tagged w/ Biodiversity
Humans are frequently blamed for deforestation and the destruction of environments, yet there are also examples of peoples and cultures around the world that have learned to manage and conserve the precious resources around them. The Yanesha of the upper Peruvian Amazon and the Tibetans of the Himalayas are two groups of indigenous peoples carrying on traditional ways of life, even in the face of rapid environmental changes.
Over the last 40 years, Dr. Jan Salick, senior curator and ethnobotanist with the William L. Brown Center of the Missouri Botanical Garden has worked with these two cultures.
She explains how their traditional knowledge and practices hold the key to conserving, managing and even creating new biodiversity in a paper released in the new text, "Biodiversity in Agriculture: Domestication, Evolution, and Sustainability," published by Cambridge University Press.
The Yanesha and Tibetans are dramatically different peoples living in radically dissimilar environments, but both cultures utilize and highly value plant biodiversity for their food, shelters, clothing and medicines.
"Both cultures use traditional knowledge to create, manage and conserve this biodiversity, and both are learning to adapt to and mitigate the effects of climate change," said Salick.
"They have much to teach and to offer the world if we can successfully learn to integrate science and traditional knowledge."
The Yanesha live a few hundred meters above sea level at the headwaters of the Amazon basin in central Peru. The people possess traditional knowledge about one of the most diverse tropical rainforests in the world. Salick studied the cocona (Solanum sessiliflorum), a fruit native to the upper Amazon, nutritionally important especially for women and children.
She found the Yanesha have increased the genetic diversity of the species over time through preferential selection of oddly sized and shaped fruits.
"In the case of cocona, fruits produced by seed look like fruits of the mother plant, regardless of the pollen donor-this is known as maternal inheritance," said Salick. "The Yanesha appreciate this inheritance, which gives them security in knowing exactly what they will harvest when they plant seeds.
Amazonian peoples are selecting not only physical plant characteristics that they like (fruit), but also plant breeding systems to perpetuate them. We can admire and emulate how these people domesticate plants, create biodiversity and manage it to sustain their future."
The Yanesha also rely on species richness and diversity in indigenous agriculture and forestry management. They plant a diversity of more than 75 species of crops in home gardens and more than 125 species in swidden fields (an ecological and sustainable system of traditional agriculture) to protect against potential crop destruction from pests, disease or weather.
Their agrobiodiversity includes species rarely grown outside of indigenous agriculture. Studies have concluded that the species diversity in indigenous agriculture is unparalleled in modern agriculture and forestry, which often reduces natural diversity rather than enhancing it. As the fragility of our modern monocultures becomes increasingly apparent, agriculture and forestry can learn from and apply traditional knowledge about agrobiodiversity such as intercropping, crop rotations and agroforestry.
INDIGENOUS PEOPLES AT FOREFRONT OF CLIMATE CHANGE OFFER
LESSONS ON CONSERVING AND MANAGING PLANT BIODIVERSITY
Paper Highlights 40 Years of Research on Plant Use by
Indigenous Peoples In Peruvian Amazon and Tibet
More at the linkHumans are frequently blamed for deforestation and the destruction of environments,... more
“It would be immoral to leave these young people with a climate system spiraling out of control.”
by Dan Miller
NASA climate scientist James Hansen gave a talk at the TED conference in Long Beach, CA on February 29th where he laid out the case for taking urgent action to reduce greenhouse emissions.
Dr. Hansen’s talk began by describing his personal journey, originally studying Venus under Prof. James Van Allen and then working at NASA on an instrument to study Venus’ atmosphere. But after being asked to do some calculations of Earth’s greenhouse effect, Dr. Hansen resigned from the Venus mission to work full time studying Earth’s atmosphere “because a planet changing before our eyes is more interesting and important – its changes will affect all humanity.”
Dr. Hansen and some colleagues published a 1981 paper in Science Magazine that concluded that “observed warming of 0.4C in the prior century was consistent with the greenhouse effect of increasing CO2, — that Earth would likely warm in the 1980s, — and warming would exceed the noise level of random weather by the end of the century. We also said that the 21st century would see shifting climate zones, creation of drought prone regions in North America and Asia, erosion of ice sheets, rising sea levels, and opening of the fabled Northwest passage. All of these impacts have since either happened or are now well underway.”
Dr. Hansen went on to explain that, after speaking out for the need for an energy policy that would address climate change, the White House contacted NASA and Dr. Hansen was ordered to not speak to the media without permission. After informing the New York Times about the situation, the censorship was lifted and Dr. Hansen continued to speak out, justifying his actions with the first line of NASA’s Mission Statement’: “To understand and protect the home planet”. But there were consequences… the reference to the home planet was soon struck from NASA’s Mission Statement, never to return.
Dr. Hansen then went on to describe some of the recent science, including a detailed look at the Earth’s energy imbalance that was made possible by data from 3000 “Argo” floats that measure ocean temperature at different depths. Dr. Hansen said that the current imbalance of 0.6 watts/square meter (which does not include the energy already used to cause the current warming of 0.8°C) was equivalent to exploding 400,000 Hiroshima atomic bombs every day, 365 days per year.
Favorite denier myths such as “it’s the Sun” and “CO2 lags temperature” were addressed by Dr. Hansen and shown to be wrong or irrelevant. He also discussed how amplifying feedbacks in the past took small changes in temperature due to slight changes in the Earth’s orbit and either initiated or ended ice ages. He then said these same amplifying feedbacks will occur today if we do not stop the warming. ”The physics does not change.”
Besides the impacts that are already occurring, Dr. Hansen said that if we do not stop the warming, we should expect sea levels to rise this century by 1 to 5 meters (3 to 18 feet), extinction of 20 to 50% of species, and massive droughts later this century. He said that the recent Texas heat wave, Moscow’s heat wave the year before, and the 2003 heat wave in Europe we “exceptional” events that now occur 25 to 50 times more often than just 50 years ago. Therefore, he concluded, we can say with high confidence that these heat waves were “caused” by global warming.
More at the link“It would be immoral to leave these young people with a climate system spiraling... more
This is an incredible presentation by photogtapher Garth Lenz showing shocking photographs of the devastation of tarsands along with the beautiful ecosystems threatened by them. Even he could not hold back his emotion when relaying the effects on indigenous communities and the responsibilty we all have in stopping this atrocity of nature before it is too late.This is an incredible presentation by photogtapher Garth Lenz showing shocking... more
Destroying our reputation as Ireland – the food island
If the EPA allows Teagasc to go ahead with this experiment, these taxpayer funded government agencies will immediately terminate Ireland's reputation for safe food and our status as a GMO-free crop zone, which provides great untapped potential for Irish farmers, food producers and tourism operators to secure an econonomically valuable and completely unique selling point: the most credible GMO-free food brand in Europe. For more on this subject see:
• GM-free Irish label good for business: Added value, increased market share, better branding and unique selling point: the most credible GM-free food brand in Europe. GM-free Ireland Network press release, 17 November 2009.
• GM-free production: a unique selling point for Ireland - the food island. 47-page briefing with GM-free market survey, 17 Nov. 2009 (1.2MB pdf).
• Video: GM-free food production: a unique selling point for Ireland - the food island 17 November 2009 press conference on the business case for Ireland's GM-free label, with Richard Corrigan (Michelin star chef and TV host), Darina Allen (Slow Food Ireland, Good Food Ireland, Free Choice Consumer Group, Artisan Food Forum, and the Farmers Market movement), Malcolm Thompson (Irish Cattle and Sheepfarmers Association), Evan Doyle (the Taste Council, Organic Trust and Euro-Toques Ireland), Dr. John Fagan (Cert ID), and Michael O'Callaghan (GM-free Ireland).
• Designating Ireland as a GMO-free Biosafety Reserve for Europe: presentation to Food & Democracy - the 5th European Conference on GMO-free Regions in April 2009.
