In the face of an imminent authorization of the Mexican Government’s to sow millions of hectares of GM maize in this country, several social networks and collectives in Oaxaca have declared 2013 as the Year of Resistance to GM maize and of defense of native maize, life and autonomy of the maize people. The most important genetic heritage of the Mesoamericans is at stake.
Communique # 109
Chaos theory proposes that a butterfly flapping its wings in Brazil could cause a hurricane in Texas. Complexity theory compounds the chaos by adding the quantum-like effects of, for example, genome changes in the butterfly to the conflictions of supercomputer models. Now, geoengineers want to multiply the complexity with politics. The result is an extreme form of artificial intelligence.
Gaia is complicated. From stratospheric currents to undersea rivers – and from plankton to palm tree emissions and sequestrations – quantifying, qualifying and calibrating planetary systems is at least as challenging as understanding genes or neurons. Despite decades of modeling, we are no more likely to predict next month’s best picnic day than we are to anticipate the proclivities of our DNA or to trace a memory in our cranium. Frustratingly, we have learned to map and manipulate genomes, geographies and memories, but we can’t control the consequences.
...Or "193 Shades of Grey".
2012 Whizzed and then it Fizzed, but 2013 can be Better
To get 2013 off with a technological BANG, ETC staff are offering (what, for us, amounts to) a ‘light-hearted’ reflection on the year past and projections for the one already upon us.
Uppers: At the end of the year, New Scientist announced that we have reduced the under-5 child mortality rate by 60 % in the last 20 years. In the United States, government studies revealed during the year that teenage pregnancies have declined 40 % since 1990; teenage smoking (at 10.6 %) is at its lowest level since records were first kept in 1975; the number of traffic fatalities in New York City (declining ever since 1971) are the lowest since 1910; in spite of a 50 % increase in the number of firearms, the number of US households possessing guns is continuing to drop. And, in late October, The Economist reported that, across most industrialized countries, the annual crime rate has been dropping steadily since the mid-1990s. In 2012, studies announced that homophobia, at least in OECD states, is declining steeply – a little short of World Peace or ending hunger but still something to celebrate.
If we are to survive climate change, we must adopt policies that let peasants diversify the plant and animal varieties on our menus. Only they have the know-how and patience to find out what plants and livestock will thrive where. A fundamental change in the regulatory machinery is needed.
This briefing outlines the principal decisions and resolutions of the Convention on Biological Diversity and London Convention/Protocol relating to ocean fertilization in the context of the Haida Salmon Restoration Corporation's "Haida Salmon Restoration Project".
The CBD Moratorium
From: Sweet,Adam [NCR] [mailto:Adam.Sweet@ec.gc.ca]
Sent: October-17-12 4:24 PM
Environmental protection and enforcement is a priority of our government. Under Budget 2012, we increased the levels of fines, and we have also recently increased the number of enforcement officers.
In mid-october 2012 ETC Group, working with partners, uncovered a large-scale unauthorised geoengineering scheme that had been carried out in July 300km off the west coast of Canada, close to the islands of Haida Gwaii. We discovered that this ocean fertilization scheme, which involved at least 120 tons of iron dust and iron sulphate being dumped into a highly biodiverse marine ecosystem, appeared to have given rise, at least in part, to an unusually large (10,000 sq km) plankton boom. We also learned that the principal actor behind this large dump of iron was Russ George formerly CEO of Planktos, a company that had attempted to dump iron in the waters west of the Galapagos Islands and the Canary islands in 2007. In ETC Group's view this activity violated at least three international moratoria established through the IMO's London Convention and the UN Convention on Biological Diversity.
This page presents a partial record of the media reporting and scientific and official responses to this large real-world geoengineeirng scheme.
Next year’s UN conference in Rio de Janeiro should mark the beginning of a new era of environmental and economic cooperation. Rio +20 is not only the 20th anniversary of the Earth Summit, it is also Stockholm+40 – marking the UN’s first major environmental conference, and, somewhat ominously, it is also the 50th anniversary of the publication of Rachel Carson’s groundbreaking Silent Spring. As we prepare for 2012, we have 50 years of environmental history to bear in mind.
There is little faith in the reform of the UN system; nonetheless, the United Nations Conference on Sustainable Development, to be held in Rio de Janeiro in 2012 – also known as Rio +20 – is not only to set the stage for a green economy, but also to provide an impetus for the institutional reform of the UN environmental sector. The ministerial-level advisory group brought together by the UN Environmental Program (UNEP) is preparing the reforms.
Here's a grim prediction to chew on. This biotech craze dubbed "synthetic biology"—where hipster geeks design quirky life-forms: That technology is going to wind up costing lives—likely a lot of them. I'm not suggesting a direct kill by rogue viruses. These will be economic deaths. The dead will not be noteworthy: farmers, pastoralists, and forest dwellers who live in poor nations that depend on plant commodities.
Syn bio is feted as the next big thing, but we should be clear-eyed about what makes syn bio such a big deal and about whom it will harm. Its advocates predict that synthetic bio will lead to the "New Bioeconomy," in which we harness biology to perform tasks now accomplished by manufacturing.
The New Bioeconomy seems innocently green. It involves yeast and bacteria being repurposed as bio-factories to churn out the plastics, chemicals, and fuels we are already addicted to. Since microbes feast on plant-stuff—whether algae, wood chips, or sugar—plants would replace petroleum as the key feedstock for industrial production. The sourcing of strategic raw materials, including medicines, rubber, and oils, will shift from the hands of farmers in the global South to fermentation vats controlled by the North.