Terra Infirma by Ron Baird
This former Colorado state Forrest Service writer tells the truth about what is really happening to our environment in C1N’s Terra Infirma by Ron Baird.
Poll: Majority of Americans Want Congress Out of Keystone XL Pipeline Decision, Oppose “Eminent Domain,” Worry About Water, Wildlife0
This former Colorafo State Forrest Service writer tells the truth about what is really happening to our environment in C1Ns Terra Infirma by Ron Baird.
Release of More Mexican Gray Wolves to Wild Needed to Stop Genetic Inbreeding
This Week Marks Four Years Since Last Release of Captive-bred Wolf
SILVER CITY, N.M.— To mark this week’s four-year anniversary of the last release of a Mexican gray wolf into the southwestern wilderness, the Center for Biological Diversity has called on the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service to dramatically increase the number of wolves in the wild. This is needed to stave off genetic inbreeding, which scientists say may now be limiting the size and health of some wolf litters.
Under pressure from the livestock industry, the Service has ceased releasing captive-bred wolves into the wild in recent years. Unfortunately this means there’s little genetic diversity flowing into the fledgling wild wolf population, which compromises the ability of the 58 wolves in Arizona and New Mexico to grow healthily and sustainably.
“By starving the wild wolf population of new animals, the Fish and Wildlife Service is stacking the odds against their recovery,” said the Center’s wolf specialist, Michael Robinson. “Resuming the release of wolves into the wild is absolutely essential to overcoming inbreeding and ensuring the success of this wolf recovery program.”
All Mexican wolves in the world today stem from just seven animals captured alive from the wild in Mexico and the United States, the last one in 1980. After reintroduction of the wolves to Arizona and New Mexico began in 1998, the Fish and Wildlife Service had many of the most genetically valuable wolves shot or trapped on behalf of the livestock industry. Consequently the captive population will have to jump-start the wild population again.
“Too many wolves have been taken out of the wild, both by the government and by poachers. That’s a tragedy, and it puts the Mexican wolf’s future in jeopardy,” said Robinson.
The Center for Biological Diversity is a national, nonprofit conservation organization with more than 450,000 members and online activists dedicated to the protection of endangered species and wild places.
In a new lawsuit against the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC), big energy extractors are pushing for carte blanche in their interactions with foreign governments, making it harder to track whether their deals are padding the coffers of dictators, warlords, or crony capitalists. The United States Chamber of Commerce, American Petroleum Institute, the Independent Petroleum Association of America, and the National Foreign Trade Council filed a lawsuit on October 10, 2012 against a new SEC rule, which requires U.S. oil, mining and gas companies to formally disclose payments made to foreign governments as part of their annual SEC reporting.
This lawsuit is not the only effort underway to make it easier for American corporations working overseas to bribe corrupt government officials. The U.S. Chamber of Commerce is also pushing for a radical rollback of a 35 year old anti-bribery statute that has been tripping up U.S. companies abroad.
New SEC Rule Forces Disclosure of Financial Transactions With Foreign Governments
The challenged SEC provision, which aims to bring transparency to U.S. corporate payments to foreign governments abroad in an effort to combat bribery and corruption, was required by Congress in a last minute addition to the 2010 Dodd-Frank Wall Street reform bill. Some parts of Dodd-Frank have gone into effect while others are still under assault by industry in the lengthy rule-making processes. Senators Dick Lugar (R-Indiana) and Ben Cardin (D-Maryland) authored the provision, which simply requires U.S. corporations to report in their annual SEC filing any payments made to foreign governments.
This legislation is a crucial step in increasing transparency and accountability in countries with a history of government corruption. In many countries, there are often huge discrepancies between what companies might say that they paid the government and what the government said it received. Formal disclosure can serve as a critical tool for activists and citizens fighting corruption and poverty, which is why the measure was backed by groups like Oxfam International and Bono’s ONE campaign.
“The Cardin-Lugar Amendment puts transparency — the key to citizens’ ability to hold their government to account — ahead of corruption. To do otherwise is a losing proposition for the United States and company shareholders,” Lugar said in a statement this week. The SEC worked on the rule for two years with abundant business input.
Lawsuit Alleges Rule too Costly, Violates Corporate Rights
The groups which filed the lawsuit allege that the SEC failed to take into account the rule’s costs and benefits and that it “grossly misinterpreted its statutory mandate” in crafting the rule and has violated corporate “First Amendment” rights.
For supporters, it is difficult to see what is so costly about inserting a few paragraphs into an annual SEC filing. “We are greatly disappointed that the oil industry is trying to use the courts to bully the SEC and push for secrecy in their payments to governments,” said Ian Gary of Oxfam. “We call on companies, such as BP, Exxon, Chevron and Shell, who are hiding behind industry associations to do their dirty work while espousing transparency rhetoric, to disassociate themselves from the lawsuit.”
The attorney heading the challenge to the Dodd-Frank anti-bribery rule is Eugene Scalia, son of Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia. Of the six challenges that SEC regulations have faced and lost in federal court of appeals in Washington, DC since the mid 2000s, Eugene Scalia was behind four. He won a case on behalf of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce last year on the Dodd-Frank “proxy access rule,” which would have allowed shareholders to play a role in nominating company directors. Scalia also helped win a case in September against the SEC on a rule which would have imposed trading limits on speculators.
