Friday, August 31, 2012

[biofuelwatch] [Inf'OGM] Alteration of the living : new techniques explained to the layman [1 Attachment]



<*>[Attachment(s) from Association Inf'OGM included below]

Alteration of the living : new techniques explained to the layman
(just published)
http://www.infogm.org/spip.php?article5191

Inf'OGM has published in october 2011 a report (in french) on the new
techniques of biotechnology.
In summer 2012, Inf'OGM decided to provide the european citizens with
an english version of this report.
This document is available on Inf'OGM's website : http://
www.infogm.org/spip.php?article5191

Plant genetic engineering with laboratories' techniques is a process
still going on in the biotech companies' laboratories. The current
commercialised GMOs come from a technique already obsolete. For
transgenesis is no longer the only technique adopted by the industries
to genetically modify plants. The technicians have now the choice
between several techniques with names such as zinc finger nuclease
technology, cisgenesis... Focusing on the risks associated with
transgenesis, which allows the genetic chimera development, public
debate got recently interested in older genetic engineering technique
like mutagenesis. This debate on mutated plants did not occur prior to
their commercialisation which happened with no legal biosafety
framework. New techniques that are now coming out from laboratories
require public attention. By the end of 2008, European commission
requested from member states two experts to join a european working
group. Its goal was to answer the following question : does GMO
legislation applies to products obtained through the use of those
eight techniques? In June 2011, the experts had not finished their
work and no calendar was known by then. To answer this new move of
technoscience, a seminar was organised by Inf'OGM in order to start
thinking an independent and critical analysis. With the purpose of
having a democratic debate with sufficient knowledge.

Contents:

1 - Principles and applications of new techniques for the modification
of living organisms
Transgenesis: The reference technique
Changes to genome modification techniques (Cisgenesis, Mutagenesis,
Zinc finger nucleases, Methylation)
Particular agricultural and breeding techniques that use transgenesis
(Grafting, Agro-infiltration, Reverse breeding)
General considerations in relation to new techniques for the genetic
modification of plants

2 - Evolution of intellectual property rights on modified plants
A new European framework for plant patents
Patents and NPVC: Indexing genetic information strengthens the
industrial property rights to seeds
General considerations in relation to the appropriation of living
organisms

3 - Epistemological and ethical issues
The principles of synthetic biology
An analysis of genetically-modified organisms for social change
What questions are posed in epistemological terms?
General considerations in relation to epistemological and ethical issues

Contact:
Inf'OGM
email : eric@infogm.org
tel. : +33 (0)1 48 51 65 40
http://www.infogm.org


<*>Attachment(s) from Association Inf'OGM:


<*> 1 of 1 File(s) http://groups.yahoo.com/group/biofuelwatch/attachments/folder/421781755/item/list
<*> VDP-Bro_nouvelles-techniques_eng.pdf

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Monday, August 27, 2012

Sunday, August 26, 2012

[biofuelwatch] Water scarcity's effect on food production means radical steps will be needed to feed population expected to reach 9bn by 2050 warn scientists | Global development | The Guardian






Water scarcity's effect on food production means radical steps will be needed to feed population expected to reach 9bn by 2050

Worth noting from: http://www.siwi.org/sa/node.asp?node=159

Globally, irrigation water allocated to biofuel production is estimated at 44 km3, or 2% of all irrigation water. Under current production conditions it takes an average of roughly 2,500 litres of water (about 820 litres of it irrigation water) to produce 1 litre of liquid biofuel (the same amount needed on average to produce food for one person for one day). [3rd UN World Water Development Report, 2009 ]

http://www.guardian.co.uk/global-development/2012/aug/26/food-shortages-world-vegetarianism

Food shortages could force world into vegetarianism, warn scientists

Water scarcity's effect on food production means radical steps will be needed to feed population expected to reach 9bn by 2050

Historic Drought Cripples Farms And Ranches In American West
A bull grazes on dry wheat husks in Logan, Kansas, one of the regions hit by the record drought that has affected more than half of the US and is expected to drive up food prices. Photograph: John Moore/Getty Images

Leading water scientists have issued one of the sternest warnings yet about global food supplies, saying that the world's population may have to switch almost completely to a vegetarian diet over the next 40 years to avoid catastrophic shortages.

Humans derive about 20% of their protein from animal-based products now, but this may need to drop to just 5% to feed the extra 2 billion people expected to be alive by 2050, according to research by some of the world's leading water scientists.

"There will not be enough water available on current croplands to produce food for the expected 9 billion population in 2050 if we follow current trends and changes towards diets common in western nations," the report by Malik Falkenmark and colleagues at the Stockholm International Water Institute (SIWI) said.

