“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.
Who ARE the cunning corporations behind GMA’s scheme to defeat GMO labeling?
The World Cup is coming to Brazil next month, to be hosted in stadiums built at enormous expense to please foreign visitors, while hiding the poverty of its citizens behind walls. Sewage will still flow through favelas and into the ocean, while people are evicted and “pacified” with force. All of this is taking place in the most bio-diverse and endangered rainforests on the planet.
The type of thinking that allowed these things to happen, is fueled by greed. If you’re willing to learn about how we got here, please read “Confessions of an Economic Hitman” by John Perkins. The author has not only revealed how we got into this mess, but has also been instrumental in the creation of a social justice and environmental advocacy organization, the Pachamama Alliance, who offers Awakening the Dreamer Symposiums around the world. In these community forums, we can find our own way to be participate in a solution, taking whatever action we’re most passionate about.
Whether during the weeklong party of Carnival, or the upcoming games, many of us will try to forget about (or simply choose not to acknowledge) real life challenges that seem overwhelming, in an attempt to escape our collective pain.
Team, it’s time to sober up and get passionate about things that actually matter, or it could be game over for humanity.
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.
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.