“In my life, I have dreamt of seeing the great herds of wild animals, jungles and rainforests full of birds and butterflies, but now I wonder if they will even exist for my children to see.”
~ 12 yr old Severn Suzuki at first Rio Earth Summit
I once thought that restoring a rainforest was pretty straightforward. Turns out I was mistaken. It’s completely two-faced.
One face is that of a simple country person collecting and planting seeds from the Mother trees of their region. The other face wears a protective chemical mask while planting genetically engineered forests.
If you read my post “A Silent Rainforest is a Dead Rainforest,” you know how painfully I discovered this for myself during the last few trips to Brazil. In the post I referenced the heart wrenching documentary “A Silent Forest,” that we’re having translated to Portuguese. Now a sequel is being made to dive deeper into this shadowy story.
Raindancer Media, Global Justice Ecology Project, Three Americas and Earth Links came together in 2007 to produce “A Silent Forest” in which Canadian Scientist David Suzuki passionately and eloquently warned that GE trees could be developed and released if we were not vigilant. Now with GE trees in the ground and the pending release of many genetically engineered tree species, “Synthetic Forests” will be an invaluable tool in bringing the story of this dangerous group of technologies into the public eye. As with GMO labeling initiatives, when people see the facts they can act.
“Synthetic Forests” will show in detail how GE Eucalyptus and GE Poplars, combined with the search for higher profits, will accelerate the devastation of indigenous communities and native forests. Deforestation, loss of biodiversity, pesticide use as well as increased water use and contamination will follow the release of GE trees. Pollen from GE trees, whether in the Southern US or the Global South could contaminate non GMO trees and will be inescapable for many people as pollen can drift hundreds of miles. Inhaled pollen could take away our choice to live GMO free, perhaps forever.
It’s a powerful way to show the world who’s behind the protective chemical masks. It may not be who you think it is.
And, you might be supporting them every time you go to the supermarket for diapers, toilet paper and tissues.
Rio de Janeiro is falling behind on its promise to plant 24 million trees to offset the carbon emissions produced as a result of hosting the 2016 Olympic Games. According to the official counter, just 5.5 million have been planted, and time is running out to get the remaining trees planted before the end of 2015 deadline. Back in September 2012, State Environment Secretary Carlos Minc was so confident of reaching the goal of 24 million trees he increased the target to 34 million. But with less than two years remaining before the set deadline and little more than that until the start of the 2016 Olympic Games, it is looking more likely that this will be another ‘Olympic legacy’ left unrealized.
Of the trees to be planted, the majority are meant to be native trees to help restore Rio’s highly threatened yet biodiverse Mata Atlântica, or Atlantic Forest, that covers much of coastal and southern Brazil and which has been deforested to just 7% of its original coverage. Reforestation of degraded land is an expensive exercise, costing up to R$10,000-40,000 per hectare (all expenses included) over three years, according to Nicholas Locke, the President of REGUA, an association involved in reforestation of the Guapiaçu Valley in Rio state. It is unclear where the financing for this is going to come from, but the state has previously indicated that the effort would be a public-private partnership, with private companies providing R$500 million to meet environmental compensation requirements or as conditions for receiving environmental licensing.
There are two faces of reforestation in Brazil.
One is that of a simple country person with her family, bare-footed or flip-flopped, collecting seeds from the Mother trees of their region. They know the trees like they know their own relatives. They sell their seeds for a fair price to an association of nurserymen in the town nearby, who will grow them into trees for sale and wonder why those trees are so hard to sell. It took 5 years for me to uncover the story behind their difficulties and reveal another face of reforestation.
The other face wears a mask. It’s the protective mask of NGOs, cooperating with agro-chemical companies and paper pulp companies. They have the big bucks to fund environmental education, teaching people to make money by allowing genetically modified forests to be planted on their land, or to use their new and “improved” methods for reforestation.
As one of our field partners has stated, “15‐20 years ago, the largest pulp and paper industry of the world started replacing cattle ranches (formerly rain forests) with eucalyptus plantations. On lands they keep on buying (for very low prices) or leasing for 20 years, they represent a huge threat to environment and public health, since the company makes use of enormous amounts of pesticides, herbicides (mainly glyphosate) and fertilizers with significant amounts of heavy metals… They do not follow the regulations that oblige plantations projects to be submitted to environmental assessment studies… They have polluted watersheds, groundwater, soils, people and animals from farms. Fish are dying in big amounts, cattle, pigs and chicken are born with deformities, people from farms located in the surroundings are ill, losing arm and leg movements, going blind.”
