Sunday, 08 December 2013 17:02
Social Movements for an Alternative Asia (SMAA), Gerak Lawan and La Via Campesina
The 9th Ministerial Conference of the World Trade Organization (WTO) pushed through a Bali Package in the final hours, extending the Conference to December 7, but at the cost of the developing countries, the poor and the hungry.
Facilitating Trade for TNCs
Hailed as a victory by the WTO for unlocking the deadlocked negotiations, the Bali Package delivers a legally binding agreement on Trade Facilitation that is costly to developing countries and ensures easier access and profits for Transnational Corporations (TNCs). Trade Facilitation, or the easing of customs procedures and borders, clearly benefits only the big TNCs that already control exports and imports. As the 2013 World Trade Report data shows, “80% of US exports are handled by 1% of large exporters, 85% of European exports are in the hands of 10% of big exporters and 81% of exports are concentrated in the top 5 largest exporting firms in developing countries.”
Added to this, is the hypocrisy that this Trade Facilitation deal will open borders in all Member countries except Cuba, as it does not effectively cancel the 60-year long US blockade against the Cuba. The reference to the non-discrimination principle of Article V of the GATT 1994 remains pure rhetoric as it is stated in the Declaration and not in the text of the Trade Facilitation Agreement.
Peace Clause that jeopardizes the Right to Food
In exchange for the costly, legally binding agreement on Trade Facilitation, developing countries received nothing.
- There is a very bad peace clause that violates the right to food and jeopardizes the right to food sovereignty as it places numerous restrictions on the ability of developing countries to give support to their small farmers and poor constituents.
- The peace clause only applies to existing public stockholding for food security programs that exceed the Aggregate Measurement of Support (AMS) or de minimis, as of the date of the decision, effectively meaning that only India can apply it and that no future food security programs of developing countries will be allowed.
- There is a promise of a permanent solution but subject to future negotiations during the next 4 years. What that permanent solution will be is an uncertainty.
- Most importantly, developing countries will have to accept their guilt in violating WTO rules before they can apply the peace clause
Finally, this peace clause is nonsense simply because no country should have to beg for the right to guarantee the right to food. Food and agriculture should never have been included in the WTO in the first place.
Note: The proposed development of vast plantations of genetically engineered eucalyptus trees across the US South for biomass energy production poses another major threat to Southern forests and biodiversity. To sign our petition to the USDA demanding a ban on the release of GE eucalyptus trees, click here.
Charlottesville, VA, 5 December – A study released today by three major Southern universities, commissioned by the National Wildlife Federation and Southern Environmental Law Center, concludes that wildlife habitat and biodiversity in the Southeast are at risk due to rapidly expanding biomass energy development. The Southeast is now the world’s largest exporter of wood pellets for biomass energy, with exports from Southern ports increasing by 70% last year alone. The projected huge surge in European demand for Southeast trees for power generation is expected to have significant negative impacts on wildlife.
The report, Forestry Bioenergy in the Southeast United States: Implications for Wildlife Habitat and Biodiversity”, can be accessed here: http://bit.ly/1iCZ2p8
For the study, researchers from University of Georgia, University of Florida, and Virginia Tech analyzed land cover and determined areas of highest risk of harvesting around six facilities located in Georgia, North Carolina, and Virginia, with sourcing areas stretching into Florida, South Carolina, Tennessee, and West Virginia. One of the case studies focused on a facility owned by Enviva LP, one of the major wood pellet exporters in the region that is sourcing pellets from whole trees logged from wildlife-rich wetland forests in North Carolina and Virginia.
India: Defending the Poor and Hungry is Non-Negotiable!
(Bali, 2 December 2013) On the occasion of the Ninth Ministerial Meeting of the World Trade Organisation (WTO) in Bali, Indonesia, several farmers’ organisations, trade unions, mass organisations and peoples’ campaigns resolved to support the Indian Government’s position to not trade away national food security.
The group welcomes the decision of the Indian Cabinet on 28th November to reject any peace clause that does not guarantee a permanent solution. The peace clause has been widely opposed by the Chairs of the Parliamentary Standing Committee on Commerce and Agriculture, several political parties including the Bharatiya Janata Party and the Left parties, and mass organisations.
However, the group cautioned the Indian negotiating team headed by Commerce Minister Mr. Anand Sharma, not to bow to any pressure to weaken India’s position on defending and upholding national food security as a sovereign right. The group declared that the safeguarding and promotion of the country’s food security, rural employment and livelihoods are non-negotiable, and that food security cannot be ensured without supporting agricultural production by small and marginal farmers.
The group reminds the WTO members that no country needs to be on the defensive about protecting the right to food and fighting hunger in their countries. And that aggressively upholding the rights of its citizens is not tantamount to collapsing the ministerial talks. On the contrary, such pressure tactics must be exposed as a conspiracy to keep people hungry and poor.
It was decided that the group would closely monitor the negotiations during the ministerial meeting to ensure that the interests of the poor and hungry are not compromised in any way.
