Biodiversidade Biotecnologias Biossegurança

Este Blog foi originalmente criado para os eventos da COP-8 e MOP-3 realizados em março de 2005/Curitiba. Devido à importância de tais temas para a humanidade, a Revista Consciê continuará repassando informações relacionadas, incluindo comentários e matérias pertinentes. Boa leitura! Editores responsáveis: Clarissa Taguchi, Paula Batista e Gustavo Barreto. Da revista Consciência.Net -

sábado, março 24, 2007

Biofuels Boom Spurring Deforestation

by Stephen Leahy for IPS.

Nearly 40,000 hectares of forest vanish every day, driven by the world's growing hunger for timber, pulp and paper, and ironically, new biofuels and carbon credits designed to protect the environment.

'DEFORESTATION DIESEL' Workers load palm oil fruits onto a lorry at a plantation in Kuala Lumpur March 13, 2007. Vast tracts of forest in Indonesia, Malaysia, Thailand and many other countries have been cleared to grow oil palms. REUTERS/Zainal Abd Halim (MALAYSIA)The irony here is that the growing eagerness to slow climate change by using biofuels and planting millions of trees for carbon credits has resulted in new major causes of deforestation, say activists. And that is making climate change worse because deforestation puts far more greenhouse gases into the atmosphere than the entire world's fleet of cars, trucks, planes, trains and ships combined.

"Biofuels are rapidly becoming the main cause of deforestation in countries like Indonesia, Malaysia and Brazil," said Simone Lovera, managing coordinator of the Global Forest Coalition, an environmental NGO based in Asunción, Paraguay.

"We call it 'deforestation diesel'," Lovera told IPS.

Oil from African palm trees is considered to be one of the best and cheapest sources of biodiesel and energy companies are investing billions into acquiring or developing oil-palm plantations in developing countries. Vast tracts of forest in Indonesia, Malaysia, Thailand and many other countries have been cleared to grow oil palms.

Oil palm has become the world's number one fruit crop, well ahead of bananas.

Biodiesel offers many environmental benefits over diesel from petroleum, including reductions in air pollutants, but the enormous global thirst means millions more hectares could be converted into monocultures of oil palm.

Getting accurate numbers on how much forest is being lost is very difficult.

The FAO's State of the World's Forests 2007 released last week reports that globally, net forest loss is 20,000 hectares per day -- equivalent to an area twice the size of Paris. However, that number includes plantation forests, which masks the actual extent of tropical deforestation, about 40,000 hectares (ha) per day, says Matti Palo, a forest economics expert who is affiliated with the Tropical Agricultural Research and Higher Education Center (CATIE) in Costa Rica.

"The half a million ha per year deforestation of Mexico is covered by the increase of forests in the U.S., for example," Palo told IPS.

National governments provide all the statistics, and countries like Canada do not produce anything reliable, he said. Canada has claimed no net change in its forests for 15 years despite being the largest producer of pulp and paper.

"Canada has a moral responsibility to tell the rest of the world what kind of changes have taken place there," he said.

Plantation forests are nothing like natural or native forests. More akin to a field of maize, plantation forests are hostile environments to nearly every animal, bird and even insects. Such forests have been shown to have a negative impact on the water cycle because non-native, fast-growing trees use high volumes of water. Pesticides are also commonly used to suppress competing growth from other plants and to prevent disease outbreaks, also impacting water quality.

Plantation forests also offer very few employment opportunities, resulting in a net loss of jobs.

"Plantation forests are a tremendous disaster for biodiversity and local people," Lovera said. Even if farmland or savanna are only used for oil palm or other plantations, it often forces the local people off the land and into nearby forests, including national parks, which they clear to grow crops, pasture animals and collect firewood. That has been the pattern with pulp and timber plantation forests in much of the world, says Lovera.

Ethanol is other major biofuel, which is made from maize, sugar cane or other crops. As prices for biofuels climb, more land is cleared to grow the crops. U.S. farmers are switching from soy to maize to meet the ethanol demand. That is having a knock on effect of pushing up soy prices, which is driving the conversion of the Amazon rainforest into soy, she says.

