tagged w/ Deforestation
The world's largest tropical forest, the Amazon, experienced something rare last year —a drought. It wasn't the earth-cracking kind of drought that happens in the American Southwest or the Australian outback, but it did stunt or kill lots of trees.
It was the second such drought in the Amazon in five years, and forest scientists are trying to understand why these droughts are happening, and what their effects will be for the planet.
The 2005 drought in the Amazon was so unusual that scientists called it a "100-year event" — something supposed to happen only once a century.
"This is what's quite alarming — that we've seen these two very unusual events," says Simon Lewis, a forest ecologist at the University of Leeds in Great Britain, who watched both droughts hit the Amazon. Lewis notes that several of the computer models that calculate the effects of climate change do predict that parts of the planet are going to get drier.
"And those two unusual events are consistent with those predictions that suggest that the Amazon may be severely impacted over the next few decades by these droughts," he says.
How Droughts Affect Forests
Writing in the journal Science, Lewis and his scientific team say the droughts are probably caused by the northward movement of especially warm water in the Atlantic Ocean. That shift carries moisture north, robbing big chunks of the Amazon of rain it normally would get.
The droughts can create a different forest — thinner, smaller and with a different mix of tree species. That, in turn, could affect the Earth's climate. As trees grow, they suck carbon dioxide out of the atmosphere and store it, so a big forest like the Amazon is a carbon "sink."
But drought slows that process down — more carbon remains in the atmosphere, and that could warm the planet.
If the forest gets dry enough, air can get into the vessels that carry water through a tree — kind of like an air bubble in a fuel line — and a tree dies. If enough die, that too could affect the atmosphere.
"As these dead trees rot and release their carbon in their trunks and roots into the atmosphere as carbon dioxide, then we see it probably turning into a source of carbon emissions," Lewis says.The world's largest tropical forest, the Amazon, experienced something rare last... more
A widespread drought in the Amazon rainforest last year caused the "lungs of the world" to produce more carbon dioxide than they absorbed, potentially leading to a dangerous acceleration of global warming. Scientists have calculated that the 2010 drought was more intense than the "one-in-100-year" drought of 2005.
They are predicting it will result in some eight billion tonnes of carbon dioxide being expelled from the Amazon rainforest, which is more than the total annual carbon emissions of the United States. For the second time in less than a decade, the earth's greatest rainforest released more carbon dioxide than it absorbed because many of its trees dried out and died.
Scientists believe that the highly unusual nature of the two droughts, which occurred in the space of just five years, may be the result of higher sea-surface temperatures in the tropical Atlantic, which could also be influenced by global warming caused by the release of man-made emissions of carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases. The Anglo-Brazilian team of researchers has emphasised that there is as yet no proof that the two highly unusual droughts in the Amazon are the direct result of rising carbon dioxide levels in the atmosphere, but the scientists have warned that the world is gambling with its future if it fails to curb fossil fuel emissions.
Simon Lewis of Leeds University, the lead author of the study, said: "If greenhouse gas emissions contribute to Amazon droughts that in turn cause forests to release carbon, this feedback loop would be extremely concerning. Put more starkly, current emissions pathways risk playing Russian roulette with the world's largest rainforest.
"Two unusual and extreme droughts occurring within a decade may largely offset the carbon absorbed by intact Amazon forests during that time. If events like this happen more often, the Amazon rainforest would reach a point where it shifts from being a valuable carbon sink slowing climate change to a major source of greenhouse gases that could speed it up. Having two events of this magnitude in such close succession is extremely unusual, but is unfortunately consistent with those climate models that project a grim future for Amazonia."
cont.A widespread drought in the Amazon rainforest last year caused the "lungs of the... more
Drought conditions across Somalia are likely to cause further loss of life if nothing is done.A serious shortage of food as a result of a severe drought is driving a large number of Somali herders into the capital.
The UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs said on Friday that the drought is getting worse in the southwestern region of Gedo, where local residents are in dire need of water, food, and medical aid.
The UN body noted that many people have left Somalia's Middle and Lower Shabelle regions and are arriving in the suburbs of Mogadishu every day.
The regions worst affected by the drought are the areas bordering northeastern Kenya and southeastern Ethiopia, such as the villages of Wanlaweyne, Toro-torow, Furuqleey, Farsooleey, and Dugulle in the Shabelle regions.
At least 12,000 people have been displaced by the worsening drought in many parts of Somalia, according to the UN High Commissioner for Refugees.
The UN's food agency, the World Food Program, is appealing for donors to provide tons of food in order to halt a humanitarian tragedy and to stop more people from leaving their homes in the hardest-hit areas.
In some villages in central Somalia, men have left their families behind and have headed for the city seeking food.