"There will be just enough water if the proportion of animal-based foods is limited to 5% of total calories and considerable regional water deficits can be met by a … reliable system of food trade."

Dire warnings of water scarcity limiting food production come as Oxfam and the UN prepare for a possible second global food crisis in five years. Prices for staples such as corn and wheat have risen nearly 50% on international markets since June, triggered by severe droughts in the US and Russia, and weak monsoon rains in Asia. More than 18 million people are already facing serious food shortages across the Sahel.

Oxfam has forecast that the price spike will have a devastating impact in developing countries that rely heavily on food imports, including parts of Latin America, North Africa and the Middle East. Food shortages in 2008 led to civil unrest in 28 countries.

Adopting a vegetarian diet is one option to increase the amount of water available to grow more food in an increasingly climate-erratic world, the scientists said. Animal protein-rich food consumes five to 10 times more water than a vegetarian diet. One third of the world's arable land is used to grow crops to feed animals. Other options to feed people include eliminating waste and increasing trade between countries in food surplus and those in deficit.

"Nine hundred million people already go hungry and 2 billion people are malnourished in spite of the fact that per capita food production continues to increase," they said. "With 70% of all available water being in agriculture, growing more food to feed an additional 2 billion people by 2050 will place greater pressure on available water and land."

The report is being released at the start of the annual world water conference in Stockholm, Sweden, where 2,500 politicians, UN bodies, non-governmental groups and researchers from 120 countries meet to address global water supply problems.

Competition for water between food production and other uses will intensify pressure on essential resources, the scientists said. "The UN predicts that we must increase food production by 70% by mid-century. This will place additional pressure on our already stressed water resources, at a time when we also need to allocate more water to satisfy global energy demand – which is expected to rise 60% over the coming 30 years – and to generate electricity for the 1.3 billion people currently without it," said the report.

Overeating, undernourishment and waste are all on the rise and increased food production may face future constraints from water scarcity.

"We will need a new recipe to feed the world in the future," said the report's editor, Anders Jägerskog.

A separate report from the International Water Management Institute (IWMI) said the best way for countries to protect millions of farmers from food insecurity in sub-Saharan Africa and south Asia was to help them invest in small pumps and simple technology, rather than to develop expensive, large-scale irrigation projects.

"We've witnessed again and again what happens to the world's poor – the majority of whom depend on agriculture for their livelihoods and already suffer from water scarcity – when they are at the mercy of our fragile global food system," said Dr Colin Chartres, the director general.

"Farmers across the developing world are increasingly relying on and benefiting from small-scale, locally-relevant water solutions. [These] techniques could increase yields up to 300% and add tens of billions of US dollars to household revenues across sub-Saharan Africa and south Asia."




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Wednesday, August 22, 2012

[biofuelwatch] Withdraw from EU #Biofuels Directive - says Stanley Johnson Former MEP





Withdraw from EU #Biofuels Directive - says Stanley Johnson Former MEP http://t.co/nfiffx1c

#Repeal #biofuel #ethanol mandates



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Tuesday, August 21, 2012

[biofuelwatch] German minister: ban #corn #ethanol #biofuel, it boosts famine. A U-turn, but a worthy one.





German minister: ban #corn #ethanol #biofuel, it boosts famine. A U-turn, but a worthy one. http://t.co/BEF60PJ1



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Monday, August 20, 2012

[biofuelwatch] EPA seeks input - 30 day consultation - on ethanol mandate waiver requests - Planet Ark





http://planetark.org/wen/66285

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency on Monday said it has begun weighing requests to suspend the U.S. ethanol mandate, which requires refiners to blend ethanol into gasoline, and is seeking public feedback.

The governors of North Carolina and Arkansas asked the agency last week to temporarily waive the U.S. quota on ethanol made from corn, because the worst drought in 50 years has driven corn prices higher and hurt livestock producers who depend on the grain for feed.

The EPA asked on Monday for public comment on the need for an ethanol waiver. The 30-day comment period will begin once the notice is published in the Federal Register.

.... more



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[biofuelwatch] Senegalese villagers vow to fight biofuels project





http://climate-connections.org/2012/08/20/senegalese-villagers-vow-to-fight-biofuels-project/

Senegalese villagers vow to fight biofuels project

By Agence France Presse Staff Writers, Aug 9, 2012. Source: Terra Daily

Villagers from northern Senegal vowed Thursday to fight a project by Senegalese and Italian investors to produce biofuels on their land, a venture already forced to relocate once by deadly protests.

300

"We will fight those who want to take our land. It is the land of our ancestors, an area of 26,000 hectares which houses villages, thousands of heads of cattle, mosques, cemeteries," Oumar Ba, a representative of a collective of affected villages, told journalists.

