This is a trial series.


451 pesticides allowed in the EU are used on our food. Photo: Greenpeace / Holde Schneider

Greenpeace Germany has published a "black list" of the most dangerous pesticides, which includes 451 different chemicals that are used worldwide and pose health or environmental risks. According to the report, around half of the list are permitted for food production in the EU. "In conventional agriculture chemicals that make people sick and destroy the environment can still be used" said Greenpeace chemicals expert Manfred Santen. The report updates a 2008 version comparing and evaluating the hazards posed by various chemicals in widespread use. The full report is available here (page 12 for English translation).

Ocean protection efforts failing

Also in Germany, the Spiegel Online has a piece about a "classified government report" which has been released saying that global ocean protection measures have failed. Thousands of tons of trash are thrown into the sea every year, endangering humans and wildlife. The high levels of pollution and vast quantities of plastic sloshing around our oceans have caused experts to warn it is even getting dangerous to consume seafood. Indeed, the North Sea Floor, the article says is "saturated with plastic." Researchers have long known about swathes of plastic collecting in the Pacific, referred to as "garbage island" or the "trash vortex" (see how it formed). Thilo Maack of Greenpeace is quoted saying ships dumping plastic waste at sea should be made to pay penalties.

India, Mexico: No-to-GE campaigns draw support

Greenpeace India's BT-Brinjal campaign has had international coverage. The ‘World's Biggest Baingan Bhartha' aims to pursuade Environment Minister Jairam Ramesh not to allow the GE-crop. "Farmers, scientists and NGOs have staged angry demonstrations and disrupted public hearings organised by the environment ministry on the issue in the past few days" an article in Gulf News read. Originally aiming for 10,000 signatures, the campaign achieved 19,000 in only a few days. Jai Krishna of GP was quoted saying "[this] is an attempt to provide an opportunity to thousands of other people who want to protect our brinjal [eggplant] from contamination. It's an attempt to continue persuading Jairam Ramesh [Environment Minister] to say ‘no' to Bt Brinjal. But in only 48 hours, we smashed our goal, so now we're aiming to collect 20,000 brinjals and will make the ‘Bhartha' on February 18 in Delhi." Support for GE was reaffirmed publicly by an official from biotech firm Biocon as well as the Union Agriculture Minister Sharad Pawar.

The Mexican government's announcement that GE corn has entered production was picked up Brazilian and Taiwanese news, as well as Forbes in the US, mentioning the Greenpeace campaign with local farmers. “We have had to take this to an international tribunal to demonstrate the lack of action on the part of the Mexican government in the face of the illegal introduction and planting of genetically modified corn,” said President of the Democratic Farm Workers Front, Pedro Torres.

US, Canadian law-makers going backwards on climate

Canadian Press reported Alberta has removed a number of environmental and regulatory "hurdles" in an effort to "lure back" energy investors who've pulled out of the province. "We must minimize the cost of doing business here, including the cost of regulation," Lt.-Gov. Norman Kwong said. Officials expressed concern over their increasingly bad reputation on the environment. "Our economy will be seriously harmed if access to the U.S. energy market is impaired. We ... must [also] secure access to the emerging clean-energy market south of the border." Saying environmentalists had "turned up the heat on Alberta" over the tar sands, the article quoted Mike Hudema of Greenpeace saying "you can't eliminate environmental oversight and regulation if you're also seeking to improve your environmental reputation." Alberta was embarrassed worldwide when 1,600 ducks were killed after landing on a lake-sized oilsands tailings pond.

In the US, Republican lawmakers have circulated a ballot backed by business to block California governor Arnold Schwarzenegger's "landmark law" to cut GHG emissions. If passed by voters the measure would suspend the 2006 law until the state unemployment rate falls to 5.5 percent for a year. (The Global Warming Solutions Act, a.k.a. AB32 mandates cutting California's CO2 emissions to 1990 levels by 2020). The Chicago Tribune and The L.A.Times published a piece entitled "Backing down on climate change" with the subtitle "Washington appears to have lost its appetite for attacking the problem of global warming." Thankfully the article points out that domestic US failure to address the climate change because of "short term cost" is "foolish" and will lead to catastrophic disruption that will cost far more in the long term.

UN, Indian Prime Minister, Greenpeace affirm support for IPCC

Backing the IPCC's Dr Rajendra Pachauri - who has come under some flak for the IPCC's error over the melting of Himalayan glaciers - Prime Minister Manmohan Singh said today he has earned well deserved respect and international acclaim for his contribution in meeting challenges of climate change. "India has full confidence in the IPCC process and its leadership and will support it," Singh said.

“Asking him [Pachauri] to take responsibility for a single mistake, which he has, and resign is senseless,” said Yvo de Boer, head the UN's climate body. “I hope he doesn’t resign, he would be a fool (to do so)” The Hindustan Times reported him as saying.

In the UK Prince Charles has also spoken out against climate change skeptics, voicing his "dismay and alarm" over those who question the reality of climate change. "Well, if it is but a myth, and the global scientific community is involved in some sort of conspiracy, why is it then that around the globe sea levels are more than six inches higher than they were 100 years ago? This isn’t an opinion - it is a fact" he said, adding "please be in no doubt that the evidence of long-term and potentially irreversible changes to our world is utterly overwhelming.”

Fonterra action dispute settled, New Zealand

In New Zealand, Greenpeace has settled a dispute for reparations over a palm kernal action on 16 September 2009, when 14 activists boarded the East Ambition carrying Fonterra cargoes from Indonesia's rainforests. The final payout, according to NZ press was $31,648.88, somewhat less than the $112,000 demanded by the company. The activists chained themselves onboard for 14-hours. The companies' imports of palm kernal (mainly used to feed dairy cows) in 2008 contributed up to 20 times New Zealand’s domestic air travel emissions.

Photo: Greenpeace / Holde Schneider