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Like Storms and Tsunamis, Great Music and Good Vibrations Know No Boundaries!

Check-out these great reviews of Rhythms Del Mundo: Africa

COOL CONCEPT – Golden Mixtape Blog

Rhythms Del Mundo: Africa is a really cool concept. Artists from all walks of life – from Eminem to Mumford & Sons – are featured: not a total takeover of the songs, but a sort of remix. Let’s go with the band that everyone seems to love right now, Mumford & Sons: their folk style becomes a more tribal one with this mix of ‘Timshel.’ For the most part, the new versions don’t sound too different from the original. For the most drastic change, I’d have to point to Eminem’s ‘Not Afraid.’ Slim Shady is kept for the choruses, but the verses are taken over by African band TS1, and done very well. I went in thinking that it was going to be a mess, but actually it proved to be one of the best surprises about Rhythms Del Mundo: Africa. Eminem’s was great, but Bruno Mars took it home with ‘Grenade.’ Rhythms Del Mundo: Africa is for people who love to explore musically. You might not ever listen to an African artist on Pandora or Spotify because you’re not familiar with the artist, but here are some of your Top 40 favourites giving you an excuse to take on something new.

GLOBAL MESSAGE JAMS – Amoeba Music

Great music for a great cause! This non-profit charity series brings American and English rockstar singers into the studio with superb third-world musicians for some serious global message jams. The original spark was 2006’s Rhythms del Mundo Cuba, which paired Buena Vista Social Club legends with stadium belters from Bono to Chris Martin and Jack Johnson delightfully spicing up the classics with tropical flavour. That album successfully raised money and awareness for climate disasters from the Indian Ocean tsunami to Hurricane Katrina. The Rhythms series returns with their newest volume, which lets Beyonce, Eminem, Mumford & Sons and Fleet Foxes jam with African groovers like Toumani Diabate, Bassekou Kouyate, Ali Farka Toure and even members of the late Miriam Makeba’s band. The results show that, like storms and tsunamis, great music and good vibrations know no boundaries. Recommended!

A REAL GEM – LA Music Blog

Thanksgiving week is always a light week for album releases, so it forces music discovery junkies such as yours truly to dig a little deeper for albums to share with our readers. And what happens when you dig deep? You find gems and one such gem that I might not have noticed otherwise is this new release from Artists Project Earth. Rhythms Del Mundo: Africa features a wide variety of big name artists (Coldplay, Beyoncé, Eminem, Mumford & Sons, Bruno Mars, Fleet Foxes, etc.) collaborating with African musicians on exclusive African mixes of contemporary hits. The best part? Funds raised from this campaign will support organizations working throughout Africa to mitigate the impacts of climate change and drought. I’m so excited about this release!

COAL BLOODED

In 2010, Artists Project Earth funded a great little project called Visualising Little Village in Chicago – which aimed to raise awareness within the community about how it is always the poor, disenfranchised and mostly black and ethnic minorities which are most impacted by the fossil-fuel industry.

It is no coincidence that coal-fired power stations are always located in poor districts of town as governors ensure and perpetuate the ‘Not-In-My-Backyard syndrome. Now Little Village Environmental Justice Organisation have produced a comprehensive Report which outlines exactly how these communities are impacted – and it makes for shocking reading.

America is hooked on coal – and that addiction has remained constant for four decades. America will even destroy its beautiful mountain-tops to mine coal, even though the impacts on local communities and biodiversity are many and severe.

While many other countries in the world are moving towards cleaner energy sources, almost half of the US’s electricity is generated by highly-polluting coal-fired power stations. What is more, 75 of these power stations are failing (in that they do not meet regulatory standards), and because they are situated in poorer neighbourhoods, it is the most disenfranchised members of society who are bearing the brunt. Nearly six million Americans live within 3 miles of a coal-fired power station. They have an average income of $18,000 which is well below the US average of $21,000. Over 39% are people of colour, compared with the average of 36% in the total population.

Coal plants kill and low income communities and communities of colour experience the highest mortality burden, therefore, coal-fired power stations are the perpetrators of climate injustice.

Read the full report here.

