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Four decades on, US starts cleanup of Agent Orange in Vietnam

Note: Too little, too late, indeed.  Today, August 10, is Agent Orange Day.  Time for the US government and Dow Chemical to fully admit guilt and implement a serious cleanup program for the victims of Agent Orange in Vietnam and the US.

-The GJEP Team

By Thomas Fuller, August 9, 2013. Source: NY Times

Against the backdrop of a field contaminated by Agent Orange in Da Nang, Vietnamese military officers attended a ceremony on Thursday to mark the United States' first big cleanup of war chemicals in Vietnam. Photo: Maika Elan/AP

Against the backdrop of a field contaminated by Agent Orange in Da Nang, Vietnamese military officers attended a ceremony on Thursday to mark the United States’ first big cleanup of war chemicals in Vietnam. Photo: Maika Elan/AP

Forty years after the United States stopped spraying herbicides in the jungles of Southeast Asia in the hopes of denying cover to Vietcong fighters and North Vietnamese troops, an air base here is one of about two dozen former American sites that remain polluted with an especially toxic strain of dioxin, the chemical contaminant in Agent Orange that has been linked to cancers, birth defects and other diseases.

On Thursday, after years of rebuffing Vietnamese requests for assistance in a cleanup, the United States inaugurated its first major effort to address the environmental effects of the long war.

“This morning we celebrate a milestone in our bilateral relationship,” David B. Shear, the American ambassador to Vietnam, said at a ceremony attended by senior officers of the Vietnamese military. “We’re cleaning up this mess.”

The program, which is expected to cost $43 million and take four years, was officially welcomed with smiles and handshakes at the ceremony. But bitterness remains here. Agent Orange is mentioned often in the news media, and victims are commemorated annually on Aug. 10, the day in 1961 when American forces first tested spraying it in Vietnam. The government objected to Olympics sponsorship this year by Dow Chemical, a leading producer of Agent Orange during the war. Many here have not hesitated to call the American program too little — it addresses only the one site — and very late.

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Filed under Forests, Politics, Pollution, Vietnam War, War

Common agricultural chemicals shown to impair honey bees’ health

July 24, 2013. Source: University of Maryland

Commercial honey bees used to pollinate crops are exposed to a wide variety of agricultural chemicals, including common fungicides which impair the bees’ ability to fight off a potentially lethal parasite, according to a new study by researchers at the University of Maryland and the U.S. Department of Agriculture.

The study, published July 24 in the online journal PLOS ONE, is the first analysis of real-world conditions encountered by honey bees as their hives pollinate a wide range of crops, from apples to watermelons.

The researchers collected pollen from honey bee hives in fields from Delaware to Maine. They analyzed the samples to find out which flowering plants were the bees’ main pollen sources and what agricultural chemicals were commingled with the pollen. The researchers fed the pesticide-laden pollen samples to healthy bees, which were then tested for their ability to resist infection with Nosema ceranae – a parasite of adult honey bees that has been linked to a lethal phenomenon known as colony collapse disorder.

On average, the pollen samples contained 9 different agricultural chemicals, including fungicides, insecticides, herbicides and miticides. Sublethal levels of multiple agricultural chemicals were present in every sample, with one sample containing 21 different pesticides. Pesticides found most frequently in the bees’ pollen were the fungicide chlorothalonil, used on apples and other crops, and the insecticide fluvalinate, used by beekeepers to control Varroamites, common honey bee pests.
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Filed under Biodiversity, BREAKING NEWS, Industrial agriculture

Four decades after war ended, Agent Orange still ravaging Vietnamese

By Drew Brown, July 22, 2013. Source: The Sacramento Bee

Le Thi Thu, 42, and her daughter, Nguyen Thi Ly, 11, live in a village south of Da Nang, Vietnam. They are second and third generation victims of dioxin exposure, the result of the U.S. military's use of Agent Orange and other herbicides during the Vietnam War more than 40 years ago. Photo: Drew Brown/MCT

Le Thi Thu, 42, and her daughter, Nguyen Thi Ly, 11, live in a village south of Da Nang, Vietnam. They are second and third generation victims of dioxin exposure, the result of the U.S. military’s use of Agent Orange and other herbicides during the Vietnam War more than 40 years ago. Photo: Drew Brown/MCT

In many ways, Nguyen Thi Ly is just like any other 12-year-old girl. She has a lovely smile and is quick to laugh. She wants to be a teacher when she grows up. She enjoys skipping rope when she plays.

