Biodiversity, GMOs, Health & Disease, Soil Erosion & Contamination, Water Contaminaton & Loss — by I-SIS June 18, 2013
The most exhaustive, and up-to-date summary of the dangers of GM agriculture for 2013. GM agriculture is a recipe for disaster, as this report will make clear. It is also standing in the way of the shift to sustainable agriculture already taking place in local communities all over the world that can truly enable people to feed themselves in times of climate change.
GM agriculture is failing on all counts while hazards to health and the environment are coming to light. Opposition to GMOs is gaining momentum worldwide but the expansionist GM corporate agenda continues undiminished. GM agriculture is a recipe for disaster as this report will make clear. It is also standing in the way of the shift to sustainable agriculture already taking place in local communities all over the world that can truly enable people to feed themselves in times of climate change. Take action now to ban environmental releases of GMOs, locally in communities, villages, towns, municipalities, regions, as well as nationally and globally. We the people need to reclaim our food and seed sovereignty from the corporate empire before they destroy our food and farming irreversibly.Comments (0)
Biodiversity, Consumerism, Deforestation, Food Shortages, Health & Disease, Society, Soil Erosion & Contamination, Water Contaminaton & Loss — by Earth Policy Institute June 14, 2013
Janet Larsen and J. Matthew Roney, Earth Policy Institute
The world quietly reached a milestone in the evolution of the human diet in 2011. For the first time in modern history, world farmed fish production topped beef production. The gap widened in 2012, with output from fish farming—also called aquaculture—reaching a record 66 million tons, compared with production of beef at 63 million tons. And 2013 may well be the first year that people eat more fish raised on farms than caught in the wild. More than just a crossing of lines, these trends illustrate the latest stage in a historic shift in food production—a shift that at its core is a story of natural limits.
As the global demand for animal protein grew more than fivefold over the second half of the twentieth century, humans began to press against the productivity constraints of the world’s rangelands and oceans. Annual beef production climbed from 19 million tons in 1950 to more than 50 million tons in the late 1980s. Over the same period, the wild fish catch ballooned from 17 million tons to close to 90 million tons. But since the late 1980s, the growth in beef production has slowed, and the reported wild fish catch has remained essentially flat. (See Excel data.)Comments (2)
Biodiversity, Society — by George Monbiot June 7, 2013
Why do farmers’ groups indulge in such ridiculous scaremongering about the restoration of the natural world?
The dam is beginning to crack, faster than I would have believed possible. Britain, one of the world’s most zoophobic nations, is at last considering the return of some of its extinct and charismatic mammal species.
While wolves, lynx, bears, bison, moose, boar and beavers have been spreading across the Continent for decades, into countries as developed and populous as ours, and while they have been widely welcomed in those places, here we have responded to this prospect with unjustified horror.
Or perhaps I shouldn’t say “we”. The population as a whole tends to be more sympathetic to reintroductions than the tiny number of people who own most of the land*. Britain has one of the highest concentrations of landownership in the world, and the big landowners are often the most conservative members of the population. Unfortunately they are the ones who have power in the countryside.Comments (1)
Aid Projects, Biodiversity, Community Projects, Food Shortages, Health & Disease, Rehabilitation, Salination, Soil Biology, Soil Conservation, Soil Erosion & Contamination, Structure, Water Contaminaton & Loss — by Tejal Heblekar June 6, 2013
A non-profit teaches a soil education program to combat the farmer suicide epidemic in rural India.
By Tejal Heblekar, and edited by Eileen Mello
A few kilometers from the Bay of Bengal in the Indian state of Orissa, rural farmers have gathered around a microscope to see what lies hidden in the ground. The Hummingbird Project, an American based non-profit organization, has equipped a soil laboratory with a microscope and resources for visiting farmers to test the quality of their farm’s soil and learn specific organic methods for improving its health. Farmers are eager to use the lab resources to test their samples and excitedly look from the microscope to the computer, watching the enhanced images of microbes moving throughout the soil. Proud chemical farmers are shocked to discover their samples — white and chalky with synthetic fertilizer salts and residues and reeking like chemicals — have no biodiversity like that found in samples from farms employing organic techniques.Comments (3)
Biodiversity, Society — by George Monbiot June 4, 2013
Somehow almost all of us have missed the real story behind the disappearance of our wildlife.