“In order to protect this highly profitable business — and, more broadly, to protect their industry from environmental regulations —many coal energy companies dedicate substantial resources for lobbying and public relations.” 

This Report is a must-read for all those interested in climate justice, with paticular reference to coal-fired power stations. The experiences in the US are replicated all over the world.

THE ACT OF PARTICIPATORY DEMOCRACY

I was talking with Resurgence & Ecologist Editor, Susan Clarke, recently, about how much I enjoy the Book Review section in Resurgence. How, in a world where information is readily reduced to 149 characters, the Resurgence book review section neatly summarises a whole array of the most important publications on ‘soil, soul and society’ in every issue – so those of us who sadly don’t have time to read the entire books themselves, don’t have to, but can stay informed. 

As an occasional reviewer myself, the process of reviewing a book is in itself, intriguing. The focus required to distill the essence of a 100,000 word tome into a 750 word summary is intense – but on several occasions, that deep scrutiny has given me an insight into the subject that I may never have gained. For example, the latest book I reviewed was one that I probably would never had read: called An Activist’s Handbook – the title didn’t grab me and anyway, in my work at Artists Project Earth, I come into regular contact with activists – so maybe I didn’t need to read it… But Susan asked me to review it, and I gained such a deep insight from that process, that it has changed my whole perspective on activism and my role at work.

And that is that activists are practicing ‘participatory democracy’. Obvious isn’t it? Well no – activism by most people is seen as protesting against something: at best raising awareness, at worst, complaining. But as seasoned activist Aidan Ricketts points out in his fascinating book, activism enables us to participate directly in a democratic process that is otherwise marginalised to ticking a box once every four years. This simple fact, pointed out so cogently by Ricketts has given me such deep inspiration: because every one of the wonderful and courageous activists who dares to put their head above the parapet and voice their concerns about a particular issue, is taking part in an evolutionary process.

We are constantly being told by the media that the general public is disengaged from the political process. Really? We may have given up on the arcane and partisan first-past-the-post voting system that elects people we have no faith in anyway, but the rise of activism shows that participatory democracy is alive and kicking, effective and empowering! Being an agent of social change can be one of the most exciting journeys in life.

In case you missed it, here’s the Resurgence review, below.

ONE STEP AHEAD: because soon it will be your backyard, by Lorna Howarth

 (The Activists’ Handbook, by Aidan Ricketts, Zed Books, 2011, ISBN 9781848135925)

Anti-REDD demonstrators at COP16, Mexico

Photo courtesy of Global Image Library a ‘copyleft’ photo agency co-funded by Artists Project Earth

It astounds me how NGOs and environmental activists are always one step ahead of the game: whether it’s campaigning against BP’s sponsorship of the arts or for more rigorous checks and balances on so-called biofuels, it is activists who are well informed, articulate and challenging the political and economic systems that are no longer fit for purpose. They are the nemesis of the corporate world, the freedom fighters brave enough to put their bodies in the path of the industrial maw.

     But how do they do it? And how could you do it? Because the author of this book believes that one day you are quite likely to wake up and find an issue on your doorstep that you just can’t ignore.

     Written by a seasoned activist, this book is a step-by-step guide to help you stand up for your principles using a variety of different strategies. From direct action to strategic litigation and conflict resolution, the author sets out the tools at your disposal and the different likely legal consequences.

     The main thrust of the book is that activism is in fact the practice of participatory democracy and that being an agent of social change can be one of the most rewarding journeys in life, but it is important to be aware of the significant personal skills and awareness needed to avoid pitfalls, burnout and to survive the campaign with your sanity intact!

     Whilst democracy is an idea grounded in the premise that political power is derived from the will, or at least the consent of the people, this is not always the case, so the practice of participatory democracy – or activism – requires each citizen to take an active role in the affairs to the community and nation, and to be prepared to make their concerns heard and felt. Individual activists can achieve a lot, but by far the most effective way to bring about social change is through organized groups or ‘social movements.’

     Social movements are immensely powerful political forces because they harness the collective will and agency of the masses – indeed, it is interesting to stop and consider some of the more successful social movements, whose work we now take for granted: the suffrage movement; the anti-slavery movement; the movement to end child labour; the anti-apartheid movement and so on. In a sense, social movements operate almost like the immune systems of complex organisms as a way of bringing malignant power under control.

