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Seeds of Freedom

Navdanya Diary - 7 hours 54 min ago

by Dr. Vandana Shiva - The Asian Age, 23 April 2014

Photograph: Raminder Pal Singh/EPA

Source: http://www.asianage.com/columnists/seeds-freedom-374

“The jurisprudence of intellectual property rights related to life forms is, in fact, a jurisprudence of ‘Bio Nullius’ — life empty of intelligence. The Earth is defined as dead matter.”

For thousands of years farmers, especially women, have evolved and bred seed freely with the help of nature to increase the diversity of what nature gave us and adopt it to the needs of different cultures. Biodiversity and cultural diversity have mutually shaped one another.

Every seed is an embodiment of millennia of nature’s evolution and centuries of farmers’ breeding. It is the distilled expression of the intelligence of the earth and intelligence of farming communities. Farmers have bred seeds for diversity, resilience, taste, nutrition, health and to adapt it for local agro-ecosystems.
In times of climate change we need the biodiversity of farmers’ varieties to adapt and evolve. Climate extremes are being experienced through more frequent and intense cyclones that bring salt water to the land. To develop resilience against cyclones, we need salt tolerant varieties of seeds, and we need them in the commons. Along coastal areas, farmers have evolved flood tolerant and salt tolerant varieties of rice such as Bhundi, Kalambank, Lunabakada, Sankarchin, Nalidhulia, Ravana, Seulapuni, Dhosarakhuda.
These seeds have been evolved by farmers and need to stay in the commons to gain resilience against climate change.

After the Orissa Supercyclone, Navdanya could distribute salt tolerant rice to farmers because we had conserved them as a commons in our community seed bank run by Kusum Mishra and Dr Ashok Panigrahi in Balasore, Orissa. Hence we were about to donate two truckloads of salt tolerant seeds to the farmers, who could not grow rice because of the sea salt deposited on their farms.
As I have written in my book Soil, Not Oil, 40 per cent of the greenhouse gases come from an industrialised and globalised model of agriculture. Having created the crisis, corporations, who made profits from industrial agriculture, now want to turn the climate crisis they have contributed to into an opportunity to control climate resilient seeds and climate data.

Corporations like Monsanto have taken 1,500 patents on climate resilient crops. With these very broad patents, Monsanto and other corporations can prevent access to climate resilient seeds after climate disasters since a patent is an exclusive right to produce, distribute and sell the patented product. This implies that the farmers’ right to save and share seed is now defined as “theft”, an “intellectual property crime”.

While nature and farmers have evolved the traits of climate resilience in seeds, corporations claim their role of creator; they declare that seeds are their “invention”, hence their patented property.
In times of climate change, such monopolies aggravate the disaster by blocking farmers’ rights to seeds they have evolved.
Hence, seed as a common good became a commodity of private seed companies, traded on the open market.

For example, on July 5, 2013, Justice Prabha Sridevi, chair of the Intellectual Property Appellate Board of India and D.P.S. Parmar, technical member, dismissed Monsanto’s appeal against the rejection of their patent application to the patent office for “Methods of enhancing stress tolerance in plants and methods thereof”. The title of the patent was later amended to “A method of producing a transgenic plant, with increasing heat tolerance, salt tolerance or drought tolerance”.

Industrial breeding and intellectual property rights including patents on seed fail to recognise nature’s contributions and farmers’ contribution in giving us climate resilient crops. Just as the jurisprudence of Terre Nullius defined the land as empty, and allowed the takeover of territories by the European colonies, the jurisprudence of intellectual property rights related to life forms is, in fact, a jurisprudence of “Bio Nullius” — life empty of intelligence. The Earth is defined as dead matter, so it cannot create. And the farmers have empty heads so they cannot breed seeds.

The door to patents on seed and patents on life was opened by genetic engineering. By adding one new gene to the cell of a plant, corporations claimed they had invented and created the seed, the plant, and all future seeds that were now their property. In other words GMO meant “God Move Over”.
Section 3(j) of the Patents Act, 1970, recognises that life forms are not an invention and hence biological processes cannot be treated as inventions.
Today, this freedom of nature and culture to evolve is under violent and direct threat. The threat to seed freedom impacts the very fabric of human life and the life of the planet.

Not only are corporations like Monsanto claiming patent monopolies on climate resilient seeds, they are also claiming monopoly on climate and weather data. Monsanto has bought the Climate Corporation, which controls vast data on climate for $1 billion.
Not only will Monsanto sell the chemicals and seeds adapted to their chemicals to farmers, they will also sell climate data. This is a strategy for total control of agriculture in times of climate change.
The National Weather Service Duties Act of 2005 was a legislative proposal forwarded in April 2005 by United States Senator Rick Santorum to bar the national weather service from issuing forecasts so that climate and weather services can be privatised. In effect, the knowledge of a cyclone or flood would only be provided to those who could pay.

The vision of the corporations and sadly the US government is to privatise every aspect of life — our seeds and biodiversity, the atmospheric commons, and the knowledge of the climate and weather as a public good.
At a time when the world needs to recognise that life forms, including seeds, are not an invention and the US should correct its laws to be more in alignment with the Rights of the Earth and with human rights, the US government is threatening India with trade retaliation to force us to change our patent laws yet again and introduce the unethical, unscientific and anti-human laws of patent monopolies on seed and medicine.

America’s National Association of Manufacturers — which represents about 50 US business groups — gave the suggestion to the US Trade Representatives’ office to designate India a “Priority Foreign Country”, a tag it gives to worst offenders of intellectual property rights.
This is not just a US-India dispute. It is a fight against corporate enclosures of the commons. If we have to survive as a species, we need to reclaim our commons — of seed, of climate, of knowledge and resist the privatisation of every aspect of life.
We need to create the commons of the seed and cultivate seed freedom through seed saving, seed exchange and participatory breeding.

                          
Categories: Ecological News

Canada expands outrageous grizzly trophy hunt

Green Blog - Wed, 04/23/2014 - 02:15
British Columbia's controversial annual spring grizzly bear hunt began on Apr. 1, with an estimated 1,800 hunting authorizations being issued - one of the highest numbers in recent years. Grizzlies, which are considered "threatened" by the U.S. Endangered Species Act, do not have the population numbers that black bears do, and activists including conservation groups, animal rights supporters, and First Nation tribe members have serious qualms about the hunting of these bears for pure sport.

This year's grizzly hunt lasts until the end of May, and is followed by an autumn hunt that takes place Oct. 1 through mid-November. On average, about 300 of these bears are killed by hunters per year, but that number might increase from an uptick in hunting authorizations. The Canadian province where the activity will take place is home to about a quarter of the remaining North American grizzly population.

Robert Johnson and Jason Moody, two brothers from the Heiltsuk First Nation, recalled commonly seeing a grizzly bear while working as field technicians in a coastal estuary, flanked by what was known as the Great Bear Rainforest. The young male bear, whom they nicknamed "Cheeky," would follow them around from a distance, often poking his head out at them and sticking out his tongue. The brothers were also there on the day that Cheeky was shot to death by a big-game trophy hunter. The bear's killer, Clayton Stoner, skinned Cheeky and took his hide. He chopped off Cheeky's head and paws.

Though the brothers arrived too late to stop the hunt, they did find Cheeky's mangled remains, which had been left there to rot. "I was devastated," said Moody. "I had hoped to save his life." He and his brother, he said, had developed quite a bond with the bear, who had a playful curiosity and friendliness. Johnson remarked that during their time there, "We started talking with Cheeky, telling him what we were doing there. We got to know him quite well, to the point we could go in our boat and get off and walk around in the area without having to worry about him."

Stoner kept the bear as a trophy, even balancing the animal's severed head on his knee and posing for a photo. Brothers Johnson and Moody, meanwhile, returned to their research camp near the estuary and wept for the loss of their friend.
This is merely a single example of what is increasingly being viewed across Canada as a moral atrocity, and British Columbia is now seriously debating the continuation of grizzly trophy hunts. Thirteen years ago in April, a moratorium on the hunt was enacted, but quickly overturned within months.

On Feb. 15, protesters gathered at the B.C. legislature buildings in the provincial capital of Victoria, demanding a permanent province wide ban on grizzly bear trophy hunting. And they posed their argument not merely in moral terms, but in economic terms as well, noting that over 11,000 tourists came to Canada to visit the bears in 2012, and contributed $9.54 million to the GDP. Trophy hunting, on the other hand, only generated $0.7 million that year.

Chelsea Turner, daughter of British Columbian wildlife filmmakers Jeff and Sue Turner, spoke at the demonstration, remarking, "I realized that when we go out on location to film this spring, it will be the same time the spring trophy hunt begins. It's just appalling to me. It breaks my heart to think that one day we're working with these bears and shooting them with our cameras, and the next day trophy hunters can show up and shoot them with their high-powered rifles. This is completely the wrong direction that we're moving in."

Biologist Paul Paquet of the Raincoast Conservation Foundation said grizzlies could be too few in numbers to risk a trophy hunt at this time. "The real numbers could be somewhere as low as 6,000 or as high as 18,000," he said. "We just don't know." But the real question he said, is, "is this ethical, to be hunting bears? That's really what's at issue. This is a trophy hunt, as opposed to a hunt for food."

And according to First Nation members, these big game hunters are not doing anything particularly brave, difficult, or admirable. The bears in the area are accustomed to seeing people, due to tourism, and thus do not fear guns - until it's too late. Doug Neasloss of the Kitasoo/Xai'xais Nation suggested it isn't so much a hunt as it is senseless slaughter. When asked whether a grizzly is hard to catch, Neasloss replied, "No. My grandmother could shoot a grizzly."

This article was first published in People's World by Blake Deppe.
Categories: Ecological News

IPCC: Climate efforts not sufficient, huge increase in green energy required to avert climate disaster

Green Blog - Tue, 04/22/2014 - 20:51
IPCC, the UN’s expert panel on climate change, released part three of their new global warming study yesterday. The new report says that the world’s current efforts to combat global warming are not sufficient if we want to avoid catastrophic climate change.

If we are to keep global warming below the 2 degrees Celsius cap recommended by scientists, emissions from CO2 and other greenhouse gases must drop by 40 to 70 percent by 2050 – and drop even further to near-zero by the end of the century. To accomplish this, the world needs to urgently switch to clean and renewable energy. Clean energy sources will need to triple and completely dominate world energy by 2050, the IPCC report concludes. But the direct opposite is currently happening. World emissions of various greenhouse gases are increasing. Between 2000 and 2010, average global emissions rose by 2.2 percent every year – reaching “unprecedented levels” of carbon dioxide in Earth's atmosphere. Increasing carbon emissions are largely due to an increasing demand for energy and a rising coal use in countries such as China.

“There is a clear message from science: To avoid dangerous interference with the climate system, we need to move away from business as usual,” said Ottmar Edenhofer, one of three co-chairs of the IPCC working group.
We need to end the current dominance of coal, oil and gas and replace them with cleaner and more renewable energy sources. But this is a daunting – and unprecedented – task when fossil fuels currently provide more than 80 percent of the world’s total energy production.

“We can only avoid catastrophic climate change if we reduce our dependency on fossil fuels – we're already on track for four degrees warming, which will be impossible for human society to adapt to,” said Friends of the Earth's executive director Andy Atkins in a response to the new IPCC report. “We have the technology to prevent dangerous climate change. What we lack is the political will of our leaders to strongly champion renewable power and energy efficiency.”

So-called CCS technologies, which capture and bury carbon emissions is one way to produce low-carbon energy. But the IPCC experts notes that this technology is not feasible as it “has not yet been applied at a large, commercial scale.” Gas could be important in the “short-term”, during the transition, but only if it replaces coal. One low-carbon energy option is nuclear power. But the IPCC report notes that nuclear “has been declining since 1993” and voices concern about potential safety risks, “nuclear weapon proliferation risks, waste management security as well as financial and regulatory risks.”

The big emphasis in the IPCC report is on renewable energy sources and technologies, such as solar and wind power, but also energy efficiency and conservation. The IPCC report acknowledges how much renewable energy technologies have advanced since 2007. Since the last major IPCC study, “many [renewable energy] technologies have demonstrated substantial performance improvements and cost reductions, and a growing number of [renewable energy] technologies have achieved a level of maturity to enable deployment at significant scale,” the report says. “Regarding electricity generation alone, [renewable energy] accounted for just over half of the new electricity generating capacity added globally in 2012, led by growth in wind, hydro and solar power.”

But renewable energy and various implementations against energy waste requires substantial long-term investments. And here’s the good news from the new IPCC report: a global roll-out of clean and renewable energy is remarkably cheap – but only if we act now.

The investment required to green our global energy system would only result in a 0.06% reduction of off expected annual economic growth rates of 1.3%-3%, the IPCC report concludes. Read that again. It would only cost us 0.06% of annual economic growth to save the climate and make sure there will be a livable planet for future generations as well. That’s nothing. But only if we act now. “We cannot afford to lose another decade,” warned German economist Ottmar Edenhofer, a co-chair of the IPCC committee. “If we lose another decade, it becomes extremely costly to achieve climate stabilization.”

Considering that the world spends over half a trillion dollars every year to subsidize fossil fuels – about six times more than the global investment into renewable energy – there is clearly room to divest and divert money from fossil fuels into renewable energy.

And a transition towards clean and renewable energy would also result in health benefits, as professor Nicholas Stern notes. “The transition to sustainable low-carbon economic development and growth is an opportunity not just to avoid potentially catastrophic climate risks, but also to reap other benefits from cleaner and more efficient technologies, such as reductions in local air pollution,” Stern said.

“There is only plan A: collective action to reduce emissions now,” EU commissioner Connie Hedegaard said. “The more you wait, the more it will cost. The more you wait, the more difficult it will become.” And US Secretary of State John Kerry agrees with that sentiment: “Unless we act dramatically and quickly, science tells us our climate and our way of life are literally in jeopardy. […] Waiting is truly unaffordable. The costs of inaction are catastrophic,” he said.

“We stand at a fork in road,” said Li Shuo, Greenpeace East Asia's climate and energy campaigner. “One way leads to more dependence on dwindling fossil fuels that are wrecking our climate and damaging our health; the other to a world powered by a booming clean energy sector that is already driving growth and creating jobs. The sooner we act, the cheaper it will be.”

The IPCC study, titled Mitigation of climate change, is the last report of three IPCC working groups. The previous reports have looked at the current state of climate science and the impacts of unchecked climate change. This report was produced by 1250 international experts and has been approved by 194 governments.
Categories: Ecological News

Isles’ key role in GMO corn sets off battle

Navdanya Diary - Tue, 04/22/2014 - 18:33

by Audrey McAvoy – Star Advertiser, 21 April 2014

The Waianae mountains serve as a backdrop to a field of corn on Pioneer Hi-Bred International land in Waialua. The nation’s leading corn seed companies have farms in Hawaii, but their fields have become a flashpoint in a spreading debate over genetic engineering in agriculture.

Source: http://www.staradvertiser.com/news/20140420__Isles_key_role_in_GMO_corn_sets_off_battle.html

You can trace the genetic makeup of most corn grown in the U.S., and in many other places around the world, to Hawaii.

The state is so critical to the nation’s modern corn-growing business that the industry’s leading companies all have farms here, growing new varieties genetically engineered for desirable traits like insect and drought resistance.

But these same farms have become a flashpoint in a spreading debate over genetic engineering in agriculture.

