MAY LOVE PREVAIL ON EARTH
June 2, 2004
The Green Holocaust Files #15: Alarm Bells Ringing All Over
"New reports indicate large portions of the ocean have become "dead zones" that are devoid of life; and that atmospheric carbon dioxide levels have abruptly surged. This comes fast upon findings that the Amazon's composition is changing due to climate change, that the Australian Great Barrier Reef is dying, that the World Bank is funding industrial logging of the Congolese rainforest and numerous other indicators that unconstrained industry, individual over-consumption, and government intransigence are pushing the Earth towards ecological and social collapse. It remains an unanswered question whether democratic capitalism can address spiraling collapse of key global ecosystems, or feed the world's one billion chronically hungry. Global leaders are failing dramatically to provide the leadership necessary to address the myriad of interconnected issues that threaten the Earth and all its inhabitants. Survival of the Earth may well depend upon a peaceful Earth Revolution that overthrows the whole stinking, inequitable, unjust and unsustainable political and social order. The sky is falling! What could threaten global security and prosperity more than dead oceans and forests, soaring and unpredictable temperatures, lack of potable water and billions of desperately poor people encircling a few bastions of ethically depauperate and militarized over-consumers?"
This comment has been made on March 30 by Glen Barry of Forest.org and can be found and much more! - at http://omega.twoday.net/stories/224869/
I believe it is a proper introduction for this Green Holocaust compilation...
Earth Rainbow Network Coordinator
Free subscription to such compilations by sending a blank email to email@example.com
This compilation is archived at http://www.earthrainbownetwork.com/Archives2004/GreenHolocaust15.htm
"Remaining silent about the destruction of nature is an endorsement of that destruction."
- Redwood Mary (a.k.a. Mary Rose)
"Nonetheless American consumers can hear the clamor abroad and are growing increasingly suspicious of biotech. Only about half the people Rutgers surveyed approved of genetically engineered food, and more than 90 percent wanted genetically modified ingredients labeled as such, a measurable increase in trepidation from earlier polls. (...) Roush probably couldn't go back to conventional crops even if he could find good conventional seed; once Monsanto's DNA is in your field it's almost impossible to get it out. And with the corporate DNA police abroad in the land, farmers can't afford to take a chance. So it looks as though there's no turning back from a future in which Monsanto and a handful of other companies own the genetic building blocks of the world's food supply. "I'd put the genie back in the bottle in a heartbeat," says Roush."
- Taken from "Feeding Our Deepest Fears" below
"Dear Jean, Bless you. What a light you are in the midst of all this shift! I am inquiring how to be part of the Earth Rainbow Network for both myself and my organization, Achee (Ah-shayh') at www.achee.org, being revamped. Achee is a nonprofit 501 (c ) (3) organization with property in the Republic of Benin, West Africa, to create The Achee Light Center. Our Mission is to cause and promote global peace, sustainability and transformation by creating Pocket of Peace learning and cultural centers and ecological sites worldwide. Our adopted Ghanaian village, Akim Anyinase, has requested being an eco-village with schools, herbal clinic, electricity and other necessities. We would love to affiliate with you. We would also benefit from fundraising and funding support. I can be reached at 917 494 0629 cell or 954 485 7525 landline (with my daughter Alana's message). Thank you, and bless you."
- Audrye S. Arbe - Co-Founder/ Chair Achee
Worthy of Your Attention
Documentary on PEACE IN SPACE: Ending Star Wars to Ensure Lasting Peace on Earth
Filmmakers With Conscience, Passion and Purpose - We are filmmakers with a conscience. We see film as the most effective way of reaching the largest number of people. The issue of Space Based Weapons vs Space Exploration for Peaceful Means has not been addressed in documentary form in the way we will approach the subject. We will be interviewing national and world figures on both sides of the fence and allowing viewers to make up their own mind. It has not been highly publicized that the next space shuttle will have no science on it. We are heading into a highly controversial and potentially dangerous era as the tight rope between war and peace extends into our heavens. Space and its exploration does not belong to any nation. It is our world together and we must all gather to make deeply important decisions on how we must work together to make this planet safe and healthy for all the generations to come. Please join us, LightHeart Healing Films, in our effort to create a vitally important film documentary. To find out how to make your contribution, please email Ryan Elliott at firstname.lastname@example.org
ACTION TO TAKE
Tell the UN that bottom trawling stinks
We don't like bare bottoms - sea bottoms, that is. Bottom trawling is the world's most destructive fishing practice. We like to compare it to beef farming by dragging a net through towns, cities and forests to catch a couple of cows. Somewhere between 500,000 and 5,000,000 marine species have yet to be discovered. But these very species are in serious danger from bottom trawling. We think bottom trawling stinks. Tell your friends how you feel about it by sending our naughty e-card: http://act.greenpeace.org/ecs/s2?sk=fxd&i=1410
Tell the UN that we want bottom trawlers to butt out by signing our appeal to be presented to the responsible UN delegates in June: http://act.greenpeace.org/col/get?i=1400&sk=std
Find out more about bottom trawling: http://www.greenpeace.org/international_en/campaigns/intro?campaign_id=461050
(NOTE: The June 2004 issue of National Geographic has an excellent article on the utterly amazing deep sea marine life and a similar warning about the irresponsible catastrophic consequences of deep sea bottom trawling.)
ALERT : Demand the "Filthy Three" Act Against Climate Change
Encourage the U.S., Russia and Australia to Lead By Forests.org, April 3, 2004 - TAKE ACTION @ http://forests.org/action/climate/ -- Over past months there have been several studies that further irrefutably show that the Earth's climate is undergoing rapid and chaotic change as a result of human activities. CO2 levels are rising to such dangerous heights that a quarter of land species are expected to go extinct, the Great Barrier Reef and other important ecosystems are dying, changing ocean currents may trigger a mini ice age in Europe, and the U.S. military expects greater armed conflict caused by climate change. As the Earth burns, leaders of major industrialized countries dither. In particular, the United States, Russia and Australia have shamefully refused to support the Kyoto Treaty - the only international effort to address the issue. Further, these countries have refused to take other measures such as introducing a carbon tax. Taxing carbon dioxide and other harmful emissions would provide substantial sums to undo the damage, compensate those most impacted, and allow for greater investments in renewable energy and ending deforestation. The Lincoln Plan at http://www.climateark.org/lincoln_plan/ is an example of such an approach. Please take a moment to encourage the "Filthy Three" - Bush, Putin and Howard - to live up to their responsibility to protect the Earth's climate. TAKE ACTION @ http://forests.org/action/climate/ (NOTE: Putin has since committed Russia to ratify the Kyoto treaty in return for a support by Europe to facilitate Russia's entry into the WTO.)