About 2.5 million people need food aid across Somalia, according to the World Food Program.Drought conditions across Somalia are likely to cause further loss of life if nothing... more
"Business is booming for the behemoth agricultural commodities trader Cargill. This week, the company announced a tripling of profits in the second quarter of its fiscal year. In the three months prior to November 30, Cargill's net earnings were a whopping $1.49 billion compared to $489 million during the same period a year ago. So why is this company still sourcing products made by forced and child labor?
Cargill's success is due in part to its ability to profit from the high food prices that are gripping the world. The UN's Food and Agriculture Organization and the World Bank have recently warned about the threat that continued rising prices at an all-time high pose for food security globally. From Haiti to Senegal to Bangladesh, food riots have broken out in reaction to price hikes on basic food items, echoing the protests that hit many countries throughout 2008. Recently, Algeria raised the prices of staples like flour, sugar and cooking oil by an average of 30 percent, leading to protests that left three people dead, hundreds injured and close to 1,000 people in jail.
High prices for food may be devastating for millions of people around the world, but clearly companies like Cargill have little to complain about as their corporate profits accumulate. While Cargill makes more money than ever, it is shocking that the company is somehow unable to mobilize its immense resources to stop the use of forced labor and abusive child labor by its palm oil supplier. As I wrote on Change.org last month, there are numerous cases of workers being trapped and forced to work under unsafe conditions on palm oil plantations supplying for Cargill in Malaysia and Indonesia.
Almost 200 Change.org readers have already called on Cargill to stop forced and child labor in its palm oil supply chain and they are not alone. Forty five companies have signed on to a pledge organized by the Rainforest Action Network (RAN) that specifically calls on Cargill to take action to responsibly source its palm oil to avoid environmental and human rights violations. RAN's campaign activities even helped convince General Mills to become a leader among major corporations in committing to responsible and sustainable palm oil production.
While Cargill rakes in profits from products harvested using exploited labor, it is often able to avoid public scrutiny since it is a privately-held company with little name recognition among consumers.
cont."Business is booming for the behemoth agricultural commodities trader Cargill.... more
Climate change is worsening, fast.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR:
Dr. Peter Gleick is president of the Pacific Institute, an internationally recognized water expert and a MacArthur Fellow.
The National Climate Data Center of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration has just announced that for the entire planet, 2010 is the hottest year on record, tied with 2005. And the period 2001 to 2010 is the hottest decade on record for the globe. The actual data are here.
This graph and this information should be on the front page of every newspaper in the world. Every Congressional representative should see it.
And the hottest 10 years on record in order?
How often do you have to get hit on the head before you say “ouch.” Or before you even say “stop hitting me on the head”? For climate deniers, probably forever. We can expect them to talk about how cold the winter is, here or there.But for the rest of us, enough should be enough. The planet has a fever and it’s getting worse.
But by all means, let's just keep burying our heads in the sand.Climate change is worsening, fast.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR:
Dr. Peter Gleick is... more
Brazil needs to stop building dams and deforesting the land that protects it from these kinds of more violent storms. The deforestation alone emits CO2 into the atmosphere that exacerbates the effects of climate change along with making the land vulnerable to storms and mudslides. It is the government in league with the World Bank that is also culpable because dam building is becoming an epidemic. The people of these areas now need help. They need food, water, shelter, and medical care. It is sickening that governments always seem to have money when it comes to dealing with the World Bank and others in taking the land from the people, but they never have enough resources to help those who their actions have now affected.
Edit: Since posting this the title of the article changed.;_ylt=AibUQo6AVyMH30ZJ3yM9WLVH2ocA;_ylu=X3oDMTJwc25tdnBhBGFzc2V0A2FwLzIwMTEwMTE2L2x0X2J... more
My final video for 2010 from the Sustainable Agriculture Group on GMO news. We need to see the momentum gaining more in 2011. Here's hoping that the coming year brings us one year closer to a GMO free world to protect the biodiversity and health of our food and planet.
Thank you to all who have supported my endeavors and posts this year.
JanMy final video for 2010 from the Sustainable Agriculture Group on GMO news. We need to... more
We are at a crossroads regarding the effects of climate change on our food and water resources. Fossil fuel industrial agriculture is responsible for 1/3 of the GHGs that are now exacerbating consequences that will take us to a tipping point if we do not look to more sustainable ways of agriculture. Already, 50% of our topsoil has been eroded in the last fifty years, and deforestation for biofuel as well as cattle ranching, oil drilling, etc. along with what we are currently doing to peatlands, grasslands, wetlands and old growth forests that sequester much of the carbon that is now escaping is bringing us to that tipping point ever faster.
This video shows us what can be accomplished when people understand this and take a positive step in using these sustainable methods. Soil carbon sequestration on a global scale could sequester up to 40% of the current GHGs that are exacerbating drought and soil nutrient deficiencies. This is a positive way to plan for a cleaner healthier future that does not require time and huge sums of capital in bringing the solution to the fore. We already have them at our disposal.
Organic farming. Agroecology. Biodynamics. Permaculture.
Nature's way of solving the climate crisis.