Kauai and Hawaii counties have moved in the past several months to regulate genetically modified organisms and the pesticides the farms use. In Maui County, a group is collecting signatures for a ballot measure that would impose a temporary ban on the crops.

“People are very concerned, and it’s my job as a council member to determine whether those concerns are valid and take steps to protect them,” said Kauai County Councilmember Gary Hooser.

Hooser and the Council passed a law last year, over the mayor’s veto, to require large farms to create buffer zones around their crops and to disclose what pesticides they use. The law is set to take effect in August.

Seed companies with Kauai operations — Syngenta, Pioneer, BASF and Agrigenetics — have sued the county to stop the law, saying they are already regulated by state and federal laws and there is no need for county rules.

“We don’t plant anything that isn’t permitted and approved through the proper regulatory agencies, be it the EPA, the FDA and USDA,” said Mark Phillipson, the head of Hawaii corporate affairs for Syngenta, referring to the Environmental Protection Agency, the Food and Drug Administration, and the U.S. Department of Agriculture.

Hawaii’s origins as a critical node in corn production date to the 1960s, when James Brewbaker, a recently arrived researcher at the University of Hawaii, noticed he could plant three crops a year in Hawaii’s climate instead of one as in most places on the mainland.

Around the same time, Pioneer Hi-Bred was trying to squeeze more research into a year by using greenhouses and farms in Florida. Brewbaker suggested researchers come to Hawaii.

Seed farms grew as research expanded and more land became available as Hawaii’s sugar and pineapple plantations became less competitive in the global market and shut down.

As of 2012, the most recent data available, seed crops in Hawaii were worth $217 million, up from $140 million in 2007. About 95 percent of it is corn. In all, they exceed the value of the state’s next several largest crops — including sugar cane and macadamia nuts.

Developing a new seed variety takes about 10 to 12 growth cycles, Phillipson said. On the mainland, this could take 10 to 12 years. Being able to get three to four growth cycles a year in Hawaii dramatically shrinks the time it takes to bring a new product to market.

“It’s getting your newest and best hybrids to market quickly,” said Richard McCormack, who leads Hawaii operations for Pioneer Hi-Bred International, which has farms on Kauai and Oahu.

New genes — such as those making corn resistant to drought or floods — are inserted in a lab on the mainland.

Once federal authorities approve new varieties for planting, they’re brought to Hawaii for two growth cycles or crop seasons to see how they perform in an actual field. The best ones are sent elsewhere for more growing.

Syngenta, for example, sends its best to fields in Missouri, Manitoba in Canada, and Mexico to make sure the corn is able to thrive in the soil, wind conditions and temperatures of these various places, Phillipson said.

Today, about 90 percent of corn grown in the U.S. is genetically engineered and has been developed partially in Hawaii in this way.

The discontent, however, has been simmering.

There has been little scientific evidence to prove that foods grown from engineered seeds are less safe than their conventional counterparts, but consumer concerns and fears persist — not just in the islands but around the country and the rest of the world.

Hooser said he introduced the legislation to get good information that would allow the county to determine whether the seed companies’ operations were having any negative effect on health and the environment.

Hawaii County later adopted a law banning the cultivation of genetically modified crops.

The county created an exemption, however, for papayas already grown on the Big Island that have been genetically engineered to resist a virus that nearly wiped out the fruit in years past. No seed companies currently have farms on the island, so they’re not affected by the law.

On Maui, a group called Sustainable Hawaiian Agriculture for the Keiki and the Aina Movement is gathering signatures for a ballot measure to impose the ban until seed companies complete environmental and public health studies finding their practices to be safe.

Monsanto and Dow AgroSciences, a unit of Dow Chemical, both have farms in Maui County.

State Sen. Clarence Nishihara predicted the wrangling over genetically modified crops will continue.

“There’s no one side that’s going to say, ‘OK, we had enough. We’ve given up on the issue,’ right?” said Nishihara, chairman of the Senate’s Agriculture Committee. “They’ll keep fighting it.”

 

                          
Categories: Ecological News

Climate change is the sickness of our civilization, and the prognosis is bleak

Green Blog - Tue, 04/22/2014 - 02:20
For a while, Dr. Guy McPherson, professor emeritus of natural resources and ecology & evolutionary biology at the University of Arizona, was relatively optimistic. There was a time when he believed that, if modern industrial society were to suddenly cease to operate, the planet could be saved. Not any more, he says. Planet Earth is now in hospice, nearing the end.

Waiting to hear him speak, the atmosphere in the East Auditorium at the University of Rhode Island is festive, almost jubilant. Everyone is smiling and gregariously introducing themselves to me. Though most of us aren't scientists, there is an unconscious letting down of our guard: we are among our own. No matter the origin of our disparate backgrounds, we all believe that climate change is real, and that human beings are the primary cause. There is electricity in the air and everyone is excited.

I make the rounds and meet Patricia Hval, the humble curator of the Babcock-Smith House Museum in Westerly, R.I. Though not a URI faculty member, she is responsible for McPherson's presence here tonight. She had originally invited him to speak in Westerly but couldn't find a venue, so she organized a URI event along with Dr. Peter Nightingale, whom I finally meet in the flesh after some email correspondence.
Peter is a slight, elderly Dutchman with quick vibrant movements and an infectious smile - like so many others tonight (including our speaker) he exudes charisma. He is a physicist, and though he doesn't agree with McPherson's specific prognosis, his views on climate change are uncompromising. In our telephone conversations, he voices frustration at the meager efforts of world governments to curb carbon emissions. He makes an apt analogy with Dick Cheney's "one percent doctrine": If there is even a 1 percent chance of a terrorist attack, then the United States must do everything in its power to stop it. Why then, Nightingale asks, is the same logic not applied to climate change, which has a statistically predictable trajectory and the potential to kill many more people than any other threat?

Nightingale opens up the lecture with a song on his ukulele. The anthem is called "Fight For Fossil Free!" and we all have lyric sheets. Soon I am singing along with everyone else in the packed auditorium. The energy of the crowd is palpable. McPherson steps up to the podium and makes his case. He'd an odd duck, splendidly dressed, and it's hard to take your eyes off him. He is dressed in well worn leather dress shoes, '90s Carhart pants and a slick blazer, and has perhaps the goofiest haircut I've ever seen in my life. There is something strangely dashing about him, a streak of Indiana Jones. He is positively arresting.

Guy McPherson believes that life on Earth will more or less be extinct by the year 2060, and the evidence he presents is compelling and well sourced. Of the creatures that may live, mankind is not among them. We'll run out of food and water. We'll be swept away by typhoons, and freeze in winter storms of unusual intensity. We'll dry in the sun, and our mummified remains will break apart in sandstorms, our disintegrated body matter swirling around like dervishes of dust. Now, Guy didn't actually use any of these morbid descriptions, but that is where my mind went after hearing the overwhelming amount of factual information that he presented. If he's a flake, as some have accused him of being, then he is the most learned and exhaustively conclusive flake I've ever met.

We've known for a very long time that climate change is real, and that it has been specifically caused by the burning of fossil fuels. The first scientific paper linking the two was released in 1847. That's right, I said 1847. Media blackouts, apparently, are nothing new.

McPherson believes that the effects of climate change are exponentially progressive and irreversible based on two factors: the lag of the effect of carbon emissions, which is about 40 years, and consequently the creation of self-reinforcing feedback loops. So what does that all mean? Well, it means that we are reaping the fruits of 1970s carbon emissions.

But surely emissions have decreased, right? No. Not even close. Worse, there is no sign that emissions are even slowing down, much less reversing.

2009, the onset of the the Second Great Depression Great Recession, set a new record for carbon released by humans into the atmosphere. This record has been consecutively broken every year since. This is where the self-reinforcing feedback loops come into play. There are many of them, but I'll start with one that I understand as a layman: the release of methane over cold regions.

Permafrost contains copious amounts of methane, which is now being released into the atmosphere as the permafrost melts. Though methane dissipates in the atmosphere at a faster pace than carbon, its heating effects are far greater. So as more methane is released, more permafrost melts, releasing more methane. .. get it? But the methane will just break up in the atmosphere and the crisis will be over, right? No. The warming will affect the whole planet, destroying natural heat sinks such as rainforests, leading to the release of even more methane.

McPherson shows us an authentic photo of Siberian children roasting marshmallows over a methane fissure in Siberia. It's a small crack in the Earth, and some industrious youngster has lit it on fire. But they no longer light the fissures on fire, because the cracks are now a kilometer wide. No major news agency reported it.

If the prognosis on Earth's condition is so grim, then why bother reporting it? McPherson uses the analogy of medical malpractice. If your doctor examines you and concludes that you have six months to live, McPherson asks, wouldn't you like to know the truth? Those in the scientific community and elsewhere who minimize the impending calamity and totality of climate change are committing malpractice by withholding this crucial and pertinent information from us. The Earth is in hospice, and the prognosis is grim.

I pray to God that he's wrong.

This article was first published in People's World by Jonathan W. Pressman.
Categories: Ecological News

We’re Not Farmers, Bob. We’re Your Customers!

Navdanya Diary - Mon, 04/21/2014 - 21:45

by Brett WilcoxRunning the Country, 18 April 2014

Source: http://www.runningthecountry.com/were-not-farmers-bob-were-your-customers/#.U1T1BPmSxPE

It was bound to happen. After running through California, Arizona, New Mexico, and Texas we finally met a real person in Oklahoma who takes issue with our mission as we Run For a GMO Free USA.

For the sake of anonymity, I’ll refer to this person as Bob. Bob’s a farmer. As you might expect, Bob knows a lot about farming. He grows GMO corn with the help of both Roundup and 2,4-D. Roundup is the world’s number one selling herbicide.

Increasing numbers of studies now implicate Roundup in a host of nasty illnesses. Researchers have found Roundup in our air, soil, water, urine, and even in breast milk of American mothersSri Lanka recently banned the use of Roundup in certain agricultural regions due to Round Up’s contribution to widespread kidney disease.

2,4-D is also an herbicide. It’s half of the chemical composition of Agent Orange, of Viet Nam war fame. Everyone but Monsanto knows that Agent Orange is responsible for the horrible epidemic of birth defects in Viet Nam as well as a host of illnesses to Viet Nam War veterans and their descendants. Australia recently banned the use of 2,4-D because of the harm it causes to agricultural workers.

But I digress. As much as Bob knows about farming GMO corn, there are a few things he didn’t know. Bob did not fully know what GMO stands for. Bob did not know that Monsanto uses genes from bacteria to create Roundup Ready crops.

Bob had never heard that GM corn contaminates organic farmers’ corn. Nor did he know that Monsanto sues farmers for patent infringement after their corn has been contaminated by GM corn. And Bob had no idea—until he met David and me—that people don’t want his GM corn.

But what Bob didn’t know about GMOs may not be as dangerous as the things that he did know that ain’t so. For example, Bob believes that if farmers stopped spraying poisons and “went organic” that millions of people would die. Bob believes that GMOs are no different than what our ancestors did when they cross-bred corn. And Bob believes that GM corn provides medicine that, up until now, could only be manufactured in livestock animals. And Bob didn’t think his GM corn should be much of an issue to people because nearly all of it is fed to cows and pigs. (It’s true that nearly all GM soya is fed to livestock animals and nearly all GM corn is turned into the gasoline substitute ethanol or is fed to livestock animals.)

I don’t fault Bob for believing such poppy cock. When Monsanto sells its patented seeds and poisons, it throws in truckloads of bullshit lies as a freebie bonus. And farmers like Bob pass around those lies because they’re good people who—like most of the rest of us—want to believe that the work they do has value and that it matters.

But that doesn’t change the fact that Monsanto lies are still lies. If Bob stopped growing his GMO corn, poor people wouldn’t know or care because they can’t afford to own or drive cars or eat steaks and pork chops.

If GM corn and soy farmers stopped growing their corn and soy and stopped the grossly inefficient practice of running food through animals, and if they started growing fruits, vegetable, grains, or legumes meant for human consumption, then they would actually be growing something that would benefit poor, hungry people. They’d save water, soil, and air quality and they’d cut down on the toxic chemicals like Roundup they add to the environment and to our plates.

Our ancestors used traditional cross-breeding techniques to improve crop performance and create new strains. Scientists refer to traditional cross-breeding as vertical gene transfer—the transfer of genes from parent to child. Monsanto’s patented GM crops are not created with vertical gene transfer. They are created by taking two or more unrelated species and combining their DNA in ways that would be impossible outside of a laboratory. Scientists call this method horizontal gene transfer. Our ancestors did not combine bacteria with our food and they would likely be horrified to find out that some of their descendants are bone-headed, short-sighted, and greedy enough to do so, then pass off their patented mutations as food.

The concept of using horizontal gene transfer to create medicine sounds good at first glance and may one day have merit in a controlled setting. But scientists haven’t the faintest idea to what extent their genetically modified creations might impact the world’s ecosystems once they are released into the environment. We do know that GMOs contaminate. Period. And what right does one company have to create a product that will contaminate the crops and livelihood of organic and traditional farmers?

True, I’d rather see Bob’s GM corn fed to livestock than fed to my kids. But since all life is connected on this planet, the best solution is to eliminate poisoned food altogether. It’s no secret that we can’t poison one species without also poisoning other species, including our own. It’s also no secret that meat from factory-farmed animals contains pesticides, anti-parasitics, antibiotics, and hormones. For far too many people, the living conditions of factory farms animals remain a secret. If we treated our dogs the way we treat factory-farmed hogs, we’d go to jail for a long time and with good reason.

Bob didn’t appreciate what I had to say about GMOs. Nor would I appreciate it if I were Bob. Bob asked me the same question I might ask if I wore Bob’s boots. “Are you a farmer?” It’s a valid question . . . sort of. I told Bob that my profession would only have relevance to our discussion if all farmers agreed with Bob that GMOs are safe. They don’t. I told Bob about the Organic Seeds Growers and Trade Association and their legal battle for protection from Monsanto’s GM seeds and absurd lawsuits.

I also said that there are numerous scientists who oppose GMOs, not in spite of the science, but because of the science. Clearly then, profession does not correlate to position, unless of course you profit from GMOs. Profit, it turns out, provides the strongest correlation to a pro-GMO position. If you profit from Monsanto chemicals, seeds, lies, and money, you likely to believe that GMOs are safe. This is true whether you’re a Supreme Court justice,scientistuniversity professorpolitician, or farmer. Beyond safety, if you’re growing GMOs like Bob, you probably believe that your GMOs are keeping hungry people alive, even though your GMOs are just fattening up animals—animals that will one day fatten up, poison, and hasten the demise of the people who eat them.

But still, the fact remains: My family and I are not farmers. And that’s totally okay. We are not running across the country as farmers. We’re running across the country as conscientious consumers. What that means for Bob is that we are his customers. And after running half way across the USA, we’ve learned that Bob’s customers have a consistent message for him and all the other farmers of GMOs: 100% of the people we have spoken with who know about GMOs, oppose GMOs. They don’t want them released into the environment, they don’t want them in their food supply, they don’t want to eat them, and they don’t want to feed them to their kids. If they can’t get GMOs eliminated altogether, then they unanimously agree that GMOs must be labeled. They want the GMO label, of course, so they can easily know which foods and which packages to boycott.

