Rice farmers from the Yunnan Province

Despite that the Chinese government has not yet approved the commercial cultivation of GM rice, a Greenpeace study released on Monday found genetically modified rice in supermarkets in China, such as US retail giant Wal- Mart (watch video here). The study was conducted last October and November in the supermarkets of eight Chinese cities and revealed the existence of transgenic rice in Chinese supermarkets under the brands of Maoya and Xueyou. "The DNA transgenic fragments were found in rice sold at both supermarkets. The Maoya sample is, as tests showed, a pest-resistant BT variety," Wang Weikang, spokesperson of Greenpeace's food and agriculture programme said on Monday. A report has also been submitted to the Ministry of Agriculture. A member of the Chinese bio-safety committee, Huang Dafang said to China Daily: "I don't think their survey is trustworthy but the ministry is open to such inquiry on the precondition that it's based on sound scientific data. China has laws and designated establishments to oversee and regulate GM food and we've never heard of such a case from these sources."

The story, which has splashed all over the Chinese media, raises concerns of consumer trust when shopping for foods, that without their knowledge, could have serious long-term unpredictable consequences.

Photo credit: © Greenpeace / Bai Yunxian

Nuclear plants growing everywhere

Indonesia has supported a plan to build nuclear power plants. "The country can no longer rely on non-renewable energy sources such as gas and coal to generate electricity in future," said the chairman of the parliamentary commission for energy, technology and the environment, Mr Teuku Riefky Harsya. One of the major concerns is security. A spokesman for Greenpeace Indonesia, Mr Martin Baker, was quoted saying that "It's costly, dangerous and there's still no safe way to store the nuclear waste." But Mr Teuku replied yesterday: "I believe that nuclear power plants will not leak if managed properly." Activists are also worried about the risk of catastrophe due to frequent volcanic eruptions and earthquakes in the densely populated island of Java. One of the places where a nuclear plant could be built is Muria, in central Java, near a dormant volcano.


Hundreds of people create a human banner with a wind turbine and the statement ‘Clean Energy Now’ on the site of a proposed nuclear power plant in Muria. 11/30/2007

Photo credit: © Greenpeace / Paul Hilton

Indian farmers are also battling against going nuclear as a major nuclear power project is set to be built in the picturesque Konkan coast. Local farmers have come together against the 10,000 megawatt nuclear plant which they believe will destroy the region's ecology. Campaigner, and local farmer, Mr Gavhankar asked:

"we are not against progress. Nature has given us air, water and sunlight. You can make solar energy from sunlight, wind energy from air and the water in this long coast of the Arabian sea produces enough waves to generate thousands of megawatts of power. Why are they not using these natural resources?"

Russia's response to Olympic damage

Russian news include discussions over the construction of winter Olympic facilities in Sochi, which according to a report by the UNEP, have a negative impact on the environment.

Last January the UN mission visited the site and concluded that "preserving the value of ecosystems could be applied and more effort could be put in". As reported by Russian newspaper Knommersant "Some non-governmental organizations do not feel that their recommendations are taken into account. But the builders are confident that environmentalists want to just slow down the whole Olympic project, not to engage in constructive dialogue" . Despite that, the Russian government says that minimizing the environmental impact is one of their main preparations for the Olympics. Amongst the major concerns for environmentalists are the expansion of Sochi National Park, protecting vulnerable regions such as the upper part of the Valley Mzymta and the obstruction of migration routes of fauna in the area.