BTW, I deleted the previous entry on this because I was tired of coming into the thread and seeing the same disruptors and the same fights. So thanks Current for providing that option. ;-)We are at a crossroads regarding the effects of climate change on our food and water... more
New Monkey Discovered in Burma Sneezes When it Rains
by Rachel Cernansky, Boulder, Colorado on 10.27.10
Myanmar snub-nosed monkey.jpeg
Image: Reconstructed photo of the monkey by Dr. Thomas Geissmann
Conservationists have found a new species of monkey in northern Burma that has such a uniquely shaped nose, its upturned nostrils fill with water when it rains, causing it to sneeze. On rainy days, the monkeys are known to sit with their heads tucked between their knees.
Known in the local dialect as mey nwoah, or "monkey with an upturned face," the snub-nosed monkey is thought to be critically endangered, with an estimated population of 300 or less, according to Fauna and Flora International.
Local populations told the Primate Conservation Programme the monkeys were easy to find on rainy days, because people can hear the sneezing.
The monkey, which is mostly black with white fur and protruding lips, has been named Rhinopithecus strykeri by conservationists, according to the BBC.
All snub-nosed monkeys are endangered, and while other species are known to exist in China and Vietnam, this is the first to be found (by scientists) in Burma. Since no photos are available yet of the monkey alive, the photo above is a Photoshop reconstruction by Dr. Thomas Geissmann "based on a Yunnan snub-nosed monkey and the carcass of the newly discovered species."
AFP reports that the monkey is geographically isolated from other species because its habitat, an area in Kachin State, is separated by the Mekong and Salween rivers. Like most primates and other endangered species, its habitat is threatened by deforestation due to logging, both local and by Chinese companies operating illegally. Local hunting is also a problem, and better enforcement is needed to combat the illegal international wildlife trade.New Monkey Discovered in Burma Sneezes When it Rains
by Rachel Cernansky, Boulder,... more
A historic deal to halt the mass extinction of species was finally agreed last night in what conservationists see as the most important international treaty aimed at preventing the collapse of the world's wildlife.
Delegates from more than 190 countries meeting in Nagoya, Japan, agreed at the 11th hour on an ambitious conservation programme to protect global biodiversity and the natural habitats that support the most threatened animals and plants.
After 18 years of debate, two weeks of talks, and tense, last-minute bargaining, the meeting of the UN Convention on Biodiversity agreed on 20 key "strategic goals" to be implemented by 2020 that should help to end the current mass extinction of species.
•Michael McCarthy: The Nagoya deal shows the world has at last woken up
•Michael McCarthy: With the death of the Emperor we mourn the passing of an ideal
Search the news archive for more stories
The sweeping plan to put the brakes on the loss of species includes a set of new targets to be implemented by the end of the decade that will give greater protection to the natural world and enshrine the benefits it gives to humankind in a legally binding code of protection.
"This agreement reaffirms the fundamental need to conserve nature as the very foundation of our economy and our society," said Jim Leape, director general of the conservation group WWF International.
"Governments have sent a strong message that protecting the health of the planet has a place in international politics, and countries are ready to join forces to save life on Earth," Mr Leape said.
One of the 20 targets agreed by the delegates was to extend national parks to increase the area of protected land in the world from 12.5 per cent to 17 per cent, and the area of protected oceans from 1 per cent to 10 per cent by 2020. Another target is to lift threatened species from the risk of extinction.
Environment ministers from around the globe also agreed on rules for sharing the commercial benefits of nature's genetic resources between governments and companies, a key trade and intellectual property issue that could be worth billions of dollars in new funds for developing nations.
One idea enshrined in the new protocol is to set up a special fund from a proportion of the profits made from commercial products derived from biological material collected decades or even centuries ago from natural habitats in the developing world.
Caroline Spelman, Britain's Environment Secretary, said last night from Nagoya: "We have also agreed an historic protocol which has been 18 years in the making, establishing a regime where developing countries will allow access to their genetic and natural resources in return for a share of the benefits for their use."
This feature of the agreement was the biggest stumbling block to a deal because of concerns by developing nations that they would miss out on the revenues generated by Western companies that discover new drugs and medicines derived from studying the chemistry and genetics of species living in regions rich in biodiversity.
Developing nations, particular in Africa, had argued they had not benefited in the past from their natural resources which had been developed into lucrative products by wealthy Western countries.
Poorer countries had insisted that the cost of increasing their spending on the conservation of natural habitats had to be offset by some financial mechanism that paid them for the benefit of the genetic resources they were protecting.
Johansen Voker of Liberia's Environmental Protection Agency
had said: "The forest and the other biological resources we have serve the general interests of the global environment. So we expect assistance to be able to effectively conserve our environment for the common good of the world community."
The Nagoya meeting agreed to establish an International Regime on Access and Benefit Sharing of Genetic Resources to lay down the basic ground rules on how nations co-operate in obtaining genetic resources from animals, plants and fungi.
