martes, febrero 28, 2006



Small-scale poultry farming and wild birds are being unfairly blamed for the bird flu crisis now affecting large parts of the world. A new report from GRAIN shows how the transnational poultry industry is the root of the problem and must be the focus of efforts to control the virus. [1]

The spread of industrial poultry production and trade networks has created ideal conditions for the emergence and transmission of lethal viruses like the H5N1 strain of bird flu. Once inside densely populated factory farms, viruses can rapidly become lethal and amplify. Air thick with viral load from infected farms is carried for kilometres, while integrated trade networks spread the disease through many carriers: live birds, day-old-chicks, meat, feathers, hatching eggs, eggs, chicken manure and animal feed. [2]

"Everyone is focused on migratory birds and backyard chickens as the problem," says Devlin Kuyek of GRAIN. "But they are not effective vectors of highly pathogenic bird flu. The virus kills them, but is unlikely to be spread by them."

For example, in Malaysia, the mortality rate from H5N1 among village chicken is only 5%, indicating that the virus has a hard time spreading among small scale chicken flocks. H5N1 outbreaks in Laos, which is surrounded by infected countries, have only occurred in the nation's few factory farms, which are supplied by Thai hatcheries. The only cases of bird flu in backyard poultry, which account for over 90% of Laos' production, occurred next to the factory farms.

"The evidence we see over and over again, from the Netherlands in 2003 to Japan in 2004 to Egypt in 2006, is that lethal bird flu breaks out in large scale industrial chicken farms and then spreads," Kuyek explains.

The Nigerian outbreak earlier this year began at a single factory farm, owned by a Cabinet minister, distant from hotspots for migratory birds but known for importing unregulated hatchable eggs. In India, local authorities say that H5N1 emerged and spread from a factory farm owned by the country's largest poultry company, Venkateshwara Hatcheries.

A burning question is why governments and international agencies, like the UN Food and Agriculture Organisation, are doing nothing to investigate how the factory farms and their byproducts, such as animal feed and manure, spread the virus. Instead, they are using the crisis as an opportunity to further industrialise the poultry sector. Initiatives are multiplying to ban outdoor poultry, squeeze out small producers and restock farms with genetically-modified chickens. The web of complicity with an industry engaged in a string of denials and cover-ups seems complete.

"Farmers are losing their livelihoods, native chickens are being wiped out and some experts say that we're on the verge of a human pandemic that could kill millions of people," Kuyek concludes. "When will governments realise that to protect poultry and people from bird flu, we need to protect them from the global poultry industry?"

[1] The full briefing, "Fowl play: The poultry industry's central role in the bird flu crisis", is available at Spanish and French translations will be posted shortly.

[2] Chicken faeces and bedding from poultry factory floors are common ingredients in animal feed.


GRAIN is an international non-governmental organisation (NGO) which promotes the sustainable management and use of agricultural biodiversity based on people's control over genetic resources and local knowledge.

Devlin Kuyek, GRAIN, in Montreal Tel: +1 514 2737314
Health, Environment and Consumer News Tidbits with an Edge!


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Written and edited by Craig Minowa and Ronnie Cummins




A government scientist has been forced to resign, after discovering dangerous levels of a toxic chemical in the Mississippi River. The toxin, specifically known as perfluoronated chemicals (PFCs), is a byproduct of the manufacture of a number of products including Teflon. In late 2005, Dr. Oliaei Fardin found dangerous levels of PFC's in the Mississippi River downstream from a 3M Corporation's dumping site in Minnesota. 3M had been dumping 50,000 pounds of the toxic chemical in the river every year, in a heavily populated metropolitan area, where the river serves as the main drinking water source. PFCs have caused birth defects and deaths in animal studies and are considered a likely human carcinogen. Fardin, a scientist at the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency, found levels of PFCs in the area's fish that were the highest ever discovered in the world. Following her discovery, she was unable to get the state to issue a public health advisory, as would normally be required by law. After she filed a federal whistleblower's lawsuit against the agency, Fardin was forced to resign by the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency's Commissioner, a former Executive of the 3M chemical company. Her research, which has now been halted, would have helped assess how far downstream the chemical contamination had traveled in the Mississippi River, one of the nation's largest waterways and municipal water sources. Please send a letter to the EPA, MPCA, and Governor Pawlenty demanding the 3M Corporation be fined for chemical cleanup costs.
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A new study published in the journal Nature indicates that eating certain vegetables can repair damaged DNA. Previous studies have found nutrients that can help prevent cancer, but this research shows that certain vegetables can actually reverse cell damage that has already occurred. Laboratory tests revealed that a compound called indole-3-carinol (I3C), found in broccoli, cauliflower and cabbage, can increase two specific protein levels that repair damaged DNA. "It is now clear that the function of crucial cancer genes can be influenced by compounds in the things we eat," said Eliot M. Rosen, MD, PhD.
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photo parody
The USDA has passed a new regulation that will use U.S. taxpayer money to pay for the slaughter of tens of thousands of horses annually in the U.S. for exports overseas. The USDA rule contradicts a previous Congressional mandate that banned the use of federal funding for the horse slaughter industry. In a letter to the USDA, 40 members of Congress wrote, "The agency must cease inspection of horses for slaughter. Failure to do so constitutes willful disregard of clear Congressional intent on the part of the USDA. The agency has absolutely no authority to circumvent a Congressional mandate and effectively rewrite an unambiguous law at the request of the horse slaughter industry." The USDA has not responded.
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For over three decades, Dow and Monsanto have denied that Agent Orange is toxic, thereby avoiding billions of dollars in financial liabilities resulting from the massive and indiscriminate spraying of the toxic defoliant during the Vietnam War. In a landmark lawsuit last month, a Seoul, Korea High Court ruled against Monsanto and Dow in favor of Korean veterans who fought in the Vietnam War and have suffered serious health injuries from Agent Orange. The court ruled there is ample evidence that Monsanto and Dow knew how toxic Agent Orange was before the corporations dumped 19 million gallons of the now banned herbicide on Vietnam between 1965 and 1972. The court said there is conclusive scientific data connecting Agent Orange with 11 types of medical conditions, including non-Hodgkin's lymphoma, Hodgkin's disease, prostate cancer and diabetes. Empowered by the successful lawsuit, Korean and Vietnamese veterans will rally outside the White House in April, calling on the U.S. government to assist in efforts to pay the victims of Agent Orange compensation for medical costs associated with exposure to the herbicide.
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It's a topic that we just can't ignore anymore. It's true... some people's diets can be a little on the gassy side. Now before you turn your noses up, take a moment to think about how we all might be able to find a little relief in these matters. Erhum... to be more specific, a significant amount of greenhouse gases are generated by how we choose to eat. Industrial agriculture and long-distance food transportation generates between 20-25% of all climate destabilizing greenhouse gases in the U.S. and other industrialized nations. The average conventional food was produced using petroleum based chemical fertilizers and pesticides, packaged in petrochemical plastics, refrigerated in electricity-hungry coolers, and shipped 1500 miles in fuel-inefficient trucks. In this week's blog, Ronnie Cummins, National Director of the Organic Consumers Association, shares the good news about how buying local and organically grown food can play a significant role in reducing global warming.
Learn more in Ronnie's blog and post your thoughts here



QUOTE OF THE WEEK: "This is a bellwether, a barometer. Some people call it the canary in the mine. The warning that things are coming."

