Category Archives: Victory!

Historic court ruling bans Bayer’s GM corn in Brazil

Note: Here is some good news to the round out the week.  While we  aren’t too hopeful that this Brazilian court ruling will set the stage for more of its kind across the world, it could at least provide hurdles to companies like ArborGen and FuturaGene, who want to plant hundreds of millions of genetically engineered eucalyptus trees throughout Brazil.  And who knows, maybe the ripples will reach the courtrooms and regulatory agencies in North America.

Whatever the long-term implications, this is certainly a victory for small farmers in Brazil.

-The GJEP Team

March 14, 2014. Source: Sustainable Pulse

corn-gmo-1-600x363

In an historic ruling on Thursday Brazil’s Federal Appeals Court has unanimously decided to cancel the release for cultivation of Bayer’s Liberty Link GM Maize.

The ruling is another legal disaster for the biotech industry as it follows the decision taken earlier this week by a court in the Campeche region of Mexico toban GM Soybean cultivation, to protect the traditions of the Mayan people, namely beekeeping.

The Brazilian Court annulled the decision by Brazil’s Biosecurity Commission (CTNBio), who had allowed the release for cultivation of Liberty Link GM Maize. The civil action against CTNBio was started by Land Rights, the Brazilian Institute for Consumer Defense – IDEC and the National Association of Small Farmers.

The decision is reported to have created new legal paradigm and may force Brazilian authorities to reconsider all other commercial releases of GMOs in Brazil. Never before has a Judge stated that there is a need for studies on the negative impacts of GMOs in all major biomes in the country.
Continue reading

2 Comments

Filed under Corporate Globalization, Food Sovereignty, GE Trees, Genetic Engineering, Victory!

Victory! First Nations celebrate federal rejection of New Prosperity mine proposal

February 27, 2014. Source: Intercontinental Cry

Fish Lake (Teztan Biny)

Fish Lake (Teztan Biny)

Tsilhqot’in Territory, BC: Yesterday’s federal decision to reject the New Prosperity Gold-Copper mine proposal was welcomed by Tsilhqot’in Chiefs, AFN National Chief A-in-chut Shawn Atleo, Union of BC Indian Chiefs President, Grand Chief Stewart Phillip and First Nations everywhere.

They now call on this to be the end of a costly, pointless battle that has dragged on since at least 1995, when Taseko Mines Ltd. was first told by the federal Department of Fisheries and Oceans not to waste any further time or money pursuing this unacceptable project.

The mine proposal was opposed vigorously by the Tsilhqot’in Nation with the unanimous support of B.C.’s and Canada’s First Nations and received an unprecedented two scathing independent expert panel reports which make clear that the project was unacceptable environmentally and in terms of its impact on First Nations’ rights and culture, and that these impacts were immitigable.

Chief Joe Alphonse, Tribal Chair for the Tsilhqot’in National Government said: “We are celebrating this decision to reject once again this terrible project, which threatened our pristine waters, fish and Aboriginal rights. Continue reading

Leave a comment

Filed under Corporate Globalization, Indigenous Peoples, Mining, Victory!, Water

Shell cancels 2014 Arctic drilling – Arctic Ocean & Inpuiat rights reality check

Today Shell announced it was canceling its 2014 drilling in the Alaskan Arctic. This is a guest blog by Faith Gemmill, Executive Director of Resisting Environmental Destruction on Indigenous Lands (REDOIL), on the court decision that forced Shell’s hand, and the Indigenous rights context behind it. 

By Faith Gemmill, January 30, 2014. Source: Platform London

Photo: Faith Gemmill/ REDOIL

Photo: Faith Gemmill/ REDOIL

Last week the Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit ruled that the US government violated the law when it sold offshore oil and gas leases in the Chukchi Sea off the coast of Alaska.  The decision stems from a lawsuit filed by a coalition of Alaska Native and conservation groups.  Indigenous Plaintiffs included The Native Village of Point Hope, Inupiat Community of the Arctic Slope and Resisting Environmental Destruction on Indigenous Lands (REDOIL), among numerous conservation groups.  EarthJustice, a nonprofit environmental law organization, represented our groups.

