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.
In an historic ruling on Thursday Brazil’s Federal Appeals Court has unanimously decided to cancel the release for cultivation of Bayer’s Liberty Link GM Maize.
The ruling is another legal disaster for the biotech industry as it follows the decision taken earlier this week by a court in the Campeche region of Mexico to ban GM Soybean cultivation, to protect the traditions of the Mayan people, namely beekeeping.
The Brazilian Court annulled the decision by Brazil’s Biosecurity Commission (CTNBio), who had allowed the release for cultivation of Liberty Link GM Maize. The civil action against CTNBio was started by Land Rights, the Brazilian Institute for Consumer Defense – IDEC and the National Association of Small Farmers.
The decision is reported to have created new legal paradigm and may force Brazilian authorities to reconsider all other commercial releases of GMOs in Brazil. Never before has a Judge stated that there is a need for studies on the negative impacts of GMOs in all major biomes in the country.
Federal Judge Candido Silva Alfredo Leal Junior, read excerpts from his decision for about an hour and a half. In addition to his comments on biomes, the Judge ordered CTNBio to develop standards to enable the general public to have access to documents in the file processed by the Commission, allowing for their qualified involvement in the process of trade liberalization.
Lawyer Fernando Prioste stated that the decision will have a major impact on the GMO issue in Brazil because it forces the national regulators to carry out studies to assess risks in all biomes areas and forces CTNBio to give ample transparency to the processes of releasing GMOs into the environment; “Today’s vote deserves detailed study because it covers the topic in depth, analyzing the legal aspects combining the social and economic consequences of the release of GMOs in Brazil for future generations.”
“After ten years of the commercial release of GM crops in Brazil, the debate over the issue has seriously intensified , exposing the weakness of pesticides and GMO-based agriculture. The Court decision today is an important element that will support the people’s struggle for a model of agriculture based on agro-ecology, which guarantees rights for farmers and healthy food without pesticides for the population,” Prioste concluded.
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.