     In his tool-box for addressing social inequality, the author includes ethical investing, ethical consumerism, consumer boycotts and shareholder activism – a sign of our times that much activism these days is aimed at businesses and corporations whose actions are detrimental to communities and the wider environment. The “feedback loop of effective corporate campaigning” draws the corporations into the debate because they are made to address the continued reputational damage the campaign creates – the best way for the company to address this is to accede to the agenda of the social movement. It can take a very long time, but the McLibel campaigners are probably chuckling to themselves as McDonalds now make their own biofuel from waste cooking oil, and source much of their foodstuffs within the UK. Corporate activism represents an increasingly important focus for participatory democracy.

      One of the more traditional forms of activism and one that the author acknowledges as most effective, because it engages the “theatre of protest” is direct action – including blockades, marches, protests and interventions. Risky as they can be – because they often break the law – these forms of raising awareness are often colourful, carnival-like events that provide good media copy and images. The more inventive and theatrical, the better!

      The newest form of participatory democracy is “digital activism” which has recently come under fire from seasoned campaigners as no more than ‘clicktivism’ – but Ricketts argues that coupled with the other tools at our disposal digital activism such as that practiced by avaaz.org and 350.org plays an increasingly important role. In the UK a petition of 100,000 signatures about a particular issue means the government must debate the issue in parliament and this has led to the cancellation of some risible policy such as the recent proposal to sell-off the national forests. Worryingly, the other side of digital activism is that it is much easier for governments to track organizations and groups that are engaging in a given campaign. We’ve recently seen moves for governments to ‘spy’ on internet communication, ostensibly in the name of anti-terrorism, but in truth it is to keep tabs on the rise of digital activism.

     Being an activist can be an antidote to feelings of powerlessness and meaninglessness in life – it is about overcoming passivity, self-doubt and resignation and unleashing empowerment. Activism has the capacity to create change and betterment in the world, but it also engenders a deeply personal transformation, because when a person takes a stand on an issue, they are transformed, and often it is a spiritual experience too. Social movements are the most effective response available to correct malign social problems and policies. It is important to keep believing in their power. “The greatest challenge of our time can also be our greatest joy – to join together in the healing of our world.”

Artists Project Earth ‘Thank You’ Video

It’s such an honour and privilege to work for Artists Project Earth. Over the last month we have been able to support over 30 projects around the world that are actively working to address climate change. From Tar-Sands Free Europe who are lobbying UK ministers to vote ‘YES’ on the EU Fuel Quality Directive, to Surfers Against Sewage whose new campaign asks their members, ‘How Green is Your Ride?'; from The Gleaning Network whose volunteers harvest and distribute unwanted food products to Excellent Development who promote Sand Dams in Africa as a practical way to mitigate climate change. These projects show that there are people all over the world who know that another world is possible – one that is sustainable, equitable and communal – and who are bringing that world into existence. So to them – and to all our supporters who have bought the Rhythms Del Mundo series of albums, we say a big and heartfelt THANK YOU!!

APE Thank You Video.

Freak Storms and Fossil Fuels

October 30, 2012 

By Tom Moore 

At the time of writing, Hurricane Sandy has already claimed 67 lives on its way through the Caribbean. Sandy is scheduled to make landfall sometime on Monday night, bringing hurricane-force winds to a huge swath of the East Coast. Writing an opinion column on the heels, or, in this case, in the midst of such a traumatic event is always a troubling experience for me. Hurricane-force winds extend 175 miles in each direction from Hurricane Sandy’s eye. It is very, very big, and I am very, very small.

Any observation I make on Hurricane Sandy is necessarily made from a place of privilege, in that I am not facing the brunt of the storm myself, and, even if I were, I have the resources at my disposal to take safety precautions that were most likely not available to the 51 Haitians already killed by this storm. My position as an essentially safe observer gives me serious pause before writing on this disaster, a disaster which is, for so many, deeply personal.

