tagged w/ Biodiversity
In another stark warning about the dangers of Arctic Ocean drilling, the German bank WestLB announced on Friday that it would not provide financing to any offshore oil or gas drilling in the region. The company’s sustainability manager said the “risks and costs are simply too high.”
The decision was made just a week after insurance giant Lloyd’s of London issued a report concluding that offshore drilling in the Arctic would “constitute a unique and hard-to-manage risk” and urged companies to “think carefully about the consequences of action” before exploring for oil in the region.
Dustin Neuneyer, sustainability manager at the corporate and investment bank WestLB, explained the decision to Environmental Finance:
“The further you get into the icy regions, the more expensive everything gets and there are risks that are hard to manage.… There are projects that are evidently unsustainable in an encompassing sense. For WestLB, the risks and costs are simply too high.”
The bank’s new eight-point policy on offshore drilling lays out specific criteria for the projects and companies that are eligible for financing — excluding any exploration or production activities in areas where the average temperature for the warmest month is below 10°C (50° F). Additionally, the policy’s criteria — which are binding for any company seeking a loan — require companies to use the best available technology, abide by the highest technical safety standards, and show that activities are validated by an independent third party.
The concerns raised by Lloyd’s of London and WestLB come as Royal Dutch Shell prepares to drill in Arctic waters off the coast of Alaska this summer. The recommendations of these institutions echo those in the recent Center for American Progress report, Putting a Freeze on Arctic Ocean Drilling: America’s Inability to Respond to an Oil Spill in the Arctic.
The dearth of supporting infrastructure throughout Alaska’s North Slope — including ports, roads, railroads, and permanent Coast Guard facilities — coupled with the lack of sound science and extremely volatile conditions make any potential offshore operations precarious at best. The remote location, harsh and unpredictable conditions, and absence of proven clean-up technologies designed for Arctic conditions would make large-scale response efforts nearly impossible.
Those factors represent a cost and risk WestLB isn’t willing to shoulder.
The stakes are high for Royal Dutch Shell, which after spending nearly five years and $4 billion, will likely soon receive the necessary permits for exploratory drilling in the remote Beaufort and Chukchi Seas. And other oil giants aren’t far behind — Exxon and ConocoPhillips are aiming to start offshore operations in the pristine Arctic Ocean by 2013.
WestLB might be the first bank to explicitly refuse financing for offshore drilling in the Arctic, but they may not be alone for long. “Other banks contacted us and are very interested in this approach and policy,” Neuneyer told Environmental Finance.
How many influential corporate voices will have to raise concerns before someone hits the pause button on Arctic Ocean drilling?
by Kiley KrohIn another stark warning about the dangers of Arctic Ocean drilling, the German bank... more
The Deccan Development Society (DDS), is a two-decade old grassroots organisation working in about 75 villages with women's Sanghams (voluntary village level associations of the poor) in the Medak District of Andhra Pradesh. The 5000 women members of the Society represent the poorest of the poor in their village communities. Most of them are dalits ("untouchables"), the lowest group in the Indian social hierarchy.
COMMENT from PV Satheesh of the Deccan Development Society: Yesterday, as a part of the global anti GMO week observation over 500 women from the DDS communities from the mandals of Zaheerabad, Jharasangam, Raikode and Nyalkal took out a procession in Zaheerabad to protest against government inaction on the spread of Bt cotton in Medak, which they said is not only environmentally destroying the farmers but also is creating havoc with their economics. Farmers who are lured by the promise of Bt seed dealers of great returns are finding to their dismay that even 50% of the promised yields are not being realised.
Under these circumstances the women have demanded a total ban on the cultivation of Bt cotton in Medak District besides serious criminal cases against the Bt seed dealers.
The women took out in procession an effigy of a GMO DEMON and burnt it in front of the Tahsildar's office where they submitted their memorandum. Later they went to the District Collector, met him and submitted a copy of the memorandum.
Please see the full memorandum [English translation] below.
Memorandum demanding a total ban on the cultivation of Bt cotton in Medak District Deccan Development Society
April 13 2012
We, members of the DDS Food Sovereignty Trust, representing over 5000 dalit women from small and marginal farming households present the following demands for your kind consideration:
Medak is a district devoid of irrigation facilities. This is the only district in AP that does not have any canal irrigation. It is in this context that we, traditional farmers of Medak have been for centuries following significant rainfed biodiverse farming system. However since the last two decades, because of the government’s promotional policies and pressure from markets, cultivation of irrigation dependent crops such as sugarcane, potato, ginger etc have seen a frightening growth in our district. This has a deep impact on the underground water sounding alarm bells for Medak District. Since the last few years even millet farmers who cultivate their degraded lands for food crops in our district are being trapped by the cotton industry by making false promises that they can make heavy profit by growing cotton.
The new entrant into this scene is Bt Cotton whose cultivation is growing at a terrifying rate in the district. Since the advent of this cotton, food crop cultivation is declining in Medak. This district has been famous for growing millets which can grow even in the least fertile lands without irrigation. These crops have traditionally protected the food and nutritional security of the population of Medak District, especially of the poor.
We the members of the Deccan Development Society have initiated several research studies since last 20 years on the food crops and the food and nutritional security they offer and have been able to discover several new truths. We would like to bring them to your kind notice.
1. Our studies done this year in the four mandals of Zaheerabad, Jharasangam, Raikode and Nyalkal has revealed that the yields from Bt cotton is around 500-800 kgs per acre under dryland conditions and 1000-1200 kgs per acre under irrigated conditions. As per current market rates, the farmers are able to earn between 17000 to 40000 per acre depending upon whether they are dryland farmers or irrigated farmers. As a result the dryland Bt Cotton farmers are earning a net income of 8-10,000 per acre.
2. This has come as a rude shock who were dreaming of great gains by farming Bt cotton. Cotton cultivation does not yield no benefit apart from the monetary income No fodder, no uncultivated greens nothing. Besides as scientists are pointing out, Bt cotton fields are suffering from soil toxicity year after year resulting in toxic soils and soil fatigue. As a result of this, crops such as chillies which used to be grown after cotton is harvested are wilting on the field. Besides, there are several instances of Bt Cotton itself wilting on the field.