Source: Bob Corell, a conservative Reagan Administration climatologist, speaking this week on the CBS TV show 60 Minutes about increasing weather disturbances over the last 15 years.
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For the first time in recorded history, scientists are finding that the glacier on Africa's Mount Kilamajaro is melting. Halfway around the world, in North America, locals say they don't remember this ever happening this before, but Lake Erie didn't freeze over this winter. 2005 was the hottest year and the most destructive hurricane season on record. Experts from NASA, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, and a United Nations task force of over 2,500 scientists say the intensity of these storms will increase even more as ocean temperatures continue to rise. Greenland is dumping melting ice into the ocean three times faster than the early 1990s... at a rate of 70 MILLION acres per year. The Organic Consumers Association, now nearly one million people strong, is preparing to launch a massive campaign that offers conscious citizens, like you, tools to reduce global warming and build a sustainable future through the impending climate changes. Stay tuned...

TIP OF THE WEEK: When it comes to a shoe size that fits your natural resource consumption, citizens of the industrialized world have some of the biggest feet around. But it's easier to reduce your ecological footprint than you think. Here's a fascinating website that assesses your overall environmental impact by asking a few quick questions about your lifestyle choices. If everyone on the planet consumed as much as you, how many planets would we need? And what sorts of simple lifestyle changes would have the greatest positive affects on a global level.
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Less than a third of Americans are cooking their evening dinners from scratch, according to a new survey by the Institute of Food Technologists. The data shows a seven percent percent reduction over the past two years. Although 75% of Americans are eating their dinners at home, nearly half those meals are fast food, delivery, or takeout from restaurants or grocery delis. In fact, Americans spent more on fast food last year than on education. The "Slow Food" movement is working to reverse these changes and bring families back to the dinner table, with the benefits of agricultural sustainability, better health, better relationships with friends and family, and darn good flavor.
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lunes, febrero 27, 2006

Editorial del ejemplar de febrero 2006 del boletín del World Rainforest Movement:

Cambio climático: todavía hay tiempo para evitar el desastre ... pero no mucho

Hace muchos años que la gente viene oyendo hablar del cambio climático y los terribles impactos que conllevará. A pesar de las advertencias sobre la catástrofe en ciernes, un grupo de científicos al servicio de los intereses corporativos ha intentado sembrar dudas en cuanto a las pruebas científicas. Al mismo tiempo, otro grupo de académicos y tecnócratas ha estado inventando mecanismos absurdos para "compensar" las emisiones de carbono de modo de permitir que el uso de combustibles fósiles continúe. Entre dichos mecanismos se cuentan las plantaciones a gran escala de árboles de crecimiento rápido, ubicadas, por supuesto, en el Sur.

Con este panorama, es alentador ver que algunos científicos desafían el poder desde adentro. Es el caso de Jim Hansen, director del Instituto Goddard para Estudios Espaciales de la NASA, en Nueva York, quien a pesar de su temprana franqueza en relación con el cambio climático es el principal asesor del presidente George Bush en cuanto al clima. El 17 de febrero, Hansen publicó un artículo en el periódico británico The Independent señalando que "un estudio satelital de la capa de hielo de Groenlandia demuestra que se está derritiendo mucho más rápido que lo que los científicos temían: se está yendo al mar el doble de hielo que hace cinco años. Las implicaciones para el aumento del nivel del mar y el cambio climático podrían ser dramáticas".

Hansen se plantea la pregunta: "¿Cuán rápido puede ir todo esto?" y su respuesta es: "En este momento, creo que nuestro mejor parámetro es lo que ocurrió en el pasado. Sabemos que, por ejemplo, hace 14.000 años los niveles del mar subieron 20 metros en 400 años, es decir cinco metros en un siglo. Esto ocurrió hacia fines de la última era glacial, de modo que había más hielo. Pero, por otra parte, las temperaturas no aumentaban tan rápido como hoy".

Hansen explica que "La última vez que el mundo fue tres grados más cálido que hoy, que es lo que esperamos para más adelante este mismo siglo, los niveles del mar fueron 25 metros más altos. Entonces, eso es lo que podemos esperar si no actuamos con rapidez. Ninguno de los modelos climáticos y glaciares actuales predicen esto. Pero yo prefiero las pruebas que me brindan la historia de la Tierra y mis propios ojos. Creo que el aumento del nivel del mar pronto será el gran tema, mucho más que el calentamiento en sí".

Esta declaración de Hansen sugiere que estamos al borde de una gran catástrofe climática (¡imaginen que el nivel del mar aumente 25 metros!) y que se necesitan medidas urgentes y drásticas para evitarla. Obviamente él quiso informar al público sobre el peligro. "Sin embargo", advierte Hansen, "cuando hace unas semanas yo, un científico climático de la NASA, intenté hablar a los medios de estos asuntos tras una conferencia que dicté en la que exhorté a la inmediata reducción de las emisiones de gases de efecto invernadero, el equipo de relaciones públicas de la NASA, integrado mediante designaciones políticas del gobierno de Bush, intentó impedírmelo. No quedé contento con esto e ignoré las restricciones. La primera línea de la misión de la NASA es comprender y proteger el planeta".

Esa debería ser la misión de todos los gobiernos: comprender y proteger el planeta como medio de garantizar la supervivencia de la humanidad. En la actualidad, la principal amenaza para el planeta es el cambio climático global y es necesario tomar medidas urgentes. Hansen plantea la pregunta crucial: "¿Cuánto tiempo nos queda?". Su respuesta es: "Tenemos que estabilizar las emisiones de dióxido de carbono en el correr de una década o las temperaturas aumentarán más de un grado, es decir que la temperatura será mayor que lo que ha sido durante medio millón de años, y muchas cosas podrían volverse imposibles de detener. Si pretendemos detener esto no podemos esperar por las nuevas tecnologías como la captura de las emisiones de la combustión del carbón. Tenemos que actuar con lo que tenemos. En esta década, esto significa centrarse en el uso eficiente de la energía y en fuentes renovables de energía que no queman carbono. No nos queda mucho tiempo".

Por supuesto que nada de lo anterior es novedad. Lo que sí es nuevo es la brecha de Hansen en el muro del establishment corporativo y su ejemplo que alienta a la comunidad científica a no callarse y unirse a la lucha para evitar el cambio climático. ¡Realmente no nos queda mucho tiempo!

Nota: El artículo de Jim Hansen está disponible en:
Los monocultivos del hambre

Por Ernest Cañada

Entrevista a Peter Rosset, coautor de uno de los libros ya clásicos en la literatura sobre desarrollo, Doce mitos sobre el hambre. La soberanía alimentaria es el derecho de todos los pueblos a poder definir su propio sistema de producción, distribución y consumo de alimentos.

