FORTHCOMING GIGS & EARTH MATTERS
March 2013 - August 2014
Peter Brown's new album BLUES
April 2014 Readings@Seksan's
Saturday April 26th 3.30 - 6.00 pm
Markiza & Peter
at: Seksan's Gallery, 67 Jalan Tempenis 1, Lucky Garden, Bangsar, Kuala Lumpur
Admission free and everyone very welcome. Please pass on the invitation to anyone else you think might be interested.
June 3rd Tuesday
The Library (It's a pub!) Upper Street Islington, London N1,
Markiza & Peter Brown & Phil Davies
so if you happen to be in London please come by
The Virtually Acoustic Club Open Mic is every Monday night at the same venue (check) : http://www.thevac.co.uk/club.php
STRINGS a novel by Peter G. Brown, available as an e-book on line (much cheaper than the paperback - about 1/10th of the price!)
For those of you who live beyond Malaysia, this newsletter is predominantly focused on this country and more particularly the area around Kuala Lumpur. But wherever it is, it's still THE EARTH - its Environment and the squeezing of the environment is going on all over the world, so all of us are affected.
The environment (see below) is being assailed on all sides and fronts by those who have plans and schemes and business projects to build this and design that. Some of them don't even have permission from the authorities to do what they are doing, which is to relentlessly cut down the trees and destroy the plant and animal wildlife as well as the quality of life for people who want places they can go for recreation and humanisation. The Forest Research Institute Malaysia, FRIM is being threatened with a road being built through its forest park, while a large area of already gazetted forest is having to make way for another 6 lane highway (as if we don't have enough of them already). The prospects for Bukit Kiara as well don't look bright. Soon they'll be no green areas in the Kuala Lumpur area for fresh air and exercise as well as to conserve valuable and endangered species
This song that we wrote about this issue is being released as a single. It's called "Losing Nature". The lyric is based on an article in The Star by Chong Sheau Ching about an area of forest that was being "developed". But the song applies to many other similar cases of green parkland and preserved forest that are threatened with so-called "development". COMING SOON on www.reverbnation.com/softtouchmusic (check it in about a week's time if you want to listen to it - a video will be made later this year).
Forest No Place For Barbed Wire
Are We Falling Off the Climate Precipice?
Scientists Consider Extinction by Dahr Jamail
Now, I wonder about the future of our planet. During a recent visit with my eight-year-old niece and 10- and 12-year-old nephews, I stopped myself from asking them what they wanted to do when they grew up, or any of the future-oriented questions I used to ask myself. I did so because the reality of their generation may be that questions like where they will work could be replaced by: Where will they get their fresh water? What food will be available? And what parts of their country and the rest of the world will still be habitable?
The State of Corporate Power
Insights into the Power of Corporations
by Brid Brennan
Transnational corporations, particularly gas & oil industry, and banking have continued to benefit extraordinarily from the ongoing economic and financial crisis, says Brid Brennan, who presents TNI's State of Power Report 2014 at the Public Eye Awards in Davos.
A speech by Brid Brennan, at the Public Eye Awards Press Conference, Davos, Switzerland January 23, 2014
TNI's 2014 State of Power Report, reveals that in the past year, transnational corporations (TNCs), particularly gas and oil industry and banking have continued to benefit extraordinarily from the ongoing economic and financial crisis while ordinary people pay the costs. Despite their responsibility for the financial and ecological crises, bailouts and "austerity packages" they work to the benefit of the 0.001% and squeeze the income and tighten the pressure on the 99%.
Bukit Kiara lovers strive on
MONT KIARA GREEN NO MORE
1. No application: DBKL said the land clearing work is illegal as it has not received an application for clearing work.
2. A part of the land which is being turfed to prepare for the project.
3. A bike track used by the residents for their recreational activities has become a road for heavy machines and trucks.
'BETTER JAMS THAN NO WATER'
The Government must review the need for the Kuala Lumpur Outer Ring Road (KLORR) project, as the Selangor State Park (SSP) – which it cuts through – contains vital water catchment areas, said environmental groups.
The Protection of the Selangor State Park coalition said it was greatly concerned over the proposal to degazette 106.55ha of land from four forest reserves in Selangor, namely the Ampang, Bukit Seputeh, Ulu Gombak and Ulu Langat forest reserves, for the KLORR.
FIGHTING DEFORESTATION ON LINE
Google has set up a new website, a state-of-the-art database to track deforestation, which is a major culprit behind the accelerating world climate change.
The website: www.globalforestwatch.org will show tree loss around the world in high resolution and with frequent updates. the data will be available for free and not require much technical skill to use.
The planet lost some 2.3 million square kilometres of forest from 2000 to 2012, according to data assembled by Google and University of Maryland, USA. That is equivalent to 50 soccer fields of forest lost every minute of every day for 12 years. Countries with the highest tree cover loss are Brazil, Russia, Canada, United States and Indonesia.
"The problem to date hasn't been the lack of goodwill, or even the lack of good forest regulations and laws written down. It has been, among other things, the lack of ability to really know what's going on," said Andrew Steer, chief executive of World Resources Institute, a leader in creating the database.
"When the president of Indonesia passed good laws on forests, it was very difficult for him to know what was actually going on in real time," Steer said.
The Global Forest Watch database will allow anyone to look on line and verify the boundaries of protected forests, including buyers of palm oil who want to avoid illicit production.
TRANS-PACIFIC PARTNERSHIP - THE GOOD AND THE BAD NEWS
I’ve got good news and bad news.
Good news first: negotiations for the “Trans Pacific Partnership”, a secret “free” trade agreement that could trash the climate, were temporarily put on hold thanks to a massive public outcry.
Now for the bad news: the TPP menace is back. Despite the global outpouring of opposition to this corporate giveaway, governments around the world are on the verge of locking in an agreement. Not surprisingly, the fossil fuel industry is helping lead the charge for a swift passage of this climate disaster.
Negotiators are meeting right now in Singapore to lock a deal -- but there’s still a chance that we can stop this. We’ve done it once, and we can do it again. This time, let’s make sure all governments withdraw their support for TPP for good:
The TPP is so secretive that elected officials, civil society and the press have been shut out of negotiations. It is no coincidence that negotiators chose Singapore to meet: the country is one of the most strict places in the world when it comes to public demonstrations. And we had big plans at the meeting -- a team of volunteer activists was organising a petition delivery, but due to high security risks at the place, the plans had to be cancelled.
Corporations are trying to silence our movement, so we need to raise our voices even louder. If delegates are working with the fossil fuel industry on an agreement that puts our planet at stake -- without even letting people express their concerns -- than this can’t be a good deal for people or the planet.
Leaked text from Wikileaks confirms our worst fears: the TPP would empower fossil fuel companies to directly sue governments over laws and policies that they claim reduce their profits. Legislation designed to address climate change, curb fossil fuel expansion and reduce air pollution could all be subject to attack as a result of the TPP. This agreement could well be an enormous corporate power grab made at the expense of our democracy and our climate.
It’s strange enough that our governments aren’t boasting about the benefits TPP would bring.
They’re barely mentioning the deal in public, and are keeping public opinion as far as they can from negotiations. That’s why there’s no consensus among negotiators. And that’s why millions of people across the world are opposing TPP.
Let’s make them get our message loud and clear: the fossil fuel industry can try to make TPP secretive. They can try to keep us from reaching the negotiators. But they can’t prevent people-power from standing against what’s wrong for the planet.
Eduardo Santaela @ 350.org
Meanwhile, the U.S. public remains completely shut out, with the Obama administration refusing to make public any part of the TPP negotiating text.