1. Help save the Penas-Blancas River in Costa Rica
2. The Movie That Claims To Be A Vision Of The Future
3. Antarctica's "Deep Impact" Threat
4. Global Warming Accelerating Out of Control?
5. Feeding Our Deepest Fears: How Big Agriculture and the US Government Bungled the Biotech Revolution
'Dead zones' threaten fisheries (May 27, 2004) http://www.csmonitor.com/2004/0527/p13s01-sten.html
In midsummer, the northern Gulf of Mexico, where the Mississippi River empties into it, may shimmer like any other swath of sea. But a few score feet below, bottom-dwelling fish and other creatures struggle just to breathe.This area - one of the world's biggest coastal "dead zones" - is rapidly being joined by a growing number of "hypoxic," or oxygen-depleted areas around the world. At least 146 such zones have been documented through 2000 - from the northern Adriatic Sea to the Gulf of Thailand to the Yellow Sea, according to a United Nations Environment Program (UNEP) report released in March. And their number has been doubling every decade since 1960, it adds. At risk: coastal fisheries near the most populous regions. A handful of efforts are under way that could mitigate the effects. But because of lag times involved, the problem is likely to get worse before it gets better."I'm convinced this is going to be the biggest environmental issue in the aquatic marine realm in the 21st century," says Robert Diaz, a marine biologist and professor at the Virginia Institute of Marine Science, who coauthored the study undergirding the UNEP report. "It won't take too much for these annual lower-oxygen events to expand throughout the year and actually eliminate fisheries."Dead zones often grow where populations grow. But the real driver is the spread of nitrogen, many observers say, caused by runoff of nitrogen-based fertilizers, sewage outflows, and nitrogen deposits from burning fossil fuels. Some waters remain oxygen-depleted year-around. In other waters, the problem appears periodically... CLIP
Fast Arctic thaw is a sign of global warming, says report (May 25, 2004)
OSLO Global warming is hitting the Arctic more than twice as fast as the rest of the planet in what may be a portent of wider, catastrophic changes, the chairman of an eight-nation study said Monday. Inuit hunters are falling more frequently through the thinning ice, and habitats for plants and animals are also disrupted. The icy Hudson Bay in Canada could be uninhabitable for polar bears within just 20 years. The melting is also destabilizing buildings on permafrost and threatening an oil pipeline laid across Alaska. Benefits for human commerce might accrue from the opening up of a now largely icebound short-cut sea route from the Pacific to the Atlantic. Russia might also win easier access to oil and gas as the icecap shrinks and permafrost retreats.However, the broader consequences are disturbing. "There is dramatic climate change happening in the Arctic right now ... about 2-3 times the pace of the whole globe," said Robert Corell, chairman of the Arctic Climate Impact Assessment (ACIA), an 1,800-page report to be handed to ministers in Iceland in November. "If you want to know what the rest of the planet is going to see in next generation, watch out for the Arctic in the next 5-10 years," he said. CLIP
EarthTalk: What happens to drugs when they leave our systems? (May 25, 2004)
Huntsville, Alabama - Every time you swallow a pill, some of that medicine follows a circuitous path through your body, down the toilet, through the sewage treatment plant (where if is often resistant to traditional treatments) and into the nearest river or lake, where it is eventually tapped again for the public drinking water supply. According to Christian Daughton, chief of environmental chemistry at the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency's (EPA) National Environmental Research Laboratory in Las Vegas, new technologies now allow scientists to detect in water extremely low levels of prescription and over-the-counter drugs as well as compounds found in personal care products like shampoo and sun screen. In Kansas City alone, more than 40 percent of stream samples analyzed recently by the U.S. Geological Survey had detectable amounts of over-the-counter-drugs like ibuprofen and acetaminophen, antibiotics, and prescription medications for high blood pressure. While the effects on human health of drug residues in water are not yet a serious concern, new studies show that fish and other aquatic species may be affected, said Daughton. Antibiotics make some species more resistant to pathogens, steroids can cause endocrine disruption that interferes with reproductive processes, and antidepressants make fish tranquil and more likely to succumb to predation. Considering the large variety of pharmaceuticals on the market today, our water may have a witch's brew of very small amounts of many different kinds of drugs. CLIP
Climate change will have catastrophic effect on key rivers: study (May 19)
PARIS (AFP) - Climate change will have a disastrous effect on the flow of rivers which provide water for most of Earth's cities, it was reported. Rising levels of carbon dioxide pollution, caused by the unbridled burning of oil, coal and gas, will warm the troposphere, the lowest layer of the world's atmosphere, in addition to the land and seas, New Scientist says. Warmer air temperatures will affect water vapour, cloud cover, solar radiation and ozone, which in turn will have an impact on evaporation and rainfall. In a computer model that factors in these changes, Princeton University researchers found that precipitation over the next three centuries will increase, boosting the discharge of fresh water around the world by nearly 15 percent. But the regions that will be benefit are those that are already abundant in water or are sparsely populated, such as the tropics, the far north of Canada and northern Russia. By contrast, there will be lower flows in many mid-latitude rivers which run through heavily populated regions. CLIP
The Bush Administration and the Dismantling of Public Safeguards
The Center for American Progress and OMB Watch have released a comprehensive report prepared on behalf of the Citizens for Sensible Safeguards coalition (of which Public Citizen is a member) that details the Bush administration's record of dismantling protections for public health, food safety, auto safety, and the environment. To view the report and accompanying brochure, as well as a list of members of the coalition, visit http://www.sensiblesafeguards.org . As documented by the report, crucial safeguards have been swept aside or watered down; enforcement efforts have been curtailed; and emerging problems are being ignored. The Administration has been able to accomplish this by placing regulatory agencies under the control of industry insiders, dismissing independent scientists from government Advisory Boards, suppressing information, distorting scientific findings that document a need for action, and using cost/benefit analysis to prioritize industry interests over the public interest. CLIP
Bush Pledges to Leave No Wild Forests Behind (May 5, 2004)
President Bush continues to lead as if there is no tomorrow, and if he is not stopped, there may not be. Despite pledges to uphold protections for roadless forests, his administration continues its stealthy dismantling of protections for America's last large wild forest landscapes. The Heritage Forests Campaign has issued a report which details the effects upon regional forests if federal protections were to be reversed at http://www.ourforests.org/localreports/index.html . And the comment period has commenced regarding the Bush administration's proposal to drill for natural gas in the Rocky Mountain Front one of the most important wilderness areas in the continental United States. Comments regarding this ill-conceived project can be emailed to email@example.com during the government's scoping process which ends on June 1st. These are dangerous times imperial war, inequity and injustice, combined with failing ecosystems make for a potent mix. It is up to progressive dark greens to enunciate a vision, and organize the movement, that will allow all humanity to emerge from the darkness. CLIP
Amazonia Deforestation to Escalate Due to Infrastructure Plans (May 21, 2004)
OVERVIEW & COMMENTARY by Glen Barry, Ph.D., Forests.org = The future of the Amazon rainforest is critically threatened by expanded infrastructure development that dramatically increases physical access to the Amazonian frontier. Rainforest loss and diminishment in the Amazon impacts the well-being and ecological sustainability of local peoples, Brazilians and all citizens of the World. Below is an update from Science magazine regarding the threats posed by new roads and other infrastructure development plans in the heart of the Amazon. Forests.org has been instrumental in bringing these scientific findings to a wider audience, and advocating for cancellation of the ill-conceived development plans. In 2002 and 2003, the rate of deforestation in the Brazilian Amazon climbed to nearly 2.4 million hectares per year, driven by land speculation along the routes of new roads, cattle ranching, and soybean farming. This equals 11 football fields a minute. While the Brazilian government has stepped up satellite monitoring and involved additional ministries to address deforestation, they have steadfastly refused to cancel or significantly revise the large-scale infrastructure development plans predicted to eliminate the Amazon's large, intact and unfragmented rainforest expanses. CLIP
GREEN ALL THAT YOU CAN GREEN
Army Reverses Course on Environmental Cutbacks - It's enough to raise the cynic's eyebrow: After the press uncovered and publicized an email memo ordering U.S. Army garrison commanders around the world to cut back on environmental programs at their bases to save money, the Army announced last week that -- whaddya know? -- it had found the money to sustain the programs after all. "All those things we said in the [memo] concerning environment are off the table," said the Army's Phil Sakowitz. Army spokesfolks denied that bad press influenced their decision. In an unrelated attempt to demonstrate its green credentials, the Army last week conducted a show-and-tell at Elmendorf Air Force Base in Alaska, showcasing the energy-efficient vehicles it has in production, including hybrid tankers, electric transports, and fuel-cell-powered all-terrain vehicles.
In about-face, Army scraps plans for environmental cutbacks (27 May 2004)
Army shows off new alternative-energy options (May 28)
CLEANER: Saving on gas bill crucial since we're burning 750,000 gallons a day in Iraq.