Please sign our petition to stop GMO potato trials in Ireland
You can make a difference
Back in 2006, when the world's largest chemicals company, BASF applied for consent to release GMO potatoes in County Meath, the GM-free Ireland Network organised protests and submissions which led BASF to abandon its plans.
Under EU law (sub-article 16(1) of S.I. No. 500 of 2003), concerned stakeholders can make submissions requesting the EPA to require conditions and/or refuse consent for this experiment. Submissions must be accompanied by a cheque or money order for €10 (ten euro) made out to the EPA, and sent to this address before the deadline of 5pm on 27 March (see note from EPA).
The location of the proposed open air experiment is the Teagasc facility at Oak Park (see maps), just North of Carlow town. The site is inappropriate because:
• It is surrounded by conventional and organic farms which do not want to be contaminated by GM crops, which would then be difficult if not impossible to sell as they would have to carry a GM food label.
• It lies on the bank of the Barrow river (Ireland's second longest at 193 km) – a favoured tourist destination for fishing (brown trout, salmon, bream, tench, rudd and pike) which could be contaminated by DNA from the GM potatoes and/or from the associated toxic herbicide which Teagasc plans to use as part of the field trials.
• Teagasc's notification to the EPA admits it intends to spray the test site with Monsanto's highly toxic herbicide Roundup to remove unwanted leftover GM potatoes. Roundup (and its main active ingredient glyphosate) cause total human cell death within 24 hours at very low levels, and are scientifically linked to birth defects, spontaneous abortions, placental damage, embryo damage, endocrine disruption, cancer, non-hodgkin's lymphoma, multiple myeloma, and other diseases. Roundup is also lethal to amphibians and causes DNA damage in cells. For more info, see page 2 of the summary of the Health Effects of Glyphosate scientific report published by the GLS Bank in Germany.
• The inevitable runoff of Monsanto's Roundup herbicide from Oak Park to the adjacent river Barrow (a few meters away) would contaminate and jeopardise the health of the inhabitants of Carlow town, along with the Barrow's entire watercourse and its tributaries, its fish, and anyone who consumes them as for as the Irish Sea.
• The site is only a few hundred meters from the border of County Kildare, a GMO-free zone whose County Council unanimously declared its jurisdiction off-limits to GM crops in a 2006 Motion stating "that this County Council takes all possible measures necessary to promote and maintain Kildare as a genetically modified crop-free zone, in order to protect the interests of farmers and to encourage development of our valuable agricultural industry". (See 2006 press release).
The experiment also risks contaminating potatoes in County Meath and County Westmeath, both of which have also declared themselves as GMO-free crop zones.
• Oak Park is only 30 km from the Wicklow Mountains National Park, and is close to numerous designated ecological sites including Nature Reserves, SACs (Special Areas of Conservation for wildlife habitats under EC law), SPAs (Special Protected Areas for birds under EC law), Natural Heritage Areas, Refuges for Flora, Refuges for Fauna, and Natura 2000 sites (Atlantic Bioregeographical region Sites of Community Importance listed in 2004/813/EC) which must not be contaminated by GMOs of any kind.
• Ireland's prevailing Atlantic winds blow from the West and North-West, and frequently reach gale force. If these winds were to carry GMO potato pollen from the field trials the relatively short distance across the Irish sea, they could easily contaminate many of the 40 English counties which have declared themselves as GMO-free crop zones, along with Scotland and Wales which strongly oppose the introduction of GMO crops. Further afield, the experiment could contaminate farmers in France, Luxembourg, Holland and Germany, causing expensive product recalls and contamination lawsuits. Unless Teagasc has secured liability insurance, Irish taxpayers would have to foot the bill for any contamination in Ireland and overseas.
More at the linkDestroying our reputation as Ireland – the food island
If the EPA allows... more
NOTE: A highly informative appeal for support from the STOP GE Trees Campaign - a great organisation. For more on their work and how to get involved: http://globaljusticeecology.org/stopgetrees.php?tabs=0
Our plans for the STOP GE Trees Campaign in 2012 and our accomplishments from 2011
The years 2012 and 2013 could be the most important yet for our campaign to ban the release of genetically engineered trees (GE trees) into the environment.
* Countering Phony Sustainability Criteria: The timber industry is moving forward with plans to develop phony so-called "sustainability criteria" for GE trees. This is crucial if they want to get GE trees certified by bodies like the Forest Stewardship Council (FSC), which would make it easier to get investors. Right now the FSC will not certify GE trees.
GE trees are not now and never will be "sustainable." They deplete soils and water, require huge inputs of toxic chemicals, replace native forests, displace biodiversity and forest dependent communities, kill beneficial insects, and worsen climate change. So in order to combat the sustainability lie, we are increasing our work to expose the social and ecological dangers of GE trees.
* GE Eucalyptus Trees in the US South: In January 2011, GE tree company ArborGen applied for permission from the US Department of Agriculture (USDA) to sell billions of their GE eucalyptus trees for commercial plantations across seven states in the US South--from Texas to South Carolina.
We are mobilizing to ensure this never happens.
* GE Poplars in the Pacific Northwest: GE poplar trees are emerging as a major threat in California and the Pacific Northwest. Scientists at the University of Oregon and the University of Washington have received large federal grants to develop genetically engineered poplar trees for bioenergy plantations.
GE poplar trees are extremely dangerous because native wild poplars grow in forests in California and the Pacific Northwest. These native poplars could easily be contaminated with pollen from the GE poplars. This irreversible contamination would be disastrous for forests, wildlife, soils, insects and songbirds. And once GE tree contamination begins, there is no way to stop it from continuing to spread.
We will be escalating our work in the Pacific Northwest in 2012 to stop GE poplars. Let us know if you can help!
The good news--we can still stop the disaster of GE trees before it is too late. Since 1999 we havesuccessfully prevented commercialization of GE trees because of the support of people like you. You enable us to stand up against the largest timber corporations on the planet. Thank you.
Because of our success, the promoters of GE trees name GJEP as the main obstacle to their forward progress.
After we filed a lawsuit against the USDA in July 2010 over their approval of a large field trial of GE eucalyptus trees, Biomass Magazine stated that our lawsuit was scaring away investors from supporting GE tree research because no one wants to invest in a technology that is going to be tied up for years in legal battles. As a result, GE tree company ArborGen decided not to go public with their stock only days before they were scheduled to do so.
The victories of the STOP GE Trees Campaign over the years show the power of grassroots organizing, alliance building, non-violent action and our refusal to compromise.
This is the documentary, A Silent Forest, narrated by Dr. David Suzuki that lays out the threat of genetically engineered trees which are still a threat to the U.S.NOTE: A highly informative appeal for support from the STOP GE Trees Campaign - a... more
UK ACTION: Sign the pledge: "We pledge 'NO' to GM Wheat": http://www.gmfreeze.org/actions/24/ Also get a friend to sign it, tweet about it and/or put the url on your Facebook page. You could even put the tagline "GM wheat? Growing in the UK? Tell them 'No Thanks!' today" on your email messages.
Growing GM Wheat in the UK – New campaign says "No Thanks!"
GM Freeze, 1 March 2012
GM Freeze is today launching a new campaign – called "GM Wheat? No Thanks!" – to protest the Government’s approval of an open-air field trial of GM wheat at Rothamsted Research in Hertfordshire.  The campaign calls on individuals, farmers and food businesses to pledge not to use or buy GM wheat, and demands that research money to be directed to more sustainable food production methods. 
The consent for the trial, granted by Defra in September 2011, is valid as of today, meaning the crop could be planted any day. 
The campaign is already supported by organisations from around the world, including the Real Bread Campaign, African Centre for Biosafety, Canadian Biotechnology Action Network, Scientists for Global Responsibility, Pesticide Action Network and War on Want. 
The GM wheat emits an alarm chemical that aphids give out when they are under attack. Rothamsted Research hopes the chemical will drive aphids off the crop and draw aphid predators to the area.
