For Immediate Release:
November 25, 2014
Consumers Union Hails Recount on GMO Labeling Law in Oregon, Calls Close Vote a Major Victory for Consumers
CU Urges Congress Not to Prohibit Consumer Right-to-Know Laws
Jeff Conant interviewed Silas Siakor, director of Sustainable Development Institute/Friends of the Earth Liberia, on the link between the Ebola epidemic and the ruthless exploitation of forest resources in the region.
The devastation of Ebola in West Africa is tied to the region’s deforestation. To generate awareness of the links, Jeff Conant, director of FOE’s international forests campaign, interviewed Silas Siakor of Sustainable Development Institute/Friends of the Earth, Liberia. The interview addresses key topics for us at GJEP and Climate Connections regarding deforestation: logging (illegal and otherwise), industrial agriculture, oil palm, and biofuels.
By Jeff Conant, Truthout. 24 November 2014.
It is clear that the spread of Ebola in West Africa is directly linked to the region’s deep poverty: Out of 187 countries on the United Nations’ Human Development Index, Liberia, Guinea and Sierra Leone rank 175th, 179th and 183rd, respectively. But, while it is easy to recognize the links between poverty and the spread of the virus, there has been little focus on the root causes of the region’s impoverishment itself.
While we continue to be beleaguered in Buffalo by this historic storm, we remain cheerful and optimistic that spring will be here again, eventually. Really, we do believe this. Meanwhile, here is our photo for today–still a State of Emergency, still a widening travel ban, and still being pummeled by raging snows. We have hit 6 feet of snow and are counting at my home. 2 more feet possible by tomorrow. Power remains on. National Guard is getting stuck!
This past Monday, the New York Times published the following somewhat hopeful piece about the Monarch Butterflies current conditions. The piece reveals that some well-intentioned conservation strategies have unintended consequences and that not all Milkweeds are created equal. An important read for all of us.
This expose by Hearst newspapers on the lax approach to GMO crop oversight by the US Department of Agriculture is unfortunately not surprising, given the agency’s history of pro-GMO crop decisions. It is, however, one more powerful reason to oppose the approval of genetically engineered forest trees in the US.
Species currently being developed include non-native GE eucalyptus trees (which APHIS is currently evaluating for widespread commercial release), GE American chestnut trees (which would be released into forests with the express intent of contaminating wild American chestnut trees), as well as GE poplar and GE pine, which have wild relatives across the Hemisphere that would be at risk from contamination.
Here’s an idea. Let’s ban GE trees instead. Sign our petition here.
Weak Oversight of GM Field Trials in the U.S.
Source: Third World Network
“Arctic Apples” genetically modified (GM) not to turn brown have become the centre of controversy in the United States when an inspection of an orchard of these apple trees found them flowering less than 100 feet from non-GM apple trees, in violation of GM field trial regulations. The US Department of Agriculture (USDA) is considering the approval of GM non-browning apples, which could have an adverse impact on the country’s apple industry if consumers reject GM apples.
The apple grower, Gebbers Farms, was fined by the Animal Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) $19,250, which prompted Hearst Newspapers to conduct an investigation into the oversight of GM field trials. It found that only two such fines have been issued since 2010 out of nearly 200 notices of non-compliance issued.
APHIS says it has approved nearly 20,000 field trial permits covering an estimated 100,000 plantings of gene-altered crops. This is akin to a vast outdoor experimentation with GM crops, which is expanding swiftly from common field crops like corn and soybeans into the realm of whole foods and plants with industrial uses.
Describing APHIS as having an “industry-friendly approach” to regulation, the Hearst report reveals a disturbing trend of violations, mistakes and high risks of contamination that have not received adequate attention or action by governing bodies. In particular, APHIS’s weakness in overseeing field trials has drawn heavy criticism from farmers, scientists and other federal agencies.
The Onion has been on a roll lately with some great headlines showing that it’s still going strong. Here’s a classically painful-but-funny parody we saved for the weekend, “Monsanto Harvest-Resistant Corn Now Engulfing Most Of Midwest.”
In it, The Onion creates a sci-fi horror scenario very much in the spirit of 1950s, but reading carefully, one can see that it draws carefully from reality, including effects much like the known ecological damage of Monsanto crops (water depletion, for example) and giving it a very Monsanto-like name. Moreover, be sure to read the last paragraph! The author clearly follows the news on Monsanto closely.