Even before you start reading the devastating State of Nature report, you get an inkling of where the problem lies. It’s illustrated in the opening pages with two dramatic photographs of upland Britain. They are supposed to represent the natural glories we’re losing. In neither of them (with the exception of some distant specks of scrub and leylandii in the second) is there a tree to be seen. The many square miles they cover contain nothing but grass and dead bracken. They could scarcely provide a better illustration of our uncanny ability to miss the big picture:
The majority of wildlife requires cover: places in which it can shelter from predators or ambush prey, places in which it can take refuge from extremes of heat and cold, or find the constant humidity that fragile roots and sensitive invertebrates require. Yet, in the very regions in which you might expect to find such cover (trees, scrub, other dense foliage) there is almost none. I’m talking about the infertile parts of Britain, in which farming is so unproductive that it survives only as a result of public money. Here, in the places commonly described as Britain’s “wildernesses”, almost nothing remains. And the “almost” has become radically smaller over the past 20 years.Comments (1)
Biodiversity, Biofuels, Deforestation, Desertification, Economics, Food Shortages, GMOs, Global Warming/Climate Change, Population, Society, Soil Erosion & Contamination, Water Contaminaton & Loss, peak oil — by Joel Dunn May 31, 2013
Genetically modified crops are hailed by their proponents as the basis for a “new green revolution”, and as the key solution to feeding the world in the face of population growth and the exhaustion of new sources of agricultural land. There is a massive volume of research and research literature around genetically modified crops, but how much of it is really of value in assessing this often heard hypothesis about “GM is needed to feed the world?”Comments (1)
Biodiversity — by George Monbiot May 28, 2013
A mass restoration of ecosystems offers us hope where there was little hope before.
Until modern humans arrived, every continent except Antarctica possessed a megafauna. In the Americas, alongside mastodons, mammoths, four-tusked and spiral-tusked elephants, there was a beaver the size of a black bear: eight feet from nose to tail(1). There were giant bison weighing two tonnes, which carried horns seven feet across(2).
The short-faced bear stood thirteen feet in its hind socks(3). One hypothesis maintains that its astonishing size and shocking armoury of teeth and claws are the hallmarks of a specialist scavenger: it specialised in driving giant lions and sabretooth cats off their prey(4). The Argentine roc (Argentavis magnificens) had a wingspan of 26 feet(5). Sabretooth salmon nine feet long migrated up Pacific coast rivers(6).Comments (3)
Biodiversity, Society — by George Monbiot May 24, 2013
Are repeated sightings of non-existent big cats evidence of a yearning for a wilder life?
An extract from Feral: searching for enchantment on the frontiers of rewilding, by George Monbiot, published in the Guardian, 22nd May 2013.
The setting was unimprovable. Across the fields, Maiden Castle, a turretted fortress of living rock, clawed at the sky. Beyond it was the village of Wolf’s Castle – Casblaidd – distinguished as one of only twenty places in which Owain Glyndwr was born (he died in quite a few as well), and said to be the spot where the last wolf in Wales was killed. Below us a tangled willow carr smothered the valley.
“This gap in the hedge here: that could be where it came through. Then it came down the bank, sauntered across the road and disappeared into the scrub.”
I peered into the woods on the other side of the lane. The trees were hooded with ivy. Their mossy trunks sprawled over the ground, or leant on each other, dark-cowled, like drunken friars. Beneath them was an impenetrable thicket of brambles and ferns.
“You wouldn’t see him in there, would you?”
“You have no doubt about what it was?”
Michael Disney looked around and shrugged.
“It’s not an issue for me. I saw what I saw and that’s that. People can either believe it or not. I’m not trying to convince anyone.”Comments (0)
Biodiversity, Insects, Soil Erosion & Contamination, Water Contaminaton & Loss, Working Animals — by Catherine Sullivan May 15, 2013
Photo © Craig Mackintosh
It’s score one for the bees. Last week the European Union banned neonicotinoid pesticides for a two-year period beginning early next year.