OLD-GROWTH FOREST ACTION ALERT
PLEASE SEND, SHARE, LIKE, FORWARD!
we are on facebook, you can access our page if you click below
BOR EI ENGROK
Sunday, January 19, 2014
Markiza & Peter Brown
…More to be announced!
Merdekarya Jalan 5/57 Petaling Jaya, Selangor, Malaysia
(off Jalan Gasing)
Dear Team MNS,
Many events including films on environmental issues held regularly every month
Gazette the Green Lung Now
The people who use Bukit Kiara have spoken out. They have even gone on a walk to highlight their grievances.
Noam Chomsky on the threat of ecological disaster
“If there ever is future historians, they’re going to look back at this period of history with some astonishment,” Chomsky said. “The danger, the threat, is evident to anyone who has eyes open and pays attention at all to the scientific literature, and there are attempts to retard it, there are also at the other end attempts to accelerate the disaster, and if you look who’s involved it’s pretty shocking.” ... http://www.rawstory.com/
Losing nature, losing nature, lose it easily
In times far off the survivors will write our history
The King of Kiara Trailshttp://www.thestar.com.my/
Posted By: Alexis Baden-Mayer (campaign leader)
hear Monsanto and its hired guns and faux scientists tell it,
everyone's on the same page. Their page. Which is to
say that genetically modified organisms (GMOs), along with all their
pesticides and herbicides, are perfectly safe. Case closed.
But this week, a group of international scientists (the real kind, not the ones paid by the biotech industry), physicians and academics signed a statement to set the record straight. No, they wrote. Despite the many claims to the contrary, there is no consensus that GMOs are safe.
Dr. Angelika Hilbeck, chairwoman of the European
Network of Scientists for Social and Environmental Responsibility (ENSSER)
and one of the signers:
statement draws attention to the diversity of opinion over GMOs in the
scientific community and the often contradictory or inconclusive
findings of studies on GMO safety. These include toxic effects on
laboratory animals fed GM foods, increased pesticide use from GM crop
cultivation and the unexpected impacts of Bt insecticidal crops on
beneficial and non-target organisms."
How will the world's economy crash? We think it will happen when the US dollar finally topples over. Journey along the rocky road from the web pages of Zero Hedge ("on a long enough timeline the survival rate for everyone drops to zero")
THE LIQUIDITY TRAP
"A liquidity trap is a situation described in Keynesian economics in which injections of cash into the private banking system by a central bank fail to lower interest rates and hence fail to stimulate economic growth. A liquidity trap is caused when people hoard cash because they expect an adverse event such as deflation, insufficient aggregate demand, or war. Signature characteristics of a liquidity trap are short-term interest rates that are near zero and fluctuations in the monetary base that fail to translate into fluctuations in the general price levels."
Evidence is mounting that the US Federal Reserve has now become trapped within this dynamic. The boost in asset prices caused by the increased levels of liquidity in the system has benefited the wealthy while doing little to jumpstart the real economy... Currently, with most economic indicators showing signs of weakness, it is clear that the Federal Reserve is currently experiencing a diminishing rate of return from their monetary policies.
From this standpoint it was shocking to see someone, particularly Larry Summers (Editor's note: At one point, Summers was the front runner to replace Ben Bernanke), actually discuss this issue during a recent CNBC interview stating his case on why it is wrong to rely on monetary policy as the main driver of the economy.
The important point is that, for the first time that I am aware of, someone has verbally stated that we are indeed caught within a liquidity trap. This has been a point that has been vigorously opposed by supporters of the Federal Reserve actions.
Of course, the lack of transmission of the current monetary interventions into the real economy has remained a conundrum for the Federal Reserve as the gap between improving economic statistics and the real underlying economic fabric continues to widen. As Larry states, we are indeed in uncharted territory. With the direct manipulation of interest rates near impossible, it leaves only verbal (forward guidance) and liquidity (increases of excess reserves) policy tools available.
The problem is that these tools have never been used to such a massive extent before in history. While analysts and economist continue to suggest, with each passing year, that stronger economic growth is coming; it has yet to be the case. As discussed previously, this is a tell-tale sign of a liquidity trap. - by Lance Roberts of STA Wealth Management
Read the full report here: Zero Hedge.
BOR EI ENGROK
Our last "Bor Ei Engrok" night of the year is coming up next weekend at Merdekarya! Come and be entertained by musicians, stand-up comedians, spoken word artists.
Drop by to support our creative arts initiative for Orang Asli children across Malaysia.
You can also sign up to volunteer for our village trip (5/1/2014) as well as drop off recyclable items and/or children's books.
Markiza and Peter Brown
More to be announced soon!
A message from the leader
Posted By: Organic Consumers Association (campaign leader)
working to pass state GMO labeling laws, only to have Congress take
away that right?
now, a House and Senate conference committee is hashing out the details
of the 2013 Farm Bill. Within the House version of that bill is an
amendment offered by Rep. Steve King (R-Iowa) that has the potential
out states' rights to label genetically
modified organisms (GMOs).
King Amendment is designed to take away California's right to regulate
food that comes from factory farms. Specifically, Rep. King wants to
Proposition 2, a law passed by the voters that says farm animals
should have enough room to spread their limbs and turn around.
the amendment includes sweeping language about regulating states'
rights to regulate food and farming. Sweeping enough that we believe it
could threaten state GMO labeling laws.
still time to keep this dangerous amendment out of the final version of
the Farm Bill. Please call your U.S. Representative and two Senators
today at (202) 224-3121. Ask them to oppose the King Amendment
and support states' rights to regulate food and farming.
|SIGN THE PETITION|
Posted By: Rainforest Action Network (campaign leader)
Take 50 seconds to hear an important message from the RAN team, direct from the remote jungles of Indonesia: http://links.
TAKE ACTION and help save the last remaining wild orangutans from
"Conflict Palm Oil."
Palm oil is found in roughly half the products sold in grocery stores, and its production on vast industrial plantations is now one of the leading causes of rainforest destruction worldwide. Palm oil is the single biggest threat driving orangutans toward extinction, and is also responsible for widespread human rights violations including displacement of Indigenous Peoples, land conflicts with forest-dependent communities, and forced and child labor.
This is why we've dubbed it "Conflict Palm Oil"--and it's currently used in many of the most popular snack foods in the world.
Companies using Conflict Palm Oil in their products aren't just feeding you rainforest destruction and orangutan extinction, though--they're also feeding you climate change. Deforestation in Indonesia and Malaysia, where nearly all palm oil is grown, is responsible for more carbon pollution into earth's atmosphere each year than all the cars, trucks, planes, trains and ships in the United States combined. In fact, due to deforestation, Indonesia has the world's third largest greenhouse gas emissions behind only China and the United States.
But we can do something about it!
the great red ape,
Rainforest Action Network
|SIGN THE PETITION|
from Bill McKibben, www.350.org
In a reasonable world, Typhoon Haiyan would be the wakeup call that jolts world leaders meeting in Poland for UN climate talks into decisive action. Depressingly, the message isn’t yet getting through, which is why the Filipino delegation, and many allies, have embarked on a fast to underline the immense, immediate needs facing the victims of this storm.
For our part, we’re bringing thousands on thousands of messages of solidarity with Philippines climate leaders from around the world to the halls of the UN climate talks. This is our way of showing intransigent politicians that the world is counting on them to stand with the victims of Typhoon Haiyan and take real action.
Our team in Warsaw will deliver the messages alongside the Philippines delegation later this week, and it’s my hope that they’ll be carrying yours when they do. Click here to send a wake up call message on behalf of the Philippines.