3. Apart from these problems, we have learnt from Bt cotton farmers in Warangal as well as from newspapers that cattle which have grazed on Bt cotton refuse have died of toxicity. Women who have laboured on Bt farms are suffering from skin diseases and respiratory problems. Our sisters in DDS Community Media Trust who have done regular filming month on month for three years in Warangal, Nalgonda and Adilabad districts have brought to light these truths in their video films.
4. In contrast to this toxic Bt farming, millet farmers enjoy homes full of grains, cowsheds full of fodder, and all season uncultivated greens. This offers them food and nutritional security. They are also protecting soil, water and environmental health through their ecological practices such as non chemical farming.
5. This year we in DDS carried out INSIMP [Initiative for Nutritonal Security through Intensive Millet Promotion] on behalf of the Government of Andhra Pradesh by ecological growing millets in a biodiverse environment in over 2500 acres. The studies carried out on these farms are revealing that dryland farmers [without irrigation] have been able to earn a household income upto ₹15-20,000 per acre through these farming practice
In view of all the above, we are placing the following demands in front of the Medak District administration and the Government of Andhra Pradesh
1. Keeping in view the environment and water resources of Medak District, Government must immediately ban the cultivation of Bt Cotton in the district.
2. Many companies have carried out false propaganda that Bt cotton cultivation results in great profits. Government must initiate criminal proceedings against these companies and ban them from trading in Bt cotton.
3. Pending the above, Government of AP must enact a legislation that Bt cotton companies must give a written undertaking that their cultivation will result in minimum yield of a certain quantity of cotton. If farmers do not get these promised profits Government must file lawsuits against them and force them to compensate farmers losses.
4. Hundreds of thousands of farmers in the mandals of southern Medak, viz., Zaheerabad, Jharasangam, Raikode, Nyalkal, Manoor, Narayankhed etc. are engaged in organic farming. Bt cotton cultivation must be prohibited in these mandals immediately in view of the fact that Bt cotton will genetically pollute the crops on these organic farms.
5. Government must recognise traditional farmers as conservers of environment, water resources, and frontline soldiers in the fight against climate change. Such farmers must be honoured with an annual honorarium of ₹5000 per acre for their ecosystemic services.
6. When Government honours farmers during the Ugadi and Sankranti Puraskaras these ecological, biodiverse farmers must be honoured as Progressive Farmers.
We request you to kindly place these demands of ours in front of the Government of Andhra Pradesh and help Andhra Pradesh to come out of the agrarian crisis into which genetically engineered crops are bound to push this state.
On behalf of the DDS Food Sovereignty Trust
http://www.facebook.com/photo.php?fbid=387551471278629&set=o.276951472985&type=1The Deccan Development Society (DDS), is a two-decade old grassroots organisation... more
The fishermen have never seen anything like this," Dr Jim Cowan told Al Jazeera. "And in my 20 years working on red snapper, looking at somewhere between 20 and 30,000 fish, I've never seen anything like this either."
Dr Cowan, with Louisiana State University's Department of Oceanography and Coastal Sciences started hearing about fish with sores and lesions from fishermen in November 2010.
Cowan's findings replicate those of others living along vast areas of the Gulf Coast that have been impacted by BP's oil and dispersants.
Gulf of Mexico fishermen, scientists and seafood processors have told Al Jazeera they are finding disturbing numbers of mutated shrimp, crab and fish that they believe are deformed by chemicals released during BP's 2010 oil disaster.
Along with collapsing fisheries, signs of malignant impact on the regional ecosystem are ominous: horribly mutated shrimp, fish with oozing sores, underdeveloped blue crabs lacking claws, eyeless crabs and shrimp - and interviewees' fingers point towards BP's oil pollution disaster as being the cause.
Tracy Kuhns and her husband Mike Roberts, commercial fishers from Barataria, Louisiana, are finding eyeless shrimp.
"At the height of the last white shrimp season, in September, one of our friends caught 400 pounds of these," Kuhns told Al Jazeera while showing a sample of the eyeless shrimp.
According to Kuhns, at least 50 per cent of the shrimp caught in that period in Barataria Bay, a popular shrimping area that was heavily impacted by BP's oil and dispersants, were eyeless. Kuhns added: "Disturbingly, not only do the shrimp lack eyes, they even lack eye sockets."
Eyeless shrimp, from a catch of 400 pounds of eyeless shrimp, said to be caught September 22, 2011, in Barataria Bay, Louisiana [Erika Blumenfeld/Al Jazeera]
"Some shrimpers are catching these out in the open Gulf [of Mexico]," she added, "They are also catching them in Alabama and Mississippi. We are also finding eyeless crabs, crabs with their shells soft instead of hard, full grown crabs that are one-fifth their normal size, clawless crabs, and crabs with shells that don't have their usual spikes … they look like they've been burned off by chemicals."
On April 20, 2010, BP's Deepwater Horizon oilrig exploded, and began the release of at least 4.9 million barrels of oil. BP then used at least 1.9 million gallons of toxic Corexit dispersants to sink the oil.
Keath Ladner, a third generation seafood processor in Hancock County, Mississippi, is also disturbed by what he is seeing.
"I've seen the brown shrimp catch drop by two-thirds, and so far the white shrimp have been wiped out," Ladner told Al Jazeera. "The shrimp are immune compromised. We are finding shrimp with tumors on their heads, and are seeing this everyday."
While on a shrimp boat in Mobile Bay with Sidney Schwartz, the fourth-generation fisherman said that he had seen shrimp with defects on their gills, and "their shells missing around their gills and head".
"We've fished here all our lives and have never seen anything like this," he added.
Ladner has also seen crates of blue crabs, all of which were lacking at least one of their claws.
Darla Rooks, a lifelong fisherperson from Port Sulfur, Louisiana, told Al Jazeera she is finding crabs "with holes in their shells, shells with all the points burned off so all the spikes on their shells and claws are gone, misshapen shells, and crabs that are dying from within … they are still alive, but you open them up and they smell like they've been dead for a week".
