By James A. Foley, May 14 2013. Source: Nature World News
In Alaska, the entire village of Newtok is being relocated because coastal erosion threatens to put the village’s highest point underwater by 2017, according to the U.S. Army Corp of Engineers, which points to climate change in Alaska as the cause of the erosion. Photo: Newtok Planning Group
In Alaska, the entire village of Newtok is being relocated because coastal erosion threatens to put the village’s highest point underwater by 2017, according to the U.S. Army Corp of Engineers, which points to climate change in Alaska as the cause of the erosion.
This week, the Guardian is running an in-depth series on Newtok, calling the villagers “America’s Climate Refugees.”
Newtok is a riverside village of about 350 indigenous people on the west coast of Alaska, about 400 miles south of the Bering Strait that separates the state from Russia. The Ninglick River snakes around Newtok before emptying into the Bearing Sea. As it flows, the river erodes the land, some years carrying away more than 100 feet of earth, the Guardian reports. The community experienced major floods in September 2005 and February 2006, and talk of having to relocate the village has been happening since as early as 1994.
The erosion rates in Newtok have been exacerbated by thawing permafrost, declining sea ice protection, increased storm surge exposure, and warming temperatures, according to the Newtok Planning Group. Continue reading
By Brian Winter and Caroline Stauffer, May 14 2013. Source: Reuters
An Indian woman cradles her child while holding a banner in front of police, as Amazon Indians from different tribes hold a meeting with a government envoy to discuss a proposal to end their occupation of the Belo Monte hydroelectric dam construction site, in Vitoria do Xingu, near Altamira in Para State, May 8, 2013. REUTERS/Lunae Parracho
BRASILIA/SAO PAULO (Reuters) – Brazilian President Dilma Rousseff has ordered her governmentto stop confiscating farmland to create new Indian reservations, government officials say, a policy reversal with major implications for one of the world’s top agricultural producers.
Brazil has in recent decades set aside about 13 percent of its territory for indigenous tribes. Vast additional areas, including prime territory for the production of soy, beef, sugar and other commodities, are under consideration for possible transfer.
That policy has been hailed as one of the world’s most progressive but had caused mounting clashes in recent months as thousands of farmers were evicted from land they had been cultivating, in some cases for decades.
Rousseff, a pragmatic leftist facing re-election next year, has often favored pro-development interests over more humanitarian concerns and now believes the Indian affairs agency that determines which lands to set aside has gone too far, according to two senior government officials. Continue reading
By Charlie Savage and Leslie Kaufman, May 13 2013. Source: The New York Times
The A.P.’s president, Gary Pruitt, called the seizure an “unprecedented intrusion.” Photo: Julie Fletcher, The Associated Press
WASHINGTON — Federal investigators secretly seized two months of phone records for reporters and editors of The Associated Press in what the news organization said Monday was a “serious interference with A.P.’s constitutional rights to gather and report the news.”
The A.P. said that the Justice Department informed it on Friday that law enforcement officials had obtained the records for more than 20 telephone lines of its offices and journalists, including their home phones and cellphones. It said the records were seized without notice sometime this year.
The organization was not told the reason for the seizure. But the timing and the specific journalistic targets strongly suggested they are related to a continuing government investigation into the leaking of information a year ago about the Central Intelligence Agency’s disruption of a Yemen-based terrorist plot to bomb an airliner.
The disclosures began with an Associated Press article on May 7, 2012, breaking the news of the foiled plot; the organization had held off publishing it for several days at the White House’s request because the intelligence operations were still unfolding. Continue reading
Note: While some biotech firms are scrambling for control over the world’s food supply, others have their greedy eyes on the world’s forestlands. ArborGen, with its revolving doors between Monsanto and the US government, has plans to plant billions of highly flammable and invasive Genetically Engineered eucalyptus trees across the US South in monoculture plantations – with other native species like poplar and pine close behind in the regulatory pipeline. Along with industry rival FuturaGene, these GE tree companies intend to move forward across the global south; from Brazil to South Africa, China, Indonesia, New Zealand, and Australia.