But Ly is also very different from other children. Her head is severely misshapen. Her eyes are unnaturally far apart and permanently askew. She’s been hospitalized with numerous ailments since her birth.

Her mother, 43-year-old Le Thi Thu, has similar deformities and health disorders. Neither of them has ever set foot on a battlefield, but they’re both casualties of war.

Le and her daughter are second- and third-generation victims of dioxin exposure, the result of the U.S. military’s use of Agent Orange during the Vietnam War, when the U.S. Air Forcesprayed more than 20 million gallons of Agent Orange and other herbicides over parts of southern Vietnam and along the borders of neighboring Laos and Cambodia. The herbicides were contaminated with dioxin, a deadly compound that remains toxic for decades and causes birth defects, cancer and other illnesses.
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Filed under Politics, Pollution, Vietnam War, War, Women, Youth

Dow’s controversial new GMO corn delayed amid protests

By Carey Gillam, January 18, 2013.  Source: Reuters

2009_11_gmocornA controversial new biotech corn developed by Dow AgroSciences, a unit of Dow Chemical,, will be delayed at least another year as the company awaits regulatory approval amid opposition from farmers, consumers and public health officials.

Dow AgroSciences officials said Friday that they now expect the first sales of Enlist for planting in 2014. Previously officials had set the 2013 planting season as a target, but U.S. farmers are already buying seed for planting this spring, and Dow has yet to secure U.S. approval for Enlist.

Dow wants to roll out Enlist corn, and then soybeans and cotton to be used in combination with its new Enlist herbicide that combines the weed-killers 2,4-D and glyphosate. The Enlist crops are genetically altered to tolerate treatments of the Enlist herbicide mixture. The hope is that Enlist will wipe out an explosion of crop-choking weeds that have become resistant to glyphosate alone.
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Filed under Food Sovereignty, Genetic Engineering, Industrial agriculture

Action Alert: Tell USDA to reject Dow’s 2,4-D soybeans!

Source: Pesticide Action Network

Dow has introduced another product in its suite of 2,4-D-resistant GE seeds. First corn, now soy. Both products in the pipeline are very bad ideas, and — should USDA approve them — will dramatically drive up the use of this antiquated, dangerous herbicide.

Scientists warn that 2,4-D corn alone could increase the herbicide’s use by 30-fold, and soybeans will cause an even more severe spike. More widespread use will destroy vulnerable crops, while placing the burden of increased costs and health risks on farmers and rural communities.

With superweeds and superbugs emerging all over the country, Monsanto’s RoundUp Ready strategy of stacking seeds with herbicide-resistant traits is fast coming apart. Instead of abandoning a losing strategy, Dow is trying hard to get us all running faster on the same broken pesticide treadmill.

Tell USDA to reject this new herbicide-resistant crop.

Dow aims to get 2,4-D-resistant corn and soy to market as soon as possible, with cotton likely on its way in 2015. Now is the time to say no to this pipeline of bad ideas.

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Filed under Biodiversity, Climate Change, Commodification of Life, Genetic Engineering, Industrial agriculture

Did Solazyme just drop the “fuel” in biofuel?

Cross-posted from Green Beat
Biofuels producer Solazyme inked a massive deal with Dow Chemical today to ship up to 60 million gallons of its algae-based oil as an insulating chemical for electric transformers in 2015.Solazyme makes an oil produced from algae that is to replace petroleum that works in just about everything — including jet engines. But some of the most lucrative prospects for biofuel companies like Solazyme aren’t in the fuel business at all. They’re in producing chemicals for other purposes. That can include creating a line of anti-aging beauty products and food additives. Dow Chemical’s plan involves replacing an insulating petroleum-based oil that insulates electric transformers from heat and discharging electricity. 

Solazyme might as well kill its “fuel” business if it can get deals of this magnitude. The company’s last significant deal to use its algae-produced oil for fuel was for 20,000 gallons of jet fuel in a deal with the United States Navy. That deal was worth around $8.5 million. The company recently refreshed that deal to 150,000 gallons of fuel, according to a spokesperson for Solazyme. To put things in perspective, the new deal with Dow Chemical is for up to 20 million gallons in 2013 and up to 60 million gallons in 2015, although there weren’t any specific details on pricing.