Bhartiya Kisan Union
Bharatiya Krishak Samaj
Bharatiya Majdoor Sangh
Focus on the Global South India
Great Mission Group Consultancy
Public Services International
Right to Food Campaign
Shram Seva Nyas
South Indian Coordination Committee of Farmers’ Movements
Third World Network India
More news on www.viacampesina.org
By Chris Lang, 29th November 2013 Source: REDD-Monitor
Negotiators at COP19 in Warsaw last week agreed seven decisions relating to REDD – the “Warsaw Framework for REDD Plus”. You can find each of the decision texts, as they came out of COP19 in Warsaw here.
This post looks at the decision on REDD finance, or, to give it its full title, the Work programme on results-based finance to progress the full implementation of the activities referred to in decision 1/CP.16, paragraph 70 (pdf file, 75 KB).
Filed under Biodiversity, Carbon Trading, Climate Change, Climate Justice, Commodification of Life, False Solutions to Climate Change, Forests, Forests and Climate Change, Green Economy, Greenwashing, Indigenous Peoples, Land Grabs, REDD, Warsaw/COP-19
Note: Members of Global Justice Ecology Project and Everglades Earth First! maintain that UF officials cancelled a presentation on the risks of genetically engineered trees to protect their government and corporate relationships with the Department of Energy and GE tree company ArborGen.
Click here to sign the petition calling on the USDA to say NO WAY to ArborGen’s request to sell highly flammable, invasive, GE cold-tolerant eucalyptus by the millions for plantations from South Carolina to Texas.
-The GJEP Team
By Maureen Nandini Mitra, December 2, 2013. Source: Earth Island Journal
A few months ago, while reporting an article about genetically engineered trees for Earth Island Journal’s Autumn issue (read the story here), I had a mighty hard time locating plant biologists or genetic engineers at academic institutions who were willing to talk about the possible risks of growing GE trees in massive plantations. It seemed there was little debate over this controversial issue within the biotech community on college campuses — the very places where most of the research into GE trees is carried out.
Photo: Steve McFarland
So it didn’t come as too much of a surprise when I heard that a group of environmental activists who were scheduled to make a presentation on GE trees at the University of Florida in Gainesville last month were booted off the campus, charged with trespassing, and banned from the university grounds for three years. What did come as a bit of a surprise was news that the FBI, too, was keeping tabs on the activists.
Lubicon Lake Nation Tells Penn West Petroleum to Frack Off!:
Peaceful Occupation of Penn West Petroleum Site Begins Little Buffalo, Alberta
November 26, 2013–The Lubicon Lake Nation people have been driven to enforce their Law against PENN WEST PETROLEUM LTD. (TSX: PWT); (NYSE: PWE) today on an oil lease site located in their Territory by peacefully occupying a nearby access road. The oil and gas giant.
Penn West has indicated they intend to drill and use hydraulic fracturing at the location. The site is at the headwaters of a nearby lake, bordered by the traditional Lubicon community of Kinosew Sakahikan referred to provincially as Haig Lake.
Long-time Chief Bernard Ominayak said this evening: We have never signed treaty, ceded our land, nor sold it to anybody. It’s high time that all resource companies operating on Lubicon Lake Nation lands, including Penn West, as well as the Provincial and Canadian governments respect that and stop destroying Lubicon land and stealing Lubicon resources.
Filed under Actions / Protest, Biodiversity, Climate Change, Ending the Era of Extreme Energy, Energy, False Solutions to Climate Change, Greenwashing, Hydrofracking, Idle No More, Indigenous Peoples, Land Grabs
By Curtis Kline • Nov 25, 2013 Source: Intercontinental Cry
A Pastoralist with her daughter in the Dollo Ado region of Ethiopia. Image by Flickr user@Giro555SHO (CC BY-ND 2.0).
The traditional way of life that centers around livestock herding for food, clothing, materials, and trade, known as pastoralism, has been developed over many centuries as a sustainable livelihood in the world’s arid and semi-arid regions. The pastoral lifestyle was found to be the best way to sustain society in these often harsh areas.
As noted in the African Union’s Policy Framework for Pastoralism in Africa: “Pastoralism is found in all regions of Africa and in some regions, is the dominant livelihoods system… pastoral areas occupy about 40 percent of Africa’s land mass , albeit with significant variations between countries.” The policy framework also highlights that approximately 268 million pastoralists live all over the African continent, making the lifestyle a central part of Africa’s culture, history and heritage.
21 November, 2013. Source: Friends of the Earth
WASHINGTON, D.C./JAKARTA – Illegal and destructive production of palm oil in Indonesia is continuing, with a chain of culpability that spreads worldwide, from Southeast Asian rain forests to supermarket shelves and Wall Street board rooms, reveals a new report released today by Friends of the Earth1, Forest Heroes and SumOfUs.