Meanwhile rich countries are starting to plant trees to offset their emissions of carbon dioxide, called carbon sequestration. Most of this planting is taking place in the South in the form of plantations, which are just the latest threat to existing forests. "Europe's carbon credit market could be disastrous," Lovera said.

The multi-billion-euro European carbon market does not permit the use of reforestation projects for carbon credits. But there has been a tremendous surge in private companies offering such credits for tree planting projects. Very little of this money goes to small land holders, she says.

Plantation forests also contain much less carbon, notes Palo, citing a recent study that showed carbon content of plantation forests in some Asian tropical countries was only 45 percent of that in the respective natural forests.

Nor has the world community been able to properly account for the value of the enormous volumes of carbon stored in existing forests.

One recent estimate found that the northern Boreal forest provided 250 billion dollars a year in ecosystem services such as absorbing carbon emissions from the atmosphere and cleaning water.

The good news is that deforestation, even in remote areas, is easily stopped. All it takes is access to some low-cost satellite imagery and governments that actually want to slow or halt deforestation.

Costa Rica has nearly eliminated deforestation by making it illegal to convert forest into farmland, says Lovera.

Paraguay enacted similar laws in 2004, and then regularly checked satellite images of its forests, sending forestry officials and police to enforce the law where it was being violated.

"Deforestation has been reduced by 85 percent in less than two years in the eastern part of the country," Lovera noted.

The other part of the solution is to give control over forests to the local people. This community or model forest concept has proved to be sustainable in many parts of the world. India recently passed a bill returning the bulk of its forests back to local communities for management, she said.

However, economic interests pushing deforestation in countries like Brazil and Indonesia are so powerful, there may eventually be little natural forest left.

"Governments are beginning to realize that their natural forests have enormous value left standing," Lovera said.

"A moratorium or ban on deforestation is the only way to stop this."

This story is part of a series of features on sustainable development by IPS and IFEJ - International Federation of Environmental Journalists.
© 2007 IPS - Inter Press Service

terça-feira, março 20, 2007

Roundup is toxic

Cape Times, March 16 2007

Hans Lombard, media spinner for genetically modified crops and agricultural chemicals, provides several fine examples of the nonsense he claims others speak, in his letter "Herbicide safe for soil" (March 14).

He insists no information exists to indicate that the active ingredients of Roundup, the most widely used herbicide on earth, are either persistent in the soil or dangerous. He asks for peer-reviewed science to disprove him:

The Danish government banned the use of Roundup as it was found to have polluted groundwater, backed up by data in the Journal of Environmental Quality (issue 34, 2005). Monsanto, manufacturers of Roundup, attempted to dispel such fears. However it has been demonstrated that the components of Roundup are indeed persistent in ponds and water, having a half-life of nearly three months. The ingredients are also toxic to frogs, fish and other aquatic life, as many other peer-reviewed studies show.

The California Pesticide Illness Surveillance Programme found Roundup ranked as the highest cause of pesticide-induced illness or injury to people in California in 1997. It is not only the active ingredient, glyphosate, that is dangerous but also so-called "inert ingredients".

Para Leitura completa clique no título.

Oppose GM contamination of organics - Take action

Do GM WATCH daily

Oppose GM contamination of organics - Take action from FoE UK:

Dear Campaigners,

On 29 March the European Parliament will vote on Proposals for a Council Regulation on Organic Production and Labelling of Organic Products.

As of now the proposed legislation allows for 0.9% GM contamination of organic food without having to inform consumers. They seem to be basically interpreting the GM labelling threshold of 0.9% as the level of acceptable contamination.

We are calling on MEPs to support no GM contamination in organic food.

Take action

* Please send a letter to your MEP on Monday 19 March (or as soon as possible thereafter) asking them not to allow contamination of organic food. Simply add the names of individuals and organisations that are interested to the bootom of the attached letter and send it to your MEPs.