Rooks is also finding eyeless shrimp, shrimp with abnormal growths, female shrimp with their babies still attached to them, and shrimp with oiled gills.
"We also seeing eyeless fish, and fish lacking even eye-sockets, and fish with lesions, fish without covers over their gills, and others with large pink masses hanging off their eyes and gills."
Rooks, who grew up fishing with her parents, said she had never seen such things in these waters, and her seafood catch last year was "ten per cent what it normally is".
"I've never seen this," he said, a statement Al Jazeera heard from every scientist, fisherman, and seafood processor we spoke with about the seafood deformities.
Given that the Gulf of Mexico provides more than 40 per cent of all the seafood caught in the continental US, this phenomenon does not bode well for the region, or the country.
"The dispersants used in BP's draconian experiment contain solvents, such as petroleum distillates and 2-butoxyethanol. Solvents dissolve oil, grease, and rubber," Dr Riki Ott, a toxicologist, marine biologist and Exxon Valdez survivor told Al Jazeera. "It should be no surprise that solvents are also notoriously toxic to people, something the medical community has long known".
The dispersants are known to be mutagenic, a disturbing fact that could be evidenced in the seafood deformities. Shrimp, for example, have a life-cycle short enough that two to three generations have existed since BP's disaster began, giving the chemicals time to enter the genome.
Pathways of exposure to the dispersants are inhalation, ingestion, skin, and eye contact. Health impacts can include headaches, vomiting, diarrhea, abdominal pains, chest pains, respiratory system damage, skin sensitisation, hypertension, central nervous system depression, neurotoxic effects, cardiac arrhythmia and cardiovascular damage. They are also teratogenic - able to disturb the growth and development of an embryo or fetus - and carcinogenic.
Cowan believes chemicals named polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs), released from BP's submerged oil, are likely to blame for what he is finding, due to the fact that the fish with lesions he is finding are from "a wide spatial distribution that is spatially coordinated with oil from the Deepwater Horizon, both surface oil and subsurface oil. A lot of the oil that impacted Louisiana was also in subsurface plumes, and we think there is a lot of it remaining on the seafloor".
Marine scientist Samantha Joye of the University of Georgia published results of her submarine dives around the source area of BP's oil disaster in the Nature Geoscience journal.
Her evidence showed massive swathes of oil covering the seafloor, including photos of oil-covered bottom dwelling sea creatures.
While showing slides at an American Association for the Advancement of Science annual conference in Washington, Joye said: "This is Macondo oil on the bottom. These are dead organisms because of oil being deposited on their heads."
Dr Wilma Subra, a chemist and Macarthur Fellow, has conducted tests on seafood and sediment samples along the Gulf for chemicals present in BP's crude oil and toxic dispersants.
"Tests have shown significant levels of oil pollution in oysters and crabs along the Louisiana coastline," Subra told Al Jazeera. "We have also found high levels of hydrocarbons in the soil and vegetation."
According to the US Environmental Protection Agency, PAHs "are a group of semi-volatile organic compounds that are present in crude oil that has spent time in the ocean and eventually reaches shore, and can be formed when oil is burned".
"The fish are being exposed to PAHs, and I was able to find several references that list the same symptoms in fish after the Exxon Valdez spill, as well as other lab experiments," explained Cowan. "There was also a paper published by some LSU scientists that PAH exposure has effects on the genome."
"What we think is that it's attributable to chronic exposure to PAHs released in the process of weathering of oil on the seafloor," Cowan said. "There's no other thing we can use to explain this phenomenon. We've never seen anything like this before."
More at the linkThe fishermen have never seen anything like this," Dr Jim Cowan told Al Jazeera.... more
Warsaw - In Warsaw, Poland a ban has now officially been imposed on Monsanto's MON810 GMO maize. Recent protests by beekeepers and anti-GMO activists have a successful conclusion.
Digital Journal reported in late March on a protest by Beekeepers and Anti-GMO activists in Warsaw, Poland. The activists were demanding that the Minister of Agriculture, Marek Sawicki ban MON810 in the country.
The good news is that their protests have had a successful outcome.
Minister of Agriculture in the Polish Government, Marek Sawicki has set another international standard against Monsanto's controversial GMOs. Sawicki says that as well as being linked to range of health ailments, the pollen originating from this GM strain might actually be devastating to the already reduced bee population in the country.
According to AFP, Sawicki told the press: “The decree is in the works. It introduces a complete ban on the MON810 strain of maize in Poland.”
On March 9th, there was similar opposition to Monsanto GMO strains. On that date 7 European countries blocked the proposal by the Danish presidency to permit the cultivation of GMO crops on the entire European continent. The countries who blocked this proposal were Belgium, Britain, Bulgaria, France, Germany, Ireland and Slovakia. A week after this announcement, France imposed a temporary ban on the Monsanto MON810 strain.
In Lyon, France, a ruling was given by the court after Paul Francois, a grain grower, advised that Monsanto had failed to provide sufficient warnings on its Lasso Weedkiller product label.
Lack of warnings has caused neurological problems, including headaches and memory loss.
Following testimony, the court ordered an expert opinion to verify the link between Lasso and the illnesses that have been reported and also to determine the sum of damages payable. The result of the court hearing was that Monsanto was guilty, and this has paved the way for similar legal action on behalf of farmers in the future.
Further in France, the agricultural branch of the social security system has gathered approximately 200 alerts per year since 1996, in connection with pesticide-related sickness. Despite this, only 47 cases have been recognized in the last 10 years.
The fight against Monsanto continues with many countries fighting the GMO products, including India, who are slamming the agro-giant with "biopiracy" charges, and Hungary, who recently destroyed 1,000 acres of GM maize.
The victory in Poland is yet another notch in the belt of anti-GMO activists worldwide.Warsaw - In Warsaw, Poland a ban has now officially been imposed on Monsanto's... more
A report released today shows that worldwide opposition to the biotechnology giant Monsanto and "the agro-industrial model that it represents" is growing.
