No. 82 - Serving Vancouver Island's Environmental Community - April 1999
SOWS THE SINISTER SEEDS OF CONFUSION
we plant for Summer, my boy - Seeds of enchantment and seedlings of joy ?"
- Helen Hay Whitney
If the agro-chemical
corporation Monsanto has its way, the world's farmers will be planting seeds
of confusion and seedlings of woe, not of enchantment and joy. The 10,000
year old tradition whereby farmers store their seed to grow next year's crops
will have vanished, and the seeds will be genetically manipulated to be sterile,
forcing the farmers to go back to Monsanto or next year's supply. You can
literally hear them laughing in the board room, as they contemplate the future
they are creating for the world.
manipulated (GM) revolution is growing at an exponential rate. In 1996, 4
million acres were planted with transgenic seeds. By 1998 that had risen to
70 million acres. In 1996, 1 million acres of genetically engineered 'Roundup
Ready' soybeans were planted in the USA. (The soybeans are genetically engineered
with alien genes to resist large doses of Monsanto's herbicide Roundup, enabling
farmers to spray the stuff all over the beans.) In 1999 there will be 70 million
acres of this one crop alone, representing half the US soybean crop.
to claim that genetic engineering is no different from the older tradition
of hybridizing - it's just the application of modern science, designed to
feed a hungry world. A growing number of scientists are saying it is different,
however - and are beginning to ring the alarm bells. At the York Nutritional
Laboratory, Europe's leading specialists on food sensitivity found that food
allergies relating to soya increased by 50% last year, and urged the British
government to ban all genetically engineered food. (Quoted in the Daily Mail,
March 12th 1999).
A 1998 Nature
study found that transgenic traits were 20 times more likely to flow to other
plants by cross-pollination, which could result in the evolution of weeds
that resist the herbicide (Harper's, April 1999). And earlier this year, Dr
Arpad Pusztai, a senior British scientist who has worked at the Rowett Research
Institute for 35 years, and has 270 scientific papers to his credit, reported
that the cauliflower mosaic virus, used as a medium to trigger the genes inserted
in GM potatoes, caused damage to the thymus, spleen, intestines and immune
systems of rats after only ten days of feeding.
Dr Pusztai was
so worried by his results that he declared on British television that he would
not eat any GM food, and that it was "very, very unfair to use our fellow
citizens as guinea pigs". The Rowett Institute, which has received funding
from Monsanto, responded by suspending him from his job.
are far more alarmed about all this than most Canadians appear to be. (Most
middle-of-the-road Canadians are far too comfortable and complacent to make
a fuss about anything, apart from trying to reduce their taxes. It must be
all those forests, fishes and fuel reserves that God gave Canadians to exploit.)
In 1997, the European Union closed the door on Canadian canola after producers
were unable to guarantee a supply that had not been genetically manipulated,
forcing the Canadian flax producers to slow the development of their only
transgenic variety, "Triffid'. (At least they've got a sense of humour.)
This is a huge
concern. In India, farmers have been so angry that they organized "Cremate
Monsanto" days, when crops are burnt. In England, Iceland Foods has banned
all GM foods from its shelves, and the most prestigious restaurants are pressing
for a 5-year ban on growing and selling GM food. In 1997, there were 10,500
patent applications for biotechnology traits.
Monsanto has to
work hard to make sure that its farmers don't save their own seed. Last fall,
they wrote to 30,000 farmers warning them that such an act was "seed
piracy", and detailing the hefty fines some farmers were having to pay
for breach of Monsanto's rules.
They also take
great care to control the US regulatory agencies. In 1992, when the US Food
and Drug Administration wrote its rules on GM foods, ruling that consumer
labeling and safety testing were unneeded, the policy was written by an FDA
deputy commission who had worked for Monsanto for 7 years, and now does so
This is just the
beginning of it all. Last year, Monsanto bought the company which invented
the 'Terminator' gene, which guarantees that seeds of their GM plants will
be sterile. Animal feed for cows, pigs and chickens containing GM crops is
about to go on the market inspite of evidence that GM genes can be passed
to the animal's guts, which humans will then eat; and the UK government is
funding research into GM grass, that cows and sheep will graze on. Where -
and when - will this all end ?