However, even as every major news outlet tells me that this “Frankenstorm” is a freak of nature, voices from the margins suggest that Hurricane Sandy is a symptomatic, rather than an aberrant, storm. As Bill McKibben writes for The Daily Beast, “[Hurricanes are] born, as they always have been, when a tropical wave launches off the African coast and heads out into the open ocean. But when that ocean is hot — and at the moment sea surface temperatures off the Northeast are five degrees higher than normal — a storm like Sandy can lurch north longer and stronger, drawing huge quantities of moisture into its clouds, and then dumping them ashore.”

The strange warmth of the North Atlantic has something to do with so-called acts of nature, but it also has a great deal to do with acts of humanity. It has to do with the single-minded profit-seeking of the fossil-fuel industry. It has to do with ever-increasing greenhouse gas emissions, primarily by the nations best equipped to deal with the consequences we’re feeling right now, and not by island nations like Haiti with the most to lose. It has to do with the inaction of politicians like Obama and Romney, from whose campaigns any mention of climate change has been conspicuously absent. The only discussion of energy policy has consisted of the two of them competing as to who has been the most friendly to the exploration of new oil and gas reserves.

As Dan Lashof wrote for EcoWatch, “Just like the unprecedented droughts, flooding and heat we all experienced this year, storms like Hurricane Sandy is what global warming looks like. This is the new normal.”

It is not insignificant, though, to see this analysis made in a news source explicitly tailored toward an environmentalist audience, and not in the New York Times or on CNN. Faced with the trauma of the storm of the century, most mainstream reporters and commentators keep the blame firmly on the shoulders of Mother Nature. Making arguments about our own indirect complicity in traumatic events is indeed uncomfortable work, in part because such arguments can be painfully misconstrued as a sort of victim-blaming. And admittedly, attribution in cases like these is always a bit of a sketchy science. We may never be able to look at a weather event like Hurricane Sandy and say, unequivocally, This is a result of global warming, and without anthropogenic climate change, this weather event would not have happened. If we ever do get to that point, it will be far too late to do anything about it.

Those reservations aside, I take this sort of analysis to be precisely my role as an opinion columnist: to address and attempt to make sense of the traumatic and the uncomfortable as it relates to the reader, and thus to empower the reader to effect change. I take structural analysis of disaster to be empowering, rather than victim-blaming, work. I also take the moment of the disaster to be precisely the moment for such analytical work, however painful it may be.

If Hurricane Sandy were an isolated incident, it would be nothing but an occasion to buckle down and mourn. But it isn’t. Hurricane Sandy is what climate change looks like. As such, it is an occasion not only for keeping each other safe and for mourning the dead, but also for attacking, with renewed vigor, the structural problems that have already raised global temperatures one degree Celsius, a shift which NASA climatologist James Hansen claims has dramatically increased the chances of extreme weather events.

Our new relationship with the Earth is such that each new disaster is a new call to action. Hurricane Sandy has everything to do with the Earth First! activists whose tree village blockade in Texas has been standing in the way of the Keystone XL pipeline for over a month now. Closer to home, KyotoNOW! has recently launched a campaign to urge Cornell to divest from fossil fuels by 2020. And if electoral politics are your thing, I take both Romney and Obama to be profoundly unconscionable choices for anyone interested in leaving an inhabitable planet for the next generation.  

There was a time when extreme weather events were the ultimate examples of disasters completely beyond human control. For better or for worse, that time has passed. If Hurricane Sandy freaks you out, you need to start fighting like hell against the very human forces that promise only worse to come. 

Tom Moore is a junior in the College of Arts and Sciences. He may be reached at ­tmoore@cornellsun.com. 

SHOCKING PHOTOS OF TAR SANDS DEVASTATION

Boreal forests felled like matchsticks in deforestation levels second only to those in the Amazon

The UK’s Daily Mail is a much derided, but huge circulation newspaper. For once, it has used it’s powerful outreach to say something really important about the state of the world. Check out these shocking images of tar sands mining in Alberta Canada – and see for yourselves how once pristine boreal forest – home to moose, deer, grizzly bears, eagles and much more – has been annihilated for the dirty oil beneath, the mining of which will tip our planet in climate chaos from where there is no return. This is Ecocide. Click here.

THE POLAR CRISIS

Hi – this is Kenny Young, Founder of Artists Project Earth.