Due to the overwhelming destruction of infrastructure and communication systems, the relief effort in the hardest hit places is only just beginning. In addition to sending that message, can you pitch in to support our friends in the Philippines as they recover from this unprecedented storm, if you’re able?
This Thursday, the penultimate day of UN talks, people will be gathering in climate justice for the Philippines vigils across the globe, to send the message we’re standing with the Philippines even if they won’t.
Yeb Sano, the lead Filipino negotiator at the UN Talks, has been fasting for 7 days in a brave protest of the inaction and delay in the face of climate disaster. And his courage is contagious: we're hearing from people around the world who are fasting with him in solidarity.
The full account of the destruction won’t be known for a while yet, but the message of Typhoon Haiyan already couldn’t be clearer. It doesn’t feel quite right to look for good in moments like these, but there is at least a glimmer of hope that such a tragedy will cut through the fog of politics and reveal the urgency of this crisis.
I fear it will only happen if we push however, and so push we will.
is on fire. Rather than argue about how fast it's burning, we need to
start throwing buckets of water."
- Michael Brune, Director, Sierra Club, Sept. 27, 2013
Our house is on fire. We'd better start throwing
buckets of water. Fast.
This World Food
Day, OCA National Director, Ronnie Cummins, urged everyone who wants to
help put out the fire to take a close look at the food you eat. Where
did it come from? How was it grown or raised? What did it take to get
it from the farm to your table?
are rarely part of the climate-change debate. Yet they should
be. Because today's global food system, with its intense
dependence on biotechnology, chemicals, water and fossil fuels, is
destroying the natural capacity of plants, trees and soils to sequester
excess greenhouse gases.
|TAKE THE PLEDGE|
Twelve countries are about to agree a trade deal that would let companies sue our governments to get rid of laws that protect us, but reduce their profits! This affects legislation on everything from internet freedom to GMO labeling. With just 48 hours until the deal is sealed, three countries are wobbling. If we deluge them right now with a call to stand strong, we can stop this global corporate takeover before Monsanto uncorks the champagne:
HOW on earth is this poor cobra going to get to the other side of the fence in search of food or be together with the rest of the family (pic)?
Despite a firm assurance from the then Housing and Local Government Minister in a public dialogue session in July 2012 that all fencing work at Bukit Kiara will stop immediately (the fencing project had caused extensive damage to the environment), the National Landscape Department (JLN) insists on carrying on with the project.
Do we want Bukit Kiara to be further damaged with all the huge machines and equipment?
What about the suffering of the wildlife which will have limited mobility in search of food?
Why are we restricting their access when they were born free? This picture epitomises the ill-effects of the fence on the powerless and long-suffering animals.
In short the continuation of the fencing project will bring more damage than good.
It is beyond me why JLN is willing to spend so much money on a project which benefits nobody. It is still not too late.
Hopefully, JLN will finally listen to the voice of the rakyat and
protect one of the last standing green lungs in the heart of the city.
Posted By: Greenpeace (campaign leader)
today the Russian government agreed to amend an amnesty bill to include
the 28 Greenpeace activists and two freelance journalists that were
arrested in September following a peaceful protest against oil drilling
in the Arctic. The bill was just now officially adopted by the Russian
This means legal proceedings against them will be stopped and they should be home soon if they choose to accept amnesty.I can almost hear the collective sigh of relief, but they're not celebrating. They've all spent two months in jail for a crime they didn't commit, faced absurd criminal charges and drilling in the Russian Arctic is set to start any day now.
As Peter Willcox, captain of the seized Greenpeace ship Arctic Sunrise, said: "There's no amnesty for the Arctic."
After amnesty has been accepted and as soon as they have the necessary exit visas, they will be able to leave Russia. We're keeping our fingers crossed that the Russian authorities make the process speedy and allow them to spend the holidays with their families.
The support over the last four months has been overwhelming. There have been 860 protests in 46 countries, and more than 2.6 million people emailing their Russian embassy.
You've been at the heart of this - signing petitions, attending protests, getting your friends involved -- it has been an incredibly inspiring stand of solidarity.
doesn't end once they're home. We
must finish the job and save the Arctic.
The fate of Bukit Kiara - when government doesn't listen to the people
Date: Saturday, September 28 2013
Venue: In front of Bakti Building (at the base of the Bukit Kiara jogging trail)
Time: 8:00 am
Please come and support us at this Walk. Bring your family and friends. At the same time spread this event to all. Please wear your `Save Bukit Kiara' T-shirts.
Why are we having this protest walk for the 3rd time?
Despite a firm assurance from the then Minister of Housing and Local Government, YB Chor in a dialogue session in July 2012 that all fencing work will stop immediately (the fencing project had caused extensive damage to the environment). Friends of Bukit Kiara was informed that they will be consulted on this matter should there be new developments. Therefore we were shocked to get a letter dated 26 Aug from JLN that it is going ahead with the fencing project with or without our support. Do we want to Bukit Kiara to be further damaged with all the huge machines and equipment? What about the suffering of the wildlife which will have limited mobility in search of food? Why are we restricting their access? In short the continuation of the fencing project will bring MORE damage than good. Therefore we strongly object to the continuation of the fencing project.
Despite the Malaysian Cabinet making an important decision in 2007 to keep 188.93ha (466.86 acres) of Bukit Kiara green, there is increasing concern whether the whole of Bukit Kiara will be gazetted as promised by the Government.
Recent developments with respect of Lot 52314 (62.5 acres for use as polo and equestrian grounds only) have raised concern on whether City Hall will give in to the demands of Berjaya Corporation to approve a development order to build a stadium, condos, hospital, international school, exhibition area etc.
The time has come for the Government not only has to give the rakyat an undertaking that Bukit Kiara's status will remain green but also inform Berjaya Corporation in no uncertain terms that it will not allow any form of development in the BK area as it is one of the few remaining green lungs left in the city.
We love Bukit Kiara as it is
A message from the campaign
State officials in Oregon are temporarily restricting the use of more than a dozen pesticide products following the deaths of an estimated 50,000 bumblebees in the Portland area this month.
The measure, effective immediately, will last for 180 days while the Oregon State Agricultural Department investigates incidents of a mass bee die-off in the Portland suburb of Wilsonville, and a much smaller die-off in neighboring Hillsboro.
Eighteen pesticide products containing the active ingredient dinotefuran and used for ornamental, turf and agricultural applications have been banned for now.
"I have directed the agency to take this step in an effort to minimize any potential for additional incidents involving bee deaths connected to pesticide products with this active ingredient until such time as our investigation is completed and we have more information," the agency's director, Katy Coba, said in a statement released Thursday.
"Conclusions from the investigation will help us and our partners evaluate whether additional steps need to be considered."