La historia muchos países del sur, desde los tiempos de la colonización hasta la actualidad, ha estado marcada por la producción para la exportación. Nicaragua es un ejemplo más, tal vez paradigmático, de este modelo basado en los monocultivos. Algodón, plátanos, azúcar, café, son algunos de los principales productos que han marcado la historia de este pequeño país centroamericano. La imposición de este modelo de producción, al servicio de los intereses de las grandes compañías transnacionales y de las oligarquías locales, ha supuesto la vulneración de la soberanía alimentaria del pueblo de Nicaragua y ha tenido consecuencias gravísimas para las condiciones de vida y salud de sus trabajadoras y trabajadores, así como en el medio ambiente. Frente a este modelo, desde las organizaciones campesinas, se plantea la soberanía alimentaria como una estrategia alternativa, basada en la defensa de la economía familiar campesina y en la producción de alimentos para mercados locales y nacionales. En este contexto el consumidor urbano puede ser un aliado estratégico, aunque el debate sobre el consumo responsable y el comercio justo no deja de ser contradictorio.

Sobre todas estas cosas hablamos en Oaxaca, México, con Peter Rosset, experto en agroecología, miembro de la Red de Investigación-Acción sobre la Tierra y uno de los principales asesores de Vía Campesina. Es coautor de uno de los libros ya clásicos en la literatura sobre desarrollo, Doce mitos sobre el hambre. Durante los años ochenta Peter Rosset vivió seis años en Nicaragua, en tres periodos diferenciados, siempre en tareas relacionadas con la agricultura. Aprovechamos la entrevista concedida para el documental Cosechas amargas, producido Agora Nord / Sud, un consorcio de ONG catalanas entre las que se encuentra Entrepueblos o Veterinarios sin Fronteras, para profundizar en algunos de los temas que ahí quedaron planteados.

viernes, febrero 24, 2006

TEL 787-608-7873

Ante las amenazas del gobierno de Estados Unidos por medio de sus agentes en Puerto Rico, conocidos como el FBI, de "barrer con el independentismo", el Movimiento Independentista Nacional Hostosiano responde firmemente denunciando los allanamientos que se produjeron el pasado 10 de febrero en el pais, contra residencias de lideres independentistas en el Oeste de PR.

Estos allanamientos forman parte de una campaña para criminalizar la lucha de independencia de nuestro pais y a la misma vez, desinformar y confundir la opinión pública de los puertorriqueños hacia nuestro ideal.

La opción hacia la independencia ha ido ganando simpatías y ha aumentado entre nuestra gente, quienes comienzan a vernos como alternativa al sin número de males que aqueja nuestra sociedad por su condición de status colonial. Nuestra organización, el Movimiento Independentista Nacional Hostosiano, es defensora de los derechos de los puertorriqueños y de la justicia social.

Ante este panorama, los Estados Unidos de Norteamérica, sorprendidos ante esta nueva situación de conciencia en nuestra Patria, se ha lanzado con furia a reprimir y violarle los derechos al movimiento independentista, para criminalizar el ideal. De esta forma, vemos comos sus agentes del llamado FBI, irrumpen violentando la paz de los hogares de lideres independentistas, allanado, destruyendo y cargando con todos los efectos personales de las familias y esposando familiares y personas que se encuentren en las residencias.

En estos allanamientos, el pasado viernes 10 de febrero del año en curso, irrumpieron en el hogar de la delegada del MINH en Aguadilla, a las 9:00 de la mañana, horario en el cual sabían que Vilma Vélez, se encontraba en su puesto como maestra de escuela elemental. Llegaron gritando y armados fuertemente más de 10 autos con personal del FBI, quienes gritaban su nombre afuera para infundir temor y terror entre los vecinos que se encontraban en la paz de su hogar. Al abrir la puerta su hijo Ricardo, sorprendido por lo que ocurría, procedieron a lanzarlo fuera de la casa junto a su hermano quien se encontraba enfermo en ese momento, y los esposaron. Los dejaron esposados bajo el sol, haciéndoles preguntas personales. Luego permanecieron en el lugar por más de 4 horas, revolviendo la oficina de la Sra. Vélez, apropiandose de todo papel, escrituras, efectos personales, y materiales de lectura, censos, lista de nombres de nuestra organización el Movimiento Independentista Nacional Hostosiano en Aguadilla. Entre estas propiedades se encontraban las computadoras de trabajo de sus hijos universitarios y la de ella propia quien se encuentra estudiando una maestria además de realizar trabajo de escuela como maestra elemental.

El Movimiento Independentista Nacional Hostosiano, en la mañana de hoy desea denunciar este atropello que se efectuó contra la persona de nuestra delegada, la Sra. Vélez, a sus derechos civiles, a la intimidad y privacidad de su hogar, el esposamiento de sus hijos, entre los cuales habia uno enfermo, y el derecho a su ideal como lo establece la Constitución de Puerto Rico. Aún denunciamos que en su ausencia, se perpetraron estos hechos, violando aún más su intimidad como mujer cristiana, puertorriqueña y representante de una organzicación que se dedica a educar y concientizar al pueblo por la independencia de Puerto Rico, como la alternativa al Status colonial que vivimos.

Por eso estamos exhortando a que se unan a nuestra delegada Vilma Vélez, en un perímetro de amor, en torno a ella y su familia, este domingo 26 de febrero 2006 a las 6:30 de la mañana en Plaza Ferram, frente a Pueblo Xtra, en donde partirán las guaguas que salen para la gran Marcha contra el FBI, frente a la Corte Federal. Le pedimos a nuestra gente que apoyen y acompañen a Vilma en esta marcha junto al MINH y otras organizaciones sindicales, civicas y religiosas e independentistas. Hacemos un llamado a que nos movilicemos a condenar estos actos de atropello . DETENGAMOS LA CRIMINALIZACION DE LA LUCHA INDEPENDENTISTA! NO MAS ABUSOS DEL FBI NO MAS COLONIA





Por la Redacción de APM

En la polémica entre Uruguay y Argentina por las plantas de Fray Bentos no se dice toda la verdad. Le hacen la vista gorda al monocultivo, el latifundio y la contaminación.

Se puede hacer un juego consistente en reemplazar la palabra papeleras por monocultivo sojero, y donde se lea dióxido de sulfuro se borre para escribir herbicidas y plaguicidas. Esa es la propuesta del siguiente análisis, publicado días pasado por el servicio informativo de la Secretaría Latinoamericana de Unión Internacional de Trabajadores de la Alimentación y la Agricultura (Rel- Uita).

Se refiere a la falta de transparencia que se registra en torno a la controversia entre Buenos Aires y Montevideo, sobre la instalación y puesta en marcha de dos megafábricas de pasta de celulosa en la localidad uruguaya de Fray Bentos, sobre la margen oriental del río Uruguay, en la frontera con Argentina.

Se notará entonces que lo único que cambia entre una situación y otra es el discurso del gobierno provincial de Entre Ríos (Argentina). Allí, la mayoría de los vecinos de la ciudad de Gualeguaychú, que se encuentra ubicada frente a Fray Bentos, se constituyeron en Asamblea Ciudadana y hace varias semanas que mantienen cortado el puente internacional que une a ambos países. En defensa del medio ambiente, exigen las suspensión de la obras puestas en marcha por las empresas Botnia, de Finlandia, y Enre, de España.

