Category Archives: Green Economy

Genetically engineering perennial grasses for biofuels: the USDA’s next dumb idea

Oh brother.  Where to start with this mess.  First off, genetically engineering perennial grasses is a disaster waiting to happen.  As with genetically engineering trees, there is no way to stop GE perennial grasses from genetically contaminating other grasses once they are released into the environment.  In fact, contamination has been caused simply by conducting outdoor field trials of GE grasses.  GE perennials are an even worse idea than GE annual crop plants because they cannot be contained.

Then there is the problem of trying to create fuel from plant material of any kind, which is leading to massive land grabs around the world, destroying biodiversity and displacing food crops, since there is simply not enough land on Planet Earth to come close to replacing the fossil fuels currently being devoured on a daily basis.

How about instead of these fake techno-fixes, we try reducing the amount of fuel we consume–especially in the U.S.–by, oh, around 90% or so.  Now there’s a real solution.

USDA Funds Genetic Engineering Research for Switchgrass Biofuels

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-  July 24, 2014, Farmers’ Advance

Michigan State University (MSU) plant biologist C. Robin Buell has been awarded $1 million from a joint U.S. Department of Energy and U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) program to accelerate genetic breeding programs to improve plant feedstock for the production of biofuels, bio-power and bio-based products.

Specifically, the MSU College of Natural Science researcher will work to identify the genetic factors that regulate cold hardiness in switchgrass, a plant native to North America that holds high potential as a biofuel source.

“This project will explore the genetic basis for cold tolerance that will permit the breeding of improved switchgrass cultivars that can yield higher biomass in northern climates,” said Buell, also an MSU AgBioResearch scientist. “It’s part of an ongoing collaboration with scientists in the USDA Agricultural Research Service to explore diversity in native switchgrass as a way to improve its yield and quality as a biofuel feedstock.”

For the full article, click here

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Filed under Biodiversity, Climate Change, Energy, False Solutions to Climate Change, GE Trees, Genetic Engineering, Green Economy, Greenwashing, Industrial agriculture, Land Grabs, Uncategorized

The Need for Clear Connections at the People’s Climate March

Global Justice Ecology Project  Executive Director Anne Petermann posted this entry at Daily Kos yesterday regarding the September 21 Climate March and associated events in New York City.

In this update from her previous piece about the march, Petermann points out that many climate action contexts promote strategies and actions on climate change that  “include many ‘solutions’ debunked as false by the global climate justice movement, including carbon capture and storage, and other technologies that allow business as usual to bounce happily along while the planet slowly burns.”

If you agree with Anne, support her by adding a comment to the extensive discussion developing on Daily Kos!

Photo by Orin Langelle

Photo by Orin Langelle

 

Climate Action vs. Climate Justice: the Need for Clear Demands at the Peoples’ Climate March in New York City

by Anne Peterman/Daily Kos

In New York City on September 21st, a major climate march is planned. It will take place two days before UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon’s UN Climate Summit–a one-day closed door session where the world’s “leaders” will discuss “ambitions” for the upcoming climate conference (COP20) in Lima Peru.

350.org and Avaaz originally called for the march, but environmental and climate justice organizations and alliances based in the New York/New Jersey region and across the US demanded (and won) a seat at the organizing table to attempt to ensure that the voices of front line and impacted communities are heard.

So, what are the demands of the march? There are none. That’s right. The march will simply bring together an estimated 200,000 people to march through the streets of New York and then…

There will be no rally, no speakers, and no strong political demands. Just people showing up with the overarching message that the world’s leaders should take action on climate change. Why no solid demands? I’ve been informed by organizers that the reason this march is being held with no actual demands is because we need a big tent.

But this tent is so big that it even includes organizations that support fracking and the tar sands gigaproject. Yup, they’re in the tent, too. Call me crazy, but I think that tent is too damn big.

According to some of the organizers, as long as everyone agrees that climate action is needed, then it’s all good. But are all climate actions created equal? No.