A pesticide known as Safari, which contains dinotefuran and belongs to a class called neonicotinoids, caused the deaths of an estimated 50,000 bumblebees in a Target parking lot in Wilsonville this month, authorities said. Crews have wrapped the affected linden trees around the lot with protective netting to prevent further deaths.
|DISCUSS THE UPDATE|
Get others involved
June 24, 2013) Just as Pollinator
Weekbegan last week, an estimated 50,000 bumblebees, likely
representing over 300 colonies, were found dead or dying in a shopping
mall parking lot in Wilsonville, Oregon. Authorities confirmed Friday
that the massive bee die-off was caused by the use of a neonicotinoid
pesticide, dinotefuran, on nearby trees. Then on Saturday, it was
reported by The
Oregonian that what could be hundreds of bees were found
dead after a similar pesticide use in the neighboring town of
According to the Xerces
Society, this is the largest known incident of bumblebee deaths
ever recorded in the country. Bumblebees, which are crucial to
pollination of multiple berry and seed crops grown in the Willamette
valley, have recently experienced dramatic population
declines, a fate that is similar to other pollinators. Dan Hilburn,
Director of plant programs at the Oregon Department of Agriculture
(ODA), told Oregon Live that he's "never
encountered anything quite like it in 30 years in the business." The
incident highlights the difficulty of permitting in commerce such a
highly toxic material that indiscriminately kills beneficial
A recent study, An
overview of the environmental risks posed by neonicotinoid insecticides,
published in the Journal of Applied Ecology, documents that
neonicotinoid persistence in soil and water can cause broad and
far-reaching impacts on ecosystem health, much of which have undergone
little scientific scrutiny. The author asserts that world leaders have
failed to meet their commitment made at the 2002 Convention on
Biological Diversity – to achieve a significant reduction in the rate
biodiversity loss. He points to neonicotinoids as a potential cause of
this failure, due to their long-term persistence in soil and water. He
specifically points to soil dwelling insects, benthic aquatic insects,
grain-eating vertebrates, and pollinators as being in particular danger
from the use of these chemicals.
The ODA and Xerces Society had been working together
to investigate the pesticide poisoning. After interviewing the
landscaping company that maintains dozens of ornamental trees around
the parking lot, ODA investigators learned that Safari, a pesticide
product with the active ingredient dinotefuran, had recently been
applied on Saturday, June 15 to control aphids.Dinotefuran is
a neonicotinoid pesticide that is highly toxic to bees; the product's
label strictly forbids its use if bees are in the area.
Scott Black, executive director of the Xerces Society, noted that
the pesticide was applied to the tree while it was flowering, an action
that violates the product's instructions. "Beyond the fact that a
pesticide was applied to plants while they were attracting large
numbers of bees, in this case the pesticide was applied for purely
cosmetic reasons. There was no threat to human health or the protection
of farm crops that even factored into this decision."
Neonicotinoids, including dinotefuran, can be broadly
applied as a spray, soil drench, or seed treatment, however, the
ability of these chemicals to translocate through a plant as it grows
has led to the creation of a large market within chemical-intensive
landscaping and agriculture. Once these systemic pesticides are taken
up by a plant's vascular system, they are expressed through pollen,
nectar and guttation droplets from which pollinators such as bees then
forage and drink. Neonicotinoids kill sucking and chewing insects by
disrupting their nervous systems. Beginning in the late 1990s, these
systemic insecticides also began to take over the seed treatment
market. Clothianidin and imida
Several different crops in the Willamette valley of
Oregon rely heavily on the pollination services provided by
bumblebees. Blueberries, raspb
Want to get involved? See this petition on Causes
Posted by Alexis Baden-Mayer (campaign leader)
Public approval? Government regulations? Who needs 'em
when you can use a global trade agreement to do an end run?
If you thought recent news stories claiming
that Monsanto has given up on trying to sell its genetically engineered
seeds in Europe sounded too good to be true, you were right. Far from
giving up, the biotech industry is now looking to a new trade pact
between the EU and the U.S. that could blow the European market wide
open for genetically modified organisms (GMOs). TheTransatlantic
Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP) calls
for the removal of "unnecessary regulatory barriers" to trade. Among
those barriers are restrictions on GMOs. Here's what Sen.
Ron Wyden (D-Ore.) had
to say about the deal:
"US seed companies that for a decade have been
struggling to break the deadlock over the authorization for the
cultivation of their [GM] seeds now will be presented with the ultimate
opportunity to change the entire process to suit their needs."
The TTIP, and its Pacific Rim counterpart, the
Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP), are being negotiated in secret. No
input from the public. No access by Congress, despite requests from
more than 140 Congress members to see drafts of the negotiating texts.
Who does have input? More than 600
corporations. And if President Obama gets his way, both deals
will be"fast-tracked" with
Want to get involved? See this petition on Causes
Saving Bukit Kiara
For the past six years, Traks has been fighting an uphill battle to preserve Bukit Kiara. In June 2007, the Cabinet made a decision to gazette 189ha of Bukit Kiara as a permanent forest reserve. However, there hasn’t been any follow-up since.
Despite repeated rallies and campaigns by various NGOs and resident associations to protect Kiara, parcels of land have been leased out or are being considered for lease to private developers. In fact, bulldozers have been moving in and clearing chunks of Kiara over the years.
“The recent Bukit Kiara saga is quite saddening and is at the forefront of our minds right now,” says Roberts.
Together with environmental groups like Malaysian Nature Society and Global Environment Centre, and the Taman Tun Dr Ismail Residents Association, non-profit organisations like Landskap Malaysia and Friends of Bukit Kiara (FoBK), Traks organised the Save Bukit Kiara Walk in March. Thousands gathered at Kiara to show their support to preserve one of the few remaining green lungs in Kuala Lumpur.
“By destroying the city’s green areas, Malaysia is going against what’s now a generally accepted trend of having more green space per square metre of people,” he adds.
“These spaces contribute to the quality of life for city folks by increasing the air quality, reducing heat effect from development, and improving the health of people in the community, among other benefits.
“At the end of the day, without raw green space, there are no trails to build, maintain, manage or frolic about!” Roberts sums up.
WHO CARES ABOUT GREEN LUNGS?
from The Nutgraph
PLEASE SEND, SHARE, LIKE, FORWARD!
HSBC Bank Must Stop Funding Old-Growth Rainforest Logging
By the Rainforest Portal a project of Ecological Internet http://www.
June 23, 2013
TAKE ACTION to stop HSBC from funding old-growth rainforest logging:
HSBC Bank continues to fund logging companies pillaging old-growth rainforests and causing human rights abuses in Sarawak, Malaysia, and expanding globally. After ravaging all but 5% of Sarawak’s once pristine tropical rainforests, HSBC’s Sarawak clients – described in Papua New Guinea as the “Malaysian timber mafia” – now dominate the global, ecocidal old-growth timber industry. Anyone participating in the industrial destruction of Earth’s last old-growth forests – be they banks, governments, corporations, or NGOs – are legitimate protest targets, if we are to maintain local well-being and a habitable Earth for all. Please demand that HSBC end all involvement with old-growth rainforest logging.
Discuss Alert: http://www.
Please also send the following alerts (to which you will be forwarded) to protect old-growth forests as a keystone response to the climate and ecosystem crises as well:
Protect Papua New Guinea Indigenous Cave-Dwellers from Rainforest Destroying Mafia
Demand India Protect Old-Growth and Abandon Coal
Massive Chinese Dam Threatens Cambodia's Cardamom Rainforests
Please support Ecological Internet's campaigns to protect and restore old
forests at http://www.
SAVING OLD GROWTH FORESTS IN TASMANIA
Wisconsin) – Ecological Internet – a small forest and climate
protection NGO with a global reach – is thrilled to have contributed to
an additional 170,000 hectares (about 420,000 acres) of Tasmania,
Australia, old-growth forests being protected. Following decades of
local protest, six years of blockades, tree sitting, and extensive
international affinity campaigns spearhead by Ecological Internet and
others, most of Tasmania’s remaining old-growth has been granted World
Heritage area protection, which should exclude further logging. The
Tasmanian Wilderness World Heritage area has been extended to include
the iconic Upper Florentine and areas within the Styx, Huon, Picton,
and Counsel River Valleys.
Tasmania is home to the tallest hardwood forests on Earth, with eucalyptus trees reaching nearly 100 metres and living for over 400 years, existing within one of Earth's greatest tracts of large, connected, and ecologically intact temperate rainforest. Tasmania contains large tracts of natural old-growth forest, glacial landforms, alpine and sub-alpine environments, wild rivers, indigenous heritage sites, and critical endangered species habitat. There are many species that rely on old growth trees for their survival, including important habitat for rare and threatened species such as the endangered wedge-tailed eagle and the Tasmanian devil.