But we can stop them in their tracks here in the US. From May 26th to June 1st, activists are descending upon Asheville, NC for a week of action to confront a major Tree Biotechnology conference sponsored by ArborGen and other firms. Join the protests or donate to support an activist here: www.treebiotech2013.org
-The GJEP Team
May 14 2013. Source: Food and Water Watch
Today Food & Water Watch and its European project Food & Water Europe released the first comprehensive analysis of the U.S. government’s strategy, tactics and foreign policy objectives to promote pro-agricultural biotechnology policies worldwide. Biotech Ambassadors: How the U.S. State Department Promotes the Seed Industry’s Global Agenda examines more than 900 State Department diplomatic cables from 2005 to 2009 and details how the U.S. State Department lobbies foreign governments to adopt pro-agricultural biotechnology policies and laws, operates a rigorous public relations campaign to improve the image of biotechnology and challenges commonsense biotechnology safeguards and rules — including opposing genetically engineered (GE) food labeling laws.
“The U.S. Department of State is selling seeds instead of democracy,” said Wenonah Hauter, executive director of Food & Water Watch and author of the book Foodopoly: The Battle Over the Future of Food and Farming in America, which looks at corporations’ growing influence over food policy, launching in Europe this week. “This report provides a chilling snapshot of how a handful of giant biotechnology companies are unduly influencing U.S. foreign policy and undermining our diplomatic efforts to promote security, international development and transparency worldwide. This report is a call to action for Americans because public policy should not be for sale to the highest bidder.” Continue reading
By John Miller, May 14, 2013. Source: Chicago Sun-Times
A genetically engineered potato pokes through the soil of a planting pot inside J.R. Simplot’s lab in southwestern Idaho. Photo: AP
A dozen years after a customer revolt forced Monsanto to ditch its genetically engineered potato, an Idaho company aims to resurrect high-tech spuds.
This month, tuber processing giant J.R. Simplot Co. asked the U.S. government to approve five varieties of biotech potatoes. They’re engineered not to develop ugly black bruises — McDonald’s, which gets many of its fries from Simplot, rejects those. They’re also designed to have less of a natural but potentially cancer-causing neurotoxin, acrylamide.
Much has changed in 12 years, according to the Boise-based company.
Unlike transgenic varieties Monsanto commercialized in the 1990s using genes from synthetic bacteria to kill insect pests, Simplot’s new “Innate”-brand potatoes use only potato genes.
By Chris Lang, May 14, 2013. Source: redd-monitor
WWF loves “sustainability”. With “sustainability”, there’s no need to address over-consumption, or the never-ending growth of capitalist expansion. Consumption can increase, as long as it’s “sustainable”.
Palm oil plantations destroying vast areas of rainforest? No problem. Here comes “sustainable” palm oil. In 2001, WWF started discussions with palm oil companies and industry bodies. Three years later the Roundtable on Sustainable Palm Oil was formed.
Today there are more than 500 members of the RSPO, including palm oil producers, processors, traders, retailers, banks and a few NGOs. But buying palm oil from RSPO members does not mean that the palm oil complies to RSPO’s standards. For that you need to buy RSPO-certified palm oil – from companies that have been assessed by an RSPO-approved certification body. But RSPO certification does not mean that companies have stopped clearing forests. TFT’s Scott Poynton pointed this out recently to Jason Clay, Senior Vice President, Markets, World Wildlife Fund US:
Deforestation of secondary yet still important forests is perfectly acceptable and is happily done by companies celebrated under the RSPO standard which only obliges protection of primary and HCVF [high conservation value forest] areas. Likewise, the RSPO standard doesn’t preclude the clearance of peatlands.
By Suzanne Goldenberg, May 13 2013. Source: The Guardian
Indiana soybean farmer Vernon Bowman speaks to the media outside the supreme court in February. Photo: Jason Reed/Reuters
The US supreme court came down solidly on the side of the agricultural giant Monsanto on Monday, ruling unanimously that an Indiana farmer could not use patented genetically modified soybeans to create new seeds without paying the company.