Para ser más precisos, lo que cambiará es que frente al tema de las papeleras hay discurso mientras que ante el denunciado drama del monocultivo arrasador de la tierra y concentrador de la riqueza hay silencio oficial, señala el artículo de Rel-Uita. Lo extraño del caso es que el gobierno reproduce argumentos de los ambientalistas a los que ignora cuando cuestionan algo que le toca.

jueves, febrero 23, 2006

ALAI AMLATINA 21/02/2006, Managua.- Las organizaciones de la Vía Campesina, movimiento internacional de campesinos y campesinas, pequeños y medianos productores, mujeres rurales, indígenas, sin tierra, jóvenes rurales y trabajadores agrícolas de Asia, África, Europa y el continente americano, consideramos de mucha importancia la realización de Conferencia de Reforma Agraria y Desarrollo Rural que se desarrollará del 7 al 10 de marzo en Porto Alegre, Brasil.

Después de dos décadas de la última conferencia en 1979, la Organización de las Naciones Unidas para la Agricultura y la Alimentación (FAO, por sus siglas en inglés), en coordinación con el gobierno de Brasil, se plantean impulsar esta conferencia, en consecuencia reconocemos que su aporte nos indica que la Reforma Agraria viene de regreso, que es una de las más importantes tareas que deben promover los gobiernos, agencias internacionales y el movimientos social para erradicar el hambre y la pobreza.

¿Que Reforma Agraria exigimos?

Una Reforma Agraria genuina e integral, que incorpore una cosmovisión entre el espacio, el territorio, el agua y la biodiversidad, una Reforma Agraria que empiece por un amplio proceso de distribución de la propiedad de la tierra. La posesión y uso de la tierra deben estar subordinados al principio de que sólo tiene derecho a la tierra, quien en ella trabaja, depende de ella y en ella reside con su familia.

Una Reforma Agraria que ayude a la reinserción de los campesinos a su tierra y que regule la migración campo - ciudad y a terceros países.

La Reforma Agraria no es sólo reparto de tierras, su aplicación implica el desarrollo humano, la generación de empleos, la producción campesina de alimentos para abastecer el mercado local.

Defendemos el principio de la propiedad social de la tierra. No puede haber especulación, y se debe impedir que las empresas capitalistas (industriales, comerciales, financieras) se apoderen de grandes extensiones de tierra.

Toda reforma agraria genuina e integral se caracteriza por democratizar la estructura agraria, lo que presupone transformar las relaciones de poder económico y político, causantes de la reproducción de la concentración agraria.

Esta reforma agraria, debe prohibir la mercantilización del derecho a producir y a realizar un control de la producción que limite la producción especializada para la exportación y que garantice la soberanía alimentaria de sus respectivos pueblos.

Mientras la política redistributiva implica, antes que todo, la desapropiación obligatoria de tierras privadas que no cumplen su función social. Redistribuir tierra y poder, alterando las relaciones de fuerza en la sociedad en favor del campesinado y de las coaliciones que la apoyan, nada tiene que ver con las transacciones patrimoniales privadas financiadas por el Estado.

Un proceso que no excluye a pescadores, indígenas, campesinos sin tierra, pastores, pequeños y medianos productores, una Reforma Agraria que garantice el acceso total sobre la tierra y sus recursos.

Una Reforma Agraria que dé garantías legales a los y las campesinos que han recurrido a la toma de tierras para sobrevivir, una reforma agraria que garantice la propiedad real sobre la tierra y aleje el fantasma de la contrarreforma agraria.

¿Por qué nos oponemos a la Reforma Agraria que promueve el Banco Mundial?

Consideramos inaceptable la ingerencia que promueve el Banco Mundial para ejercer programas de política agraria en nuestros países, cuyas consecuencias son una política de liberalizar los mercados agrarios, una extensión de los planes de ajuste estructural que tiene a nuestros países en la extrema pobreza, aumentando la brecha entre pobres y ricos. Lleva a la mercantilización de los servicios básicos y de la tierra, el agua y la biodiversidad, disminuyendo el papel del Estado dejan ese control en manos de la oligarquía financiera, promoviendo paliativos focalizados de “alivio” de la pobreza.

La visión de una nueva política de Reforma Agraria y desarrollo rural pro-pobre que ha aparecido en una declaración anticipada de la conferencia mundial de Porto Alegre, nos parece un concepto lleno de trampas, una polisemia que su propósito es disfrazar ante la sociedad la injerencia del Banco Mundial.

No podemos aceptar una declaración, enmascarada entre la injerencia y la aparente ingenuidad de que si estamos hablando de una verdadera Reforma Agraria.

Es inaceptable que un organismo de la calidad de la FAO y el gobierno de Brasil hagan apología del fracaso, ya estudiosos del tema y la práxis misma reflejan que las Reformas Agrarias de mercado experimentada en Sudáfrica, Colombia, Brasil y en Guatemala quedaron muy por debajo de las expectativas; indicar que este modelo es exitoso es negar la Reforma Agraria.

martes, febrero 21, 2006

Ban Terminator
News Release
21 February 2006

Monsanto May Commercialize Terminator Biotech Giant Revises Pledge on Sterile Seed Technology as Global Alliance Calls for a Ban.

Monsanto, the world's largest seed and agbiotech company, made a public promise in 1999 not to commercialize 'Terminator Technology' - plants that are genetically engineered to produce sterile seeds. Now Monsanto says it may develop or use the so-called 'suicide seeds' after all. The revised pledge from Monsanto now suggests that it would use Terminator seeds in non-food crops and does not rule out other uses of Terminator in the future. (1) Monsanto's modified stance comes to light as the biotech and seed industry confront peasant and farmer movements, Indigenous peoples and their allies in an escalating battle at the United Nations over the future of Terminator.

In 2000 the United Nations Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD) adopted a de facto moratorium on sterile seed technologies, also known as Genetic Use Restriction Technologies (GURTs). But at next month's high-level meeting of the CBD in Curitiba, Brazil (20-31 March 2006) the biotechnology industry will intensify its push to undermine the six-year old de facto moratorium.

In response, over 300 organizations today declared their support for a global ban on Terminator Technology, asserting that sterile seeds threaten biodiversity and will destroy the livelihoods and cultures of the 1.4 billion people who depend on farm-saved seed.

"The world's farmers and Indigenous peoples cannot trust Monsanto," said Alejandro Argumedo from Asociacion ANDES - Potato Park in Cusco, Peru "Monsanto's broken promise is a deadly betrayal because Indigenous peoples and farmers depend on seed saving for food security and self-determination."

Terminator technology was first developed by the United States Department of Agriculture and US seed company Delta & Pine Land to prevent farmers from saving and re-using harvested seed, forcing them to buy new seeds each season. (2)

In October 1999, in response to worldwide opposition, Monsanto publicly pledged not to commercialize Terminator seeds. Then-CEO, Robert Shapiro, wrote an open letter to the Rockefeller Foundation, stating, "I am writing to let you know that we are making a public commitment not to commercialize sterile seed technologies, such as the one dubbed 'Terminator.'"

Now, Monsanto has revised its commitment, pledging to keep Terminator only out of food crops - opening the door to the use of Terminator in cotton, tobacco, pharmaceutical crops and grass with sterility genes. Referring to new versions of GURTs, Monsanto's 'pledge' now says, "Monsanto does not rule out the potential development and use of one of these technologies in the future. The company will continue to study the risks and benefits of this technology on a case-by-case basis."