La Via Campesina, Friends of the Earth International, and Combat Monsanto, the groups who issued the report, show that small farmers, groups and communities in every continent are rising up to resist Monsanto's products and environmental harm. While Monsanto's -- and other giant agribusinesses' -- approach, including genetically modified crops, has been shown to hurt biodiversity, local food knowledge and the environment, the report shows that "food sovereignty is a real and feasible alternative."
“This new report documents the intense opposition to this powerful transnational company, which peddles its genetically modified products seemingly without regard for the associated social, economic and environmental costs,” said Martin Drago, Friends of the Earth International's Food Sovereignty programme coordinator.
“This report demonstrates that the increasingly vocal objections from social movements and civil society organisations are having an impact on the introduction of GM crops.” said Josie Riffaud from La Via Campesina.
The report notes that an "unprecedented agribusiness offensive underway, under the banner of the new ‘green economy’" positioning giant agribusiness companies like Monsanto to have even greater control. The report's highlighting the "offensive" echoes a report issued last month on global water security from the Defense Intelligence Agency that also pushed biotechnology and agricultural exports rather than agroecology and food sovereignty.
"Who will hold Monsanto responsible for the global depletion of biodiversity, soil erosion, and violations of peasant rights wrought by the application of petroleum-based inputs required by industrial agriculture?” asked Dena Hoff of the National Family Farm Coalition / La Via Campesina North America. “Farmers worldwide are resisting for food sovereignty, but the rest of the world must join us," she added.
* * *
Selections from the report: India/ Haiti and South Africa.
As shown in this report, Monsanto and agribusiness in general are increasingly unwelcome wherever they operate. They ruin local agriculture and harm communities with their attempts to dominate food production systems.
As a result of Monsanto’s presence, local seeds are becoming illegal, biodiversity is disappearing, land is being contaminated, and farmers and agricultural workers are being poisoned, criminalised and displaced from their land. Local food producers aiming to feed communities have to compete with huge corporations whose sole objective is to make profits. [...]
We are calling for collective action from all of those who share our vision of a sustainable world. There has never been a more important time to globalise our struggles, and globalise hope.
More at the linkA report released today shows that worldwide opposition to the biotechnology giant... more
Africa is turning to desert. Studies show that as much as two thirds of the continent’s arable land could become desert by 2025 if current trends continue. But a bold initiative to plant a wall of trees 4,300 miles long across the African continent could keep back the sands of the Sahara, improve degraded lands, and help alleviate poverty. Living on Earth’s Bobby Bascomb reports from Senegal.
GELLERMAN: It's Living on Earth. I'm Bruce Gellerman. Now to the West African nation of Senegal where an audacious and ambitious project is underway to create a vast forest across the African continent. It’s known as the Great Green Wall. The idea is to plant 43 hundred miles of trees through 11 African nations, from coast to coast.
The Senegalese government hopes the Great Green Wall will stop the advance of the Sahara Desert southward, but as Living on Earth’s Bobby Bascomb reports, others see it as a way of alleviating poverty.
[CITY SOUNDS, CARS]
BASCOMB: Horses pull wooden carts alongside cars on the main streets of Dakar, the capital of Senegal. Dakar sticks out into the Atlantic Ocean on a peninsula. And while it’s at least a thousand miles to the Sahara desert, the air today is thick with sand. It’s the worst sand storm in a year.
[DAKAR DRIVING SOUNDS]
[SARR SPEAKING IN FRENCH]
VOICEOVER: The rainy season is becoming shorter, it used to start in July or August, now it doesn’t start until September. The climate is definitely changing.
BASCOMB: Papa Sarr says shifting seasons and climate change could make these sand storms more common but he believes there is a solution. Sarr is the technical director for the Great Green Wall in Senegal. The goal of the project here is to plant two million acres of trees. It’s part of a larger initiative to plant a nine mile wide wall of trees, across the African continent. African leaders hope the trees will trap the sands of the Sahara.
More at the linkAfrica is turning to desert. Studies show that as much as two thirds of the... more
Beautifully shot and interweaving interviews with scenes from soy fields in Paraguay, Raising Resistance explores Latin American farmers’ struggle against the expanding production of genetically modified soy in South America. Biotechnology, mechanisation, and herbicides have radically changed the lives of small farmers in Latin America. For farmers in Paraguay this means displacement from their land, loss of basic food supplies, and a veritable fight for survival. Geronimo Arevelos and a group of small farmers stand defiantly in a corporate-owned soy field adjacent to his own, blocking a tractor from spraying herbicides that will decimate his crops and expose nearby families to toxic chemicals. As corporate farms seize farmland and rapidly expand production of genetically modified soy, Geronimo and the campesinos find themselves in a life and death struggle. Raising Resistance illustrates the mechanisms of a global economy that relies on ‘monocrop’ agriculture and corporate ownership of land. In telling the story of Paraguay, Raising Resistance poses the larger question of whether the global community wants to go on living with a system that allows one crop to prosper at the expense of all others.
(Official Selection International Documentary Festival Amsterdam 2011)Beautifully shot and interweaving interviews with scenes from soy fields in Paraguay,... more
Warsaw - Around 1,500 beekeepers in Warsaw made a strong point by dumping thousands of dead bees on the steps of the Ministry of Agriculture recently.
On 15 March 2012, a protest was held against genetically modified foods and pesticides, largely responsible for killing bees, butterflies and moths in huge numbers. The loss of these beneficial pollinators is extremely dangerous to the eco-system.
A protest march was held with beekeepers and anti-GMO protesters wearing yellow and black striped jackets and traditional beekeeper costumes. As they marched, the sound of buzzing filled the air and they ran their hive smoke guns as they walked.
The march was organized by the Polish Beekeepers Association together with the Coalition for a GMO Free Poland and the International Coalition to Protect the Polish Countryside (ICPPC). Protesters were targeting Monsanto's MON810, which has apparently produced millions of hectares of pesticide resistant "superweeds" in the U.S.A.
The protesters also called for a complete ban on all genetically engineered crops and pesticides found to be most damaging to the environment (and particularly to bees).
The good news is that later in the day, the Minister of Agriculture, Marek Sawicki announced plans to ban MON810 in Poland.