Achim Steiner, head of the UN Environment Programme, which administers the Convention on Biological Diversity, said: "This is a day to celebrate in terms of a new and innovative response to the alarming loss of biodiversity and ecosystems. And a day to celebrate in terms of opportunities for lives and livelihoods in terms of overcoming poverty and delivering sustainable development."
Ms Spelmen said the agreement sets out a plan to halt the loss of habitats that provide essential biological services for the benefit of people, such as the supply of fresh water. This, she insisted, would help to eradicate poverty. "We have also secured an agreement to link climate change, global poverty and biodiversity together in protecting the world's forests, which is essential if we are to achieve our aims in these areas," she said.
Last week, a report by the Zoological Society of London warned the populations of mammals, birds, reptiles, amphibians and fish have declined by 30 per cent over 40 years and that one-fifth of all vertebrate species are threatened with extinction.
cont.A historic deal to halt the mass extinction of species was finally agreed last night... more
At noon on Sunday, October 24, thousands of people took oil giant abuse matters in their own hands after years of continual leaking crude oil affecting their health and safety. They closed the passage of vessels for the important Amazon River, at height of the Puerto Orlando community.
http://www.examiner.com/human-rights-in-national/5000-people-block-oil-vesselsAt noon on Sunday, October 24, thousands of people took oil giant abuse matters in... more
PHOTO: Orangutan populations in Indonesia's Borneo and Sumatera island are facing severe threats from habitat loss, illegal logging, fires and poaching. Conservationists predicted that without immediate action, orangutans are likely to be the first great ape to become extinct in the wild, 17 Aug 2010. http://www.voanews.com/english/news/The-Malaysian-Government-See-Red-on-Borneo-Over-Fresh-Dam-Plans-105667523.html
Borneo island is home to some of the world's rarest animals and plants. But conservationists are alarmed by new plans to dam some of the rivers on Borneo, which is divided among Malaysia, Indonesia and Brunei. Luke Hunt reports from Kota Kinabalu, on Malaysian Borneo.
The Malaysian government has approved construction of dams in the Kaiduan Valley and near Kota Belud in the state of Sabah. Another dam on the Tutoh River is planned for the neighboring state of Sarawak.
The government says the dams and perhaps more will be needed to ensure East Malaysian water and electricity needs.
However, environmentalists, villagers and a growing number of people in the broader electorate disagree. They want the dams stopped.
S.M. Muthu is a spokesman for the Malaysia Nature Society and says energy supplies - such as biomass fuel, gas and solar - are plentiful in Sabah and Sarawak and should be developed.
He says engineers have examined East Malaysia's infrastructure needs and determined dams are not required to produce electricity given the abundance of fast flowing rivers and natural catchments that are capable of producing electricity.
"The problem is we are destroying the water catchment areas. Then we have a lack of water. Then we want to build dams which is actually trying to find a solution to a problem we keep repeating," Muthu says, "Whereas if you go to the root cause of the problem and we maintain our water catchment areas then you don't even need a dam.
Residents and environmentalists opposition against dam
Residents in the Kaiduan valley have built a blockade to stop preliminary work on the dam. They raised a 1.8-meter Christian cross and the dam location and have also voiced opposition to the dam planned for Kota Belud.
Activists in Sarawak state on the island warn a hydropower dam on the Tutoh River also risks changing the boundary of a national park. That could see its World Heritage status revoked under the regulations of the United Nations cultural body UNESCO.
In addition, Bakun Dam - also in Sarawak - has raised eyebrows. The federal government decided to sell the project, which covers an area the size of Singapore, back to the state government despite intense criticism over environmental damage caused by its construction.
Malaysian Borneo's wildlife threatened
Borneo is home to scores of rare species, including the orangutan, the pygmy elephant and the Borneo rhinoceros. Its wildlife, however, is threatened by development, logging and the expansion of palm oil plantations.
The environmental movement in Malaysian Borneo has grown significantly in recent years. It has managed to block construction of a coal-fired power plant along a pristine stretch of coastline. Environmentalists say the plant threatened the globally recognized Coral Triangle off east Borneo.
Cynthia Ong is the executive director for LEAP Conservancy, an environmental advocacy group that has been at the heart of a coalition of organizations challenging the authorities over their environmental practices. "You know about the coal fired power plant issue. That single issue has mobilized the environment movement in a way I haven't seen before. We hung in there with each other and then made breakthrough after breakthrough after breakthrough and each time when we had successes on our campaign it really empowered us," Ong said.
As momentum within the environmental movement in Sabah spreads among the villagers and urban middle class, environmentalists and government officials in Malaysia, Indonesia, Brunei and beyond are closely monitoring developments here.
"Whether it's coal or whether it's logging it doesn't stop at our borders. It's a line on a map, right. As we work locally there's always this alignment with what's happening in Borneo and what's happening in the region, what's happening globally even," Ong says, "It's not grandiose for us to think that Sabah's a leader and has the potential to be a leader in the region of Southeast Asia."