"Monsanto's revised pledge resonates closely with the actions of a few rich governments that have been promoting Terminator at the UN recently," points out Chee Yoke Ling of Third World Network. "It looks like Monsanto and other corporations are behind the strategy to unleash Terminator at the upcoming meetings of the CBD".

Monsanto's new stance on Terminator is part of an industry-wide attempt to undermine the de facto moratorium. In the past year, government delegates from Canada, Australia and New Zealand, working hand in hand with the biotech industry, have used UN meetings to introduce new text that will be considered at next month's CBD meeting in Brazil. (3) This text recommends Terminator technologies be approached on a "case by case risk assessment" basis - echoing the language of Monsanto's new 'pledge.' The intention behind the 'case by case' approach is to regulate Terminator just like any other genetically modified crop. This would ignore the uniquely devastating societal impacts of genetic seed sterility.

"Terminator is a direct assault on farmers, Indigenous cultures and on the food sovereignty and well-being of all rural people, primarily the very poorest," said Chukki Nanjundaswamy of India from La Via Campesina, an organization representing tens of millions of peasant farmers worldwide. "If Monsanto bullies the UN into allowing 'case by case' assessment of Terminator, it means farmers will be carried off the land coffin by coffin."

"These companies have a clear and simple vision that nothing should be grown without a license from Monsanto and a few other masters of sterility and reproduction," explains Benny Haerlin of Greenpeace International. "They pursue this strategy step by step or 'case by case' as they now call it. If governments at the CBD give in to Monsanto and erode the Terminator moratorium we will all have to pay the bill tomorrow and the collateral damage will be the integrity and fertility of nature."

The Ban Terminator campaign today announces the names of over 300 organizations worldwide that are demanding a ban on Terminator technology. The list of organizations is available at http:// These organizations are from every region of the world and include peasant farmer movements and farm organizations, Indigenous peoples organizations, civil society and environmental groups, unions, faith communities, international development organizations, women's movements, consumer organizations and youth networks.

"We are particularly alarmed that Monsanto's edited pledge no longer rejects commercialization of this dangerous technology." said Lucy Sharratt of the international Ban Terminator Campaign. "We are calling on national governments to dismiss Monsanto's tactic in favour of an all-out ban on Terminator. We invite all civil society and social movements to join with us for the battle against Terminator next month in Brazil."

For more information contact:

Canada: Lucy Sharratt, Coordinator,
Ban Terminator Campaign
+1 613 252 2147 mobile
+ 1 613 241 2267
Pat Mooney, ETC Group
Jim Thomas, ETC Group
+1 613 241 2267

Hope Shand, ETC Group.
+1 919 9605767

Peru: Alejandro Argumedo,
Asociacion ANDES.
+51 84 245021

Chee Yoke Ling, Third World Network
Lim Li Lin, Third World Network.
+603 23002585

Chukki Nanjundaswamy, La Via Campesina.
+91 80 28604737

Greenpeace International:
Benedict Haerlin, Greenpeace International.

Notes to editors:

1. Monsanto's new pledge on Terminator and GURTs is online at http:// A full copy of their new and old pledges is available at

2. Delta and Pine Land refer to Terminator as Technology Protection System (TPS). Terminator is currently being tested in greenhouses and Delta and Pine Land vowed to commercialize it within the next few years.

3. In February 2005 at a meeting of the CBD's Subsidiary Body on Scientific, Technical and Technological Assessment (SBSTTA) in Bangkok, Canadian government delegates made a surprise attempt to overturn the moratorium by allowing Terminator to be field tested and commercialized. Last month, at another preparatory meeting in Granada, Spain (known as the Working Group on 8j), the Australian government, coached by a US State Department representative, also attacked the moratorium. See ETC Group news release on 27th January 2006: "Granada's Grim Sowers Plow up the moratorium on Terminator" available at


Actividades en café teatro taller Cé

Calle Robles No. 55 en Río Piedras, Puerto Rico
Abierto de miércoles a sábado desde las 7pm


Miércoles 22 – 9pm Homenaje a Los Beatles Los integrantes del Taller de Cantautores rinden tributo al grupo más vitoreado en la historia: Los Beatles. Con arreglos, traducciones y adaptaciones musicales escucharemos los clásicos de siempre con nuevas voces.

Jueves 23 – 9pm Juan Cobarde & los Espíritus Vulgares Los amantes del Heavy Metal tendrán la oportunidad de escuchar a Doel Hernández cantando temas originales con una mordaz crítica social y una “performance” muy irónica.

Viernes 24 – 9pm Concierto de Sol y Canto -$15 La música de Sol y Canto ha inspirado ovaciones de pie desde el Kennedy Center y la Casa Blanca, al California World Music Festival, el Conservatorio de Música y el Museo de Arte en San Juan, Puerto Rico. Sol y Canto destaca la voz principal cristalina de la vocalista puertorriqueña/ argentina Rosi Amador junto a la guitarra apasionada de su marido Nuevo Mexicano, Brian Amador. Con ellos tocan aclamados músicos latinos de Cuba, Uruguay, México y Argentina.

Sábado 25 – 9pm Giratorio de Expresión -$5 Música, jazz y cine @ tallerCé. Esta actividad reúne a las figuras más relevantes de la música subterránea y del arte vanguardista en general.


sábado, febrero 18, 2006


Durante el próximo mes de marzo, el IV Foro Mundial del Agua deliberará en México bajo el lema “Acciones locales para un reto global”. En su sitio oficial en Internet se puede leer: “El Foro Mundial del Agua es una iniciativa del Consejo Mundial del Agua (CMA) que tiene el objetivo de despertar la conciencia sobre los asuntos del agua en todo el mundo. Como el evento internacional más importante sobre el tema, el Foro busca propiciar la participación y diálogo de múltiples actores con el fin de influir en la elaboración de políticas a nivel global, asegurando un mejor nivel de vida para la humanidad en todo el mundo y un comportamiento social más responsable hacia los usos del agua, en congruencia con la meta de alcanzar un desarrollo sostenible”.

En una primera lectura, el visitante de la página web seguramente se llevará una grata impresión sobre esta iniciativa. En estos tiempos de tanto egoísmo, abogar por “un comportamiento social más responsable” en relación con la problemática del agua, resulta más que plausible.

El visitante sigue recorriendo el sitio y encuentra algunos “principios rectores” que han sido elaborados mediante una “práctica participativa”. Estos principios se apoyan en la necesidad de privilegiar “el valor del conocimiento y las experiencias locales como factor clave en el éxito de la formulación de políticas hídricas”. Hacen hincapié en la conveniencia de producir “resultados concretos y orientados a la formulación de políticas dirigidas al apoyo de acciones locales a escala mundial”, al tiempo que se remarca que “los problemas del agua son complejos y tienen muchos ángulos, por lo tanto, el Foro buscará promover el diálogo entre los sectores responsables de las políticas de agua y los diferentes usuarios”.

Hasta un lingüista especializado en semiótica, podría dictaminar que este es un encuentro destinado a encontrar los caminos para satisfacer las carencias de agua que tienen miles de millones de seres humanos. Al llegar a los ejes temáticos del foro, el visitante se encuentra con el tema número uno: “Agua para el Crecimiento y Desarrollo”, buen tema, realmente imprescindible para una mejor calidad de vida. Pero, allí tropezará con la primera sorpresa: uno de las “organizaciones líderes” de este panel es... ¡el Banco Mundial! Pero, en ese eje temático comprueba que también participa una entidad de renombre en el mundo académico internacional, el Colegio de México. El visitante se tranquiliza.