U.S. Chamber of Commerce Tries to Gut Foreign Corrupt Practices Act
Efforts to keep bribery under a veil of secrecy go beyond attacks against the SEC transparency rule. The U.S. Chamber of Commerce has also been waging a war against the 1977 Foreign Corrupt Practices Act, which was adopted after a rash of bribery scandals of foreign officials was revealed, involving more than 400 U.S. corporations. The law, introduced by Senator William Proxmire (D-Wisconsin), bans companies from bribing foreign officials in order to secure land and retain business deals, and requires public companies to file financial statements and maintain internal controls. The Department of Justice (DOJ) and SEC are responsible for its enforcement and have been stepping up the pace in recent years, dedicating new staff and resources to a crackdown.
Now, the Chamber is actively pushing five amendments to the 1977 law, which would significantly weaken its enforcement mechanisms.
The value of the law was recently highlighted when The New York Times broke the story this spring that Walmex (Wal-Mart in Mexico), executives allegedly covered up millions of dollars in bribes to Mexican officials in an effort to fuel the company’s expansion in the country. Wal-Mart says it spent some $51 million on an internal investigation looking into whether the subsidiary violated the anti-bribery law and the U.S. Justice Department is also investigating.
According to the Chamber’s tax filings, 14 of the group’s 55 board members between 2007 and 2010 “were affiliated with companies that were reportedly under investigation for violations or had settled allegations that they violated the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act.” Chamber member Pfizer recently paid $60 million to the SEC and DOJ to settle claims that its subsidiaries bribed foreign doctors and pubic officials to gain market access for its products in Eastern Europe.
Major American firms frequently embrace transparency as an alternative to mandatory binding regulation. Now transparency is also taking a beating as U.S. firms fight for the right to bribe foreign governments and hide their activities from American shareholders and the citizens of the nations where they do business.
The question, really, is how could such a stellar research institution as Stanford U. publish such a pile of crap? Analyzing 237 existing studies and determining that organic fruits and vegetables are no more nutritious than conventional (read: industrial agriculture). Actually the study seems more a hack job to pay a favor to Big Ag donors, although the researchers made a point early that internal funds were used to fund the work. Does that raise your suspicions a bit?
In the first place, they were almost certainly wrong. A number of recent studies have indicated organic produce has 10-30% more nutrients than conventional.
If they were trying to contribute to the body of knowledge, why not look into the environmental costs of industrial agriculture, such as pesticides in the water and air, the medical costs of workers exposed to such toxins.
Why ignore a whole other level of heath benefits of phytochemicals which are much more prevalent in organic produce because industrial agriculture intensive application of chemical fertilizers, pesticides, herbicides and heavy watering have depleted the soil of nutrients need to produce phytochemicals.
How important are they?
Phytonutrients are nutrients derived from plant material that have been shown to be necessary for sustaining human life. Phytochemicals are non-nutritive plant chemicals that contain protective, disease-preventing, compounds. Their role in plants is to protect plants from disease, injuries, insects, drought, excessive heat, ultraviolet rays, and poisons or pollutants in the air or soil. They form part of the plants immune system.
Although phytochemicals are not yet classified as nutrients, substances necessary for sustaining life, they have been identified as containing properties for aiding in disease prevention. Phytochemicals are associated with the prevention and/or treatment of at least four of the leading causes of death in Western countries – cancer, diabetes, cardiovascular disease, and hypertension. They are involved in many processes including ones that help prevent cell damage, prevent cancer cell replication, and decrease cholesterol levels.
So—pretty damn important. But apparently not to the Stanford researchers.
But Big Ag got it’s headline, and that’s what’s important.
But we do know that a combination of hormones in creeks from the effluent of wastewater plants have turned wild fish hermaphroditic. Many of today’s diseases are caused by foreign hormones or chemicals that damage hormones.
My poor little tilapia are also being considered to be “modified” by the anti-freeze protein gene from Arctic flatfish, as well as salmon growth hormone gene.
In fact as of 2001 there were 20 species of wild fish being tested for genetic modification, according to a report by Jaques Diof, Director General of the U.N. Food and Agricultural Organization.
These were Abalone, Arctic Char, Catfish. Common Carp, Indian Major Carp, Goldfish, Halibut, Flounder, Loach, Lobster, Japanese Medaka, Atlantic Salmon, Chinook and Coho Salmon, Shrimp, Striped Bass, Tilapia, Turbot, Cutthroat Trout, Rain Trout and Zebra Fish.
In China and the U.S., experiments using human growth hormone have been conducted on carp. These fish have tolerance of low oxygen levels, which may produced fish that can survive in rivers too polluted for normal fish.
I believe there’s something elementarily wrong with this.
What do you think?
The first generation of biotech crops has failed. And failed badly. Now the biotech industry is stepping up the chemical arms race in an effort to make up for the failure of Monsanto’s Roundup. Excessive use of Roundup by GMO farmers has led million of acres of U.S. farmland filled with Roundup resistant superweeds.
To combat this, Dow Chemical is petitioning the USDA to approve a new GMO Agent Orange Soy to tolerate 2,4-D, a main chemical component of the Vietnam era defoliant linked to birth defects, cancer, and hormone disruption. On top of these horrific health problems, 2,4-D is widely known among farmers to be difficult to control during application, leading to drift onto neighboring farms, causing major crop damage and contaminating waterways.
These facts have greatly alarmed scientists and farmers alike, leading a former top Reagan USDA official to declare 2,4-D one of “the most dangerous chemicals out there.”