- Guy Dauncey
Published as a monthly
service, nourishing the vision of an Island blessed by the harmony of nature
and community, funded by your donations.
|Print & Post:
A very big thankyou
to Debra Barr, Tim Isaak, Wes Gietz, Janis Aitken, Noel Lax, C. Pedersen,
Marianne Raedler, Louise Pothier, Daphne Wheeler, Richard de Candole, Bill
Moffat, Donna Dublin, Stephen Housser, Rob Barry, Stephanie Slater, Tina Fraser,
Harriet Rueggeberg, Unlimited Possibilities, Ian Graeme, Gwen Howey, Roger
Colwill, CM Borris, Aaron Rain & Debbie Good.
* Donations can be
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for recent late deliveries, which were due to the bulk mailing system.
* Help wanted.
Environmentally ill Fairfield woman needs housework and errands done a few
hours per month by an unscented worker who neither uses fabric softener, nor
shares laundry facilities with users. Car unnecessary. 658-2027.
* Congratulations to
Anna Hall and the West Coast Anti-Whaling Society, for leading last year's
drive to stop the Makah tribal whaling, maintaining a continuous presence
at Neah Bay for 57 days, and for winning the Environmental Achievement Award
of the Year from Tourism Victoria. (250) 472-8493 www.anti-whaling.com
* The Harmony
Foundation is seeking applicants to join its program 'Building Sustainable
Societies : Training for Community Leadership' (May 27th - 30th). Scholarships
available. For details, call 380-3001.
* Want to build
a more sustainable community on your own street or apartment ? The Street
Volunteers are running free trainings and study groups. details Guy, 881-1304.
* Live in Fernwood,
looking for a cool way to travel ? The Victoria Car Share Co-operative is
seeking more Fernwood members. Also in James Bay, Fairfield and elsewhere.
* Green actors
wanted for Clean Air Day in June, to prepare a short theatre performance to
motivate people to "go green". Small honorarium possible. For auditions,
call Melanie, 592-5207. If you are a business or organization that reduces
local air pollution and/or greenhouse gases, call Melanie for an invitation.
* Wally Du Temple
has prime deposits - good liquidity, rich in nitrogen donkey and mule manure.
Get those vegetables ready to beat off the Y2K bugs ! 656-1767 firstname.lastname@example.org
* Religion and
the Environment Summer Institute, July 23 - 25th, at Dunsmuir Lodge. Science
alone cannot solve our current ecological problems. Do religious traditions
have wisdom to offer? David Suzuki, Sallie McFague and Harold Coward will
explore the contributions of science, the Judeo-Christian, Aboriginal, and
Eastern religious traditions in plenary and small group discussions. $360
before April 2, then $410 Janet King 721-8827
AS THE WORLD'S FIRST HYDROGEN ECONOMY ?
Iceland has announced
plans to try to turn itself into the world's first hydrogen economy, in partnership
with Shell and Daimler-Benz, eventually replacing the gasoline and diesel
in all its cars, buses and fishing fleet with non-polluting hydrogen. Iceland's
interest in hydrogen stems from its commitment to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.
The small country already relies on renewable energy sources for two thirds
of its total energy needs (hydro for electricity and geothermal energy for
heating), but has a high per capita level of emissions because of its huge
fishing fleet. Iceland might become a key hydrogen player, exporting the fuel
to Europe's first public hydrogen refueling station, which opened recently
in Hamburg, Germany, opening the way for hydrogen powered vehicles to refuel
easily. (MSNBC February 17th, 1999)
or PARADISE ?
