Note: future plans for the forests of the Southeast are to replace them with fast growing freeze tolerant GE eucalyptus trees for biomass production, pulp and whatever else they can think of.
–The GJEP Team
Category Archives: The Greed Economy and the Future of Forests
Brazilian Commission to “Terminate” Seeds This Week
Submitted on 10 December 2013
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After promising on World Food Day (October 16) to block legislation that would legalize the planting of Terminator seeds in Brazil, the country’s Judicial Commission is set to approve suicide seeds as a Christmas gift to Monsanto, DuPont and Syngenta.
Intense internal and external pressure in mid-October forced the Brazilian Congress to pull back from adopting pro-Terminator legislation, and the Judicial Commission’s Chair pledged never to allow legislation while at his post. Now, the same chair will entertain a motion Wednesday to accept Terminator seeds, making Brazil the first country in the world to defy a 13-year-old UN moratorium on the use of the technology. “If the Commission passes the bill this week,” says Centro Ecológico’s Maria José Guazzelli, “the Congress could make it law after it reconvenes in February. While most of Brazil is celebrating a Christmas birth, the seed multinationals will be celebrating the death of the 10,000-year right of farmers to save seeds.”
If the bill is passed this week (the Judicial Commission meets Wednesday and Thursday), ETC Group expects the Brazilian government to take a series of incremental steps that will orchestrate the collapse of the 193-country consensus moratorium when the UN Convention on Biological Diversity meets for its biennial conference in Korea in October 2014:
First, the government will announce that adoption by the Judicial Commission does not necessarily mean adoption by the Congress. Next, the government will announce that it will limit, through regulation, the application of Terminator technologies to special circumstances and repeat its long-standing support of the UN moratorium. Later, the government will agree that Terminator seeds can be used on GM trees to prevent widespread contamination in the Amazon. This will be described as an environmentally beneficial initiative, disguising the intent to allow the Amazon’s biodiversity to be replaced with GM tree plantations.
Monsanto, DuPont and Syngenta – all of whom have pledged to never sell Terminator seeds to farmers – will express their sympathy for the government’s difficult situation regarding the spread of GM tree pollen and agree to act responsibly. Although the 3 companies that control 54% of global commercial seed sales all have a stable of Terminator patents, they will move cautiously to multiply Terminator seeds and prepare them for market over the next 2-3 years.
Note: The proposed development of vast plantations of genetically engineered eucalyptus trees across the US South for biomass energy production poses another major threat to Southern forests and biodiversity. To sign our petition to the USDA demanding a ban on the release of GE eucalyptus trees, click here.
Charlottesville, VA, 5 December – A study released today by three major Southern universities, commissioned by the National Wildlife Federation and Southern Environmental Law Center, concludes that wildlife habitat and biodiversity in the Southeast are at risk due to rapidly expanding biomass energy development. The Southeast is now the world’s largest exporter of wood pellets for biomass energy, with exports from Southern ports increasing by 70% last year alone. The projected huge surge in European demand for Southeast trees for power generation is expected to have significant negative impacts on wildlife.
The report, Forestry Bioenergy in the Southeast United States: Implications for Wildlife Habitat and Biodiversity”, can be accessed here: http://bit.ly/1iCZ2p8
For the study, researchers from University of Georgia, University of Florida, and Virginia Tech analyzed land cover and determined areas of highest risk of harvesting around six facilities located in Georgia, North Carolina, and Virginia, with sourcing areas stretching into Florida, South Carolina, Tennessee, and West Virginia. One of the case studies focused on a facility owned by Enviva LP, one of the major wood pellet exporters in the region that is sourcing pellets from whole trees logged from wildlife-rich wetland forests in North Carolina and Virginia.
Note: There are very clear links between the coup in Honduras and the overthrow of Zelaya with the emergence of Honduras as a major center for palm oil production for biofuels–largely for import into the US. To read more about this and the resistance of Honduras peasant communities against the oil palm industry, visit our coverage of the issue here.
November 28, 2013, By Elena Zeledon. Source: GreenLeft.org
Large-scale electoral fraud affected every aspect of the November 24 general elections in the Central American country of Honduras. This has sparked a huge political crisis, which matches and possibly surpasses the crises produced by the coup d’etat that overthrew president Manuel Zelaya in 2009. The fraud has denied victory to Liberty and Refoundation (LIBRE) party presidential candidate Xiomara Castro, the wife of Zelaya. LIBRE was formed National Front of Popular Resistance (FNRP), which united many sectors that took part in the resistance to the coup.
