Category Archives: Industrial agriculture

NY Times chronicles Monarch Buttterfly struggle

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!

Buffalo photo of the day, November 20, 2014

Buffalo photo of the day, November 20, 2014

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.

Monarchs at Parque Nacional El Cimatario, Mexico, November 2010- Photo by Jajean Rose Burney

Monarchs at Parque Nacional El Cimatario, Mexico, November 2010- Photo by Jajean Rose Burney

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Filed under Biodiversity, Forests, Great Lakes, Industrial agriculture, Pesticides

Exposé: USDA drops the ball on GMO crop oversight

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.
 

Soon after being sliced, a conventional Granny Smith apple (left) starts to brown, while the GMO apple does not. Photo: NPR

Soon after being sliced, a conventional Granny Smith apple (left) starts to brown, while the GMO apple does not. Photo: NPR

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.

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Filed under Biodiversity, Forests, GE Trees, Genetic Engineering, Industrial agriculture, Uncategorized

The Onion skewers Monsanto in sci-fi horror scenario

"Officials say Indianapolis is now 60 percent corn," photo from the Onion with the article

“Officials say Indianapolis is now 60 percent corn,” photo from the Onion with the article

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.

Read the whole parody here.

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Filed under Genetic Engineering, GMOs, Humor, Industrial agriculture, Monsanto

Farmers in the Philippines band together against palm oil plantations

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.

Oil palm plantations have taken over land that the Palawan used to grow coconuts. Photo: ALDAW

Oil palm plantations have taken over land that the Palawan used to grow coconuts. Photo: ALDAW

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.

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Filed under Actions / Protest, Biofuelwatch, Forests, Indigenous Peoples, Industrial agriculture, Land Grabs, Palm Oil

Coalition of Farmers and Environmental Groups to Challenge EPA Over Herbicide Approval

pesticide-sign_18072Lawsuit filed against Environmental Protection Agency for approval of 2,4-D use on genetically engineered corn, soy crops in six Midwest states

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.

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Filed under Genetic Engineering, GMOs, Industrial agriculture, Pesticides

Half of North American Bird species face disruption,decline

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.

 

Warblers such as this Yellow-throated Warbler are vanishing. Photo by Jay Burney 2014

An article published tuesday in the New York Times tells the story of the Audubon Report.

Climate change will Disrupt Half of North America’s Bird Species, Study Says.

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.

Read the New York Times Story

Read the Audubon Report

 

 

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Filed under Biodiversity, BREAKING NEWS, Climate Change, Climate Justice, Commodification of Life, Corporate Globalization, Forests and Climate Change, Great Lakes, Green Economy, Greenwashing, Human made disasters, Industrial agriculture, Latin America-Caribbean, Oceans, Pollution, The Greed Economy and the Future of Forests, Uncategorized

Investigation shows that industry friendly oversight of GMO experiments in California endanger the public and the environment

An investigation by Hearst Newspapers shows that little oversight by agencies in California of experimental field trials of GMO’s hidden along California’s Central Coast is putting the public and the environment  at risk. The company conducting the tests, Applied Biotechnology, is founded and run by John A. Howard, who “previously funded another company that was permanently banned from trials of genetically modified organisms – GMOs – after creating such contaminated messes in the Midwest that a half-million bushels of soybeans and more than 150 acres of corn had to be destroyed.”

Worker Javier Alcantar tends to corn crops at the Monsanto Co. test field in Woodland, California, U.S., on Friday, Aug. 10, 2012. Monsanto Co., an American multinational agricultural biotechnology corporation, is the world's leading producer of the herbicide glyphosate and the largest producer of genetically engineered (GE) seed.  Photo: Noah Berger, Bloomberg

Worker Javier Alcantar tends to corn crops at the Monsanto Co. test field in Woodland, California, U.S., on Friday, Aug. 10, 2012. Monsanto Co., an American multinational agricultural biotechnology corporation, is the world’s leading producer of the herbicide glyphosate and the largest producer of genetically engineered (GE) seed. Photo: Noah Berger, Bloomberg

According to an article published yesterday (September 8, 2014) in the SFGate, the online sister publication of the San Francisco Chronicle:

The advent of GMOs has spawned global debate and protest over issues of consumer safety and the uncertain effects of altered genes on the environment.