That information will be of no surprise to the chemical giants and junk food industry. They know that an informed public is their worst enemy. They know that over 90% of the people want GMOs labeled. They know that if GMOs are labeled, people will wake up and ask, “GMOs? What’s that? They mixed bacteria with my food? Then they saturate my food with poison? These things are banned in other countries? GMOs and their poisons are linked to a ton of health problemsThat’s why I’ve got Celiac Disease? That’s why I’m gluten intolerantThat’s why I can’t get pregnant? I’m feeding Roundup to my baby every time I breast feed? Wow! I’m not buying this poison and I’m certainly not feeding it to my kids.”

Whether Bob likes GM farming or not, he needs to be aware that his customer base is awakening. He needs to know that thanks to Monsanto’s and the FDA’s lies about “substantial equivalence,” he and thousands of other farmers now find themselves in the bizarre situation of raising crops that people neither want nor need.

The day is coming—and it’s coming soon—that enough of his customers will reject any and all products contaminated with GMOs, including GMO fed livestock. It happened in Europe (and continues to happen in Europe) as customers rejected food products made with GM ingredients. And it’s happening in the USA now. With or without the government’s help, Bob’s customers are going to get GMOs labeled. Some 23 different states are currently working hard to label GMOs.

Vermont just passed the first no-strings-attached labeling bill. The national GMO label will prove to be nearly as effective as a skull and crossbones label. When enough people learn that GMOs deserve a skull and crossbones label and they stop buying GMOs in the grocery store, livestock farmers and food manufacturers will drop Bob like a genetically modified hot potato. And Bob will be left standing in his cornfield with his Roundup and his 2,4-D wondering what the heck happened.

I don’t want that to happen to Bob. Farming is no picnic. In fact, it’s a whole lot of hard work with a whole lot of risks. And When Monsanto turned farmers into Monsanto’s serfs, farming got a whole lot riskier and harder.

It would be a great thing if farmers arose in mass and revolted against the chemical companies that control our elected officials and agricultural policy. Mass revolution is unlikely, but more and more farmers are returning to conventional agriculture because they’ve learned the truth for themselves: GMOs suck! Contrary to the lies they were told,GMOs don’t increase yield, they don’t increase profit, and in the long run, they cause more problems than they solve in the form of super bugs, super weedsenvironmental degradation, sterile soil, and a host of medical problems in both the livestock and animals who consume poison-saturated GMOs.

What can you do to help as a consumer? Boycott GMOs. And if you find a total boycott overwhelming, be sure to Boycott Kellogg’s and all their brands. Demand that GMOs are labeled. Protest, march, rally, campaign, contact your government representative, blog, post, share, tweet, etc. The battle will not be easy. The chemical companies and their political puppets have billions of dollars at stake. They will not roll over and play dead. And if we do—play dead, that is—our deaths may not be play at all. Many people have already died due to genetically modified, chemical-based, patented seeds and monocultures.

The USDA claims that GMOs and non-GMO crops can co-exist. Of course that’s utter nonsense. GMOs contaminate non-GMOs with GMO genes proving that GMOs and non-GMO crops cannot co-exist. Because co-existence is a lie, we either rise up and squash GMOs or we sit back and let the chemical companies modify and poison anything and everything they shoot their gene guns at.

Nothing personal, Bob, but no thank you. No more GMOs! No more poisons!

Everything personal, Monsanto, Syngenta, Dupont Pioneer and other poisoners! No more GMOs. No more bee killing. No more political puppetsNo more government bribesNo more revolving doors! No more poisons! No more lies!

                          
Categories: Ecological News

Eat Your Heart Out, USA—Russia Rejects GMOs!

Navdanya Diary - Mon, 04/21/2014 - 15:58

By Catherine J. Frompovich – Activist Post, 17 April, 2014

Source: http://www.activistpost.com/2014/04/eat-your-heart-out-usarussia-rejects.html

Graphic source: GMO Inside.org

If ever there were a war on for one’s allegiance about food philosophies, the U.S.’s apparent main political adversary, Russia, probably would win it hands down. Why? Well, Russia’s Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev is quoted as saying, “If the Americans like to eat GMO products, let them eat it then. We don’t need to do that; we have enough space and opportunities to produce organic food.” [CJF emphasis added]

Hear that Monsanto? Let’s see if one of your employees can get into the Ministry of Agriculture of Russia like with the U.S. FDA (Michael Taylor, FDA Deputy Commissioner of Foods) [1] and at the U.S. Supreme Court (Justice Clarence Thomas) [2].

Furthermore, Russia is on record as not importing any GMO products, so I guess any agricultural trade sanctions that the West may levy against Russia relative to the Ukraine incident may not affect them as some politicos may think, hope, or intend.

Back in September of 2012, NaturalNews published “Russia’s small-scale organic agriculture model may hold the key to feeding the world” wherein this was pointed out:

Thanks to government policies there that actually encourage autonomous family farming, rather than cater to the greed of chemical and biotechnology companies like they do here in the states, the vast majority of Russians are able and willing to grow their own food on privately-owned family plots known as “dachas.”
In the USA, homeowners have had their food gardens destroyed by local authorities. Here are some examples:

The difference in food policies between the USA and Russia relative to family farms is this: In the USA family farms systematically are being wiped out. Don’t believe that? Well, how about checking out these stories:

According to The Motley Fool, Monsanto “…has filed 145 lawsuits against farmers who’ve improperly reused its patented seeds, or on average about one lawsuit every three weeks for 16 straight years.” [3] All while the U.S. Supreme Court denies family farmers the right to self-defense from Monsanto lawsuits. (Source)

So what are the GMO labeling laws in Russia? According to Nation of Change blog “Breakdown of GMO Labeling Laws in Each Country”

Russia – Requires mandatory labeling of nearly all GE foods and a labeling threshold of 0.9-1% GMO content. [So what does Russia get about GMOs that the U.S. FDA doesn’t?]

According to GMO Inside.org’s “Genetically Engineered Food Labeling Laws Map,” 64 countries require it.

Where is the GMO standoff in the USA going?

What appears to be a stand-off regarding GMOs in the USA has acquired an interesting twist of social consciousness and it relates to what’s known as “socially responsible investing.” Food Democracy Now is mainstreaming what they call “Divest Monsanto Now” or “Tell Wall Street it’s time to dump Monsanto.”

According to information I received from FDN,

For decades millions of American’s have innocently profited from Monsanto’s toxic chemicals, GMOs and corruption of our democracy through investments in major mutual funds like Fidelity, Vanguard and State Street. Combined Fidelity, Vanguard and State Street own 15% of Monsanto’s, totaling $9.6 Billion in stock.

In the past week, since we launched our divest Monsanto campaign, hundreds of Food Democracy Now! members have called their financial advisers to demand that they divest from Monsanto’s stock. We need your help to make sure that it becomes tens of thousands of investors across America.

Power of the Purse

This short YouTube explains what Divest Monsanto Now is about. Also, check with your financial adviser to find out if any of your mutual funds, etc. are invested in Monsanto stock and, if so, FDN suggests you divest Monsanto stock from your portfolio. Such actions taken by consumers employ what’s known as the “power of the purse.”

Operation: Monsanto Stock, Plunge and Panic:


Holding their feet to the fire

Then there is accountability due from those who made promises to get votes during presidential elections. In his 2007 stump, Mr. Obama made this very vocal promise:

Obama Promises to Label GMOs:

So what did President Obama do to keep that promise? He signed the Monsanto Protection Act (HR933)!

Have American voters been had? You decide.

Click here to access the full list of Notes and Reference

More information:

Russia postpones planting of GMOs by 3 years

RT, 22 April 2014

Russia will not start certifying GM seeds for at least three more years due to delays in creating the necessary infrastructure, Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev told MPs. Earlier Russia had expected to allow planting such seeds from June.

Read more: http://rt.com/news/154032-russia-gmo-food-ban/

 

 

                          
Categories: Ecological News

Plant Breeders Release First ‘Open Source Seeds’

Navdanya Diary - Sat, 04/19/2014 - 21:25

By Dan Charles – NPR, 17 April 2014

Backers of the new Open Source Seed Initiative will pass out 29 new varieties of 14 different crops, including broccoli, carrots and kale, on Thursday. J. Scott Applewhite/AP

Listen to the story

Source: http://www.npr.org/blogs/thesalt/2014/04/17/303772556/plant-breeders-release-first-open-source-seeds

A group of scientists and food activists is launching a campaign Thursday to change the rules that govern seeds. They’re releasing 29 new varieties of crops under a new “open source pledge” that’s intended to safeguard the ability of farmers, gardeners and plant breeders to share those seeds freely.

It’s inspired by the example of open source software, which is freely available for anyone to use but cannot legally be converted into anyone’s proprietary product.

At an event on the campus of the University of Wisconsin, Madison, backers of the new Open Source Seed Initiative will pass out 29 new varieties of 14 different crops, including carrots, kale, broccoli and quinoa. Anyone receiving the seeds must pledge not to restrict their use by means of patents, licenses or any other kind of intellectual property. In fact, any future plant that’s derived from these open source seeds also has to remain freely available as well.

Irwin Goldman, a vegetable breeder at the University of Wisconsin, Madison, helped organize the campaign. It’s an attempt to restore the practice of open sharing that was the rule among plant breeders when he entered the profession more than 20 years ago.

“If other breeders asked for our materials, we would send them a packet of seed, and they would do the same for us,” he says. “That was a wonderful way to work, and that way of working is no longer with us.”

These days, seeds are intellectual property. Some are patented as inventions. You need permission from the patent holder to use them, and you’re not supposed to harvest seeds for replanting the next year.

Even university breeders operate under these rules. When Goldwin creates a new variety of onions, carrots or table beets, a technology-transfer arm of the university licenses it to seed companies.

This brings in money that helps pay for Goldman’s work, but he still doesn’t like the consequences of restricting access to plant genes — what he calls germplasm. “If we don’t share germplasm and freely exchange it, then we will limit our ability to improve the crop,” he says.

Sociologist Jack Kloppenburg, also at the University of Wisconsin, has been campaigning against seed patents for 30 years. His reasons go beyond
Goldman’s.

He says turning seeds into private property has contributed to the rise of big seed companies that in turn promote ever-bigger, more specialized farms. “The problem is concentration, and the narrow set of uses to which the technology and the breeding are being put,” he says.

Kloppenburg says one important goal for this initiative is simply to get people thinking and talking about how seeds are controlled. “It’s to open people’s minds,” he says. “It’s kind of a biological meme, you might say: Free seed! Seed that can be used by anyone!”

The practical impact of the Open Source Seed Initiative on farmers and gardeners, however, may be limited. Even though anyone can use such seed, most people probably won’t be able to find it.

The companies that dominate the seed business probably will keep selling their own proprietary varieties or hybrids. There’s more money to be made with those seeds.

Most commercial vegetable seeds are hybrids, which come with a kind of built-in security lock; if you replant seed from a hybrid, you won’t get exactly the same kind of plant. (For this reason, some seed companies don’t bother getting patents on their hybrids.)

John Shoenecker, director of intellectual property for the seed company HM Clause and the incoming president of the American Seed Trade Association, says his company may avoid using open source seed to breed new commercial varieties “because then we’d … have limited potential to recoup the investment.” That’s because the offspring of open source seeds would have to be shared as well, and any other seed company could immediately sell the same variety.

The initiative is probably more significant for plant breeders, especially at universities. Goldman says he expects many plant breeders at universities to join the open source effort.

Meanwhile, two small seed companies that specialize in selling to organic farmers — High Mowing Organic Seeds in Hardwick, Vt., and Wild Garden Seed in Philomath, Ore., are adding some open source seeds to their catalogs this year.

                          
Categories: Ecological News

Fragile Freedoms – Vandana Shiva

Navdanya Diary - Sat, 04/19/2014 - 14:14

CBC Radio, 17 April, 2014

Photo by Gustau Nacarino/REUTERS

Click to listen to the Podcast: Fragile Freedom – Full Audio Interview with Vandana Shiva – CBC Radio, “Ideas” with Paul Kennedy

 

Source: http://www.cbc.ca/ideas/episodes/2014/04/17/fragile-freedoms—vandana-shiva/

Physicist Vandana Shiva has become one of the world’s leading environmental thinkers. In a lecture presented at the Canadian Museum for Human Rights, she explores how “earth rights” are human rights. From the lecture series Fragile Freedoms: the Global Struggle for Human Rights.

Vandana Shiva is an environmental activist based in Dehradun, India, but her work is world-wide. She’s part of an effort to place the Universal Declaration of Human Rights within something larger – a declaration of rights for the entire planet earth.

Vandana Shiva has written more than twenty books on ecology and environmentalism. She started the Research Foundation for Science, Technology and Ecology, which led to the creation of Navdanya, a movement to protect biodiversity in India. That movement later helped create seed banks and also promote organic farming. In 2004 Dr Shiva started an international college for sustainable living, in the Doon Valley in India. For three decades she has been a steadfast critic of industrial agriculture, of globalization, and of bioengineering.

 

                          
Categories: Ecological News

2014 Monsoon predictions are not that promising. Tighten your belt.

Ground Reality - Sat, 04/19/2014 - 13:31

In the midst of all the noise and muck-slinging that dominates the election campaigns there is bad news on the horizon. No, I am not talking of the possibility of a hung Parliament where the numbers don’t add up for any political front, but the possibility of a post-election scenario wherein the rains fail. With 25 per cent probability of a drought predicted, and slim chances of a bountiful monsoon in the north-western and central regions, dark days stare ahead.