I wanted to feedback on the The Polar Crisis meeting that I’ve just attended in New York. Why are rapid changes in the Arctic and Antactica a matter of global concern to us all? Well, to paraphrase Kumi Naidoo, International Director of Greenpeace, the poles of the Earth act as giant refrigerators keeping the planet cool and weather systems relatively benign – without them, we might just fry, or at the very least, experience devastating climate chaos. This year, we have lost 40% of the Arctic ice cap. This is totally unprecendent in the modern era. So, in no uncertain terms, the eminent speakers at this meeting told us why they are worried:

Prof. James Hansen (NASA) spoke about the ocean warming that is already happening and the severe consequences that will have, not just on marine life, but on the climate. Unbelievably, governments and multinationals across the globe are financing tar sands extraction and fracking of shale gas and at the projected rates of development in these sectors, in Hansen’s words, that means it’s game over for life as we know it. Ice shelves are disappearing and the resulting species extermination will have profound and deadly repercussions.

Caroline Cannon, representing the Indigenous people in Alaska who rely on the ocean around them to feed, clothe and support their existence, spoke of the effects of tar sands extraction and off-shore drilling on these communities. If either of these activities results in even one oil-spill their existence will be threatened. She said that in the last 4 years, contrary to lifelong tradition, the women are not now allowed to go out onto the ice to meet their husbands as they return from fishing trips, because the ice melt means that it is dangerously thin.

Prof. Maslowski (American Naval School) showed dramatic graphs of how quickly the arctic ice volume is declining and how the remaining ice is thinning. Most worryingly is the sub-sea methane which will be exposed. Methane is many-times more potent as a greenhouse gas than CO2 so the impacts of this methane on the atmosphere will be catastrophic.

Bill McKibben discussed how this is the first time in modern history that we have all the records of the past in such detail and in such depth of information. We know that this situation is unprecendented in its impacts. We must act now it by helping our youth to speak out for their survival!

Kumi Naidoo spoke in no uncertain terms. “Having seen what is happening first hand with oil-drilling by Gazprom in the Arctic, I am shit scared!” We are all paying the ultimate price for this resource war.”

Finally, one of the subjects least discussed but most pertinent is population growth. In the face of climate change and crop failures, how will we feed our growing population? K Subramanya (International Strategic Affairs Analyst) spoke about the incredible changes he has seen in India where migration to cities has led to  mega-cities with completely unsustainable footprints. We have to change our mindset if we are to protect mother nature…

The event was sobering indeed – it seems we are heading towards the precipice like a bunch of lemmings. But there is hope. Millions of people around the world are working hard to make another world possible. We all have to join together in one voice to tell our leaders that enough is enough. We have a few MONTHS left to reverse our carbon footprint – but we need the political will. We have to Occupy Politics until they listen to us!

In our own way, APE is doing it’s bit to help. Profit from the sales of our albums goes to projects around the world that are actively working to mitigate climate change. By buying our albums, you are helping us to help them, to help you!

For the Earth – Kenny Young

 

Green Tomato Chutney from the Cre8sound Cafe

Green Tomato Chutney from the Cre8sound Cafe

Neglected but not forgotten

It’s been a while since I blogged on APEShit – not through lack of things to write about, but because we’ve been totally focused on our Pledge campaign and the launch of our new album. Now at last, I have time to write my regular blog, and I’m still fascinated by the same old stuff! Biofuelwatch – one of my favourite NGOs – has produced another thought-provoking report, which the vegetarians amongst us should take note of. Have you ever thought where the soya for your tofu or vegie ‘smince’ comes from…? We may take the moral high-ground when quoting statistics on how unsustainable meat production is… but take a read of this report and you’ll start to wonder whether a veggie diet is any better for the planet. What’s the solution? Eat local and seasonal and LESS (I’m a good one to talk, but am fasting today – which I do twice a week).

Anyhow, here’s the report. Read it but don’t weep – do something about it. Think global, eat local.

South America: Soy’s Great Homeland by “Almuth” almuthbernstinguk

This report reveals how soy monoculture is advancing in Argentina, Brazil, Bolivia, Paraguay and Uruguay, bringing about deforestation, land consolidation, and evictions.