It might not be long before the company’s algae-produced oil becomes even more popular in the chemical space, since the company has set a target of between $60 to $80 per barrel. Futures for light, sweet crude oil cost more than $100 as of this morning — which will inevitably send up the price of just about everything that uses petroleum as a production component.

Science-driven research firm Lux Research said biomaterials production will grow faster than biofuels, with 17.7 percent growth each year. That growth would be driven by major deals like this one, according to the firm. The biochemical industry was also worth $11.7 billion last year, up 7 percent from 2009. That’s because about 95 percent of plastics use some petroleum in some way — and most companies are looking for a cheaper alternative.

Solazyme has a joint venture with food ingredient company Roquette and is working to develop renewable oils for soaps made by Unilever. The company has raised $125 million over four rounds of funding. Its investors include Morgan Stanley, Chevron Technology Ventures, Braemar Energy Ventures, Bluecrest Capital Finance, Lightspeed Venture Partners, Harris & Harris Group, The Roda Group and VantagePoint Venture Partners.


Solazyme and Dow Form an Alliance for the Development of Micro Algae-Derived Oils for Use in Bio-Based Dielectric Insulating Fluids

SOUTH SAN FRANCISCO, Calif.–(BUSINESS WIRE)–Solazyme, Inc., a leading renewable oils and bioproducts company, announced today the execution of both a joint development agreement (JDA) and a letter of intent (LOI) with The Dow Chemical Company (NYSE: DOW) to advance the development of Solazyme’s algal oils for use in next generation, bio-based dielectric insulating fluids key to transformers and other electrical applications.

“In the fast growing space of bio-based dielectric insulation fluids, Solazyme tailor-designed algal oils will serve as a foundation to develop a new generation of fluids that are fire safe, environmentally sound, and that provide overall increased performance to users of transformers and other electrical applications.”

Under the terms of the joint development agreement, Dow will combine its extensive knowledge of specialty fluid formulations and dielectric insulation capabilities with Solazyme’s unique feedstock capabilities to develop of a new class of algal oils tailored for optimized performance and cost in dielectric insulating fluid applications. The non–binding LOI provides that Dow may obtain up to 20 million gallons of Solazyme’s oils for use in dielectric insulating fluids and other industrial applications in 2013 and up to 60 million gallons in 2015.

Solazyme Chief Executive Officer and Co-founder, Jonathan Wolfson, commented: “Dow is a world-class organization with enormous research, production and commercialization expertise in a broad range of high-value and high-growth chemical sectors. In this initial joint effort Dow and Solazyme will work to tap into the >500 million gallon dielectric insulating fluids market with novel and breakthrough bio-based solutions. In parallel we are working with Dow to explore the use of Solazyme’s algal technology and oils in a wide variety of products that Dow commercializes worldwide, to help provide high performance, environmentally sustainable and cost competitive solutions to a broad set of end users.”

Dow Wire & Cable General Business Manager Tim Laughlin, added: “Solazyme is a leading company in the industrial biotechnology space and its renewable oil technology platform provides a unique opportunity to significantly improve the next generations of chemical solutions.” On the specifics of the opportunity Laughlin further explained, “In the fast growing space of bio-based dielectric insulation fluids, Solazyme tailor-designed algal oils will serve as a foundation to develop a new generation of fluids that are fire safe, environmentally sound, and that provide overall increased performance to users of transformers and other electrical applications.”

About Solazyme:

Solazyme, Inc. is a renewable oil and bioproducts company and a leader in industrial biotechnology. Founded in 2003 and headquartered in South San Francisco, Solazyme’s technology allows microbes to produce oil and biomaterials in standard fermentation facilities quickly, efficiently and at large scale. These oils and biomaterials are tailored not only for biofuel production, but also as replacements for fossil petroleum, plant oils and animal fats in a diverse range of products running from clean fuels and chemicals to cosmetics and foods. Solazyme’s oils and fuels provide compelling solutions to increasingly complex issues of fuel scarcity, energy security and environmental impact while fitting into the pre-existing multi-trillion dollar fuel infrastructure. Solazyme’s investors among others include Braemar Energy Ventures, Harris & Harris Group, Lightspeed VenturePartners, The Roda Group, VantagePoint Venture Partners, and Zygote Ventures. For more information, please visit our website: http://www.solazyme.com