The Malaysian government says the dams are needed - not only to ensure water supplies - but to guarantee electricity to power the economic growth this country must generate if it is to meet its target of becoming an industrialized nation by 2020.
Managing those economic targets within the constraints of a burgeoning environmental movement could prove difficult, if Borneo's rare and endangered species are to be protected.PHOTO: Orangutan populations in Indonesia's Borneo and Sumatera island are facing... more
You don't have to be an environmentalist to care about protecting the Earth's wildlife.
Just ask a Chinese fruit farmer who now has to pay people to pollinate apple trees because there are no longer enough bees to do the job for free.
And it's not just the number of bees that is dwindling rapidly - as a direct result of human activity, species are becoming extinct at a rate 1,000 times greater than the natural average.
The Earth's natural resources are also suffering.
In the past few decades alone, 20% of the oceans' coral reefs have been destroyed, with a further 20% badly degraded or under serious threat of collapse, while tropical forests equivalent in size to the UK are cut down every two years.
These statistics, and the many more just like them, impact on everyone, for the very simple reason that, in the end, we will all foot the bill.
For the first time in history, we can now begin to quantify just how expensive degradation of nature really is.
Drivers of biodiversity loss
Land use change - for example cutting down forests that provide essential water regulation, flood protection and carbon storage, to make way for agriculture
Over exploitation - for example over-fishing or intensive farming that leads to soil degradation
Invasive species - for example the introduction of non-indigenous species that crowd out endemic insect populations
Climate change - for example rising temperatures that cause more extreme weather conditions.
A recent, two-year study for the United Nations Environment Programme, entitled The Economics of Ecosystems and Biodiversity (Teeb), put the damage done to the natural world by human activity in 2008 at between $2tn (£1.3tn) and $4.5tn.
At the lower estimate, that is roughly equivalent to the entire annual economic output of the UK or Italy.
A second study, for the UN-backed Principles for Responsible Investment (PRI), puts the cost considerably higher. Taking what research lead Dr Richard Mattison calls a more "hard-nosed, economic approach", corporate environmental research group Trucost estimates the figure at $6.6tn, or 11% of global economic output.
This, says Trucost, compares with a $5.4tn fall in the value of pension funds in developed countries caused by the global financial crisis in 2007 and 2008.
Of course these figures are just estimates - there is no exact science to measuring humans' impact on the natural world - but they show that the risks to the global economy of large-scale environmental destruction are huge.
The reason the world is waking up to the real cost of the degradation of the Earth's wildlife and resources - commonly referred to as biodiversity loss - is because, until now, no one has had to pay for it.
Businesses and individuals have largely operated on the basis that the natural resources and services that the planet provides are infinite.
But of course they are not. And only when the value of protecting them, and in some cases replacing them, is calculated, does their vital role in the global economy become clear.
Some are obvious, for example the clean and accessible water that is needed to grow crops to eat, and the fish that provide one-sixth of the protein consumed by the human population.
But others are less so, for example the mangrove swamps and coral reefs that provide natural barriers against storms that devastate coastal regions; the vast array of plant species that provide pharmaceutical companies with endless genetic resources used for live-saving drugs; and the insects that provide essential pollination for growing around 70% of the world's most productive crops.
It is a hugely complex process, but an economic value can be placed on these resources and services.
In the US in 2007, for example, the cost to farmers of a collapse in the number of bees was $15bn, according to the US Department of Agriculture, contributing to a global cost of pollination services of $190bn, according to Teeb.
Deforestation increases the risk of flooding in surrounding areas As Paven Sukhdev, a career banker and team leader of Teeb, says: "Bees don't send invoices".
Research by consultancy group PricewaterhouseCoopers also suggests the economic losses caused by the introduction of non-indigenous, agricultural pests in Australia, Brazil, India, South Africa, the US and the UK are more than $100bn a year.
In 1998, flash flooding in the Yangtze River in China killed more than 4,000 people, displaced millions more and caused damage estimated at $30bn. The Chinese government established that extensive logging in the region over the previous 50 years had removed the trees that provided essential protection from floods. It promptly banned logging.
Indeed the Centre for International Forestry Research has estimated that, in the 50 years prior to the ban, deforestation cost the Chinese economy around $12bn a year.
The impact of biodiversity loss is felt hardest by the world's poor. The livelihood and employment of hundreds of millions of people depend upon the world's natural resources, whether it be fish to eat or sell, fertile soil for farming or trees for fuel, construction and flood control, to name just three.
As Mr Sukhdev explains: "Biodiversity is valuable for everyone, but it is an absolute necessity for the poor".
For example, Teeb has calculated that the Earth's natural resources and the services they provide contribute 75% of the total economic output of Indonesia, and almost half of India's output.
But it's not only the poor who suffer.
Businesses will increasingly be hit as they start paying for their part in biodiversity loss.
