Monday, July 31, 2017

MIT Researcher: Glyphosate Herbicide will Cause Half of All Children to Have Autism by 2025

At a [recent] conference, in a special panel discussion about GMOs, she took the audience by surprise when she declared, “At today’s rate, by 2025, one in two children will be autistic.” She noted that the side effects of autism closely mimic those of glyphosate toxicity, and presented data showing a remarkably consistent correlation between the use of Roundup on crops (and the creation of Roundup-ready GMO crop seeds) with rising rates of autism.

Children with autism have biomarkers indicative of excessive glyphosate, including zinc and iron deficiency, low serum sulfate, seizures, and mitochondrial disorder.

Sunday, March 5, 2017

Climate Ecoforestry

In 2008 we asked Frank Michael a tough question. Frank is a physicist, formerly with the Ames Research Center group that created the first Flying Solar Laboratory to study the sun and its “weather” and prevent astronauts from being fried by solar storms. We asked him what would happen to atmospheric carbon if everyone on earth planted a tree each day.

It was an interesting question, and one that was not easy to answer. Frank explained some of the variables to us. You would want to know what kind of trees are planted; what their lifespan will be; what happens to their carbon store when they die; the net photosynthetic productivity of the forest, by hectare, based on soils, rainfall, latitude and expected climate change; the effect of all the stored carbon in the ocean that would “leak back” into the atmosphere in response — trying to re-balance the distribution of carbon dioxide — and much more.

Nonetheless, he agreed to give it a go. Thus began a system model that Frank Michael will be presenting at the 7th World Congress on Ecological Restoration later this year in Foz do Iguassu, Brazil.

The question changed to “what amount of trees, land and biochar would be needed to return the atmosphere to ‘normal’ and how long would it take?” We know much less about paleoclimate drawdowns and feedbacks than we know about epochs of carbonization. As his calculations and his global model became more elaborate, he began to be drawn to the complexity of the social dimension. What are the potentials for unplanned reversals like deforestation, population pressure, energy demand and urban sprawl? How many of those trees would survive one year? 5 years? 100 years? Who would care for them and how would those people be compensated? How would you pay for the biochar conversion?

Frank came up with a model that we can only describe as pure genius, worthy some day of a Nobel Prize should he ever be recognized. His “step harvest” system, which we first described in The Biochar Solution, sets out a practical methodology for employing hundreds of millions of forest stewards to regenerate and revitalize neglected and abandoned “wastelands,” working with principles of ecological regeneration and patch management to stack yields while optimizing ecological functions. Rather than rely on charity, it relies on capitalism – a healthy return of investment in semi-autonomous but coordinated microenterprises. More

Wednesday, December 28, 2016

May the way be easy - and green

"In our gardens, it is our own responsibility to return waters, via compost or mulch, to the soil and plants. Around our homes we can catch water for garden use, but we rely on natural forested landscapes to provide the condenser leaves and clouds to keep rivers running with clean water, to maintain the global atmosphere and to lock up our gaseous pollutants.” (1988)

 Bill Mollison - Founder of Permaculture

"Permaculture offers a radical approach to food production and urban renewal, water, energy and pollution. It integrates ecology, landscape, organic gardening, architecture and agro-forestry in creating a rich and sustainable way of living. It uses appropriate technology giving high yields for low energy inputs, achieving a resource of great diversity and stability. The design principles are equally applicable to both urban and rural dwellers" - Bill Mollison

Monday, December 12, 2016

The Great Change: Trophic Cascades

The Great Change: Trophic Cascades: " Chinese youth are starting to wish they had not been lured into where they find themselves. It is best for all our sakes to encourage that impulse

We were expecting 25 students but got 40, and on some days it even goes up to 50. Initially our hosts wanted to have a Permaculture Design Course but after we told them such an undertaking would require 2 weeks, including 72 hours of classroom time, and multiple co-instructors, they asked instead for a week-long introduction to the Ecological Key, part of the Ecovillage Design one-month curriculum offered by the Global Ecovillage Network and Gaia Education Associates. We helped author that module so we agreed, but then they needed to cut it to 6 days to factor in the national independence holiday and also asked if we could do an introduction to natural building as part of the course.