From: "Rick Johnson" firstname.lastname@example.org>
Subject: Help save the Penas-Blancas River in Costa Rica
Date: 30 May 2004
Hi Jean~ As always, thank you for your tireless efforts to energize the growing global communications network. We are working to oppose a hydroelectric project in Costa Rica and need the help of the international community to stop the continued rape of Mother Earth. If this project is built as planned it will mean two beautiful rivers will be greatly diminished, if not completely destroyed, and a diverse ecosystem of flora and fauna will be devastated. The company planning to do the project has not even finished their environmental impact study and has no permits to begin work, but have already begun extensive earthwrecking, even plowing a 100 meter gouge into our neighbor's private property. The regulatory agencies in Costa Rica seem to be turning their back to the many illegal actions of this company, which suggests some palms are being greased, surprise, surprise. The electricity that would be generated by this project will not go to serve the energy needs of Costa Rica, but will be sold to a power grid that is running from Panama through central America and Mexico, eventually to wind up powering air conditioners in Los Angeles and the western U.S. (See Plan Puebla for more info on this corporate crime against humanity.) There is still a chance to stop this project but we need people to sign the petition and send it on to their own networks. Go here to sign the petition: http://riopenasblancas.tripod.com
Thank you for your help. Pura Vida!!!
The Pocosol Community
IN A SUBSEQUENT EMAIL RICK ADDED THIS:
Hi Jean~ It's good to hear from you. Thank you so much for helping to get the word out about this project. Even though opposing this project represents just a drop in the bucket in the overall tide of pillaging and plundering that is going on across our lovely planet, it's mainly about raising awareness of what is happening (as you well know). As awareness grows, as the light dawns on the many areas of darkness that have remained hidden for so long, we become able to make adjustments in the Big Picture. Our collective desire for change and balance, combined with positive action, helps to move us toward the kind of shared, cooperative, fair, joyful existence that so many of us are pouring our hearts and souls into creating. Keep it flowing, my friend. We will not be denied. Much Love, Rick
P.S. What do you think about having an international ERN gathering in Costa Rica at some point? We've got a beautiful place in the mountains right next to the Children's Eternal Rainforest. Let me know your ideas about this.
SOUNDS LIKE A GREAT IDEA TO ME! I'D LOVE TO GO BACK TO COSTA RICA NEXT YEAR. BUT IS THERE ANY SUPPORT FOR THIS SUGGESTION AMONG THE PEOPLE ON THIS ERN LIST?... TO FIND OUT ABOUT THE FIRST INTERNATIONAL ERN FOUNDING MEETING CHECK THIS OUT...
The Results from the Earth Rainbow Network Gathering of the Peacemakers
The first international meeting of the Earth Rainbow Network (ERN) took place at La Casa de Maria, in Santa Barbara, California, from December 12 to 14, 1997. Almost a year after forming this group, 20 participants from the Earth Rainbow Network met in person for the first time, some coming from as far away as Quebec, Miami, Washington D.C. and the States of Washington and Pennsylvania. They came together to find a way to manifest the vision expressed by the Earth Proclamation, which calls for the worldwide manifestation of Peace on Earth and the expression of compassion, generosity and unconditional love in all fields of human activities. Their main goal: "Co-creating a common vision of our millennial actions and projects as well as a strategy to implement this vision." CLIP
The Movie That Claims To Be A Vision Of The Future
By Steve Connor
The Independent - UK
The storyline begins with a chunk of ice the size of Scotland falling into the Antarctic sea. It continues, at breathtaking speed, with hailstones as big as grapefruit battering Tokyo, hurricanes pounding Hawaii, snowstorms in Delhi and tornadoes whipping through Los Angeles. New York and London are plunged into a new ice age.
Welcome to the latest Hollywood blockbuster, The Day After Tomorrow, which depicts climate change as a dramatic series of disasters sweeping across the world.
The makers insist the film, starring Dennis Quaid and Jake Gyllenhaal, has its basis in scientific fact, but climate researchers have questioned the way it represents the speed and manner of climate change.
Critics say the film is seriously misleading and could cause the public to be become inured to the threat posed by climate change when they see it being trivialised by the same Hollywood director who made Independence Day.
But the science adviser behind the movie has hit back at its critics, arguing that The Day After Tomorrow, due for worldwide release on 28 May, will do more to raise the public awareness of the greatest environmental issue of our times than any number of research papers and documentaries.
Michael Molitor, a former climate change consultant, said he had already attracted more media interest over his connection with the film than at any time in 20 years of working on the science and politics of global warming. "The amount of commentary by climate scientists on this film has been unbelievable and I find it almost comical," Dr Molitor told The Independent. "This film could actually do more in helping us move us in the right direction than all the scientific work and all the [US congressional] testimonies put together."
Set in the not-too-distant future, The Day After Tomorrow is based on the idea that global warming could trigger a sudden and dramatic change in the planet's climate system.
Roland Emmerich, the film's director, has chosen a sudden collapse of the Gulf Stream and the huge body of heatit carries from the Caribbean to the north-east coast of America and Western Europe.
Oceanographers know that the Gulf Stream relies on a second, deep-water current running in the opposite direction along the seabed creating a "conveyor belt" driven by the sinking of cold, salty water in the north-eastern Atlantic, a phenomenon called thermohaline circulation. But this engine for the Gulf Stream could in theory be interrupted by the melting of the Greenland ice sheet as it pumps huge volumes of freshwater into the Atlantic, diluting the salinity and hence density of the surface water.
"A change in the thermohaline circulation in the North Atlantic is one of several abrupt climate change scenarios that we have some familiarity with," said Dr Molitor. "There's some disagreement about the probability but the fact that that link has been made is quite accepted. On that level the film is accurate. Where the film departs from our knowledge is where the changes in the story occur on a timescale that's probably faster than we expect."
When climatologists talk of sudden changes they usually mean a period of decades or even centuries, but this is far too slow to sustain the pace of a Hollywood film, he said.
"No one has ever made any public claims that this film is completely accurate. This is entertainment," said Dr Molitor. "The trade-off is between a significantly more accurate film that would depict a more accurate story that is only seen by a million people, or a film with a more exaggerated storyline that is seen by 500 million people.
Other scientists are not convinced. Bogi Hansen, an oceanographer at the Faeroese Fisheries Laboratories, said that exaggerating the effects of global warming could lead to a public backlash.
"I don't think it's justifiable because you lose credibility and people tend to react in the opposite direction when they find something is not true. They then say 'there's no problem'," said Dr Hansen, who has yet to see the film.
Other scientists, including Sir David King, the government's chief scientific adviser, and senior figures in the Met Office have been invited to a private screening next week in London.
In America, reaction within the scientific community was initially muted. The New York Times revealed that climatologists at Nasa, the US National Aeronautics and Space Administration, had received an official instruction not to comment on the film for fear of upsetting the White House, which is famously sceptical of climate change.
Roland Emmerich, who will be interviewed on Sky television as part of its "End of the World Week" on 17 May, insisted the fundamental basis of the plot of his film was scientifically sound and that it served an essential dramatic purpose. "At the core of any 'disaster movie' there always has to be something factual, something real for the audience to grab onto," Mr Emmerich said.
"What we already know about global warming and climate change has provided us with a great fact base for the movie," he said.
To emphasise his personal commitment to the environmental cause, Mr Emmerich has paid $200,000 (£125,000) out of his own pocket to Future Forests, an organisation that promises to make the film "carbon neutral" by offsetting the energy used during filming by planting hundreds of trees.