Soy’s great homeland spans Brazil, Argentina, Paraguay, Bolivia and Uruguay. These five countries together count 47 million hectares of transgenic soy, the cornerstone of a trend that is in truth only one part of a wider trend: agrobusinesses. And given their high consumption of agrochemicals, the main beneficiaries here are transnational agricultural corporations. This model, characterized by high levels of concentrated capital and social and environmental consequences, tends to take fruit in moments when the region has seen self-described “left” or “progressive” governments.

Soy constitutes:

* 66% of cultivated land in Paraguay.

* 59% of Argentina

* 35% of cultivated land in Brazil.

* 30% of Uruguay.

* 24% of Bolivia.

* Between the five countries, 44% of cultivated land has only one crop: soy. The history of soy in the region goes back more than a hundred years. However, “it has been in the last 40 years, and particularly in the last 20, that it has seen a rapid transformation and expansion via the model of industrialized agriculture,” explains the recently published investigation Soy Production in the Americas: Update on Land Use and Pesticides, produced by the recognized Norwegian Center for Biosafety. The report addresses˜for the first time in geopolitical terms˜”soyazation” as a regional problem.

The work analyzes the situation in Argentina, Paraguay, Brazil, Uruguay and Bolivia in detail. And it finds parallels: transgenic soy grew in all of these countries, it involved the takeover of new territories (by clearing them), it led to the fall of other crops, it raised notably the use of pesticides, and it saw all five countries putting vast swaths of their territory at the disposal of Europe and Asia’s needs. Some facts:

* Since 1996, when transgenic soy was approved in Argentina, seeded areas increased by 25 millions hectares in 14 years.

* Brazil and Argentina are the most diligent students of the agro-business model. 90% of the area used for soy in the region is concentrated in the two countries: 23 million hectares in Brazil, 19 million in Argentina.

* “In 2009, Brazil, Argentina, and Paraguay registered the highest national indexes of increase in seeded surfaces for this crop”, the investigation points out, and outlines:

* In 2010, the five countries seeded 47 million hectares with soy. Of this number, Brazil represented 50%, Argentina 40%, Paraguay 6%, and Bolivia and Uruguay 2% respectively.

* 36% of arable land in Brazil, 59% in Argentina and 66% in Paraguay was filled by soy crops.

* “The era of accelerated growth began with the approval of genetically modified soy varieties for commercial production,” confirms the work, placing the origins in 1996 when Argentina approved (without carrying out any national studies) transgenic soy.

Consequences:

* In 1991, 5 million hectares were seeded with soy in Argentina. In 2010, 19 million hectares were seeded.

* In the same period, Bolivia went from 190,000 hectares to 920,000.

* Brazil went from 9.6 million hectares to 23 million.

* Paraguay from 550,000 to 2.7 million.

* Uruguay from 20,000 hectares to 860,000.

* Between the five countries, total hectares went from 15 million to 47 million.

By increasing seeded areas, the size of the harvest also increased. In 2009, the total production of the Southern Cone came out to 116 million tons, of which 57 and 52 million were harvested in Brazil and Argentina respectively. This volume of production made Brazil the second and Argentina the third largest producers of soy in the world. In 2010, both countries increased their production: 68 million in Brazil and 50 million in Argentina.

Fewer trees

The Norwegian Center for Biosafety points out that:

* In 1991, Argentina had 34.5 million hectares of forests, and in 2009 this went down to 29.6, a decrease of 14%.

* In Bolivia forests were reduced by 8%: from 62 to 57 million.

* Brazil went down 9%: from 571 to 521 million hectares.

* For Paraguay, 15%: from 21 to 17 millon.

The database of the National Directorate of Native Forests of the Secretary of the Environment shows that in Argentina, between 2003 and 2004, 550,000 hectares of forest were replaced by soy in the provinces of Chaco, Formosa, Salta, Santiaga del Estero, and Tucumán. “As reas cultivated with soy increase rapidly, forest zones decrease,” the report summarizes.