About The Dow Chemical Company

Dow (NYSE: Dow) combines the power of science and technology with the “Human Element” to passionately innovate what is essential to human progress. The Company connects chemistry and innovation with the principles of sustainability to help address many of the world’s most challenging problems such as the need for clean water, renewable energy generation and conservation, and increasing agricultural productivity. Dow’s diversified industry-leading portfolio of specialty chemical, advanced materials, agrosciences and plastics businesses delivers a broad range of technology-based products and solutions to customers in approximately 160 countries and in high growth sectors such as electronics, water, energy, coatings and agriculture. In 2010, Dow had annual sales of $53.7 billion and employed approximately 50,000 people worldwide. The Company’s more than 5,000 products are manufactured at 188 sites in 35 countries across the globe. References to “Dow” or the “Company” mean The Dow Chemical Company and its consolidated subsidiaries unless otherwise expressly noted. More information about Dow can be found at www.dow.com.

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Dow Chemical Partners With The Nature Conservancy to Improve Sustainability

Cross-posted from the Environment New Service

Wait a minute…Is this real or could this possibly be the work of the Yes Men, showing up the hypocrisy behind green corporatism? We just don’t know! Send us your comments and tell us what you think.

–The GJEP Team


DETROIT, Michigan, January 24, 2011 (ENS) – The Dow Chemical Company and The Nature Conservancy today annnounced a new collaboration between the two organizations to help Dow recognize, value and incorporate nature into its business goals, decisions and strategies.

Speaking at the Detroit Economic Club, Andrew Liveris, Dow’s chairman and chief executive officer, said the company and its foundation are committing $10 million to the collaboration over the next five years.

Dow CEO Andrew Liveris explains his view of sustainability (Photo courtesy Detroit Economic Club)

“This collaboration is designed to help us innovate new approaches to critical world challenges while demonstrating that environmental conservation is not just good for nature – it is good for business,” Liveris said.

Mark Tercek, chief executive of The Nature Conservancy, said his nonprofit organization will provide strategic, science-based counsel and technical support to help answer questions about the value and benefits of natural areas on or near where Dow works – such as the benefits of a forest to ensuring clean water for towns and factories, and the role natural wetlands and reefs play in preventing damage from storms.

“This project is an example of the type of cooperation required to make real, long-term progress in protecting the Earth’s natural systems and the services they provide people,” said Tercek. “As the world population surges, it will take public and private sector collaboration like this to make the health of the environment not just an afterthought, but a fundamental consideration in everything we do in every part of our society.”

The aim of the collaboration is to advance the incorporation of the value of nature into business, and to take action to protect the Earth’s natural systems and the services they provide people, for the benefit of business and society.

“Companies that value and integrate biodiversity and ecosystem services into their strategic plans are best positioned for the future by operationalizing sustainability,” Liveris said.

“At Dow, we see sustainability as an adjective and one that we apply to almost everything we do: sustainable manufacturing, sustainable solutions and sustainable opportunities to constantly add to the quality of life for our communities and fellow citizens,” he said. “Today, tomorrow, always.”

Mark Tercek emphasizes the value of nature. (Photo courtesy Detroit Economic Club)

Dow operates a group of specialty chemical, advanced materials, agrosciences and plastics businesses in electronics, water, energy, coatings and agriculture. The company’s more than 5,000 products are manufactured at 214 sites in 37 countries. In 2009, Dow had annual sales of $45 billion and employed approximately 52,000 people worldwide.

The collaboration will use scientific models, maps, and analysis for biodiversity and ecosystem services – the benefits that nature provides for people, like clean air, water, and food – and apply them to Dow’s business decisions, said Liveris, who is originally from Australia.

He said the collaboration will inform Dow on setting new policies and approaches in the areas of land and water management, siting considerations, the benefits of natural resources on Dow lands and waterways, and more explicit management of biodiversity.

Scientists from both organizations will implement and refine ecosystem services and biodiversity assessment models, initially, on at least three Dow manufacturing sites.

One of the major objectives of this collaboration is to share all tools, lessons learned and results publicly and through peer-review so that other companies, scientists and interested parties can test and apply them.

Tercek, formerly a managing director at Goldman Sachs, where he headed the firm’s Environmental Strategy Group and Center for Environmental Markets, said, “We hope that the results of this effort will demonstrate to other organizations and companies that incorporating nature’s services into decisions is a responsible, smart and viable business strategy.”

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