However even before the crop is planted research shows aphids may get used to the alarm and ignore it, making the release of GM into the environment both risky and pointless.
Encouraging natural aphid parasites and predators - like ladybirds - already works without the risks of GM to the UK’s farming, food chains and exports.
Commenting on the trial GM Freeze Campaign Director Pete Riley said:
"Defra approved this GM trial against public and scientific objections. It is risky, unnecessary and unwanted.
"The UK has successfully avoided the serious agronomic problems caused by GM in other parts of the world, like the rampant spread of super weeds in the US. We should be learning from that experience and protecting our food and farming, not chasing GM pipe dreams.
"Our campaign offers the public a way to get informed and register objections to the Government’s insistence on pursuing GM crops. The easiest thing they can do is take a few seconds to sign our Pledge not to buy or use GM wheat for their homes or businesses.
"We want the trial stopped immediately and all public funding currently aimed at GM redirected to research into genuinely sustainable agriculture, including agroecology and non-GM high-tech plant breeding.
"One of the biggest mysteries of this GM wheat is who is expected to buy it. There is no market anywhere in the world for GM wheat, so why are we putting our countryside at risk?"
Chris Young from the Real Bread Campaign added:
"The Real Bread Campaign works to find ways to make the whole chain from seed to sandwich better for us, better for our communities and better for the planet. Has GM technology ever done anything that supports any of these aims? If it has, could the same or better results have been achieved by non-GM means? We need to be working with nature, not against it."UK ACTION: Sign the pledge: "We pledge 'NO' to GM Wheat":... more
Tuesday, February 28, 2012
Judge Rules In Monsanto Seed Case
"By Jim Gerritsen
EcoFarm, February 27, 2012
On February 24, Judge Naomi Buchwald handed down her ruling on a motion to dismiss in the case of Organic Seed Growers and Trade Assn et al v. Monsanto after hearing oral argument on January 31st in Federal District Court in Manhattan. Her ruling to dismiss the case brought against Monsanto on behalf of organic farmers, seed growers and agricultural organizations representing farmers and citizens was met with great disappointment by the plaintiffs.
Plaintiff lead attorney Daniel Ravicher said, "While I have great respect for Judge Buchwald, her decision to deny farmers the right to seek legal protection from one of the world's foremost patent bullies is gravely disappointing. Her belief that farmers are acting unreasonable when they stop growing certain crops to avoid being sued by Monsanto for patent infringement should their crops become contaminated maligns the intelligence and integrity of those farmers. Her failure to address the purpose of the Declaratory Judgment Act and her characterization of binding Supreme Court precedent that supports the farmers' standing as 'wholly inapposite' constitute legal error. In sum, her opinion is flawed on both the facts and the law. Thankfully, the plaintiffs have the right to appeal to the Court of Appeals, which will review the matter without deference to her findings."
Monsanto's history of aggressive investigations and lawsuits brought against farmers in America have been a source of concern for organic and non-GMO farmers since Monsanto's first lawsuit brought against a farmer in the mid-90's. Since then, 144 farmers have had lawsuits brought against them by Monsanto for alleged violations of their patented seed technology. Monsanto has brought charges against more than 700 additional farmers who have settled out-of-court rather than face Monsanto's belligerent litigious actions. Many of these farmers claim to not have had the intention to grow or save seeds that contain Monsanto's patented genes. Seed drift and pollen drift from genetically engineered crops often contaminate neighboring fields. If Monsanto's seed technology is found on a farmer's land without contract they can be found liable for patent infringement.
"Family farmers need the protection of the court," said Maine organic seed farmer Jim Gerritsen, President of lead plaintiff OSGATA. "We reject as naive and indefensible the judge's assertion that Monsanto's vague public relations 'commitment' should be 'a source of comfort' to plaintiffs. The truth is we are under threat and we do not believe Monsanto. The truth is that American farmers and the American people do not believe Monsanto. Family farmers deserve our day in court and this flawed ruling will not deter us from continuing to seek justice."
end of excerpt
I also wanted to mention that the fact that this judge and Monsanto think that transgenic contamination is not a problem because you can move your crops far enough away to keep transgenic pollution from infecting your crops is also an admittance of the substantial equivalence myth and actually was a confession that it does occur. I suppose they are truly living in denial because wind is not the only thing that carries this pollen. It is carried by animals, bees, birds and water.
It enters the entire ecosystem along with the Glyphosate (RoundUp) sprayed on these GM crops which has also been shown to be pervasive in our rivers and streams. Studies have also shown that this pollution can also be carried into the wild and also affects soil bacteria, nematods, worms and other soil organisms thus affecting soil health which in turn affects yield.
This is pervasive throughout globally so I can only presume about this decision which didn't even take a month to deliberate on is that there may have been more involved in it than the judge's own judgement, which in my opinion was deeply flawed.
Let this ruling then be a clarion call to all American farmers: boycott these seeds. They will only bring you misery. This fight is not over.
More at the linkTuesday, February 28, 2012
Judge Rules In Monsanto Seed Case
The White House is withholding documents requested under the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) by an environmental group that suspects the Obama administration of working with Monsanto-linked lobbyists to defend the planting of genetically engineered (GE) crops in wildlife refuges across the country.
The information currently being withheld includes a portion of a January 2011 email that a top White House policy analyst received from a lobbyist with the Biotechnology Industry Organization (BIO), which represents GE seed companies such as Monsanto and Syngenta.
According to legal filings, the White House withheld the portion of the email because it accidentally contained information on BIO's lobbying strategy that, if released, would cause competitive harm to the group and the companies it represents.
"We suspect the reason an industry lobbyist so cavalierly shared strategy is that the White House is part of that strategy," stated Public Employees for Environmental Responsibility (PEER) staff counsel Kathryn Douglass, who is arguing the email should be a public record. "The White House's legal posture is as credible as claiming Coca Cola's secret formula was 'inadvertently' left in a duffel bag at the bus station."
Last July, PEER released a number of internal emails revealing that Peter Schmeissner, a senior science policy analyst and member of the White House's biotechnology working group, had corresponded with the BIO lobbyist about a legal challenge filed by PEER and its allies.
The PEER lawsuit had successfully halted GE crop plantings in wildlife refuges in northeastern states, and the group continues to challenge planned plantings in other regions across the country.
In the emails obtained by PEER, longtime biotech lobbyist Adrianne Massey asks Schmeissner if the "interagency working group" is addressing the PEER's legal challenges. Massey also forwarded environmental assessments of proposed GE crop plots at wildlife refuges in other regions of the country. These assessments could protect future GE crop plots in refuges from legal challenges.
The emails prompted PEER to request further information under FOIA on the interagency group, known as the White House Agricultural Biotechnology Working Group. According to PEER, the quiet and informal group includes top-level officials from almost every agency under the Obama administration involved in agriculture and trade, including the State Department, the Department of Agriculture (USDA) and the Environmental Protection Agency.
PEER is currently suing the White House for information withheld from the FOIA request, including the Massey email and the working group's schedule, agenda items and work related to GE crops.
An affidavit filed by a BIO attorney claims the portion of the Massey email withheld from PEER contains industry trade secrets that were "mistakenly" forwarded to Schmeissner and, if released, would cause competitive harm to companies BIO represents:
"BIO operates in an advocacy environment in which there are many organizations that oppose the use of biotechnology, particularly in the agricultural arena, and that seek to persuade federal, state and local agencies to restrict the technology's use. If this information were released, competitors could imitate or seek to counteract BIO's strategy and further their own contrary agendas at the expense of BIO and its members."
In its own legal filings, the White House claims it rightfully withheld information under existing disclosure law.
PEER Director Jeff Ruch told Truthout that he suspects the Massey email details a effort by BIO lobbyists to have the White House ensure that environmental assessments of GE crops on wildlife refuges are strong enough to protect the projects from further legal challenges. Challenging these legally mandated assessments is a tactic often used by environmental groups like PEER to tie up controversial projects in court.