Reluctantly, we agreed, since it was only introductory workshop in any event, but then we had our expensive Japanese finishing trowel confiscated by airline security and lost our shiitake mushroom plug spawn to agricultural inspection in Beijing. Undeterred, we pushed on, arriving a day early to sleep off jet lag and get oriented to the venue.

Reluctantly, we agreed, since it was only introductory workshop in any event, but then we had our expensive Japanese finishing trowel confiscated by airline security and lost our shiitake mushroom plug spawn to agricultural inspection in Beijing. Undeterred, we pushed on, arriving a day early to sleep off jet lag and get oriented to the venue.

An able team of young Xu Ling villagers and volunteers rushed about cleaning up an old hall in the center of town, laying in bulk food for the cooks, re-wiring everything and setting up wifi, a PA system with bluetooth microphones, and a big projection screen. 

As we walked the steep stone steps of the village we saw essentially a ghost town. Eighty large family houses stood empty, abandoned to the elements. Skinny dogs picked through the central garbage bins, scattering plastics and bits of foil into the bubbling mountain brooks that wove through and under the ancient stone stairways. Chickens and ducks, apparently the only domestic animals raised for food here, wandered the streets and picked through scraps the dogs missed, or raided the kernels of corn laid out on cement terraces to dry. 

The old townspeople looked favorably towards the arrival of young ecovillagers but knew all too well that they were gardening greenhorns, unused to the seasonal ebbs and flows, city kids with city addictions, so they tried not to get too involved with them, not expecting they would last long. How many winter mass starvations had they witnessed in their long and difficult lives?

Friday, November 25, 2016

Global Soil Partnership


Are you ready to take part in the World Soil Day campaign ?

Here we are... 5 December 2016 is just around the corner! With this special GSP announcement, we would like to officially launch the World Soil Day campaign whose theme is "Soils & Pulses, symbiosis for life". This collective effort is aimed at bringing attention to the benefits we receive from soils.

Pulses are among the major contributors to ensuring and increasing soil health, especially by fixing atmospheric nitrogen and freeing soil-bound phosphorous and making essential nutrients available to plants, improving soil structure and enhancing soil biodiversity. As we are nearing the close of the 2016 International Year of Pulses, the striking symbiosis between soils and pulses is timely and central to the WSD2016 campaign, not to mention helpful in achieving the Sustainable Development Goals and implementing the Voluntary Guidelines for Sustainable Soil Management.

The GSP Secretariat encourages you to share the event in a variety of innovative ways to enhance public awareness of the critical influence soils and pulses exert on our lives.

We have prepared an array of stunning campaign materials to help create a buzz about World Soil Day 2016. 

The success of the World Soil Day depends on you. Please tell your friends and colleagues about it and help disseminate the WSD campaign page. More

Saturday, July 30, 2016

Soil inhabitants hold together the planet’s food system

Soil inhabitants hold together the planet’s food system
  The Global Soil Biodiversity Atlas— the outstanding reward of a 3-year global collaboration—was launched on 25 May 2016 in Nairobi. The launch, part of a symposium of the Second United Nations Environment Assembly, provided an opportunity for eminent speakers in the field to discuss the central role soil biodiversity plays in food security, environmental health, and the global sustainable development agenda.   Edmundo Barrios, the event’s lead organizer, is Senior Soil Ecosystem Scientist at the World Agroforestry Centre (ICRAF), and one of the editors of the Atlas.   “Biodiversity is largely understood by society as that which lives above the ground and easily observed like trees, crops and birds. Much less is known about belowground biodiversity. In fact, the smaller the organism, the less we know about it,” said Barrios. By ignoring soil biodiversity, we might be missing the real picture of global biodiversity.” For instance, whereas around 88% of tree species and around half of all ant species have been described, less than 1.5% of microscopic soil bacteria are known to science, he explained.   But the situation is changing fast, thanks to new molecular technologies and powerful visualization tools which have been developed during the last decade, tools that allow a glimpse into a fascinating world beneath our feet.   “No longer is soil biodiversity a black box- we are cracking into that and moving fast about it,” said keynote speaker Diana Wall, Science Chair of the Global Soil Biodiversity Initiative (GSBI) and Professor at Colorado State University.          