"Whoever wants to take our land will first walk over our dead bodies," said Ba, who lives in the village of Ndiael in the region of the same name.

The Senegalese-Italian company Senethanol/Senhuile had recently announced it was moving the project from the village of Fanaye, where violent protests in October 2011 left two people dead, leading government to suspend the venture.

Senethanol/Senhuile wants to grow sweet potatoes for the production of biofuels, a renewable energy source which has soared in popularity as oil prices rise and concerns grow over emissions from traditional fuels.

The United States and Brazil are the biggest producers, but investors have been criticised for buying up large swathes of land in Africa to produce fuel to be exported to their nations.

Senethanol/Senhuile has denied its project is an example of land-grabbing, and last year described it as "an unquestionable interest in the improvement of the economic and social situation of the villages concerned and all Senegalese."

But the organisation is again encountering resistance at its new project site.

"The case of Fanaye must serve as a lesson to authorities," said Marieme Sow of the NGO Enda Pronat, who denounced "land-grabbing in Senegal by multi-nationals."

"We are making this appeal for government to realise that 60 percent of the population of this country is made up of farmers who need this land."

Senegalese rap group "Bidew Bou Bess" (New Star in the Wolof language) presented a song called "Don't Touch My Land" to journalists.

"Let's block the road to those who want to plunder our land. Let's stop those who tear up our land. They want our land for profit. They are colonising us, they are using us," the song said.



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Thursday, August 16, 2012

[biofuelwatch] UK Govt eyes wetland biomass as fuel



www.utilityweek.co.uk/news/news_story.asp?src=nl&id=197324

Government wants help to determine how much biomass fuel could be sustainably extracted from wetlands. The department of energy and climate change (Decc) is mulling over a competition that would give funding to wetland managers that can optimise biomass produced.

The department said that currently potential fuel is wasted by being burnt or left to decompose. It wants academia and industry to help shape the competition and provide information on the current state of the market and its potential.

Expressions of interest must be submitted by 20 September. Those that respond will be invited to a Decc briefing in Autumn.

See this link for details (DECC pdf at www.decc.gov.uk/assets/decc/11/meeting-energy-demand/bio-energy/6097-wetland-biomass-to-bioenergy-competition.pdf ).



Extract below

1. Introduction
The Department of Energy and Climate Change (DECC) is responsible for all aspects of UK energy policy, and for tackling global climate change on behalf of the UK.

The Spending Review of November 2010 announced funding of over £200 million for low carbon technologies over the next four financial years from April 2011. This funding has been allocated across the energy sector, including support to Bio-energy projects.

2. Background

The recently published Bio-energy Strategy1 emphasised the need for sustainably supplied feed-stocks to underpin any future bio-energy system. The strategy considers a number of factors that can affect the overall value of bio-energy, including:

* the impact of direct and indirect land use changes on carbon emissions
* potential land use competition with food production.

The UK undertakes a considerable amount of land management activities on private and public land, for example to maintain parkland or to conserve wildlife habitats. This land management results in the production of biomass arisings that in many cases are either burned or left to decompose.

DECC are considering running a competition in collaboration with UK wetland managers that will provide funding to projects that develop and demonstrate an efficient bio-energy system
that optimises existing wetland management activities and utilises the biomass arisings.

3. Required outcomes of competition

DECC require the following outcomes from potential projects:

* Increased biomass harvests in line with wetland habitat conservation requirements and limitations
* Efficient production of bio-energy feed-stocks utilising the resultant biomass (likely to be reeds, rushes, grasses and fen) that comply with emission standards or equivalents when used to generate energy
* A cost effective and energy/carbon efficient bio-energy conversion process capable of utilising the specified biomass arisings.



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[biofuelwatch] New video & "State of Play on Biofuel Subsidies"





Dear Biofuelwatchers,

The Global Subsidies Initiative of the International Institute for Sustainable Development has published a videorecord of the discussion on biofuel subsidies that took place on 19 June 2012, the Business Day at the UN Conference on Sustainable Development Rio+20. The discussion was organized by Nestlé S.A. and informed by the GSI report "State of Play on Biofuel Subsidies: Are policies ready to shift?" 
  
The video is a record of the full event (1 h 20 m), including contributions of the following speakers:
 Peter Brabeck-Letmathe, Chairman Nestlé S.A., Chairman of the 2030 Water Resources Group
 Mark Halle, Executive Director, International Institute of Sustainable Development - Europe
 Simon Upton, OECD Environment Director
 Adriano Campolina, Director of ActionAid Brazil
 
The video concludes with a question and answer session and discussion amongst the audience and the panelists.
 
