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GRAIN – Genetic Resources Action International

GRAIN (Genetic Resources Action International) is an international non-profit organisation, a think-tank and activist group that works to support small farmers and social movements in their struggles for community-controlled and biodiversity-based food systems. This takes the form of independent research and analysis, networking at local, regional and international levels, and fostering new forms of cooperation and alliance-building. Most work is oriented towards, and carried out in, Africa, Asia and Latin America. There are close links to Via Campesina. GRAIN’s work goes back to the early 1980s, when a number of activists around the world started drawing attention to the dramatic loss of genetic diversity on farms – the very cornerstone of the world’s food supply. In 1990, Genetic Resources Action International, or GRAIN for short, was legally established as an independent non-profit foundation with its headquarters in Barcelona, Spain. GRAIN later embarked on a decentralisation process that brought it into closer contact with realities on the ground in the South, and into direct collaboration with partners working at that level. GRAIN will have an important role in WP2 (data base) and in WP5, on biomass conflicts, because of its archive of “land grabbing” (large land acquisitions by foreign countries or firms), which is the best available in the world. EJOLT will contribute to keeping and updating this database, and at the same time it will incorporate it into the WP 2 data base. GRAIN works often together with the WRM (an EJOLT partner) on tree plantations conflicts (including oil palm), and also on other “agrofuels” conflicts. This knowledge will be used in WP5. In the context of climate justice (WP4) GRAIN is also active in analyzing the role of peasant agriculture in “cooling the Earth” (as Via Campesina said in Copenhagen, Dec. 2009).

Henk Hobbelink. Director and one of the co-founders of GRAIN and has been with the organisation since it started in 1990. He is an agronomist by training and worked previously with Dutch and European NGOs. Henk is the coordinator of GRAIN, and as such is responsible for the overall functioning of the organisation. Part of his responsibility is also to keep up with the global issues that the organisation works on, and contribute to GRAIN’s programme with research, writing and outreach activities.


Aitor Urkiola. He joined GRAIN in 2000, coming from a long experience with NGO work in the Basque Country. Aitor is in charge of GRAIN’s overall administration, financial management and organisational development. He also backs up the coordinator when needed and plays a key role in making sure GRAIN’s vital communication tools work.GRAIN produces a monthly, Seedling, and in Spanish, BiodiversidadLA, available in the web.