Category Archives: Commodification of Life

GMO Chestnuts Draw Scrutiny this Holiday

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During the holidays, a time of the iconic roasting of chestnuts, scientists and activists are raising alarms about these efforts to genetically engineer and widely release GE American chestnuts into U.S. forests. Syracuse.com recently reported in “Breakthrough at SUNY-ESF” that researchers at the SUNY College of Environmental Science and Forestry are growing 10,000 genetically engineered (GE) American chestnut trees to be distributed widely when approved. The GMO chestnuts produced by these trees would be a new GMO food when concerns about GMOs and labeling are mounting.

BJ McManama is the GE trees campaigner for the Indigenous Environmental Network. She is based in the mountains of North Carolina, a central location for potential release of GE American chestnuts. In October she organized an Indigenous Peoples’ Action Camp against GE trees in Cherokee, NC.

She said, “As Indigenous Peoples we know that GE trees will threaten our cultural heritage, tradition, sovereignty and health. Even today, many of our people survive through subsistence methods — hunting, gathering, fishing and even our shelters are obtained from our forests. Trees are sacred. They are the children of our mother and our nurturer. We cannot stand idly by as the American chestnut, on which our people depend, is engineered into something that could wind up poisoning the land, air, water and the people. Forests are the source of our spiritual life and knowledge, and we wholly reject any attempts to change the sacred ancient blueprint of these trees — to destroy their spirit.”

Anne Petermann is the executive director of Buffalo, NY-based Global Justice Ecology Project and the coordinator of the International Campaign to STOP Genetically Engineered Trees, which includes organizations, scientists, Indigenous Peoples and activists from around the world and is dedicated to preventing the commercial release of all genetically engineered trees. The majority of the research into GE American chestnuts and most of the outdoor test plots are located in New York State.

Petermann said, “GE trees pose unique and potentially disastrous risks to forests due to their longevity, the vast distances over which they spread pollen and seeds and their intricate relationship with complex forest ecosystems, but these GE American chestnut trees are even more dangerous. They are also completely unnecessary. They will supposedly be resistant to the blight that wiped out American chestnut trees in the last century, but the truth is blight resistant chestnuts are being developed through non-GE traditional breeding. But if fertile GE chestnuts are released into Eastern U.S. forests, which is the plan, they will contaminate both wild chestnuts and hybrid chestnuts. The impacts are unknown, but it will certainly ruin decades of work done by American chestnut breeding programs. This GE American chestnut tree is a Pandora’s box of potential disasters best left closed.”

Smolker is an evolutionary biologist and a steering committee member of the Campaign to STOP Genetically Engineered Trees. She is based in Vermont, one of the first states to mandate the labeling of GMO food.

She said, “These GE American chestnut trees are nothing more than a Trojan horse intended to smooth the way for commercial release of a host of other dangerous engineered trees, including GE eucalyptus and GE poplars. The tree biotechnology industry­ — companies like ArborGen — are faced with severe public opposition, so now they are trying to use chestnut tree ‘restoration’ as a cover to gain broader public acceptance of GE trees. GE chestnuts and other trees are an unnecessary, undesirable, and hazardous product of the techno-obsessed mindset that assumes genetic codes are like Lego sets that can be engineered to our specifications. But nature just doesn’t work that way. The impacts of these engineered chestnuts will be completely unpredictable. I certainly do not want to be roasting GE chestnuts over an open fire this holiday season.”

 

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Filed under Biiotechnology, Bioenergy / Agrofuels, Biofuelwatch, Campaign to STOP GE Trees, Climate Justice, Commodification of Life, False Solutions to Climate Change, Forests, Forests and Climate Change, GE Trees, Genetic Engineering, GMOs, Greenwashing, Uncategorized

Breaking News: New York Governor Cuomo Announces Ban on Fracking in New York

For those of us that have worked on this issue for so long, this is both refreshing and somewhat unexpected news. But wowowo! thank-you to all of you that have advocated for this, pressed the governor, and gone head to head with industry reps and talking heads!