Although the Indian Meteorological Department (IMD) has ruled out the possibility of the warm El Nino currents of the Pacific playing truant with the monsoon rains, a leading private meteorology agency Skymet has forecasted a grim season ahead. The IMD dismisses these claims as a conspiracy by scientists in the US and Australia to rattle the commodity markets in India. “It is in the US and Australian interests that agricultural commodity and stock markets come down. They are spreading rumours. People will start hoarding and might start creating artificial scarcity of commodities. Don’t heed their advice,” Laxman Singh Rathore, director-general of IMD had said a few weeks back. 
Although IMD has never been able to predict an impending drought, but I see merit in what it is trying to convey. The moment a below-normal monsoon warning goes public, a lot of commercial interests benefit from the expected shortfall in rains. The resulting market sentiments push the food prices higher even when there is no shortfall in production. I have seen this happening in 2011 when food prices spiraled much before the low Kharif harvest had poured in. With business media channels daily naming the hot commodities where investors need to put their money in, commodity prices zoomed in expectation.
But while Agriculture Secretary says the government is not overtly worried at the prospects of the rains failing, the fact remains that Skymet’s earlier forecasts have been quite accurate. In 2012, it predicted 94 per cent rainfall, and the actual was 93 per cent: the next year in 2013 rains were a little higher at 106 per cent against the estimate of 103 per cent. This year, while the overall estimate of 94 per cent may not cause a significant drop in agricultural production and thereby impact grain availability considering the existing massive food reserves but what should be worrying is the prediction of a weak monsoon spread over northwest and west-central parts of the country – Gujarat, Saurashtra, Kutch, Punjab, Haryana, Rajasthan, Madhya Pradesh, Chhatisgarh, central Maharashtra, Goa, Konkan and parts of Karnataka and Telengana. It is always the rainfall spread that is important than the average. 
What makes the monsoon forecast a matter of concern is the prediction that El Nino – warm ocean currents in the Pacific region that often causes severe draught in Australia, New Zealand, Southeast Asia and India – might appear as the monsoon season gets along. While weather forecasters from Australia, China, South Korea, Japan and US have issued El Nino warnings, the saving grace is that such warnings were also issued in 2013 but somehow the impact was not as disastrous as many predicted. In 2013, the IMD had predicted the onslaught of El Nino in September when the rains were tapering off. In other words, El Nino does not cause heavy damage every time it emerges in the Indian Ocean. 
In 2009, the Met Department had predicted 96 per cent rainfall as the long-term average but the country had faced one of the worst droughts in recent times. The actual shortfall in rainfall was a huge 23 per cent resulting in low agricultural production. Paddy alone registered a fall of 12 per cent in production. But in 2012, when rains were also predicted to be in the range of 96 per cent there was a delay in the onset of rains in over 70 per cent of the cultivable areas but the overall impact was not as severe as in 2009. Interesting, this year Skymet is predicting rainfall to be 94 per cent of the long-term average and thatshould be taken as a forewarning.
If the weather plays foul it will be double whammy for farmers in central India. Unusual rains and hailstorm had lashed standing crop in the month of March resulting in a huge loss in Maharashtra and Madhya Pradesh. As many as 24 lakh hectares in Madhya Pradesh and another 18 lakh hectares in Maharashtra were hit be frequent hailstorms. Excessive damage was also reported from parts of Punjab, Haryana, Rajasthan, Uttarakhand, Himachal Pradesh, Karnataka and Tamil Nadu. The centre had provided a package of Rs 1,351 crores to Madhya Pradesh and Maharashtra for relief purposes.
Barely emerging out of the shadows of freak weather, the warning of a weak monsoon (and probably enlarging into a drought) will push millions of farmers into dire straits. Already reeling under a terrible agrarian distress, a severe drought even in some parts can leave behind a crumbling rural economy and a battered farming community. In the absence of any effective weather-based crop insurance scheme, and knowing how flimsy are the relief measures adopted, it is the farmers who suffer the worst from a deficient monsoon. Earlier too, in 2002 and 2004, which happened to be drought years, rainfall deficiency was to the tune of 22 per cent and 17 per cent. In September 2012 when monsoon rains arrived late, four states had declared drought – Maharashtra, Gujarat, Karnataka and Rajasthan. But later these areas were lashed with heavy rains in the second half of August and the first half of September. So much so that excess water in several reservoirs had to be released thereby inundating several towns and villages. Gujarat had in fact pressed in evacuation services.  
This only shows that climatic variations arising from global warming are causing an unforeseen volatility in weather patterns. The long term strategy therefore has to be two pronged: 1) the economic growth model based on investments and exploitation of natural resources has to be balanced in such a manner that it does not leave the environment bleeding. 2) A country-wide drought proofing programme accompanied by weather-based crop insurance scheme has to be prepared. Although this has been talked about for quite long, but hasn’t yet received the priority that it deserves. 
Country’s economic growth depends on agriculture. If farming is affected negatively by the failure of monsoon and the inability of the government to minimize the impact, the resulting domino impact is felt by the entire economy. Even if the share of agriculture in the country’s GDP has come down to 14 per cent, its still remains the backbone of India’s economy. #
Fearing Drought. Deccan Herald, April 18, 2014. http://www.deccanherald.com/content/399762/fearing-drought.html 
मौसम की नई मुसीबत  Dainik Jagran, April 19, 2014.
http://www.jagran.com/editorial/apnibaat-new-trouble-of-weather-11246210.html
Categories: Ecological News

Major Pesticides Are More Toxic to Human Cells Than Their Declared Active Principles

Navdanya Diary - Wed, 04/16/2014 - 14:13

 

Major Pesticides Are More Toxic to Human Cells Than Their Declared Active Principles

by Robin Mesnage, Nicolas Defarge, Joël Spiroux de Vendômois, and Gilles-Eric Séralini
NCBI, 26 February, 2014

Source: http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3955666/

Pesticides are used throughout the world as mixtures called formulations. They contain adjuvants, which are often kept confidential and are called inerts by the manufacturing companies, plus a declared active principle, which is usually tested alone. We tested the toxicity of 9 pesticides, comparing active principles and their formulations, on three human cell lines (HepG2, HEK293, and JEG3). Glyphosate, isoproturon, fluroxypyr, pirimicarb, imidacloprid, acetamiprid, tebuconazole, epoxiconazole, and prochloraz constitute, respectively, the active principles of 3 major herbicides, 3 insecticides, and 3 fungicides. We measured mitochondrial activities, membrane degradations, and caspases 3/7 activities. Fungicides were the most toxic from concentrations 300–600 times lower than agricultural dilutions, followed by herbicides and then insecticides, with very similar profiles in all cell types. Despite its relatively benign reputation, Roundup was among the most toxic herbicides and insecticides tested. Most importantly, 8 formulations out of 9 were up to one thousand times more toxic than their active principles. Our results challenge the relevance of the acceptable daily intake for pesticides because this norm is calculated from the toxicity of the active principle alone. Chronic tests on pesticides may not reflect relevant environmental exposures if only one ingredient of these mixtures is tested alone.

Read More: http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3955666/

                          
Categories: Ecological News

Monsanto primero contamina cultivos y luego busca legalizarse: activista

Navdanya Diary - Wed, 04/16/2014 - 14:03

Por Angélica Enciso – La Jornada, 15 abril 2014

Fuente: http://www.jornada.unam.mx/ultimas/2014/04/15/monsanto-primero-contamina-cultivos-y-luego-busca-legalizarse-activista-8159.html

México, DF. La entrada de Monsanto a los países sigue un mismo modelo: primero contamina los cultivos tradicionales, en India fue el algodón, y en México el maíz, y después busca legalizar su presencia, advirtió Vandana Shiva, científica y activista ambiental.

La activista de India, de visita en México, dijo en conferencia de prensa que en las semillas se pueden ver los ancestros de la vida, pero ahora llega Monsanto, les pone un gen tóxico, lo venden a los campesinos, con lo que le quita la libertad de intercambiar sus semillas, y si encuentran sus productos en un campo, dicen que es biopiratería.

Recordó que cuando se negoció el protocolo de Cartagena sobre diversidad biológica, Estados Unidos quería el acceso a todos los países para legalizar la biopiratería, y como el tratado regularizaba el acceso y los recursos genéticos no lo firmó.

Se deben crear leyes y que estos productos sean ilegales, “la diversidad debe ser la ley de la naturaleza”.

Debemos tener libertad en las semillas, escribir una carta y mandársela a Monsanto, “hay que decirle que el mundo se basa en compartir los regalos de la naturaleza, es la única manera de garantizar la supervivencia”.

Agregó que Monsanto “lo que hizo fue crear un gen venenoso y vendérnoslo. No es el dueño del maíz. si seguimos luchando en los próximos años podremos celebrar el fin de los transgénicos”.

Toxinas, parte de los cultivos transgénicos: Vandana Shiva

por Angelica Enciso – La Jornada, 15 abril 2014

Fuente: http://www.jornada.unam.mx/ultimas/2014/04/16/toxinas-parte-de-los-cultivos-transgenicos-vandana-shiva-9950.html

México, DF. Vandana Shiva, activista y científica india, comenzó su lucha en favor del medio ambiente con abrazos a los árboles para que no fueran talados. Decidió hacer a un lado su bien personal para luchar por el colectivo: defiende los cultivos tradicionales ante la avalancha de transgénicos. Y se encarga de denunciar casos como el de la región de Punjab, donde de 250 alimentos que se producían hoy sólo se cultivan dos y miles de campesinos se han suicidado por no poder pagar regalías por los cultivos a Monsanto.

Recibió el Premio Nobel Alternativo en 1993. En entrevista con La Jornada, durante una rápida visita a México, explica cómo la revolución verde, hace más de 40 años, dio paso a la biotecnología y cómo empresas como Monsanto utilizan en la agricultura productos que fueron desarrollados para la Segunda Guerra Mundial, como los pesticidas y otros químicos.

Lee aquí la entrevista completa

Busca Cinema Planeta crear educación ambiental

A través del cine, arte y ciencia

*Vandana Shiva, activista de la conservación del planeta, entre los invitados de honor

El Sol de Cuernavaca, 14 abril 2014
Fuente: http://www.oem.com.mx/elsoldecuernavaca/notas/n3358332.htm

La Redacción

Cuernavaca, Morelos.- En la sexta edición “Cinema Planeta”, se consolidó no sólo como un festival de cine, sino como un movimiento que busca generar conciencia en niños, jóvenes y adultos para actuar en conjunto de manera local con efectos globales y lograr cambios importantes que se reflejen no sólo en Morelos y México, sino también en todo el mundo.

La selección oficial se conformó por documentales provenientes de once países como Brasil, Bélgica, Holanda, Portugal, Estados Unidos, India, Japón, Noruega, Argentina, Italia, Canadá. En total, se proyectaron 58 largometrajes, 53 cortometrajes de los 5 continentes en las diferentes secciones como “Selección oficial en competencia”, “Presentaciones especiales, “Palomitas”, “Mundos”, “Tierra y Ecos”.En la ceremonia de premiación de Cinema Planeta participaron invitados especiales de talla nacional e internacional, como los niños triqui de Oaxaca, campeones mundiales de basquetbol y Vandana Shiva, activista de la conservación del planeta.Los niños triquis clausuraron las Salas Ambientales, las cuales albergaron a 30,000 estudiantes provenientes de los municipios de Cuernavaca, Cuautla, Jiutepec, Temixco y Emiliano Zapata. Además, se contó con la participación de 600 camiones del servicio público que transportaron a los alumnos de las escuelas a cuatro de las cinco sedes.*Recuento de actividades

La sexta edición de Cinema Planeta, Festival Internacional de Cine y Medio Ambiente de México inició sus actividades, en el marco del Festival del Planeta, con la proyección “Polen, Alas de la Vida” de Disney Nature, dirigida por Louis Schwartzberg, la cual fue musicalizada en vivo por Alondra de la Parra y la Orquesta Cinema Planeta, que cuenta con 60 músicos del más alto nivel, además de la participación de Regina Orozco, Ludwika Paleta, Ximena Ayala y Dolores Heredia, quienes narraron este documental. Disfrutaron de esto más de 4,500 personas.

El 8 de abril, en el Jardín Borda, se llevó a cabo la inauguración del festival cinematográfico con la proyección de la película La Tía Hilda, con una asistencia de 1,600 personas, miembros del jurado, múltiples artistas de la industria cinematográfica y televisión de nivel nacional e internacional, productores, directores, así como diversos medios de comunicación.

Durante el festival, se inauguraron las exposiciones “El Planeta en Movimiento, Alimentación” en el Museo de la Ciudad de Cuernavaca, “Fototrampeo” en el Parque Ecológico Chapultepec y “La Dominación del mundo”, en el restaurante Emilianos.

Este año se lanzó el programa “Parcelas y huertos escolares del planeta” en siete municipios con la participación de la Secretaría de Desarrollo Sustentable y el actor de Hollywood y activista Bill Pullman, quien acudió a los centros educativos, para promover este proyecto que permitirá la auto sustentabilidad alimentaria y el cuidado del medio ambiente en estas comunidades.

En esta edición, también se logró abarcar el área deportiva con una rodada ciclista y el BiciCinema, en la que participó Bill Pullman, y un partido de basquetbol entre los niños triqui y alumnos de la primaria Benito Juárez de Cuernavaca.

En la premiación se hizo el estreno mundial de la película Osos de Disney Nature se galardonó como mejor documental a Punto de Fuga dirigida por Stephen Smith y Julia Szucs. También se entregaron los reconocimientos de tratamiento más original a Mondo Banana, dirigida por Ryan White, el premio del público a “Última llamada” de Enrico Cerasuolo y la mención honorifica fue para Char, La Isla de Nadie de Sourav Sarangi.

El Gobierno de la Nueva Visión ha dado un importante y estratégico impulso este proyecto a través de la participación de la Secretaría de Cultura, Secretaría de Desarrollo Sustentable, Secretaría de Movilidad y Transporte, Secretaría Ejecutiva de la Gubernatura, Instituto Morelense de la Juventud, Instituto de Educación Básica de Morelos, Instituto del Deporte, entre otras, lo que ha permitido posicionar al festival, no sólo como una competencia cinematográfica, sino como un modelo educativo cultural, ambiental y académico único en el país.

Vivimos una democracia transgénica: Vandana Shiva

La Coperacha, 15 abril 2014

Fuente: http://www.lacoperacha.org.mx/vivimos-democracia-trasngenica-vandana.php

El futuro de la alimentación son las semillas nativas, afirma la Premio Nobel Alternativo.

Redacción La Coperacha

Ciudad de México – La lucha contra los transgénicos es la del totalitarismo contra los derechos de la Tierra, sentenció la Dra. Vandana Shiva, científica, filósofa, ambientalista y defensora internacional de las semillas criollas, durante una conferencia impartida este día.

Vandana Shiva, hizo un llamado a formar una milpa humana para defender las semillas nativas contra los transgénicos; y señaló que el futuro de la alimentación de los seres humanos son estas semillas nativas o criollas.

Por el contrario, calificó al modelo neoliberal en el que descansa la industria transgénica, como sinónimo de muerte, deterioro del medio ambiente, injusticia económica y discriminación de género.

“Vivimos una democracia transgénica”, los gobiernos están por las corporaciones y para las corporaciones, sentenció la activista hindú, al explicar las continuas interpelaciones del gobierno mexicano para desechar la demanda colectiva contra el maíz transgénico.

Vandana, quien ha sido galardonada con el Premio Nobel Alternativo (1993), denunció las estrategias usadas por las trasnacionales para introducir las semillas genéticamente modificadas.

El poderío corruptor, su influencia para modificar leyes, los casos de liberación de transgénicos ilegalmente, son algunas de las estrategias para imponer su modelo de dominación, apuntó.

Las trasnacionales siguen un mismo modelo, primero contaminan los cultivos tradicionales, “en India fue el algodón, y en México el maíz”, y después buscan legalizar su presencia. “Introducir nuevos genes es convertir un bien común en una mercancía”, añadió.

Frente a un modelo de producción de alimentos “estúpido” existe una agricultura campesina capaz de preservar el ambiente y dotar de alimentos sanos a la población del mundo, “hoy más del 80 % de los alimentos del mundo provienen de este tipo de agricultura”.

Por su parte el abogado René Sánchez Galindo, representante legal de la demanda colectiva contra los transgénicos en México, explicó que la Premio Nobel Alternativo, pronunció una declaración jurada como testimonio dentro de una Queja presentada ante la CNDH.

La Queja fue presentada el jueves pasado, y ahí se denuncia la presencia de transgénicos en el estado de Oaxaca, documentada en una investigación del Instituto Nacional de Ecología y Cambio Climático.

Adelita San Vicente, representante de la demanda colectiva, reiteró que el gobierno mexicano en lugar de defender los derechos humanos, trabaja a favor de las empresas, al emitir múltiples interpelaciones a la acción colectiva.

 

                          
Categories: Ecological News

GM crops: PM revealed his assertive self to push for trials

Navdanya Diary - Tue, 04/15/2014 - 22:54

 

GM crops: PM revealed his assertive self to push for trials

By Nitin Sethi
Business Standard, 14 April, 2014

Source: http://wap.business-standard.com/article/economy-policy/gm-crops-pm-revealed-his-assertive-self-to-push-for-trials-114041400028_1.html

Prime Minister Manmohan Singh can be assertive when he chooses to. He has certainly imposed his will on the government to push the case for the controversial genetically-modified (GM) food crops.

