Policies that burden small brewers with regulations must be reduced or removed, while tax incentives and public giveaways to industrial brewers are halted. Proven strategies can be used for promoting small business, such as low-interest loans and other community investments tools. Small-scale technology and structures must be prioritized in order to benefit the greatest number of domestic brewers, while subsidies favoring large-scale production and distribution should be eliminated.”
Surely promoting the local crops and landraces which form the raw materials of local homebrews also needs to be in the mix?
The question is: would Ethiopia trademarking its Sidano and Harar coffee result in a better return to local farmers through increased leverage or in a worse return through higher prices. Read about it here. I’d be tempted to bet on the former, or Starbucks wouldn’t be protesting so much. Or is that too cynical?
The whole thing turned out to be probably based on a mis-translation, but a story that the Chinese were trying to make and market “tequila” has led to this rapid-fire, rather fun run-through the concept of geographic indications in Salon’s How the World Works section. Actually, geographic indications may turn out to be a very useful form of IPRs for developing country products based on biodiversity.
A report on African News Dimension discusses Eritrea’s efforts to preserve its biodiversity. While the article briefly mentions that “the ministries of Agriculture and Fisheries were given authority to establish protected areas in their capacity” it does not delve any deeper into agricultural biodiversity. And yet, for a country that ranks 124th in global GNP (yes, I know … all such measures are suspect) with an economy based on subsistence farming and 80% of the population involved in farming and herding, I would have thought agricultural biodiversity might be a higher priority.
Did you know October was Fair Trade Month? There’s a nice discussion of fair trade in chocolate here. Again, has anyone done a study of how fair trade certification empirically affects genetic diversity in farmers’ fields?