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Posts Tagged ‘Biodiversity

Critical plant bank in danger: “It’s a bad day for biodiversity”

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“These varieties represent literally millennia of collections by farmers and of plant evolution,” said Fregene

August 11, 2010  thescientist.com

Posted by Bob Grant

Plant scientists around the world are warning that hundreds of years of accumulated agricultural heritage are in danger of being plowed under after a Russian court ruled today (August 11) that the land occupied by a world-renowned plant bank on the outskirts of Saint Petersburg may be transferred to the Russian Housing Development Foundation, which plans to build houses on the site.

The fate of the collection at the Pavlovsk Experimental Station, which includes more than 70 hectares planted with 5,500 different varieties of apples, pears, cherries, and numerous berry species — most of which occur nowhere else on Earth and were developed over hundreds of years by farmers in northern Europe, Scandinavia and Russia — was decided in Russia’s Supreme Arbitration Court at 10:30 AM, Moscow time.

“It’s a bad day for biodiversity,” said Cary Fowler, director of the Global Crop Diversity Trust, which has for months been trying to raise awareness of the dire situation at the decades-old collection. The collection of plants was started in 1926 by the father of seed banking, revered Russian geneticist Nikolai Vavilov. “Unless somebody intervenes, we’re going to stand there at the gates and watch the bulldozers destroy thousands of varieties that are growing in a collection that dates back to 1926,” Fowler told The Scientist.

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Organic Agriculture for Biodiversity and Pest Control

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Scientists find organic fields have more even distribution of natural enemy species, thereby providing significantly better pest control than conventional fields and promoting plant growth.

Dr. Mae-Wan Ho July 5, 2010

Institute of Science in Society

Intensive industrial agriculture has resulted in great losses of biodiversity due to the destruction of natural habitats, the displacement of indigenous varieties by green revolution monocultures, the massive diversion of water for irrigation, and the heavy inputs of chemical fertilizers and pesticides.

Pesticides are non-selective, they kill pests as well as the natural enemies that devour the pests and keep pest populations down. Organic agriculture reduces the damage due to pesticides by eliminating or limiting their use, and is generally acknowledged to result in protecting and increasing biodiversity (see [1] Food Futures Now: *Organic *Sustainable *Fossil Fuel Free , ISIS report). But does organic agriculture give better pest control? Ecologists have been challenged to provide real evidence for that [2].

Two different measures of biodiversity

There are two measures of biodiversity, species richness – the number of species – and species evenness – the relative abundance of those species. Species richness and evenness can vary independently. Communities dominated by a few common species and many rare species have low evenness; whereas those with species more equally represented have high evenness.

Comparisons on biodiversity have focussed largely on species richness. Similarly, conservation efforts are concentrated on restoring or maintaining the number of species without regard for evenness.

Researchers led by David Crowder at Washington State University, Pullman, and University of Georgia, Atlanta, in the United States have published new research clearly demonstrating that organic farming promotes evenness among natural enemy species, and it is species evenness, rather than species richness that is more important for pest control [3]. This new result not only confirms the overriding benefit of organic agriculture over industrial farming, but also has far-reaching implications both for conservation and the practice of biological control.

Three different investigations yield the same answer

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Monsanto admits their technology doesn’t work!

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Reyes, one of our agriculture campaigners in India, shares her immediate thoughts on this ‘first-of-its-kind’ admission by Monsanto


This was my Saturday’s lyrics to breakfast in sunny Bangalore: Monsanto has decided to tell the truth about something: its technology doesn’t work!, reports The Hindu. I’m going to need a second cup of chai to digest this, Monsanto speaking honest!? Indian farmers and scientist have been seeing this in their Bt cotton fields for a few years: pests become resistant to Monsanto’s genetically engineered toxins and thus farmers apply huge amounts of pesticides. Monsanto has always denied this, has the recent massive rejection of its Bt brinjal in India woken up its senses?

For years Monsanto has been shouting that the main – read only – benefit of Bt cotton in India (the only genetically engineered crop planted here) was the reduction in pesticide use. Well, it seems they have just admitted this is not true. Pink bollworm, a serious pest for cotton farmers in India, is now resistant to the toxin in Bt cotton. Meaning that this bug is now sort of a super-pest that farmers will have to work harder and harder to avoid.

What is Monsanto’s solution to this? Maybe you have guessed it: use Monsanto’s next weapon – same technology – Bt cotton 2.0. With double the amount of toxins (and almost double the price of non-Bt seeds). Read the rest of this entry »

Let Rainforest Action Network Know Global Ecological Sustainability Depends Upon Ending Old Forest Logging

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By Rainforest Portal, a project of Ecological Internet – March 13, 2010

Rainforest Action Network is a key supporter of failed Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) efforts to “sustainably” log tens of millions of hectares of primary and old-growth forests for lawn furniture, toilet paper and other throw-away consumer items. As RAN celebrates its 25th anniversary, let them know old forests will never be fully protected as long as they and others unquestioningly support “certified” yet ecologically unsustainable first-time industrial primary rainforest logging. Demand RAN vigorously defend their support for first-time primary rainforest logging over an area two times as large as Texas, or resign from FSC immediately. Encourage RAN to spend the next 25 years working to protect and expand old forests to maintain a habitable Earth.

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World Bank’s Carbon Trade Fiasco

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Because of a myopic focus on greenhouse gas reduction only, and a lack of accountability to local communities, many projects are producing other environmental and social ills that are diametrically opposed to the program’s stated objectives.

Project Censored

In the name of environmental protection, the World Bank is brokering carbon emission trading arrangements that destroy indigenous farmlands around the world.

The effort to coordinate global action to reduce greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions began with the Kyoto Protocol, which was adopted in 1997 and now has been ratified by 183 nations. While many of the strategies established in the protocol are encouraging, some are proving to have fatal flaws. One such program, known as Clean Development Mechanism (CDM) investment, has become a means by which industrialized countries avoid reducing their own emissions through the implementation of “emissions reduction” projects in developing nations.

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The World Seed Conference: Good for farmers?

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melon-seedsHealth Freedom Alliance  

By Robin Willoughby

Last week, in Rome, a little-known agricultural symposium took place – the World Seed Conference. The conference is held under the auspices of the UN Food and Agriculture Organization. Although the conference does not receive much press, it is perhaps the most important conference to farmers in the developing world. Two themes were clearly depicted among the talks from UN figures, government officials, and industry representatives: technology enhanced seeds, and intellectual property rights on genetic resources in poorer countries.

The event turned out to be more or less a meeting among agricultural big wigs to figure out the best way to take advantage of small farmers in poor regions of the world. The biotech industry, along with big agri, are trying to tighten their grip on the world by extending their monopoly rights towards plants created by natural reproduction that cannot be easily manipulated by technology. The outcome of the conference may have a very negative effect on small-scale farmers in developing countries.

Rather than focusing on a collaborative approach to get the best genuine biodiversity and protecting the rights of farmers, much of the discussion over the week came from the industry leaders trying to exploit economically poor, environmentally rich countries. There were, however, a few examples throughout the week that focused on an alternative agricultural approach to sustainable biodiversity, but unfortunately many laws and regulations have already been put in place that only ensures profit to big agri and the biotech industry with little gain for the small farmer.

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