Category Archives: Commodification of Life

UN Biodiversity Convention urges countries to regulate synthetic biology

Our friends at the ETC Group led this victory at the recently ended UN Convention on Biological Diversity’s Conference of the Parties in South Korea.  Synthetic biology, a new extreme form of genetic engineering with researchers building unique organisms designed to facilitate the manufacture of various products, was previously unregulated.  Now countries are urged to create regulations over this potentially disastrous Wild West of DNA manipulation.

Regulate Synthetic Biology Now: 194 Countries
SynBio industry’s wild west days are numbered

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A cacao farmer in Costa Rica. Despite stiff opposition from SynBio countries, the decision is a victory for farmers in the global south. Photo: Everjean

PYEONGCHANG, SOUTH KOREA– In a unanimous decision of 194 countries, the United Nation’s Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD) today formally urged nation states to regulate synthetic biology (SynBio), a new extreme form of genetic engineering. The landmark decision follows ten days of hard-fought negotiations between developing countries and a small group of wealthy biotech-friendly economies. Until now, synthetic organisms have been developed and commercialized without international regulations; increasing numbers of synthetically-derived products are making their way to market. The CBD’s decision is regarded as a “starting signal” for governments to begin establishing formal oversight for this exploding and controversial field.

“Synthetic Biology has been like the wild west: a risky technology frontier with little oversight or regulation,” Jim Thomas of ETC Group explained from CBD negotiations in Korea. “At last the UN is laying down the law.”

“This international decision is very clear,” Thomas added. “Not only do countries now have to set up the means to regulate synthetic biology, but those regulations need to be based on precaution and not harming the environment.”

“The good news is that precaution won the day.”

This decision comes at a critical time. The SynBio industry is bringing some of its first products to market, including a vanilla flavour produced by synthetically modified yeast and specialized oils used in soaps and detergents derived from synthetically modified algae. In December, bay area SynBio firm Glowing Plants Inc. intends to release synthetically-engineered glow-in-the-dark plants to 6,000 recipients without government oversight. The United States is not a signatory to the CBD, making it one of only three countries that will not be formally bound by this decision (the other 2 are Andorra and the Holy See).

For the entire article click here

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Filed under Biodiversity, Bioenergy / Agrofuels, Commodification of Life, Genetic Engineering, Synthetic Biology, UN, Uncategorized, Victory!

Pacific Island land reform seeks to protect indigenous rights to land

Credit: Catherine Wilson/IPS

Credit: Catherine Wilson/IPS

Catherine Wilson of the IPS News Agency provides this really interesting account of indigenous land reforms on the island of Vanatu in the South Pacific. It seems like a heady mix of tourism and tax evasion has led to a global rush on lands owned collectively by those indigenous to the island. New laws seek to secure indigenous ownership and access to the land, which, as Wilson writes in the caption for the picture above, “remains a vital source of food security, cash incomes and social wellbeing.”

Vanuatu Puts Indigenous Rights First in Land Reform
By Catherine Wilson, Inter Press News Service, October 14, 2014.

PORT VILA, Oct 14 2014 (IPS) - Stemming widespread corruption in the leasing of customary land to investors is the aim of bold land reform, introduced this year in the Southwest Pacific Island state of Vanuatu, which puts the rights of traditional landowners above the discretionary powers of politicians.

Less than one hour from the capital, Port Vila, is the village of Mangaliliu, one of many across this sprawling nation of 82 islands and more than 247,000 people where livelihoods centre on agriculture and fishing.

Read the whole article here.

 

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Filed under Commodification of Life, Food Sovereignty, Indigenous Peoples, Land Grabs, Rights, Resilience, and Restoration

Is Big Ag the new Christopher Columbus?

The Big Ag gold rush from governments and private investors claims to support small farmers, fight global hunger and create jobs. However, an article posted on GRAIN, shows how the only group supporter is the least in need — elite 1 percent.

A new wave of investment threatens to push peasant farmers off the land and erode food sovereignty. Photo: Cargo Collective

A new wave of investment threatens to push peasant farmers off the land and erode food sovereignty. Photo: Cargo Collective

Big Ag investors, like Chinnakannan Sivasankaran and Siva Group, overtake the industry through extremely unethical practices, such as land grabbing, commodification of land, marginalization of local communities and palm oil plantations. This news is particularly poignant, especially as U.S. citizens misguidedly celebrate Columbus Day, possibly the worst national holiday, which is a day dedicated to a land grabbing, mass-murdering historical hero of the 1 percent.

Feeding the 1 percent
by GRAIN, 7 October 2014

Since the global food crisis of 2008, there has been a massive wave of private sector investment in agriculture. More money flowing into agriculture means more innovation and modernisation, more jobs and more food for a hungry planet, say the G8, the World Bank and corporate investors themselves.

But does it?

Looking at the investments made by Indian billionaire Chinnakannan Sivasankaran – one of the most active private sector players in the global rush to acquire farmland – a worrying picture emerges of what happens when speculative finance starts flowing into food production.