Originally from http://news.independent.co.uk/world/environment/story.jsp?story=519236
Interplanetary Day After Tomorrow? (May 14 - with dramatic Pictures from the movie)
The entire solar system - not just our one small planet -- is currently undergoing profound, never-before-seen physical changes. This paper will address and scientifically document a wide variety of significant examples, drawing from a host of published mainstream sources. CLIP
Hollywood's chilling disaster movie puts spotlight on global warming (May 25)
LOS ANGELES (AFP), 2004Hollywood's lust for destruction and disaster turns to global warming for inspiration for the first time in "The Day After Tomorrow," which sees New York flooded, New Delhi pounded by massive snowstorms and London and Paris frozen over. The plot seems a little too chilling for some experts. But they are still happy to see a public spotlight put on the problem with the 125 million dollar movie, directed by Roland Emmerich of "Independence Day" fame, which hits screens on Friday. "Whether its premise is valid or not, or possible or not, the very fact it's about climate change could help to spur debate and dialogue," said Gretchen Cook-Anderson a spokeswoman for the US National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA). CLIP
Environmentalists protesting company's stance on global warming (May 25)
Dallas-(AP) -- Greenpeace used the wall of a Dallas symphony hall today for a predawn picture show.The environmentalist group projected 40-foot images on the Meyerson Symphony Center of storms, floods and other calamities it says will be the price of global warming. The downtown symphony hall will be the site of tomorrow's annual meeting of Exxon Mobil shareholders. Irving-based Exxon Mobil is under fire from Greenpeace, which contends the world's largest publicly traded company is unwilling to curb global warming.A spokeswoman for the London-based group says the protest follows the theme of the motion picture, "The Day After Tomorrow," which is to open Friday.
Undo Global Warming: Don't Wait Until The Day After Tomorrow (May 25, 2004)
Heard the buzz about "The Day After Tomorrow?" It's the new summer blockbuster movie depicting the disastrous impacts of global climate change. The good news is that the movie, opening Memorial Day weekend, is over-the-top science fiction. The bad news is that global warming is a scientific fact, and its impacts are happening now.To separate fiction and fact, visit our new "The Day After Tomorrow" online action center at http://actionnetwork.org/ct/5daYwHs1Ya6E/. There you can watch a Public Service Announcement, sign the Emissions Petition, get activism downloads, and more. While the movie's global warming impacts are wildly exaggerated, its buzz may help motivate America's political leaders to wake up to global warming and support the McCain-Lieberman Climate Stewardship Act, the critical bill Congress is expected to vote on this summer to Undo Global Warming. Turn Moviegoers into Petition Signers: Let moviegoers know they can take action to Undo Global Warming by signing the Emissions Petition supporting the Climate Stewardship Act. Hand out Undo Global Warming flyers and petitions with a group of friends at your local theater showing "The Day After Tomorrow." Visit the movie action center to download and print out petitions and flyers. Over 270,000 people have signed the Emissions Petition. And with "The Day After Tomorrow," we are spreading the message that global warming isn't just something happening in movie theatres. It's happening all around us, and will keep happening until we reduce greenhouse gas pollution. Visit http://actionnetwork.org/ct/5daYwHs1Ya6E/ and have fun at the movies.
TANTALIZINGLY CHILLING POSSIBILITY - SPECULATIVE BUT REASONABLY SOUND HYPOTHESIS
Antarctica's "Deep Impact" Threat
by Andy Caffrey
In the Spring issue of the Earth Island Journal we reported that British scientists feared the "critically unstable" Larsen B ice shelf "could break apart in as little as two years, triggering unpredictable weather events around the world."
On April 17, US government scientists reported that a 75-square-mile chunk of the Larsen ice shelf had broken loose and blamed the break-up on global warming. "This may be the beginning of the end for the Larsen ice shelf," said US National Snow and Ice Data Center research associate Ted Scambos.
On April 22, a report in Nature confirmed that the years 1990, 1995 and 1997 included the warmest days in the Northern Hemisphere in the last 500 years.
Meanwhile the mile-thick sheet of ice covering 85 percent of Greenland is vanishing at the rate of 2.5 centimeters a year and the Bering Glacier, the world's largest temperate glacier, has been retreating at a rate of 1 kilometer per year since 1990. Over the past 30 years, Western Arctic temperatures have risen 1 degree C.
Antarctica is covered by 90 percent of the world's ice. About 13.5 percent of that lies over West Antarctica, which is separated from the east by the Transantarctic Mountains. The Antarctic Peninsula extends from West Antarctica toward Tierra del Fuego. It is here that the greatest recorded warming on the planet has occurred in the last half century. In the last few decades, this region has warmed by 4.5 degrees F.
Every winter, Antarctica's four-foot thick sea ice expands to cover more open water. An area twice the size of the continental US becomes white with winter ice. This pushes the region's winter temperatures lower, as ice reflects more of the sun's energy back into space than do dark seas.
The ice on Eastern Antarctica is estimated to be between 11 and 17 million years old. In the west, it's mostly less than 600,000 years old. While the eastern ice sits in a bowl of mountains, most of West Antarctica's ice is anchored hundreds or thousands of feet below sea level: It is anchored on a mixture of glacier-pulverized rock and water which has the consistency of toothpaste.
In 1992, scientists discovered active volcanoes hidden under the ice of West Antarctica. According to their research (which was not published until 1993), one active volcano is four miles across and rests inside a 14-mile-wide caldera. Above these volcanoes, giant ice streams flow toward the ocean hundreds of times faster than the surrounding ice. The volume and width of these streams are several times that of the Amazon. If these streams were unleashed, they could collapse the surrounding ice sheet, possibly leading to its complete obliteration.
In the early 1960s, scientists began to ask what would happen if the West Antarctic ice sheet were to melt. They estimated that there would be a global 20- foot sea-level rise in an amazingly short period of time - 20 years or so. (After all, we are talking about nearly 10 percent of the world's ice.
Antarctica has a few giant ice shelves and several smaller ones that gird most of the continent (an ice sheet becomes an ice shelf when it expands into the ocean). The Larsen ice shelf runs up the east side of the peninsula while two other large ice shelves cover two enormous bays, the Ross and Ronne-Filchner. More than half of Antarctica's ice drainages pour into these two West Antarctic bays.
The bottom line: If Ronne or Ross begin to disintegrate, as Larsen is doing right now, then the plug for all of these ice streams will be removed (ice shelves surround 95 percent of Antarctica, retarding the outward motion of the ice streams), and the ice which sits above the continent (as opposed to that anchored below sea level) will move into the ocean, raising sea level.
No one knows how the bulk of West Antarctica's ice shelves are anchored. Are they anchored underneath by the islands they overrun, or are they anchored laterally to the Transantarctic Mountains? If the latter, a sea level increase from other global warming factors could lift the West Antarctica ice sheet enough to snap the "moorings" to the Transantarctic Mountains. One half of the world's population lives within areas that would be flooded by a 20-foot sea-level rise.
The August 1995 Scientific American reported that scientists in the Bahamas had discovered that the last Ice Age began 120,000 years ago with something called the "Madhouse Century." At that time, sea level was the same as it is now, CO2 levels were similar and global climate was just a little colder. Something happened to trigger a catastrophic 20-foot sea-level increase - immediately followed by a 50- foot decrease! - all in just 100 years. Then the Ice Age was off and running for 100,000 years.
If sea levels only 120,000 years ago were about the same as they are now, then the global ratio of ice-to-water was probably similar to what it is today. Which means that 12 percent of the world's ice suddenly melted, or broke up and melted. If the ice distribution was similar to today (90 percent over Antarctica; 10 percent over the rest of the planet), there is one persuasive and chilling explanation for the advent of a Madhouse Century: West Antarctica broke up.
If West Antarctica's ice is primarily anchored laterally, this could point to a possible trigger of most ice ages. CO2 appears to increase naturally during the 10,000 year interglacials. This could cause the oceans to expand until the mooring of West Antarctica breaks, triggering a Madhouse Century.
