Category: Environment

The Lobby Firm That Works Both Sides of The Room

In Brussels, hundreds of lobby consultants make a (rather generous) living by running lobby campaigns on behalf of anyone who pays them. The borders between communication and PR strategies, law expertise and traditional lobbying are blurred. Demonstrating the problematic symbiosis between corporate interests and the EU institutions in Brussels, the same lobbying consultancies often get hired by both, bringing serious risks of conflicts of interest. A case in point: Germany-based lobby consultancy Genius and its work for the Glyphosate Task Force.

The European Commission – as shown again recently in The Guardian – seems hell bent on granting glyphosate, the active ingredient in Monsanto’s toxic herbicide Roundup, re-approval for another ten years. This is despite the fact that the World Health Organisation’s cancer institute IARC declared the substance as “probably causing cancer to humans”, and that EU pesticides rules say such substances should be banned.

No Rhinos Poached in Nepal for Past Two Years

Nepal (WWF) – While Africa struggles to stem record-breaking rhino poaching, Nepal today marked two years since its last rhino was poached on May 2nd 2014 – as well as its 4th year of zero poaching of rhinos since 2011.

“This exceptional success is based on a combination of high-level political will, and the active involvement of the park authorities, Nepal Army, Nepal Police, conservation partners and local communities,” said Krishna P. Acharya, Chief-Planning Division and Spokesperson of the Ministry of Forests and Soil Conservation.

This is the first time that Nepal has achieved two consecutive years of zero poaching, which has helped to increase its population of greater one-horned rhinos to 645, the highest recorded number in the country so far.

Against the Evidence, Colombia Resumes Use of Glyphosate in Coca Eradication

Experiencing a rise in coca cultivation, the Colombian government has resumed the use of a potentially carcinogenic herbicide in its efforts to tackle the source of the cocaine trade, despite serious questions about the method’s efficacy.

Use of the herbicide glyphosate in coca eradication efforts was halted last year following publication of an International Agency for Research on Cancer report pointing to its potentially carcinogenic effects. Colombia had been utilizing glyphosate in aggressive aerial fumigation campaigns against coca — the raw ingredient for cocaine — since 1994.

However, a recent uptick in coca cultivation levels — and consequentially the amount of cocaine produced in the country — have apparently prompted the government to begin using glyphosate once more. The difference this time, though, is that it will be used solely in manual eradication, as confirmed by Defense Minister Luis Villegas who noted that authorities will spray on the ground in such a way so that it does not contaminate surrounding areas.

How Japanese Officials Can Atone for Fukushima

The meltdowns and release of radiation from the Fukushima Daaichi nuclear power plant has been an ongoing crisis for five years. Nuclear engineer Koide Hiroaki has been one of the most trenchant critics of how the Japanese government and power company TEPCO (mis)handled the disaster. In a wide-ranging interview at Counterpunch, he offered a way for officials, who have gone unpunished, to atone.

Right now the people of Fukushima have been abandoned in the areas of the highest levels of radiation. And abandoned people have to find a way to live. Farmers produce agricultural goods, dairy farmers produce dairy products, and ranchers produce meat; these people must do so in order to live. They are not the ones to be blamed at all.

As the Japanese state is absolutely unreliable in this matter, these people have no choice but to go on producing food in that place, all the while suffering further exposure. So I don’t think we can throw out the food they produce there under those conditions. Inevitably someone has to consume that food.

EU Commission Plays Brussels Roulette on Glyphosate

The EU Commission is clearly determined to approve a “probable human carcinogen, glyphosate, despite overwhelming evidence of its toxicity. They are clearly content to side with Monsanto and the agribusiness chemical weed-killer lobby and with Washington above the health and safety concerns of EU citizens. A legal mind might call this criminal negligence. The issue is the upcoming renewal of the license to use the probable carcinogen, glyphosate, the main ingredient in Monsanto’s widely-used weed-killer, Roundup®. The intensity of the lies and attempted deception by EU faceless bureaucrats on the controversial glyphosate issue is indicative why more EU citizens are demanding an “opt-out” entirely from the European Union.

What lies beneath West Antarctica?

Three recent publications by early career researchers at three different institutions across the country provide the first look into the biogeochemistry, geophysics and geology of Subglacial Lake Whillans, which lies 800 meters (2,600 feet) beneath the West Antarctic Ice Sheet.

The findings stem from the Whillans Ice Stream Subglacial Access Research Drilling (WISSARD) project funded by the National Science Foundation (NSF).

One woman’s victory against a mining giant in Peru

Máxima Acuña, a farmer from Peru’s northern highlands, recently won the 2016 Goldman Environmental Prize for her resistance against the mining consortium Yanacocha in Cajamarca, Peru.

At the prize acceptance ceremony in San Francisco on 18 April, in lieu of a speech Máxima sang her story: ‘Because I defend my lakes, they want to take my life.’

Yanacocha is the largest gold mine in Latin America and fourth largest in the world, operating since 1993. The mine is now owned by the US Newmont Mining Corporation, a Peruvian mining company, and the World Bank’s International Finance Corporation.

Dramatic Turn in Brussels Glyphosate Battle

Since the unexpected refusal last month of three EU member states to go along with the decision of the EU Health and Food Safety Commissioner and the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) to re-approve the world’s most widely used weed killing chemical, Glyphosate, dramatic and encouraging developments suggest that for the first time the power of GMO agrochemical giants like Monsanto and Syngenta, Dow and DuPont, BASF, Bayer could undergo a devastating defeat. Were this to happen, it could well be the death knell for the misbegotten Rockefeller Foundation Genetic Manipulation project that has destroyed much of Western farmland and poisoned hundreds of millions of GMO fed farm animals and humans.