Top news: Greenpeace report shows Australia’s adoption of GM wheat will cost farmers billions in export sales as both competitors and consumers reject the risky tech; Canadian military is planning its largest ever military exercise in the Arctic; Greenpeace activists in Mexico protest tourist developments in Cabo Palumo nature reserve; four metre wombat discovered in Australia.
#GMO A Greenpeace report details how Australian farmers stand to lose billions of dollars if planned trials of GM wheat are allowed to go ahead. Fears over contamination of non-GM wheat crops has lead farmers in other wheat producing countries – countries that compete with Australia on the export market – to reject GMO wheat. Cross-field contamination by GM crops is a real concern for farmers as it can seriously limit export options. Only a few days ago, German conglomerate Bayer CropScience was forced to pay a record $750m in compensation to farmers whose rice crops were contaminated by the company’s untested strain of genetically modified rice.
#Arctic In a clear sign that the Canadian government has eyes for Arctic development, the country’s Defence Minister has confirmed plans for this year’s annual military exercise in the region are set to be the “largest ever.” The announcements demonstrate the likelihood of increasing tensions over the contested region as multiple interested parties – including Russia and the US –scramble to stake their claims on the resource-rich region. It also suggests that – despite the huge risks associated with drilling in the region – these countries are intent on blindly following an outdated and dangerous energy strategy.
#Oceans Greenpeace activists unfurled a 30-square-metre banner at Semarnat’s headquarters in Mexico City. Protesters were opposing plans by Semarnat –Mexico’s Ministry of Environment and Protection – for tourist development projects in an area alarmingly close to Cabo Palumo natural reserve; an area nicknamed “the world’s aquarium” by explorer and environmentalist Jacques Cousteau. Greenpeace believes that the massive urbanisation project will upset the equilibrium of this ecosystem, threatening the richness of the coral reef and local fishing activities.
#Giant Wombat The first complete skeleton of the diprotodon – a giant four metre wombat weighing three tonnes – was unearthed in New South Wales, Australia. It is thought the giant marsupial lived between 25,000 and two-million years ago and existed on the continent with ancient aborigines. Cave paintings found by scientists in northern Australia are thought be depictions of the animal while the unearthed bones reveal a large hole in the skeleton, suggesting it was brought down by a spear.