Author Archives: Christy Rodgers

What bulldozers and cynical politics do, shovels and grassroots resistance undo

Cross-posted from Amazon Watch, June 15, 2012

Three hundred indigenous people, small farmers, fisherfolk, and local residents occupied the Belo Monte Dam project today, removing a strip of earth to restore the Xingu’s natural flow and “freeing the river.” Participants gathered in formation spelling out the words “Pare Belo Monte” meaning “Stop Belo Monte” to send a powerful message about the devastating impacts of the dam on the eve of the UN Rio+20 Summit. Their message is that projects that destroy livelihoods and the environment and violate indigenous rights cannot be called “Clean Energy.” They are demanding the cancellation of the $18 billion Belo Monte dam project.

High-res versions of the photos from this action are available here.

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Syngenta charged for covering up livestock deaths from GM corn

By Dr. Eva Sirinathsinghji, cross-posted from Institute of Science in Society

Corporation faces criminal charges for concealing own study in which cows died after eating its genetically modified corn

Biotech giant Syngenta has been criminally charged with denying knowledge that its genetically modified (GM) Bt corn kills livestock during a civil court case that ended in 2007 [1].

Syngenta’s Bt 176 corn variety expresses an insecticidal Bt toxin (Cry1Ab) derived from the bacterium, Bacillus thuringiensis (Bt) and a gene conferring resistance to glufosinate herbicides. EU cultivation of Bt 176 was discontinued in 2007. Similar varieties however, including Bt 11 sweet corn are currently cultivated for human and animal consumption in the EU.

The charges follow a long struggle for justice by a German farmer whose dairy cattle suffered mysterious illnesses and deaths after eating Bt 176. They were grown on his farm as part of authorised field tests during 1997 to 2002. By 2000, his cows were fed exclusively on Bt 176, and soon illnesses started to emerge. He was paid 40 000 euros by Syngenta as partial compensation for 5 dead cows, decreased milk yields, and vet costs (see [2] Cows ate GM Maize and DiedSiS 21). During a civil lawsuit brought against the company by the farmer however, Syngenta refused to admit that its GM corn was the cause, claiming no knowledge of harm. The case was dismissed and Gloeckner remained thousands of euros in debt.
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Filed under Commodification of Life, Food Sovereignty, Industrial agriculture

India grapples with garbage

By K. S. Harikrishnan, cross-posted from IPS

VILAPPILSALA, India, Jun 6, 2012 – “We tell friends planning to visit us to follow the stench of rotting garbage,” says Jeevaratnam (one name), a homemaker in this village 16 km from Kerala state’s capital of Thiruvananthapuram.

But Jeevaratnam’s humorous quips give way to anger as she talks about a plan by the Thiruvananthapuram city corporation to convert a part of this once idyllic, palm-fringed village of limpid backwaters into a garbage dump.

“Let the people of Thiruvananthapuram city deal with their own garbage. Why are they dumping it on us?” she demands to know.

Six months ago, Jeevaratnam joined other villagers and environmental activists in physically stopping trucks unloading garbage from the city on a 54-acre site acquired by the corporation in Vilappilsala for an aerobic waste composting plant.
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Mexican farmers use traditional knowledge to deal with climate change

By Emilio Godoy, cross-posted from IPS

MEXICO CITY, Jun 7, 2012 (IPS) -Small farmers in Mexico, who receive little institutional support, are drawing on their traditional knowledge to deal with and adapt to climate change, experts say.

“Campesinos (peasants) have a strong tradition of expanding their territory, which makes them quite flexible” in dealing with new conditions, Fernando Briones, a researcher at the public Centre for Research and Higher Studies in Social Anthropology (CIESAS), told IPS.

“But their traditional knowledge doesn’t always work. Adaptation is not a lineal process,” he said.

The academic carried out the study “Saberes y prácticas climáticas de los pueblos indígenas de México: los choles” (Climate wisdom and practices of the Chole indigenous people of Mexico), focusing on an indigenous community in the city of Tila in the southern state of Chiapas, one of the country’s poorest states.
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Filed under Chiapas, Climate Change, Food Sovereignty, Indigenous Peoples, Latin America-Caribbean