Because the continental ice flows would be thousands of feet thick, they would not melt away in the summer and would continue to reflect approximately 4 percent of the solar energy that hits the planet. This 4 percent reduction of solar heat would be enough to trigger a new ice age.
During the last ice age, sea levels fell more than 350 feet from current levels over a period of tens of thousands of years. This is largely because ice age cooling caused evaporated ocean water to freeze into continental glacier ice.
In the August 1995 Scientific American, Christina Stock reported how "for a geologic nanosecond - a century, in other words - some 120,000 years ago, the earth underwent climatic havoc." New findings show that sea level records, imprinted in limestone of the Bahama Islands, rose 20 feet above that of today and then plunged to at least 30 feet below modern levels. These erratic 100 years came at the close of the last interglacial era, a time when the climate was somewhat similar to ours.
"Maybe there is a threshold for warming that, once exceeded, starts to throw climate into a series of barrel rolls," speculates Paul J. Hearty, a geologist in Nassau. "If we continue to pump carbon dioxide into the atmosphere, are we going to warm the earth and trigger erratic sea level events like those that happened 120,000 years ago?"
Hearty calls this bizarre transition from an interglacial greenhouse to an ice age an example of the kind of "pulses of catastrophic change that dramatically reshape landscapes."
Hearty and his colleague A. Conrad Neumann of the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill postulate that sea level was rising slowly as a result of normal interglacial greenhouse warming when something pushed the polar ice field beyond a critical point and ice surged into the ocean - an idea proposed in 1980 by J. T. Hollin of the University of Colorado at Boulder. When the seas receded, presumably due to rapid ice formation at the poles, sand from lagoons in the Bahamas blew over forests and entombed now-fossilized palm trees in dunes. Hearty and Neumann reason that the water must have withdrawn suddenly, followed by raging storms.
Researchers agree that sea level rise has quickened during the past century, along with atmospheric warming, and that coastal erosion and flooding are a reality. Ancient and modern data suggest that half of the planet's population - those people living in coastal areas - may be the first to feel the impacts of the next Madhouse Century.
Andy Caffrey is the director of Climate Action NOW!, PO Box 324, Redway, CA 95560, (707) 923-2114.
Forwarded by "Mark Graffis" email@example.com>
Global Warming Accelerating Out of Control?
March 28, 2004 - by the lndependent/UK
by Geoffrey Lean
Levels of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere have jumped abruptly, raising fears that global warming may be accelerating out of control.
Measurements by US government scientists show that concentrations of the gas, the main cause of the climate exchange, rose by a record amount over the past 12 months. It is the third successive year in which they have increased sharply, marking an unprecedented triennial surge.
Scientists are at a loss to explain why the rapid rise has taken place, but fear that it could show the first signs that global warming is feeding on itself, with rising temperatures causing increases in carbon dioxide, which then go on to drive the thermometer even higher. That would be a deeply alarming development, suggesting that this self-reinforcing heating could spiral upwards beyond the reach of any attempts to combat it.
The development comes as official figures show that Britain's emissions of the gas soared by three per cent last year, twice as fast as the year before. The increase - caused by rising energy use and by burning less gas and more coal in power stations - jeopardizes the Government's target of reducing emissions by 19 per cent by 2010.
It also coincides with a new bid to break the log jam over the Kyoto treaty headed by Stephen Byers, the former transport secretary, who remains close to Tony Blair.
Mr Byers is co-chairing with US Republican Senator Olympia Snowe a new taskforce, run by the Institute of Public Policy Research and US and Australian think tanks, which is charged with devising proposals that could resolve the stalemate caused by President Bush's hostility to the treaty. The carbon dioxide measurements have been taken from the 11,400ft summit of Hawaii's Mauna Loa, whose enormous dome makes it the most substantial mountain on earth, by scientists working for the US government's National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.
They have been taking the readings from the peak - effectively breathalyzing the planet - for the past 46 years. It is an ideal site for the exercise, 2,000 miles from the nearest land and protected by freak climatic conditions from pollution from Hawaii, more than two miles below.
The latest measurements, taken a week ago, showed that carbon dioxide had reached about 379 parts per million (ppm), up from about 376ppm the year before, from 373ppm in 2002 and about 371ppm in 2001. These represent three of the four biggest increases on record (the other was in 1998), creating an unprecedented sequence. They add up to a 64 per cent rise over the average rate of growth over the past decade, of 1.8ppm a year.
The US scientists have yet to analyze the figures and stress that they could be just a remarkable blip. Professor Ralph Keeling - whose father Charles Keeling first set up the measurements from Mauna Loa - said:"We are moving into a warmer world".
I LEARNED A LOT ABOUT GMO AND THE DANGEROUS TAKEOVER OF AGRICULTURE IN THE U.S. BY GIANT PREDATORY - AND VERY GRRREEDY - CORPORATIONS
Date: 31 May 2004
From: "ECOTERRA Intl." firstname.lastname@example.org>
Subject: Feeding Our Deepest Fears: How Big Agriculture and the US Government Bungled the Biotech Revolution
JUST SAY NO TO GEOs and also to their CEOs !
* Feeding Our Deepest Fears - How Big Agriculture and the US Government Bungled the Biotech Revolution
* Mesmerised by science? Horrors like Glofish are not just experimental anymore.
* Our Leaders' Seduction by Science is Dangerous Tony Blair Mesmerised by Science Public Health Warning:
* Mrs Muffy Koch - key pro-GM lobbyists In bed with all the rich and bald coverups, incl. UNEP
FEEDING OUR DEEPEST FEARS
There are those who have always claimed that PLAYBOY has some great journalism, and that its not just about centrefolds. Judging the following text, the claim may be true! best glenn email@example.com>
Feeding Our Deepest Fears
How Big Agriculture and the US Government Bungled the Biotech Revolution and Made a Deal With The Devil
DAN BAUM / Playboy 1 June 04
I. THE SHOT HEARD ROUND THE PLANET
John Sanford, a 34-year-old Cornell University professor, had two things on his mind in the fall of 1983. The first was how to transfer DNA from one living cell to another - an urgent mission for his lab, since the U.S.
Supreme Court had recently decided that life-forms could be patented, owned and marketed for profit. The second was how to protect his home in a leafy neighborhood of Ithaca, New York from squirrels, specifically the aggressive gray varmints that had been vandalizing his bird feeders and tearing up his flower beds. The usually gentle pollen expert finally broke down and bought a BB gun to hold his ground against the garden invaders.
Sanford was a pro at conventional greenhouse crossbreeding, but his first attempts at genetic engineering were failures. He tried zapping cells with tiny laser beams to cut holes in their walls through which genes could be moved, but he quickly realized that the process was too destructive. The autumn slipped away, and nothing worked at the lab. At home, however, he and his BB gun made satisfying progress against the squirrels.
Shortly before Christmas, Sanford ran into fellow Cornell professor Edward Wolf, a lab whiz who was also confounded by the genetic transformation problem. Both were wondering whether a piece of DNA could itself be accelerated fast enough to puncture a cell wall if it rode piggyback on something heavier, like a one-micron particle of, say, tungsten.
"How fast do you think the particle would have to travel?" Wolf asked.
"What if there really is a health problem with the beans?" asks farmer Doug Doughty, top, at his 165-year-old family spread in Missouri. Bottom: Greenpeace protesters destroy biotech crops in the U.K. in 1999.
Sanford, fresh from his latest squirrel siege, had an idea: How about 300 to 400 feet a second, the muzzle velocity of the average BB gun? At Fay's drugstore in Ithaca, Wolf bought an inexpensive Crosman air pistol and told Sanford and Nelson Allen, his lab's head machinist, to meet him in the clean room, a lab at the National Submicron Facility on campus.