GE Crops in Refuges
Deborah Rocque, a US Fish and Wildlife official overseeing the wildlife refuge system, told Truthout in 2011 that the agency has allowed farming on refuges for years as part of habitat restoration efforts. Rocque said planting herbicide-resistant GE crops would allow conservationists to establish ground cover while killing unwanted weeds with herbicides.
PEER, however, claims the Obama administration is supporting the GE plots in wildlife refuges as part of an effort to boost exports. Several US trade partners, especially in Europe, are skeptical about GE crops, and some countries have banned certain GE seeds and exports. PEER contends that the White House working group's involvement indicates high-level interest in showing trade partners that the US government considers GE crops to be so environmentally safe that Americans plant them in wildlife reserves.
The US has also has put heavy diplomatic pressure in recent years on countries such as France and Spain to accept exports and GE crop technology, as revealed by WikiLeaks and several Truthout reports.
PEER filed its first legal challenge after being contacted by Fish and Wildlife biologists who opposed growing GE crops in wildlife refuges. PEER later obtained an internal email among Fish and Wildlife officials that the group believes is evidence that USDA Secretary Tom Vilsack has put pressure on Fish and Wildlife to support GE agriculture.
More at the linkThe White House is withholding documents requested under the Freedom of Information... more
Willie Nelson, Anna Lappe, Vandana Shiva, Michael Pollan, Raj Patel, Marion Nestle and Many Others Join 60+ Occupy Groups and 30+ Environmental and Food Groups for Global Day of Action
Monsanto and Cargill rise to top of food movement’s ire
SAN FRANCISCO (Thursday, February 23): On February 27, an unprecedented alliance of more than 60 Occupy groups and 30 environmental, food and corporate accountability organizations have joined together for Occupy our Food Supply, a global day of action resisting the corporate control of food systems.
The call to Occupy our Food Supply, facilitated by Rainforest Action Network, is being echoed by prominent thought leaders, authors, farmers and activists including the Indian environmentalist Vandana Shiva, Food Inc.’s Robert Kenner, music legend Willie Nelson, actor Woody Harrelson, and authors Michael Pollan, Raj Patel, Anna Lappe, Gary Paul Nabhan, and Marion Nestle, among others. (See quotes in release below). The central theme uniting this diverse coalition is a shared sense of urgency to resist the corporate consolidation of food systems and create socially and environmentally just local solutions.
"Nothing is more important than the food we eat and the family farmers who grow it," said Willie Nelson, Founder and President of Farm Aid. "Corporate control of our food system has led to the loss of millions of family farmers, destruction of our soil, pollution of our water and health epidemics of obesity and diabetes. We simply cannot afford it. Our food system belongs in the hands of many family farmers, not under the control of a handful of corporations."
From Brazil, Hungary, Ireland, and Argentina to dozens of states in the US, thousands of people will be participating in the February 27 global day of action. Participants will be reclaiming unused bank-owned lots to create community gardens; hosting seed exchanges in front of stock exchanges; labeling products on grocery store shelves that have genetically engineered ingredients; building community alliances to support locally owned grocery stores and resist Walmart megastores; and protesting food giants Monsanto and Cargill.
“Occupy our Food Supply is a day to reclaim our most basic life support system – our food – from corporate control. It is an unprecedented day of solidarity to create local, just solutions that steer our society away from the stranglehold of industrial food giants like Cargill and Monsanto,” said Ashley Schaeffer, Rainforest Agribusiness campaigner with Rainforest Action Network (RAN), of the day of action,
Never have so few corporations been responsible for more of our food chain. Of the 40,000 food items in a typical US grocery store, more than half are now brought to us by just 10 corporations. Today, three companies process more than 70 percent of all U.S. beef, Tyson, Cargill and JBS. More than ninety percent of soybean seeds and 80 percent of corn seeds used in the United States are sold by just one company: Monsanto. Four companies are responsible for up to 90 percent of the global trade in grain. And one in four food dollars is spent at Walmart.
The overwhelming support for Occupy our Food Supply underscores the unity between farmers, parents, health care professionals, human rights activists, food justice advocates and food lovers around the world who are increasingly viewing their concerns as different manifestations of the same underlying problem: a food system structured for short term profit instead of the long term health of people and the planet.
Supporting groups include: Bay Localize, Berkeley Association for Animal Advocacy, Biosafety Alliance, California Food and Justice Coalition, Chiapas Support Committee, Family Farm Defenders, Food Democracy Now, Food First, National Family Farms Coalition, PAN (Pesticide Action Network), Pesticide Watch, Planting Justice, Organic Consumers Association, Occupy Big Food, Occupy Claremont, Occupy Cargill, Occupy DC, Occupy Delaware, Occupy Denver, Occupy Farms, Occupy for Animal Rights, Occupy Fort Lauderdale, Occupy Food, Occupy Gardens Toronto, Occupy Jacksonville, Occupy Maine, Occupy MN/Seeds of Change, Occupy Monsanto, Occupy Philly (Occupy Vacant Lots), Occupy Portland, OWS-Food Justice, OWS Puppets, OWS Sustainability, Occupy Santa Cruz, Occupy SF Environmental Justice Working Group, and Occupy the Food System- Oakland, among many others.
For the full list of supporters and more information on the events planned for Occupy our Food Supply, visit www.occupyourfoodsupply.org.
Read more: The Food Movement Speaks With one Voice: Occupy our Food Supply | Rainforest Action Network http://ran.org/food-movement-speaks-one-voice-occupy-our-food-supply#ixzz1nPEJHWmI
More at the linkWillie Nelson, Anna Lappe, Vandana Shiva, Michael Pollan, Raj Patel, Marion Nestle and... more
EXTRACT: The State Council has released the draft proposal of a grain law that establishes legislation restricting research, field trials, production, sale, import and export of genetically engineered grain seeds. The draft stipulates that no organization or person can employ GE technology in any major food product in China.
China drafts legal proposal to completely shut down GE rice
Greenpeace, 22 February 2012
We're ecstatic to announce a new legal initiative in China that's set to keep GE away from the country's staple food.
"This is actually a world-first initiative that deals with GE food legislation at state law level," said Fang Lifeng, the Food and Agriculture campaigner of Greenpeace.
The State Council has released the draft proposal of a grain law that establishes legislation restricting research, field trials, production, sale, import and export of genetically engineered grain seeds. The draft stipulates that no organization or person can employ GE technology in any major food product in China.
"There are currently too many loopholes and weak control over GE food and technology in China. This law needs to clarify what 'relevant laws and regulations' can be applied to regulate GE crops. We urge legislators to accelerate the legislation of Genetically Engineered Organisms Bio-safety Law, and also to enhance the supervision of GE food and other products. Otherwise, this law will only be lip service," Fang said.
According to a Greenpeace investigation, over the last 20 years investment on GE technology has been 30 times that on ecological agriculture. "This is a big obstacle for the development of modern sustainable agriculture in China", Fang continued, "China's money must be spent on supporting food that is safe for human consumption and the production of which has taken into account environmental impacts. And GE technology has clearly failed to do either."
"No country should go down the path of GE crop commercialization. Instead every country should reduce the financial support on GE technology and put more investment on agricultural technology that has proved to be safe and effective. This includes ecological agriculture, green technology to control pests and disease, molecular marker-assisted selection, etc."
The announcement comes after a highly successful seven year slog from Greenpeace campaigners to keep GE rice out of the country's food market.
http://www.greenpeace.org/eastasia/specials/gpm01/EXTRACT: The State Council has released the draft proposal of a grain law that... more
I have been a member of Tree Nation for going on five years now. Tree Nation is a free Internet community/organization where you can be a part of planting thousands of trees in four separate forests globally to help counter deforestation and desertfication right from your modem. Their original forest in the heart of Niger has now planted over 52,000 trees on their way to the goal of 100,000 for 2012! All total over 397,000 trees have been planted. I have several trees planted there in my name as well. There are other forests in Columbia, Nicaragua and their newest in Madagascar. This article is about a new moringa park being introduced in Niger and also about beginning to use agroforestry in their Niger plantation.