Discussion on Blue/Green Spaces and Regional Growth in the Victoria Area
Guy Dauncey, Joanna Kafarowski, Alison Spriggs, Jeff Ward & Ray Zimmerman
14th, 7:30 - 10pm
Garry Oaks Room 1335 Thurlow Road
Sierra Club (Victoria Gp) 472-8646
Dr Barry Curran
2571 Penrhyn St
University / Gyro Park Area
out the new Victoria Green Pages !
ARE EATING THE PLANET
- IT'S OFFICIAL
Humans have destroyed
more than 30% of the natural world since 1970, with serious depletion of the
forest, freshwater and marine systems on which life depends, while consumption
pressure from increasing affluence has doubled in the past 25 years and continues
to accelerate, according to the ground-breaking Living Planet Report from
the World Wide Fund for Nature. "Time is running out for us to change
the way we live if we are to leave future generations a living planet. We
knew it was bad, but we did not realize how bad." One of the most serious
problems revealed for the first time is the depletion of accessible freshwater
resources, half of which are being used by humans, double the amount of 1960.
Freshwater eco-systems are declining at 6% a year, threatening to dry up many
wetlands and pushing their species to extinction. Carbon dioxide emissions
have doubled in the same period, far in excess of the natural world's ability
to absorb them, accelerating global warming. The global consumption of wood
and paper has increased by two-thirds, and most forests are managed unsustainably.
In the same period, marine fish consumption has more than doubled, and most
of the world's fish resources are either fully exploited or in decline. Norwegians,
Taiwanese, Americans and Singaporeans are singled out as the world's most
voracious consumers, responsible for depleting the Earth's resources faster
than other countries. (Norway catches 250 kg of fish per capita, over 10 times
the world average, mostly to feed salmon in fish farms.) While growing population
is part of the problem, increased consumption is the main problem. The average
North American or Japanese consumes 10 times as much of the world's resources
as the average Bangladeshi. "This quantifies for the first time a scary
decline in the health of the world's forest, freshwater and marine ecosystems.
It shows we have lost nearly a third of the Earth's natural wealth since 1970."
(Gro Harlem Brundtland, World Health Organization). "The index presents
a warning which we should all take most seriously because it charts an alarming
decline in the health of natural forest, freshwater and marine ecosystems
over the past 30 years. The conservation of natural ecosystems is not a luxury
which only the rich can afford, but is essential to ensure the maintenance
of the vital ecological functions of our planet upon which we all depend for
our survival." (Sir Ghillian Prance, director of the Royal Botanical
Gardens at Kew).
DOWN THE HEAT
change is by far the biggest problem our planet faces. All around the world,
temperatures are rising, glaciers are melting, and hurricanes, floods and
droughts are on the increase. It's not just a feeling that "something's
wrong with the weather" - something IS wrong, and we are to blame, through
our ever-increasing output of greenhouse gases and our destruction of the
world's forests. We have been warned for years that world sea levels will
rise by 1 meter over 100 years - but now there are far more dramatic warnings
coming from the prestigious US Climate Institute that the whole of the unstable
West Antarctic Ice Sheet (2,000 square kilometers of it, the size of Mexico),
which is already breaking up piece by piece, could collapse into the ocean
within the next 10 years, raising global sea levels by 6 metres. That's enough
to wipe out much of Bangladesh, Florida, coastal China and the Lower Mainland
of BC, removing much of the world's productive farmland. In a recent meeting
with Victoria climate activist Bruce Torrie, John Topping, President of the
Climate Institute, told Bruce that top US government scientists were preparing
to announce the possibility of such a break-up. The implications of such a
disaster are mind-numbing, turning the worst Y2K and earthquake predictions
into bed-time stories, so there is an obvious reluctance not to rush to judgement
unless it is clearly justified. EcoNews will carry more on this story next
to the climate change crisis are all around us, from the renewable energy
revolution to the need to make our cities so bicycle-friendly that 50% of
our trips are done by bike. Some aspects of the revolution, such as wind energy,
are taking off at a tremendous pace, but Canada is missing the boat entirely,
still in the thrall of the oil, coal and gas barons from BC, Alberta, Saskatchewan
and Hibernia. On April 8th, CBC's 'The Nature of Things' with David Suzuki
(8pm) is showing a new film on global solutions to climate change called 'Turning
Down the Heat : The New Energy Revolution', by Vancouver film-maker Jim Hamm,
on which I had the privilege to work as researcher, production assistant and
web page writer (www.davidsuzuki.org/energy). The film takes an exciting
look at solar and wind energy, hydrogen and hybrid vehicles and many other
solutions, and asks why Canada is so slow to come on board. So set your videos
to record it, if you're going to be out. This is the overriding issue which
we should all be focussed on.