Best regards,  

Ivetta Gerasimchuk, PhD
Global Subsidies Initiative
International Institute for Sustainable Development

International Environment House 2
9 chemin de Balexert
1219 Châtelaine, Geneva, Switzerland
Phone: +41 22 917 82 38
Fax: +41 22 917 80 54
http://www.iisd.org/gsi



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Tuesday, August 14, 2012

[biofuelwatch] Ensus bio-refinery to resume production






 
News Alert
14 August 2012
 
Keyword(s): biofuel
Frequency: Immediately
 
August 14, 6:27pm
Ensus bio-refinery to resume production
Europe's largest bio-refinery, the £300m Ensus plant on Teesside, is to resume production following a 15-month shutdown.

http://www.ft.com/cms/s/31b39a64-e62a-11e1-ac5f-00144feab49a.html
 
 
 
 
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[biofuelwatch] Must the poor go hungry just so the rich can drive?





http://www.guardian.co.uk/commentisfree/2012/aug/13/poor-hungry-rich-drive-mo-farah-biofuels?intcmp=122

Must the poor go hungry just so the rich can drive?

Sports stars like Mo Farah at No 10 will not change a simple fact: people are starving because of the west's thirst for biofuels

mo farah cameron
Mo Farah (back right), lines up with Pele (foreground), Haile Gebrselassie (front right), Brazilian vice-president Michel Temer (back left) and David Cameron for the 'hunger summit' photocall. Photograph: Steve Back

I don't blame Mo Farah, Pele and Haile Gebrselassie, who lined up, all hugs and smiles, outside Downing Street for a photocall at the prime minister's hunger summit. Perhaps they were unaware of the way in which they were being used to promote David Cameron's corporate and paternalistic approach to overseas aid. Perhaps they were also unaware of the crime against humanity over which he presides. Perhaps Cameron himself is unaware of it.

You should by now have heard about the famine developing in the Sahel region of west Africa. Poor harvests and high food prices threaten the lives of some 18 million people. The global price of food is likely to rise still further, as a result of low crop yields in the United States, caused by the worst drought in 50 years. World cereal prices, in response to this disaster, climbed 17% last month.

We have been cautious about attributing such events to climate change: perhaps too cautious. A new paper by James Hansen, head of Nasa'sGoddard Institute for Space Studies, shows that there has been a sharp increase in the frequency of extremely hot summers. Between 1951 and 1980 these events affected between 0.1 and 0.2% of the world's land surface each year. Now, on average, they affect 10%. Hansen explains that "the odds that natural variability created these extremes are minuscule, vanishingly small". Both the droughts in the Sahel and the US crop failures are likely to be the result of climate change.

But this is not the only sense in which the rich world's use of fuel is causing the poor to starve. In the United Kingdom, in the rest of the European Union and in the United States, governments have chosen to deploy a cure as bad as the disease. Despite overwhelming evidence of the harm their policy is causing, none of them will change course.

Biofuels are the means by which governments in the rich world avoid hard choices. Rather than raise fuel economy standards as far as technology allows, rather than promoting a shift from driving to public transport, walking and cycling, rather than insisting on better town planning to reduce the need to travel, they have chosen to exchange our wild overconsumption of petroleum for the wild overconsumption of fuel made from crops. No one has to drive less or make a better car: everything remains the same except the source of fuel. The result is a competition between the world's richest and poorest consumers, a contest between overconsumption and survival.

There was never any doubt about which side would win.

I've been banging on about this since 2004, and everything I warned of then has happened. The US and the European Union have both set targets and created generous financial incentives for the use of biofuels. The results have been a disaster for people and the planet.

Already, 40% of US corn (maize) production is used to feed cars. The proportion will rise this year as a result of the smaller harvest.

Though the market for biodiesel is largely confined to the European Union, it has already captured 7% of the world's output of vegetable oil. The European commission admits that its target (10% of transport fuels by 2020) will raise world cereal prices by between 3% and 6%. Oxfam estimates that with every 1% increase in the price of food, another 16 million people go hungry.

By 2021, the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development says that 14% of the world's maize and other coarse grains, 16% of its vegetable oil and 34% of its sugarcane will be used to make people in the gas-guzzling nations feel better about themselves. The demand for biofuel will be met, it reports, partly through an increase in production; partly through a "reduction in human consumption". The poor will starve so that the rich can drive.

The rich world's demand for biofuels is already causing a global land grab. ActionAid estimates that European companies have now seized 5m hectares of farmland – an area the size of Denmark – in developing countries for industrial biofuel production. Small farmers, growing food for themselves and local markets, have been thrown off their land and destituted. Tropical forests, savannahs and grasslands have been cleared to plant what the industry still calls "green fuels".