Documents reviewed by Business Standard show, for almost two years, Singh and his office have been the moving force behind the decision to go ahead with field trials of GM crops, including food crops, without awaiting regulatory reforms or the conclusion of the ongoing case before the Supreme Court. “Manmohan Singh remained consistent in his insistence about paring the food security Bill and in his advocacy for GM crops,” said a senior official in the United Progressive Alliance (UPA) government.

The Prime Minister’s Office (PMO) declined to comment on detailed queries sent by Business Standard.

Singh had prevailed in the face of stiff opposition from the Union environment & forests minister, Jayanthi Natarajan, before she was shunted out on December 21 last year. When she resigned, stories were leaked about Natarajan having delayed decisions, sat on files and held up projects. She was left to defend herself as Congress Vice-President Rahul Gandhi, a day after her resignation, told industry he preferred a more efficient environmental clearances system.

In fact, being on the wrong side of the debate with the PM over GM crops likely was another factor in her being moved out. Natarajan was replaced by M Veerappa Moily.

In February, the PM said at a public meeting: “While safety must be ensured, we should not succumb to unscientific prejudices against Bt crops.” With one broad stroke, Singh had coloured all opposition to the immediate approval for GM food crop trials as “unscientific”. This included the oppositions from Natarajan, the Parliamentary standing committee on agriculture, the majority of a Supreme Court-appointed expert panel and several state governments.

A couple of weeks later, Moily delivered the goods for the PM. He overruled his predecessor and extended the validity of approvals already granted to GM food crop trials, calling the move a “routine decision”. Moily said the clearances had been pending for long and were not banned by the apex court as his predecessor had wrongly believed. It was a smart wordplay. Those had not been Natarajan’s grounds.

Moily also instructed the environment secretary to sit with the Cabinet secretary and other officials to take a unified position before the Supreme Court. It meant agreeing to the views of Agriculture Minister Sharad Pawar and the PMO. He and the environment secretary said Natarajan had not been against a joint affidavit. Again, a clever finesse: Under pressure from PMO, she had relented days before resigning and agreed to a joint affidavit but only after insisting on a temporary moratorium on field trials of GM food crops.

The debate over introduction of GM food crops in India has remained as polarizing as that on nuclear power, another instance when the prime minister showed plenty of assertive self. The GM crop industry, many scientists in the field, the Union agricultural minister, the prime minister and some states believe GM crops would rejuvenate agricultural productivity and lead to food security. The other side is packed with certain Congress leaders, most state governments, some political parties, scientists, academicians and green activists who remain skeptical. More importantly, they are wary of the unassessed and potentially irreversible damaging impact of releasing GM on people and environment.

At the moment, more than 100 GM food crop varieties are moving through the experimentation pipeline and could fundamentally change the nature of food crops and production in the country.

Days before her resignation, in a three-page note, Natarajan had said: “Despite my insistence that the environment ministry should file a separate affidavit, it has been felt the government should not be seen at cross-purposes and that a common affidavit should be filed.”

She wrote this as part of a three-page note to counter the PM and the agriculture ministry’s insistence to go to the Supreme Court advocating GM crop food trials, without awaiting reforms or review of the regulatory process. The majority report of the Supreme Court-appointed expert panel (Technical Expert Committee) had come out in 2013, demanding radical regulatory reforms and recommending a moratorium on field trials till that happened. The agriculture ministry and the department of science & technology was dead set against it.

PMO WADES IN

The prime minister stepped in for the first time when the Supreme Court panel filed its interim report in October 2012, recommending a moratorium on crop trials. Records show Natarajan relented from her strong on-the-record and oft-repeated position against an immediate go-ahead to the GM crop trials after a conversation with the prime minister.

She wrote: “It is not possible for the Ministry of Environment & Forests to accept the stand of the agriculture ministry that GM crops or field trials can be allowed at this time. I am also of the view that the report of the panel (advocating the moratorium) should be accepted.” But, she changed her view the same day, noting it was done after a discussion with the prime minister, of which the environment secretary and the Cabinet secretary, too, were aware.

The agriculture ministry then filed an affidavit on behalf of the Union of India that opposed the interim report and got another expert nominated on board the apex court’s panel – a retired government agriculture scientist. When this panel filed its final report, this one member filed a dissenting report against a moratorium on trials. All the other five members unanimously reiterated the need for a moratorium.

Natarajan also took the position that no clearances should be given by her ministry’s statutory Genetic Engineering Appraisal Committee for field trial proposals till the Court takes a final call.

By November 2013, the time had come to respond to the final report of the apex court panel. The agriculture ministry again provided the position that the Union government should take before the apex court. It trashed the panel’s majority report and backed the one-member dissent report advocating a go-ahead for the GM crop trials. The environment ministry baulked at the idea. Even junior officers in the ministry warned the position seemed only a rehash of previously stated facts and it “gives the impression that the strategy is to reject the majority report”. The officer noted it was unlikely the Supreme Court would reject the majority report and advised it would be better to clearly state what reforms would be undertaken before trials are approved.

But, under PMO’s instructions, the Cabinet secretary continued to meet to draw up a common affidavit. He reported to the PM directly at times. Business Standard has reviewed some of the affidavit drafts. The fundamental differences could not possibly be resolved till Natarajan keeled over. She kept reiterating her basic opposition to this. She again spoke to the principal secretary to the prime minister on the need for a differing view. The matter was resolved when she was asked to quit.

The government has begun giving clearances – fresh ones are expected in April, even as the UPA government’s tenure comes to an end soon – while the Court has yet to give its judgment. The Parliamentary standing committee on agriculture has castigated the UPA government for going ahead with the GM crop trials in its latest report.

FIELD DAY

Some of the 100-odd GM food crops in the pipeline:

Rice, wheat, okra, onion, groundnut, bamboo, tomato, apple, cucumber, sugarcane, cabbage, cauliflower, tea, coffee, corn, ginger, ragi, yam, castor, sunflower, mustard, black pepper, pea, soybean, papaya, cardamom, carrot, banana, tobacco, orange, pearl millet, potato and pulses

The few states ready to permit food crop trials:

Andhra Pradesh

Gujarat

Punjab

Rajasthan

VARIED VOICES

Parliamentary standing committee: Stop food crop trials, complete overhaul of regulations

Supreme Court expert panel’s majority report: Moratorium on food crop trials till there’s complete overhaul of regulatory reforms and testing systems are made clear; ban some trials

Supreme Court panel’s minority one-member report: Go ahead with trials; some reforms can happen later

Union agriculture ministry: Go ahead with trials; some reforms can follow; not bound by time

Environment ministry (under Natarajan): Follow the Parliamentary standing committee and the SC majority report; no clearances till apex court decides; should take before SC a view other than agriculture ministry’s

Environment ministry (under Moily): SC has not banned trials; go ahead with trials while the agriculture ministry takes the lead before the Supreme Court

Prime Minister’s Office: Single view of agriculture ministry and department of biotechnology should prevail, environment ministry should agree; trials should go on.

More Information:

Promotion of GM crops a trap, say social groups: Prominent social groups working on organic farming in Punjab have reacted strongly to promotion of genetically modified (GM) crops by agri major Mahyco and scientists of the National Bureau of Plant Genetic Resources (NBPGR), describing it as a ‘trap’ by agri business corporations.

Veerappa Moily claims that he has not approved any field trials, when confronted by farmers: When confronted by scores of farmers of the Karnataka Rajya Raitha Sangha (KRRS) and South Indian Coordination Committee of Farmers’ Movements (SICCFM), from four states of South India, Veerappa Moily, the Union Minister for Environment and Forests, today claimed that ‘as far as his knowledge goes, he had not approved any field trials of GM crops’.

 

                          
Categories: Ecological News

World Bank deliberately underestimates poverty

Ground Reality - Tue, 04/15/2014 - 17:05

 Dhravi slum in Mumbai -- National Geographic 
The business of poverty actually extends to sweeping the poor under the carpet. Over the years I find that while most governments across the world have failed to stem poverty (except in countries like China), the international financial institutions are bending backwards to demonstrate that economic liberalisation helps in reducing poverty, and often drastically. This is being achieved by tampering with statistics, and often providing social indicators that don't actually measure up. One such classic example is the dollar a day measure adopted by the World Bank to define the percentage of the population living in extreme poverty.

Global empirical evidence is now emerging challenging the World Bank's deliberate underestimation of poverty. Recent studies (ECLAC 2002, 2011) have conclusively shown that in Latin America for instance actual poverty rates are twice than what the World Bank had projected. More recently, on April 11, 2014, a study by the University of Bristol published in the Journal of Sociology concludes that the World Bank is painting a 'rosy' picture by keeping poverty too low due to its narrow definition. Dr Christopher Deeming of the Bristol University's School of Geographical Sciences is quoted as saying: "Our findings suggest that the current international poverty line of a dallar a day seriously underestimates global poverty."

He further states: "If the World Bank had in fact used a poverty line grounded in basic needs, rather in its present artificial one which only looks at one monetary measure, the total number of poor people in the world would increase substantially, perhaps by as much as 30 per cent." (The report can be read here: http://jos.sagepub.com/content/early/2014/04/09/1440783314523867.full.pdf+html).  This is exactly what I have been saying over the years. Take the case of poverty line in India. The stringent poverty measures that the Planning Commission has been adopting for decades actually only estimate the extent of starvation (India's poverty line is actually a starvation line. http://devinder-sharma.blogspot.in/2009/12/indias-poverty-line-is-actually.html).

Following the same prescription, India too has shown that its poverty has come down from 37 per cent to 22 per cent. This shameless demonstration of 'inclusive growth' comes at a time when the Arjun Sengupta committee had in 2007 worked out that 77 per cent of the population or roughly 834 million people were able to spend not more than Rs 20/day (roughly 30 US cents). Even in the United States, poverty is growing with estimates pointing to 1 in 7 living in poverty.  

Unless the World Bank makes an immediate correction, all projections of removing 'extreme poverty' by 2030 would be as farcical as its earlier target set in 1973 to remove 'absolute poverty' in low and middle income countries by the end of the century i.e. the year 2000.  But will the World Bank do this? Your guess is as good as mine. After all, it pays to keep poverty low. Only then you can justify the faulty economic policies.

Further reading: How to keep poverty low
http://www.huffingtonpost.com/devinder-sharma/how-to-keep-poverty-low_b_838329.html

Categories: Ecological News

World Wind Power Poised to Bounce Back after Slowing in 2013

Green Blog - Mon, 04/14/2014 - 20:02
At the end of 2013, the wind farms installed in more than 85 countries had a combined generating capacity of 318,000 megawatts, which would be enough to meet the residential electricity needs of the European Union’s 506 million people. New data from the Global Wind Energy Council show that wind developers built 35,000 megawatts of new generating capacity worldwide in 2013. This was down from 45,000 megawatts installed in 2012—marking only the second time in 25 years that installed capacity increased by less than it did the year before.

The principal reason for the decline in new capacity was a more than 90 percent drop in U.S. wind farm installations from a record 13,000 megawatts in 2012. Although the United States has the second-highest wind power capacity in the world—some 61,000 megawatts—a lack of long-term policy planning has led to several such boom-and-bust cycles.

Despite the dearth of new capacity, there were many bright spots for U.S. wind power in 2013. Wind accounted for at least 12 percent of the electricity generated in nine states, including Iowa (27 percent) and South Dakota (26 percent). Iowa will get another boost from a $1.9 billion deal announced in December 2013: Warren Buffett’s MidAmerican Energy Company purchased Siemens turbines totaling more than 1,000 megawatts, all destined for Iowa wind projects. When complete in 2015, these wind farms will likely bring the wind share of electricity in Iowa to at least 33 percent.

Wind’s contribution to the grid is also growing in Texas, the U.S. wind capacity leader with 12,400 megawatts. The Electric Reliability Council of Texas reports that wind farms produced nearly 10 percent of the electricity delivered to its 24 million customers in 2013. And with the early-2014 completion of state-funded transmission projects linking windy West Texas and the Panhandle to population centers to the east, Texas can accommodate even more clean electricity on the grid. The state has 7,000 megawatts of new wind power capacity under construction, more than half of the 12,000 megawatts currently being built nationwide.

China has led the world in installed capacity since surpassing the United States in 2010. In contrast to the drop in U.S. installations in 2013, China’s wind construction accelerated—adding 16,000 megawatts to reach a total 91,000 megawatts. Wind further solidified its role as the number three electricity source in China (behind coal and hydropower), out-generating nuclear power by an impressive 22 percent. The National Energy Administration aims to make wind-generated electricity cost-competitive with coal by 2020. (See data.)

As in Texas and many other places around the world, some of China’s best wind resources are found far from major cities where electricity demand is high. High-voltage transmission lines now under construction will connect wind-rich provinces in the north and west with more populous ones in the central and eastern provinces. For example, one project linking remote Xinjiang province to the 4 million people in Zhengzhou, the capital of Henan province, was completed in early 2014. Infrastructure projects such as this one will be critical in reaching the official Chinese goal of 200,000 megawatts of grid-connected wind capacity by 2020.

India, the country with the fifth-highest amount of installed capacity, added 1,700 megawatts in 2013 to cross the 20,000 megawatt threshold. Although this was 25 percent less new capacity than in 2012, India is poised to grow its wind power base dramatically in the coming years. In January 2014, the government announced a National Wind Energy Mission—in the spirit of the country’s National Solar Mission—to be launched mid-year. By beefing up the grid and using incentives to attract investment to wind hotspots, the program aims to hit 100,000 megawatts of wind within eight years.

Development is picking up elsewhere in Asia as well. In Pakistan, wind power capacity doubled to 100 megawatts in 2013 and will double again when two 50-megawatt projects go online in 2014. Thailand also doubled its wind capacity in 2013, reaching 220 megawatts. And the Philippines has seven projects due for completion in 2014 that will expand wind capacity there 13-fold to 450 megawatts.

Before China’s recent surge, Europe was the leading wind power region. Germany, which added 3,200 megawatts in 2013, ranks third worldwide in total capacity, with 34,000 megawatts. Four of its northern states regularly get half or more of their electricity from wind farms.

When it comes to wind’s contribution to national electricity needs, European countries top the leaderboard. Denmark gets one third of its electricity from wind, well on its way to a target of 50 percent by 2020. Portugal, Lithuania, Spain, and Ireland come in at around 20 percent each. In fact, wind came within a percentage point of beating nuclear power for the title of Spain’s number one electricity source in 2013. And Germany, Europe’s largest economy, obtained 8 percent of its electricity from wind farms.
While some of the larger European wind power markets, including Spain, Italy, and France, have slowed down, smaller players are speeding up. Poland and Romania each expanded their wind power capacity by 36 percent in 2013, to 3,400 and 2,600 megawatts, respectively. And in Turkey, even though the approval process for projects is slow, wind capacity grew by 28 percent to nearly 3,000 megawatts.

One region with enormous wind potential but little development so far is Latin America. Brazil, best known for getting 80 percent of its electricity from large hydropower, hosts the most wind power capacity in the region—now close to 3,500 megawatts after a 950-megawatt addition in 2013. At government auctions, wind companies have won more than half of all contracts to sell electricity since 2011, according to Bloomberg data. Some 10,000 megawatts of wind may be installed in Brazil between 2014 and 2019. Mexico, Chile, Argentina, and Uruguay also added wind power in 2013.