REDOIL joined this lawsuit because we strongly uphold and promote the subsistence rights of Alaska Natives and offshore development poses a very real threat to those rights in relation to the Chukchi Sea and Inupiat subsistence and that is unacceptable.

This decision is one that we celebrate.  Although we’ve had legal victories in court skirmishes on this issue, we’ve been dealt political blows that favored Shell and ignored the rights of the Inupiat and their food security.  This is another opportunity for those in decision making positions to realize that offshore drilling in this region is too risky, not only to Inupiat subsistence but to this critical ecosystem.
Continue reading

Leave a comment

Filed under Climate Change, Ending the Era of Extreme Energy, Indigenous Peoples, Oceans, Oil, Victory!, Water

Erie County, NY approves fracking ban!

1524888_567599746670493_1945341337_n

1 Comment

by | January 11, 2014 · 1:19 pm

Indigenous Nahuas reject mine in Colima, Mexico

By Mónica Montalvo, Translated by Scott Campbell January 7, 2014. Source: El Enemigo Común

For our indigenous people, the land is not merely an object of possession and production.

The integral relationship between our people’s spiritual life and our lands has many profound implications. Furthermore, our land and our water are not commodities to be appropriated, but a common good which we and our children should freely enjoy.

-Indigenous Council for the Defense of the Territory of Zacualpan

zacualpan-free-of-mines-banner-300x201

In recent weeks, the town of Zacualpan, in the municipality of Comala, has joined the growing number of farming and indigenous communities facing conflicts over mining. A few months ago, this indigenous Nahua community began hearing about a plan to build a mine – backed by Rigoberto Verduzco Rodríguez – from which gold, silver, copper and manganese would be extracted, without an environmental impact study or any approval process or permits in the offices of the Ministry of the Environment and Natural Resources (SEMARNAT) in Colima.

The planned mine is one kilometer from a water spring that supplies the metropolitan area of Colima-Villa de Álvarez, which would mean contaminating the water source in an area known as Cerro Gordo, which is important from a biological and geological point of view and where there is a large number of species at risk of extinction. This would translate into putting at risk the water supply for 260,000 people in the state.

The case of Zacualpan is one of the first conflicts emerging in the state, but it will not be the last, as in Colima alone there are 360 mining concessions covering virtually the entire state with the exception of the volcanos. There is already an example that shows all the negative implications of these extractive projects: the Peña Colorado mine. This mine, operated by an Italian-Argentinian-Indian firm, has been in operation for the past 44 years on the border between Colima and Jalisco and has caused severe environmental damage, territorial displacement and human rights violations in the Nahua communities. The Peña Colorado mine has also meant threats, assassinations and disappearances, as in the case of the indigenous Nahua Celedonio Monroy Prudencio, member of the Ayotitlan Council of Elders.
Continue reading

Leave a comment

Filed under Actions / Protest, Corporate Globalization, Indigenous Peoples, Land Grabs, Latin America-Caribbean, Mining, Victory!, Water

On the 20th Anniversary of the Zapatista Uprising

by Anne Petermann, Executive Director, Global Justice Ecology Project

Twenty years ago today an army of Indigenous Peoples, some using only wooden cut outs as guns, emerged from the jungles of Chiapas, Mexico. They took over municipalities around the Mexican state, including the city of San Cristobal de Las Casas, in defiance of the enactment of NAFTA – the North American Free Trade Agreement.

new_la-realidad_2_card

La Realidad, 1996.  PhotoLangelle.org

The Zapatistas had condemned NAFTA as “a death sentence for the Indigenous Peoples of Mexico” due to many of its unjust provisions, but especially that which eliminated Article 27 of the Mexican Constitution.

Article 27, which guaranteed the rights to communal lands in Mexico was an outcome of the revolution led by Emilano Zapata – after whom the Zapatistas took their name – in the early part of the 20th century.

But in order for NAFTA – the free trade agreement between Canada, the US and Mexico – to be passed, Article 27 had to be eliminated.  The eradication of this hard-won victory was accomplished by Edward Krobaker, the CEO of International Paper.  Why did a multinational paper corporation care about this?  Because most of Mexico’s forests were on ejido (communal) lands, which meant they could not easily be obtained or controlled by multinational corporations such as IP.