The Polish Parliament banned GM feed in 2008, which included both the importation and planting of GM crops. However, Food Travels state that "Despite this progressive step, the European Commission has refused to accept regional bans on GMOs, keeping Polish farmers, producers, and activists on the offensive."
Also, says the ICPPC, "None of the nine European Union countries that have already prohibited MON 810 did so by asking the permission of the EU."
They are requesting that Polish residents write to the Minister of Agriculture to demand that he immediately implements a moratorium on GM crops, without awaiting EU approval.
SPECIAL REPORT FROM THE PROTESTERS:
Strong Beekeepers Protest and motion for a ban of the GM maize MON810 in Poland!
A powerful symbolic drama was staged by members of The Coalition for a GMO Free Poland in which thousands of dead bees were laid out on the Ministry steps SEE PHOTOS AND FILMS [at http://www.digitaljournal.com/article/321905 ].
The Minister of Agriculture, Mr Sawicki, never appeared. However he later saw a delegation in his office and, during a public broadcast, announced that he had set in motion a ban of the GM maize MON810...
At first glance this appeared to be a genuine prohibition, however, such is the nature of the modern politician that in the smaller print was the statement that 'this would only be possible with the permission of the European Commission':
WE NEED YOUR HELP!
Your help might make all the difference in getting Mr Sawicki to introduce the all important ban of MON 810.
Please do write to him demanding that he does not 'wait for European Commission's approval' but gets on and does the job! This is what the other 9 EU countries have done. Please do it! And do send us a copy of your letter.
The address you need is here:
The Minister of Agriculture, Mr Marek Sawicki
e-mail: email@example.comWarsaw - Around 1,500 beekeepers in Warsaw made a strong point by dumping thousands of... more
Numbats are our State mammal emblem and only 1000 of them remain in the wild
Something is seriously wrong with wildlife protection in Western Australia. Our laws completely fail our most vulnerable creatures. We are living in very important times. In the past 5 years Numbat numbers have declined by 20% http://www.iucnredlist.org/apps/redlist/details/14222/0 and things aren't looking up. Not yet.
This week (late Feb 2012) WAFA put in an urgent request to the Minister for Environment, Hon Bill Marmion MLA, to halt the logging in Warrup forest to protect the Numbats there. His advisor said that while he knows that there are Numbats there (some of the last 1000 in the wild) he disputes that logging has any impact on them. Imagine believing that removing their food and shelter and leaving in some cases as little as 2 trees behind per hectare, following up by burning the whole area and increasing predation by foxes and cats could have no impact. It's little wonder that under this Government things have gotten so much worse for our wildlife.
According to DEC http://www.dec.wa.gov.au/content/view/5761/1808/ The numbat is Western Australia's State mammal emblem and although currently categorised as Vulnerable on State and EPBC listings, a 2005 IUCN review recommended that it be ranked Endangered due to recent declines of some populations and it is now listed as Endangered in 2008 IUCN Red List. After a vigorous reintroduction campaign led by DEC, there are now eight self-sustaining populations but probably less than 1000 animals in existence. Continued recovery relies partly on private conservation organisations and this project is now orientated towards monitoring populations on DEC-managed estate.
Western Australia is in urgent need of improved biodiversity conservation legislation that binds the Crown and prioritises the protection of wildlife and biodiversity.Numbats are our State mammal emblem and only 1000 of them remain in the wild... more
Endangered white lemuroid possum from Mt Lewis, NQ
The Earth’s biodiversity has experienced 5 mass extinction events since the Cambrian. Extinction has kept pace with speciation, with >99% of all species that have ever existed now gone. Despite consensus that biodiversity has entered the 6th mass extinction, dubbed the Anthropocene because of human-driven changes, estimated extinction rates above background are highly imprecise. This arises partly because species richness is unknown for many taxa, and most extinctions go unnoticed. Without precise estimates of modern extinction rates, the urgency of the biodiversity crisis is not appreciated by society, and efforts to reduce biodiversity loss are weakened. We propose to collate existing information on the extent of meta-population extinctions of various Australian and global taxa. We will begin with Australian plants, mammals, birds & molluscs as 4 well-studied taxa within a single continent. Extinctions will be inferred from rates of observed meta-population extirpations. Given the good fossil evidence of pre-human extinctions in Australia, our inferred extinction rates will be compared to determine the modern inflation factor. We will also trawl the literature and update rates based on observed disappearances, correcting for unobserved extinctions using zero-inflated models. Using these empirical estimates, we will extend our range to global extinction rates based on state-of-the-art species-area relationships of species loss.Endangered white lemuroid possum from Mt Lewis, NQ The Earth’s biodiversity... more
Southwest Australia has been ravaged by agriculture and mining. The Noongar people have endured what I hate to say is worse treatment than any American on reservation land. Eugenics and racial cleansing have been a staple of thier modern existance. Kids became property of the state, marriage something that had to be approved by government and blood lines scrutinized down to 1/126. The act of gathering a crime and interacting inside a city such as Perth could only be allowed through a permit process. The Australian government is trying to use monetary settlement as a means to continue its destruction of one of the most biologically diverse and ecologically threatened places in the world.Southwest Australia has been ravaged by agriculture and mining. The Noongar people... more
10 years of Bt Cotton – False Hype and Failed Promises Exposed
Coalition for a GM-Free India, March 21 2012
The false hype and failed promises of Bt cotton in India were exposed by the Coalition for GM-Free India with a special report released in a press conference here today. As the 10th anniversary of Bt cotton's regulatory approval in India approaches, the Coalition, using data from government institutions, highlighted that the hype around Bt cotton as revolutionizing the cotton production in India is clearly wrong.
Closer examination of the data from the last 10 years negates the two important claims of dramatic yield increase and significant fall in pesticide usage. The report clearly exposes the dark side of the Bt cotton story – stagnant yields, pest resistance, new pest and disease attacks, the need for high levels of expensive farm inputs and the spate of tragic farmer suicides in the cotton belt.
