By John Deike, February 27, 2014. Source: EcoWatch
In recent years, Roundup was found to be even more toxic than it was when first approved for agricultural use, though that discovery has not led to any changes in regulation of the pesticide. Photo courtesy of Shutterstock
A new U.S. Geological Survey has concluded that pesticides can be found in, well, just about anything.
Roundup herbicide, Monsanto’s flagship weed killer, was present in 75 percent of air and rainfall test samples, according to the study, which focused on Mississippi’s highly fertile Delta agricultural region.
GreenMedInfo reports new research, soon to be published by Environmental Toxicology and Chemistry journal, discovered the traces over a 12-year span from 1995-2007.
In recent years, Roundup was found to be even more toxic than it was when first approved for agricultural use, though that discovery has not led to any changes in regulation of the pesticide. Moreover, Roundup’s overuse has enabled weeds and insects to build an immunity to its harsh toxins. Continue reading
By Coral Davenport and Steven Erlanger, March 5, 2014. Source: The New York Times
About 80 percent of Russian gas exports to Europe pass through Ukraine. Sources: East European Gas Analysis, National Gas Union of Ukraine
WASHINGTON — The crisis in Crimea is heralding the rise of a new era of American energy diplomacy, as the Obama administration tries to deploy the vast new supply of natural gas in the United States as a weapon to undercut the influence of the Russian president, Vladimir V. Putin, over Ukraine and Europe.
The crisis has escalated a State Department initiative to use a new boom in American natural gas supplies as a lever against Russia, which supplies 60 percent of Ukraine’s natural gas and has a history of cutting off the supply during conflicts. This week, Gazprom, Russia’s state-run natural gas company, said it would no longer provide gas at a discount rate to Ukraine, a move reminiscent of more serious Russian cutoffs of natural gas to Ukraine and elsewhere in Europe in 2006, 2008 and 2009.
“We’re engaging from a different position because we’re a much larger energy producer,” said Jason Bordoff, a former senior director for energy and climate change on the White House’s National Security Council. Continue reading
Note: the struggle for Tasmania’s forests has been going on for decades, as noted by this photo from GJEP Board Chair and Co-Founder Orin Langelle from a protest in Tasmania in 1992. The Forestry Commission was shut down for the day:
–The GJEP Team
By Bob Brown, March 5, 2014. Source: The Guardian
Weld Valley forests, part of the Tasmanian World Heritage Area that Abbott wants rescinded. Photo: Bill Hatcher
Prime minister Abbott’s rousingly-received speech to an audience of loggers at Parliament House in Canberra on Tuesday night had a Biblical ring to it.
Abbott referred to the Greens as “the devil”, lectured that “you intelligently make the most of the good things God has given us” and laboured his key message, a steal from Genesis, that “the environment is meant for man”. His audience was the cream of the industry which has marauded the nation’s forests since industrialised logging for woodchip exports to Japanese and Chinese paper mills began in 1970. Abbott said “I don’t see people who are environmental bandits, I see people who are the ultimate conservationists … I salute you.”
So clear-fall logging and burning of the tallest flowering forests on the planet, with provision for the dynamiting of trees over 80 metres tall, is an ultimate good in Abbott’s book of ecological wisdom. Continue reading
Dr. Devon G. Peña, March 4, 2014. Source: Environmental and Food Justice
Huichol yarn weaving of a sacred ceremony for maize. Source: Environmental and Food Justice
I am submitting this statement to express opposition to the proposed USDA co- existence policy. As a plant breeder, seed saver, traditional acequia farmer, and agro-ecologist familiar with the scientific evidence on gene flow I am unequivocally opposed to this policy. Asking for co-existence with GMO crops means seed-savers and plant breeders like myself have to accept the inevitability of severe business losses due to damage to our native seed stocks and active plant breeding programs. I ask that you consider the fact that farmers like myself are the keepers of the nation’s diverse bioregional ‘arks’ of native seeds and these are the ultimate basis of all agriculture in this country. As vulnerable traditional seed savers, we cannot accept co-existence. The scientific fact of gene flow makes it so. Let’s not pretend the scientific fact of gene flow is unsettled, like an agricultural crisis version of climate change denial.
Working with friends, family, and neighbors, I produce local heirloom varieties of the ‘Three Sisters’ (corn-bean-squash/pumpkin) for a land race seed library grown and stored on a farm in Colorado’s Rio Grande Headwaters bioregion. The preservation of multiple native gene streams is necessary to the business of plant breeding and seed saving which is a central focus of my agroecological enterprise and productive activity. The introgression of transgenes from genetically engineered corn is a direct threat to my livelihood because the open- pollinated nature of maize makes for frequent cross-contamination events. Corn pollen can travel quite far – with some studies showing distances of up to 30 miles or more depending on the nature of regional wind patterns. The San Luis Valley is a high altitude intermountain park known for strong winds and corn pollen can travel very far under these conditions. The valley has an average elevation of 8000 feet and is surrounded by a circle of mountains at 14,000 ft. and higher. We do our plant breeding and seed stock production in this valley on a historic farm that is organized and collectively run to serve as a grassroots agricultural extension research station and farm school for acequiero growers of Colorado and New Mexico. Continue reading
February 27, 2014. Source: Survival International
Ayoreo Indian leaders in Paraguay have sent an unprecedented video appeal to Spanish construction giantGrupo San José and its subsidiary ranching company Carlos Casado S.A., demanding the return of their ancestral land which is inhabited by their uncontacted relatives.