Not only will they have to pay to protect or replace services that nature has historically provided for free, but they will be forced to pay by regulatory instruments such as pollution taxes, like carbon credits and the landfill tax that already exist, and higher insurance premiums.
Increased flooding is partly due to land conversion by humans Then there is the cost of paying for the increased number of natural disasters, resulting in part from more extreme weather conditions caused by rising temperatures due to greenhouse gases, and even reputational damage among consumers that are becoming increasingly sensitive to environmental issues.
Trucost and PRI have estimated the cost of environmental damage caused by the world's largest 3,000 companies in 2008 at $2.15tn.
That equates to around one-third of their combined profits.
Again, these figures are only estimates, but the scale of the costs that will have to be paid by companies for their damage to the environment cannot be ignored.
cont.You don't have to be an environmentalist to care about protecting the... more
Environmental organisations today expressed outrage over a plan by local authorities in the Abruzzo region of central Italy to combat prostitution with deforestation.
For decades, local law enforcement and politicians have struggled to police the Bonifica del Tronto road, a haven for the sex trade that runs inland for more than 10 miles from the Adriatic coast alongside the river Tronto. Over the years, cameras have been installed, raids mounted, 24-hour patrols implemented and the mayors of towns near the road have signed bylaws imposing fines on prostitutes' clients. All to no avail.
At the end of last month, the regional government's public works chief, Angelo Di Paolo, announced that the time had come for drastic measures. He said he had agreed with provincial and municipal representatives to cut down all the vegetation "around and along the banks [of the river Tronto]", in which the prostitutes ply their trade.
A local authority "ought to contribute to the solution of problems relating to law and order," said Di Paolo. But in a statement three environmental groups, including the WWF, said that the scheme would destroy 28 hectares (69 acres) of woodland vital to local ecosystems, saying the only crime of the thousands of trees on the local authorities' hit list had been to "offer with their fronds shelter and intimacy to sex slaves".
The authorities, they added, had "not even taken into account mitigating circumstances". "Among these are having absorbed thousands of tonnes of carbon dioxide and given man precious oxygen," they said. They also prevented fertiliser and pesticides from reaching the river.
A census this month by an NGO found almost 600 prostitutes at work on the Bonifica del Tronto. Most were Nigerians, but they included Romanians, Brazilians, Albanians and Chinese.
Di Paolo is a man known for resolute responses. Some years ago, when he was mayor of the town of Canistro, he won national fame for shooting at a bank robber whom he then chased and caught.Environmental organisations today expressed outrage over a plan by local authorities... more
Retailers have designated this month as the first NON GMO month. On the Sustainable Agriculture Group I have been featuring stories related to this and how you can help us reach the consumer tipping point in America that will facilitate ridding our food of this irresponsible technology.
This is a conversation with Jeffrey Smith regarding how you can contribute to the tipping point of maintaining food safety, food sovereignty, biodiversity and environmental democracy. GMOS are untested, unstable and unpredictable in our environment, food sources, and bodies. There is some good information at this link as well to work to keep our food safe and healthy.
Save Our Seeds
No To GMORetailers have designated this month as the first NON GMO month. On the Sustainable... more
BBC World Service - One Planet: The Father of Genetic Engineering....
First broadcast 10:32am, 7 Oct 2010
GMWatch comment: This programme, part of the BBC World Service’s One Planet series on the environment, interviews genetic engineer Dr Roger Beachy. Beachy's interview appears to be part of a new evangelical push on the part of the US government hyping GM crops as the solution to world hunger.
In the BBC interview, Beachy claims GM is being demonized but then proceeds to demonize organic production, as he has done before (even suggesting organic food may be dangerous to eat!) http://www.grist.org/article/usda-research-chief-concerned-about-safety-of-organic-food
Beachy characterizes people who oppose GM crops as anti-science or just plain ignorant. He also uses straw man arguments, dismissing scientifically valid concerns about the uncontrollability of GM contamination with a story about a man who (according to Beachy) had an irrational concern about potatoes being contaminated by GM corn or cotton.
This strategy exactly fits with what Guy Cook, Professor in Language and Education at the Open University (OU) and author of Genetically Modified Language, a book which critically analyses the war of words waged by those arguing for GM crops, found in research investigating the type of language deployed by GM crop scientists. The 'public', Cook's data revealed, tend to be portrayed as as frequently emotional, rather than rational, and as uniformly ignorant. Cook notes that this "characterization of the public is often achieved through anecdotes of some farcical encounter with a particularly 'uninformed’ member of the public: a commonly voiced one concerns people who are worried that they may be 'eating genes'." Interestingly, research suggests that technical knowledge of GM does not necessarily lead to increased acceptance of GM crops.
Beachy also seems to suggest, by implication, that those concerned about GM foods may be candidates for psychiatry ("They choose, not based on science. Where have those attitudes come from?"). He also deliberately attempts to link those concerned about GM with people typically characterised as anti-technology or anti- modern medicine.