Dime quién te financia

Sigue con su lectura, hasta que se encuentra con una leyenda que dice “Para que el IV Foro Mundial del Agua sea un éxito, sus organizadores dependen de la ayuda de donadores y patrocinadores”. El visitante sabe que una forma de descubrir las motivaciones profundas de cualquier iniciativa, es conocer quiénes proporcionan el dinero para llevarla a cabo. Entre los patrocinadores se halla el grupo Modelo, fabricante de la conocida cerveza “Corona”, cuyo propietario José Antonio Fernández Carvajal, también es titular de Fomento Económico Mexicano (Femsa), el segundo embotellador de Coca Cola en el mundo y uno de los principales consorcios cerveceros de México. Otro de los auspiciantes es –directamente– Coca Cola Company México, la filial de la principal corporación trasnacional embotelladora de agua en el mundo; que entre 1998 y 2003 incrementó sus ventas en un 81 por ciento. Siguen en el listado de “donadores” Telmex y el grupo Carso, ambos propiedad de Carlos Slim Helú, el magnate más poderoso de América latina, cuyo patrimonio la revista Forbes calcula en cerca de 13.000 millones de dólares. Slim, que también posee una porción importante de Televisa y tiene empresas en sociedad con Bill Gates, acaba de comprar el paquete accionario mayoritario de Embratel, la empresa brasileña de telecomunicaciones. La ex empresa estatal Telmex le fue adjudicada a Slim en tiempos del presidente Carlos Salinas de Gortari, célebre por sus actos de corrupción.



viernes, febrero 17, 2006

Press release
Puerto Rico Project on Biosafety


(Thursday, February 2 2006) The establishment of the AgReliant Genetics company in the municipality of Santa Isabel reinforces Puerto Rico's role as a laboratory for experiments with genetically engineered (GE) crops, exposing the Caribbean island to multiple environmental and human health risks and compromising the integrity of its agriculture, warned the Puerto Rico Project on Biosafety.

The establishment of biotechnology companies in Puerto Rico forms part of the so-called "knowledge economy" that the current administration is promoting, as evidenced in the governor's speech last Monday.

"We are gravely concerned by governor Aníbal Acevedo-Vilá's policy of fast track approval for every type of biotechnology-related activity in Puerto Rico, without the most minimal precautionary measures to determine what impacts these could have on our ecology, public health and agriculture", declared the Project on Biosafety.

"The technology of genetic engineering is inherently risky, unstable and unpredictable", said environmental educator Carmelo Ruiz-Marrero, the organization's director and founder. "To this day there is not a single independent peer-reviewed scientific study that says that genetically engineered foods are safe for human consumption, and for this reason these novel products should be treated with extreme caution."

The Puerto Rico Project of Biosafety was founded in 2004 to educate the citizenry about the impacts ot genetically engineered products.

US Agriculture Department documents show that, with the exception of Hawaii, no state of the American union has as many experimental GE crop test plots per square miles as Puerto Rico.

The non-governmental organization advises that Puerto Rico could have an ecologically sound agriculture, with justice for farmers and serving the best interests of the Puerto Rican consumer, but that such an advanced form of agriculture is incompatible with the model promoted by the government, which is environmentally risky, intensive in the use of toxic agrochemicals, and benefits only transnational agribusiness corporations.

For more information:

"Puerto Rico's Biotech Harvest", by Carmelo Ruiz Marrero


(787) 771-4473, 203-2615

Darlington Building, apartment #703
San Juan, Puerto Rico 00925


miércoles, febrero 15, 2006

Reclaman una Declaración de Impacto Ambiental para Roosevelt Roads

Ceiba, 13 de febrero de 2006 - Representantes de las comunidades de Ceiba, incluyendo ex-empleados con problemas de salud por su exposición a contaminantes durante sus labores en Roosevelt Roads, denunciaron que la Evaluación Ambiental (EA) para la Disposición de la Actividad Naval en Puerto Rico (antigua Base Roosevelt Roads) del Departamento de la Marina de los Estados Unidos no brinda una descripción clara de las zonas contaminadas, sus contaminantes, ni los niveles de contaminación en la antigua base, a la vez que el Departamento de Desarrollo Económico y Comercio (DDEC) ha violentado los reglamentos y obstaculizado todo tipo participación relacionada a las actividades ambientales o de limpieza de la mencionada instalación militar.

Al limitarse a evaluar solo las dos primeras fases de transferencias (de cuatro fases proyectadas), la EA para el cierre de Roosevelt Roads deja sin evaluar los impactos de los proyectos propuestos en miles de cuerdas de áreas de bosque costero y otros terrenos. Como resultado, la EA no _evalúa la limpieza o re-uso de las áreas de almacenaje de municiones y no establece acciones para la limpieza y decontaminación de cientos de acres altamente contaminados con desechos sólidos en la bahía de Ensenada Honda.

En cuanto al impacto a las comunidades existentes, la EA no _evalúa el impacto de cientos de cuerdas que se cambiarían de bosque a zonas industriales en la zona desde donde sopla el viento que pasa sobre las comunidades. La EA tampoco ofrece ningún tipo de evaluación o consideración al mega-hotel de 250 habitaciones propuesto en unos de los últimos reductos de bosque costero seco de Puerto Rico, la bahía de Punta Puerca.

Eso, combinado con diagramas que presentan información inconsistente y múltiples errores y omisiones, forman parte del cuadro representativo del documento mediante el cual la Marina de los Estados Unidos y el DDEC pretenden despachar, tras solo 30 días de evaluación, las sobre 8600 cuerdas de terreno y miles de facilidades de Roosevelt Roads.

Las comunidades, ambientalistas y empresarios interesados en invertir en los desarrollos de Roosevelt Roads están de acuerdo que esta evaluación es demasiado informal y tiene el potencial de causar graves daños al ambiente y la salud si se disponen los terrenos sin que se lleve a cabo un proceso más formal como lo sería una declaración de impacto ambiental. Por ello procederán a someter dicha petición por escrito antes que termine el periode de someter comentarios a la EA que es el 20 de febrero del 2006.


Contactos: Rogelio Figueroa Teléfono: 787-317-0713, 787-622-0002
Daly Avila (APRODEC) Teléfono: 787-948-7677, 787-885-2216
2005, a Scary Year for Genetically Engineered Crops

Spilling the Beans, Feb 14, 2006

By Jeffrey M. Smith, Author of the international bestseller Seeds of Deception

Genetically modified (GM)crops were introduced 10 years ago, but 2005 saw plenty of evidence that the technology was introduced long before the science was ready. Here are some of last year's highlights, so to speak.