Tuesday, July 26, 2016

As Clouds Head for the Poles, Time to Prepare for Food and Water Shocks

As Clouds Head for the Poles, Time to Prepare for Food and Water Shocks
  A changing climate means less rain and lower water supplies in regions where many people live and much of the planet’s food is produced: the mid-latitudes of the Northern and Southern hemispheres, including the U.S. Southwest, southern Europe and parts of the Middle East, southern Africa, Australia and Chile. As WRI-Aqueduct’s future scenarios for water supply show, diminished water supplies will be apparent in these areas by 2020 – less than four years away -- and are expected to grow worse by 2030 and 2040.   Now a new study in the journal Nature provides some of the first evidence that this widely-predicted phenomenon – the movement of clouds and rainfall from the mid-latitudes towards the North and South poles -- is already taking place. Just like the retreat of glaciers and polar sea ice, now clouds and rain are retreating poleward.   This will have huge implications for agricultural production, industrial and energy output, and municipal water provisioning. Many irrigated agricultural areas are already facing water stress. The climate-driven shift of clouds and rain – known as Hadley Cell expansion – will put those areas under even greater stress in the future. Rain-fed agriculture, which many poor people depend upon, will also suffer as a result of reduced rainfall in the mid-latitude regions.   A recent WRI study finds that sub-Saharan Africa will need to more than triple crop production by 2050 in order to feed its growing population. This hard-to-reach target will become more difficult in places like southern Africa and the western Sahel, where water supply is projected to fall.     In addition to worsening water stress and undermining food security, decreasing water supply in the world’s mid-latitudes may also help destabilize nations in these regions, adding to pre-existing political tensions, and helping contribute to armed conflict and migration, as we have seen in places like Syria. More  

Tuesday, June 7, 2016

Climate change will affect farmers bottom line

Climate change will affect farmers' bottom line -- ScienceDaily
Arizona Farm
  Over the next 70 to 100 years, our climate is projected to change dramatically, with major impacts on a wide variety of economic sectors. But the sector that is most likely to be affected by these changes is agriculture. A number of studies support this assertion, but relatively few look at the effect of climate change on agriculture from a comprehensive economic perspective.   An interdisciplinary team from the University of Illinois recently investigated the effects of climate change on farmland values in the Southwestern United States.   "We chose to look at farmland values because they reflect the sum of future expected profits and account for adaptation. And that's exactly what climate change is about: long-term change and adaptation," explains U of I economist Sandy Dall'Erba.   The team focused on a single climate region, the U.S. Southwest, where climate changes are expected to make farming even more difficult than in other regions. The predictions say that places like Arizona will get hotter overall, with more frequent heat waves and more sudden and extreme rainfall events that could lead to periodic flooding. But even within that one climate zone, the team expected some variation. To capture that, they separated out the effects on lowland counties versus highland counties.   What's new about the work is that the team used an economic model that allowed them to look across production systems, so they could evaluate farmland values for soybean producers and cattle ranchers alike. The model, known as the Ricardian approach, also allowed for adaptation on the part of the farmer.   "Farmers are smart; you can't assume that in 100 years they're going to still be farming corn like they are now," Dall'Erba says. "Climate is changing, new practices and new technologies develop, so they may switch to another production system. The Ricardian approach assumes farmers will adapt."   Further, they were able to integrate what they called "spillover" effects: the influence of one farmer's practices on another. "A simple example is irrigation -- the amount of water you get is very much dependent on how much the farmer upstream from you is taking away. That element has been pretty much overlooked in this framework so far," Dall'Erba notes. Another example of spillover is communication between farmers about farm practices and the availability of certain subsidies.   Finally, the team evaluated multiple climate change scenarios. In most socioeconomic research relating to climate change, a single scenario is tested. Dall'Erba's co-author, U of I atmospheric scientist Francina Dominguez, knew that it was important to provide a range of what the future climate will look like. As such, the researchers worked with seven scenarios of future climate data derived from several global and regional climate models.     Taking all of these factors into account, the team found that irrigation, population density, and farm subsidies all increased farmland value, but subsidies had an effect in highland counties only. In addition, heat waves were found to hurt productivity. More

Thursday, May 12, 2016

65.000 person opposition against Syngenta patent on tomatoes




65.000 x opposition against Syngenta patent on tomatoes

All-time record high for mass opposition filed at the European Patent Office

12 May 2016 / A mass opposition will today be filed against a patent on tomatoes held by the Swiss company Syngenta. 65.000 individuals from 59 countries and 32 organisations are supporting the opposition. Never before have so many people been involved in an opposition at the European Patent Office (EPO). They are all opposing the Syngenta patent, which claims tomato seeds, plants and fruit as an invention, but which actually originate from crossings with tomato plants discovered in Peru and Chile. 