We see so much deforestation taking place in our world and so many negative effects from our behavior. This is one bright spot proving that people globally can join together in good spirit to work to make the world a better place.I hope you check it out and maybe even become part of the solution in planting trees in places where they are most needed now.
"Alongside planting trees, we are beginning to farm fruits and vegetables as we cultivate the trees planted. Our goal is twofold: to enhance the quality of the soil and the growth of the trees through agroforestry and to take advantage by selling the products farmed in the process.
So far, we have planted tomatoes, aubergines and cucumbers. While the first two have yielded good results, many cucumbers have been lost owing to the pest of caterpillars. We are, however, going to continue farming the vegetables and we hope to make the most of distribution outlets in the capital of Niamey and in local markets to sell them alongside our production of Moringa leaves.
The Moringa plantation:
We have also decided to reorganise our site to open a new Moringa park. 15 metres wide, it runs alongside the channelling strip used for channelling the irrigation from the basin, which is a round 200 metres long. It will be ideally placed to take advantage of the water well and our soon-to-be-in-place micro irrigation system, by using the border irrigation technique, which involves irrigating a whole area of land at one time. As for our old park, until the irrigation system has been expanded it will only be being farmed on a seasonal basis.
In all, over the last few months we have harvested around 200 kg of Moringa leaves. And, while we’re on the subject, we thought you might want to know that we’ve just collected our first Baobab leaves since they were planted 4-5 years ago!"I have been a member of Tree Nation for going on five years now. Tree Nation is a free... more
EXTRACTS: ...reacting to the confirmed reports of Monsanto's illegal planting of Herbicide Tolerant (HT) maize in its GM maize trial, the Coalition for a GM-Free India demanded that Monsanto be blacklisted immediately.
Monsanto has also been caught violating several biosafety norms in its GM maize cultivation plot in Bijapur in early 2011... The Bijapur episode... had been brought to the notice of the regulators and [again] no investigation has been completed so far into this complaint. Egregious violations were also found during various other field trials from 2005 onwards.
"This clearly demonstrates that the regulators are unconcerned about biosafety violations or contamination and are protecting and supporting offenders like Monsanto." - Kavitha Kuruganti
BLACKLIST MONSANTO IMMEDIATELY: MNC CAUGHT VIOLATING BIOSAFETY NORMS YET AGAIN IN GM MAIZE TRIAL
New Delhi/Bengaluru, February 6th 2012: Ahead of a regulators' meeting on February 8th 2012, and reacting to the confirmed reports of Monsanto's illegal planting of Herbicide Tolerant (HT) maize in its GM maize trial, the Coalition for a GM-Free India demanded that Monsanto be blacklisted immediately. The violation was revealed in a response of the Genetic Engineering Appraisal Committee to an RTI [Right To Information] application.
"This agri-business corporation has been caught violating the law and norms repeatedly. The Genetic Engineering Appraisal Committee (GEAC) has also been caught failing in its duties. GEAC, in spite of violations brought to its notice earlier, also has never taken up any deterrent and penal action against this MNC", said the Coalition in a press statement issued in Delhi and a Press Conference held in Bengaluru.
Monsanto's illegal planting was known to the regulators (as the information was obtained through an RTI response from GEAC), but they chose not to look into the matter pro-actively and the regulators were in effect protecting Monsanto, alleged the Coalition.
The approval for the biosafety research level II trial (BRL-II - the penultimate stage before consideration for commercial cultivation) for Monsanto's herbicide tolerant, insect resistant GM maize with stacked traits (two Bt genes and one herbicide tolerance gene) was granted during the GEAC meetings held on 15th November 2010 and 8th December 2010.
This is also the first GM product of Monsanto in India in its own name and not in the name of associate companies like Mahyco. Monsanto and the biotech industry have been claiming that the herbicide tolerant, insect resistant GM maize with stacked traits would be approved soon.
"Monsanto's GM maize trials have been going on for several seasons now in various locations around the country. It took a rare scientist in one monitoring team to point out the fact that planting of the herbicide-tolerant GM maize took place without permission from competent authorities! What is more damning is that there is no evidence of any discussion or action by the regulators on this finding. This clearly demonstrates that the regulators are unconcerned about biosafety violations or contamination and are protecting and supporting offenders like Monsanto", said Kavitha Kuruganti, Member, Coalition for a GM-Free India.
The RTI response revealed that a team led by Dr Pradyumn Kumar of the Directorate of Maize Research (DMR is supposed to be supervising all the GM maize BRL II field trials), noted the following in its visit report (5th May 2011): "Before planting NK603 event treatment in future, the permission from competent authority may be obtained". This clearly demonstrates that this field trial consisted of an unapproved, illegal GM herbicide tolerant maize while the trial is supposed to be for the hybrid of Bt genes' line (MON89034) and herbicide tolerant line (NK603) (HT/Bt maize). A point to be noted is that trial protocols were prescribed by DMR along with GEAC and it was a DMR scientist who recorded the illegal planting of the HT maize line.
"This appears to be a repetition of an earlier episode of herbicide tolerant cotton (Roundup Ready Flex – RRF cotton) planted by Monsanto's affiliate, Mahyco, without permission. The GEAC, in that instance, found the clarifications submitted by Mahyco highly unsatisfactory and warned that any non-compliance in future would attract punitive actions under EPA 1986, sought a resolution adopted by the Mahyco Board of Directors expressing regret and reaffirmation that such lapses would not be repeated, and that the data generated during the BRL II trials using the unapproved GMO shall not be considered for regulatory purpose. All of these were decisions recorded in the July 2011 meeting of the GEAC", reminded the Coalition.
What is ironic in the case of the GM maize trials of Monsanto is that further field trials have been approved after this visit of the monitoring team on 5th May 2011 recorded the illegal planting!
Monsanto has also been caught violating several biosafety norms in its GM maize cultivation plot in Bijapur in early 2011, around the same time as this Monitoring Team's finding of illegal planting inside the University in Dharwad. The Bijapur episode, documented by Greenpeace and a Kannada TV Channel had been brought to the notice of the regulators and no investigation has been completed so far into this complaint. Egregious violations were also found during various other field trials from 2005 onwards.
"In the face of such impunity from these seed corporations and irresponsible inaction by the regulators, it is ironic that when civil society groups try to prevent contamination from these untested GMOs by objecting to such trials like in the case of the Bayer GM rice trial in Patancheru or DuPont GM rice trial in Doddaballapur, they are being treated as criminals! The history of GM crop regulation in India is replete with violations and illegal plantings and repeated failure on the part of the regulators in checking these or even taking serious action post facto. Therefore citizens are forced to step in to uphold biosafety.
"The Coalition demands that the Minister for Environment & Forests fix accountability on Monsanto and its Indian associates for violating Indian law. It also demands that MoEF take action against the regulators who repeatedly fail to check the violations of the corporations, and call on state governments of Andhra Pradesh and Karnataka to drop all charges against activists involved in biosafety protection", added the Coalition.EXTRACTS: ...reacting to the confirmed reports of Monsanto's illegal planting of... more
The prime minister is talking about being "held hostage" by U.S. interests. Radio ads blare, "Stand up to this foreign bully." A Twitter account tells of a "secret plan to target Canada: exposed!"
Could this be Canada? The cheerful northern neighbor: supplier of troops to unpleasant U.S.-led foreign conflicts, reliable trade partner, ally in holding terrorism back from North America's shores, not to mention the No. 1 supplier of America's oil?