When the impacts of land clearance and the use of nitrogen fertilisers are taken into account, biofuels produce more greenhouse gases than fossil fuels do. The UK, which claims that half the biofuel sold here meets its sustainability criteria, solves this problem by excluding the greenhouse gas emissions caused by changes in land use. Its sustainability criteria are, as a result, worthless.

Even second-generation biofuels, made from crop wastes or wood, are an environmental disaster, either extending the cultivated area or removing the straw and stovers which protect the soil from erosion and keep carbon and nutrients in the ground. The combination of first- and second-generation biofuels – encouraging farmers to plough up grasslands and to leave the soil bare – and hot summers could create the perfect conditions for a new dust bowl.

Our government knows all this. One of its own studies shows that if the European Union stopped producing biofuels, the amount of vegetable oils it exported to world markets would rise by 20% and the amount of wheat by 33%, reducing world prices.

Preparing for the prime minister's hunger summit on Sunday, the international development department argued that, with a rising population, "the food production system will need to be radically overhauled, not just to produce more food but to produce it sustainably and fairly to ensure that the poorest people have the access to food that they need". But another government department – transport – boasts on its website that, thanks to its policies, drivers in this country have now used 4.4bn litres of biofuel.

Of this 30% was produced from recycled cooking oil. The rest consists of 3bn litres of refined energy snatched from the mouths of the people that Cameron claims to be helping.

Some of those to whom the government is now extending its "nutrition interventions" may have been starved by its own policies. In this and other ways, David Cameron, with the unwitting support of various sporting heroes, is offering charity, not justice. And that is no basis for liberating the poor.

• For a fully referenced version of this article, visit George Monbiot's website



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[biofuelwatch] Re: [biodiv_civsoc] Brazilian FAO CEO calls for suspension biofuel targets





Yes, it is fascinating to see the collusion between US and Brazil with the huge trade in ethanol between them!

h


On 10/08/2012 13:49, "simone lovera" <simonelovera@yahoo.com> wrote:


 
 
   

FYI, apologies for cross-postings.
(Please note, the Brazilian Government has always blocked any questioning of biofuels at intergovernmental meetings, including in particular the Convention on Biodiversity, which has another tough discussion on biofuels coming up at its next Conference of the Parties in October)

Begin forwarded message:

From: Nuša Urbančič <nusa.urbancic@transportenvironment.org>
Subject: {Agrofuels EU} more articles on food prices and biofuels mandate in the UE
Date:
August 10, 2012 7:02:34 AM GMT-04:00
To: te_lowcarbonfuels@googlegroups.com, agrofuels-campaign-eu@googlegroups.com
Reply-To: nusa.urbancic@transportenvironment.org

FYI, editorial in the FT below and the BBC story:
http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/business-19206199



The US must take biofuel action to prevent a food crisis

By José Graziano da Silva






The worst drought for 50 years is inflicting huge damage on the US
maize crop, with serious consequences for the overall international
food supply.

The situation reminds us that even the most advanced agricultural
systems are subject to the vagaries of the weather, leading to
volatility in supplies and prices not just on domestic markets but
also internationally. Climate change and extreme weather events will
further complicate the picture.







More

ON THIS STORY
UN urges US to cut ethanol production
Lex Corn and drought – expect effects
In depth Rising food prices
Moment of truth for US grain
Wheat prices climb on Moscow quota worry

IN OPINION
Hale, Wain-Hobson and May The folly of avian flu research
Gavyn Davies UK economy takes perilous path
Alan Beattie Decommission the weapons of trade warfare
Tal Becker The real test in Syria

US maize production had been expected to increase to record levels
this year. That view will prove optimistic. Much of the reduced crop
will be claimed by biofuel production in line with US federal
mandates, leaving even less for food and feed markets. The August US
Department of Agriculture estimates, announced on Friday, will give a
more precise idea for just how much the maize crop is reduced. Few
people are expecting good news.

Maize prices have already gone higher than their 2008 and 2011 peaks,
increasing by 23 per cent during July alone. Wheat prices have
followed maize prices upwards. Repercussions are already being felt in
the US livestock sector.

Unsurprisingly, the media has started talking about the possibility of
a food crisis. Whether that happens depends not only on how long the
drought lasts and how much damage it does to crops but on how far its
impact spreads to other markets, whether there are further supply
shocks and how countries react to the price movements.

In 2007-08 governments tended to react in a disorganised and erratic
manner, which often accentuated global price rises, as was the case
with the imposition of export restraints. Often the measures were not
even effective in meeting the objective of stabilising domestic
prices, as they often led to panic buying and hoarding.