Read the Full Article Here 

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Filed under Actions / Protest, Bioenergy / Agrofuels, Carbon Trading, Climate Change, Climate Justice, Corporate Globalization, Energy, False Solutions to Climate Change, Fracking, Green Economy, Industrial agriculture, Media, Occupy Wall Street, Politics, Posts from Anne Petermann, Uncategorized

Mexico: wages stay down in stalled economy

June 2014. Source: WW4 Report

Photo rom www.hispanidad.com

Photo rom www.hispanidad.com

Even as Mexican president Enrique Peña Nieto continues to push for economic “reforms,” government agencies report that the economy still has one of the worst records in the hemisphere. Gross domestic product (GDP) grew just 1.1% in 2013, the poorest result in four years, and the government has reduced its forecast for growth in 2014 to 2.7%. The Banco de México, the country’s central bank, cut its key interest rate this June to stimulate economic activity, warning that the growth outlook was “weaker than expectations even a couple of weeks ago.” Only one-half of the population works in the formal economy, and even these workers are probably earning less than their parents did. Mexico’s legal minimum wage has fallen at least 66% in purchasing power over the last three decades, according to Alicia Bárcena, the executive secretary of the United Nations Economic Commission for Latin America and the Caribbean (ECLAC, CEPAL in Spanish). Continue reading

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Filed under Green Economy, Latin America-Caribbean

‘Superweeds’ choke Iowa farms

By Donnelle Eller, June 23, 2014. Source: The Des Moines Register

Photo by Robert Hartzler/Iowa State University Department of Agronomy)

Photo by Robert Hartzler/Iowa State University Department of Agronomy)

 

Arkansas farmer Tommy Young says Southern growers have lived through nearly a decade of torment, fighting a destructive, fast-growing weed that can carry a million seeds, grow as tall as an NBA player and is unfazed by several herbicides.

Now that weed — Palmer amaranth — is in five Iowa counties on the state’s border, and agronomists are working to determine whether it is herbicide resistant.

It has the power to choke the state’s economy and environment — and increase prices for consumers.

Here’s how: Even a moderate infestation of Palmer amaranth can rob farmers of about two-thirds of their corn and soybean yields, experts say.

Read more here. Continue reading

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Filed under Biodiversity, Genetic Engineering, Green Economy

El Salvador: US tries to block seed program

June 10, 2014. Source: WW4 Report

Photo from voiceselsalvador.wordpress.com

Photo from voiceselsalvador.wordpress.com

Four US-based organizations with programs centered on El Salvador were set to deliver a petition to the US State Department on June 6 with the signatures of some 1,000 US citizens opposing what the groups called the “intrusion of the [US] embassy in the sovereign politics of this country.” At issue was an indication by US ambassador Mari Carmen Aponte that the US may withhold $277 million slated for the second phase of the Millennium Challenge Corporation (MCC) aid program if the Salvadoran Agriculture Ministry continues its current practice of buying seeds from small-scale Salvadoran producers for its Family Agriculture Plan. The US organizations—the Committee in Solidarity with the People of El Salvador (CISPES), US–El Salvador Sister Cities, the SHARE Foundation, and Joining Hands El Salvador Network (RUMES)—charged that the US threat was made “with clear intentions to advance the interests of transnational agricultural companies.” Continue reading

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Filed under Green Economy, Land Grabs, Latin America-Caribbean

Offsetting is a massive threat to wildlife, warn environment groups

June 2, 2014. Source: Friends of the Earth

Photo: Redd-Monitor

Photo: Redd-Monitor

Biodiversity offsetting is already being used by developers to justify schemes that will cause irreversible harm to nature, warn over 15 environment groups across the world today (Monday 2 June 2014), ahead of a major biodiversity offsetting conference in London this week.

The conference – “To No Net Loss of Biodiversity and Beyond” on 3 and 4 June (see http://bbop.forest-trends.org/events/no-net-loss/) will be addressed by Environment Secretary Owen Paterson who is soon to decide on controversial plans to allow developers to destroy precious wildlife habitat, provided there is an attempt to offset the damage elsewhere.