Canada's recent push for the proposed Northern Gateway pipeline to carry oil from the tar sands of Alberta to the nation's West Coast, where it would be sent to China, has been marked by uncharacteristic defiance. And it first flared in the brouhaha over the bananas.
Responding to urgings from U.S. environmentalists, Ohio-based Chiquita Brands International Inc. announced in November that it would join a growing number of companies trying to avoid fuel derived from Canada's tar sands, whose production is blamed for accelerating climate change and leveling boreal forests.
Then in January, President Obama abruptly vetoed a permit for the Keystone XL pipeline, Canada's $7-billion project to deliver oil across the U.S. Midwest to the Texas Gulf Coast , which environmentalists have long opposed.
Mix in a touch of nationalism, and Prime Minister Stephen Harper's view that Canada needs to hedge its oil bets by diversifying its export markets, and the fight was on — not only with the neighbor to the south, but also among Canadians.
"Canada is not what it used to be," said Todd Paglia, executive director ForestEthics, an environmental group that has been calling for the international boycotts on tar sands oil. "It's hard to believe, but it's tilting toward becoming more of an authoritarian petro state, positioning itself as a resource colony for China."
On the other side, a lobbying group pushing Canada as an alternative to unstable and sometimes unsavory oil producers in the Middle East ramped up a boycott of its own, this one targeting Chiquita bananas.
"Stand up to this foreign bully. Don't buy Chiquita bananas," said a radio spot by the group, which calls itself EthicalOil.org, complaining about what it called Chiquita's record of supporting terrorist groups in South America. A Twitter profile was set up for @bloodbananas to expose the allegedly hypocritical campaign against Canada.
Over the last few weeks, a two-agency review panel has convened the first in a long round of hearings on Northern Gateway, pointedly described as a pipeline that won't deliver much oil to the U.S. Instead, it will allow Canada to end its sole dependence on American buyers for its most important export by opening up markets in Asia, and allow it to attract the badly needed foreign investment to develop the sands.
"I think what's happened around the Keystone is a wake-up call, the degree to which we are dependent or possibly held hostage to decisions in the United States, and especially decisions that may be made for very bad political reasons," Harper, whose government has labeled pipeline opponents as foreign-funded "radicals," told CBC television in January.
The $5.5-billion Northern Gateway project, which would carry 525,000 barrels a day of crude 731 miles from a town near Edmonton through the Rocky Mountains to a new port on the British Columbia coast, has long been in the works as a companion to Keystone XL.
But with Keystone's recent turmoil in the U.S., Northern Gateway has risen to new prominence as a defiant Plan B for a nation increasingly aggressive in combating international hurdles, whether it's greenhouse gas treaties, low-carbon fuel standards or U.S. presidential politics.
"There has always been very strong support by the Harper government, by the province of Alberta and by the oil industry for the Northern Gateway pipeline. But there's no question that for all three of those entities, that urgency increased dramatically with the apparent defeat of Keystone XL," said George Hoberg, a political scientist and professor of forestry at the University of British Columbia.
"The Harper government's view is that, especially in the Obama years, the U.S. is becoming a less reliable partner for the oil sands."
More at the linkThe prime minister is talking about being "held hostage" by U.S. interests.... more
American veterans and the entire country of Viet Nam affected by Agent Orange have been shafted beyond imagination due to corruption within the US government and US courts. US courts have protected Monsanto and Dow Chemical from liability and criminal prosecution. The US government has shielded Monsanto and Dow from the massive cost of medical treatment for victims and environmental remediation cleanup costs that would drive these corporations into bankruptcy.
Before we delve further into the issue, it’s important to detail what exactly dioxin is. Dioxin has a half life of 100 years or more when it is below the surface, leached into soil or embedded in river or stream sediment. Dioxin was generated as a byproduct of herbicide 2,4,5-T made by Monsanto and Dow, the top 2 producers of Agent Orange. It causes cancer, birth defects, liver damage and other major health problems.
Monsanto & Dow’s 2,4,5-T dioxin laden-herbicide was used in the US for agricultural purposes in the 1940′s before it was used for chemical warfare in Viet Nam from the early 1960′s through 1971. It was phased out in the late 1970′s. Now, let’s discuss the political situation behind this carcinogen.
US Government and US Court Dioxin Cover-Ups
•President Reagans’s administration, in cahoots with the CDC, thwarted a $43 million Congressional Study of Agent Orange in 1987 to protect itself and its corporate pals Monsanto & Dow from accountability to US veterans and the people of Viet Nam.
•US Courts dismissed veterans’ Agent Orange lawsuits based on a Supreme Court precedent, known as the Feres Doctrine, freeing the government of responsibility for deaths and injuries related to military service.
•The Supreme Court refused to hear American and Vietnamese victims’ lawsuits against Monsanto, Dow and other Agent Orange manufacturers on 3 separate occasions. Remember that the Supreme Court collects their checks from the federal government.
Atrocious Criminal Acts By Monsanto & Dow
•Agent Orange makers hide behind government contractor immunity, despite the fact that dioxin contaminated herbicide 2,4,5-T was produced long before they were contractors for the government (50 million tons of the herbicide was sprayed in the US per year). No modifications were used for Monsanto & Dow’s herbicide — half the ingredients in Agent Orange — so the immunity defense falls flat.
•Boehringer, a German 2,4,5-T herbicide producer notified Dow in 1957 about dioxin hazards and that dioxin could be eliminated by slow cooking the herbicide for about 12 hours. It appears that Dow and Monsanto continued cooking 2,4,5-T quickly in 45 minutes. Higher output led to higher profits. Monsanto’s formula contained high levels of dioxin and was dirtier than Dow’s product.
•Monsanto was not only aware in 1950 that dioxin was a health danger, but they also created a fraudulent health study.
•In 1965 Dow met in secret with other Agent Orange manufacturers to discuss the toxicity hazards of dioxin and their fear over a government investigation and restrictive regulations.
US Veterans Shafted By the Kangaroo Court
Judge Jack Weinstein of the US Federal Court of the Eastern District of New York committed the following offenses in several class action suits filed by veterans against Monsanto & Dow:
•Weinstein appointed attorneys to represent the veterans and then intimidated the attorneys into agreeing to a ‘nuisance’ settlement of $180 million- nowhere near enough money to cover the medical treatment of hundreds of thousands of injured vets.
•Weinstein rejected the veterans’ expert studies, instead of allowing a jury to decide on the credibility of the expert witnesses; Weinstein created a new rule of law from the bench.
•Weinstein based his ruling on Monsanto’s expert study that was later proven to be fraudulent.
• Weinstein dismissed all other veterans’ lawsuits against Monsanto and Dow.
• Weinstein took over a case that was unlawfully transferred to his federal court as it had been filed in the state of Texas. He dismissed that case.
• Astonishingly, Weistein created a second new rule of law to protect Monsanto and Dow. Weinstein invented immunity for government contractors!
Weinstein’s excuse for the government contractor defense was that if contractors were made to pay, they would pass the cost on to the government, so they were therefore immune. Weinstein’s new law was created from the bench instead of law passed through Congress!
Weinsteins’s law has now been extended to all government supply contractors (even non-military contractors) in the courts.
Approximately 11 million gallons of Agent Orange was dumped on Viet Nam between 1962 to 1970. It is estimated that Agent Orange is responsible for 400,000 deaths, 3 million victims of disease and 500,000 children born with birth defects.
Over 14 million acres of Vietnamese forests were sprayed. Agent Orange was also dumped in water supplies.
In 2004, Vietnamese victims filed a lawsuit against Dow, Monsanto and other manufacturers of Agent Orange. Judge Weinstein (yes, the same Judge Weinstein) presided over this case and dismissed it. Weinstein used the excuse that Monsanto and Dow had government sovereign immunity that extended to them because they were government contractors. He also ruled that Agent Orange was not considered a poison during that period, under international law.
The Supreme Court refused to hear this case, too.