In Honduras, one of the poorest countries in the Western hemisphere and occupying an area about the size of Queensland, two decades of struggle has helped develop one of the most social and class conscious movements in the world.
It has been governed for decades by a series of revolving door governments headed by either the National or Liberal parties. When the level of social struggles or political impasses reached a crises point, the army stepped in. Military dictatorships would end these “democratic interludes”, and then step back into the shadows allowing the two parties to play out its game of charades.
This “two-party” cycle was ended on November 24 with the result for LIBRE. Castro is the legitimate president. There is no doubt in the minds of any independent observer that LIBRE won the vote. There is also no doubt that the ruling National Party and its presidential candidate Juan Orlando Hernandez, the self-proclaimed winner, engaged in huge electoral fraud. This took place on in the run-up to the vote, as well as on election day.
November 26, 2013
Mr. Joe Goffman Senior Counsel, Office of Air and Radiation, U.S. Environmental Protection Agency1200 Pennsylvania Avenue, N.W. Mail Code: 6101A Washington, DC 20460
Dear Mr. Goffman:
We, the undersigned scientists, believe regulations governing how stationary sources account for biogenic carbon emissions must be based on sound science and ensure adequate protections for forests and the climate. We applaud the EPA for setting a high standard in making policy on this important issue by seeking expert scientific input from the Science Advisory Board (SAB). We now urge the agency to follow through on that process and embrace the central scientific principles underscored by the SAB as you finalize these accounting rules. Doing otherwise at this juncture will fail the test of rigorous, science- based policymaking and could result in regulations that distort the marketplace towards greater use of unsustainable sources of biomass, with significant risks to our climate, forests and the valuable ecosystem services they provide and we rely on.
In 2011, EPA initiated a science-driven process to develop a methodology for properly quantifying biogenic carbon emissions from stationary sources under the Clean Air Act. As part of this process, the agency rightly solicited scientific input by submitting a draft “Accounting Framework for Biogenic CO2 Emissions from Stationary Sources” to the SAB for review by an assembled Biogenic Carbon Emissions Panel. As now EPA finalizes its biogenic carbon accounting rules, it must follow through on that process and adopt the science panel’s key recommendations: 1) moving beyond the flawed assumption that bioenergy is inherently carbon neutral; 2) rejecting the regional accounting method originally proposed in the draft Accounting Framework; and 3) ensuring a scientifically-sound methodology for determining the carbon emissions impact to the atmosphere from burning long-recovery biomass feedstocks—most notably, whole trees.
From Main Street to Wall Street, U.S. banks and brands support illegal forest destruction for palm oil
21 November, 2013. Source: Friends of the Earth
WASHINGTON, D.C./JAKARTA – Illegal and destructive production of palm oil in Indonesia is continuing, with a chain of culpability that spreads worldwide, from Southeast Asian rain forests to supermarket shelves and Wall Street board rooms, reveals a new report released today by Friends of the Earth1, Forest Heroes and SumOfUs.
In recent years, consumers have been shocked to learn that many household food brands use palm oil from sources engaged in widespread destruction of tropical forests. The new report, Commodity Crimes: Illicit Land Grabs, Illegal Palm Oil and Endangered Orangutans shows how this forest destruction not only harms forest peoples, endangered species and the Earth’s climate, but is often illegal. The report names the major U.S. and European banks that are financing these unlawful land grabs and the investors who are profiting.
Commodity Crimes: Illicit Land Grabs, Illegal Palm Oil and Endangered Orangutans documents how one Indonesian company, Bumitama Agri Ltd, engaged in systematic forest destruction in and around forest reserves and in 2012 sold itself in a public offering that admitted to including illegally cleared tracts of forest. The financial maneuvers of Bumitama Agri – a leading supplier to the global market, including to Wilmar International, the world’s largest palm oil trader – also raise questions about compliance with Indonesia’s tax laws and law against money laundering. Continue reading
By Silvia Giannelli, 15 November, 2013. Source: Inter Press Service
JAKARTA – Indonesia’s rainforests are facing “legal land grabs”, allege NGOs. Its ancient communities are finding that their ancestral lands are slipping into the hands of foreign companies for oil palm cultivation, as demand for the product grows in Europe, India and China.