This article is a classic parody because it brings out how close to sci-fi horror and how absurd Monsanto really is, along with everything else we can say about it.
Monsanto Harvest-Resistant Corn Now Engulfing Most Of Midwest
SPRINGFIELD, IL—Wreaking untold environmental and economic devastation throughout the region, a strain of harvest-resistant corn engineered by the agrochemical company Monsanto is now engulfing most of the Midwest, officials confirmed Monday.
Indigenous peoples and small farmers in the Philippines created a new alliance, the Coalition Against Land Grabbing (CALG), in order to prevent palm oil plantation expansion in the province of Palawan. According to a post on farmlandgrab.org, CALG nabbed more than 4,000 signatures demanding a halt on the plantations, which are ripping apart the native forests.
Like many land grab situations, the palm oil plantations tear through local forests and land with little to no concern for the ecosystem or the people who rely on those forests for their livelihoods. Fed up, the Palawan people have solidified their stance just in time — nearly 20,000 hectares are set to be wiped out for future palm oil plantations, a large source for biofuels.
Tribes and farmers unite to end oil palm expansion in Philippines
By farmlandgrab.org, 22 October 2014
Palawan, which is often referred to as “the Philippines’ last ecological frontier”, is a biosphere reserve and home to tribal peoples such as the Palawan, Batak and Tagbanua, who rely on their forests for food, medicines and for building their houses.
“To find medicinal plants we must walk more than half day to reach the other side of the mountain range,” said a tribal Palawan man. “Because of the far distance we must leave our young children at home, so they do not learn the name and uses of these plants. The old knowledge is being lost.”
The plantations have brought hardship to the local communities. Rates of poverty and malnutrition are rising fastest in the area with the largest amount of land converted to oil palm production. Indigenous community organiser, John Mart Salunday called the oil palm project a complete “fiasco” in terms of poverty eradication.
Read the full article here.
San Francisco, CA – A coalition of farmers and environmental groups filed a lawsuit to sue the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) today on behalf of six Midwest states where a toxic herbicide cocktail called Dow’s Enlist Duo, a blend of glyphosate and 2,4-D, was approved on October 15 for use on genetically engineered (GE) crops.
Approved for use on GE corn and soybeans that were engineered to withstand repeated applications of the herbicide, the creation of 2,4-D-resistant crops and EPA’s approval of Enlist Duo is the result of an overuse of glyphosate, an ingredient in Monsanto’s Roundup. The misuse resulted in an infestation of glyphosate-resistant super weeds which can now be legally combatted with the more potent 2,4-D. Dow Chemical has presented 2,4-D resistant crops as a quick fix to the problem, but independent scientists, as well as USDA analysis, predict that the Enlist crop system will only foster more weed resistance.
The National Audubon Society released a report this past Tuesday, September 9, indicating that 314 North American Bird species are on the brink, due to shifting and shrinking ranges that have a fundamental cause in climate change. This includes loss of habitat caused by a number of factors including climate shifts and commodification of natural resources such as forests. 126 species are identified in the report that will lose more than 50% of their current ranges, some up to 100% by 2050. Another 188 species face catastrophic loss of range by 2080. The Bald Eagle is expected to loose 73% of its range by 2080. Familiar birds like the Baltimore Oriole, Common Loon, the Purple Finch, and the Wood Thrush may will be significantly effected. Some like the Trumpeter Swan will not survive.
An article published tuesday in the New York Times tells the story of the Audubon Report.
Felicity Barringer New York Times September 8, 2014
The Baltimore oriole will probably no longer live in Maryland, the common loon might leave Minnesota, and the trumpeter swan could be entirely gone.
Those are some of the grim prospects outlined in a report released on Monday by the National Audubon Society, which found that climate change is likely to so alter the bird population of North America that about half of the approximately 650 species will be driven to smaller spaces or forced to find new places to live, feed and breed over the next 65 years. If they do not — and for several dozen it will be very difficult — they could become extinct.
The four Audubon Society scientists who wrote the report projected in it that 21.4 percent of existing bird species studied will lose “more than half of the current climactic range by 2050 without the potential to make up losses by moving to other areas.” An additional 32 percent will be in the same predicament by 2080, they said.