They even make up new ways – like mixing native seeds with genetically modified crop seeds, spreading them together in fields and calling that reforestation. Monsanto calls it muvaca.
“The main difference is the involvement of muvuca producers to use the same type of equipment used for grain crops such as soybeans and corn. Compared with the planting of seedlings, maintenance and control is easier, the absence of ants and no need for irrigation during the dry season…”
So what can we do?
We can pray that the forces of Nature will prevail over their methods while we strengthen our collective will to reclaim our planet from their profit driven motives. And we can educate ourselves about what is REALLY going on. Many people now know of palm oil use being responsible for rainforest destruction thanks to good guys like Rainforest Action Network. But did you know that the diapers on your baby’s bottom may well have come from the pulp produced by these GMO eucalyptus trees in a once-upon-a-time rainforest?
We can crowdfund educational endeavors. The iGiveTrees campaign is now focused upon translating the documentary “Silent Forest” and its sequel, into Portuguese with subtitles. We can support the small local NGOs and rural associations, to see the bigger picture of what is going on around them, and to stand up for themselves in an informed, empowered and peaceful way.
Is this a David and Goliath story? Indeed it is. But remember who won in the end.
by Alana Lea for Care2 causes, Earth Day 2014
The Two Faces of Reforestation in Brazil | Care2 Causes.
“Genetic engineering (GE) of our food supply amounts to a massive science experiment being performed on mankind, without consent or full disclosure. Although the biotech industry continues to claim GE products are safe, the truth is that no one knows what the long-term effects will be, because no one has done the necessary studies.
The loudest proponents of GE are the ones who stand to profit the most, and they don’t seem terribly concerned about the human or environmental costs.
What do we know for certain? We know genetic engineering is riddled with unpredictable effects… so we should expect the unexpected.
You may not realize that this reckless genetic experimentation is not limited to your food supply. Besides being used to create drugs and “Frankenfish,” they’ve also created vaccine-containing bananas, goats that produce spider silk in their milk, venomous cabbage, chemotherapy chicken eggs, and even glow-in-the-dark cats.
As creepy as some of these things are, the application that may have the greatest potential for global disaster are GE trees created to serve the desires of the paper industry.”
~Excerpt from article by Dr. Mercola “Why Genetically Engineer Trees?”
As you’ve read in several of my prior posts, this is exactly what we’re facing in rural Brazil:
So now, I’m asking you to help me raise funds for the translation of “Silent Forest” narrated by scientist David Suzuki. Our field partners need to better understand what they’re up against, and then decide how they want to respond to the information.
Will you help us to crowdfund the Portuguese translation and subtitling of “Silent Forest”? What you see below are a series of segments of the entire one hour film.
The extinction of large, fruit-eating birds in fragments of Brazil’s Atlantic rainforest has caused palm trees to produce smaller seeds over the past century, impacting forest ecology, found a study published in Science.
The researchers looked at Euterpe edulis palm seeds in patches of forest that have been fragmented by deforestation, coffee plantations, and sugar cane fields since the 19th century. They found that palm trees produced significantly smaller seeds in areas of forest that are too small to support “large-gaped” birds like toucans and large cotingas. The absence of these birds means that larger seeds aren’t effectively dispersed, while smaller seeds are more vulnerable to drying out before germinating. The outlook for Euterpe edulis palms — and the species that depend on them — is therefore bleak in these fragments.
Fragmentation is having other impacts as well. Research published in Science in September documented a stunning and rapid decline in mammal populations in isolated forest fragments. Mammals suffered from population isolation, degradation of habitat, and invasive species.
Rainforest news review for 2013.
SEATTLE, Dec. 20, 2013 /PRNewswire/ — Looking for an easy green gift idea? Give a tree.
Right now, you can help restore an endangered rainforest while getting great perks for your contributions. The iGiveTrees crowd funding campaign on Indiegogo runs through December 30, and has already exceeded its initial $10,000 funding goal. Now the intention is to see how much more positive impact it can create before the end of the year.