Key findings cited evidence of the role neonics play in destroying bee populations. The ban is specifically for flowering crops as neonics penetrate plants from treated seed through to affecting flower nectar and pollen, which bees and other non-target insects feed on. Bees in particular have a high acute toxicity to the systemic pesticides. It impairs their nervous systems, resulting in disorientation, navigational problems and coupled with damaged memory, affects their ability to forage. Neonic pesticides can also be retained in the soil profile for lengthy periods.Comments (2)
Biodiversity, Economics, Health & Disease, Insects, Soil Erosion & Contamination, Water Contaminaton & Loss — by George Monbiot May 2, 2013
Amazingly, the UK government has not defined the precautionary principle and appears to have no idea what it is.
Here’s something remarkable I stumbled across while researching my column on Monday, but did not have room to include. I hope you’ll agree that it is worth sharing.
I was trying to understand the context for the new chief scientist’s cavalier treatment of scientific evidence, in an article he wrote opposing a European ban on neonicotinoid pesticides. These are the toxins which, several studies suggest, could be partly responsible for the rapid decline in bees and other pollinators.Comments (1)
Biodiversity, Health & Disease, Insects, Soil Erosion & Contamination, Water Contaminaton & Loss — by George Monbiot April 30, 2013
How government science advisers misrepresent science.
What happens to people when they become government science advisers? Are their children taken hostage? Is a dossier of compromising photographs kept, ready to send to the Sun if they step out of line?Comments (4)
Biodiversity, GMOs, Health & Disease — by Vandana Shiva April 25, 2013
Billionaires forgo iron-rich crops in push for GM bananas in India
Nature has given us a cornucopia of biodiversity rich in nutrients. Malnutrition and nutrient deficiency result from destroying biodiversity. The Green Revolution has spread monocultures of chemical rice and wheat, driving out biodiversity from our farms and diets. And what survived as spontaneous crops — like amaranth greens (chaulai) and chenopodium (bathua) that are rich in iron — were sprayed with poisons and herbicides. Instead of cherishing them as iron- and vitamin-rich gifts, these vegetables were treated as “weeds”.
The “monoculture of the mind” treats diversity as disease and creates coercive structures to remodel this biologically and culturally diverse world of ours on the concepts of one privileged class, one race and one gender of a single species. As “the monoculture of the mind” took over, biodiversity disappeared from our farms and food. It’s the destruction of biodiverse rich cultivation and diets that has led us to the malnutrition crisis.Comments (1)
Biodiversity, Deforestation, Desertification, Food Shortages, Global Warming/Climate Change, Plant Systems, Rehabilitation, Soil Erosion & Contamination, Trees — by Craig Mackintosh PRI Editor April 23, 2013
John D. Liu of the EEMP, who has partnered with us in spreading the permaculture message, has created yet another excellent documentary — this time focussing on drylands, their past function and their present dysfunction through a broadscale loss of forest cover, and its impact on soil loss and on the hydrological cycle.
In this video we travel vicariously with John as he takes us from Jordan to Africa to Asia and the Americas, showing us both degradation and restoration — and sharing the inspirational message we all need to hear: that we can undo the damage we’ve inflicted on planet earth, our home.Comments (3)
Alternatives to Political Systems, Biodiversity, Deforestation, Economics, Global Warming/Climate Change, People Systems, Society, Soil Erosion & Contamination, Water Contaminaton & Loss — by Marcin Gerwin April 18, 2013
The disappearing Amazon rainforest
Marcin Gerwin: You propose introducing a new international law of ecocide as an amendment to the Rome Statute. Ecocide is defined as “an extensive damage to, destruction of or loss of ecosystem(s) of a given territory, whether by human agency or by other causes, to such an extent that peaceful enjoyment by the inhabitants of that territory has been or will be severely diminished.” Why do we need the new law to protect the planet? Aren’t current regulations enough?Comments (2)
Biodiversity, Deforestation, Economics, Food Shortages, Health & Disease, Society, Soil Erosion & Contamination, Water Contaminaton & Loss — by Rhamis Kent February 13, 2013
A student I had recently in my short course in California sent me a link to an award-winning NGO working in Haiti called SOIL (Sustainable Organic Integrated Livelihoods) — a nonprofit working within the country performing truly beneficial work, utilizing compost toilets to deal with the perennial problem of waste management.
In the following clip SOIL’s Co-Founder & Executive Director, Dr. Sasha Kramer, provides an excellent, well-contextualized explanation of her organization’s work as well as the legacy of ecological & environmental degradation (and its corresponding effects on impacted human populations) often missing from discussions about colonial history:
Further Reading:Comments (1)