The case – which was cast by the farmer’s supporters as a classic tale of David vs Goliath – could well dictate the future of modern farming.
In an unanimous ruling written by Justice Elena Kagan, the court ruled that the farmer, Vernon Bowman, had infringed on Monsanto’s patent for its GM soybeans when he bought some of those seeds from a local grain elevator and planted them for a second, late-season crop. Monsanto sued, arguing that Bowman had signed a contract when he initially bought the Roundup Ready soybeans in the spring, agreeing not to save any of the harvest for replanting. The seeds are genetically modified to be resistant to Roundup Ready weedkiller.
On Monday, the nine justices agreed. Kagan rejected the farmer’s main argument, that Monsanto’s patent was exhausted, because he had bought the seeds from a grain elevator. “Patent exhaustion does not permit a farmer to reproduce patented seeds through planting and harvesting without the patent holder’s permission,” she wrote. Continue reading
By Emilio Godoy, May 13 2013. Source: Inter Press Service
Sea turtles are among the larger animal species whose reproduction was hurt by the 2010 Gulf of Mexico oil spill. Credit: Mauricio Ramos/IPS
MEXICO CITY – A group of Mexican citizens are preparing the first civil lawsuit in the Mexican courts against British oil company BP for the 2010 Gulf of Mexico oil spill.
The plaintiffs are bringing the class action lawsuit under a 2011 reform of the Mexican constitution that allows a large number of people with a common interest in a matter to sue as a group.
The civil lawsuit encompasses “damages to people living in the area or who own residential and commercial property along the coast, and people indirectly affected” by the spill, lawyer Óscar Preciado, with the law firm Rincón Mayorga Román Illanes Soto y Compañía, told IPS.
“Without a doubt, this will set an important precedent. Class action lawsuits have been brought, but in questions relating to consumer, rather than environmental, rights,” said the lawyer, whose firm is representing the plaintiffs. Continue reading
Note: “When General Ríos Montt seized power in March 1982, President Ronald Reagan’s administration cultivated him as a reliable Central American ally in its battle against Nicaragua’s Sandinista government and Salvadoran guerrillas. ” Another US-backed dictator brought to justice. Here’s to you, President Reagan.
-The GJEP Team
By Elisabeth Malkin, May 10, 2013. Source: NY Times
Photo: Moises Castillo/Associated Press
A Guatemalan court on Friday found Gen. Efraín Ríos Montt, the former dictator who ruled Guatemala during one of the bloodiest periods of its long civil war, guilty of genocide and crimes against humanity.
Judge Yasmín Barrios sentenced General Ríos Montt, 86, to 80 years in prison. His co-defendant, José Mauricio Rodríguez Sánchez, who served as the director of intelligence under the general, was acquitted of the same two charges.
“We are completely convinced of the intent to destroy the Ixil ethnic group,” Judge Barrios said as she read the hourlong summary of the ruling by the three-judge panel. Over five weeks, the tribunal heard more than 100 witnesses, including psychologists, military experts and Maya Ixil Indian survivors who told how General Ríos Montt’s soldiers had killed their families and wiped out their villages.
Note: Bolivia hosted the World People’s Conference on Climate Change and the Rights of Mother Earth in 2010. The Cochabamba Agreement included the adoption of the Rights of Mother Earth. So much for that…
-The GJEP Team
May 13, 2013. Source: Latin American Herald Tribune
Bolivian President Evo Morales inaugurated his country’s first natural gas liquids separation plant, saying it marks the start of a new era.
He presided over the start-up of the plant in the eastern town of Rio Grande, Santa Cruz province, in a ceremony also attended by Vice President Alvaro Garcia Linera, Hydrocarbons Minister Juan Jose Sosa and the president of state energy company YPFB, Carlos Villegas.
“Today we can say that after having taken our fatherland back, now we’re building a new fatherland through industrialization,” Morales said, urging the workers at the new facility to act with “great commitment.”
The Bolivian government obtained a loan from the central bank to fund the cost of the $181.3-million plant, built by Argentine company Astra Evangelista, Villegas said.