“It’s fantastic that after so many years of campaigning, conservationists around Tasmania, and indeed the world, can celebrate the protection of these magnificent wild forests that contain the tallest flowering plants on earth and an array of wonderful wildlife… We can all smile broadly knowing that at last Tasmania’s forests of outstanding universal value are now protected for all time,” states Green Leader Christine Milne after the announcement was made by the UNESCO's World Heritage Committee and the Australian government on Monday. Forest conservationists must remain vigilant, as some politicians continue to espouse logging in the World Heritage area, which would make a mockery of this important declaration.
Ecological Internet and predecessor Forests.org have been active in internationalizing Tasmanian forest protection for two decades, actively promoting local conservationist’s demands with affinity alerts, including successfully targeting for years Gunns to end its old-growth logging for pulp. Earlier this year Ecological Internet globally publicized findings  that, while the Australian government had made pledges to protect Tasmania's priceless temperate rainforests, industrial clearcut logging of old-growth continued in what was to be a World Heritage area.
Recently, several thousand forest activists associated with Ecological Internet from 110 countries sent some 129,795 protest emails demanding the Tasmania World Heritage area be extended and logging cease therein, demands which have been met in full. Australia’s federal Environment Minister Tony Burke sent emails to all those who participated, stating, “They’re [Tasmania’s old-growth forests] protected forever now. Your work and advocacy has helped make this real,” publicly acknowledging our pressure as having contributed to the victory.
Our most recent of dozens of alerts over the past twenty two years supported conservationist Miranda Gibson, who, from atop the "Observer Tree" in the middle of this ancient forest, called for our help in protecting these globally significant forests. For six years the Upper Florentine Valley had been defended by Tasmania’s longest running forest blockade. After the victory, Ms. Gibson noted, “Thousands of people across the globe have been part of this global movement to protect Tasmania’s ancient forests as World Heritage. Right around the world people today are celebrating the power of community action and what we have achieved for Tasmania’s forests.”
“My intuition is that global protest, spearheaded at a critical time by EI, played an unusually large role in ending Tasmania’s battle to protect the last large old-growth forests, as the hypocrisy of continuing to log forests marked for World Heritage status was too shameful to disregard,” says Dr. Glen Barry, Ecological Internet’s president. “When Australia gets things right, they do it in a big way, and this 170,000 hectare addition to the Tasmanian Wilderness World Heritage area is a tremendously important gift to the Earth. Now if Australia can get off of coal, and protect and restore other old-growth forests that continue to be cleared, they may have a chance at ecological sustainability.”
### ENDS ###
 Status Report on Logging in World Heritage nominated forests by Still Wild Still Threatened and Huon Valley Environment Centre, http://bit.ly/
 Protest Tasmanian Old-Growth Logging in Proposed World Heritage Area, http://www.ecoearth.info/
 The Observer Tree, http://observertree.org/
** Please support Ecological Internet’s campaign to end industrial old-growth forest logging as a means to promote local advancement from standing forests, crucial to local and global ecological sustainability, with a donation at:http://forests.org/shared/
Posted by Randall Arauz (campaign leader)
Add your voice
We still need
a little over 2000 signatures to reach our 20000 goal. Please,
sign and distribute, and be a part of this campaign to protect
hawksbill and olive ridley sea turtles, and promote sustainable small
scale fisheries to the benefit of coastal communities.
Want to get involved? See this petition on Causes
A campaign urges people to get smart and creative about curbing food wastage.
from The Star 2 by Tan Cheng Li
THE amount of food we throw away is staggering – one-third of all food produced globally. Currently, 1.3 billion tonnes of food worth around US$1 trillion (RM3.1 trillion) fails to make it from farm to table, according to the Food and Agricultural Organisation (FAO).
Which is why this year, the World Environment Day theme is Think.Eat.Save. The aim is to spread awareness on the environmental impact of food wastage.
FAO data shows that consumers in Europe and North America waste between 95kg and 115kg of food a year each, while those in Africa, south Asia and south-eastern Asia, 6kg to 11kg a year.
this update with others
Details Mounting Bee Losses
Beyond Pesticides, May 13, 2013
According to preliminary results
of a survey by the Bee Informed Partnership, 31.1 percent of
managed honey bee colonies in the U.S. were lost during the 2012/2013
winter. Though these preliminary loss reports are similar to the
past six year average of 30.5 percent, the new loss numbers represent a
42 percent increase compared to the previous winter. Survey
participants indicate that they consider a loss rate of 15 percent as
"acceptable," but 70 percent of participants suffered losses greater
than this. With continued winter bee losses of over 30%, and concern
whether there will be enough
bees to pollinate U.S. crops this year, beekeepers and
environmentalists say it is imperative that regulators act by
banning the neonicotiniod pesticides that have been implicated in the
global decline of honey bee populations.
In addition to this national report, several state
level incidents of large scale honey bee colony losses have been
reported. In a recent incident in Florida, citrus
groves experienced an acute foliar poisoning that resulted in severely
damaged colonies. Oranges had an early bloom this year, and were still
blooming near the end of April. One beekeeper's colonies suffered
immense losses due to drift from an application of Montana 2F, an imdacloprid-based
insecticide, from a neighboring grove. 1000-1500 colonies were killed,
while 10,000-13,000 colonies suffered severe damage. Citrus trees were
sprayed while bees were actively foraging during daylight hours. The
foliar application directions on Montana 2F's label clearly
state, "Do not apply during bloom or within 10 days prior to bloom or
when bees are actively foraging." Imidacloprid is one of the neonicotinoid pesticides
that have been linked to dramatic bee declines. Recently, the European
Commission voted to ban
the use of these chemicals.
close to 60 percent of the managed hives died during the 2012/2013
winter, according to the state bee inspector and local beekeepers.
"This is the worst I've seen in 35 years. We didn't all get stupid at
once. I don't know what it is, but it isn't our stupidity," said Steve
McDaniel, a 35-year beekeeper and retired chemist. Maryland depends on
a robust honey bee population to pollinate a large volume of the
state's crops. These crops — apples, melons, berries and pumpkins
— are valued in excess of $40 million.
beekeepers are calling on the Canadian Food Inspection Agency to allow
commercial beekeepers to import package bees from the U.S. because of
higher than expected bee losses this past winter. Some beekeepers
reported average losses of up to 50 percent of their hives. Though
weather is seen as a major factor in the wintering losses of Canadian
honey bees, the Canadian Association of Professional Apiculturists also
argue that the use of systemic pesticides are connected to these
dramatic bee loses.
In study after study
Recently, Beyond Pesticides launched a comprehensive
campaign called BEE Protective to
support nationwide local action aimed at protecting honey bees and
other pollinators from pesticides. BEE Protective is releasing a
variety of educational materials, including a BEE
Protective Habitat Guide, providing information on creating native
pollinator habitat in communities, eliminating bee-toxic chemicals, and
other advocacy tools. The campaign also encourages municipalities,
campuses, and homeowners to adopt policies that protect bees and other
pollinators from harmful pesticide applications and create
pesticide-free refuges for these beneficial organisms. In addition to
scientific and regulatory information, BEE Protective also includes a model
community pollinator resolution and a pollinator
Posted by Ben EJ Evans (campaign leader)
Ladies and Gentlemen, Right now in Brussels, a scam
seems to be taking place that will harm bees, biodiversity and all
citizens who have been fighting for several years to ban bee killing
pesticides in Europe and every country in the world. The
alleged ban on neonicotinoids announced by the European Commission
appears to be a scam, thought out by the agrochimical firms to obtain
official agreement for the bee-killing pesticides they sell.