Such schemes are known as biodiversity offsetting, and FERN and Friends of the Earth are concerned that its introduction could allow developers to push through projects that would have devastating impacts on irreplaceable habitats and our wildlife. Continue reading

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Filed under Biodiversity, Climate Change, Forests, Forests and Climate Change, Green Economy, The Greed Economy and the Future of Forests

BREAKING: Protesters disrupt genetically engineered trees corporate event

May 14, 2014. Source: Global Justice Ecology Project

Industry Warned: “Plant genetically engineered trees and expect resistance”

Tallahassee, FL (US) - Demonstrators today interrupted an event hosted by genetically engineered (GE) tree company ArborGen, warning participants to expect growing protests should they plant GE trees. The event brought together landowners and foresters from the industrial tree plantation industry and featured top ArborGen scientists working on GE trees.

“We sent a clear message to participants — plant genetically engineered trees and expect resistance,” said Keith Brunner, an organizer with Global Justice Ecology Project. “Invasive GE eucalyptus, planned for deployment across the US South, would irrevocably devastate native ecosystems, exacerbate droughts and lead to catastrophic firestorms. This must be stopped before it is too late.”

The US Department of Agriculture (USDA) is expected soon to accept public comments following the release of its draft Environmental Impact Statement on ArborGen’s request to commercially sell millions of potentially flammable and invasive genetically engineered eucalyptus trees, for planting across the US South from South Carolina to Texas. The USDA will ultimately issue a final decision approving or denying ArborGen’s request.

GJEP member Keith Brunner and Stephanie Hall, Toad Clan, Seminolee Miccosukee, interrupt an ArborGen event. Photo: Will Bennington/GJEP

Stephanie Hall, a member of the Toad clan of the Seminolee Miccosukee People, interrupts the ArborGen event. Photo: Will Bennington/GJEP

If approved, ArborGen’s freeze-tolerant GE eucalyptus, designed to be planted in industrial tree plantations for bioenergy and pulp production, would be the first commercially approved GE forest tree in the US. Approval of GE eucalyptus could open the door to approval for other GE species like GE pine and poplar, which pose additional risks due to the likelihood of contamination of wild relatives in native forests.

Stephanie Hall, a member of the Toad Clan of the Seminolee Miccosukee People, also pointed out the link between ArborGen’s plans and the history of genocide against Indigenous Peoples in the region: “ArborGen could not be planning for the development of vast industrial plantations of genetically engineered eucalyptus trees on land in Florida without the previous history of genocide and forced removal of Indigenous men, women, children, plants and animals from the region. People should not be complicit in this — we must ban genetically engineered trees.”

“Early last year, the USDA received nearly 40,000 comments opposing ArborGen’s GE eucalyptus, with only a handful received in favor,” stated Anne Petermann,Executive Director of Global Justice Ecology Project.  “Then in May of 2013, the international Tree Biotechnology conference in Asheville, NC was protested and disrupted for almost a week by hundreds of protesters. These protests and today’s disruption are only the beginning. As the USDA considers ArborGen’s request to legalize GE trees, opposition to these trees and the threats they pose to communities and native forests continues to grow.”

 

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Filed under Actions / Protest, Biodiversity, Bioenergy / Agrofuels, Climate Change, Commodification of Life, Corporate Globalization, False Solutions to Climate Change, Forests, GE Trees, Genetic Engineering, Green Economy, Indigenous Peoples

When our land is free, we’re all free

By Silas Kpanan’Ayoung Siakor and Jacinta Fay, May 7, 2014. Source: Sustainable Development Institute/Friends of the Earth

On 6-8 May 2014 agribusiness corporations are courting African governments at the Grow Africa Investment Forum in Abuja, Nigeria to ‘further accelerate sustainable agricultural growth in Africa’.
Corporations’ interest in agriculture in Africa has certainly accelerated corporate control of land and seeds but done little to support agriculture that will feed the continent. Rather than support family farming and smallholder agriculture private sector investment in agriculture has resulted in grabbing land from communities; the land which they farm sustainably and rely on for their survival.

Communities are resisting this corporate takeover of their land and they are winning. All over Africa people are sending a clear message to their governments; stop selling Africa to corporations. The Jogbahn Clan in Liberia is one such community and here is their story.

Continue reading

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Filed under Actions / Protest, Africa, Biodiversity, Bioenergy / Agrofuels, Corporate Globalization, Food Sovereignty, Green Economy, Land Grabs, The Greed Economy and the Future of Forests