At a conference in October, a leading scientist from the Russian Academy of Sciences reported that more than half (55.6%) of the offspring of rats fed GM soy died within three weeks. By contrast, only 9% of rats died whose mothers were fed non-GM soy. The study is preliminary, but the American Academy of Environmental Medicine asked the NIH to immediately repeat it. [1]

In June, a German court ordered Monsanto to make a study public, in which rats fed GM corn developed kidney inflammation, altered blood cell counts and organ lesions. These and other changes suggested possible allergies, infections, toxins, anemia or blood pressure problems. The rats were fed corn genetically engineered to produce a pesticide called Bt-toxin. A French expert who reviews GM safety assessments for the government says that these and other studies indicate that Bt crops create reactions similar to chemical pesticides. Monsanto, however, was able to convince regulators to overlook the findings using arguments that were widely criticized as unscientific.[2]

In November, a 10-year, $2 million GM pea project in Australia was abandoned when the peas were found to create immune responses in mice. The results, which indicate that the peas might create serious allergic reactions in people, were discovered only after scientists employed advanced tests that have never been used for evaluating GM food. If those peas had been studied in the normal way, they could have been approved. The findings suggest that undetected problems may be common in GM crops on the market.[3]

Medical reports from India say that farm workers handling Monsanto's GM cotton developed moderate to serious allergic reactions, forcing some to the hospital. There were also reports that numerous animals died after eating the Bt cottonseed.[4]

The Indian government confirmed that Bt cotton's disastrous yields cost millions. One state even kicked out Monsanto, after they refused to compensate farmers' losses. Tragically, hundreds of debt-ridden cotton farmers committed suicide.[5]

Monsanto was fined by the US Justice Department for bribing up to 140 Indonesian officials over several years, trying to get Bt cotton approved.[6] But widespread crop failure had left farmers in ruins there too, so even the bribes didn't work. [7]

A three-year UK study showed that GM crops damage biodiversity and threaten birds and bees.[8] Another study surprised scientists when GM crops cross pollinated with a distant relative.[9] And some Indian farmers found that after planting GM cotton, their fields became sterile and could not support subsequent crops.[10]

According to USDA statistics, much more Roundup herbicide is used due to Monsanto's Roundup Ready GM plants. Roundup was found to be far more toxic to humans and animals than previously thought. [11] Furthermore, its over use has resulted in the proliferation of herbicide-tolerant weeds in the US.[12]

Contamination was also a big issue.

* In March, the US government revealed that an unapproved GM corn variety by Syngenta had been sold for four years. By late December, Japan had rejected 14 contaminated corn shipments.[13]

* Illegal GM papaya showed up in Thailand. [14]

* Illegal GM varieties were about to be identified in Turkey, but the research project was mysteriously canceled.[15]

* According to a UK study, even when GM crops are grown in special government-supervised field trials for just a single year, unharvested seeds continue to grow and re-seed fifteen years later.[16]

* And farmer Percy Schmeiser, whose contamination by GM canola made it to the Canadian Supreme Court, has again discovered windblown GM seeds from passing trucks.[17]

The Danish government passed a law in which they compensate farmers for losses due to GM contamination and then seek to collect from the offending GM farmer. Vermont's proposed Farmer Protection Act, which passed the senate last April by 26-1, offered a different solution. It placed the financial responsibility on the biotech seed company. This allowed contaminated farmers to recover their losses while shielding GM farmers that had planted their crops in accordance with the seed company's directions. Biotech proponents who lobby around the world to make sure their companies don't pay for damage created by their products, flocked to Vermont's state house. Sure enough, on the first day of the 2006 session, a close house vote struck down the bill in a New Year's gift to industry. A conference committee of senators and representatives may yet take this up and reinstate strict liability for seed producers.

Unwilling to accept GM contamination at all, Switzerland passed a 5-year moratorium on planting GM crops. Likewise, 4500 European jurisdictions, and regions and countries in Africa, South America and Australia have passed bills or resolutions for GM free zones. By contrast, the US biotech industry rushed legislation through 14 states so far, preventing local governments from creating such zones.

Perhaps in the distant future scientists will be able to safely and predictably manipulate and control genes in plants. But for now, feeding the products of this infant science to millions and releasing them into the environment is foolish and dangerous. In the meantime, pregnant women and children in particular, may want to avoid eating GM foods.

Most of these 2005 stories are elaborated in Jeffrey Smith's free monthly column, Spilling the Beans, available at www.responsibletechnology.


Jeffrey M. Smith is the author of the bestselling book on GM foods Seeds of Deception and producer of the DVD Hidden Dangers in Kids' Meals, available at or by calling 888-717-7000. He is working with a team of international scientists to compile all known risks of GM foods.

Spilling the Beans is a monthly column available at

Permission is granted to publishers and webmasters to reproduce issues of Spilling the Beans in whole or in part. Just email us at to let us know who you are and what your circulation is, so we can keep track.

The Institute for Responsible Technology is working to end the genetic engineering of our food supply and the outdoor release of GM crops. We warmly welcome your donations and support.


[1] See Jeffrey Smith, Most Offspring Died When Mother Rats Ate Genetically Engineered Soy, Spilling the Beans, Oct 2005 at

[2] See Jeffrey Smith, Genetically Modified Corn Study Reveals Health Damage and Cover-up, Spilling the Beans, June 2005 at

[3] See Jeffrey Smith, Genetically Modified Peas Caused Dangerous Immune Response in Mice, Spilling the Beans, Nov/Dec 2005 at

[4] Bt cotton causing allergic reaction in MP;, cattle dead, Bhopal, Nov 23 2005,

[5]See Jeffrey Smith, Un-Spinning the Spin Masters on Genetically Engineered Food, Spilling the Beans, January 2006 at

[6]Monsanto fined $1.5m for bribery, BBC News, Jan 7, 2005,

[7]Pests Attack Genetically Modified Cotton, Jakarta Post (Indonesia) 29 June 2001,

[8]See Jeffrey Smith, Genetically Engineered Crops Damage Wildlife, Spilling the Beans, March 2005 at

[9]Paul Brown, Weed discovery brings calls for GM ban, The Guardian, July 26, 2005,,9061,1536021,00.html

[10]Abdul Qayum & Kiran Sakkhari. Did Bt Cotton Save Farmers in Warangal? A season long impact study of Bt Cotton - Kharif 2002 in Warangal District of Andhra Pradesh . AP Coalition in Defence of Diversity & Deccan Development Society, Hyderabad, 2003.

[11]Sophie Richard and others, Differential Effects of Glyphosate and Roundup on Human Placental Cells and Aromatase, Environmental Health Perspectives Volume 113, Number 6, June 2005

[12]See for example, Investigation Confirms Case Of Glyphosate-Resistant Palmer Pigweed In Georgia, Sept. 13, 2005,

[13]Japan finds 14th US corn cargo tainted with Bt-10, KTIC 840 Rural Radio,

[14]Illegal GE papaya in Thailand has antibiotic resistant genes, Greenpeace press release, June 30, 2005

[15]Michael Kuser, Tests reveal presence of GM tomatoes in Turkey, Turkish Daily News, 26 May 2005,

[16]Geoffrey Lean, GM crop 'ruins fields for 15 years’, The Independent, 09 October 2005

[17]Sean Pratt, Roundup Ready Canola back in Schmeiser's field. The Western Producer, October 26, 2005

Copyright 2006 by Jeffrey M. Smith.


martes, febrero 14, 2006

Feb. 14, 2005


Contact: Timothy Karr, Free Press, (201) 533-8838
Diane Farsetta, CMD, (608) 260-9713
Craig Aaron, Free Press, (202) 265-1490, x 25

Thousands Demand Investigation into Covert Propaganda

Free Press and CMD deliver 40,000 petitions calling for full accounting of the Bush PR machine WASHINGTON - Free Press and the Center for Media and Democracy (CMD) today delivered nearly 40,000 petitions to the Justice Department and Congress, calling for an investigation into illegal “covert propaganda” produced by the Bush administration.