In all of Africa, just one project added capacity in 2013. The final 90 megawatts of Ethiopia’s 120-megawatt Ashegoda Wind Farm went into operation, more than doubling the country’s wind capacity to 170 megawatts. South Africa has 2,100 megawatts of wind power in the pipeline, including 750 megawatts to be added in 2014 alone.

Offshore projects account for just over 2 percent of the wind capacity installed worldwide. Having hit a seventh straight annual installation record in 2013, however, offshore wind is growing fast. More than half of the 7,100 megawatts of offshore capacity belongs to the United Kingdom, which installed 730 megawatts in its waters in 2013. Denmark, Germany, and Belgium each added at least 190 megawatts to their totals, while China added 39 megawatts. Both Vietnam and Spain added offshore wind capacity for the first time, as did the United States, although the U.S. project was one very small demonstration turbine off the coast of Maine.

Offshore wind is still one of the more expensive electricity generating technologies, but onshore wind is often highly competitive with coal, natural gas, and nuclear power in areas with strong wind resources. And costs continue to fall as wind manufacturers steadily improve turbine efficiency, harnessing more wind per machine. In the United States, the average price of wind-generated electricity has dropped 40 percent since 2009.

After a slower year in 2013, world wind installations will bounce back in 2014, perhaps to a new record—the Global Wind Energy Council sees the potential for 47,000 megawatts. Roughly half of the total will be built in China and the United States (around three times more in the former than in the latter). This is good news for the wind business, for electricity consumers, and for people who value cleaner air and water. But increasingly dire scientific warnings about the consequences of climate change mean that the world will need to accelerate the shift to carbon-free, renewable sources of energy even more so in the years to come.

By J. Matthew Roney.
Categories: Ecological News

Vandana Shiva sows seeds for the future

Navdanya Diary - Mon, 04/14/2014 - 13:54

 

Vandana Shiva sows seeds for the future

by Penney Kome
Rabble, 11 April, 2014

Source: http://rabble.ca/blogs/bloggers/penney-kome/2014/04/vandana-shiva-sows-seeds-future-1

“Food is everyone’s business,: said Dr Vandana Shiva, addressing the 580 people at Public Interest Alberta’s Calgary keynote event. As founder of the Navdanya (seed savers) movement in India, Shiva has made a career of challenging major agricultural and pharmaceutical makers — in the field now called “Life Sciences” — over their attempts to patent traditional medicines like the Neem tree, to promote Genetically Modified Organism (GMO) products, and to seize control of seeds so that farmers have to pay whatever price they want to charge.

Canadian educated (PhD in quantum physics, UWO), Shiva is a frequent visitor to Canada. This visit to Alberta is particularly timely in light of the Harperite government’s new Omnibus Bill C-18, which the National Farmer’s Union fiercely opposes. C-18 would, among other things, allow companies to charge royalties on the crop as well as charging for the seeds.

“The primary purpose of the C-18 measures is to increase revenues for seed companies,” writes Randall Affleck, an NFU Board member. “Farmers will eventually be bound to yet another agri-business profit centre, this time via the seed. Litigation and the gradual de-registration of publicly available varieties will help persuade farmers to replace farm-saved seed with seed purchased from the company every year. Farmers are being promised more variety research and development, and more innovative new varieties through this privatized system. However, farmers will simply end up paying more royalties with no say in how these funds would be used.”

In India, more than 280,000 farmers have committed suicide because of expensive, unreliable patented seeds. “Patenting seeds has huge costs for farmers, biodiversity, and the ecology,” said Shiva. “Fifty percent of Monsanto’s seed price is profit. That represented an 8000 percent price jump for Indian farmers.”

Monsanto justifies the price increase by saying farmers will save money on other supplies, such as fertilizer and pesticides. “But despite Monsanto’s promises, the patented seeds do not eliminate the need for pesticides,” said Shiva. “[Monsanto’s] Bt seeds are failing now in Pakistan. It’s a failed technology.”

“Patenting seeds makes farmers consumers instead of producers, never able to keep up,” she said.

The result in India is that “the same farmer sometimes buys seeds three times in a season, which for him is an unpayable debt. When the company agent comes to take the land because the farmer can’t afford to pay for the seed — land that may have been in his family for many generations — the farmer goes into the field and drinks a bottle of pesticide.”

Canada’s Bill C-18 would give seed producers the right to confiscate farmland for seed nonpayment too.

Shiva cited Mahatma Gandhi’s summation of ecological justice: the earth has enough for everyone’s needs but not for some people’s greed. And she asked: “How did we reach a stage where greed, once seen as a perversion, has become something to celebrate?”

“For most of history, everything that has been vital to living has been held in common. Governments and others are taking the commons, which are the property of all life, and turned them into private property.”

To forestall public resistance, she said, “Every enclosure of the commons has been justified on the grounds of progress.” She offered the story of the Kerala women’s campaign against the Coca Cola plant as an example. Writer Anita Roddick described the sheer destructiveness of the plant, which displaced thousands of agricultural workers from prime farming land.

“As soon as the first nail was hammered, the plant was in violation of India’s Land Utilization Act, which forbids agricultural land from being converted for non-agricultural use. Where thousands of locals once worked the land for a living, just 100 local residents are employed at the plant, and another 150 as casual laborers who have no job security or appreciable benefits.

“The plant drilled more than 60 deep wells on the land in two years, and extracts between 600,000 and 1.5 million liters of water each day, at absolutely no cost to Coca-Cola. The aquifer is so over tapped; the water table has dropped below a measurable level in many areas. The three agricultural reservoirs in the region have dried up completely. What remains of the groundwater is polluted by runoff and rampant dumping along the banks of canals on the plant property.”

With their water polluted, the locals have few options besides purchasing pricey bottled Dasani water from the very plant that destroyed their farmland and their natural water supply. “Anywhere Coke lands, it lowers the local water table.” said Shiva, who worked with the local women to shut down the Kerala plant. She brought a greeting from one of them: “Tell them when they drink Coca Cola, they are drinking the blood of our people.”

Coke follows a familiar two-step pattern to create local markets, similar to the Shock Doctrine: first environmental disaster, then high prices. “In every enclosure of the commons,” said Shiva, “the first step is an enclosure by pollution, as Coke did, by allowing dumping into the local water supply. Then after you’ve created a scarcity, the next enclosure is privatization.”

Such tactics have backfired in India, though. “The World Bank’s demand that India privatize water caused so much civil unrest that the Delhi government had to backtrack. In India we feel that water is our sacred commons, and not a commodity. The River Ganges is Mother to all of us. Village after village blocked privatization of their water tanks.”

Air rights are undergoing a similar corporate grab for natural resources. “With the enclosure of the atmospheric commons,” said Shiva, “first polluters dumped excess greenhouse gases (GHGs) into the atmosphere that their stacks didn’t have the capacity to reuse. Then, once the climate destabilized, they used the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change work and the UN convention to say, ‘Now we can privatize – through emissions trading.’”

“I come from the area of the Himalayas that feeds all the branches of the Ganges. The glaciers there are retreating at a rate of 23 meters a year, 50 meters a year. This may not seem obvious, but hydro dams are part of emissions trading. There were 500 dams planned for our region. They only built 50, but those 50 destabilized the whole river system. The rivers rose 20 feet. My whole office was under four feet of water. Our region lost 20,000 people to the flood this year.”

Linear, profit-oriented thinking has shown its limitations – and its intentions. In her 2005 book, Earth Democracy, Shiva argued that “…globalization’s transformation of all beings and resources into commodities robs diverse species and people of their rightful share of ecological, cultural, economic, and political space. The ‘ownership’ of the rich is based on the ‘dispossession’ of the poor – it is the common, public resources of the poor which are privatized, and the poor who are disowned economically, politically, and culturally.”

Vandana Shiva has opposed globalization since even before the 1999 popular uprising in Seattle. Moreover, she has an outstanding track record of mobilizing the people who are most vulnerable to displacement during economic development programs – the (often indigenous) peoples who make their living through subsistence farming and sharing. The1993 Right Livelihood Award Committee called her record that of a “totally committed, very productive and effective activist-advocate-intellectual,” and gave her the prize “for putting women and ecology at the heart of modern development discourse.” She has of course picked up many other awards since then.

Shiva is equally effective in proposing alternatives to the corporatism she opposes. “Another human future is being born,” she wrote in Earth Democracy, “a future based on inclusion, not exclusion; on nonviolence, not violence; on reclaiming the commons, not their enclosure; on freely sharing the earth’s resources, not monopolizing and privatizing them…”

Instead, she calls for “living economies, living cultures, and living democracies” to emerge synergistically. “A global economy which takes ecological limits into account must necessarily localize production to reduce wasting both natural resources and people. And only economies built on ecological foundations can become living economies that ensure sustainability and prosperity for all….We are the food we eat, the water we drink, the air we breathe. And reclaiming democratic control over our food and water and our ecological survival is the necessary project for our freedom.”

No wonder then, that PIA invited Vandana Shiva to be keynote speaker at a conference called, “Re-asserting the Public Good in a Corporatized World” (in Edmonton at the Chateau Lacombe this weekend). Well, there are also a couple of decades of shared campaign history with PIA Executive Director Bill Moore-Kilgannon.

Also on the dynamic conference line-up are former Clerk of the Privy Council Alex Himelfarb; long-term Director of the Childcare Resource and Research Unit Martha Friendly; anti-tarsands activist Crystal Lameman, from the Beaver Lake Cree Nation; and Dr Craig Holman, Public Citizen’s government ethics lobbyist in Washington, DC.

Food is everyone’s business, as Vandana Shiva said. One small step towards reclaiming control over our food would be to heed the National Farmers’ Union, and sign their petition against Bill C-18.

“Food is everyone’s business,: said Dr Vandana Shiva, addressing the 580 people at Public Interest Alberta’s Calgary keynote event. As founder of the Navdanya(seed savers) movement in India, Shiva has made a career of challenging major agricultural and pharmaceutical makers — in the field now called “Life Sciences” — over their attempts to patent traditional medicines like the Neem tree, to promote Genetically Modified Organism (GMO) products, and to seize control of seeds so that farmers have to pay whatever price they want to charge. Canadian educated (PhD in quantum physics, UWO), Shiva is a frequent visitor to Canada. This visit to Alberta is particularly timely in light of the Harperite government’s new Omnibus Bill C-18, which the National Farmer’s Union fiercely opposes. C-18 would, among other things, allow companies to charge royalties on the crop as well as charging for the seeds.

“The primary purpose of the C-18 measures is to increase revenues for seed companies,” writes Randall Affleck, an NFU Board member. “Farmers will eventually be bound to yet another agri-business profit centre, this time via the seed. Litigation and the gradual de-registration of publicly available varieties will help persuade farmers to replace farm-saved seed with seed purchased from the company every year. Farmers are being promised more variety research and development, and more innovative new varieties through this privatized system. However, farmers will simply end up paying more royalties with no say in how these funds would be used.” In India, more than 280,000 farmers have committed suicide because of expensive, unreliable patented seeds. “Patenting seeds has huge costs for farmers, biodiversity, and the ecology,” said Shiva. “Fifty percent of Monsanto’s seed price is profit. That represented an 8000 percent price jump for Indian farmers.”

Monsanto justifies the price increase by saying farmers will save money on other supplies, such as fertilizer and pesticides. “But despite Monsanto’s promises, the patented seeds do not eliminate the need for pesticides,” said Shiva.

“[Monsanto’s] Bt seeds are failing now in Pakistan. It’s a failed technology.”
“Patenting seeds makes farmers consumers instead of producers, never able to keep up,” she said.The result in India is that “the same farmer sometimes buys seeds three times in a season, which for him is an unpayable debt. When the company agent comes to take the land because the farmer can’t afford to pay for the seed — land that may have been in his family for many generations — the farmer goes into the field and drinks a bottle of pesticide.”Canada’s Bill C-18 would give seed producers the right to confiscate farmland for seed nonpayment too. Shiva cited Mahatma Gandhi’s summation of ecological justice: the earth has enough for everyone’s needs but not for some people’s greed. And she asked: “How did we reach a stage where greed, once seen as a perversion, has become something to celebrate? “For most of history, everything that has been vital to living has been held in common. Governments and others are taking the commons, which are the property of all life, and turned them into private property.”

To forestall public resistance, she said, “Every enclosure of the commons has been justified on the grounds of progress.” She offered the story of the Kerala women’s campaign against the Coca Cola plant as an example. Writer Anita Roddick described the sheer destructiveness of the plant, which displaced thousands of agricultural workers from prime farming land,“As soon as the first nail was hammered, the plant was in violation of India’s Land Utilization Act, which forbids agricultural land from being converted for non-agricultural use. Where thousands of locals once worked the land for a living, just 100 local residents are employed at the plant, and another 150 as casual laborers who have no job security or appreciable benefits.

“The plant drilled more than 60 deep wells on the land in two years, and extracts between 600,000 and 1.5 million liters of water each day, at absolutely no cost to Coca-Cola. The aquifer is so over tapped; the water table has dropped below a measurable level in many areas. The three agricultural reservoirs in the region have dried up completely. What remains of the groundwater is polluted by runoff and rampant dumping along the banks of canals on the plant property.”
With their water polluted, the locals have few options besides purchasing pricey bottled Dasani water from the very plant that destroyed their farmland and their natural water supply. “Anywhere Coke lands, it lowers the local water table.” said Shiva, who worked with the local women to shut down the Kerala plant. She brought a greeting from one of them: “Tell them when they drink Coca Cola, they are drinking the blood of our people.”

Coke follows a familiar two-step pattern to create local markets, similar to the Shock Doctrine: first environmental disaster, then high prices. “In every enclosure of the commons,” said Shiva, “the first step is an enclosure by pollution, as Coke did, by allowing dumping into the local water supply. Then after you’ve created a scarcity, the next enclosure is privatization.”

Such tactics have backfired in India, though. “The World Bank’s demand that India privatize water caused so much civil unrest that the Delhi government had to backtrack. In India we feel that water is our sacred commons, and not a commodity. The River Ganges is Mother to all of us. Village after village blocked privatization of their water tanks.”

Air rights are undergoing a similar corporate grab for natural resources. “With the enclosure of the atmospheric commons,” said Shiva, “first polluters dumped excess greenhouse gases (GHGs) into the atmosphere that their stacks didn’t have the capacity to reuse. Then, once the climate destabilized, they used the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change work and the UN convention to say, ‘Now we can privatize – through emissions trading.’”

“I come from the area of the Himalayas that feeds all the branches of the Ganges. The glaciers there are retreating at a rate of 23 meters a year, 50 meters a year. This may not seem obvious, but hydro dams are part of emissions trading. There were 500 dams planned for our region. They only built 50, but those 50 destabilized the whole river system. The rivers rose 20 feet. My whole office was under four feet of water. Our region lost 20,000 people to the flood this year.”

Linear, profit-oriented thinking has shown its limitations – and its intentions. In her 2005 book, Earth Democracy, Shiva argued that “…globalization’s transformation of all beings and resources into commodities robs diverse species and people of their rightful share of econological, cultural, economic, and political space. The ‘ownership’ of the rich is based on the ‘dispossession’ of the poor – it is the common, public resources of the poor which are privatized, and the poor who are disowned economically, politically, and culturally.”