Dressed in a white gown, booties and a hat and surrounded by millions of dollars' worth of state-of-the-art equipment, Wolf poured tungsten powder down holes they'd drilled in the barrel of the air pistol, while Sanford set an ordinary yellow onion on the lab table. They had chosen it because onions have large cells. Wolf pumped up the pistol, held the muzzle six inches from the onion and pulled the trigger.
An unholy mess of onion pulp sprayed the three men. Eyes streaming with tears, they reloaded, took a step back and shot again at the sundered bulb. They tried various muzzle pressures, moving forward and back until the onion was in pieces.
Wolf, bending over a microscope, could clearly see tungsten shrapnel lodged in living cells. In the history of the genetic engineering of foods, this was Genesis. The shot heard round the world was the pffft of a dime-store pellet gun ruining an onion. Sanford spent the next two years soaking tungsten particles in DNA, loading them into Allen's various high-tech modifications of the gun and shooting new traits into cells. By the winter of 1986 his invention could reliably make plants adopt the genes of alien species.
Nearly 20 years later genetically modified foods have profitably slipped into the American food chain. Three quarters of the soybeans and 30 percent of the corn harvested in the U.S. sprout from genetically modified seeds. They form the basis of three quarters of all processed foods, so whether you eat chips or tofu, you are probably at this moment digesting new man-made species. It won't be long before just-patented, fast-growing supersalmon and other animal miracles of bioengineering join them on the dinner plate.
Frankenfoods, as critics call them - though the preferred industry term is genetically modified organisms, or GMOs-are patented, lab-made organic inventions entirely owned by large corporations. Millions of consumers, small farmers and environmentalists find the practice of modifying the nuclear structure of food crops by inserting genes from other species to be imprudent, morally offensive or downright terrifying. Some worry about giving corporations even more control over the food chain. For others, the issue is genetic pollution of wild species or the emergence of fearsome, perhaps deadly man-made mutations. All agree that things are happening too fast, without controls or determinations of the long-term effects of what is sure to be the most profound, most lasting change in the way we live.
While the average American seems relatively unconcerned, citizens in Mendocino County, California voted in March to impose the nation's first ban on raising genetically modified crops, and activists in Vermont and Hawaii are considering ways to put similar measures on ballots in those states.
Environmental groups in Europe, including Greenpeace, have tried everything from lobbying to physically destroying the sites where GMOs are developed.
The European Union and a handful of other nations have practically banned genetically engineered foods altogether. In the U.S. even the National Academy of Sciences has weighed in with a stern warning: Slow down! Meanwhile the Frankenfood invasion continues in force.
"The risks of moving genes from one organism to another are too great. It can't be undone," says Doreen Stabinsky, Ph.D., a geneticist for Greenpeace, which leads the political charge against genetically modified crops worldwide. "What are they doing to our food? Who gets to decide?"
II. WEIRD SCENES IN THE GRAIN BELT
Doug Doughty says he'll meet me in his cornfield on Missouri Highway U, and when he shows up he's driving a Case International combine the size of a two-story house. I climb up and squeeze into the jump seat. The floor is covered by two dusty, loose-skinned retrievers, who sit shoulder to shoulder against the cab's glass front wall, tongues adangle, eyes scanning the rows for rabbits.
"Go ahead," says the 46-year-old Doughty, bobbing his chin toward the dogs, and I rest my shoes on their backs. They barely notice. Doughty throws a sequence of levers, and the fiendish steel maw beneath our feet comes alive, clanking, roaring and sucking in eight rows of corn at once. The dogs shiver with excitement.
Along with his father, Doughty farms the same rolling prairie land that his family was plowing in 1838, plus about double that much they've bought or leased over the years. With so much paid-for land, Doughty knows he has it about as easy as any grain farmer on the plains. So in the respites between hoppers, hail and interest-rate swings, he has the leisure to lift his eyes to
The future. What he sees in place of family farms is an artless landscape of corporation-owned outdoor grain factories seeded by scientists, patrolled by lawyers and tended by "human resources" instead of farmers. It has happened all around him. Chicken production has fallen to the likes of Tyson and Pilgrim's Pride, pork to Smithfield and ConAgra. Grain, our nation's largest cash crop, is still grown on family farms - but maybe not for long.
A rabbit darts out of the combine's path, and the cab explodes with feverish barking. Doughty grinds the machine to a halt, throwing a sparkling blizzard of chaff into the air. He quiets his dogs and sums up his worry: "I'm afraid pretty soon I'm not going to be working for myself," he says. "When you get right down to it, we've placed our fates in Monsanto's hands."
More on Monsanto
Monsanto, a $4.9-billion-a-year company based in St. Louis, raced to the front of the biotech pack in 1996, offering farmers the first genetically engineered soybean seeds. Here was the gee-whiz technology the Midwest had hoped would finally tip crushing agricultural odds in the farmers' favor. Doughty joined the stampede to plant Monsanto's amazing product.
The new beans were supposed to increase yields and lower costs, but a decade into the experiment Doughty is getting the willies. Life is a little easier in the field - he can now spray one specially made herbicide (produced by Monsanto, naturally) instead of several - but the seeds complicate the business of farming in frightening ways. Intellectual-property attorneys now monitor Doughty's work. Seed choices are narrowing. And a specter is rising of whole continents rejecting American food.
AgWeb.com - an online news service for farmers - carries stories of a gathering storm of protests, government bans and attacks. When Doughty reads them he grieves to his agricultural marrow. "The idea that people are mad at their food...," he says with a shudder.
If the revolution stalls, it will be a pity, because genetic engineering has the potential to deliver miracle crops: rice loaded with the vitamins that millions of Asians lack, grains that save precious topsoil because they don't require plowing, African staples such as cassava and yams that can resist drought and grow in the continent's increasingly salty soil. But we may never get there. John Sanford, a deeply religious man who originally wanted to use the profits from his gene gun to give third world countries free access to the benefits of bioengineered food, found the costs too high for his nonprofit institute. Instead, aided by hardball U.S. trade representatives, greedy biotech companies have ignored important truths about the culture of food and have created a panicky backlash.
Forget the miracle crops for a moment. Not one of those tasty, vitamin-packed, drought-resistant, plow-obviating seeds exists outside the laboratory; they're all in the murky, bombast-laden realm of technological potential. For the moment genetically engineered crops fall almost entirely into two far less charismatic categories: those that resist certain bugs and those that let farmers use a single weed killer instead of. many.
That's because Monsanto isn't a seed company; its expertise is in making chemicals. Some 40 percent of its sales derives from a single product, Roundup, a wondrous weed killer introduced in 1974. Roundup was the first herbicide to kill almost every plant it touched, and it worked in a way that made it practically harmless to people and animals. (It interferes with an enzyme that plants have but that we and our livestock do not.) Farmers no longer had to buy and apply a complex cocktail of expensive and dangerous chemicals on their land. In its early days Roundup was used primarily to eliminate vegetation in areas where farmers wanted to plant a new crop, an easy alternative to mowing and hoeing. But Roundup had one serious drawback - it was too effective for its own good. Farmers had to spray carefully; an unexpected change in wind direction could wipe out acres of apple trees, pumpkins or corn.
But today's action was more serious. With Melchett in the lead, 28 activists were descending on fields belonging to a chemical company called Aventis, planning to mow down the offending crop, bag it and dump it at the Aventis office. Twenty minutes into the operation, though, the crop's farmer showed up with his two brothers and a tractor of their own. "They went completely crazy," Melchett says. "One of them tried to ram the press photographers with the tractor. Another went after our banner with a knife."
Norfolk County police eventually arrested the trespassers, but a funny thing happened at the trial. The activists argued that they were justified in destroying the crop to prevent it from doing greater harm to surrounding areas - and the defense succeeded beyond their dreams. Not only did the jurors quickly acquit all 28, they waited outside the courtroom afterward to hug and thank the Greenpeace raiders. "They said, `You needn't have worried. There was no way we were going to convict you,"' Melchett recalls. "They'd supported us from the start."