Given all this, governments should be cautious, especially considering
that high prices are not necessarily negative. Attractive producer
prices will be needed in the coming months to entice producers to
embark on a much needed increase of crop cultivation, especially in
the southern hemisphere.

Some governments will be called to take a number of steps to alleviate
the impact of the situation on the poorest consumers, for example
through the targeted distribution of food at subsidised prices,
increased reliance on non-commodities crops such as roots, tubers, and
beans, and assisting small producers to get better seeds and other
basic inputs. Over the longer term, strategies to increase local
production and self-sufficiency should be implemented.

Fortunately rice supplies in 2012 are plentiful and rice prices
stable, but they could also be driven higher by increasing prices of
other cereals. Rice market stocks were also not problematic in 2007-08
but prices nevertheless increased dramatically. A lack of transparency
and unco-ordinated unilateral actions by importing and exporting
countries and media coverage all contributed to creating panic.

With world prices of cereals rising, the competition between the food,
feed and fuel sectors for crops such as maize, sugar and oilseeds is
likely to intensify. One way to alleviate some of the tension would be
to lower or temporarily suspend the mandates on biofuels. At the
moment, the renewable energy production in the US is reported to have
reached 15.2bn gallons in 2012, for which it used the equivalent of
some 121.9m tonnes or about 40 per cent of US maize production. An
immediate, temporary suspension of that mandate would give some
respite to the market and allow more of the crop to be channelled
towards food and feed uses.

The US drought leaves global markets highly vulnerable to any further
supply side shocks. While the current situation is precarious and
could deteriorate further if unfavourable weather conditions persist,
it is not a crisis yet. Countries and the UN are better equipped than
in 2007-08 to face high food prices, with the introduction of its
Agricultural Market Information System, which promotes co-ordination
of policy responses.

However, risks are high and the wrong responses to the current
situation could create it. It is vitally important that any unilateral
policy reactions from countries, whether importers or exporters, do
not further destabilise the situation.

The writer is the director-general of the Food and Agricultural
Organization of the UN


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Monday, August 13, 2012

[biofuelwatch] New email alert - and upcoming event in Edinburgh





A call to action against big biomass in Cumbria, and an event invitation for Scottish Activists for your diary.

(1) Please object to biomass power station plans at Barrow-in-Furness, Cumbria

The issue: Energy giant Centrica wants to build a large-scale biomass power station in Barrow in Furness. The 80MW power station would burn up to 800,000 green tonnes of wood per year, which means it will be largely reliant on imported wood. It states wood imports are likely to come from North and South America and the Baltics. In Canada and the southern US, clearcutting of biodiverse forests is escalating as a result of the growing demand for bioenergy.  In the longer-term, energy companies are looking increasingly to eucalyptus plantations in South America for woodchip and pellet supplies. The power station will run at around 28 - 30% efficiency with no real prospect of delivering heat, and will worsen air quality in the local area. At a time when scientists warn burning biomass can worsen global warming due to the carbon debt incurred by burning wood, this is a false solution.

A campaign against the power station is being led by the local Furness Opposes Biomass group, who have delivered a petition with 13,000 signatures against it to the Government.  Please see http://www.facebook.com/pages/Furness-Opposes-Biomass/208622445909788?ref=hl
and please contact the group (or us) if you live locally and would like to get more involved in this campaign.

How to object: Because this is such a big proposal, it is classified as a project of national significance and so you must register with the Planning Inspectorate to object. This is very simple and only takes a couple of minutes. For full info including a step-by-step of how to register, see www.biofuelwatch.org.uk/2012/barrow_alert/

(2) 'Bioenergy for the Future: At What Cost?' Scottish Parliamentary event, 6pm-7.30pm, 13th September

Scottish activists, save the date. Biofuelwatch and Friends of the Earth Scotland are co-hosting a FREE EVENING event in the Scottish Parliament to brief as many MSPs as possible about the environmental and human rights impacts of biomass. With hints that the Scottish Government will continue to subsidise industrial-scale biomass on the proviso that it is 'sustainable', we'll be launching a report which exposes how flimsy the term 'sustainable biomass' really is. We need to make sure that Scottish MSPs are briefed and know all the facts. Please come, and invite your MSPs to come too.

You can find out more about the event and register your place as soon as possible, visit http://foes.do/biomass-event2012

We'll be heading to the pub after the event too for those who want to spend a bit more time discussing pushing on forwards with the Biomass/biofuels campaign in Scotland.


