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.
By Rady Ananda – Food Freedom News
Brazil’s Judicial Commission has tabled a bill allowing for genetically modified terminator seeds until February 2014, when it will again take up the topic.
Terminator seeds are lab-engineered for sterility; genes are modified to switch on production of a toxin that would kill off developing plant embryos, reports Nature.
Another type of terminator technology is an inducible molecular mechanism, explains Ban Terminator. “The gene for seed sterility or germination can be turned on or off from the outside – by treating the plants with a chemical or other factor.”
The risk, according to biologists, is when (not if) the modified plant pollinates natural plants and passes on externally controlled sterility. The other risk is that all seeds will become controlled by corporations, so that seed saving becomes impossible. As the last 150 years have shown, when corporations control a market, things die and people go broke.
Since the introduction of GM seeds into the environment, innumerable contamination events have occurred. Back in 2006, it was determined that GM rice had contaminated a full third of the US rice supply.
By its own admission, the biotech industry cannot prevent genetic contamination. In court, Bayer CropScience defended its containment protocols, saying they “were equal to or exceeded industry standards when the test rice escaped into the general supplies,” adding, “Even the best practices can’t guarantee perfection.” [emphasis added]
Last May, Oregon ag authorities confirmed that Monsanto’s GM wheat had contaminated a field on which it was never lawfully grown. In fact, those GM wheat trials had ended 8 years earlier.
A destructive technology incapable of being contained should be banned entirely. In fact, in 2000, 193 countries agreed to a moratorium on terminator technology at the UN Convention on Biological Diversity. That agreement was reaffirmed in 2006, and is expected to be discussed in October 2014 in Korea at the next CBD meeting.
“Brazil is the frontline. If the agro-industry breaks the moratorium here, they’ll break it everywhere,” said Maria José Guazzelli, of Centro Ecológico, which represents a coalition of Brazilian NGOs.
Centro Ecológico presented a petition signed by 34,000 to the Brazilian authorities and is calling for more. Organizations can sign at Ban Terminator. English speakers can sign the petition on change.org. (NOTE: You must enter your first name (Nome), last name (Sobrenome), email address, street address (Endereço), city (Cidade), state (Estado), zip code (CEP); tick the first box if you want to receive mailings from change.org; tick the second box if you want to receive updates on the Terminator issue.)
Though Brazil initially plans to plant non-food terminator seeds, the door is opened to later approve food plantings with this technology. It hopes to plant terminator eucalyptus forests. Already seven states have planted GM trees in the Southeast US, replacing entire ecosystems with trees that exude pesticide from its roots to its bark to its leaves and twigs.
The Global Justice Ecology Project created a documentary in 2005 that describes GM trees as killing machines.
News Release – 10 December 2013 – ETC Group
After promising on World Food Day (October 16) to block legislation that would legalize the planting of Terminator seeds in Brazil, the country’s Judicial Commission is set to approve suicide seeds as a Christmas gift to Monsanto, DuPont and Syngenta.
Intense internal and external pressure in mid-October forced the Brazilian Congress to pull back from adopting pro-Terminator legislation, and the Judicial Commission’s Chair pledged never to allow legislation while at his post. Now, the same chair will entertain a motion Wednesday to accept Terminator seeds, making Brazil the first country in the world to defy a 13-year-old UN moratorium on the use of the technology. “If the Commission passes the bill this week,” says Centro Ecológico’s Maria José Guazzelli, “the Congress could make it law after it reconvenes in February. While most of Brazil is celebrating a Christmas birth, the seed multinationals will be celebrating the death of the 10,000-year right of farmers to save seeds.”
If the bill is passed this week (the Judicial Commission meets Wednesday and Thursday), ETC Group expects the Brazilian government to take a series of incremental steps that will orchestrate the collapse of the 193-country consensus moratorium when the UN Convention on Biological Diversity meets for its biennial conference in Korea in October 2014:
First, the government will announce that adoption by the Judicial Commission does not necessarily mean adoption by the Congress. Next, the government will announce that it will limit, through regulation, the application of Terminator technologies to special circumstances and repeat its long-standing support of the UN moratorium. Later, the government will agree that Terminator seeds can be used on GM trees to prevent widespread contamination in the Amazon. This will be described as an environmentally beneficial initiative, disguising the intent to allow the Amazon’s biodiversity to be replaced with GM tree plantations.
Monsanto, DuPont and Syngenta – all of whom have pledged to never sell Terminator seeds to farmers – will express their sympathy for the government’s difficult situation regarding the spread of GM tree pollen and agree to act responsibly. Although the 3 companies that control 54% of global commercial seed sales all have a stable of Terminator patents, they will move cautiously to multiply Terminator seeds and prepare them for market over the next 2-3 years.