During the past five years fear and hatred of genetic engineering has driven green outlaws to attack and destroy research sites from California to Maine and from Belgium to Scotland. In early September 2003, for example, an unknown number of people found their way to a hidden Monsanto-modified maize crop isolated in a forest in southern France and systematically destroyed it. A week later a mob descended on a Monsanto greenhouse in Bangalore, India and smashed it to shards. But the outlaw attacks are nothing compared with the peaceful victories. Last fall an estimated 35,000 people marched through the streets of Auckland to protest the New Zealand government's plan to lift a ban against genetically modified food, which it did in October. Last summer authorities in one of Italy's regional governments ordered almost 1,000 acres of corn destroyed because of suspicion that they contained genetically engineered plants, in violation of Italy's zero-tolerance policy.
Perhaps the most scathing wholesale rejection of genetically modified food has come from the European Union, whose countries import about $6.5 billion a year in American crops. Five years ago it placed a moratorium on approving new GMOs for import, practically slamming the door on some of America's biggest commodities. For the past two years it has been promising to lift the ban "soon"; rules for labeling and tracing genetically modified crops took effect in April. But the Bush administration, impatient and doubting, sued last year in the World Trade Organization to try to force the E.U.'s hand. The problem is, even if Bush wins, the decision won't make European consumers put the hated stuff in their mouths.
Given the attitude of the average European - 86 percent of Britons, for example, report being unhappy with the idea of eating genetically engineered food - labeling will amount to extending the ban. In October 2003 Monsanto threw in the towel, shutting down its European cereal business and giving up the attempt to market genetically modified wheat on the Continent.
Giovanni Anania, an economist at the University of Calabria in Italy and an expert in how cultural preferences translate into agricultural megabucks, marvels at the hubris of a company and a nation that "thought they could push this entire thing through without a serious confrontation with consumers. It's really amazing how Monsanto blew the communication."
IV. CULTURE AND GREED
Associate professor Tom Clemente runs the eerily named Plant Transformation Facility at the University of Nebraska at Lincoln. "When it comes to judging food safety, culture is bullshit," he says, as we walk into his lab. Clemente, an Italian-Lebanese American from eastern Pennsylvania, is a voluble Democrat amid a sea of taciturn Republicans. But when it comes to GMOs, he's a hard-core corporate booster. "A Frenchman will eat a piece of unpasteurized cheese swarming with every cootie in the book and then say genetically modified corn is unsafe to eat," he says. "The Japanese will eat a puffer fish, which if it isn't prepared exactly right will kill you at the table, but they won't touch a Roundup Ready soybean. It doesn't make sense."
Located in the middle of the corn-and-soy belt, Clemente's lab is one of the premier research sites for genetically engineering America's commodity crops. On a counter in one immaculate room sits a PDS-1000/He Biolistic Particle
Delivery System - the modern version of the Cornell pellet gun. A stainless steel box about 18 inches high, the PDS-1000 uses compressed helium to shoot DNA-drenched tungsten powder into plants. "The soybean has roughly 30,000 genes, so when you add a gene it then has 30,001," Clemente says, exasperated. He runs a hand through his messy dark hair. "You're telling me that makes it toxic? Come on."
Clemente believes genetically engineered food is safer than conventionally crossbred crops. "When you hybridize you're moving enormous numbers of genes around to acquire one trait," he says. "You have no idea what other genes are coming over with the one you want. How is that better than moving a single gene and knowing exactly what it does?"
[Mindfully.org note: But they quite honestly do not know what is happening. Shooting a pellet into a cell at high velocity could be compared to swatting a fly with a bunker-buster bomb. There is absolutely nothing about it that is accurate in any way. Out of the many thousands of attempts is what it takes to get just one to illicit an action that is desirable. And even then, the placement on the DNA is not at all predictable. Hybridizing is a far more accurate and safe method of breeding plants.]
Clemente is chafed not only by European fear but by American ignorance. A Rutgers University study last fall found that fewer than a quarter of those polled believed they had ever eaten genetically engineered food - which is remarkable given the statistic that three quarters of all processed food contains components from genetically modified plants. However, Clemente says, "that doesn't mean you're eating the new gene. The DNA is only in the protein, not in the oil or, in the case of sugar, in the carbohydrates. You take a gallon of Roundup Ready soybean oil and a gallon of conventional, or a gallon of Bt corn syrup and a gallon of conventional, and you cannot tell the difference. The best lab wouldn't be able to tell which is which."
Nonetheless American consumers can hear the clamor abroad and are growing increasingly suspicious of biotech. Only about half the people Rutgers surveyed approved of genetically engineered food, and more than 90 percent wanted genetically modified ingredients labeled as such, a measurable increase in trepidation from earlier polls.
The folks who make our processed food aren't fools. For the moment there's nothing in biotechnology for them except heartache. Consider the high-tech spud. The same year that Monsanto introduced Roundup Ready soybeans, it released the NewLeaf potato, which was engineered to resist the Colorado potato beetle and therefore reduce the use of expensive and toxic chemical sprays. Farmers loved it; acreage grew fivefold in four years. But the engineered potato didn't do a thing for the people who eat potatoes - it didn't make them cheaper, less fattening, tastier or more nutritious - and the public said a collective phooey. Or, as a spokesman for the massive potato distributor J.R. Simplot put it, they "expressed concern," which was all the big potato processors had to hear. In 1999 McCain Foods, which makes a third of the country's french fries, announced that "in response to consumer demand" it would no longer buy NewLeaf or any other genetically engineered food. Four months later McDonald's and Frito-Lay - titans of the potato-buying world - finished the job of strangling NewLeaf in its cradle by asking their suppliers not to buy genetically engineered potatoes.
"They could have done anything to those seeds," says a financial analyst who follows the agriculture industry. "They could have crossed a potato with corn and gotten a vegetable with both eyes and ears. They haven't even scratched the surface of making crops more nutritious or better tasting."
Scientists can already engineer soybeans whose inexpensive oil contains high levels of the beneficial monounsaturates that olive oil has - and that health-conscious consumers pay a premium to get. Once products like that start hitting the market, says Clemente, the irrational fears, as he calls them, will disappear. "The trick is to improve people's nutrition without their having to change the way they eat," he says. "People are going to love that."
"The science and technology have potential, but we really screwed it up in the beginning," says Richard Rominger, who was Bill Clinton's deputy secretary of agriculture at the time the first biotech seeds were introduced in 1996. Rominger recalls a meeting with Monsanto CEO Robert Shapiro: "He said to us, 'We're doing God's work. The world will think we're saviors.' They didn't think about consumer reaction. People thought only Monsanto was benefiting."
V. NOBODY'S SICK, BUT THE WEEDS ARE BACK
As the bumper sticker says, shit happens. In 2000 a load of genetically modified StarLink corn that was approved only for animal feed ended up in Taco Bell taco shells, among other human food, touching off a massive recall and the destruction of hundreds of tons of corn. StarLink contained a protein - with the liltingly bucolic name Cry9C - that the EPA suspected might cause serious allergic reactions in humans. That nobody got sick was cold comfort to the critics of genetically modified food. What about next time? The law of unintended consequences, after all, has never been repealed. The national "grain stream" is so huge and moves so fast that biotech seeds cannot help mixing with conventional ones. Field trials have shown that genetically modified DNA can contaminate organic crops and even wild plants when pollen from biotech species is carried on the breeze.
And as though rising from a perfect nightmare for Monsanto and farmers, the few weeds that are resistant to Roundup are starting to take over in corn and soybean fields. Evidence is emerging that other weeds are developing tolerance to the herbicide too. About one weed a year shows resistance. "Everybody predicted this," says Bill Johnson, a weed scientist at Purdue University. "But the way big business works, it's quarter-to-quarter profits."
