Haitian Farmers Refuse Monsanto Hybrid Seeds: Yes! Magazine

Posted today on Yes! Magazine, BEVERLY BELL reports:

(…) In an open letter sent May 14, Jean-Baptiste, both Executive Director of MPP and the spokesperson for the National Peasant Movement of the Congress of Papay (MPNKP), called the entry of Monsanto seeds into Haiti “a very strong attack on small agriculture, on farmers, on biodiversity, on Creole seeds…and on what is left of our environment in Haiti.”

(…) “A new earthquake” is what peasant farmer leader Chavannes Jean-Baptiste of the Peasant Movement of Papay (MPP) called the news that American agribusiness giant Monsanto will be donating 60,000 sacks (475 tons) of hybrid corn and vegetable seeds to Haiti—some of them treated with highly toxic pesticides. The MPP has committed to burning Monsanto’s seeds, and has called for a march to protest the corporation’s presence in Haiti on June 4, World Environment Day.

Haitian social movements have been vocal in their opposition to imports of seeds and food from agribusinesses, which they say undermine local production and local seed stocks. They have expressed special concern about the import of genetically modified organisms (GMOs).

For now, without a law regulating the use of GMOs in Haiti, the Ministry of Agriculture rejected any offer of genetically modified Roundup Ready seeds. In an email exchange, a Monsanto representative assured the Ministry of Agriculture that the seeds being donated are not genetically modified.

(…) The concern of Haitian social movements is not just about chemical dangers and the possibility of future GMO imports. They claim that the future of Haiti depends on local production with local seeds for local consumption—otherwise known as food sovereignty. Monsanto’s arrival in Haiti, they say, is a further threat to such a future.

“People in the U.S. need to help us produce, not give us food and seeds. They’re ruining our chance to support ourselves,” said farmer Jonas Deronzil of a peasant cooperative in the rural region of Verrettes.

(…) The hybrid corn seeds Monsanto has donated to Haiti are treated with the fungicide Maxim XO, and the calypso tomato seeds are treated with thiram. [3] Thiram belongs to a highly toxic class of chemicals called ethylene bisdithiocarbamates (EBDCs). Results of tests of EBDCs on mice and rats caused concern to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), which then ordered a special review. The EPA determined that EBDC-treated plants are so dangerous to agricultural workers that they must wear special protective clothing when handling them. The EPA also ruled that pesticides containing thiram must contain a special warning label. The EPA also barred marketing of the chemicals for many home garden products, based on the assumption that most gardeners do not have adequately protective clothing. [4] Monsanto’s passing mention of thiram to Ministry of Agriculture officials in an email contained no explanation of the dangers, nor any offer of special clothing or training for those who will be farming with the toxic seeds. (…)

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NASA Captures First Photos of Massive ‘Arm’ of Oil Slick (Hundreds of Miles Long): Treehugger

Read the article here.

Photos taken by NASA’s Moderate Resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer (MODIS) on the Terra satellite satellite on May 17th and released today show that the BP oil spill has a massive ‘arm’ that is spreading out in the Southeast direction.

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Louisiana Wetlands Blanketed With BP Crude Oil, Video: Huffington Post

Read the post and see two videos here.

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Live Feed of Gulf of Mexico Oil Spill: Video

Provided by BP, and seen here:

A live video feed that shows the oil gushing from the damaged well in the Gulf of Mexico is now available online. Congressman Ed Markey of Massachusetts pushed BP to make the video public.

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U.N. Reports Eco-Systems at ‘Tipping Point’: CNN

CNN reported today:

The world’s eco-systems are at risk of “rapid degradation and collapse” according to a new United Nations report.

The third Global Biodiversity Outlook (GBO-3) published by the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD) warns that unless “swift, radical and creative action” is taken “massive further loss is increasingly likely.”

Ahmed Djoghlaf, executive secretary of the CBD said in a statement: “The news is not good. We continue to lose biodiversity at a rate never before seen in history.”

The U.N. warns several eco-systems including the Amazon rainforest, freshwater lakes and rivers and coral reefs are approaching a “tipping point” which, if reached, may see them never recover.

The report says that no government has completely met biodiversity targets that were first set out in 2002 — the year of the first GBO report.