Posted by Alexis Baden-Mayer (campaign leader)
On the eve of a worldwide protest against Monsanto, 71
U.S. senators voted against an amendment to the Senate version of the
2013 Farm Bill that would have guaranteed states the right to enact
mandatory GMO (genetically modified organism) labeling laws.
Seventy-one Senators voted against you, the 90 percent
of consumers who have said that you want labels on foods containing
genetically engineered (GE) ingredients.
Seventy-one Senators – including 43 Republican
so-called defenders of states' rights - voted against your state's
Constitutional Tenth Amendment right to protect the health, safety and
welfare of its citizens and local businesses.
We know who those Senators are. And we plan to make certain that everyone who cares about food safety and food sovereignty knows who they are, too.
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We are celebrating
the 20 years of our publishing company Lemang Music which
50% of sales proceeds from this album will go to WWF-Malaysia's conservation work; with the other 50% going to the contributing artists. We (Markiza & Peter Brown) decided to contribute a song to the album to support WWF-Malaysia's green cause because we are seriously concerned at the increasing pollution of the Earth – the oceans, the forests and habitats for wildlife, and the seemingly relentless destruction of fragile environments which threaten eco-systems and extinction of huge numbers of plant and animal species, which present human society does not seem to have the will or the means to control, bearing in mind the limited resources of Earth, the increasing world population and everyone’s desire for a better standard of living. But if we don’t control this development we face nothing less than destruction of humanity and everything else.For your reference, here's some links on the album being sold via pandashop:
Thanks to Universal Music Malaysia for producing the Earth Hour 2013 Album, and please support WWF-Malaysia's conservation work -- log on to wwf.org.my and buy the album today.
New post on NOVApr.com Media Room
Bukit Kiara is one of the few remaining green lungs in the heart of the city and that it has been designated a green lung.
Bukit Kiara must forever remain green – irrespective of whether parts of it are privately owned. DBKL must be firm in not
approving any development plans from the private owners.
Please leave it as it is to preserve the peace, quiet and tranquility. The public, especially joggers, walkers, cyclists and
nature lovers would be ever so grateful.
GENETICALLY-MODIFIED FOODS AND HOW THEY AFFECT US
Sourced and adapted
from Care2.com and Mercola.com. Available at: http://www.care2.com/
Genetically modified organisms, or GMOs, are any living thing that has had its genetic material altered in some way through human scientific interference. This does not refer to “selective breeding,” such as when certain crops are selectively bred by gardeners over time to withstand heat, for instance, or the process by which different dog breeds were developed over time. Instead, GMOs undergo a form of gene therapy under lab conditions whereby segments of DNA are spliced, rearranged or removed altogether. You may have been eating genetically modified food for years and not even know it.
In the United States, much of the corn and soybeans produced (especially those to be fed to livestock or to provide filler material in processed foods at the supermarket) contain some portion of genetically modified material. GMOs have infiltrated our shops and food chain largely without much study into their long term health effects on our bodies. However, The Environmental Working Group conservatively estimates that each American consumes about 190 pounds of GM foods every year despite this lack of research. Choosy consumers are worried about these potential health impacts:
1. Allergies. Perhaps the number one health concern over GM technology is its capacity to create new allergens in our food supply. Allergic reactions typically are brought on by proteins. Nearly every transfer of genetic material from one host into a new one results in the creation of novel proteins. Genetic engineering can increase the levels of a naturally occurring allergen already present in a food or insert allergenic properties into a food that did not previously contain them. It can also result in brand new allergens we’ve never before known.
2. Antibiotic Resistance. Genetic engineers rely heavily on antibiotics to guide experiments. It works like this: Not all host cells will take up foreign genes, so engineers attach a trait for a particular type of antibiotic resistance to the gene they introduce into host cells. After they have introduced the gene into the cells, they douse all the cells with the antibiotic to see which ones survive. The surviving cells are antibiotic-resistant, and therefore engineers know they have taken up the foreign gene. Overuse of antibiotics can potentially cause the development of antibiotic-resistant pathogens. Several health organizations, including the World Health Organization and the American Medical Association, have spoken out about the need for the use of these antibiotics to be phased out of the process of making GM foods.
3. Pesticide Exposure. The majority of GM crops in cultivation are engineered to contain a gene for pesticide resistance. Most are “Roundup Ready,” meaning they can be sprayed with Monsanto’s glyphosate herbicide Roundup without being harmed. The idea is that if the crop itself is immune to Roundup, you can spray it to kill any weeds endangering the plant without worrying about harming your crop.
Sound like a good thing? Only if increased human exposure to pesticides is a good thing. Glyphosate has been linked to numerous health problems in animal studies, among them birth defects, reproductive damage, cancer and endocrine disruption.
4. Unpredictability and the Unknown. Foreign genetic material in a host can cause other genetic material in that host to behave erratically. Genes can be suppressed or overexpressed, causing a wide variety of results. One consequence of over-expression, for example, can be cancer. Nutritional problems can also result from the transfer. In one example, cows that ate Roundup Ready soybeans produced milk with more fat in it. In another example, milk from cows injected with a genetically engineered growth hormone was found by a number of researchers, including those published in the journal Lancet, to have substantially higher levels of a compound known as insulin-like growth factor-1, which is linked to human breast, colon and prostate cancers. The milk also has higher levels of bovine growth hormones in it, along with pus and sometimes antibiotics. GM crops have been linked to health problems as diverse as reproductive damage, cancer, Alzheimer’s disease and diabetes. Concerned scientists have been outspoken about these risks.
Corn and soy, much of which are genetically engineered, are rapidly overtaking native grasslands in some parts of the world, including a number of US states. This is a trend that may have a not-so-insignificant impact on our environment and subsequently, our ability to secure our food supply long-term.
THE LABELLING OF GMO PRODUCTS
GMO labelling was introduced to give consumers the freedom to choose between GMOs and conventional products. Essentially, if a foodstuff is produced using genetic engineering, this must be indicated on its label. As of June 14, 2010, new regulations regarding the labelling of genetically modified organisms (GMOs) in food have been enacted in Malaysia through amendments to the Food Regulations under the Food Act 1983. These regulations are in accordance with provisions found in the Biosafety Act of Malaysia that require the identification and labelling of living modified organisms (LMOs), which itself has been enacted as part of Malaysia’s responsibilities as a signatory to the Cartagena Protocol on Biosafety to the Convention on Biological Diversity of the United Nations.
MARCH 18 — "Our lives begin to end the day we become silent about things that matter." — Martin Luther King Jr
A home-made poster hanging near fencing demarcating Bukit Kiara in Kuala Lumpur from where private commercial development is coming up says it simply: "People who destroy Bk Kiara are not only bad people but also good people because these good people do not stand up".
About 2,000 supporters including those from a coalition of residents associations (RAs) and NGO The Friends of Bukit Kiara (FoBK) stood up and walked the talk to save Bukit Kiara on March 17 in silent protest to urge the authorities to gazette the forest reserve and against development proposed by a private developer.
Parents came with young children bearing posters they created with "save the forest and animals". A group of juniors from the Kota Damansara Forest Community walked with a banner asking "What about us?" Ecological thinking has taken root in Malaysia, it seems.
Indeed, young and old alike from all walks of life are standing up to be counted and heard regarding the depravation and degradation of the environment they live in as seen in the Walk to save Bukit Kiara on March 17.