The groups began collecting the petitions last fall after an investigation by the Government Accountability Office (GAO) found that the Department of Education illegally funneled more than $240,000 to pundit Armstrong Williams to tout Bush’s education policy before the 2004 elections. The petition calls on the administration “to fully disclose all administration expenditures for publicity” and to prosecute those responsible for illegal propaganda “to the fullest extent of the law."

Yesterday, House Democrats released a separate GAO report chronicling more than $1.6 billion spent by the Bush administration since 2003 on public relations and advertising at seven federal agencies, including the Departments of Defense, Homeland Security and Health and Human Services.

“The American people are fed up with this administration’s relentless attempts to manage and manipulate the news,” said Timothy Karr, campaign director of Free Press. “The GAO report carefully itemizes this administration’s preference for pre-packaged reporting at the expense of real news and information -- in a scheme to make U.S. taxpayers pay for their own deception.”

At least three earlier GAO investigations had found that the Bush administration was producing "covert propaganda" at other agencies, including the Department of Health of Human Services and the Office of National Drug Control Policy. Yet the White House instructed all executive branch agencies to ignore the GAO’s findings.

"The latest GAO report is a far cry from real accountability," said Diane Farsetta, senior researcher at the Center for Media and Democracy, a PR watchdog group. "Subcontractors -- such as the infamous Armstrong Williams -- are not listed, and there is no indication whether government-funded 'fake news,' such as video news releases, included disclosures. As the GAO has ruled repeatedly, VNRs that do not disclose their source to the audience constitute illegal covert propaganda."

Throughout the past year, Free Press and CMD have mobilized citizens to put a stop to government and corporate propaganda. In April 2005, the groups mobilized thousands of concerned citizens to urge the FCC to launch an investigation into the widespread use of government- sponsored video news releases. In response, the agency issued a public notice calling on all broadcasters and cable outlets to disclose the origin of VNRs used on their programs. Pressure from Free Press activists also launched an FCC investigation into whether Armstrong Williams’ actions violated anti-payola regulations.

"Congress should immediately enact strict legislation that mandates full disclosure in government-produced VNRs and puts an end to covert propaganda," Karr said.

For more information, see and


Free Press ( is a national, nonpartisan organization working to involve the public in media policymaking and to craft policies for a more democratic media system.

The Center for Media and Democracy ( is a nonprofit, public interest organization that strengthens participatory democracy by investigating and exposing public relations spin and propaganda, and by promoting media literacy and citizen journalism.

lunes, febrero 13, 2006

America's masterplan is to force GM food on the world

The reason the US took Europe to the WTO court was to prise open lucrative markets elsewhere

by John Vidal

The Guardian, February 13, 2006,,1708375,00.html

Just a few years ago, World Trade Organisation officials used to act hurt when described by social activists as irresponsible, secretive bureaucrats who trampled over national sovereignty and placed free trade over the environment or human rights. But that was when the global-trade policeman ruled on disputes that had little bearing on Europeans.

The WTO court's latest ruling will greatly increase the number of people who believe the organisation needs radical reform, if not burial. This week three judges emerged after years of secret deliberation to rule that Europe had imposed a de facto ban on GM food imports between 1999 and 2003, violating WTO rules. The court also ruled that Austria, France, Germany, Greece, Italy and Luxembourg had no legal grounds to impose their own unilateral import bans. "Europe guilty!" shouted the US press. "This is glorious news for the Bush administration," said one blogger.

Actually, the judges said much more, but in true WTO style no one has been allowed to know what. A few bureaucrats in the US, EU, Argentina and Canada have reportedly seen the full 1,045-page report, and an edited summary of some of its conclusions has been leaked. But no one, it seems, will take responsibility for the ruling, which may force the EU to pay hundreds of millions of dollars to compensate some of the world's most heavily subsidised farmers, and could change the laws of at least six countries that have imposed GM bans.

In fact the US has mostly won a lot of new enemies. Rather than going away, as the biotech companies and Washington fervently hoped, the opposition to GM foods seems to have been growing since 2004 when the case was brought to the WTO. Europe, its member states and its consumers all rejected the ruling last week, making the WTO look even more out of touch and incompetent to rule on issues about the environment, health and consumer choice.

The European commission, which has been trying to force GM crops into Europe over the heads of its member states, says the ruling is "irrelevant" because its laws have already been changed. Meanwhile, individual countries who dislike being told what to eat or grow by the EC as much as the WTO say they will resist any attempts to make them accept GM.

In the past few days Hungary has declared that it is in its economic interests to remain GM-free, and Greece and Austria have affirmed their total opposition to the crops. Italy has called the WTO ruling "unbalanced" and Poland's prime minister has pledged to keep the country GM-free. Local government is even more opposed: more than 3,500 elected councils in 170 regions of Europe have declared themselves GM-free.

There is little the WTO, the EC or the US can do in face of this coalition of the unwilling. If the US again tries to impose its GM products on Europe - as it did in the 90s, sparking the whole debacle - the attempt will backfire. Europe's biotech industry may now try to force the EC to use the WTO judgment to get the six countries with import bans to repeal anti-GM laws, but it will meet an even broader, more determined movement.

In fact, Washington and the US companies are not that bothered by Europe's predictable reaction. Europe has all but dropped off the world's GM map. The companies and the supermarkets know there is little or no demand for GM crops, and that Europe's subsidised farmers are reluctant to alienate the public further by growing them.

It is now clear that the real reason the US took Europe to the WTO court was was to make it easier for its companies to prise open regulatory doors in China, India, south-east Asia, Latin America and Africa, where most US exports now go. This is where millions of tonnes of US food aid heads, and where US GM companies are desperate to have access, buying up seed companies and schmoozing presidents and prime ministers.

More than two-thirds of exported US corn now goes to Asia and Africa, where once it went to Europe. As the Monsanto man said this week about the WTO ruling: "Our feeling is that it's important for countries other than the EU to have science-based regulatory frameworks."

Like the tobacco industry, GM companies are now focusing almost exclusively on developing countries. But here the industry is meeting stiff opposition from powerful unions and farming groups. Brazil has caved in, but Bolivia may shortly become the first Latin American country to fully reject GM. Some Indian states are deeply opposed, and there have been major demonstrations in the Philippines, Korea, Indonesia and elsewhere. India's largest farmers' organisation this week said the result of the WTO verdict would be that the US would become more aggressive in dumping GM food on to developing countries.

The US maintains that through the WTO it has won a great victory for free trade, and passed a significant milestone in US attempts "to have GM crops accepted throughout the world". Perhaps, but the battle is far from won, and in the meantime anyone opposing the crops is being reclassed as an enemy of America.

Within hours of the WTO decision, Jose Bove, the French farmer who has led European protests, arrived in New York to give an invited talk to Cornell students about GM food - and was immediately sent back to France by the US government.