According to anthropologist Dr. Ron Nigh,

In June of 1995, the government received a letter from Edward Krobacker, International Paper CEO (now John Dillon), establishing a series of conditions, some requiring changes in Mexico’s forestry law, to “create a more secure legal framework” for IP’s investment.

According to La Jornada, all of Krobaker’s (original) demands were agreed to and new forestry legislation has been prepared. Upon returning from a Wall Street meeting with Henry Kissinger and other top financial celebrities, Zedillo announced the rejection of  proposed legislation that would have implemented the Zapatista accords.

Instead he presented a counterproposal, designed to be unacceptable, which the Zapatistas rejected.

Shortly thereafter, Environmental Minister Carabias announced a large World Bank loan for “forestry,” i.e. commercial plantations.

Earlier that year, in January 1995 – one year after the passage of NAFTA and while the Zapatista uprising was still fresh and garnering support from all corners of the globe – Chase Manhattan Bank sent a memo to the Mexican government about the Zapatistas which was leaked.  This memo, released in January 1995, urged the Mexican government to “eliminate the Zapatistas to demonstrate their effective control of the national territory and of security policy” or risk  a devaluation of the peso and a fleeing of investors.  The portion of the memo dealing with the Zapatistas is below:

CHASE MANHATTAN’S EMERGING MARKETS GROUP MEMO

CHIAPAS

The uprising in the southern state of Chiapas is now one-year old and, apparently, no nearer to resolution. The leader, or spokesman, of the movement, sub-commandante Marcos, remains adamant in his demand that the incumbent PRI governor resign and be replaced by the PRD candidate who, Marcos argues, was deprived of victory by government fraud in the recent election. Marcos continues to lobby for widespread social and economic reform in the state. Incidents continue between the local police and military authorities and those sympathetic to the Zapatista movement, as the insurgency is called, and local peasant groups who are sympathetic to Marcos and his cronies.

While Zedillo is committed to a diplomatic and political solution th the stand-off in Chiapas, it is difficult to imagine that the current environment will yield a peaceful solution. Moreover, to the degree that the monetary crisis limits the resources available to the government for social and economic reforms, it may prove difficult to win popular support for the Zedillo administration’s plans for Chiapas. More relevant, Marcos and his supporters may decide to embarrass the government with an increase in local violence and force the administration to cede to Zapatista demands and accept an embarrassing political defeat. The alternative is a military offensive to defeat the insurgency which would create an international outcry over the use of violence and the suppression of indigenous rights.

While Chiapas, in our opinion, does not pose a fundamental threat to Mexican political stability, it is perceived to be so by many in the investment community. The government will need to eliminate the Zapatistas to demonstrate their effective control of the national territory and of security policy.

Orin Langelle, Board Chair of GJEP, who was then the Co-Coordinator of Native Forest Network Eastern North America (NFN ENA) attended the Chase Manhattan Board meeting that year and read the memo out loud to the stock holders.

What many do not know about the Zapatista struggle, is that it is and was a struggle for the land.  For autonomous Indigenous control over their territories.  NFN ENA put out a video about this aspect of the Zapatista struggle after we were asked to help expose the ecological threats to Chiapas which the Zapatistas were trying to stop–including illegal logging, oil drilling and hydroelectric dams.  The video includes interviews from the first North American Encuentro in the Zapatista stronghold of La Realidad in the summer of 1996.  The video is called “Lacandona: The Zapatistas and Rainforest of Chiapas, Mexico.”

A clip of the video can be viewed here:

Despite massive pressure from governments, multinationals and major banks, twenty years later, the Zapatistas are still organizing.  Maybe you thought they had disappeared, but they have not.  They are just busily doing the work of daily life.  They have their own autonomous form of government, their own schools, and they maintain their rejection of any type of support from the Mexican government.

Today, as social movements around the world continue to resist unjust “free” trade agreements such as the TPP (TransPacific Partnership), the Zapatistas continue to be an inspiration to me and I hope to many others as well.