The stated purpose of using Agent Orange was to deny the enemy cover in forested areas through defoliation. However, the US Army did contract studies in 1943 of the effects of 2,4,5-T and 2,4-D (the other ingredient of Agent Orange) on cereal grains, including rice, and developed the concept of using aerial herbicide spraying to destroy enemy crops to disrupt the food supply. Obviously, poisoning the enemy, farmland and civilians was a chemical warfare strategy used by the US government.
Read more: http://naturalsociety.com/white-house-us-courts-and-epa-shaft-veterans-to-protect-monsanto/#ixzz1mZIi85a7
http://www.salem-news.com/stimg/february132012/agent_orange_the_last_battle.jpgAmerican veterans and the entire country of Viet Nam affected by Agent Orange have... more
Silence has a special place in music. Rests are just as important as notes whether in complex rhythms, grand pauses or syncopation. John Cage's infamous 3'44" asks for no playing whatsoever and Franz Joseph Haydn's "Farewell Symphony" ends with the performers leaving the stage one by one, slowly muting the orchestra.
Composer Steven Stucky takes an approach similar to Haydn in his newest work, but the American composer's decrescendo was inspired by a far more troubling situation. Haydn wished to convince his princely employer to let his musicians return from his summer home to their families. Mr. Stucky wanted to capture the stark prophecy of "Silent Spring," Rachel Carson's seminal treatise on the staggering effects of chemical pollution on the environment.
If you go
Manfred Honeck, conductor; Nikolaj Znaider, violin
Program: Stucky's "Silent Spring," Sibelius "Violin Concerto" and Tchaikovsky's Symphony No. 6, "Pathétique"
When: 8 p.m. Fri.-Sat.; 2:30 p.m. Sunday
Where: Heinz Hall, Downtown
Tickets: start at $20; 412-392-4900 or www.pittsburghsymphony.org
Commissioned by the Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra to honor the book's 50th anniversary, Mr. Stucky's work of the same name musically captures the passion and courage of the Pittsburgh native, as well as the endgame she warned will take place if the industry practice of dumping chemicals such as DDT into water sources continued. "Silent Spring's" world premiere will take place this week conducted by PSO music director Manfred Honeck before the PSO takes it to New York City's Avery Fisher Hall late this month.
For Mr. Stucky, the PSO's composer-of-the-year, the destruction of nature and life could only be represented by silence. He gradually snuffs out all sound as the work ends.
"The last section of the piece is an ecstatic outpouring of sound and noise that you could think of as natural," he says. "Those voices gradually become subdued and fall silent. There is just one guy left at the end. It is a kind of "Farewell" symphony but on a much more dark emotional content. It ends not optimistically."
Not that Mr. Stucky's work is a blow-by-blow musical description of the book.
"I was delighted to be asked to create this musical tribute," he describes in program notes. "But I was perplexed, too: How to make a connection between her science and my music? I re-read 'Silent Spring,' and I reveled again in the distinctive mixture of hard science and eloquent lyricism that defines her voice. But how to make music about that?"
Rather than try to depict the toxic spray of DDT or the fluttering of the invasive gypsy moth, he opted for the emotional response to the bleak future that Carson laid out in the book published in 1962.
"I wasn't going to try to explain 'Silent Spring,' " says Mr. Stucky, 62, who won the 2005 Pulitzer Prize in Music for his Second Concerto for Orchestra. "Reflecting the real world is not our job. It is making a translation between something like this and something interior. That is where music happens."
Mr. Stucky was a teenager when the controversy got heated between Carson and environmentalists and the chemical industry, but he remembers the furious debates and read the book. He may not have noticed then, but re-reading it today, he was just as inspired by Carson's writing as the message.
"I make allusions to the poetic side of Carson's writing," he says. "The reason people took this so seriously is that she was a great writer." He subtitled sections of the 21-minute composition with Rachel Carson titles: "The Sea Around Us" [actually another book by Carson], "The Lost Wood," "Rivers of Death" [chapter titles in "Silent Spring"]; and "Silent Spring."
These correspond to "watery music," an emotional chaccone (repeating bass line), a "demonic" scherzo, and a "harrowing ending" in which the musicians "one by one give up," he says.
Carson's "Silent Spring" ends with a pronouncement that the world has "two roads" in front of it, one that "ends in disaster" and the other that "offers our last, our only chance to reach a destination that assures the preservation of our Earth." Mr. Stucky reflects that in the ending to his work, although he is adamant that composers "cannot control other people's reactions to it or even explain our own" and that he is "not a zealot on any side" of the environmental debate. But with the dire developments in the environment that many have pegged to pollutants, the conclusion of his piece clearly takes a stand.
http://www.alleghenyfront.org/img/contrib/rachel-carson-silent-spring1esize.jpgSilence has a special place in music. Rests are just as important as notes whether in... more
Monsanto ready to sell GM crops and weed-killing chemicals in Vietnam; Many outraged
- Common Dreams staff
Multinational agricultural biotech corporation Monsanto, known as the creator of chemical weapon Agent Orange, is attempting to infiltrate Vietnam once again -- this time as GMO dealer.
Agent Orange, used for chemical warfare in the Vietnam War, is estimated to have killed 400,000, deformed 500,000 and sickened another 2 million.
"BA VI, VIETNAM: Handicapped orphans are fed by the medical staff at the Ba Vi orphanage. These young children represent the 3rd generation of Agent Orange victims more than 30 years after the war in Vietnam, where a battle is still being fought to help people suffering from the effects of the deadly chemical." - Global Post (Photo Paula Bronstein / AFP/Getty Images)
"Between 2.1 to 4.8 million Vietnamese were directly exposed to Agent Orange and other chemicals that have been linked to cancers, birth defects, and other chronic diseases during the war that ended in 1975, according to the Vietnam Red Cross," Thanh Nienn News writes.
30 years after the war, three generations have suffered from the effects of Agent Orange.
Now, as Monsanto seeks to reap profits in Vietnam once again, this time through agribusiness, many are speaking out against the corporation as well as the potential effects of the GM seeds and herbicides that Monsanto seeks to sell.
* * *
Thanh Nienn News in Ho Chi Minh City reports:
No biotech company has yet got the official green light for selling genetically modified organisms (GMOs), but it does not assuage the fears that Vietnam could end up with another tragic legacy from a company that once caused many deaths in the country, environmental activists say.
It would be ironic if Vietnam becomes a willing party to a “lethal” product made by the same US company that manufactured Agent Orange, the toxic defoliant used during the Vietnam War.It would be ironic if Vietnam becomes a willing party to a “lethal” product made by the same US company that manufactured Agent Orange, the toxic defoliant used during the Vietnam War, they pointed out. [...]
In 2006 the government approved a blueprint that envisaged covering between 30 percent and half of the country’s agriculture lands with the controversial gene-altered crops by 2020.
Only three companies – Monsanto, Syngenta, and Pioneer – have been licensed to carry out lab research and tests in Vietnam, the minister’s statement said.
Monsanto accounts for almost one-quarter (23 percent) of the global proprietary seed market.
[Senior Lieutenant General Nguyen Van Rinh, former deputy defense minister, chairman of the Vietnam Association of Victims of Agent Orange] is also worried about the weedkiller Roundup Monsanto plugs for use along with its crops.
“By introducing [GMOs] paired with toxic weed killers, the tragic legacy of Agent Orange might repeat itself,” he warned. [...]
The U.S. Airforce spraying 'Agent Orange' defoliant over the countryside of Vietnam. Originally termed "Operation Hades," the spraying program was renamed "Operation Ranch Hand" to improve public relations. Jeffrey Smith, author of the bestseller Seeds of Deception and founder and executive director of the California, US-based NGO Institute for Responsible Technology, said: “It is not inconsequential that a new genetically modified corn up for review is designed to be tolerant to the herbicide 2,4-D, a component of Agent Orange.
“This means that much higher amounts of toxic 2,4-D will drench the agricultural lands where this new crop is planted.