Since 2008, the Siva Group and its myriad subsidiaries have acquired stakes in around a million hectares of land in the Americas, Africa and Asia, primarily for oil palm plantations. On paper, he’s now one of the world’s largest farmland holders.

Read the full article here.

 

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Filed under Commodification of Life, Food Sovereignty, Greenwashing, Land Grabs

Corporate evasion of deforestation rules in Indonesia makes local communities responsible

As a follow-up to Wednesday’s Climate Connections story on protecting peat forests in Indonesia, we bring this story: Palm oil companies in Indonesia are contracting with local communities to purchase harvested fruits. This results in smallholders and local communities engaging in clearing protected forests and planting palms in the protected areas. This shifts the responsibilities and the legal consequences of breaking the laws to individuals, many of which are going to jail.

"Smallholder" clearing in Central Kalimantan in 2013. Photos by Rhett Butler  Read more at http://news.mongabay.com/2014/1004-lbell-small-palm-oil.html#8ouL8R4r3OrMtAX3.99

“Smallholder” clearing in Central Kalimantan in 2013. Photos by Rhett Butler
Read more at http://news.mongabay.com/2014/1004-lbell-small-palm-oil.html#8ouL8R4r3OrMtAX3.99

Companies hire local communities to evade palm oil restrictions in Indonesia
Loren Bell, Mongabay. October 4, 2014

As more palm oil companies are held accountable for deforestation in Indonesia, a growing number are hiring local communities to do their dirty work. According to the Oil Palm Farmers Union (SPKS), companies promise to buy mature fruits at attractive rates from smallholders and local villages who agree to clear and plant in protected forest areas. Through these agreements, companies distance themselves from the process, leaving the locals to bear responsibility for the destruction.

Mansuetus Darto, National Coordinator of SPKS, says the deals often involve local officials, who encourage law enforcement to look the other way.

“However, if law enforcement is not complicit,” Darto said, when action is taken, “the palm oil companies are able to ‘dump the body,’ while the community members who entered the agreement are the ones who go to jail. This is happening throughout Indonesia.”

Read the Full Article Here.

 

 

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Filed under Bioenergy / Agrofuels, Biofuelwatch, Commodification of Life, Forests and Climate Change, GE Trees, Land Grabs, Uncategorized

Court rules that the right to water is not enforceable in Detroit

A bankruptcy judge in Detroit has ruled that there is not an enforceable right to free and affordable water, contradicting the United Nations declaration that water is a basic human right.

We have blogged about this issue recently.

Today in Salon, author Lindsay Abrams details how in a classic shock doctrine move, corporations are privatizing water systems around the world and are declaring “No Money, No Water.”

Photo: Detroit Water Brigade

Photo: Detroit Water Brigade

Water is the New Oil: How corporations took over a basic human right
By Lindsay Abrams, Salon. October 5, 2014.

Water has become a commodity, Karen Piper tells Salon, and the world’s poor are paying the price

When you talk about human rights, not to mention human necessities, there’s not much more fundamental than water. The United Nations has even put it in writing: it formally “recognizes the right to safe and clean drinking water and sanitation as a human right that is essential for the full enjoyment of life and all human rights.”

That’s the theory, at least. In practice? Well, on Monday, U.S. Bankruptcy Judge Steven Rhodes arrived at a different conclusion from that of the U.N., in a ruling on Detroit’s hotly contested practice of cutting off water access to tens of thousands of residents who can’t pay their bills. “It cannot be doubted that water is a necessary ingredient to sustaining life,” Rhodes conceded. Yet there is not, he continued, “an enforceable right to free and affordable water.” Water, in the eyes of the court, is apparently a luxury.

Read the whole article here.

 

 

 

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Filed under Commodification of Life, Great Lakes, Water

Dupont Dynasty: the Unauthorized Biography now Available

Celebrate non-GMO Month with this scathing critique of GMO giant Dupont

AT LAST! DuPont DYNASTY, the extensively researched and unauthorized biography of the powerful Du Pont family and company–twice suppressed in 1974 and again in 1984--  can now be accessed for only $9.00!! Below find details of the book, how to order it, and its history of suppression.
unnamedDu Pont’s move to dominate the world’s genetically modified foods market.  Du Pont uses contracts to impose higher priced GM seeds that supposedly resist drought, disease and pests.

Using American taxpayers’ money through AID’s and the Washington-based World Bank’s “development” grants and loans, Du Pont and other corporations sell these seeds to compliant (and increasingly desperate) national governments for distribution to farmers.

Unlike natural seeds, Du Pont’s genetically modified seeds are under Du Pont’s exclusive patent control through contracts imposed on poor farmers and cannot be reproduced or stored.  Growing crops for export are thereby increasingly needed by poor national governments to earn foreign exchange to keep up with the growing debt from loans by American banks involved in direct loans to these governments or in purchasing U.S. bonds to help pay for the U.S. Government’s foreign aid programs, including loans brokered through AID and the U.S.-controlled World Bank.