Protesters in Buffalo November 2014  photo by Jay Burney

Protesters in Buffalo November 2014 photo by Jay Burney


Cuomo to Ban Fracking in New York State, Citing Health Risks
By Jesse McKinley, New York Times. 17 December 2014

ALBANY — The Cuomo administration announced Wednesday that it would ban hydraulic fracturing in New York State, ending years of uncertainty by concluding that the controversial method of extracting gas from deep underground could contaminate the state’s air and water and pose inestimable public-health risks.

Read the whole article here

 

 

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Filed under BREAKING NEWS, Commodification of Life, Confronting Government Agencies, Energy, Fossil Fuel Infrastructure, Fracking

Theo Colburn has died. Thank you for helping us to recover our futures!

When Dr. Theo Colburn published “Our Stolen Future” in 1996 it was a Rachel Carson level revelation.  The book, co-authored by Dianne Dumanoski and John Myers, exposed the devastating depth to which our economic system promotes the creation and distribution of human-made deadly chemicals – for profit.  The poisons exist in virtually all products. This book changed my life.

Yesterday, 15 December 2014, Dr. Colburn passed away at the age of 87. You may remember her for this pivotal book, or her excellent project TEDX- The Endocrine Disruption Exchange, which for many of us has been an essential resource. She may be best remembered for her work on banning BPA from plastic bottles, including baby bottles and toys. She is one of our great heroes. Simply put Theodora Colburn saved a lot of lives. Her substantial legacy will always help us and future generations to recover our stolen future.

Dr. Colburn courtesy Julie Dermansky/Earthworks  2014

Dr. Theo Colburn, courtesy Julie Dermansky/Earthworks 2014

Her friends at TEDX released the following message this morning:

Theo Colburn, 1927-2014

If you ever had the chance to meet her, even once, you knew Theo Colborn. She didn’t have a single hidden agenda. Her commitment to uncovering the truth was out there for the world to see.

For nearly 30 years she dedicated herself to revealing the dangers of endocrine disrupting chemicals to wildlife and humans. More recently she alerted us all to the threats posed by chemicals associated with oil and gas development. She wove the two together beautifully in her statement The Fossil Fuel Connection, which she worked on until the day she died.

Theo’s visionary leadership and passion shone most brilliantly when she made direct connections between new ideas, scientists whose work confirmed them, impacted individuals, and people in positions to change what needed changing. She will be remembered for many generations to come, generations that she worked tirelessly to protect.

Theo often feared that we had already passed the tipping point — that our intelligence and compassion had been so compromised by endocrine disruptors that we could no longer think our way out of the crises we had created.

As the living embodiment of her legacy, we at TEDX say, “No. It is not too late. There are people out there who ‘get it’ and who care — a lot of people — and we won’t let you down Theo.”

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Filed under Commodification of Life, Confronting Government Agencies, Corporate Globalization, EPA, Monsanto, Oceans, Pesticides, Politics, Solutions, Women

Vandana Shiva responds to “Seeds of Doubt”

Last August, the New Yorker published an abusive attack on Dr. Vandana Shiva’s anti-GMO activism. One must presume that this widely circulated article “Seeds of Doubt” by Michael Specter was produced on behalf of the vituperative biotech industry. This may be old news to those of you that followed this story and the reaction by Vandana Shiva and those that share her values and vision.

Dr. Shiva penned a response that was not so widely circulated. Today, Independent Science News has re-published that response. We are pleased to share it with you. Help to get this message out there!

Dr. Vandana Shiva, headliner of UO sponsored Food Justice Conference.

Seeds of Truth: Vandana Shiva and the New Yorker

Dr. Vandana Shiva. Independent Science News. 15 December 2014

(A response to the article ‘Seeds of Doubt’ by Michael Specter in The New Yorker)

I am glad that the future of food is being discussed, and thought about, on farms, in homes, on TV, online and in magazines, especially of The New Yorker’s caliber. The New Yorker has held its content and readership in high regard for so long. The challenge of feeding a growing population with the added obstacle of climate change is an important issue. Specter’s piece, however, is poor journalism. I wonder why a journalist who has been Bureau Chief in Moscow for The New York Times and Bureau Chief in New York for the Washington Post, and clearly is an experienced reporter, would submit such a misleading piece. Or why The New Yorker would allow it to be published as honest reporting, with so many fraudulent assertions and deliberate attempts to skew reality.