It is therefore amusing that another interviewee in this BBC programme is a genetic engineer working in the field of medical biotechnology (Dr Michael Antoniou) who does not share Beachy's confidence about the safety of GM when applied to agriculture.
The BBC calls Beachy "the father of GM foods" and mentions in passing one of Beachy's links to Monsanto: "Two decades ago, his research - in collaboration with Monsanto - helped develop the world's first genetically modified crop (a tomato)".
But the BBC does not mention that Beachy was the founding president of St. Louis' Donald Danforth Plant Science Center, which was principally established by Monsanto, or that he is still a trustee and a member of its scientific advisory board (along with the Monsanto-connected British GM promoter Jonathan Jones, and Monsanto's CEO Hugh Grant).
Beachy is now working for the US government. In September 2009, President Obama put Beachy in charge of a USDA agency, the National Institutes of Food and Agriculture, that will fund R & D in agricultural "technological innovations". So don't expect a lot of research dollars for badly needed agro-ecological approaches.
Beachy is also joined in the BBC programme by Jack Bobo, senior advisor for biotech in the US Dept of State, and Beachy's BBC appearance seems to coincide with a new GM push on the part of US government. On 7 October, the same day that the BBC broadcast Beachy's GM hype, the USDA put out a press release flagging up research claiming there were benefits from GM crops for neighbouring non-GM farmers as they have fewer corn borer pests. The release quoted US Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack plugging GM. (But see why the corn borer may not be such a problem on organic farms: here and here)
On 8 October, Jose Fernandez, the US assistant secretary of state for economic, energy and business affairs published an article in the Huffington Post claiming - surprise - that "Unjustified and impractical legal obstacles are stopping genetically-enhanced crops from saving millions from starvation and malnutrition".
So stand by for more evangelical efforts to win us all over to the U.S. GMO way.BBC World Service - One Planet: The Father of Genetic Engineering....
First broadcast... more
One in five of the world's 380,000 plant species is threatened with extinction and human activity is doing most of the damage, according to a global study published this past week.One in five of the world's 380,000 plant species is threatened with extinction... more
Just a reminder that October has been designated as Non GMO month and hoping you will take the opportunity to learn more about GMOs, how to avoid them and actions you can take to call for labelling and proper oversight. This is an important issue that connects to our health, economy and the biodiversity of our world as well as impacting the affects of climate change. So if you also miss the days when people participated on Current and posted pods, well now is your chance to post one to the Sustainable Agriculture Group this month on GMOS, sustainable agriculture, or your opinion about them and labelling them. More information on that can be found in the video.
Thank you, and let's work for a healthier and more biodiverse world for our children. They deserve nothing less.Just a reminder that October has been designated as Non GMO month and hoping you will... more
La Via Campesina (www.viacampesina.org), a global peasant movement representing small farmers, landless workers, fisherfolk, rural women, youth and indigenous peoples, with 150 member organizations from 70 countries on five continents, has denounced the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation Trust’s recent acquisition of Monsanto Company shares. The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation was founded in 1994 by Microsoft founder William H. Gates, and today exerts a hegemonic influence on global agricultural development policy. The Foundation channels hundreds of millions of dollars into projects that encourage peasants and farmers to use Monsanto’s genetically-engineered (GE) seed and agrochemicals. In August the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation Trust, which manages the $33.5 billion asset trust endowment that funds the Foundation’s philanthropic projects (and to which Bill & Melinda are trustees) disclosed that it purchased 500,000 shares of Monsanto shares for just over $23 million.(1)
According to Dena Hoff, a diversified family farmer in Glendive, Montana and North American coordinator of La Via Campesina, “The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation Trust’s purchase of Monsanto shares indicates that the Gates Foundation’s interest in promoting the company’s seed is less about philanthropy than about profit-making. The Foundation is helping to open new markets for Monsanto, which is already the largest seed company in the world.”
Since 2006, the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation has collaborated with the Rockefeller Foundation, an ardent promoter of GE crops for the world’s poor, to implement the Alliance for a Green Revolution in Africa (AGRA), which is opening up the continent to GE seed and chemicals sold by Monsanto, DuPont and Syngenta. The Foundation has given $456 million to AGRA, and in 2006 hired Robert Horsch, a Monsanto executive for 25 years, to work on the project. In Kenya about 70 percent of AGRA grantees work directly with Monsanto (2) , nearly 80 percent of Gates' funding in the country involves biotech, and over $100 million in grants has been made to Kenyan organizations connected to Monsanto. In 2008, some 30 percent of the Foundation's agricultural development funds went to promoting or developing GE seed varieties (3).