“This is an all-time record number of opponents involved in a case at the European Patent Office. The huge support for this opposition will send a very strong signal to European politicians to take much stronger action against patents on plants and animals,” Iga Niznik says for Arche Noah in Austria, who will be a member of the delegation filing the opposition today.

“Our oppositions shows that European citizens no longer want to let the big corporations to take control of our food production through patent rights. We have to stop these patents now,” says Jörg Rohwedder from the European campaign network WeMove.

In 2015, the European Patent Office (EPO) granted patent EP 1515600 to Syngenta, which claims tomatoes with a high content of so-called flavonols. These compounds are supposedly beneficial to health. The patent covers the plants, the seeds and the fruits. This so-called “invention”, however, is simply a product of crossing tomatoes originally from Peru and Chile with varieties currently grown in the industrialised countries. European patent law is meant to prohibit patents on plant varieties and on conventional breeding. For this reason, the opponents want the patent to be revoked completely. All in all, around 1400 patent applications on conventional breeding have been filed at the EPO so far, and around 180 patents have already been granted.

“Such patents are endangering the future of conventional plant breeding,” says Ulrike Behrendt, a professional tomato breeder, “The patent does not meet the requirements to claim an invention, but simply describes existing characteristics of plants. Future plant breeding and plant breeders will be negatively affected by such patent monopolies. The financial risks and legal uncertainties can negatively impact future innovation in plant breeding, especially for small and medium plant breeders.”

Development organisations have also been warning about the consequences of patents on plants and animals. “This patent constitutes hidden biopiracy,” says François Meienberg for Bern Declaration, “The tomatoes were originally discovered in Peru and Chile, before seed samples were taken to the US and conserved. From there Syngenta had access to the seeds and then claimed further breeding as its 'invention'. The countries of origin are basically being robbed of their biological treasures.”

Members of the European Patent Organisation refused to agree to a meeting with the opponents as requested. Today, the Committee on Patent Law is also holding a meeting at the EPO. This Committee includes delegates from member states of the European Patent Organisation. At the meeting, the Committee will discuss the implementation of current prohibitions in patent law, which exclude patents on plant and animal varieties and conventional breeding. Currently, these prohibitions are applied by the EPO in a way that renders them ineffective. The organisations behind the mass opposition are demanding that the member states of the European Patent Organisation now take decisive action to stop further patents on plants and animals. The Administrative Council, which can make decisions on rules of implementation of the prohibitions will have its next meeting at the end of June.

“We will continue to fight seed monopolists and our resistance is growing. Nobody should be allowed to claim living beings as their invention,” says Ruth Tippe, who is closely monitoring patents on plants and animals for No Patents on Life!

The opponents include the following organisations: Arche Noah (AU), Arbeitsgemeinschaft bäuerliche Landwirtschaft (AbL) (DE), Arbeitsgemeinschaft der Umweltbeauftragten der Gliedkirchen in der EKD (AGU) (DE), Associacio de varietas locals de les illes Baleares (ES), Bäuerliche Erzeugergemeinschaft Schwäbisch Hall (DE), BioForum Vlaanderen (NL), Brot für die Welt (DE), Bionext (NL), Bund Naturschutz in Bayern (DE), Campact (DE), Ecologistas en Acción (ES), Ecologistas en Acción – Palencia (ES), Confederation Paysanne (FR), Erklärung von Bern (CH), Evangelischer Dienst auf dem Lande (De), Federation Nationale de l´ Agriculture Biologique (FNAB) (FR), GAIA - Environmental Action and Intervention Group (PT), Gen-ethisches Netzwerk (DE), IG Nachbau (DE), Katholische Landvolkbewegung Freiburg (DE), Kultursaat e.V. (DE), No Patents on Life! (DE), No Patents on Seeds! (EU), ProSpecie Rara (CH), Red Andaluza de Semillas "Cultivando Biodiversidad" (ES), Red Canaria De Semillas (ES), Red de Semillas "Resembrando e Intercambiando" (ES), Reseau Semences Paysannes (FR), SWISSAID (CH), Utviklingsfondet (NO), WeMove (EU), Zentrum Gesellschaftliche Verantwortung der EKHN (DE), Zukunftsstiftung Landwirtschaft (DE).