In the face of aggressive PR campaign by the biotechnology industry which is being uncritically accepted by the government and regulators, the Coalition said, "This is a wake-up call for the Government, Parliamentarians, policy-makers, farmer organizations and media to closely examine the crisis in the cotton belt and critically re-assess the 10 years of Bt cotton. The government should stop promoting Bt cotton and pro-actively advise farmers about its unsuitability and risks."
The cotton farmers are in deep crisis after ten years of Bt cotton. The spate of farmer suicides in 2011-12 has been particularly severe among Bt cotton farmers. The extensive crop failure has exposed the false hype and advertising, often repeated by policymakers and regulators. In Andhra Pradesh, state government estimates show that out of 47 lakh acres planted with Bt cotton during Kharif 2011 season, the crop failed in 33.73 lakh acres (71% of the area). The state government reported that 20.46 lakh farmers suffered from cotton crop failure and lost Rs.3071.6 cr. In Maharasthra, the cotton crisis forced the government to take the unprecedented step of declaring Rs. 2000 cr. as compensation (the estimated loss is Rs.10,000 cr.). The cotton production estimates had to be downgraded despite the large expansion in cotton cultivation area.
Presenting some of the analysis, Kiran Vissa, co-convener of the Alliance for Sustainable and Holistic Agriculture (ASHA) said, "The real yield gains in the past decade (from 278 kg/ha to 470 kg/ha) happened from 2000-01 to 2004-05, i.e. when Bt cotton area reached only 5.6% of the total cotton area. From 2005-06 to 2011-12, when the Bt cotton area grew to exceed 90% of the total cotton area, there is no sustained yield gain – only going from 470 kg/ha to 481 kg/ha. It is the pre-Bt cotton yield gains that have proved to be stable, resulting from various factors including fresh land brought under cotton cultivation, expansion of irrigation and use of high-yielding hybrids." The report also refers to the statement of Dr. K.R. Kranthi, Director of Central Institute for Cotton Research(CICR), "The main issue that worries stakeholders is the stagnation of productivity at an average of 500 kg lint per ha for the past seven years. The gains have been stagnant and unaffected by the increase in area of Bt cotton from 5.6% in 2004 to 85% in 2010."
Regarding pest protection, scientific studies and the company statements show that the target pest bollworm has developed tolerance to Bt cotton, whereas secondary pests like mealy bugs and whiteflies which were hitherto unseen are causing major damage. At the farmer level, pesticide spraying quickly went back to pre-Bt levels after the first three years. Data from Directorate of Plant Protection for six major cotton-growing states shows that in Maharashtra with the largest Bt cotton cultivation area, there has been a steep increase in pesticide volume (3198 MT in 2005-06 to 4639 MT in 2009-10) whereas in four other states (Gujarat, M.P., Punjab, Karnataka) there is a marginal increase. The only decline is in A.P., possibly due to the successful campaign against pesticide use by the government’s Non-Pesticidal Management (NPM) program. At the national level, even in the peak expansion years of Bt cotton, the pesticide usage increased by 10%. This is despite the heavy increase in use of more powerful low-volume pesticides during the same period, which should have reduced the total volumes. This shows that Bt technology is a false solution to the pesticide problem – the NPM methods which eliminate pesticide usage completely have been successfully demonstrated in states like A.P. in large-scale government programs while the Bt technology with all its risks, at best reduces pesticide usage temporarily for a given target pest.
Official information shows that Bt cotton requires more inputs in terms of fertilizers and irrigation, and is particularly susceptible to rainfall shortage at peak bolling period. The costs of cultivation have gone up significantly after the introduction of Bt cotton, leading to increased risk and debt for small farmers. The Coalition’s report also criticizes the false and unethical advertising by the companies like Mahyco-Monsanto whose advertisements were pulled up by Advertising Standards Council of India, earlier this year.
NOTE: The new report is here:
More at the link
http://4.bp.blogspot.com/-_18y9F0sPOI/TdIEc4UA1GI/AAAAAAAABEA/xp8fIIcCwNU/s1600/BT-Cotton-CIRAD.jpg10 years of Bt Cotton – False Hype and Failed Promises Exposed Coalition for a... more
Positive action for positive change...
As part of the Global Day of Action to Shut Down Monsanto on Saturday, this action was co-organized by AGRA Watch/Community Alliance for Global Justice, Washington Fair Trade Coalition, Washington Biotechnology Action Council, and GMO-Free Washington. The protest was directed at the Gates Foundation for their efforts to spread Monsanto’s dangerous GMOs throughout Africa.Positive action for positive change... As part of the Global Day of Action to Shut... more
Progress is definitely being made at the state level regarding bills being put forth to label GE foods. The latest one is from the state of New Jersey. S1367 is a bipartisan bill proposed by state senators Vitale (D) and Singer (R) that seeks to label GE foods. I emphasize bipartisan because in the US we don't see too much of that of late. I also emphasize it because I truly do think that is the only way to see progress on bills like this. It also emphasizes that this important issue transcends political lines because genetically engineered foods affect us all.
I will be posting some information you can use if you would like to contact the NJ legislature to support this bill being passed. I wrote to my legislator a few months ago on this and was part of outreaches to see this bill come to pass, so I am happy it has finally been proposed. Here is the note I sent them yesterday to ask the legislature to support the bill:
As a constituent who is very concerned about the food I eat and the effects of genetic modification of seeds on our health and environment, I would like you to support bi-partisan legislation introduced by Senator Singer and Senator Vitale to require labels for genetically engineered foods.
Since GE foods were first introduced in the U.S. food supply in 1996 without our knowledge or consent these foods have increased to 94% of soy crops and 88% of corn crops. Despite the prevalence of GE foods in the food supply the USDA continues to rely on industry safety studies to determine public health impacts of these foods. These organisms which are dominated by Monsanto's BT soy and corn (a registered pesticide with the EPA) sprayed with glyphosate (Round Up) cause transgenic contamination of organic crops which has also cost small scale organic farmers their livelihoods while threatening biodiversity through polluting rivers, streams and being found in the human bloodstream.