Read the whole article here

 

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Filed under Biiotechnology, Commodification of Life, Corporate Globalization, False Solutions to Climate Change, Food Sovereignty, GMOs, Industrial agriculture, Monsanto

Selling off forests is a business for the Peruvian government

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New report finds that Peruvian government is failing to address the real causes of deforestation in the Peruvian Amazon while undermining Indigenous peoples’ efforts to protect their forests.

LIMA, PERU (4th December 2014) – On the eve of the arrival of negotiators at a crucial UN conference on climate change, a new report shows that, despite public commitments to protect Peru’s forests, the first Amazonian host of the UN COP is ignoring the real drivers of deforestation and failing to safeguard the rights of indigenous peoples. This, despite the fact that these peoples occupy approximately one third of the Peruvian Amazon and offer the best chance of defending the country’s precious forests.

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Filed under Biodiversity, Climate Justice, Commodification of Life, False Solutions to Climate Change, Forests and Climate Change, Frontline Communities, Indigenous Peoples, South America

U.S. House Bars Independent Science at EPA

On 18 November, the Republican controlled United States House of Representatives passed H.R 1422 “The EPA Science Advisory Board Reform Act of 2014” by a vote of 229-191 and H.R. 4012, “The Secret Science Reform Act” by a vote of 237-190.

photo credit: Gavin Schaefer via wikimedia commons. Under a bill that has passed the US House, the people best qualified to say whether a chemical is dangerous will not be allowed to do so

photo credit: Gavin Schaefer via wikimedia commons. Under a bill that has passed the US House, the people best qualified to say whether a chemical is dangerous will not be allowed to do so

Representative Eddie Bernice Johnson (D–TX), top Democrat on the House science committee said,  “These bills are the culmination of one of the most anti-science and anti-health campaigns I’ve witnessed in my 22 years as a member of Congress.”

Referring to the “Secret Science Reform Act,” Johnson said, “Let me be clear. This bill is an attempt to constrain the EPA under the guise of promoting transparency.”

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Filed under Climate Change, Climate Justice, Commodification of Life, Confronting Government Agencies, Corporate Globalization, EPA

NASA warns water crisis could lead to food supply collapse.

The Buffalo staff may be a little distracted this week. A giant Lake Effect snowstorm has shut down the city. This co-managing editor is currently stuck at my home in South Buffalo under a State of Emergency, a travel ban, and the ongoing potential for a 100 inch snowfall by Friday. Already nearly 60 howling inches have fallen. The streets are impassable. The news is that FEMA will be declaring the area a disaster area soon. The National Guard has arrived in my neighborhood, but they had to helicopter in.  I still have power, heat, and food, so these are First World problems–so far at least!

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Filed under Climate Change, Commodification of Life, Corporate Globalization, Frontline Communities, Great Lakes, Human made disasters

Report: Great Lakes Bees Continue Decline

Great Lakes Echo published a piece this week outlining declining honey and wild bee populations in the Great Lakes. Bee populations continue to decline across the world and are linked to agricultural practices and affiliated disease.

Bumblebee species, photo by Jay Burney

Bumblebee species, photo by Jay Burney

Canadian, U.S. researchers tackle Great Lakes bee decline

By Ruth Krug, Great Lakes Echo. 10 November 2014

Recently the Ontario environmental commissioner, Gord Miller, said that bee-killing pesticides are a bigger threat to crops than the now-banned insecticide DDT.

Beekeeper Devin Joseph Wash of Trenton, Ontario, said the province recently issued permits to allow the use of pesticide-treated seeds near honey bee farms and conservation areas.

Read the whole article here.

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Filed under Biodiversity, Climate Change, Commodification of Life, GMOs, Great Lakes