Contacts and informations:

Iga Niznik, Arche Noah, +43 650 999 13 Jörg Rohwedder, WeMoveTel +49 178 Ulrike Behrendt, Kultursaat: + 49 1786358188 François Meienberg, Berne Declaration: +41 (0)44 277 70 Ruth Tippe, No Patents on Life!: + 49 (0) 173

The patent The opposition


Monday, April 11, 2016

Regional Food Security in Latin America and the Caribbean

Regional Food Security in Latin America and the Caribbean     Last year in this publication I wrote on the subject of Water Security. This year I will try and cover the other half of the equation, Food Security. “Food policies which do not address the root causes of world hunger would be bound to fail”, she [the new United Nations Special Rapporteur on the Right to Food, Prof Hilal Elver] told a packed audience in Amsterdam. One billion people globally are hungry, she declared, before calling on governments to support a transition to “agricultural democracy” which would empower rural small farmers.” “The 2009 global food crisis signaled the need for a turning point in the global food system”, she said at the event hosted by the Transnational Institute (TNI), a leading international think tank.      In the Caribbean region we are going to be affected by climate change,  as  we all realize,  or should realize, climate change has already started affecting most countries. In the Caribbean the IPCC states ‘By mid-century, climate change is expected to reduce water resources in many small islands, e.g. in the Caribbean and Pacific, to the point where they become insufficient to meet demand during low-rainfall periods’. To this we have to add the likelihood of an increase of cyclone / hurricane activity that can negatively impact agriculture.  During a FAO hosted a two-day International Symposium on Agroecology  for Food Security and Nutrition,18 -19 September 2014 in Rome , FAO Director-General José Graziano da Silva stated [as]  “Agroecology continues to grow, both in science and in policies it is an approach that will help to address the challenge of ending hunger and malnutrition in all its forms, in the context of the climate change adaptation needed,”    For those not familiar with Permaculture, here is a definition; Permaculture is a conscious integrated design system based on ecology and sustainability principles to create resource efficient and productive human environments and reduce our footprint on the earth. Permaculture provides a framework for consciously designed landscapes that mimic the patterns and relationships found in nature that provide diversity, stability, and resilience. These systems yield an abundance of shelter, water, energy, and food for the provision of local needs.      Globally, small farmers produce seventy percent of the food for  the of the worlds population. However, according to the International Food Policy Research Institute, the world needs to produce more food with fewer resources.  This is especially true for the Caribbean (and less so for Latin America) given that today a large portion of our foodstuff is imported. Importation means that we become dependent on resource pricing from another region of the world. If we take California as an example, where they are suffering from a drought, Water Year 2014 – overlapping with California's driest calendar year -- ended on September 30 as the state's third driest in 119 years of record, based on statewide precipitation.  Needless to say the price have increased on lettuce, tomatoes, fruit and nuts produced in the state. California's agricultural abundance includes more than 400 commodities. The state produces nearly half of US-grown fruits, nuts and vegetables.  In Florida orange juice prices have historically been affected by freezing winter temperatures, furthermore, crop diseases and blights can easily wipeout regional mono-crops, which are favored by the corporate agriculture industry. Chicken is now been shipped from the United States to China for processing, which adds food miles and raises the potential for contamination, as the world has witnessed in the past. In small island developing states (SIDS) we may also suffer from salt water intrusion into our water tables, where the freshwater floats on top of the salt water. This is already effecting traditional agriculture in some Pacific island states.  “The nutritional value of food is largely a function of its vitamin and mineral content. In this regard, organically grown food is dramatically superior in mineral content to that grown by modern conventional methods. Because it fosters the life of the soil organic farming reaps the benefits soil life offers in greatly facilitated plant access to soil nutrients. Healthy plants mean healthy people, and such better nourished plants provide better nourishment to people and animals alike .”     Genetically Modified Crops.  