In the meantime, not wanting to be seen as a “rogue state,” Brazil will propose to “protect” the Biodiversity Convention’s global moratorium by “clarifying language” that will allow states to commercialize Terminator under special conditions such as GM trees or during food security emergencies. This will cue the global seed trade to introduce all of its latest commercial traits only on the Terminator platform – making them available only for seeds that die at harvest time.
The so-called Gene Giants may take advantage of Brazil’s clout in the global South to roll out “Terminator Plus” – next generation “zombie” seeds whose sterility can be reversed via a proprietary chemical bath. This combines the maximum biological monopoly with the maximum corporate profit since companies will not even have to multiply and market seed every growing season.
Already, almost 30,000 people in Brazil and around the world have signed a petition* addressed to the Chair of the Judicial Commission reminding him of his promise not to allow suicide seeds and calling upon the government to honor its commitment to the United Nations. Around the world, peasant and civil society organizations are contacting Brazilian embassies to express their alarm.
* The petition is available here http://tinyurl.com/l5y4rj7 (in Portuguese), here http://tinyurl.com/owrgt8c (in English) and here http://goo.gl/KJvVCd (in Spanish).
For non-Portuguese speakers: in order to sign to the petition on change.org, you must enter your first name (Nome), last name (Sobrenome), email address, street address (Endereço), city (Cidade), state (Estado), zip code (CEP); tick the first box if you want to receive mailings from change.org; tick the second box if you want to receive updates on the Terminator issue.
For more information:
Maria José Guazzelli, Centro Ecológico, email@example.com
Tel: 55 54 32331727
Kathy Jo Wetter, ETC Programme Director, firstname.lastname@example.org
Pat Mooney, ETC Group Executive Director, email@example.com
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.
Who’d have known that the “genetically improved” Eucalyptus plantations near our organic reforestation projects were supported by an international NGO in partnership with Monsanto, paper and aluminum industries? These new trees reforesting the area provide pulp for toilet paper and diapers while the aluminum mines nearby wrap your hot dogs.
Let the pictures tell the story… Click on the pictures to download the source documents if you think I’m making this up.
If you’d like to help us hold our organic ground, while we seek out the larger organizational support we need, please make a non-tax-deductible contribution. We will keep planting native trees without the use of toxic chemicals, while supporting a network of small rural entrepreneurs to stay in the nursery business, as well as a small local ngo and subsistence farm families who receive them.www.iGiveTrees.com
As governments and citizens face up to the reality of climate change and the urgent need for action to reduce heat-trapping Carbon Dioxide in the atmosphere, one of the more controversial solutions presented has been that of “Carbon Sinks”. Plantation forests are being presented as a means for growing trees to absorb more carbon dioxide from the air and help to reduce global temperatures. African countries such as Uganda are a focus for their location.
But activists who have looked more closely at the practice and reality of these industrial tree plantations note that they are often very damaging to local communities and the surrounding environment. Even their actual impact on carbon reduction can be called into question. Many believe that strong action is urgently needed to reduce the carbon dioxide being produced by industry, instead of looking for “solutions” that absolve them of responsibility.
Now the Genetic Engineering industry is hoping to turn this crisis into an opportunity for profit, by promoting GE trees as the next solution to climate change. By making claims for fast growth and increased carbon absorption by GE trees, the industry is evidently trying to push for acceptance through a different route. Furthermore, activists and policy makers working on climate change issues may be less aware of the threats presented by GE trees and GE technology in general, and may also be unaware that the UN Convention on Biological Diversity meeting in April 2006 urged countries to take a very cautious approach to GE trees.
GE tree plantations will only serve to exacerbate the problems and bad practices of the worst industrial tree plantations, whilst presenting an appalling risk of contamination and cross-pollination to global forest ecosystems.
For more information on the issue go to : (Thanks to Chris Lang for these sources)
-The Global Justice Ecology Project web-site has up-to-date articles: http://www.globaljusticeecology.org/
-The Cornerhouse briefing on GE trees: http://www.thecornerhouse.org.uk/item.shtml?x=51977
-The World Rainforest Movement / Friends of the Earth International book on GE trees: http://chrislang.blogspot.com/2004_12_20_chrislang_archive.html
-WRM has lots of information/short articles on GE trees: http://www.wrm.org.uy/subjects/biotechnology.html
-Chris Lang’s articles on GE trees: http://chrislang.blogspot.com/1999_03_27_chrislang_archive.html