In recent years, consumers have been shocked to learn that many household food brands use palm oil from sources engaged in widespread destruction of tropical forests. The new report, Commodity Crimes: Illicit Land Grabs, Illegal Palm Oil and Endangered Orangutans shows how this forest destruction not only harms forest peoples, endangered species and the Earth’s climate, but is often illegal. The report names the major U.S. and European banks that are financing these unlawful land grabs and the investors who are profiting.
Commodity Crimes: Illicit Land Grabs, Illegal Palm Oil and Endangered Orangutans documents how one Indonesian company, Bumitama Agri Ltd, engaged in systematic forest destruction in and around forest reserves and in 2012 sold itself in a public offering that admitted to including illegally cleared tracts of forest. The financial maneuvers of Bumitama Agri – a leading supplier to the global market, including to Wilmar International, the world’s largest palm oil trader – also raise questions about compliance with Indonesia’s tax laws and law against money laundering. Continue reading
Filed under Biodiversity, Bioenergy / Agrofuels, Climate Change, Ending the Era of Extreme Energy, False Solutions to Climate Change, Food Sovereignty, Forests, Green Economy, Indigenous Peoples, Industrial agriculture, Land Grabs, The Greed Economy and the Future of Forests
By Silvia Giannelli, 15 November, 2013. Source: Inter Press Service
Indonesia’s Sesaot where a village committee has ably managed a forest reserve extending 3,600 hectares for over 50 years. Photo: Amantha Perera/IPS
JAKARTA – Indonesia’s rainforests are facing “legal land grabs”, allege NGOs. Its ancient communities are finding that their ancestral lands are slipping into the hands of foreign companies for oil palm cultivation, as demand for the product grows in Europe, India and China.
“There are 33,000 villages in Indonesia’s forest zone, and many thousand more in areas marked for agriculture,” said Marcus Colchester, senior policy advisor at Forest Peoples Programme, an international NGO.
“The government allocates these areas to companies without even consulting the communities. So concessions have been handed out over lands where these communities have lived for hundreds or even thousands of years,” he told IPS.
Last Friday, Colchester flew to Medan to present the findings of his research, carried out in conjunction with two local organisations, on the impact oil palm cultivation has on the lives of Indonesian communities. Continue reading
Filed under Biodiversity, Bioenergy / Agrofuels, Corporate Globalization, Ending the Era of Extreme Energy, Energy, False Solutions to Climate Change, Food Sovereignty, Forests, Forests and Climate Change, Green Economy, Indigenous Peoples, Industrial agriculture, Land Grabs, The Greed Economy and the Future of Forests
We should not let parts of the United States get overrun by genetically engineered trees.
But that is what is at risk today.
The U.S. Department of Agriculture is considering whether to allow unrestricted planting of the first genetically engineered forest tree in the United States: eucalyptus engineered by ArborGen to grow in a colder climate. If approved, this would allow eucalyptus to be grown throughout a large part of the Southeast for the first time, where short-rotation plantations would be established to provide pulp for paper and biomass for energy.
ArborGen claims that its freeze-tolerant genetically engineered eucalyptus will grow faster and produce more wood per acre than either pine plantations or natural forests. The company stands to make a fortune if its request is approved. It predicts that its profits would increase from $25 million to $500 million in five years.
The burgeoning demand for hardwood pellets could further boost ArborGen’s profits. The United States is the largest exporter of wood pellets, shipping them to the European Union to co-fire power plants in mandated efforts to reduce sulfur dioxide emissions and mitigate climate change. Although this sounds like a boon to the environment, studies show that while wood pellet biomass can lower sulfur dioxide emissions, other pollutants increase. And burning wood pellets may not lower overall greenhouse gas emissions as promised.
Growing genetically engineered eucalyptus presents other environmental problems.
For example, a U.S. Forest Service environmental assessment reported that these newfangled trees would use up at least twice as much water as native trees in the Southeast, potentially squeezing a region already experiencing water scarcity.
Eucalyptus, a highly flammable tree, also could increase risks from wildfires.
Proposed plantation management practices include use of pesticides, fertilizers and heavy equipment with negative impacts on water and soil.
And creatures that depend on natural forests will find little of use in monocultures of non-native eucalyptus — no nutritious nuts and berries, or edible leaves, to eat.
In the end, plantations stocked with genetically engineered trees could replace more biologically diverse landscapes, while also putting remaining forest ecosystems at risk.
Before taking this new path through the woods, we need long-term, comprehensive testing and analyses to determine whether genetically engineered trees lead to a sustainable future for all or simply to short-term profits for a few.
Debbie Barker is the international director of the Center for Food Safety, and the editor and co-author of the group’s new report, “Genetically Engineered Trees: The New Frontier of Biotechnology.” Martha Crouch is a former professor of plant molecular biology and an independent science consultant for this report. The authors can be reached at email@example.com. Copyright Debbie Barker and Martha Crouch.
Photo: Flickr user Karen, creative commons licensed.