In April the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation and finance ministers from the US, Canada, Spain and South Korea pledged $880 million to create the Global Agriculture and Food Security Program (GAFSP), managed by the World Bank to “tackle world hunger and poverty.”(4) In June GAFSP announced that it gave $35 million to Haiti to increase smallholder farmers’ access to “agricultural inputs, technology, and supply chains.”(5) In May Monsanto announced that it donated 475 tons of seed to Haiti, which is being distributed by the US Agency for International Development (USAID). The administrator of USAID is Rajiv Shah, who worked at the Gates Foundation before being appointed by the Obama administration in 2009.
According to Chavannes Jean-Baptiste of the Haitian Peasant Movement of Papaye and Caribbean coordinator of La Via Campesina, “It is really shocking for the peasant organizations and social movements in Haiti to learn about the decision of the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation to buy Monsanto shares while it is giving money for agricultural projects in Haiti that promote the company’s seed and agrochemicals. The peasant organizations in Haiti want to denounce this policy which is against the interests of 80 percent of the Haitian population, and is against peasant agriculture—the base of Haiti’s food production. ”
The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation also funds the US government’s Feed the Future initiative, administered by the State Department. At a July 20 congressional subcommittee hearing on Feed the Future, executive vice president for Monsanto Gerald Steiner testified that “Feed the Future is exciting not least because it recognizes both the business imperatives by which Monsanto and other companies must operate… We want to do good in the world, while we also do well for our shareholders.” Steiner mentioned Monsanto’s project to develop drought resistant maize for Africa, also funded by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation.(6)
According to Hoff, “Foundations, however well meaning, should not be setting food and agricultural policies for any nation of peoples. Democracy demands the informed participation of civil society to determine what is in the best interest of each nation's population. ‘Doing well for our shareholders’ seems an ulterior motive for meddling in the health and welfare of the planet and all its inhabitants in order to make a profit.”
Perhaps not by coincidence, in July Monsanto’s chief executive officer and president Hugh Grant purchased $2 million of company shares, and vice president and chief financial officer Carl M. Casale bought $1.6 million of shares. “Grant and Casale have pocketed nice sums from selling Monsanto shares over the years.”(7) Purchase of Monsanto shares by Gates, Grant and Casale could have been in anticipation of last week’s news that researchers published the genome for wheat, the staple grain for one-third of the world's population. “For Monsanto, a quality wheat genome map could potentially help in our efforts to bring better wheat varieties to farmers," said Monsanto. (8) In 2008, the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation awarded $26.8 million to Cornell University to research wheat, and in May awarded $1.6 million to researchers at Washington State University to develop drought-resistant GE wheat varieties.(9)
The Gates Foundation continues to push Monsanto’s products on the poor, despite mounting evidence of the ecological, economic and physical dangers of producing and consuming GE crops and agrochemicals. In June the U.S. Supreme Court ruled on Monsanto Co. vs. Geertson Seed Farms, its first case about a GE crop. The Court recognized that genetic contamination of non-GE crops from transgene flow of DNA from GE crops, which occurs through the spread of pollen by wind and bees, is harmful and onerous to the environment and farmers. According to the web site of the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, “AGRA and its partners have released more than 100 new varieties of improved seed across the [African] continent.”(10)La Via Campesina (www.viacampesina.org), a global peasant movement representing small... more
This is the tenth edition of the Sustainable Agriculture Group's Monsanto Roundup where we keep you up to date on GMO, biotech, and Monsanto news. In this edition the news concentrates on biodiversity threats from proliferation of GMOS, landgrabs, and climate change effects:
* First Strong Evidence Of GM Plants Growing In The Wild In The U.S.
* Federal Court Rescinds USDA Approval of Genetically Engineered Sugarbeets
* Gates Foundation and Cargill Paper To Force Soy Monoculture Into Africa
Crops pulled up in Italy
Gm grapevines pulled up in France
BT eggplant protested in the Philippines
DNA from transgenic plants found in milk and animal tissue
Jeffrey Smith spills the beans about GMOS
And various tidbits about this most important topic which the media is seriously remiss about in dessiminating this information to the public at large... plus a few other messages. ;-)
Thanks for supporting this monthly feature of the Sustainable Agriculture Group on Current.
Firstly, thank you to the majority of posters who posted in the last entry who gave me permission to upload this again. Please feel free to comment again. If you posted an on topic comment and would like it put back, please let me know. I also apologize to those who voted this up the last time. Your votes were very much appreciated.
However, the proliferation of meanspirited off topic content overshadowed the main purpose of this entry and was simply unacceptable and I believe deterred others from contributing to the conversation. So thanks to Current as well for that lovely delete button and the choice to do so.
I spend my time reading, researching, and putting this information together because it is important to me and others who post here, and to the real world we all live in. To deliberately seek to undermine and belittle such efforts is simply meanspirited. So this time hopefully the conversation will be on topic, civil, and addressing the important issue of genetic modification in tandem with corporate landgrabs, deforestation and climate change's effects on our food system and health.
Any attempt to once again derail this important conversation will result in it being uploaded again.
Thank you.This is the tenth edition of the Sustainable Agriculture Group's Monsanto Roundup... more