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Sunday, August 12, 2012

[biofuelwatch] PHILIPPINES: OIL PALM COMPANY A. BROWN GRABS HIGAONON INDIGENOUS PEOPLE’S LANDS





http://intercontinentalcry.org/philippines-oil-palm-company-a-brown-grabs-higaonon-indigenous-peoples-lands/

PHILIPPINES: OIL PALM COMPANY A. BROWN GRABS HIGAONON INDIGENOUS PEOPLE'S LANDS

By  Aug 6, 2012 No Comments

Photo: www.humanrightsphilippines.net

An International Fact-Finding Mission (IFFM) recently confirmed that the Philippines-based A. Brown Company, Inc. never had the right to open a palm oil plantation in Opol, Misamis Oriental in Southern Philippines, where it displaced hundreds of families from the Higaonon Peoples.

The organizations involved in the IFFM are now calling for:

  • A Brown to immediately pull-out of Opol and respect the farmers' and indigenous people's right to their ancestral lands;
  • All forms of human rights violations be stopped, the perpetrators punished, and the victims indemnified;
  • Desecration of sacred sites must also be stopped; and
  • A Brown, together with all concerned units and agencies of the Philippine government to clean-up and rehabilitate the contaminated areas, provide immediate economic relief to the farmers, and strictly follow the FPIC process that is mandated not only by Philippine law, but by international law as well.

A petition to support these demands is available here:http://www.panap.net/en/fs/page/food-sovereignty/1130.

Below, an article by the World Rainforest Movement

PHILIPPINES: OIL PALM COMPANY A. BROWN GRABS HIGAONON INDIGENOUS PEOPLE'S LANDS

The Philippine A. Brown Company, Inc. is engaged in the business of oil palm plantation development and milling. In 2010, the company started planting oil palm on 520 hectares of public land claimed by the Higaonon indigenous people.

The Higaonon people of the barangays (villages) of Bagocboc and Tingalan in the municipality of Opol, in the southern Philippine province of Misamis Oriental, claim that they have been occupying these lands since before the Spanish colonial era. Their ancestors hunted animals, gathered honey and kept small portions of land for agriculture, maintaining their unique culture. Although the Higaonon were displaced in the 1950s to make way for the logging and livestock grazing ventures of landlords, they kept coming back to their lands, making them productive.

A. Brown entered the Higaonon people's land to establish an oil palm plantation without obtaining their free, prior and informed consent. This land grab has involved numerous human rights violations, including the shooting and illegal arrest of farmers, burning of houses, uprooting of crops, harassment and death threats.

All of this was revealed by an International Fact-Finding Mission (IFFM) that began last May 6 and was conducted by the Pesticide Action Network Asia and the Pacific (PAN AP), the Peasant Movement of the Philippines (KMP), the Asian Peasant Coalition (APC), Sentro Kitanglad, Kalumbay Regional Lumad Organization and other organizations based in Opol.

The IFFM discovered that A. Brown does not yet have a permit to operate in the said area. Officials from the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) said that the government agency has not issued any permit for these operations, which means the company is violating existing forestry and environmental laws.

The findings of the IFFM were presented in a public forum at the University of the Philippines-Diliman, where demands were reiterated for the pull-out of A. Brown from Opol and the immediate return of the indigenous peoples to their ancestral land. They also called for the investigation of human rights violations against the Higaonon (see the IFFM findings at http://www.panap.net/en/fs/post/food-sovereignty-resistance-land-grabbing/1069).

The establishment of large-scale oil palm plantations also undermines the Higaonon people's food sovereignty. "With our lands being taken away, our families left to starve, and our rights violated, we have no choice but to fight. As indigenous peoples, we have the right to land, yet this has continuously been denied to us," said Rubenson Batuto, whose family has lived in Tingalan since the pre-Spanish colonization era.

Agrochemicals applied in the company's industrial oil palm plantations, including carbofuran and glyphosate, are gradually affecting the health of the Higaonon; residents of Opol have reported an increase in the incidence of coughs and colds, skin diseases, diarrhea and other illnesses since the plantation started spraying pesticides. In addition, their coconut and banana trees – their only source of livelihood – have been slowly dying since the plantation's entry.

Erwin Navarro of PAN AP warned of the social, cultural, health and environmental impacts of large-scale oil palm plantations, which have expanded in other Asian countries, bulldozing forests and displacing numerous indigenous peoples. Now, industrial oil palm plantations are entering the Philippines to become a major export crop, as is also the case in the municipalities of Española, Quezon and Brooke's Point in Palawan, denounced by the Philippines-based advocacy campaign network of indigenous peoples ALDAW and reported this year in WRM Bulletin Nº 174.

A campaign is being carried out to gather signatures for a petition calling on the Philippine government to oust A. Brown immediately from Opol; to stop human rights violations, as well as punish the perpetrators and indemnify the victims; and to stop the desecration of sacred sites. The petition also demands that A. Brown, together with all concerned units and agencies of the Philippine government, clean up and rehabilitate the contaminated areas, provide immediate economic relief to the farmers, and follow the free, prior and informed consent process.