Yes it has–and the opposition to the development of unsafe GMO’s is just beginning to build!

GMO experiments receive questionable oversight
By Bill Bill Lambrecht, San Francisco Gate. September 8, 2014.

Washington — At a secret location among the vineyards of California’s Central Coast, a plot of genetically engineered corn is producing proteins for industrial and pharmaceutical uses, including an experimental vaccine for hepatitis B.

The altered corn is growing with federal approval 100 feet from a steelhead stream in San Luis Obispo County, in designated critical habitat for the threatened California red-legged frog. Agriculture Department inspectors have reported two “incidents” at the site, including conventional corn sprouting in a 50-foot fallow zone, but the findings did not rise to the level of a fine or even to a formal notice of noncompliance for the company that planted it, Applied Biotechnology Institute Inc.

Details of Applied Biotechnology’s inspections and hundreds of other field trials with genetically modified plants were obtained by Hearst Newspapers under Freedom of Information laws. The inspection reports and other Agriculture Department records present a picture of vast, swiftly expanding outdoor experimentation and industry-friendly oversight of those experiments.

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Filed under Biodiversity, Bioenergy / Agrofuels, Campaign to STOP GE Trees, Climate Change, Climate Justice, Commodification of Life, Corporate Globalization, False Solutions to Climate Change, Food Sovereignty, Forests, Forests and Climate Change, GE Trees, Genetic Engineering, Greenwashing, Industrial agriculture, Uncategorized

Canada Now Leads Brazil in Deforestation

Scientists from the University of Maryland, Greenpeace, Global Forest Watch, and the World Resources Institute are tracking global forest decline and have announced that the rate of decline is accelerating.

Canada has now surpassed all other countries including Brazil as being responsible for loss of forest landscapes since 2000.  According to a story in the Ottawa Citizen published last week, the “main drivers are fire, logging, and energy and industrial development.”

Resource exploitation in the boreal forests of Quebec, Ontario, Saskatchewan, and Alberta are particularly devastating. Satellite imagery shows that the boreal forests in the area of the oil sands between Fort McMurray and Lake Athabasca has been almost totally devastated.

 

Lakes, like these in Northern Ontario dot Canada's boreal forests and contain 25 percent of the world's wetlands.  Photo- Jeff Wells

Lakes, like these in Northern Ontario dot Canada’s boreal forests and contain 25 percent of the world’s wetlands. Photo- Jeff Wells

According to Dr Nigel Sizer, director of the forest program at the World Resources Institute, “if this rate of degradation continues “business as usual will lead to destruction of most remaining intact forests in this century”

Canada leads world in forest decline, report says
By William Marsden, Ottawa Citizen. September 3, 2014.

WASHINGTON – The world’s virgin forests are being lost at an increasing rate and the largest portion of the degradation is in Canada, according to a new report.

No longer is Brazil the main villain in the struggle to stop forest destruction.

“Canada is the number one in the world for the total area of the loss of intact forest landscapes since 2000,” Peter Lee, of Forest Watch Canada, said in an interview.

He said the main drivers are fires, logging and energy and industrial development.

“There is no political will at federal or provincial levels for conserving primary forests,” he said. “Most logging done in Canada is still to this day done in virgin forests.”

Using satellite technology, scientists from the University of Maryland, Greenpeace, Global Forest Watch and the World Resources Institute have tracked changes in the earth’s forest coverage. The scientists discovered that the pace of decline is accelerating with more than 104 million hectares – about 8.1 per cent of global undisturbed forests — lost from 2000 to 2013.

Read the whole article here

 

 

 

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Filed under Biodiversity, Bioenergy / Agrofuels, BREAKING NEWS, Campaign to STOP GE Trees, Carbon Trading, Climate Change, Climate Justice, Coal, Commodification of Life, Corporate Globalization, Energy, False Solutions to Climate Change, Forests, Forests and Climate Change, Fracking, Great Lakes, Green Economy, Greenwashing, Hydroelectric dams, Industrial agriculture, Keystone XL, Mining, Mountaintop Removal, Oil, Pollution, Tar Sands, The Greed Economy and the Future of Forests, Uncategorized, Water