Category Archives: Environment

Why the EU GMO rule is an outrage

The European Parliament, European Commission and the European Council have failed their constituencies when it comes to allowing Monstanto to run wild on the continent.

Food safety spokesperson for Greens in the European Parliament, Bart Staes, cautioned that the deal still “leaves too many gaps” and “risks being a Trojan horse” unless countries wanting a ban are guaranteed legal certainty their bans can be upheld.

“While the deal strengthens the basis on which member states can ban GMOs after their authorization and allows them some flexibility to use environmental policy objectives as a justification, in addition to the criteria assessed by the European Food Safety Authority, it is not clear if this will provide true legal certainty,” Staes said in a media statement.

“The agreement would fail to ensure there are meaningful mandatory measures to prevent the contamination of non-GM crops, with the myriad of issues this raises for growers wanting to remain GM-free,” he also notes.

The EU had a chance to send frankenfood creators a crushing blow on the European continent. Instead they have opened the door to disaster.

Photo by Stephen D. Melkisethian

This company wants to poison El Salvador’s drinking water

So there’s this company called OceanaGold that seems to think that its entitled to $301 million dollars because they are not able to open a mine that would poison drinking water.

So here we have an increasingly common scenario under “investor-state dispute mechanisms” — environmental laws designed to safeguard human and animal health are challenged as barriers to corporate profit. Not simply to recover an investment that didn’t pan out, but supposed future profits that a company claims it would have earned. Should El Salvador prevail, it would still have lost because it will spend large sums of money to defend this case, money that could have been used for the welfare of its people.

This should make any country weary of entering into trade agreements or organizations like the WTO that can usurp state power to the detriment of its people. What’s sad is that while the people of a country remain weary of these trade deals, it is often their own government that sells them out—the U.S. included. It’s ridiculous that OceanaGold cares more about money than the lives of people. They must truly not value their lives.

Photo by ciel_photos

Why is the US forcing the EU to import tarsands oil?

I just find it ridiculous that the United States would seek to change policy in Europe on behalf of the fossil fuel industry. Next they’ll be trying to weaken the EU’s import laws to allow the export more of RJ Reynolds tobacco products or Monsatno’s franken-seeds onto the continent.

They want the EU to fully embrace the importation of tarsands oil:

“These documents show that the U.S. is simply not interested in an open, transparent [negotiation] process,” Bill Waren, a senior trade analyst with Friends of the Earth U.S., a watchdog group, told IPS. “Rather, U.S. representatives have been lobbying on the [E.U. regulatory proposal] in a way that reflects the interests of Chevron, ExxonMobil and others.”

There is already 570,000 gallons of tarsands oil headed to Europe. The United States’s corrupt trade policy is seeking to destroy not only this country but the entire world. The truly sad thing is that the efforts of the U.S. Trade Representative go against President Obama’s climate policy.

People Power: How W. VA got clean water to its residents

Quite remarkable but I would never underestimate the will of the people to act when the going gets rough. After Freedom Industries spilled a large amount of toxic chemicals into the state’s water supply, the word went out that people needed to refrain from using the water.

It was left to the people to fend for themselves.

The group WV Clean Water Hub began as a few friends buying bottled water and using a Facebook page to coordinate deliveries to their neighbors, with support from local environmental groups. Before long, online donations started coming in from across the country and dozens of volunteers showed up to lend their help. WV Clean Water Hub estimates that it delivered 17,000 gallons of water to hundreds of residents, many of whom live in remote areas that the traditional relief organizations neglect.

You can also find this type of spirit in Rebecca Solnit’s book A Paradise Built in Hell.

Photo by Mike Licht, NotionsCapital.com

What are plastics really doing to our body?

Not too long ago I remember the fervor that erupted over BPA in plastic bottles and etc. Parents were up in arms about the danger the chemical posed to their babies via the plastic bottles they used. Even the water bottle company Sigg got into hot water when it was learned that their bottles contained BPA liners, which they eventually discarded in newer production runs.

The sad news is now learning that even though the battle over BPA appears to have been won, we’re still in unsafe territory when it comes to plastics. The chemicals that still remain can be just as horrible as BPA or even worse.

Actually, when you read about our history with plastics one can’t help but feel discouraged.

The fight over the safety of plastics traces back to 1987, when Theo Colborn, a 60-year-old grandmother with a recent Ph.D. in zoology, was hired to investigate mysterious health problems in wildlife around the Great Lakes. Working for the Washington, DC-based Conservation Foundation (now part of the World Wildlife Fund), she began collecting research papers. Before long, her tiny office was stacked floor to ceiling with cardboard boxes of studies detailing a bewildering array of maladies—cancer, shrunken sexual organs, plummeting fertility, immune suppression, birds born with crossed beaks and missing eyes. Some species also suffered from a bizarre syndrome that caused seemingly healthy chicks to waste away and die.

To me Dr. Colborn was cut from the same cloth as Rachel Carson. They were both our modern cassandras, valiantly fighting for our well-being yet stalked by the hounds of hell in industry. The Mother Jones piece I’m quoting above is right to compare the plastics, chemical and tobacco industries when it comes to their diabolical ways of continuing to poison the public-at-large for decades. I need only look at industry alone to know what Hobbes says is true– man is a wolf to man.

People who would knowingly promote products that would cause harm to their fellow man surely have no soul. Or maybe it’s more like Hannah Arendt’s “banality of evil.” Either way what is to be done, if anything? Is the money simply too much to counter? Or can we somehow harness the Internet to fight back in the 21st century?

The one thing that we have today that we did not have in past fights is the Internet. When the tobacco industry was telling everyone that smoking was safe, the tools of mass communication weren’t there to push back. Now things are different and education is important. We have to continue to get the word out there. This is why the journalism that outlets like Mother Jones does is so important. Even with the number of news organizations we’ve seen fold, the need for the truth has never been more vital to our republic.