“It would be a harsh and ironic consequence if Vietnamese people suffer from birth defects from both of these Monsanto products, Roundup and Agent Orange.”
* * *
The Global Post reports:
Monsanto is, of course, highly aware of Agent Orange's reputation and has fought numerous lawsuits filed by chemical's victims both Vietnamese and American. The chemical, commissioned by the U.S. military, was dumped over jungles to kill vegetation and rout communist forces.
In Monsanto's own primer on the Agent Orange era, it casts the chemical as patriotic -- it was meant "to save the lives of U.S. and allied soldiers," Monsanto says -- and contends that the matter "should be resolved by the governments that were involved."
Keeping Monsanto out of Vietnam already appears to be an uphill fight.
A Vietnamese legislator and former deputy defense minister has, according to Thanh Nien, faced evasion when he tried to raise the issue with the [government].
More at the linkMonsanto ready to sell GM crops and weed-killing chemicals in Vietnam; Many outraged... more
Drilling in the Arctic waters of the U.S. may become as contested an issue as the Keystone Pipeline XL in up-coming months. Scientists, congress members, and ordinary Americans have all come out in large numbers against the Obama Administration's leases for exploratory drilling in the Beaufort Sea and the Chuckchi Sea.
Last month 573 scientists signed a letter against opening the Arctic up to drilling until more research can be done in the sensitive area. In addition, a letter signed by 60 Congress members has been sent to Interior Secretary Ken Salazar noting that the Deepwater Horizon disaster occurred only two years ago. Finally, nearly half a million Americans (400,000) signed a petition against drilling in the Arctic. Critics of the Obama Administration's leases say there is no coherent plan to clean-up a spill in the icy, remote Arctic ecosystem, which already embattled by climate change.
"The Arctic is the last wild ocean on the planet. Its waters and the abundant life they support are simply too sensitive to be drilled—especially since neither the oil industry nor scientists have identified a proven way to contain or clean up a spill in the Arctic’s extreme conditions," Chuck Clusen, Alaska Project Director with the Natural Resources Defense Council, said in a press release. "At the very least, there should be no plan to lease these areas until key scientific studies have been done and until the oil and gas industry can demonstrate its ability to contain and clean up a spill."
The letter from scientists asked the administration to "to follow through on its commitment to science" by following recommendations made by the United States Geological Survey (USGS) and refrain from drilling until more research can be done.
Still, drilling in the Arctic could begin as early as this summer by Royal Dutch Shell. The oil company argues that it has a meticulous oil-response plan even given the intense conditions of drilling in the Arctic, including response vessels standing by. Shell Alaska Vice President Pete Slaiby told the Associated Press that the company would be ready with a capping stack, similar to what was used to stop the Gulf oil spill in 2010 after the well leaked for three months.
Critics of Arctic drilling argue that given the extreme weather conditions, icy waters, and the remoteness of any oil well, it would currently be impossible to clean-up an oil spill adequately. Furthermore, clean-up efforts would almost certainly have to stop during the long Arctic winter. Currently the federal government is asking Shell to stop operations 38 days before the seasonal sea ice would arrive to make certain an oil spill doesn't occur at the end of the season. Shell is trying to overturn this ruling.
"If the Obama administration were making its decision based on science rather than politics, drilling in the Arctic would be a nonstarter," Rebecca Noblin, the Alaska Director with Center for Biological Diversity (CBD). "The Arctic Ocean is America’s last best wilderness. Launching massive industrial drilling operations risks America’s Arctic legacy for oil company profits."
Read more: http://news.mongabay.com/2012/0209-hance_arctic_drilling_us.html#ixzz1m0w4myDx
http://photos.mongabay.com/j/oil.drilling.shell.arctic.568.jpgDrilling in the Arctic waters of the U.S. may become as contested an issue as the... more
The people of Hawaii are standing up against years of GMO poisoning and open field testing with lack of regulation and labelling. This is not just an issue of democracy but of culture and morality.
University of Hawaii students assembled a stone platform with a wooden statue known as a "ki`i" on the grounds of the state Capitol to speak to politicians regarding the bills in legislature that are being held up by the Agriculture chairman.The people of Hawaii are standing up against years of GMO poisoning and open field... more
Agroecology is the science behind sustainable agriculture, from the ground up.
It combines scientific inquiry with place-based knowledge and experimentation, emphasizing technology and innovations that are knowledge-intensive, low cost, ecologically sound and practical. By listening to farmers, and using the most up-to-date science, agroecology provides a modern framework for thinking broadly about agriculture in terms of its four key systems properties: productivity, resilience, equity and sustainability.
At PAN, we document and publicize the contribution of the agroecological sciences to climate-friendly, sustainable development, profile the successes of local organic farmers and provide technical support on alternatives to our campaign partners.
Africa :: The push-pull system (PDF) of ecological pest management is transforming small farms in Africa. It illustrates agroecology's ingenuity, as well as the many economic, food security, health and environmental benefits of this approach.
Kenyan maize farmers have tripled their yields by intercropping maize with plants that repel pests, support natural pest predators and suppress weeds. One of the plants, desmodium, is a nitrogen-fixing legume that is also used as fodder for animals. The inclusion of these plants in the farming system reduces synthetic pesticide use and augments livestock feed, providing families with additional milk and meat for consumption or sale. Additional benefits include reduced run-off and soil erosion, enhanced soil fertility, improved food security and family nutrition, and increased household income. More than 12,000 farmers across eastern Africa have adopted the technology, with another 100,000 expected to do so over the next three years.
More stories at the linkAgroecology is the science behind sustainable agriculture, from the ground up.
A newly released hidden video is available for unrestricted use by the members of media at a new website http://occupy-monsanto.com. Occupy Monsanto is calling for protests on September 17, 2012, at Monsanto facilities across the globe to demand GMO labeling and the elimination of cancer causing toxic chemicals in our food supply.
During a face-to-face encounter caught on hidden video, Monsanto CEO Hugh Grant is challenged on how his company has an "artificial buffer" of acceptance in the consumer marketplace because "people don't know if what they are eating is GMO."
In the video GMO Labeling campaigner Adam Eidinger also speaks before the entire shareholder meeting, urging acceptance of GMO labeling. He decries the agrichemical giant's contribution to the rise of "Superweeds" and "Superpests" that develop resistance to ever more toxic chemicals sprayed on them. Despite the challenge of Monsanto to "reform," no shareholders challenged Eidinger on the facts except for Grant. Eidinger also asks Grant from the podium how much the company will spend fighting GMO labeling efforts in 2012.
When pressed by Eidinger a second time on the labeling issue Grant asserts that Monsanto complies with and supports US laws regarding labeling. He admits, "There is an increasing category of GMO-free as well, so we would support the overarching umbrella of labeling."
Eidinger responded that his question addressed efforts to change the laws to mandate labeling. "Is the Company going to oppose these labeling efforts wherever they take place?" he asks. Grant relents, "We would be absolutely open and willing to engage in a dialog with our broad industry peers," when it comes to the question of labeling GMOs.
Currently, Monsanto faces new lawsuits from organic farmers, while in California a GMO labeling ballot proposition is under review. More than 550,000 people have signed onto the JustLabelit.org citizens' petition to the Food and Drug Administration for GMO labeling and last fall for the first time about 100 people marched in a GMO Right2Know March from New York to the White House to demand President Obama keep his campaign promise to label GMO foods. (Video of the promise can be seen here. )
The Monsanto Annual Shareholders' Meeting concluded official activities of the Right2Know March for GMO labeling which was sponsored by the Non-GMO Project and many other organizations and businesses. Some coordinators of last year's march have set their focus on Monsanto. In March of 2012 a new "Occupy Monsanto" campaign will be formally launched to focus on changing Monsanto's business practices and support the principles of the Occupy movement.
More at the linkA newly released hidden video is available for unrestricted use by the members of... more