You can find out who your MEP is, and where to send the letter at:

It is really important to get our message out to MEPs as this may be one of the last chances we have to protect the organic sector from GM.

The vote will be preceded by a discussion on the proposed regulations in parliament on 28 March. The regulation and any amendments will then be finalised at the Agri Council meeting on the 16th and 17th of April.

We will keep you updated on any developments.

Best wishes, and thank you for all your help on the campaign.

Richard Hines
Campaign Assistant - Real Food & Farming Team
Friends of the Earth
Leeds Office: 74 Kirkgate, LS2 7DJ
Tel: 0113 242 8153
Fax: 0113 242 8154

Re: Plenary vote on the Proposal for a Council Regulation on organic production and labelling of organic products

Dear MEP,

On the 29th of March the European Parliament will vote on the proposed Council Regulation on organic production and labelling of organic products (COM(2005)0671 – C6-0032/2006 – 2005/0278(CNS)). I am concerned that in its current form, the regulation allows for a 0.9% threshold for the adventitious presence of GMOs in organic food without consumers being told.

Setting such a threshold would mean accepting GM contamination in organic food, with severe consequences for consumers and the organic sector. Consumers choose organic products because are grown in a more sustainable way, without the use of pesticides and are completely GMO-free. The organic food sector has demonstrated sustained and continued growth and the retail market for organic products in the UK is worth an estimated GBP1.213 billion pounds. I am convinced that allowing genetic contamination in organic products will put the survival of the organic sector under threat.

It is also worrying that the European Commission is interpreting the 0.9% threshold for labelling as a threshold for acceptable contamination. This approach, also used by the UK Government to justify coexistence legislation that routinely allows up to 0.9% GM contamination of non-GM crops has been showed to be, from a legal point of view "fundamentally flawed".

For these reasons I urge you to reject the current text and to support the one adopted unanimously by all political parties at the Environment Committee (Opinion 2005/0278(CNS)), presented to the Agriculture Committee as Amendment 41:

"In this Regulation, the labelling threshold for GMOs as defined in Directive 2001/18/EC of the European Parliament and of the Council of 12 March 2001 on the deliberate release into the environment of genetically modified organisms shall not apply".

We hope that in the interest of organic farming in the UK, of consumers who are increasingly choosing organic products and of people working in the sector you will oppose the inclusion of any genetic contamination threshold in the organic legislation.

Yours sincerely,

sexta-feira, março 16, 2007

Transnacionais se apossam da biomassa

Por Adriano Benayon

Tribuna da Imprensa - O que está em andamento é a tomada pelo capital estrangeiro da produção de álcool (etanol) e de outros derivados das plantas. Em suma, da energia da biomassa. Esta já é uma das principais fontes do presente, e não apenas a predominante em futuro próximo. Os que a controlarem terão assegurado posição estratégica privilegiada no poder mundial, reforçada pelos fabulosos ganhos econômicos que dela fluirão.

Graças à sua excepcional dotação de território aproveitável, de água e sol, o Brasil tem o potencial de ser o maior produtor mundial dessa energia. Mas, dado o modelo econômico subordinado que se implanta no Brasil há mais de 50 anos, o País caminha para a pior das servidões, pois sua fabulosa dotação de recursos naturais está sendo explorada por transnacionais das potências hegemônicas, prontas para dominar a biomassa, como já dominam a comercialização do agronegócio.

Nada mais fácil para as corporações mundiais que abocanhar a biomassa, uma riqueza muito mais fantástica que o ouro das Minas Gerais no Século XVIII. Isso porque o Brasil é um País aberto ao capital estrangeiro, ao qual pertence a produção industrial e os demais setores da economia. Pior, obtém tudo isso com o nosso dinheiro, que o "governo" submisso lhe transfere como subsídios, ademais dos ganhos que o mercado brasileiro lhe proporciona, remetidos ao exterior por meio de mais de uma dezena de mecanismos.

O modelo político e econômico subordinado já conduziu o Brasil ao desemprego de 30 milhões de brasileiros, a vergonhosas condições de saúde e de educação, à proliferação do crime organizado, ao definhamento da classe média, à queda contínua dos salários reais, ao sucateamento da infra-estrutura e das Forças Armadas.