In the United States legislation covering GMO crops and ingredients do not mandate listing ingredients, meaning consumers are unable to identify GMO ingredients of food products they are purchasing.  In Canada and the USA labeling is voluntary, while in Europe all food (including processed food) or feed that contains greater than 0.9% of GMOs must be labelled .     Fish Stock Depletion According to the Nature Conservancy website, it's [Jamaica’s Pedro Banks are] also the primary harvesting area for the largest export of Queen Conch from the Caribbean region and a potential refuge for several endangered coral species. With an estimated 99 per cent of mainland Jamaica's reefs in danger, the coral reefs on Pedro Bank are vital to long-term reef conservation in the country. In July 2004, the bank was declared an underwater cultural heritage site by the Jamaica National Heritage Trust .  A BBC article dated 2012 entitled How The Worlds Oceans Could Be Running Out Of Fish states ‘Global fish stocks are exploited or depleted to such an extent that without urgent measures we may be the last generation to catch food from the oceans . In light of this fact perhaps regionally  we should be emulating Indonesia, Malaysia, Papua New Guinea, the Philippines, Solomon Islands, and Timor Leste who came together in 2009 to form the multilateral Coral Triangle Initiative on Coral Reefs, Fisheries and Food Security (CTI-CFF) partnership, and agreed on a Regional Plan of Action, with a suite of collaborative and national actions to support productive, sustainable fisheries. And it’s part of the reason why WWF has continued to invest in programmes in the Coral Triangle for the better part of 20 years . The  tiny Island Nation of Palau  is burning illegal fishing boats to prove a point, as it wants to protect its 230,000 square miles of pristine waters for tourism, “Illegal fishing operations waste as much as 2 billion pounds of inadvertently caught fish a year in the United States alone, indiscriminately killing sea turtles, dolphins, and sharks”. Establishing marine sanctuaries as Palau has done in ecologically sensitive locations can reverse declining fish populations, support food [security and] production, and bring new tourism opportunities, such as scuba diving and snorkeling .      Transportation In the event of a spike in oil prices, imported food, and in fact all imported goods, will rise in price. In the last few weeks there have been two bombings in Eastern Saudi Arabia at Shia Mosques, and yesterday thirty-eight Saudi military personnel were killed in Anbar province. This could be the work of the Islamic State, or could be seen by the Shia majority in Eastern Saudi Arabia, as a Fundamentalist Salafi initiative against them. Whatever the case may be,  rising social tensions leading to conflict would rapidly drive petroleum prices upward. One must be cognizant of the fact that today’s low petroleum prices  are a political ploy undertaken by the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia and the United States of America against Iran and Russia. According to the Eurasia Group’s  president Ian Bremmer it’s been decades since the geopolitical state of the world was what it is today, “I happen to believe that we are entering into this period of geopolitical creative destruction,” Bremmer told Business Insider in a sit-down interview. “The last time we’ve seen something like that was after WWII. I believe this is a G-Zero environment.” Bremmer argues that the world has grown more dangerous and increasingly multi-polar over the last twenty-five years .  Furthermore, there is a strong argument put forward by the late Matthew Simmons  stating that the Saudi oil reserves, which are a State Secret, are much smaller that the Saudi government would have you believe. The Kingdom of Saudi Arabia (KSA) has not made a find of any major oil field of significance in forty years.  Ghawar Field  (Arabic: الغوار) is an oil field located in Al-Ahsa Governorate, Eastern Province, Saudi Arabia. Measuring 280 by 30 km (174 by 19 miles), it is by far the largest conventional oil field in the world,  and accounts for more than half of the cumulative oil production of Saudi Arabia. Ghawar was discovered in 1948 and put on stream in 1951. This field has a rate of decline of 8% per annum.    It is interesting to note that KSA is installing huge amounts of solar power and have been negotiating with the French nuclear company Areva for two nuclear power plants.   In conclusion, having looked at the benefits of growing ones own organic, non-GMO crops with superior nutrition, available with no food miles or transportation costs, the argument in favor of locally produced crops using permaculture is overwhelming. Furthermore, supporting our local farming community and small farmers is a win-win situation. © Caribbean / Latin America Disaster Preparedness Manual