A former ambassador, AJ Yahaya, related that "my family and I are saddened by the news that we may lose Bukit Kiara. This wonderful forest reserve-cum-park has given us so much joy, has become part of our lives, and to lose it would be unbearable. Our lives would be scarred forever. That is why my family and I are joining the Walk to save Bukit Kiara."
Maya, a grandmother who bought seven Save Bukit Kiara Tees for her grandchildren even though the smallest size were way too big for them at the last awareness walk on July 15, 2012, was at the frontline proudly holding up the banner in this walk.
Expats from the UK, France, Germany, Australia, Canada, the US, even Finland and Sweden who have made Malaysia their second home came, rescheduled their busy Sunday morning activities. Supporters from activity groups of young and old, tai chi, chi gong and line dancing groups in the adjacent park showed up to be counted.
A pastor and his wife and some Christians walked with their God in Bukit Kiara for one Sunday morning in awareness that "God is everywhere, that He is not confined to any space nor time and that Mother Nature is God-manifest."
Some Buddhist devotees rescheduled their chanting, meditation and temple duties to practice what the Dharma taught them — to be aware of what is going on and to do what brings happiness to oneself and which benefits the society as well.
Women supporters wanted the authorities to "listen, listen, listen" to their aspirations for a clean and green Malaysia for their children and grandchildren.
Did you on that fine Sunday morning chose to stand up to be counted for your own joy and to save Bukit Kiara?
* This is the personal opinion of the writer or publication and does not necessarily represent the views of The Malaysian Insider.
|Chemicals in everyday items cause a Health
Endocrine Disruptive Chemicals can be found in a large variety of materials and goods, including pesticides, packaging materials, pharmaceuticals (contraceptive, hormone therapies, lipid regulators, beta-blockers, anti-depressants), flame retardants (used in mattresses, sofas and textiles), electronics, plastic additives, plastic toys, personal care products, household cleaners and construction materials... read more
Wildlife not spared either
WILDLIFE species and populations are on the decline worldwide – and it is not just due to over-exploitation or loss of habitat. Chemical contamination is also at play here...
Poisoned: Finless porpoises all over the world have been found to have perfluorooctane sulfonate (PFOS, used in stain repellents, surface coating agents and fire-fighting foams) in their livers
The report State of the Science of Endocrine Disrupting Chemicals is available at who.int/phe
The Possible Hazards of the VERY SMALL
Green Living Column from Malaysian Nature Society
NANOTECHNOLOGY AND SAFETY: SOME QUESTIONS AND ANSWERS
You may be surprised to find out how many products on the market utilise nanotechnology.
• Sunscreen - Many sunscreens contain nanoparticles of zinc oxide or titanium oxide. Older sunscreen formulas use larger particles, which is what gives most sunscreens their whitish color. Smaller particles are less visible, meaning that when you rub the sunscreen into your skin, it doesn't give you a whitish tinge.
• Self-cleaning glass - A company called Pilkington offers a product they call Activ Glass, which uses nanoparticles to make the glassphotocatalytic and hydrophilic. The photocatalytic effect means that when UV radiation from light hits the glass, nanoparticles become energized and begin to break down and loosen organic molecules on the glass (in other words, dirt). Hydrophilic means that when water makes contact with the glass, it spreads across the glass evenly, which helps wash the glass clean.• Clothing - Scientists are using nanoparticles to enhance your clothing. By coating fabrics with a thin layer of zinc oxide nanoparticles, Manufacturers can create clothes that give better protection from UV radiation. Some clothes have nanoparticles in the form of little hairs or whiskers that help repel water and other materials, making the clothing stain-resistant.
• Scratch-resistant coatings - Engineers discovered that adding aluminum silicate nanoparticles to scratch-resistant polymer coatings made the coatings more effective, increasing resistance to chipping and scratching. Scratchresistant coatings are common on everything from cars to eyeglass lenses.
• Antimicrobial bandages - Scientist Robert Burrell created a process to manufacture antibacterial bandages using nanoparticles of silver. Silver ions block microbes' cellular respiration [source:Burnsurgery.org]. In other words, silver smothers harmful cells, killing them.
Q: I’ve just heard that an organic certification agency has added nanotechnology to its list of forbidden things. What is it and should I be concerned about it?
A: Nanotechnology is a powerful platform for manipulating matter at the level of atoms and molecules in order to alter their properties. Nanomaterials are defined as particles having one or more dimensions of 100nm or less. One nanometer (nm) is one millionth of a millimeter and one billionth of a meter – or approximately one 80,000th of the width of a human hair. A strand of DNA is 2.5nm wide and a red blood cell 7,000 nm.
The fundamental properties of matter change at the nanoscale. According to research conducted at the University of Rochester’s Department of Environmental Medicine and published in Environmental Health Perspectives in 2005, altered properties can include color, solubility, material strength, electrical conductivity, magnetic behavior, mobility (within the environment and within the human body), chemical reactivity and biological activity.
The manufacture of products using nanotechnology has exploded in recent years, creating something akin to a gold rush mentality. More than 720 products containing nanomaterials are now on the market. They include sunscreens and cosmetics, food additives, temperature-moderating clothing, food packaging, agricultural fertilizers, computer chips and mobile phones, inks, computer storage devices and displays, football stadium lights, tennis racquets, burn dressings and dental binding agents. Nanotechnology proponents envision it being used in the future to create cheaper ways of producing electricity from the sun, earlier and better diagnostics and treatment of diseases and water purification in developing countries. Currently, there is an estimated $9 billion a year worth of research being done.
There is no doubt that nanotechnology will have a massive impact on all industries and sectors of the economy, society and ecology. Opinion is divided as to whether these changes will be positive or negative. But there is enough concern that The Soil Association in the U.K. – one of the world’s pioneers of organic agriculture – announced in January that it has banned human-made nano- materials from the organic cosmetics, foods and textiles that it certifies. A 2007 survey by 15 governments estimates there are at least 70 nanotech food-related applications already on the market and most major food and beverage corporations are investing in nanotech R&D.
In a statement, The Soil Association explained its motivation: “Our concern with nanoparticles lies in the fact that the properties of materials at this size can differ significantly from those at larger scales. Nanoparticles are so small they can sometimes bypass the body’s natural protective boundaries such as skin…Industry and government are belatedly conducting safety tests that will take several years to reach firm conclusions. Therefore we’ve applied the precautionary principle.”
And that’s the problem: Products containing nanomaterials have been released commercially in the absence of regulatory oversight and in spite of warnings from some of the oldest and most respected scientific bodies in the world, such as the U.K.’s Royal Society and the Royal Academy of Engineering, which published a report in 2004 urging tighter controls on the industry, suggesting that nanomaterials be treated like new chemicals.
In particular, the report highlighted the potential risk of “free” nanoparticles that it said could escape into the atmosphere, be inhaled and have an effect on health, in the same way that ultra fine particles that are a by-produce of forest fires, volcanoes and processes like welding and vehicle combustion can be harmful to health. Professor Mark Welland, head of the University of Cambridge Nanoscale Science Laboratory, says that we know inhaled nanoparticles found in the bloodstream have dispersed throughout the brain. But, he adds, it is not known if this poses a health risk.
According to a 2006 report prepared under the auspices of the U.S. Congress by that country’s National Research Council, there is also evidence that engineered nanoparticles can have adverse effects on the health of laboratory animals, enter human cells and trigger chemical reactions in soil, interfering with biological and ecological processes. That report also urged precaution to protect the health and safety of workers, the public and the environment.
Oxford University’s Dr. Alexis Vlandas is Nanotechnology spokesperson for International Network of Engineers and Scientists for Global Responsibility also worries about nanoparticles entering the human body. He says, “A much more proactive effort is needed to understand the complex phenomena (bio-accumulation, degradation, unforeseen chemical reactions, etc.) which could lead to negative impact on human health or the environment.”