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Indian State of Kerala Starts 10-Year Conversion to All-Organic Farming: Treehugger

The southern Indian state of Kerala has officially announced a new farming policy which aims to covert all agriculture in the state to organic methods over the next ten years. In the first phase 30,000 hectares converted, The Hindu Business Line reports, and then proceeds in a “phased and compact manner.”

The policy advocates adopting a compact area group approach in organic farming by encouraging formation of organic farmers groups, clubs, self-help groups and cooperatives for the purpose of cultivation, input production, certification and marketing. There is need for ensuring organic farming approach in all the watershed development areas and extend support, including capacity building and financial assistance, for soil and water conservation measures through ongoing programmes.

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Bigfooting the Planet: Global Footprint Network

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Building an Agricultural Community: The Model Self-Sufficient Village in Haiti: Wyclef Jean

Written by WYCLEF JEAN and published by Huffington Post here.

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Will Allen Profiled by Van Jones in Time 100

At one time, the term urban farm sounded like an oxymoron. No longer.

A new movement is sprouting up in America’s low-income neighborhoods. Some urban residents, sick of fast food and the scarcity of grocery stores, have decided to grow good food for themselves.

One of the movement’s (literally) towering icons is Will Allen, 62, of Milwaukee’s Growing Power Inc. His main 2-acre Community Food Center is no larger than a small supermarket. But it houses 20,000 plants and vegetables, thousands of fish, plus chickens, goats, ducks, rabbits and bees.

People come from around the world to marvel — and to learn. Says Allen: “Everybody, regardless of their economic means, should have access to the same healthy, safe, affordable food that is grown naturally.”

The movement’s aim is not just healthier people but a healthier planet. Food grown in cities is trucked shorter distances. Translation: more greenhouses in the ‘hood equals less greenhouse gas in the air.

Just as important, farm projects grow communities and nourish hope. The best ones will produce more leaders like Allen, with his credo “Grow. Bloom. Thrive.”

Jones, founder of Green for All, is a senior fellow at the Center for American Progress.

See Time 100 article here.

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Trenton Gets It Right: NYTimes Editorial

See the full editorial here.

A coalition of community groups in Trenton is issuing photo identification cards to illegal immigrants. The cards are not government IDs, though they are accepted by many check-cashing companies, libraries, stores, and medical clinics, and at public parks and pools.

Giving unofficial IDs to undocumented immigrants defies the prevailing winds in other states and localities, where the public mood, and sometimes local statute, defines all immigrants without papers as criminals. These places make no distinction between dangerous law-breakers and peaceable workers and families, between those who harm a community and those who build it up.

They see the difference in Trenton — and in Princeton, New Haven, San Francisco and other cities. The Trenton police and the Mercer County sheriff and prosecutor’s office have endorsed the cards. Trenton’s coalition — a project of the Latin American Legal Defense and Education Fund — includes churches, civic associations, the Fire Department and public schools.

All these groups, most significantly the law enforcement agencies, know that having ID is vital to fighting crime, treating the sick and injured, and making business and society function. They know that a community of anonymous members is no community at all.

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Día de Acción Mundial Contra SB 1070

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Todo lo Contrario de la Sistema Alimentario Industrial Que Hay

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Global Exchange and Cuba Food Sovereignty Tour: July 17-31, 2010

This tour is open to anyone seeking to learn about the Cuban food system and promote solidarity with Cuban agriculturalists.

See more details here.

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Wildlife at Risk from Gulf of Mexico Spill : NYTimes Graphic

The oil spill from a deepwater well is threatening various birds and marine mammals along the Louisiana coast. The National Audubon Society has identified some of the most vulnerable birds. About 210,000 feet of protective boom has been laid.

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NYTimes Graphics: Spill’s Effects Underwater

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“Dark Was the Night”

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“By the Time I Get to Arizona”

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Ya Basta: Stop SB 1070

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Power from Sewage: NYTimes

ROSE GEORGE, author of “The Big Necessity: The Unmentionable World of Human Waste and Why It Matters,” explains the untapped power of sewage.

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An Ode to Farming: Foreign Policy Slideshow, Photo 9 of 20

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