$5 plants an organically grown native tree in Brazil’s endangered Atlantic Forest.
$10 insures it’s maintained in the field without toxic chemicals, for two years.
Started by a Brazilian-American artist and writer, Alana Lea, iGiveTrees has grown into a worldwide statement of hope for the future. She has been dubbed the “Real Life Lorax” by many, and now encourages others to share the title with her.
Five years into this grassroots, organic reforestation project, a global community has formed to support native tree growers, small local NGOs and subsistence farm families to restore this most bio-diverse rainforest. It’s already 93% gone.
While the iGiveTrees campaign runs year-round, it only offers this wide selection perks to donors during the Holiday Season: a gift certificate and cards, a stellar collection of musical downloads, Amazonian chocolate, organic biodynamic coffee, a sacred cookbook and rainforest print scarves. Successful Indiegogo Campaign 'iGiveTrees' Offers Perks to 'Green Gifters' — SEATTLE, Dec. 20, 2013 /PRNewswire/ –
Support has come from every corner of the earth because people realize this is an opportunity to literally transplant the damaged lungs of the planet. And that’s a gift to us all.
October was GMO Awareness Month, and I was honored to be interviewed by Alison Rose Levy for a compelling conversation on her PRN radio program Connect the Dots. She asked such good questions! Let me know what you think…
Just click on the image to listen.
ArborGen has executed an agreement with International Paper do Brazil that grants ArborGen the exclusive right to produce and sell superior Eucalyptus Varietals in Brazil. ArborGen is producing the Varietals at a nursery at Luis Antonio, Sao Paulo state and has already begun production and sales of these seedlings, as the company said in the press release received by Lesprom Network.
“While integrated producers have had access to elite Eucalyptus genetics for many years, these genetics have not been available to independent growers. With this agreement, ArborGen will, for the first time, make available to those growers seedlings with the yield and other traits that come with these advanced, proprietary products,” said Gabriela Bassa, managing director of ArborGen do Brazil. “The Luis Antonio nursery is the first in a series of planned nursery developments that we will use to enable us to eventually supply the entire Brazilian market over time.”
The Brazilian forestry industry is one of the largest, fastest growing in the world; Brazil is the world’s largest producer and exporter of hardwood pulp. The Eucalyptus market consumes approximately one billion seedlings per year. Private landowners have relied on older, publicly available varieties which do not offer the benefits that come from using advanced genetics. Results from extensive research trials and full scale production suggest that the new Varietals ArborGen is offering will be superior to those currently in use by private landowners.
ArborGen established ArborGen do Brazil in 2004 as a product and business development center. The company has been working with several large integrated Eucalyptus pulp and paper companies for several years to develop genetically modified Eucalyptus products, and has conducted extensive field trials with these potential products.
International Paper is a global leader in packaging and paper with manufacturing operations in North America, Europe, Latin America, Russia, Asia and North Africa. Its businesses include industrial and consumer packaging and uncoated papers, complemented by xpedx, the company’s North American distribution company.
I recently dove into the world of coffee to see what’s going on in the supply chain, since our rainforest was originally cut down for coffee plantations.
Traveling much of the year to tell our story, Starbucks is often my office, and I’ve been appreciative of happy baristas (who have decent benefits) who serve me a uniformly good Americano. But one day I picked up a notification about their environmental partner, Conservation International and my heart sunk below my muddy boots. From my last post you can see that CI is also partnered with Monsanto, and I have witnessed and heard stories of the distress that has caused for poor rural communities. Among other things, they plant genetically engineered forests as part of their “Forest Mosaic” program, using toxic chemicals that flow into the water system and soil, changing the landscape for eons in ways more devastating than the original slash and burn farming. That, and bio-piracy for their allies…
I actually had the opportunity to meet and speak with Starbucks’ Director of Environmental Impact at a conference this week, and invited him to come see what the impact of their partnership is, in Brazil. Perhaps they just didn’t know what their partners were really doing…
So I asked my Facebook Friends “Does it matter to you, if a business you may often buy from, is partnered with an NGO who is actively partnered with Monsanto?”
This was some of the response I received. It looks like it matters.