International effort to address the food, energy and climate crisis tend to regard technology as an important part of the solution. This optimism about technology also prevails in debates around the Green Economy and international environmental governance. And of course technology does hold some potential solutions to some important problems. However, two decades of accelerating technological development and deployment, in the context of massive trade and investment liberalization, has left the globe in far worse straits than it was when the very concept of sustainable development was in its infancy. And now, it is time for a technological te-think. New high-risk technologies, ranging from the very small (synthetic biology, nanotechnology) to the very large (geoengineering), are rapidly developing. Their promoters promise that they hold the keys to solving climate change, world hunger, energy shortages and biodiversity loss and the precautionary principle and social and economic impacs are often ignored in the rush to deploy the latest technofix.
Recommendations for CBD Delegates
As the Conference of the Parties (COP) to the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD) ponders guidelines for considering new and emerging issues that may have implications for biodiversity – and struggles to adopt a protocol on access and benefit sharing (ABS) – researchers in synthetic biology are developing the capacity to construct synthetic life forms. The repercussions for biological diversity are unknown but could be devastating. Natural organisms, too, may be “tweaked” using synthetic biology to allow for patent monopolies beyond the reach of state sovereignty or of indigenous peoples.
Stop Geoengineering - Our home is not a laboratory
Industrial societies have produced unprecedented ecological crises: climate change, depleted fresh water, build-up of toxins, collapse of ecosystems and accelerating species extinction. The transgression of natural limits for private gain has compromised the integrity and survival of our living planet, Mother Earth. This way of living on the Earth has become unsustainable. Common sense says we must act to build a fairer civilization, one that steps more lightly on the planet – and fast.
RE: Asilomar International Conference on Climate Intervention Technologies: March 22-26 2010
As civil society organizations and social movements working to find constructive solutions to climate change, we want to express our deep concerns with the upcoming privately organized meeting on geoengineering in Asilomar, California. Its stated aim, which is to «develop a set of voluntary guidelines, or best practices, for the least harmful and lowest risk conduct of research and testing of proposed climate intervention and geoengineering technologies,» is moving us down the wrong road too soon and without any speed limit.
On the eve of a major intergovernmental conference on Agricultural Biotechnologies in Developing Countries (ABDC) in Guadalajara, Mexico, a civil society member of the international steering committee has resigned, calling the preparations for the gathering of governments and scientists “hopelessly biased” and “foolishly sidestepping key socioeconomic and scientific issues.”
Pat Mooney, Executive Director of ETC Group, a Canada-based international civil society organization with a long history of work with FAO and biotechnology issues, resigned from the steering committee on Tuesday, February 23 2010. The UN Food and Agriculture Organization conference, hosted by Mexico, runs from March 1- 4 in Guadalajara.
Climate Chaos in a Geoengineering Age, a Report Commissioned and Published by the Swedish Society for Nature Conservation.
This critical overview of geoengineering technologies examines the history, politics and social and ecological implications of attempts to add large-scale, intentional manipulation of the planet to the menu of possible responses to climate change. The report contests the notion that more funding, research and experimentation is needed into geoengineering technologies, and provides a series of recommendations on how these controversial technologies should be regulated.
LA SOCIETÀ CIVILE CHIEDE VALUTAZIONE DEGLI IMPATTI DELLE TECNOLOGIE NELL'AMBITO DI UN ACCORDO A COPENHAGEN
l trasferimento di tecnologia è uno dei quattro temi principali che
verranno discussi nel corso dei negoziati sulle azioni di cooperazione
per il lungo termine a Copenaghen (gli altri sono mitigazione,
adattamento e finanziamenti). Il testo negoziale preliminare contiene
diverse misure volte ad accelerare la diffusione di nuove tecnologie.
Con ogni probabilità i negoziati si tradurranno in un "piano d'azione"
e in un nuovo "organismo" di gestione delle tecnologie, che dovrà
coordinare diversi pannelli tecnici e/o centri di innovazione, e che
avrà grande influenza negli anni a venire sul tipo di sostegno
politico e finanziario che le nuove tecnologie riceveranno. In questo
quadro, è di grande importanza riuscire a fare in modo che siano le
tecnologie appropriate e benefiche a ricevere il necessario sostegno,
e non quelle pericolose o dannose. Questo non può avvenire senza una
valutazione approfondita ed adeguata degli impatti ambientali e
sociali di ogni nuova tecnologia.