You are invited to support the farmers and indigenous peoples of Opol in reclaiming their lands by signing the petition letter at http://www.panap.net/en/fs/page/food-sovereignty/1130

Globally, the expansion of oil palm has been made possible through land grabbing, land use conversion, and rapid deforestation. Displaced farmers and indigenous peoples have been forced to become agricultural workers in oil palm plantations. Oil palm expansion has in general brought about increased hunger and poverty while benefitting only a few private interests.

Article based on information from: "Palm oil plantation in Misamis Oriental has no right to occupy indigenous lands, IFFM says", Pesticide Action Network Asia and the Pacific (PAN AP), http://www.panap.net/en/fs/post/food-sovereignty-resistance-land-grabbing/1070



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[biofuelwatch] US slashes corn production forecast as drought raises crisis fears





http://www.guardian.co.uk/environment/2012/aug/10/us-corn-production-forecast-drought

US slashes corn production forecast as drought raises crisis fears

Severe drought affecting midwest adds to fears of global food crisis and sends some commodity prices to record levels

Lady Liberty stands in front of a parched corn field in Nebraska
Lady Liberty stands in front of a parched corn field in Nebraska. The front row of corn is green because it is irrigated by a lawn sprinkler. Photograph: Nati Harnik/AP

The US government slashed its forecast for drought-hit corn production by 17% on Friday, raising fears of a new global food crisis and sending some commodity prices to record levels.

The US department of agriculture said corn output would only reach 10.8bn bushels for 2012-13, while yields were likely to be 123.4 bushels per acre – the lowest return for 17 years.

Predicted soybean production has also been slashed from 3.05bn bushels four weeks ago to 2.7bn on Friday as farmers see crops devastated by the country's worst drought in more than half a century.

The latest reduction in estimates propelled corn futures on the Chicago commodity exchange to $8.30 a bushel and accelerated a 60% increase in prices over the last two months.

The US is the biggest producer of corn, soybeans and wheat in the world and a poor harvest means prices will rise and stockpiles will remain depleted.

The key midwest growing area has been hit by the worst drought in 56 years. The department of agriculture earlier this week said that half of the nation's corn crop was rated poor to very poor while the latest US drought monitor map showed conditions continuing to worsen.

The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration reported on Wednesday that the first seven months of 2012 were the warmest on record for the nation; temperatures in July broke a record high that was set in the Dust Bowl of the 1930s.

Some fear that growing signs of shortages will prompt some countries to impose export bans or make panic purchases, as they did in 2008, during the last dramatic price spike.

"Several urgent actions must be taken to address the current situation to prevent a potential global food price crisis," said Shenggen Fan, head of the International Food Policy Research Institute, an agricultural think tank funded by the World Bank.

He said countries should reduce the amount of grain used for biofuels, reigniting the "food not fuel" debate about whether valuable land should be devoted to growing corn for use as ethanol on the forecourt at a time of rising food costs.

José Graziano da Silva, director general of the Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) at the United Nations, said he wanted to see a halt in US government-backed production of ethanol, which is mixed with petrol to make "greener" fuel.

"An immediate, temporary suspension of that [US government] mandate would give some respite to the market and allow more of the crop to be channelled towards food and feed uses," he said.

The FAO's food price index, which measures monthly cost changes for a food basket of cereals, oilseeds and others, has hit 213 points, up six points on a month ago.

Senior economists at the agency warned there was the potential for the situation to develop like the food crisis seen in 2007 and 2008, when there were violent protests against the price of food in countries such as Egypt and Haiti.

There are further concerns about agricultural yields, with warnings from Japan of more bad weather emanating from a recurrence of the El Niño storm patterns.

The rise in corn and soybean prices has also brought back a debate over the role of financial speculators in the commodity markets, with reports that Commerzbank and two of its peers are withdrawing from certain food-related investments.

"Climbing prices are creating reputational risk for banks," Alexis Dawance, a former manager of the agricultural-focused Global Agricap Fund, told Reuters. "The big grain traders probably have much more impact in food and commodity trading, but this is part of the bigger picture, with all the fat cat-bashing that has been going on... if food prices continue to rise you will see this happening more and more."

Responding to the surge in food prices, the British-based charity Oxfam warned that the developing world would be hit hardest. "This is not some gentle wake-up call – it's the same global alarm that's been screaming at us since 2008," said Hannah Stoddart, Oxfam's head of economic justice policy.

"The combination of rising prices and forecast low reserves means the world is facing a double danger. As usual, it will be people in developing countries who will be hit the hardest, with millions who are currently 'just getting by' starting to go hungry as a result."



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