O País está escancarado para que transnacionais se apoderem do que será o mais estratégico e maior setor da economia mundial. Que restará ao Brasil senão revogar o decreto da Princesa Isabel de 1888, da Abolição da escravatura?

Para ser profeta basta entender o presente e as lições do passado. Há casos históricos de reinstituição do regime de servidão por se terem países especializados na produção de matérias-primas destinadas ao comércio mundial. Por exemplo, a Polônia do Século XVIII, uma grande potência no XVII, transformada em exportadora de cereais sob a direção dos comerciantes e banqueiros de Amsterdam.

Que foi feito no Brasil para facilitar a apropriação da biomassa pelos concentradores mundiais? Alijar os pequenos produtores, por meio de regulamentação instituída por imposição do Banco Mundial, o que fez centralizar a produção em grandes usinas. Assim, a cana-de-açúcar é transportada a grandes distâncias (em caminhões movidos a óleo diesel de petróleo), e o mesmo ocorre com o álcool.

Adriano Benayon é doutor em Economia pela Universidade de Hamburgo, Alemanha, e autor de "Globalização versus Desenvolvimento"

domingo, março 11, 2007

The Bio Da Versity Code

Gente boa na área é o pessoal da Free Range Studios , depois da boa sacada da paródia MeatRix eles não pararam mais. A última é esse filme em flash aqui:

terça-feira, março 06, 2007

Public Health Agency Linked to Chemical Industry

Published on Sunday, March 4, 2007 by the Los Angeles Times
Public Health Agency Linked to Chemical IndustryThe work of a federal risk-assessment center is guided by a company with manufacturing ties. Some scientists see bias.

by Marla Cone

For nearly a decade, a federal agency has been responsible for assessing the dangers that chemicals pose to reproductive health. But much of the agency's work has been conducted by a private consulting company that has close ties to the chemical industry, including manufacturers of a compound in plastics that has been linked to reproductive damage.

We are unaware of any other instance in which nearly all of the functions of a public health agency have been outsourced to a private entity.

Richard WilesEnvironmental Working GroupIn 1998, the Center for the Evaluation of Risks to Human Reproduction was established within the National Institutes of Health to assess the dangers of chemicals and help determine which ones should be regulated. Sciences International, an Alexandria, Va., consulting firm that has been funded by more than 50 industrial companies, has played a key role in the center's activities, reviewing the risks of chemicals, preparing reports, and helping select members of its scientific review panel and setting their agendas, according to government and company documents.

The company produces the first draft of the center's reports on the risks of chemicals, including a new one on bisphenol A, a widely used compound in polycarbonate plastic food containers, including baby bottles, as well as lining for food cans.

The center's work is considered important to public health because people are exposed to hundreds of chemicals that have been shown to skew the reproductive systems of newborn lab animals and could be causing similar damage in humans. Chemical companies and industry groups have staunchly opposed regulation of the compounds and have developed their own research to dispute studies by government and university scientists.
The bisphenol A report, which some scientists say has a pro-industry bias, is a public document scheduled for review by the center's scientific panel on Monday. Employees of Sciences International involved in writing it will preside over the meeting.

Sen. Barbara Boxer (D-Calif.) and Rep. Henry A. Waxman (D-Los Angeles) in a Wednesday letter called for an explanation of the company's role and disclosure of its potential conflicts of interest before the panel convenes Monday. Boxer chairs the Senate's environmental committee and Waxman chairs the House's government oversight and reform committee.

Sciences International executives declined to comment to The Times, referring all questions to the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences.

Michael Shelby, director of the federal reproductive health center, which is based in North Carolina's Research Triangle Park, also declined to discuss Sciences International.

But Robin Mackar, a spokeswoman for the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences, which oversees the reproductive center, said Sciences International "has worked for the center since 1998 without any problems" and has participated in reports on 17 chemicals.