Crop regression

As spaces seeded with soy increase, not only forests but other crops suffer as well: “The most dramatic case was in Uruguay, where the sunflower decreased by 72% while soy increased 70 times from 2001 to 2010,” alerts the investigation. In Uruguay, in the last decade, pastures destined for milk cows reduced 15% (150,000 hectares), while pastures to graze cows for meat were reduced by 30%. “The main soy-producing countries in the Southern Cone have lowered their local supply of food since 1996″, confirms the Norwegian organization.

Few hands

The majority of soy production in the Southern Cone takes place on properties larger than 500 hectares. “This process of land consolidation amongst a few landowners has become more pronounced. As a consequence, a lower and lower number of producers manage bigger and bigger areas, reaching management units of 2,500 to 5,000 hectares in Argentina, Brazil, and Paraguay”, signals the report. The report confirms what peasant organizations and many researchers have warned for a decade: soy production and land consolidation go hand in hand. And it follows a vicious cycle: the majority of production comes from agricultural systems that are highly industrialized (transgenic seeds, agro-chemicals, and machinery); the intense industrialization of production implies the increase in capacity of investment for producers; and this comes from the gradual marginalization of small-scale farmers or ones with a reduced ability to invest.

More poison

The widespread adoption of trangsenic soy and the implementation of direct seeding are the principle causes of the exponential increase in the use of agrochemicals, in particular glyphosate. Another factor is the appearance of weeds resistant to herbicide, which provokes an increase in the use of other, complementary pesticides, themselves even more toxic (24D and paraquat). “The paraquat herbicide has been banned in Europe, but its importation and application in the Southern Cone is rising”, the investigation argues.

* Paraquat is the active ingredient in one of the most commonly used herbicides: gramoxone, developed by the Swiss company Syngenta. “Toxicological studies have linked paraquat with neurological disorders (for example, Parkinson’s disease) as well as reproductive diseases. For this reason, in 2003, paraquat was banned in 13 countries in the European Union”, the work confirms, going on to explain that it was finally banned in the whole EU in 2007.

* In Argentina, in 2010, 1.2 million liters of paraquat were used.

* In Bolivia, in 2008, 1.7 millon liters.

* In Brazil, soy producers used 3.3 million liters of paraquat in the

five biggest states alone in 2009.

Geopolitics

The investigation highlights that the massive production of soy in the Southern Cone is “deeply influenced by the globalization of the economy”, since the demand originates in “geographically distant regions”: Europe and China. What is the destiny, then, of this soy that bears down on Latin American soil? Animal feed and raw material for agrocombustibles. The report concludes: “The demand for soy in Europe impacts the dynamic of land use and pesticides in South America”. And it details the direct socioeconomic implications: “Local needs (for example, demands for products not destined solely for exportation) lose their relevance in the productive dynamic. One clear example is the use of dangerous materials (paraquat) or risky technologies (the production of transgenic soy) in the productive countries of the Southern Cone, when in parallel these same materials and technologies are banned in the regions where demand comes from (Europe). There are differential standards for environmental protection and public health between the places where the demand emerges and where commodities are produced”.

Corporations

The model of agro-businesses, of which soy is only one of the most visible facets, is characterized by the control that big multinational agricultural corporations exercise in the process. An emblematic situation can be seen in the seed market: “In the first half of the 20th century, seeds where indisputably in the hands of farmers and the public sector. In the decades since, they are monopolized by the genetic giants: corporate power. And that is how they draw the last line in the sand in the commodification of life”. Let’s see how:

* The market for patented seeds represents 82% of commercial seed markets in the world.

* In 2007, the global market for commercial patented seeds was worth 22 billion dollars.

“The ten main companies together make 14.785 billion dollars, 67% of the global market of patented seeds,” it explains. The main seed companies are Takii (Japan), DLF-Trifolium (Denmark), Sakata (Japan), Bayer Crop Science (Germany), KWS AG (Germany), Land O’ Lakes (United States), Groupe Limagrain (France), Syngenta (Switzerland), DuPont (United States) and Monsanto (United States).

In less than three decades a handful of multinational corporations have created a rapid and ferocious corporate siege on the first link of the food chain”, explains Grupo ETC, going on to explain that Monsanto controls 23% of the global market for patented seeds. “Monsanto’s seeds and biotechnological traits (which include those ceded to them under license from other companies) represent 87% of the total world area dedicated to genetically manipulated seeds in 2007″, details

Grupo ETC’s investigation.

