Archive for December, 2010

The former United States ambassador to France suggested “moving to retaliation” against France and the European Union (EU) in late 2007 to fight a French ban on Monsanto’s genetically modified (GM) corn and changes in European policy toward biotech crops, according to a cable released by WikiLeaks on Sunday.

Former Ambassador Craig Stapleton was concerned about France’s decision to suspend cultivation of Monsanto’s MON-810 corn and warned that a new French environmental review standard could spread anti-biotech policy across the EU.

“Country team Paris recommends that we calibrate a target retaliation list that causes some pain across the EU since this is a collective responsibility, but that also focuses in part on the worst culprits,” Stapleton wrote to diplomatic colleagues.

President George W. Bush appointed Stapleton as ambassador to France in 2005, and in 2009, Stapleton left the office and became an owner of the St. Louis Cardinals baseball team. Bush and Stapleton co-owned the Texas Rangers during the 1990s.

Monsanto is based in St. Louis.

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So far, the world has always managed to meet the challenge of food productivity. In fact, today we have 25% oversupply measured in calories after losses. The challenge is to provide access to food for the poor. The strategy of ecological intensification using organic principles and practices is a new paradigm to feed the world while empowering the poor and mitigating climate change and biodiversity loss.

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Paul Nicholson, the EHNE’s Via Campesina representative, is a featured author in Food First’s upcoming book, Food Movements Unite! In a recent interview he shares his views on food sovereignty:

“Food sovereignty is a perspective for changing society and an alternative to the neoliberal policies, from a social and community perspective. This means that food sovereignty is much greater than food security. It’s the political right to control polices and the public goods and define what we eat from a social perspective, not just an individual one. And within the framework of neoliberal politics this is clearly not going to happen. The theory and practice of comparative advantage has resulted in the massive destruction of the rural world because it reduces everything to the criteria of competition without any basis for social or labor rights. At the same time, it generates environmental costs that are then socialized. We have to reveal that neoliberal policies are the causes of the poverty, exclusion, and misery that exist in the world. And although we know that neoliberal policies have failed in this day in age, they continue to drive models of production that are absolutely destructive. The response we can give to such policies is Food Sovereignty that brings together all movements: rural, urban, from the North and from the South. Food sovereignty as a right of the people is an integral demand for social movements from around the world.

We think that the new pathways and the new food and agriculture policies should be based on the kind of Food Sovereignty that is not just for farmers, but a collective right of the people. It is the right of citizens to determine food and agriculture policies, to decide what and how to produce and who produces. It is the right to public goods like water, land, and seeds. We need policies based on solidarity among citizens and between consumers and producers. We need to regulate markets because it is impossible to maintain agrarian policies based on market liberalization. We need socially sustainable, ecologically produced food that provides work for people everywhere.”

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While the U.N. climate talks in Cancún are reaching a critical stage, many delegates have begun looking toward the 2011 U.N. climate summit scheduled to take place in Durban, South Africa. Democracy Now!’s Mike Burke speaks with one of the leading South African climate change activists, Kumi Naidoo of Greenpeace International.

See the video.

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Imagine if trucks full of food stopped driving into your town or city every night. Or if the electricity grid went down for a while during the winter.

What would you eat?

Even those of us who grow lots of our own food might have to resort to factory-filled cans, victims of supermarket shelves emptied of fresh food in a manner of days.

But Glenn Beck-style pseudo-survivalism, or peak-oil-fueled fears aside, those who want to eat local just during the cold months also face challenges. In most places mid-winter, even committed locavores’ gardens are frostbitten and food co-ops are stocking foreign fruits and vegetables.

To keep produce fresh in the most low-carbon manner, people in the northeastern United States call on Chris Chaisson. His company, Vermont-based Whole Farm Services, offers farmers, gardeners, and communities an array of very old-school — now very hip — crop storage services. From root cellars to ice houses, these technologies may just become integral to a sustainable food future.

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Chris Chaisson in front of a house with solar panels


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The world’s family farmers and farm workers are ready to take action on climate change and they can do it quickly without new or expensive technologies.

The earth’s atmosphere is polluted with 390 ppm of CO2, well past the dangerous tipping point of 350 ppm.

If the world’s 12 billion acres of farms and rangelands were transitioned to organic, we could pull 50 ppm of that carbon down from the atmosphere and store it safely in the soil.

The Earth’s living soils hold three times as much carbon as the atmosphere. Before industrial agriculture and deforestation, these same soils stored twice as much carbon organic matter – six times the amount of CO2 in the atmosphere today.

Using organic farming and ranching to put CO2 back where it belongs in the soil could mitigate greenhouse gas emissions at a rate of 6 billion tons of carbon per year.

Here’s how it’s done.

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U.S. Fish & Wildlife Emails Disclose Numerous Environmental, Procedural Concerns; FDA may Approve Genetically Engineered Salmon as Soon as Nov. 23

Washington, DC – After submitting a Freedom of Information Act request, the consumer advocacy group Food & Water Watch received numerous recent internal documents and emails from the U.S. Department of Interior’s Fish & Wildlife Service (FWS) exposing startling concerns with AquaBounty salmon – a controversial genetically engineered (GE) fish the FDA may soon approve as the first GE food animal for human consumption.

The documents reveal that, as late as last month, the FDA had not adequately fulfilled a requirement under the Endangered Species Act to consult with both FWS and another federal agency, the National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS), to determine whether approval of AquaBounty’s salmon might impact wild, endangered Atlantic salmon.

“Nice work Greg,” Denise Hawkins, PhD, FWS Regional Geneticist wrote to a coworker in September. “Especially pointing out that there is no data to support the claims of low survival in the event of escape, which I agree with you all is a big concern.  I also agree…that using triploid fish [which AquaBounty claim have undergone a sterilization process] is not foolproof.  Maybe they [the FDA] should watch Jurassic Park.”

Despite AquaBounty’s claim to produce only sterile salmon, the company admitted that up to 5 percent of their GE salmon eggs could be fertile, prompting the FDA to label the company’s claims “potentially misleading”.


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