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Filed under Commodification of Life, Food Sovereignty, GMOs, Political Repression, Uncategorized

Sewage treatment plants demonstrated to help create and circulate new mutant microbes

Last July David Cameron warned that the world could be soon cast back into the dark ages of medicine if we do not find a way to deal with newly evolving bacteria that is becoming resistant to antibiotics.

One has to make the connection between antibiotic resistant microbes and the increasing changes of life forms, including important ecosystem supporting microbes, to genetically engineered (Round-up ready, etc.) food crops and experimental GE Trees. These products are designed to boost the so called “green” economy and are untested rapidly expanding  dangers. These frankenplants are modifying ecosystems and the biosphere in ways that we have not even begun to understand. Ok, well maybe we have begun to understand.

Cameron has urged the world’s drug companies to “accelerate” the discovery of a new generation of antibiotics.

One can be sure that this will be done in the context of profitability.  Disaster capitalism knows no boundaries except profit, -not even when that conflicts with human health and sustainability. This is the same context that corporate influenced governments are using to rush to develop so called “green” strategies to climate change. Profit is the first principle–and unfortunately this is viewed through the smoked glasses of the near term quarterly reports. Complex science problems can be overwhelming even for the most talented and diligent scientists, engineers, and thinkers. We know that we don’t know enough. We know that we are moving along into a dark tunnel. We also know that many of us are organized to strongly advocate for common sense as opposed to simplistic economic growth without a thorough analysis of the consequences..

We urge a precautionary approach as a real first step in all science and in what we work for–stopping release of potential synthetic ecosystems, or radically out of control synthesized ecosystems,  without a whole lot more research. We believe our species has a responsibility to do adequate risk assessments for any developing product. We demand these concepts  be first. We do not endorse nor wish to endure watching humanity follow the money like a moth drawn to a candle. We hope that Cameron can help us find our way through the dire delima that is described below, but we have our doubts.  We know, as you do, that these issues are barging into where you live and have proven to treat humans unkindly. The dark ages of medicine is just one way to characterize our future. Shouldn’t we be demanding system change? should’t we at least demand a ban on all GE Trees? The answer to both is yes.

The article below is from July of 2014,  and helps to contextualize the out of control mutations issues that we face with the release of GE crops.

Discovery in the UK reveals role of sewer plants in creating mutated microbes that are resistant to antibiotics

UK discovery reveals role of sewer plants in antibiotic-resistant microbes (Keith Williams, Creative Commons via The Independent)

 

Drug-resistant bacteria: Sewage-treatment plants described as giant ‘mixing vessels’ after scientists discover mutated microbes in British river

Steve Connor  The Independent

Superbugs resistant to some of the most powerful antibiotics in the medical arsenal have been found for the first time in a British river – with scientists pinpointing a local sewage-treatment plant as the most likely source.

Scientists discovered the drug-resistant bacteria in sediment samples taken downstream of the sewerage plant on the River Sowe near Coventry. The microbes contained mutated genes that confer resistance to the latest generation of antibiotics.

The researchers believe the discovery shows how antibiotic resistance has become widespread in the environment, with sewage-treatment plants now acting as giant “mixing vessels” where antibiotic resistance can spread between different microbes.

A study found that a wide range of microbes living in the river had acquired a genetic mutation that is known to provide resistance to third-generation cephalosporins, a class of antibiotics used widely to treat meningitis, blood infections and other hospital-acquired infections.

Read the whole piece here 

 

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Filed under Bioenergy / Agrofuels, Campaign to STOP GE Trees, Climate Change, Climate Justice, Commodification of Life, False Solutions to Climate Change, GE Trees, Genetic Engineering, GMOs, Greenwashing, Human made disasters, Synthetic Biology, Water

Rev. Billy rejects corporate media, wants to connect directly with you!

If you have not experienced the wisdom and power of Rev. Billy and the Stop Shopping Gospel Choir, be prepared to be amazed. This group of radical activist performance artists are brave, intelligent, and yes “Heavenly” warriors for system change. For years, under the guidance of Rev. Billy and Savitri D., they have been a non-stop force rallying against the insidious systems that are destroying the planet. Their top priority is the consumer society, contemporary trends in greenwashing,  and a reveal of the hidden hand. They have made some loud noises. They have been hit hard. They need, want, and deserve our support.

The group has now decided to flee the Facebook, YouTube and Twitter worlds.  This flight has been incentivized by the group being censored, chased, and in some instances, banished, from those worlds. This as they take on with direct actions, Monsanto, DARPA, JP Morgan Chase, UBS, Koch, and the underlying forces of corporatized society. Now they seek new media opportunities to connect with us,  it is important to know that Rev. Billy and the Choir are the canaries in the increasingly poisoned atmosphere that characterizes modern culture. They are constantly helping to lead the way to search for solutions for us all to survive.    You should know know that this form of media blackout from which they are moving away from, is coming for us all soon.

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Filed under Actions / Protest, Commodification of Life, Corporate Globalization, False Solutions to Climate Change, Greenwashing, Idle No More, Independent Media, Uncategorized