To view Orin Langelle’s photo exhibit of 15 years of photographs from Chiapas, click here.

Leave a comment

Filed under Actions / Protest, Climate Change, Hydroelectric dams, Illegal logging, Indigenous Peoples, Land Grabs, Oil, Posts from Anne Petermann, Rights, Resilience, and Restoration, Victory!

Live video today at 2:30! Reverend Billy and the Church of Stop Shopping Choir

Scheduled for Dec 22, 2013

Ladies and Bananas!
After all our trouble with the law lately – did you forget how we really love to put on a show, a barnburner, an eco-system riseup, an incandescent minute. Come to church this Sunday at 2:30 EST for a live stream of our Holiday Jiggly Celebration, Performance, and the fifth in our series of suspicious church services at Joe’s Pub at the Public. Gather around the cyber hole and get your Solstice dose of Reverend Billy & The Stop Shopping Choir.
Glory. Be. Earthalujah!

Leave a comment

Filed under Actions / Protest, Climate Change, Commodification of Life, Corporate Globalization, Politics, Victory!, Videos

For Land and Life: 25 stories of Indigenous resilience that you might’ve missed in 2013

By  • Dec 14, 2013  Source: Intercontinental Cry

With the sheer number of abuses and attacks that Indigenous Peoples face around the world, we don’t often come by stories of hope and resilience–stories that speak of long-fought struggles coming to a just end, peaceful exchanges between Nations who live in different parts of the world, and assertions of Traditional authority that governments and corporations simply accept without challenge or condition. Here’s a few of those stories that you might have missed over the past 12 months. Here’s to 25,000 more stories just like them!

An Ainu-Maori Exchange

A group of 7 Ainu youth, accompanied by 3 Ainu committee members and 3 interpreters, traveled to New Zealand in order to study the various ambitious endeavors of the Maori people who have successfully revitalized their rights as Indigenous People while living with strength in the society of New Zealand.

After successfully carrying out a major online fundraiser to pay for the journey, the Ainu–who are themselves struggling to revitalize their culture, language and identity–reported a very positive experience during their stay. As explored on theAinu Maori Exchange activity website, the Ainu learned a language teaching method called Te Ataarangi, sat down with the Maori Party-Whangaehu Marae, visited several Maori-based schools and businesses as well as television and radio stations and many different historical sites.

An Alternative Currency

Esquimalt First Nation, in an effort to reform the monetary system, unveiled a new barter currency on their territory known as Tetlas. Similar to a gift certificate, the Tetla was developed by the organization Tetla Tsetsuwatil to assist economic development in the S’amuna’ Nation and other native nations, and to encourage trade with non-natives and among non-natives. More than two dozen businesses now accept the alternative currency.

Continue reading

Leave a comment

Filed under Actions / Protest, Climate Change, Food Sovereignty, Forests, Idle No More, Indigenous Peoples, Rights, Resilience, and Restoration, Victory!

Temporary Victory for Mi’kmaq! SWN Abandons Fracking Until 2015

elsiroundancefire

from APTN National News

A Houston-based energy company that has faced ferocious resistance from a Mi’kmaq-led coalition is ending its shale gas exploration work for the year, says Elsipogtog War Chief John Levi.

Levi said Friday that the RCMP informed him that SWN Resources Canada is ending its exploration work, but will return in 2015.

Levi said SWN and its contractors would be picking up geophones from the side of the highway today. Geophones interact with thumper trucks to create imaging of shale gas deposits underground.

“They are just going to be picking up their gear today,” said Levi. “At least people can take a break for Christmas.”

Demonstrations against the company escalated this week. Demonstrators twice burned tires on Hwy 11 which was the area where SWN was conducting its shale gas exploration.

SWN could not be reached for comment.

SWN obtained an extension to an injunction against the demonstrators Monday after arguing it needed two more weeks to finish its work. In its court filing, SWN claimed it needed about 25 km left to explore.

Levi said the Mi’kmaq community, which sits about 80 km north of Moncton, will be there again in 2015 to oppose the company. Levi said SWN will be returning to conduct exploratory drilling.