Nevertheless, there is still no legal requirement anywhere in the world for manufacturers to conduct new safety tests on nano-scale ingredients. Nor is there any requirement for manufacturers to demonstrate that they do not present a negative impact to the environment or to indicate the presence of nano-scale ingredients on product labels. In fact, there is not even an internationally accepted nomenclature, set of definitions and measurement systems for nanotechnology, although that is being
worked on. And, finally, the social, economic and ethical challenges posed by nanotechnologies have yet to be addressed.
Nowhere are untested nanomaterials entering consumer products faster than in the personal care and cosmetics industries. And their use is of concern because these products are used daily and are designed to be used directly on the skin. They may be inhaled and are often ingested. While the jury is still out on whether nanomaterials can enter intact skin, studies show that broken skin is an ineffective barrier. This suggests that the presence of acne, eczema or shaving wounds is likely to enable the uptake of nanoparticles into the body. Furthermore, in preparing its 2006 report Nanomaterials, Sunscreen and Cosmetics: Small Ingredients, Big Risks, Friends of the Earth (FOE) found that many cosmetics and personal care products contain ingredients that intentionally act as “penetration enhancers,” raising concerns they may increase the likelihood of skin uptake of nanomaterials and possible entry into the blood stream.
Nano-scale carbon molecules called “fullerenes” or “buckyballs” are among the ingredients currently being used in face creams and moisturizers. They have been found to cause brain damage in fish. Even low levels of exposure to fullerenes have been shown to damage human liver cells. Chemistry professor Tony Ryan of the University of Sheffield in England has questioned their safety. “I wouldn’t put buckyballs anywhere near my face,” he says. “We need to understand more about the toxicology. One of the potential dangers…is: Are we creating a new asbestos? The asbestosis response is based on the shape of the particle. Part of the issue is in the shape of the molecule and how they’re introduced. We just need to be careful about
the risk versus the benefit.”
Nanoparticles of zinc oxide and titanium dioxide are used to make sunscreens transparent but, says FOE, they have been shown to be photoactive, producing free radicals and causing DNA damage to skin cells when exposed to UV light. In 2007, Consumer Reports asked an outside lab to test for nanoparticles of zinc oxide and titanium dioxide in eight sunscreens that listed either compound on their label. All eight contained the nanoparticles, yet only one disclosed their use.
The ETC Group, a pioneering Ottawa-based organization working on global issues like biotechnology, conservation of agricultural biodiversity and food security, takes a strong stand on nanotechnology. It cautions that while it offers opportunities for society, it also involves profound ethical, social and environmental risks, not only because it is an enabling technology to the biotech industry, but also because it involves atomic manipulation and will make possible the fusing of the biological world and the mechanical. In 2003, the ETC Group called for a moratorium on research involving molecular self-assembly and self-replication until the ramifications have been studied.
They’re not the only organization calling for a moratorium. FOE-US has called for a moratorium on all commercial release of nanotechnological materials and products. They say, “Given the serious risks and impacts associated with nanotechnology’s introduction, public involvement in decision making regarding nanotechnology and the introduction of a regulatory regime based on the precautionary principle must be prerequisites to further commercialization of nanoproducts.”
In July of 2007, an international coalition of consumer, public health, environmental, labor, and civil society organizations spanning six continents called for strong, comprehensive over sight of nanotechnology and its products. Over 40 groups released a paper entitled Principles for the Oversight of Nano-technologies and Nanomaterials, citing risks to the public, workers and the environment and demanding a moratorium on it pending research and regulation.
“Even though potential health hazards stemming from exposure have been clearly identified, there are no mandatory workplace measures that require exposures to be assessed, workers to be trained or control measures to be implemented,” explains Bill Kojola of the AFL-CIO, which was part of the coalition. “This technology should not be rushed to market until these failings are corrected and workers assured of their safety.”
“Nanomaterials are entering the environment during manufacture, use and disposal of hundreds of products, even though we have no way to track the effects of this potent new form of pollution,” agrees Ian Illuminato of FOE. “By the time monitoring catches up to commerce, the damage will already have been done.”
There is also a concern that nano-technology will provide the tools for continuous surveillance, with implications for civil liberties. And then there’s the growing nano arms race, which could create a whole new generation of weapons of mass destruction including nano-biological weaponry. Over a decade ago, retired U.S. Admiral David Jeremiah told a conference on nanotechnology and global security that nanotechnology will prove more significant than nuclear weapons.
Fortunately, public pressure seems to be goading governments into action. The Environment, Healthy and Safety Division of the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development has made the safety of nanomaterials a priority. Canada, Germany, Japan, Australia the U.K. and the U.S. have created working groups to look into the implications of nanotechnology commercialization.
However, the amounts of money being spent are minuscule in comparison to the $6 billion spent last year by governments worldwide on nanotech. (The U.S. government’s $5 billion between 2001 and 2006 is the biggest publicly funded science endeavor since the Apollo moon landing, with the largest portion funding military applications.)In Canada, the Consumers Council has recently received a $60,000 grant from Canada’s Office of Consumer Affairs to study the impact of nanotechnology on consumers and to improve the capacity of consumers to advocate regarding regulatory decisions.
Here’s hoping other organic certification agencies follow The Soil Association’s lead and add nanotech to their lists of outlawed ingredients. Meanwhile, we think that product manufacturers and distributors must bear the burden of proof to demonstrate the safety of their products: If there is no independent health and safety data review for a nanotech product, then their products shouldn’t be sold.
(Edited and compiled from an original article by
Wendy Priesnitz. Available at: http://www.
Not enough data exists to know for sure if nanoparticles could have undesirable effects on the environment. Two areas are relevant here:
1. In free form nanoparticles can be released in the air or water during production (or production accidents) or as waste by-product of production, and ultimately accumulate in the soil, water or plant life.
2. In fixed form, where they are part of a manufactured substance or product, they will ultimately have to be recycled or disposed of as waste. It is not known yet whether certain nanoparticles will constitute a completely new class of non-biodegradable pollutant. In case they do, it is not known how such pollutants
could be removed from air or water because most traditional filters are not suitable for such tasks (their pores are too big to catch nanoparticles).
Of the US$710 million spent in 2002 by the U.S. government on nanotechnology research, only $500,000 was spent on environmental impact assessments. Risks identified include: self-replicating nanobots aggressively or through slowly rising supremacy wiping out the whole biosphere; further destabilising the already endangered diversity of the biosphere.
Concerns have been raised about Silver Nano technology used by Samsung in a range of appliances
such as washing machines and air purifiers. To properly assess the health hazards of engineered nanoparticles the whole life cycle of these particles needs to be evaluated, including their fabrication, storage and distribution, application and potential abuse, and disposal. The impact
on humans or the environment may vary at different stages of the life cycle.
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Massive Chinese Dam Threatens Cambodia's Cardamom Rainforests
By Rainforest Portal a project of Ecological Internet: http://www.
March 14, 2013
TAKE ACTION to ensure Cambodia's Cardamom rainforests remain standing:
The Areng Valley in the Cardamom Mountains of south-west Cambodia is threatened with flooding by a Chinese hydropower dam. This biodiversity gem - home of the Siamese crocodile and indigenous Khmer Daeum - is to be destroyed for a relatively small amount of electricity. Standing large, connected, and ecologically intact old-growth forests are required for local and global ecological sustainability and well-being.
Please send the following alerts to protect old-growth rainforests as well:
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Protest Tasmanian Old-Growth Logging in Proposed World Heritage Area
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