Independent studies on these organisms as well have shown effects on kidney cells with other potential health effects such as allergies. Up to this point the term "substantial equivalence" has been applied to imply these GE seeds are the same as conventional seeds. This is not the case. Therefore, without labels consumers have no idea which foods they are eating are genetically engineered. Having the ability to choose the foods you eat to avoid those that may be unhealthy to you and your children is a fundamental right. Many other countries in Europe as well as Asia have labelling requirements for GE foods. Americans as well have the right to know what they are eating.
Please follow the lead of Senator Singer and Senator Vitale by co-sponsoring S1367 and supporting the labeling of genetically engineered foods.
We can do this. The state level seems to be the only place we can. It is imperative we work to protect our biodiversity and change our destructive unhealthy food system, especially in the face of the global crises we face regarding climate and economy.
NJ State Legislature
S1367Progress is definitely being made at the state level regarding bills being put forth... more
By 2030, more than 90% of coral reefs could be threatened by local activities like overfishing and global-wide events like climate change, say researchers at the World Resources Institute.
Destruction of these valuable ecosystems would be a devastating environmental and economic tragedy. While only 0.1% of total ocean area, coral reefs host around 25% of marine life. They also help drive economic activity from fishing, tourism and help protect communities from storm surges — providing a benefit that stretches far beyond the oceans.
Different reefs are at risk for different reasons. The World Resources Institute has been working on tracking damages to these ecosystems for the last three years, providing detailed maps and data on the health of reefs in different regions of the world.
Researchers at WRI just put together a fascinating video using Google Earth maps to illustrate how reefs in the Caribbean, Middle East, Indian Ocean, Southeast Asia, Australia and the Pacific are fairing — and what kind of impact that could have to communities in those regions.
At 14 minutes long, the video is quite long. But it’s worth a watch. If you don’t have time to see the whole thing, check out the range of maps and charts on the health of these reefs.
More at the linkBy 2030, more than 90% of coral reefs could be threatened by local activities like... more
Monsanto has closed its facility in Davis after 150 occupiers from throughout the state blocked the entrances to Monsanto’s Davis facility on 1910 5th Street.
The occupiers reported they have “shut down” the corporate giant, which produces genetically modified organisms (GMOs) and is notorious for its inordinate influence over the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) under the Obama administration. Police are now on the scene.
You can see the protest live at sacmedia.tv.
The protest is part of a “Global Days of Action to Shut Down Monsanto” in dozens of U.S. cities and several countries. Occupy groups from Sacramento, Davis, Woodland and even Los Angeles are expected to participate, as well as labor, environmental, veterans and social justice groups.
“We are calling for a ‘global class-action’ against Monsanto,” said Steven Payan, one of the Davis protest organizers. “We are joining the world in solidarity to demand a ban on all GMO foods and hold Monsanto accountable for its actions throughout history from Agent Orange to Deforestation to current and past deaths to preying on small farmers through a broken court system and also through International Free Trade Agreements.”
Payan said Monsanto has been linked to massive pollution, including the poisoning of drinking water, genetically modified crops and seeds, chopping down rain forests and other types of social justice and environmental destruction.
Several countries, including Brazil, India, Haiti, Peru, France and others in Europe, have enacted recent bans or restrictions on Monsanto and its GMO foods. People worldwide are demanding restitution for hundreds of thousands of deaths, birth defects, suicides and ailments linked to Monsanto. 300,000 organic farmers recently sued Monsanto, according to Payan.
Among the endorsers of the Monsanto protest are The Anti-Monsanto Project, Occupy Woodland & Occupy UC Davis (Occupy Yolo County), Occupy Sacramento, Occupy Yuba-Sutter, Occupy Redding, Occupy Chico, Peace & Freedom Party, PSL Sacramento, Native People Association, Sierra Club, Rebuild the Dream, Labor Council for Latin American Advancement AFLCIO, MEChA de Woodland Community College, SEIU-Justice for Janitors, Revolutionary Hip-Hop Report, SoL Communications, Battle Creek Alliance, Sierraforest.org, Geo-Engineering Watch, Northbay Uprising, West Sacramento LULAC, SmallWorldRadio.net, United Native Americans and more.
Also today, Occupy Monsanto’s agents of change with the Genetic Crimes Unit (GCU), a group designed to protect America from genetically modified foods, will wear bio-hazmat suits when they visit Congress. The group will gather at Capitol South Metro station in Washington D.C. at noon to highlight how chemical company Monsanto is contaminating our political process.
The GCU opposes Monsanto’s bid to increase spraying of food with toxic weed killers like 2,4 D (the main ingredient in Agent Orange), genetic contamination of the organic food supply, and other risks associated with genetically modified food (GMOs).
The GCU will arrive at the metro station wearing bio-hazmat suits to assess whether Members of Congress and their staff have been victims of genetic crimes. The GCU will hold a banner that reads, “Congress is Genetically Modified,” as they circulate on Capitol Hill sidewalks.
This day of action is part of a larger international call to ‘Occupy Monsanto’ taking place all over the globe including Spain, Africa, New Zealand, Australia, Canada, and at least 28 cities throughout the US.
More at the link
http://www.occupymonsanto360.org/wp-content/uploads/2012/03/monsanto-touch-of-genius.jpgMonsanto has closed its facility in Davis after 150 occupiers from throughout the... more
* Fossils seen supplying 85 pct of energy demand in 2050
* Financial, human and biodiversity costs all huge
* CO2 cut, global CO2 mkt delays make 2 degree limit harder
By Nina Chestney
LONDON, March 15 (Reuters) - Global greenhouse gas emissions could rise 50 percent by 2050 without more ambitious climate policies, as fossil fuels continue to dominate the energy mix, the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) said on Thursday.
"Unless the global energy mix changes, fossil fuels will supply about 85 percent of energy demand in 2050, implying a 50 percent increase in greenhouse gas emissions and worsening urban air pollution," the OECD said in its environment outlook to 2050.
The global economy in 2050 will be four times larger than today and the world will use around 80 percent more energy.
But the global energy mix is not predicted to be very different from that of today, the report said.
Fossil fuels such as oil, coal and gas will make up 85 percent of energy sources. Renewables, including biofuels, are forecast to make up 10 percent and nuclear the rest.