Vandana Shiva has opposed globalization since even before the 1999 popular uprising in Seattle. Moreover, she has an outstanding track record of mobilizing the people who are most vulnerable to displacement during economic development programs – the (often indigenous) peoples who make their living through subsistence farming and sharing. The 1993 Right Livelihood Award Committee called her record that of a “totally committed, very productive and effective activist-advocate-intellectual,” and gave her the prize “for putting women and ecology at the heart of modern development discourse.” She has of course picked up many other awards since then.

Shiva is equally effective in proposing alternatives to the corporatism she opposes. “Another human future is being born,” she wrote in Earth Democracy, “a future based on inclusion, not exclusion; on nonviolence, not violence; on reclaiming the commons, not their enclosure; on freely sharing the earth’s resources, not monopolizing and privatizing them…”

Instead, she calls for “living economies, living cultures, and living democracies” to emerge synergistically. “A global economy which takes ecological limits into account must necessarily localize production to reduce wasting both natural resources and people. And only economies built on ecological foundations can become living economies that ensure sustainability and prosperity for all….We are the food we eat, the water we drink, the air we breathe. And reclaiming democratic control over our food and water and our ecological survival is the necessary project for our freedom.”

No wonder then, that PIA invited Vandana Shiva to be keynote speaker at a conference called, “Re-asserting the Public Good in a Corporatized World” (in Edmonton at the Chateau Lacombe this weekend). Well, there are also a couple of decades of shared campaign history with PIA Executive Director Bill Moore-Kilgannon.

Also on the dynamic conference line-up are former Clerk of the Privy Council Alex Himelfarb; long-term Director of the Childcare Resource and Research Unit Martha Friendly; anti-tarsands activist Crystal Lameman, from the Beaver Lake Cree Nation; and Dr Craig Holman, Public Citizen’s government ethics lobbyist in Washington, DC.

Food is everyone’s business, as Vandana Shiva said. One small step towards reclaiming control over our food would be to heed the National Farmers’ Union, and sign their petition against Bill C-18.

 

                          
Categories: Ecological News

AFSA strongly condemns sleight of hand moves by ARIPO to join UPOV 1991, bypass National Laws and outlaw Farmers Rights

Navdanya Diary - Fri, 04/11/2014 - 13:46

 

AFSA STRONGLY CONDEMNS SLEIGHT OF HAND MOVES BY ARIPO TO JOIN UPOV 1991, BYPASS NATIONAL LAWS AND OUTLAW FARMERS RIGHTS

African Centre for Biosafety – Petitions, 3 April, 2014
Source: http://www.acbio.org.za/index.php/media/64-media-releases/456-afsa-strongly-condemns-sleight-of-hand-moves-by-aripo-to-join-upov-1991-bypass-national-laws-and-outlaw-farmers-rights

PRESS RELEASE

The Alliance for Food Sovereignty in Africa (AFSA) 1) strongly condemns the move by the African Regional Intellectual Property Organisation (ARIPO) to join UPOV 1991, which will effectively outlaw the centuries-old African farmers’ practice of freely using, exchanging and selling seeds/propagating material. These practices underpin 90% of the agricultural system within the ARIPO region 2).

AFSA has learnt that the Secretary General of ARIPO, on 6 March 2014, requested the UPOV Council to consider the Draft ARIPO Protocol for the Protection of Plant Varieties (‘Draft Protocol’) for its conformity with the UPOV 1991 Convention 3). If at the UPOV meeting to be held in Geneva on 11 April 2014, the UPOV Council decides that the Draft Protocol is indeed in conformity with UPOV 1991, and that ARIPO member states that ratify the Draft Protocol can join UPOV 1991, the implications will be far reaching.

According to Duke Tagoe from Food Sovereignty Ghana, a grassroots movement aggressively and successfully opposing Ghana’s Plant Variety Protection Bill, “this will mean that our government in Ghana, who has been struggling to pass our Plant Variety Protection (PVP) Bill because of local resistance that it is based on UPOV 1991, can simply dump our national processes and disregard farmer’ rights, ratify the ARIPO Protocol and become a UPOV 1991 member, all in one foul swoop. This is wholly unconstitutional, violates the rule of law and is totally outrageous.”

According to Mariam Mayet of the African Centre for Biosafety, an AFSA member, “ARIPO is acting way beyond its legal mandate. Furthermore, we are of the firm view that this move by ARIPO is in violation of several African regional instruments, including and especially the fundamental rights and freedoms protected by the African Charter on Human and People’s Rights. We will seek the necessary redress in this regard.”

AFSA has made several submissions to ARIPO detailing its many concerns with the content of the Draft Protocol, which is based on UPOV 1991, and the bias and lack of transparency in the accompanying processes 4). These concerns have fallen on deaf ears. In this regard, AFSA has warned ARIPO and its member states that UPOV 1991 is a wholly inappropriate, inflexible and restrictive regime designed for developed countries (particularly European nations) and the development of large-scale commercial farming and breeding focused on producing uniform plant varieties. Such a “one-size-fits-all” regime is unsuitable for African conditions, particularly for the “Least Developed Countries”, which make up the majority of ARIPO members.

According to Dr Million Belay, AFSA Coordinator, “We are appalled by the provisions of ARIPO’s draft protocol based on UPOV 1991, that forbids farmers from freely exchanging or selling farm-saved seed/propagating material even in circumstances where breeders’ interests are not affected (e.g. small amounts or local rural trade). Use of farm-saved seeds on a farmer’s own holdings is allowed only for certain crops and this too may be subject to the payment of royalties to the breeder. Further, farmers will be required to provide information to breeders on the use of farm-saved seed. This is totally unacceptable.”

The informal seed system prevailing in ARIPO member states is the primary source of subsistence, employment and income for the majority of the population in the ARIPO region, which consists mainly of the rural poor. About 80-90% of all seed used in the ARIPO region originates from the informal seed system (i.e. from farm-saved seed, exchanges, barter and local markets) independent of whether farmers cultivate local or modern varieties. According to Dr Belay, “The proposed draft protocol dismisses the millions of smallholders in ARIPO member states who depend on agriculture for their livelihoods, with the vast majority using farm-saved seed to ensure their food security. ARIPO appears to be intent on handing over our food and seed sovereignty to foreign corporations, reducing the availability of local plant varieties, weakening our rich biodiversity, and denying millions of farmers the right to breed, share and sell farm saved seed needed to feed their families and sustain livelihoods.”

AFSA demands that UPOV member states not allow ARIPO to join UPOV 1991 and that the Draft Protocol be sent back to the drawing board; that ARIPO consult with smallholders; and, especially, that it discuss appropriate seed laws for Africa, with the obligation of protecting biodiversity, farmers’ rights and overall ecological productivity entrenched as a primary objective.
Ends

Notes to Editors:

A positive ruling by the UPOV Council in favour of the Draft Protocol being in compliance with UPOV 1991 will most likely result in the Draft Protocol being adopted as a final Protocol at an ARIPO Diplomatic Conference to be held later this year.
The ARIPO PVP Protocol will come into force when only four member states of ARIPO ratify the Protocol, and any of these members will be able to join UPOV 1991, even if that member does not have a national PVP law in place, in the event that the UPOV Council deciding that member states of ARIPO who ratify the Protocol can join UPOV 1991.

Contact:

Dr Millon Belay, Coordinator AFSA
Email: millionbelay@gmail.com
Mr Duke Tagoe, Food Sovereignty Ghana
Email: dukezulu@yandex.com
Tel: +233 277776686/ +233 265743484
Ms Mariam Mayet,
Email: Mariam@acbio.org.za

  1. The Alliance for Food Sovereignty in Africa is a pan-African platform that represents small-scale farmers, pastoralists, hunter/gatherers, indigenous peoples, citizens and environmentalists from Africa. It comprises networks and farmer organisations working in Africa including the African Biodiversity network (ABN), Coalition for the Protection of African Genetic Heritage (COPAGEN), Comparing and Supporting Endogenous Development (COMPAS) Africa, Friends of the Earth-Africa, Indigenous Peoples of Africa Coordinating Committee (IPACC), Participatory Ecological Land Use Management (PELUM) Association, Eastern and Southern African Small Scale Farmers Forum (ESAFF), La Via Campesina Africa, FAHAMU, World Neighbours, Network of Farmers’ and Agricultural Producers’ Organizations of West Africa (ROPPA), Community Knowledge Systems (CKS) and Plate forme Sous Régionale des Organisations Paysannes d’Afrique Centrale (PROPAC).
  2. The African Regional Intellectual Property Organisation, ARIPO was mainly established to pool the resources of its member countries in industrial property matters. The following countries are members of ARIPO: Botswana, Gambia, Ghana, Kenya, Lesotho, Malawi, Mozambique, Namibia, Sierra Leone, Liberia, Rwanda, Somalia, Sudan, Swaziland, Tanzania, Uganda, Zambia and Zimbabwe (Total: 18 Member States).
  3. International Convention for the Protection of New Varieties of Plants of December 2, 1961, as revised at Geneva on November 10, 1972, on October 23, 1978, and March 19, 1991.
  4. Submission by African CSOs to ARIPO on its Draft PVP Law and Policies, November 2012 http://www.acbio.org.za/images/stories/dmdocuments/CSOconcernsonARIPO-PVPframework.pdf. AFSA’s Comments on ARIPO’s Response to Civil Society: Draft Legal Framework for Plant Variety Protection, March 2014. http://www.acbio.org.za/images/stories/dmdocuments/AFSA-letter-ARIPO-March2014.pdf.

 

                          
Categories: Ecological News

Sin maíz no hay paíz | Sign Letter to Mexican President Peña-Nieto!

Navdanya Diary - Thu, 04/10/2014 - 15:28

Cocodrillo rojo. Artwork by Francisco Toledo.

 

Sin maíz no hay paíz (No Maize, No Country) | Sign Letter to Mexican President Peña-Nieto!

Devon G. Peña
Environmental and Food Justice, 8 April, 2014

Source: http://ejfood.blogspot.it/2014/04/sin-maiz-no-hay-paiz-sign-letter-to.html

Moderator’s Note: Yesterday we posted a letter by Dr. David Schubert, an eminent immunologist from the Salk Institute in La Jolla, CA. It was addressed to Mexico’s President Lic. Enrique Peña Nieto and explained the scientific evidence and logic that Mexico should consider in moving to adopt policies resulting in a permanent ban on future planting of GMO corn inside Mexican territory. Mexico is one of the world’s principal Vavilov Centers and its indigenous farmers have over thousands of years developed the enormous diversity of more than 60 land race varieties of corn, or Zea mays. Schubert also argues that the place of corn as the definitive staple of the Mexican diet has unique health implications and no one else has ever eaten the amount of GMO corn that would be the case if the transgenic varieties are approved for future planting.

To follow-up on yesterday’s post, I am sharing a second letter with a link to a Spanish language website of the Union of Scientists Committed to Society (Mexico). The link serves the Mexican civil society movement that is seeking 1 million signatures for a letter to be sent by Mexican and global civil society to President Peña Nieto. It is essential that followers and readers of this blog sign the letter and share the link with friends and colleagues; everyone may of course repost and circulate this information to listeners. Let’s participate in the 1 million signatures against Monsanto in Mexico.

The letter below was prepared by Francisco Toledo, a renowned painter and eco-activist, and José Márquez, a respected archaeologist of Oaxaca. Toledo is the founder of PRO-OAX, Patronato, Defensa, y Conservación del Patrimonio Cultural y Natural del Estado de Oaxaca, A.C. The letter is addressed to President Lic. Enrique Peña Nieto and the authors end with call on people to join in the 1 Million against Monsanto in Mexico.

Direct link to sign the letter: Union of Scientists Committed to Society Letter to the President of Mexico on Opposition to GMO Corn

 

WE WHO LOVE MEXICO : A LETTER TO THE MEXICAN PRESIDENT

30 March 2014

Lic Enrique Peña Nieto

Presidente Constitucional de los

Estados Unidos Mexicanos

We who sign this letter are women and men who love Mexico. We are farmers, workers, students, business people, and researchers. Mexico’s diversity and peoples’ solidarity is reflected in us. On directing this letter to you, we are thinking about the future of our country and of humanity. In the first place, we are concerned for the health of our children.

We are convinced that transgenic corn is bad for Mexico. The transnational corporations that promote these seeds are seeking to make money. For us the health of our bodies and the health of the land do not have a price. We know that transgenic maize will contaminate our native maize varieties cultivated in Mexico. We know this contamination cannot be remedied once it starts. We know that this contamination signifies profit for a few, with a high cost for the majority of Mexicans.

Dr. David Schubert is an eminent researcher with international prestige. His experience permits him to understand the long-term effects of transgenics. He sent you a letter in October of last year to explain why Mexico should not approve the planting of transgenic maize. We ask you to listen to the words of scientists as respected as Dr. Shubert. And on reviewing the reasons provided by science, we ask that you also listen to the voice [sic] of indigenous communities, the voice of the farmers and the voice of the people in the cities who do not want these seeds. We reject transgenics because to contaminate our maize is to injure the heart of Mexico.

Attentively,

Maestro Francisco Toledo - Founder of PRO-OAX

Arq. José Márquez - President, PRO-OAX

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More information:

Mexican Judge Throws out Monsanto Appeal to Confirm GM Maize Ban
Sustainable Pulse, 30 December 2013

A Mexican judge has thrown out the appeals of Mexico’s SEMARNAT (Environment and Natural Resources Ministry), and Monsanto, who were attempting to overturn a September court ruling that banned the planting of GM maize in Mexico.
Read more: http://sustainablepulse.com/2013/12/30/mexican-judge-throws-monsanto-appeal-confirm-gm-maize-ban/#.U0ZYFFfesTA

-

Mexico’s GM Crops Battle Attracts Expert Attention
Sustainable Pulse, 18 March 2014

Mexico is one of the most extraordinary places on Earth when it comes to agricultural biodiversity, with the majority of the country being globally recognized as a Vavilov center (1) or in other words a center of crop origin and evolution. Maize, one of the world’s most widely grown agricultural crops and the main ingredient in the famous Mexican tortilla, is even known to have originated from the beautiful Tehuacan Valley (2).
Read more: http://sustainablepulse.com/2014/03/18/mexicos-gm-crops-battle-attracts-expert-attention/#.U0ZZGlfesTC

#SeedFreedom Action, 15 April 2014

MEXICO CITY: Dr. Vandana Shiva’s Public Conference on “Farmers’ Seeds” – Semillas Campesinas: http://bit.ly/1qvIRbL (click on map marker for details)

Dr. Shiva will be with Ana de Ita and the group that faught the class action suit against Monsanto.

—-

30 November 2013 Maize Celebration: https://www.facebook.com/photo.php?fbid=465660436879738&set=a.270252479753869.54028.238484846263966

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120.000 signatures Campaign: http://www.maizlibre.org/
https://www.facebook.com/photo.php?fbid=412390235540092&set=pb.238484846263966.-2207520000.1397045944

The Flower of Corn from The Perennial Plate on Vimeo.

 

 

                          
Categories: Ecological News

Farmers are cheated in Bt Brinjal ‘field cultivation’: A failed attempt at the cost of risks to human health and environment

Navdanya Diary - Wed, 04/09/2014 - 17:57

Bt Brinjal Curley leaves.Photo by Nowsher Roman

 

Farmers are cheated in Bt Brinjal ‘field cultivation’: A failed attempt at the cost of risks to human health and environment

Farida Akhter
UBINIG, 9 April, 2014

Source: http://www.ubinig.org/index.php/home/showAerticle/56/english

On 22nd January, 2014 twenty farmers from four districts were given saplings of Bt Brinjal in a ceremony organized by the Bangladesh Agricultural Research Institute (BARI) at the Bangladesh Agricultural Research Council (BARC). The Agricultural Minister Matia Chowdhury gave out the trays of saplings along with a booklet.