“We can’t allow any drilling, we didn’t allow them to do the testing from the beginning,” said Levi.

Levi said word that SWN is leaving is no cause for celebration just yet.

“We went through a lot,” he said. “We need some time for this to sink in and think about everything, think about what we went through…People did a lot of sacrificing.”

Leave a comment

Filed under Actions / Protest, Ending the Era of Extreme Energy, Energy, Hydrofracking, Idle No More, Indigenous Peoples, Pollution, Victory!

Victory over nuclear waste in Saskatchewan

By  • Nov 26, 2013  Source: Intercontinental Cry

Rally against Nuclear Waste Dumps, at the Saskatchewan Legislature, 2011.  Photo by Daniel Johnson / Media Co-op (CC BY-NC 2.5 CA)

Two Indigenous communities from northern Saskatchewan have finally been dropped from the selection process for a nuclear waste disposal site. One of them, Pinehouse, is a mostly Métis community on the shore of Pinehouse Lake. The other one, English River First Nation, is a Dene community to the northwest of Pinehouse. After several years of grassroots resistance spearheaded by the Committee for Future Generations and supported by other organizations, it was announced on Nov. 21 that both communities were unsuitable for further study.

The nuclear site selection process is being conducted by theNuclear Waste Management Organization (NWMO), an organization created by the Canadian government in 2002 specifically to address the problem of nuclear waste disposal in Canada. A typical example of the backwards kind of thinking at the heart of the corporate, finance-oriented modern world, NWMO came into existence many years after nuclear power plants were established in Ontario, Québec and New Brunswick with the realization that something had to be done with the waste. Scrambling for a solution at the expense of other people, Pinehouse and English River First Nation were just two of the communities on NWMO’s list of potential sites, which originally included a total of twenty-one. The list is now down to seventeen, four of which have moved on to the next stage in the selection process.

The struggle to save these two Saskatchewan communities from becoming a toxic waste dump has been well documented on the Committee for Future Generations website, in a short documentary film and even (if you read between the lines) in the final pages of two assessment reports published last October by the NWMO. This isn’t an easy victory. Community resistance and activists’ efforts had to overcome the nuclear industry’s lobbying and the NWMO’s move to push their own agenda.

Another hurdle was a lack of transparency on the part of the NWMO, evident not just in their relationship with the Committee for Future Generations, but also in their own assessment reports. These reports consistently pointed to potential negative consequences for the environment, the economic well-being of the communities, their traditional activities and their spiritual health as a people, yet the NWMO dismissed all of this as not being significant. Opposition to the project was described on page 44 of the Pinehouse assessment report as

a high level of misinformation about the APM Project in surrounding First Nations/communities. A vocal minority opposition may be masking quiet neutrality or support in the surrounding area.

This statement was echoed in the English River First Nation assessment report.

Difficult as the fight has been, this is an important victory. By keeping Pinehouse and English River First Nation safe from nuclear waste, the people in these communities have protected their own health and that of their environment. They have made sure the next generations can go on hunting and fishing like their elders have done before them. Just as importantly, they have helped preserve the beauty and the spirit of their homeland, and in turn those of the planet.

No one could say it better than the Committee for Future Generations themselves:

We are one of the few places left in the world where we can still go out onto the land and water for moose, berries, medicinal plants and fish. A nuclear accident or leak would contaminate our lands and waters forever. Traditional Indigenous wisdom teaches us to think ahead to the next seven generations, but in the case of nuclear waste, we must think ahead 7000 generations.

For the rest of us human people who do not live in Saskatchewan, there is hope to be found in what Pinehouse and English River First Nation have achieved. Nuclear waste is a global problem, and there are many other places at risk or already suffering. Perhaps the people in those places can look at what these two Canadian communities have done, and learn from it. More importantly, these two communities remind us that it can be done. It may take time and a lot of work, but people can make a stand against powerful interests and actually prevail. It’s with local victories such as this one, apparently small but in truth very big, that we can make the world a better place for all of us.

Like stringing many beads together.

Leave a comment

Filed under Actions / Protest, Climate Change, Indigenous Peoples, Nuclear power, Pollution, Victory!