“There are 33,000 villages in Indonesia’s forest zone, and many thousand more in areas marked for agriculture,” said Marcus Colchester, senior policy advisor at Forest Peoples Programme, an international NGO.
“The government allocates these areas to companies without even consulting the communities. So concessions have been handed out over lands where these communities have lived for hundreds or even thousands of years,” he told IPS.
Last Friday, Colchester flew to Medan to present the findings of his research, carried out in conjunction with two local organisations, on the impact oil palm cultivation has on the lives of Indonesian communities. Continue reading
Statement on the UN Climate Conference in Warsaw by Tom Goldtooth, Executive Director, Indigenous Environmental Network
The United Nations climate meetings involve the big powers of the United States and other industrialized “developed” countries. Lurking in the background are the financial sectors and investors of capital often having meetings in 4-5 star hotels.
Everything I have seen from the industrialized countries (including G20 countries) is false solutions towards addressing climate change. They have been playing a game of chess with climate.
As articulated at the World People’s Conference on Climate Change and the Rights of Mother Earth in 2010 in Cochabamba, Bolivia, the root cause of climate change is capitalism. IEN had a delegation in Cochabamba actively involved in the outcome documents. The problem is countries will continue to drill, dig, and burn up every drop of oil, gas, and coal; no matter how expensive it is, till it runs out globally.
After fossil fuel resources are depleted, the world will move into a global bio-energy and bio-economy (plants, energy crops, trees, algae, etc.). To do this, they need full access to land (and water), with no restrictions – worldwide. Everyone’s rights to land and water will be diminished.
The issues of access to and political power games over Energy and Water will be the battleground for our next generation. It will be over the Privatization of Nature – of Mother Earth. We will witness more deregulation of corporate activity, more privatization and commodification of the natural “commons”. They have given themselves rights to have Dominion over Nature.
What will it take to turn this around?
Many are grappling with this question. But, I believe a mass movement globally is needed to resist this insanity. But, it also involves a spiritual awakening. As I have said many times, the people of the world must re-evaluate what their relationship is to the sacredness of Mother Earth.
As Indigenous Peoples, those that follow our teachings, we know what our responsibilities are to the Natural Laws of Mother Earth. But the industrialized man, industrialized societies do not know this. IEN has spoken to this for over 22 years!
The modern world of capitalism and its world of corporate schizophrenia are already co-opting our Indigenous leadership with false solutions via benefit-sharing scenarios, or to be nice “Indians” and just share our traditional knowledge for adaptation to climate change; rather than our participation demanding real change and action.
Real binding commitments and real actions to reduce emissions at source must be the major path in these negotiations. But, this is not the agenda in Warsaw at this time. This is why the tar sands in Canada is ground zero in Turtle Island – North America to fighting for climate justice; for the rights of Indigenous Peoples, and for a new colonial paradigm (not ours, but their system) that moves away from a Property Rights regime, towards a system that recognizes Earth Jurisprudence.
–Tom Goldtooth, Executive Director of Indigenous Environmental Network and member of the International Indigenous Peoples’ Forum on Climate Change, the Indigenous caucus within the UNFCCC
Sustainability fear over new power stations’ demand for wood pellets after report says their use has implications globally
By Jamie Doward, 9 November 2013. Source: The Observer
A new report says the demand for wood pellets has implications for global land use. Photograph: Alamy
Britain’s new generation of biomass power stations will have to source millions of tonnes of wood from thousands of miles away if they are to operate near to their full capacity, raising questions about the claims made for the sustainability of the new technology.
Ministers believe biomass technology could provide as much as 11% of the UK’s energy by 2020, something that would help it meet its carbon commitments. The Environment Agency estimates that biomass-fired electricity generation, most of which involves burning wood pellets, can cut greenhouse gas emissions by up to 90% compared with coal-fired power stations. Eight biomass power stations, including one in a unit in the giant Drax power station, are operating in the UK and a further seven are in the pipeline. None operates near capacity.
Global Justice Ecology Project teams up weekly with Pacifica’s Sojourner Truth show hosted by Margaret Prescod to cover important news about the environment. Every Tuesday we produce an “Earth Minute” and each Thursday an “Earth Watch” interview segment with an activist from the front lines of the battle to protect mother Earth.