VI. BITTER HARVEST: FARMER VS. FARMER
Dale Whiteside, 73 years old and wizened by a lifetime of farming, is lying under a dump truck in the rain when I arrive at his impressive spread south of Chillicothe, Missouri. He's known as an unreconstructed advocate of the biotech revolution, and by God, he announces, emerging to shake hands, he is the real thing. "How in the world are we going to feed the population of the world if we stifle technology?" he asks as he leads me inside for coffee. A fourth-generation Missouri farmer, Whiteside was a Republican legislator in Jefferson City for nine years and remains an enthusiastic member of the Farm Bureau, the voice of Big Ag. As we sit in his elegant farmhouse, he offers that biotech opponents "can't get out of their shell. They're living in the past." As for conventional soybean farming, "there's no use to ride a dead horse any longer. It's not going to work."
But as Whiteside talks, a few doubts surface. He praises Europeans for having "an allegiance to their farmers that we don't have," which makes it possible for traditional family farms to survive. Though he defends biotech science, he's not a wholehearted booster of the business. "If you could trust the large corporations, there'd be nothing wrong with it," he says, letting his voice trail off, as though he is afraid to consider a world in which corporations aren't trustworthy. A shadow falls across his face. "The large corporations are gradually taking over agriculture," he says quietly.
Whiteside knows this from personal experience. He used to be a hog farmer. Now the hogs in the buildings behind his house are owned by Smithfield, a giant pork processor based in North Carolina. The company delivers the piglets, pays Whiteside to raise them and collects them for slaughter - which makes Whiteside a kind of hog custodian. Life may be easier, but he misses his old independence. "Eventually it will happen with grain and beans," he says. "It's not like owning it yourself. You're locked in. At the end of the contract period they could say, `We're not going to need you anymore."'
Mindfully.org note: No story about the pros and cons of biotech crops for farmers is complete without mention of Percy Schmeiser. And nobody knows about Monsanto's cheating, lying, bullying, extortion, and downright greed better than Percy Schmeiser, a Canadian canola farmer.
Monsanto trespassed on the Schmeiser's land to take samples of his crop and then sued him for stealing their patented seed or obtaining it illegally. Monsanto's claims changed as needed. Monsanto won the federal suit against Percy, as well as his appeal. And just this week, on Friday 21 May, 2004, The Canadian Supreme Court ruled against Percy. Essentially what the Canadian court did was to uphold the right of the corporation to pollute a farmer's field with genetically engineered genes and then turn around and prosecute that farmer for patent rights infringement. Read more about Percy Schmeiser at http://www.mindfully.org/GE/GE4/Heartbreak-In-The-Heartland21jul02.htm
Now that species are intellectual property, the companies that invent them are as tough on piracy as the recording industry was on Napster. Monsanto has been particularly aggressive. Its rules require farmers to abandon the ancient practice of saving seed from one year's crop to plant the next. Instead they must buy new seed every year. Monsanto's huge legal department keeps an eye on every farmer, comparing seed purchases with the amount of Roundup a farmer buys, trying to ferret out discrepancies. They sometimes send inspectors to microsearch fields for unpaid-for proprietary DNA. Monsanto maintains a hotline, 800-ROUNDUP, to encourage farmers to rat one another out. The company has sued dozens of farmers suspected of saving seed.
Troy Roush, whose family has been farming in Indiana since 1832, started planting Roundup Ready soybeans in 1997 and loved the ease of weed control. In 2001 Monsanto wrongly sued him for saving seed-he suspects a neighbor falsely accused him-and by the time the company dropped the lawsuit, the fight had cost the Roush family $390,000 in lawyers' fees. The experience taught Roush how a seemingly useful technology can destroy the culture of farming.
"It lets you farm more acreage, so you have to farm more acreage - and that puts farmers at each other's throats," Roush says. "We used to help each other out, but now we're competitors for any land that becomes available. One of our neighbors got us to be 400 grand lighter, so the next time a farm comes up for sale, we can't compete."
Roush doubts his teenage daughters will grow up to farm. "I've watched the guys farming 200 acres get forced out. I've watched the guys farming 500 acres get forced out. And now the guys with thousands of acres are getting forced out," Roush says. "Genetically modified crops are destroying the social fabric of our rural communities."
Monsanto's early successes with Roundup and Roundup Ready crops have narrowed farmers' options. Roundup has dominated agriculture for so long that basic research in other types of herbicides has withered. "As Roundup loses its effectiveness, there's nothing in the pipeline to replace it," says Purdue's Johnson. The same can be said for basic crop research; it's now almost entirely geared toward genetically modified seed. "Until recently bakers could reasonably have assumed that they would have the option...of buying biotech wheat or nonbiotech wheat," reads a position statement of the American Bakers Association. "Recent events have indicated that assumption may not be correct.... Bakers may not have the option of buying nonbiotech wheat."
Roush probably couldn't go back to conventional crops even if he could find good conventional seed; once Monsanto's DNA is in your field it's almost impossible to get it out. And with the corporate DNA police abroad in the land, farmers can't afford to take a chance. So it looks as though there's no turning back from a future in which Monsanto and a handful of other companies own the genetic building blocks of the world's food supply. "I'd put the genie back in the bottle in a heartbeat," says Roush.
Across the county from the Whiteside farm in Chillicothe, Doug Doughty parks the combine and leads me to the airy modern farmhouse he shares with his wife, his stepson and a regiment of dogs. Few farm families live on farm income alone; Doughty's wife, Barb, is working at the dining room table, transcribing medical records. So Doughty takes me down to his basement study, where he has hung a framed copy of Sports Illustrated from 1968, open to a two-page photo of the St. Louis Cardinals. Roger Maris, Curt Flood, Lou Brock and the rest smile smugly at the camera. And why not? "They were the highest-paid team in baseball that year," says Doughty. "Look here," he points to the caption. "The whole team made $607,000 that year-together! - and at the time that was considered big money." He sighs. "That's before money and the corporations ruined everything." Then he laughs; he realizes he's been stuck on that theme all day.
Doughty's off-the-farm job is umpiring high school and college baseball games, calling balls and strikes with Show-Me State equanimity. I've asked him to tally the pros and cons of genetically modified crops, and he pauses, trying to be fair. "They are about a wash financially," he says finally, "but they've created all these other problems - Europe, the concentration of power in Monsanto's hands, not being able to save seed." He gazes at the television for a few minutes, at a Viagra ad with the sound off. "In the back of your mind you're always thinking, What if there really is a health problem with the beans? We have to hope the FDA gets it right, but they've gotten it wrong before. I don't know. I think we've made a bargain with the devil."
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Approval of Bt11 Maize Endangers Humans and Livestock
Dr. Mae-Wan Ho explains why the European Commissions decision to approve Syngentas GM maize is illegal and criminal based on existing scientific evidence. The European Commission ended 6 years of de facto moratorium on GM authorization by approving Syngentas Bt11 sweet corn for food use in Europe on 19 May 2004 (see Box 1). That, despite the fact that voting by experts last December in the EUs Standing Committee on Food Chain and Animal Health was an even 6-6 country split with three abstentions. CLIP
FIRST, DO NO FARM - "Against the Grain" gives farming a big thumbs-down
A New Book Argues That Agriculture Is a Disaster - Enviros are familiar with critiques of large-scale, chemical-dependent agriculture, but Richard Manning has bigger fish to fry: In his new book "Against the Grain," Manning argues that agriculture itself -- the whole shebang -- is a disaster, a "dangerous and consuming beast of a social system." Hunter-gatherers not only had more fun, he says, but they were demonstrably healthier. Agriculture led to a small, rich upper class and a large, unhealthy laborer class, not to mention endless cycles of famine.
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