Due to such dependence on fossils, carbon dioxide emissions from energy use are expected to grow by 70 percent, the OECD said, which will help drive up the global average temperature by 3 to 6 degrees Celsius by 2100 - exceeding the internationally agreed warming limit of within 2 degrees.
Global carbon dioxide emissions from energy reached an all-time high of 30.6 gigatonnes in 2010, despite the economic downturn which reduced industrial production.
COST OF INACTION
The financial cost of taking no further climate action could result in up to a 14 percent loss in world per capita consumption by 2050, according to some estimates.
Human costs would also be high as premature deaths from pollution exposure could double to 3.6 million a year, the OECD said.
Demand for water could rise by 55 percent, increasing competition for supplies and resulting in 40 percent of the global population living in water-stressed areas, while plant and animal species could decline by a further 10 percent.
To prevent the worst effects of global warming, international climate action should start in 2013, a global carbon market be set up, the energy sector transformed to low carbon and all low-cost advanced technologies should be explored such as biomass energy and carbon capture.
However, a new international climate deal might not come into force until 2020 and carbon markets not linked until then, making it harder to achieve the 2 degree limit and requiring very rapid rates of emissions cuts after 2020 to catch up.
Current international emissions cut pledges fall short of what is required to limit temperature rises to safe levels so decisive action at the national level is needed, the OECD said.
More at the link* Fossils seen supplying 85 pct of energy demand in 2050 * Financial, human and... more
check out the orgs that have signed on... big list
In Only 6 Months, Already 850,000+ Public Comments To FDA In Support Of Labeling
This morning a bicameral letter signed by 55 Members of Congress was sent to U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) Commissioner Margaret Hamburg calling on the agency to require the labeling of genetically engineered (GE) foods. The bicameral, bipartisan letter led by Senator Barbara Boxer (D-CA) and Congressman Peter DeFazio (D-OR) was written in support of a legal petition filed by the Center for Food Safety (CFS) on behalf of the Just Label It campaign and its nearly 400 partner organizations and businesses; many health, consumer, environmental, and farming organizations, as well as food companies, are also signatories. Since CFS filed the labeling petition in October 2011, the public has submitted over 850,000 comments in support of labeling.
“Consumers are being misled about the foods they are purchasing,” said Andrew Kimbrell, Executive Director for the Center for Food Safety. “FDA’s two-decade old decision is bad policy based on outdated science and must be revoked. The American consumer deserves the same fundamental freedoms and choices of other nations’ citizens.”
In the U.S. there is overwhelming public demand—consistently near 95%—for the labeling of GE foods. The U.S. policy of not requiring GE labeling makes it a stark outlier among developed and developing nations. Nearly 50 countries have mandatory labeling policies for GE foods including South Korea, Japan, the United Kingdom, Brazil, China, Australia, New Zealand, the entire European Union, and many others.
In its 1992 policy statement, FDA allowed GE foods to be marketed without labeling on the basis that they were not “materially” different from other foods. However, the agency severely limited what it considered “material” by targeting only changes in food that could be recognized by taste, smell, or other senses – applying 19th century science to the regulation of 21st century food technologies. The outdated standard has no legal basis in the statute and was adopted by FDA despite a lack of scientific studies or data to support the assumption that GE foods are not materially different from conventional foods.
The Congressional letter to FDA states:
At issue is the fundamental right consumers have to make informed choices about the food they eat…The agency currently requires over 3,000 other ingredients, additives, and processes to be labeled; providing basic information doesn’t confuse the public, it empowers them to make choices. Absent labeling, Americans are unable to choose for themselves whether to purchase GE foods…. We urge you to fully review the facts, law, and science, and side with the American public by requiring the labeling of genetically engineered foods as is done in nearly 50 countries throughout the world.
More at the linkIn Only 6 Months, Already 850,000+ Public Comments To FDA In Support Of Labeling... more
An an overcast day, Joseph Lelinho paid a visit to his beehives in Montclair, checking on the honeybees since their last feeding a few weeks ago. For beekeepers, this winter’s unseasonably warm temperatures — a blessing for most of us — have actually been a killer.
"Sadly enough, this is one of those hives," Lelinho said, slowly pulling out frame after frame from a wooden hive box where his bees have died from starvation.
Beekeepers are used to the typical threats: colony collapse, varroa mites and cold snaps in the spring, to name a few. The warm winter, however, may pose the biggest threat to New Jersey’s honeybees this year.
Usually semi-dormant in winter, the bees instead have been buzzing around, burning up calories and eating their way through the honey reserves in their hives that are supposed to last until spring.
"Cold is not what kills bees," said state apiarist Tim Schuler, aka New Jersey’s top bee guy, at the Department of Agriculture. "Running out of food is what kills bees."
Colony starvation has hit both full-timers like Lelinho, a 63-year-old North Caldwell resident who runs Hilltop Honey and has 50 hives scattered around Essex and Hudson counties, and small-time beekeepers like Tammy Toad Ryan, a 36-year-old from Millburn.
Ryan lost one hive, and when you only have four, that’s a big hit.
Jennifer Brown/The Star-LedgerJoseph Lelinho, 63, of North Caldwell, lost 30 percent of his bees this winter. He keeps roughly 50 hives in several towns in Essex and Hudson Counties and is the owner of Hilltop Honey.
"It’s sad, I mean I knew they were dead before I went in there," she said.
Lelinho’s losses were more dramatic. He anticipates losing 50 percent of his bees to starvation.
"It’s a real bad year. I ordered extra bees because I could tell that it was going to be hard this year," said Lelinho, who currently has 40 percent Italian and 60 percent Carniolan honeybees. His bees ate through roughly 70 pounds of honey, the average amount stored in a typical hive at the beginning of winter.
On average, beekeepers can lose between 10 percent and 30 percent of their colonies each year, and the causes vary.
Earlier this winter, the New Jersey Beekeepers Association sent out a feeding advisory to warn members.
More at the linkAn an overcast day, Joseph Lelinho paid a visit to his beehives in Montclair, checking... more