Heritage Plant Nursery
at the Greenhouse,
1834 Haultain St
(between Richmond & Foul Bay)
Open Tuesday April
to Sunday June 6th, 10am - 5pm
vegetables & tomatoes, culinary & medicinal herbs, fragrant English
roses - sweet peas - flowering shrubs
Are you searching
for the right educational opportunity for your child, or concerned about the
lack of empowering environmental education in the schools ? A group of concerned
parents, community members and certified teachers are planning to start an
independent, multi-aged elementary school in Victoria this September. Their
focus is bioregional education, getting students outside the classroom and
involving them in learning opportunities in the natural communities in which
we live. "The (environmental) crisis cannot be solved with the same kind
of education that helped create the problems." - David Orr. Kara, 598-5322.
! THE TOBIN TAX
Over $1,000 billion
is traded every day on the world financial markets, 95% of which are by currency
speculators who can have a devastating effect on struggling economies. The
Tobin tax is named after the Nobel Prize winning economist, James Tobin, who
first proposed the tax as a means to make the world economy more stable, democratic
and equitable. The income from the tax could be used for genuine social and
economic development and environmental protection in less developed countries.
Thanks to a heroic effort by Results Canada, the House of Commons has just
voted by 164 - 83 to pass the Tobin Tax proposal brought forward by Lorne
Nystrom, an NDP MP, "that the government should enact a tax on financial
transactions in concert with the international community." Canada is
the first country in the world to pass such a motion - a private NDP member's
bill. The motion gives the government a strong mandate to go to the G8 Summit
and other international gatherings to promote a tax on international currency
speculation as a key component of a 'new international financial architecture'.
Congratulations to Results Canada.
NOISE, NO POISON GARDENING
We are dedicated
to re-establishing a quiet ambience in our neighbourhoods. Along with landscaping
we will tend your garden and lawn without the use of noisy machines. The cost
to you is the same. We also specialize in compost & organic soil.
OF THE MONTH :
In a matter of
days, perhaps weeks, planes may be flying over people's homes and gardens
in Brentwood Bay, Vic West, Esquimalt and the Western Communities down to
Sooke, releasing a substance called Foray 48B, containing Btk. They say Btk
is a harmless biological pesticide, but Btk is only 2% of Foray 48B. The rest
is a secret chemical agent listed as 'hazardous' on the materials data sheet.
If the spraying goes ahead, individuals who are sensitive will risk major
negative health reactions, most of our native butterflies and caterpillars
will be killed, and organic farmers in the spray areas will lose their organic
status. Last month's EcoNews spelt out Ten Good Reasons Not to Spray. Now
it's time to stop the spraying. Ground-based mass trapping could achieve the
same effect for 1/10th of the cost.
: Write to the Hon Dave Zirnhelt, Minister of Forests, Minister of Agriculture,
(Legislative Assembly, Victoria V8V 1X4, Fax 387-1040), Corky Evans, Minister
of Agriculture Fax 387-1522 and Premier Glen Clark, Fax 387-0087, expressing
your views. This is an assault on the community by unknown chemicals, for
very dubious reasons.
for May: April 27th
Green Diary has moved! Click HERE
to see whats happening!
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'After the Crash : The Emergence of the Rainbow Economy'
(Greenprint, London, 1988. 3rd edition 1997)
'Journey into the Future : 2000 - 2015'
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