In the short video clip, three Ayoreo men speak of the urgent threat of deforestation being carried out by the ranchers on the uncontacted Ayoreo’s land and call on supporters to help protect the Chaco forest from further destruction.
Porai Picanerai, one of the Ayoreo leaders, said, ‘I ask Grupo San José to give us back our land, because if they chop down our forest, our brothers who remain there will be scared.’
Grupo San José’s subsidiary, Carlos Casado S.A., owns large parts of the Ayoreo’s ancestral land in the Chaco forest in northern Paraguay, and was previously caught red-handed clearing the forest illegally. The Chaco already has the highest rate of deforestation in the world. Continue reading
February 28, 2014. Source: ETC Group
Brazilian civil society organizations warned yesterday that a 2007 bill to end Brazil’s ban on Terminator seeds could soon be on the move (again) in the Brazilian Congress. While two bills have been on the congressional agenda for several years, a 2007 bill (PL 268/2007, filed by Rep. Eduardo Sciarra – PSD party) began moving through the Congress last July and came to a head last October. The legalizing of Terminator in Brazil would have global implications, including as a violation of the United Nations moratorium on Terminator technologies, in place since 2000 at the Convention on Biological Diversity.
A campaign mounted by Brazilian social movements stirred a global protest – including a petition signed by over 19,000 people – and temporarily derailed the Bill’s passage in October 2013.[i] In response, Décio Lima (PT party), then-President of the Congress’s all-important Judiciary Commission (the gatekeeper body that allows bills to proceed to a full congressional vote), vowed not to allow the Bill’s passage while he chaired the Commission.
But, just before Christmas, the Bill began to move again at the request of more than 30 deputies. A massive write-in campaign, on behalf of concerned organizations, set up by Action Aid (an international advocacy organization with roots in Brazil) again thwarted the move. More than 30,000 people and organizations around the world signed a protest letter calling on the Brazilian government to uphold the UN moratorium on the commercialization of Terminator.[ii] (“Terminator” refers to genetically engineered seed that dies at harvest, obliging farmers to purchase new seed every growing season.) Continue reading
March 4, 2014. Source: Guatemala Solidarity Project
August 2013 service for children murdered by hydroelectric company hitmen. Photo: Comité de Unidad Campesina
The Guatemala Solidarity Project strongly condemns yesterday’s illegal arrest of community leader Jose Maria Guitz. Guitz is among thousands of indigenous q’eqchi’ peasants organizing against the threatened construction of the Santa Rita hydroelectric dam. The dam would cause massive environmental damage and rob land from dozens of q’eqchi’ communities.
Guitz runs one of the few health centers in the region, meaning his arrest will have a deep negative impact in the area. Guitz is a member of the community Monte Olivo of the municipality of Coban, Alta Verapaz. The community has faced extreme repression for organizing in defense of their constitutional rights.
On August 14, 2013, environmentalist and community leader David Chen was threatened at gun point and narrowly escaped an attempted kidnapping. On August 23, 2013, 13 year-old Ageo Isaac Maas Guitz and 11-year-old David Estuardo Pacay Mass were murdered by an employee of Hidro Santa Rita SA. Continue reading
By Jeff Masters, March 4, 2014. Source: Weather Underground
Departure of surface temperature from average as diagnosed by the GFS model at 00 UTC March 4, 2014. A negative phase of the Arctic Oscillation (AO) allowed cold air to spill southwards out of the Arctic over the Eastern U.S., bringing temperatures up to 36°F (20°C) below average. Compensating warm air flowed northwards into the Arctic underneath a ridge of high pressure over Europe. Data/image obtained using Climate Reanalyzer™ (http://cci-reanalyzer.org), Climate Change Institute, University of Maine, Orono, Maine.
An impressive blast of Arctic air has toppled more records for all-time March cold over the Eastern U.S., in the wake of the major snowstorm that brought 4 – 8″ of snow from Missouri to Maryland. Fresh snow is very efficient at radiating heat to space, and the 3.8″ of snow that fell in Baltimore on Monday helped drive the temperature down to 5°F on Monday night, tying the city’s all-time March low temperature record set on March 4, 1873.
The temperature eventually dipped down to 4°F Tuesday morning, breaking the March record. Atlantic City, NJ, which got 5.5″ of snow on Monday, also set a new all-time cold record for the month of March on Monday night, when the temperature fell to 2°F. The previous all-time low for the month of March was 3°F set on March 4, 2009. Official records for the Atlantic City area date back to 1874.
At least five other cities have set or tied all-time March cold temperature records during the current cold wave: Continue reading
February 27, 2014. Source: RT
A farmer tills a rice paddy field on the outskirts of Colombo, Sri Lanka (Reuters / Andrew Caballero-Reynolds)
A heretofore inexplicable fatal, chronic kidney disease that has affected poor farming regions around the globe may be linked to the use of biochemical giant Monsanto’s Roundup herbicide in areas with hard water, a new study has found.
The new study was published in the International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health.
Researchers suggest that Roundup, or glyphosate, becomes highly toxic to the kidney once mixed with“hard” water or metals like arsenic and cadmium that often exist naturally in the soil or are added via fertilizer. Hard water contains metals like calcium, magnesium, strontium, and iron, among others. On its own, glyphosate is toxic, but not detrimental enough to eradicate kidney tissue.
The glyphosate molecule was patented as a herbicide by Monsanto in the early 1970s. The company soon brought glyphosate to market under the name “Roundup,” which is now the most commonly used herbicide in the world. Continue reading