The trend

This past June 15th, in a lunch at the head office of the Council of the Americas and in front of the biggest United States companies, President Cristina Fernández de Kirchner told the audience: “Just a minute ago I was with Monsanto, who was announcing to us a very important investment in corn products (∑) And what’s more they were very happy because Argentina today is, shall we say, at the vanguard of the field of biotechnological events. Here I have, and this is the truth that I want to show you all because I am very proud, Monsanto’s prospectus. You see, when they make a prospectus it’s because the investment has already been made˜if not they will not give you the prospectus. So, we have a very important investment in Malvinas Argentinas, in Cordoba, in corn products with a new, let’s say, seed with a transgenic character, called Intacta”.

That same week in Cordoba the first criminal judgment was layed out for pesticide spraying. After ten years of struggle, the organization Madres de Ituzaingó Anexo (women who got organized after their children and their neighbors got sick) brought two soy producers and one crop-duster to trial.

The President explained that Monsanto’s announcement would help to realize the Strategic Agri-food Plan (PEA), a program filled with goals set by the national government, the provinces, companies and academics which focus on, amongst other points, increasing grain production by 60%: going from 100 million tons (half of which is soy) to 160 million for 2020. This essentially means expanding into new territories, today in the hands of peasants and indigenous peoples.

On Wednesday, June 27th, from San Luis and on national television, the President went one step further: “I dream that in my Patagonia, a steppe, we can also start intensive corn foliage production (∑) We know, too, that we are going to make the corn with a transgenic variety, which will allow us, precisely in that location, to create one of those zones where we can push the frontiers of agriculture, science, and technology”.

The report:

The investigation, “Soy Production in the Americas: Update on Land Use and Pesticides” was coordinated by the researcher Georgina Catacora Vargas, of the Norwegian Center for Biosafety, a space dedicated to research and teaching around genetic technologies and their consequences for the environment and for health. The survey and information processing took six months of work by researchers and journalists from Uruguay, Argentina, Brazil, Paraguay and Bolivia (this author was the Argentinian counterpart for the production). In 50 pages, complete with statistics and graphs, they take on a well-known reality in each one of the five countries, but one which has rarely been treated as a regional phenomenon. Dated January 2012, it was publicly distributed on August 6th, 2012. This synthesis was published in the July edition of our magazine Mu, el periódico de lavaca.

 

http://upsidedownworld.org/main/international-archives-60/3849-south-ame\

rica-soys-great-homeland

<http://upsidedownworld.org/main/international-archives-60/3849-south-am\

erica-soys-great-homeland>

South America: Soy’s Great Homeland [PDF]

<http://upsidedownworld.org/main/international-archives-60/3849-south-am\

erica-soys-great-homeland?format=pdf> [Print]

<http://upsidedownworld.org/main/international-archives-60/3849-south-am\

erica-soys-great-homeland?tmpl=component&print=1&page=> [E-mail]

<http://upsidedownworld.org/main/component/mailto/?tmpl=component&link=a\

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TYwLzM4NDktc291dGgtYW1lcmljYS1zb3lzLWdyZWF0LWhvbWVsYW5k> Written by

Darío Aranda, Translation by Alex Cachinero-Gorman Thursday, 06

September 2012 13:13

Source: lavaca <http://lavaca.org/>

 

Biofuelwatchers – advise please!!

Wow – it’s been a while since I last blogged on APEShit and I’ve been missing it, but sometimes life’s too hectic to blog. Anyway I came across Bioroot through Facebook, and I just wondered what you guys think of this, especially the Biofuelwatch crew, who I know follow this blog:

 

http://www.biorootenergy.com/

 

Of course, saying that they can clean-up coal-smokestack carbon and turn it into clean fuel must not dissuade our work towards encouraging renewable energy, but, is it possible to make clean fuel from municipal waste (shit) as they state on their website… and if so, why isn’t this taking-off like wildfire?

Can we get a dialogue going on this? Is Biorootenergy a green start-up with a future? Comments please!!


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