"These contractors have no decision-making or analytical responsibilities," she said.
But according to company and government websites and Federal Register documents, Sciences International is involved in management and plays a principal scientific investigative role at the federal center. The company has a $5-million contract with the center, according to an NIEHS document.

"The most significant project at our firm is the management of the National Toxicology Program's Center for the Evaluation of Risks to Human Reproduction," the Sciences International website says. It says half its clients are from the private sector, but its health studies are independent and it "is proud of its reputation for objective science."

Its current website contains no list of industry clients. But a 2006 version names BASF and Dow Chemical — which manufacture the plastics compound BPA — as well as DuPont, Chevron, ExxonMobil, 3-M, Union Carbide, the National Assn. of Manufacturers, and 45 other manufacturing companies and industry groups.
In 1999, Sciences International represented R.J. Reynolds Tobacco Co. in fighting an Environmental Protection Agency proposal to regulate a pesticide used on tobacco crops. In 2004, its vice president, Dr. Anthony Scialli, who is identified as the federal center's "principal investigator," co-wrote a study with a Dow Chemical Co. researcher on how to extrapolate data from animal tests to humans.

In addition, another Sciences International employee who works at the federal agency, Gloria Jahnke, has collaborated nine times on chemicals research with another company that gets funding from the plastics industry, according to a Times review of medical publications.

Sciences International's president boasted about its close collaboration with the federal reproductive health center, as well as the EPA and other federal agencies, in a letter soliciting R.J. Reynolds as a client in 1999.
Signed by company founder Elizabeth Anderson, the letter stated that Sciences International "serves the private sector, including many trade associations, on a wide range of health and risk assessment issues. However, we are different from most other consulting firms in that we also currently serve government agencies," which, the letter said, gives the company "a unique credibility to negotiate with regulators on behalf of our private sector clients."
The role of Sciences International in the federal center's work came to the attention of Environmental Working Group, a nonprofit advocacy group focused on environmental health, last month after some scientists who saw the report on BPA complained that it was biased toward the industry's position that low doses have no effect.
"We are unaware of any other instance in which nearly all of the functions of a public health agency have been outsourced to a private entity," wrote Richard Wiles, the working group's executive director, in a letter to the director of the NIH's National Toxicology Program, which runs the reproductive health center. "Questions about the objectivity and adequacy of this review process and the reviewers must be resolved before a final decision on BPA is reached."

Debate over BPA is one of the most contentious environmental health issues faced by government and industry. Traces are found in the bodies of nearly all Americans tested, and low levels — similar to amounts that can leach from infant and water bottles — mimic estrogen and have caused genetic changes in animals that lead to prostate cancer, as well as decreased testosterone, low sperm counts and signs of early female puberty, according to more than 100 government-funded studies. About a dozen industry-funded studies found no effects.

Fred vom Saal, a University of Missouri-Columbia scientist conducting NIH-funded BPA research, said the draft report written by Sciences International downplays the risks of the plastics chemical and makes critical mistakes.
"It's a combination of inaccurate information and blatant bias as it exists in its draft form," vom Saal said. "They specifically ignore fatal flaws in industry-sponsored publications." He said the 300-page report misrepresented government-funded studies that found effects by inaccurately portraying their findings, and failed to note industry funding of some studies cited.

Shelby, the center's director, in a late February memo to the Environmental Working Group, said Sciences International reviews the scientific literature on chemicals and writes the basic reports, but that conclusions are prepared by the center's panel of independent scientists, which "serves to minimize or eliminate any bias that might possibly be introduced by the contractor."

Shelby wrote that there are no requirements for Sciences International or other contractors to disclose financial conflicts of interest.

Mackar, of the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences, said the chemical reviews are "all open and public" and "we're confident in our scientific panel."

But Vom Saal said that although the scientific panel includes many good, independent scientists, "none of them have expertise with this chemical."

A Federal Register document describing the center's creation in 1998 said scientists from Sciences International and the center "constitute a core committee" that "selects the expert panel membership and establishes the meeting agenda."

© Copyright 2007 Los Angeles Times