让我们三思而行 公民社会呼吁技术评估成为 任何哥本哈根协定的组成部分
我们 - 来自世界各地的公民社会组织和社会活动团体 – 认为迫切需要真正
Technology transfer is one of the four key topics being discussed under negotiations on Long-Term Cooperative Actions in Copenhagen (the others are mitigation, adaptation and financing). The inter-governmental negotiating text that is under discussion contemplates various measures for accelerating the diffusion of technologies.
Rome’s Food Summit may determine who decides who will eat
The declaration coming out of the World Food Summit for Food Security in Rome is even worse than the “shameful” document adopted by world leaders in 1996, so famously criticized by Cuba’s Fidel Castro. Governments won’t promise anything to anybody. The only issue really being debated in Rome is whether control of the UN’s “Department of Agriculture” will be wrested from the UN’s Rome-based agencies and surrendered to an amorphous, G8 conjured, public-private compact called the Global Partnership for Agriculture, Food Security and Nutrition. If the Partnership prevails, national sovereignty fails, and civil society's hopes for Food Sovereignty will suffer.
Report on Nanotechology
The Big Downturn? Nanogeopolitics, ETC Group’s new 68-page report on global governance of nanoscale technologies, is an update of our 2005 Nanogeopolitics survey. In the intervening five years, policymakers – some kicking and screaming – have begun to acknowledge that fast-tracking nanotech has come at a price and that some sort of regulation is needed to deal with at least some of the risks nanoscale technologies pose.
Synthetic Biology and The Next Assault on Biodiversity and Livelihoods
The New Biomassters - Synthetic Biology and the Next Assault on Biodiversity and Livelihoods is a critique of what OECD countries are calling 'the new bioeconomy.' Concerted attempts are already underway to shift industrial production feedstocks from fossil fuels to the 230 billion tones of 'biomass' (living stuff) that the Earth produces every year -not just for liquid fuels but also for production of power, chemicals, plastics and more.
Sold as an ecological switch from a ‘black carbon’ (ie fossil) economy to a ‘green carbon’ (plant-based) economy, this emerging bioeconomy is in fact a red-hot resource grab of the lands, livelihoods, knowledge and resources of peoples in the global South, where most of that biomass is located.
Enabling the next stage of this new grab is the adoption of synthetic biology techniques (extreme genetic engineering) by a wave of high-tech companies partnering with the world’s largest energy, chemical, forestry and agribusiness corporations.
Gene Giants Stockpile Patents on “Climate-Ready” Crops in Bid to Become Biomassters
The world’s six largest agrochemical and seed corporations are filing sweeping, multi-genome patents in pursuit of exclusive monopoly over plant gene sequences. Marketed as crops genetically-engineered to withstand environmental stresses such as drought, heat, cold, floods, saline soils, and more, this development could lead to control of most of the world’s plant biomass – whether it is used for food, feed, fibre, fuel or plastics. Under the guise of developing “climate-ready” crops as a silver bullet solution to climate change, these companies are pressuring governments to allow the broadest and potentially most dangerous patent claims in intellectual property history. But can patented techno-fix seeds provide the adaptation strategies that small farmers need to cope with climate change? On the contrary, these proprietary technologies are poised to concentrate corporate power, drive up costs, inhibit independent research, and further undermine the rights of farmers to save and exchange seeds. For the “Gene Giants,” the goal is “biomasstery” – to profit from the world’s biomass.
This report exposes the new climate 'Plan B' for what it is: a political strategy aimed at letting industrialized countries off the hook for their climate debt. From adjusting the global thermostat to changing the chemistry of our oceans, these technofixes are a threat to people and the planet. The report contains an overview of the history, the science, the interests behind their rapid development and the international governance issues at stake.
Realpolitik, we are advised, recognizes that the multilateral system can’t produce an equitable or effective agreement that will mitigate climate chaos: Recognizing this, concerned governments and scientists have no reasonable choice but to investigate technological strategies that could reduce or delay climate change, at least until social forces make a practical agreement possible. Also according to Realpolitik, there is no more hope of achieving a multilateral consensus on re-jigging the thermostat than there is of adopting effective targets for greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions. Therefore, the issue is to create a narrative and construct a governance model that will allow a courageous, far-sighted, science- based “coalition of the willing” to justify their unilateral manipulation of the Earth’s systems. They call it geoengineering – we call it geopiracy.
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