The farmers selected by BARI were happy because they thought they were fortunate to be chosen for such a ceremonial distribution of saplings. Matia said in her address as the chief guest, “We have decided to start cultivating Bt brinjal after different necessary tests at home and abroad. We took a long time to experiment for the pros and cons of introducing the cultivation of this variety. There is no alternative, but to accept the reality of GM crops to ensure food security of the people. The government is always alert for any kind of “negative reaction to the public’s health and the environment”.

However, there was no sign of taking any precaution for the safety of public health and environment at the field level. Even in the meeting there was no representative from the Ministry of Environment and Ministry of Health. The special guest was Ms. Janina Jarulski, Mission Director, USAID, Dhaka as the programme was sponsored by ABSP-II, USAID. The ceremony was chaired by Mr. S. M. Nazmul Islam, Secretary, Ministry of Agriculture, GOB, with other important guests such as M. Showkat Ali, Former Advisor to the Caretaker Government (who was also a promoter of biotechnology) Md. Kamaluddin, Executive Chairman, BARC and Md. Rafiqul Islam Mondol, Director General, BARI.

The ceremony and its guests, clearly showed that the event had nothing to do with orienting farmers with a particular GM crop that has been given to them, which in fact needed special attention against its potential hazards. Rather the newspapers supporting such an introduction stated that “Bangladesh formally started the cultivation of the country’s first genetically modified (GM) crop–Bt Brinjal today (22nd January, 2014). As part of the initiatives, Bangladesh Agricultural Research Institute (BARI) distributed saplings of the new crop among 20 farmers of four regions from 4 areas (Jamalpur, Rangpur, Pabna and Gazipur). Four varieties of Bt Brinjal including Bt Brinjal 1 (Uttara), Bt. Brinjal 2 (Kajla), Bt Brinjal 3 (Nayantara) and Bt. Brinjal 4 (Bari ISD006) were given to farmers in each area. That means all the four varieties are going to be cultivated in all the four areas by four different farmers.

We, the coalition against Bt. brinjal, formed in December 2013 by farmers and environmental groups protesting against the premature approval by the National Committee on Biosafety under the Ministry of Environment of limited open field cultivation, monitored by the planting of the saplings.

We noticed two things. Firstly, the farmers who are given the saplings for cultivation have no idea, no such training given, as requirement for approval. We couldn’t understand by talking to the farmers, what the farmers were told at the time of the distribution of saplings. The booklet given to them explained in a very technical and sophisticated way the methods of planting of seeds and how they should be taken care of. The farmers hardly seemed to have read it or followed it. The ceremony in Dhaka was for the media, to show that Bangladesh is well prepared to join a group of 29 countries that grow GM crops as if that is something Bangladesh needs! It is like becoming a champion of corruption.

Secondly, any opposition to Bt Brinjal was seen as opposing the ruling party, and particularly the Agricultural Minister Matia Chowdhury. So in the local area, it was the local Awami League Party cadres who reacted to any critical remarks on Bt. Brinjal saying that it is the “child” of the Agricultural Minister. So no opposition was allowed.

In the first visit to Bharoimari village, I was with Nayakrishi farmers. The plan was to hold a human chain by the farmers to create awareness among the village people about the safety aspects of this Bt. Brinjal which is not just any common brinjal, it is a GMO. The farmer Tarikuzzaman Sumon (35) is a young commercial vegetable farmer. He also runs a shop. Sumon was contacted the day before our visit and he had no objection. On 9th March, when we went there and I wanted to visit the field where Bt. brinjals was cultivated, at first there was no reaction. The Assistant Agricultural Officer Mr. Abdur Rashid was present. He called ‘someone’ and immediately his mood changed and he got very angry. He did not allow Sumon to accompany us to his field. The Agricultural officer took us there on his motor bike. We followed him in our mini-bus. On the motor-bike one UBINIG member of staff was with him. The officer told him, “Why are you making so much noise against this?”. The plants are not performing very well, so what’s the point in resisting it. He also said, we have to follow the government orders, that’s all.”

A few journalists, my colleagues and I, saw the field. It was fenced off by a synthetic fish-net with a bamboo-gate to enter the field. The size of the plot was 33 decimal, and here the Bt brinjal saplings are planted. There was no sign board and therefore no way to know which variety was planted. The condition of the plants was not good. Over 50% were drying out, despite the fact that, they had been watered in the morning. The soil was wet but looked it like dry land. In the four surrounding areas of the field there was wheat on one side, sweet gourd on the other and okra on the third side. The field was open in front.

The local journalists came, and I spoke to them. In the meantime, we got message from the rally point that they were being disbanded by the Awami League local leaders, and they were saying these plants were given by Matia Chowdhury so there cannot be any opposition to it. Clearly they took a partisan position, although we did not even mention anything about Matia Chowdhury. We were only raising concerns about its safety aspects. Soon our farmers came to the field chased by the party people with sticks in their hand. They hit several people and used abusive language against the women farmers. One woman farmer complained that she never was insulted in this way before.

Then we talked to one of the leader Wazed who was not willing to listen to us. However, we insisted on talking to him and said that we want to know if they find out that it will be harmful will they stop it. Finally with the mediation of the journalists, it was decided that we will sit down with the local leaders and share our concerns. They promised to provide support in they are convinced. Afterwards, our farmers demanded to hold the rally in front of a nearby school in Dashuria, on the highway of Pabna-Ishwardi.

The news of the attack appeared in several newspapers which led to reaction among the civil society against Bt Brinjal. A group of lawyers, journalists and environmentalists visited the field sites again in Pabna on 31st March, 2014. This time the plants in Sumon’s field looked fresh but the leaves were all curled, affected by pests. Sumon was not available. He closed his shop and went away somewhere, clearly trying to avoid the visitors. They were giving some compost in the field. The plants were too small to have fruit, although the local brinjal plants in the nearby fields have already been harvested few times.

Then we went to the field of farmer Amjad Hossain, in village Bakterpur who is basically a horticulture farmer, commonly known as Peyara (guava) Amzad. He also cultivates Litchi. He did not have any separate land allocated for Bt. Brinjal; those were planted in the Litchi garden. Peyara Amzad knew about the visit of the Coalition members, so he decided not to be at home. However, other farmers came to talk to us. No one has any idea about Bt Brinjal. They only said they were told it will not have fruit and shoot borer pest. But what about the plants? One farmer said, may be the plant will be infested by the pest and only the fruit will be safe from pests.

The seedlings were planted very late, in the second week of March 2014. An overview of the field shows the seedlings were transplanted in a line with 75 cm (approx.) spacing between rows and 75 cm between plants in the rows. The plants were 15-27 cm high at the time of visit. As an Agricultural scientist Dr. M. A. Sobhan accompanied the team. He identified that the Brinjal plants in both plots were infested by aphids, white fly and red mite. Most of the leaves of the brinjal plants were curled due to infestation of insects and mite. The Bt. brinjal plot of Shumon Mia was relatively less affected by the insects and mite. But the scale of infestation by insects and mite in the field of Amjad Hossain was such that the plants may not survive up to bearing stage.

Interestingly, while Sumon’s field can have “no pesticide spraying”, Amzad’s field will be sprayed with pesticide because of the litchi garden. How can they save Bt. Brinjal plants from pesticides which are just under the Litchi trees?

In a plot of this size, if they have proper production then they may get almost 200 kilos of brinjals. With local variety of brinjals they usually harvest 2 or 3 times a week, which means there will be enough to sell. It is unlikely that farmers are going to consume all their produce. They have to sell their product otherwise the farmers will be at loss. What are they going to do with such huge amount of brinjal.

We asked, how these brinjals can be distinguished from the normal varieties? Farmers said, we don’t know.

Bangladeshi soil is rejecting the GM crops, as it is an insult to a country which is so rich in biodiversity and has so many varieties of brinjals. Farmers were cheated by modern agriculture by believing in modern science and adopted HYV package. Then it has taken the corporate control of Hybrid seeds and became dependent on fertilizers and pesticides. Now they are given false promises – being saved from pest attack, claiming that “usually farmers have to spray pesticides up to 80 times in a cropping season of brinjal against a recommended dose of 25, making the vegetable highly toxic and that Bt gene insertion in brinjal makes it resistant to fruit and shoot borer (FSB) that causes 50 to 70 percent loss of brinjal yield.

But now, the farmers who felt that they were lucky because they were “chosen” for Bt Brinjal are now feeling cheated, yet they cannot talk about it. But farmers like Amzad who is not vegetable grower said, “Why should we bother? We took it because government gave it to us. If it is harmful, why should I care?”

                          
Categories: Ecological News

Carovana Internazionale di Solidarietà per i Semi – Festival dei Semi, del Cibo e della Democrazia della Terra a Firenze

Navdanya Diary - Wed, 04/09/2014 - 17:05

Carovana Internazionale di Solidarietà per i Semi – Festival dei Semi, del Cibo e della Democrazia della Terra a Firenze

Comunicato Stampa

Il 28 e 29 aprile Firenze ospita il Festival dei semi, del Cibo e della Democrazia della Terra Con Vandana Shiva per una nuova economia 

Il Festival costituisce una tappa della “Carovana dei semi” una manifestazione itinerante  che porterà in Europa la voce di chi vuole un’agricoltura libera da veleni e da OGM e a favore dei semi locali e delle biodiversità.

Perché i semi della Libertà?

Navdanya International è impegnata da anni nella “Campagna Globale per i semi della libertà” per sensibilizzare l’opinione pubblica e i governi sull’importanza di difendere le sementi locali, un bene pubblico quindi libero da brevetti e dai monopoli delle multinazionali.

Perché un Festival?

Promosso da Seed Freedom, Navdanya International, la Fierucola con il Patrocinio della Regione Toscana è un evento aperto a tutte le associazioni,   e istituzioni che lavorano sui semi, sul cibo e per la democrazia della terra. Un programma pensato per tutti, dai bambini ai produttori. Oltre 20 le associazioni che hanno già aderito.

La Carovana

Il 26 Aprile a Mesochori, Paranestiou, Grecia la comunità “Peliti” organizzerà la XIVa Celebrazione dello Scambio Nazionale delle varietà locali sul proprio territorio.

Da lì partirà il giorno seguente la Carovana Internazionale di Solidarietà per i Semi. Dopo aver attraversato il Mediterraneo ed essere approdata ad Ancona, inizierà il suo viaggio attraverso l’Italia, facendo tappa a

Firenze: il 29 aprile, con la partecipazione di Vandana Shiva, dove si terrà il Festival per la Libertà dei Semi, del Cibo e della Democrazia della Terra in Piazza SS Annunziata.

Il 30 aprile, il Caravan sarà a Genova con Terra Onlus! per poi ripartire e raggiungere il sud della Francia (Le Mas d’Azil), dove prenderà parte al Festival Internazionale dei Semi dal 1 ° al 4 maggio organizzato da Kokopelli (https://kokopelli-semences.fr).

La Carovana è stata organizzata grazie alla collaborazione di varie associazioni, tra cui Peliti (Grecia), L’Alleanza Globale per la Libertà dei Semi (Seed Freedom – Internazionale), Navdanya International e Kokopelli (Francia).

La Promessa dei bambini

Il Festival si apre all’Orto Botanico con  la firma della “Promessa” tra i bambini e ragazzi e Vandana Shiva  insieme agli agricoltori custodi. La consegna alle giovani generazioni dei semi da parte degli agricoltori è un gesto simbolico che richiama le più antiche tradizioni di condivisione dei saperi.

Il Festival

Piazza SS. Annunziata, nel cuore di Firenze, è la sede del Festival. Incontri, dibattiti, il mercato della Fierucola e della rete dei mercati contadini con la vendita e lo scambio di semi autoprodotti, laboratori, musica.

Il Programma

1. 28 Aprile: 

Palazzo Budini Gattai

inizio ore 14:30 -“Per un’alleanza sui semi” Incontro riservato tra Navdanya International, Vandana Shiva, la Rete Semi Rurali, il Coordinamento Europeo Liberiamo la Diversità.

inizio ore 17:30- “Terra bene comune”, incontro  Navdanya International, Vandana Shiva  con il movimento “Verso Mondeggi-Bene Comune”.

2. 29 Aprile:

Orto Botanico (via Micheli 3)

ore 10.00 benvenuto da parte dell’Orto Botanico e di Orti Dipinti ai bambini (attività elaboratori nell’orto)

ore 11.00 Firma della Promessa sui semi tra i bambini e Vandana Shiva insieme agli agricoltori custodi

Piazza SS. Annunziata

ore 11:00 apertura del mercato

ore 12:30 presentazione del Festival con Vandana Shiva

Nel corso del pomeriggio: interventi sul palco intervallati a musica e teatro

ore 15:30 Sotto le logge, laboratorio sui semi per bambini e ragazzi

Palazzo Budini Gattai 

inizio ore 14:30 -Incontro aperto con Associazioni e movimenti impegnati sui semi, sul cibo e sull’accesso alla Terra  per condividere strategie per il futuro e rafforzare il movimento per i Semi della Libertà, la libertà del cibo e La Democrazia della Terra.

inizio ore 17:00 – “Semi di cultura”, incontro con Regione Toscana, Banca Popolare Etica, Navdanya International e i partner di Terra Futura

Conclusione del festival in piazza - Testimonianza Salvatore Ceccarelli e conclusione di Vandana Shiva - Finale in musica - Piazza SS. Annunziata

INGRESSO LIBERO

info: www.navdanyainternational.it

Il Festival è organizzato da Seed Freedom, Navdanya International e La Fierucola con il Patrocinio della Regione Toscana e di Banca Popolare Etica. In collaborazione con: Rete Semi Rurali; Donne in Campo; Museo di Storia Naturale, sezione Orto Botanico di Firenze; Community Garden con Orti Dipinti; Peliti; Associazione Italiana per l’Agricoltura Biodinamica; Coordinamento Toscano Produttori Biologici; Associazione Italiana per l’Agricoltura Biologica; Rete dei mercati contadini; Associazione fiorentina per la Permacoltura; AAM Terra Nuova; Biblioteca delle Oblate; Sportello Eco Equo con Orti Volanti e altre in via di adesione. Saranno inoltre presenti esponenti di altre associazioni europee tra cui Demeter, Red de Semillas, Arche Noah, Open House e altre in via di adesione.

 

Ulteriori Informazioni

Contatti:

info@seedfreedom.in

Italia – info@navdanyainternational.it/info@terraonlus.it

Grecia – caravan@peliti.gr

Francia – dominique@kokopelli-semences.fr

Greco: Διεθνές Καραβάνι Αλληλεγγύης για τους Σπόρους – 14η Πανελλαδική Γιορτή Ανταλλαγής Ντόπιων Ποικιλιών

Francese: Caravane Internationale de Solidarite pour les Semences et Journées internationales de la semence

Italiano: Carovana Internazionale di Solidarietà per i Semi e Festival per la Libertà dei Semi a Firenze

Spagnolo: Caravana Solidaria Internacional por las Semillas

 

                          
Categories: Ecological News
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