Haitian Farmers Commit to Burning Monsanto Seeds

haiti farmingOTHER WORLDS– “A new earthquake” is what peasant farmer leader Chavannes Jean-Baptiste of the Peasant Movement of Papay (MPP) called the news that Monsanto will be donating 60,000 seed sacks (475 tons) of hybrid corn seeds and vegetable seeds, some of them treated with highly toxic pesticides.

The MPP has committed to burning Monsanto’s seeds, and has called for a march to protest the corporation’s presence in Haiti on June 4, for World Environment Day.

In an open letter sent May 14, Chavannes Jean-Baptiste, the executive director of MPP and the spokesperson for the National Peasant Movement of the Congress of Papay (MPNKP), called the entry of Monsanto seeds into Haiti “a very strong attack on small agriculture, on farmers, on biodiversity, on Creole seeds … and on what is left our environment in Haiti.”(1)

Haitian social movements have been vocal in their opposition to agribusiness imports of seeds and food, which undermines local production with local seed stocks. They have expressed special concern about the import of genetically modified organisms (GMOs).

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© Beverly Bell, 2010

Photo by flickr user treesftf

Does Activism Make You Happy?

activism happyGUARDIAN– Marching in the drizzle against wars in far-off countries, writing letters protesting the government’s latest reactionary policy, sitting through interminable meetings that keep sprouting Any Other Business. It may be noble, but political activism is hardly a barrel of laughs. And yet it makes you happier.

So find two university psychologists in new research that looks for the first time at the link between political activity and wellbeing. Malte Klar and Tim Kasser started by interviewing two sets of around 350 college students, both about their degree of political engagement and their levels of happiness and optimism. Both times, they found that those most inclined to go on a demo were also the cheeriest.

So there’s a link – but can politics actually make a person happier? In the third study, the academics took a bunch of students and divided them up into groups. The first were encouraged to write to the management of the college cafeteria asking for tastier food. The next lot wrote asking the cafe to source local or Fairtrade products. They were then tested on their wellbeing, and the group who had involved themselves in the political debate were far and away the strongest on the “vitality” scale: they felt more alive and enriched than those who merely complained about the menu.

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© The Guardian, 2010

Photo by flickr user Fibonacci Blue

Worldwide Initiatives Against Genetically Modified Organisms

gmoTHIRD WORLD NETWORK INFORMATION SERVICE ON BIOSAFETY– Below is a list of different initiatives in countries worldwide to restrict or regulate the import, distribution, sale, utilization, field trials, or commercial planting of genetically modified organisms (GMOs). Information for this list was compiled from various sources. This list is by no means exhaustive, as there are certainly other initiatives of which we are not yet aware.

Special note should be made of the bans implemented by Algeria, Sri Lanka, Thailand, and China. Since December 2000, Algeria has banned the import, distribution, commercialization and utilization of GE plant material. Sri Lanka has banned the import of all GE foods from May 2001. In April 2001, Thailand banned all GE crops trials, and continues to ban all commercial planting of GE crops. Also in April, the Chinese government banned the commercial planting of GE rice, wheat, corn and soybean.

We hope this list provides a sense of the various actions being taken by governments, local authorities, and communities worldwide to protect their health and environment from the potential hazards of GMOs. Proper restriction and regulation of GMOs, by keeping the country GE free or by implementing and enforcing bans or moratoria on GMOs, is the only way a country can effectively exercise the precautionary principle.



Algeria: Ban on the import, distribution, commercialization and utilization
of GE plant material, except for research purposes.

Egypt: Declared not to import GE wheat.

The draft Organization of African Unity (OAU) model biosafety law requires that all GMOs, whether classified as food, crops, pharmaceuticals, or commodities, and products thereof must be approved before import, transit, contained use, release, and market release can take place. Any GMOs or products thereof must be labeled as such and there is a strict liability regime in place. This model law will serve as a model for national implementation in African countries.


Sri Lanka: A ban on the import of all genetically modified foods, raw and processed, went into effect on May 1, 2001. This includes GMOs and products thereof.

Thailand: Ban on field trials of GE crops, and the termination of ongoing field trials of Monsanto’s GE cotton and corn. Ban on all commercial planting of GE crops. Thailand will be drawing up legislation for labeling of GE food by the end of 2001.

China: Ban on commercial planting of GE rice, wheat, corn and soybean.

Japan: Declared not to import GE wheat. Recent legislation has set zero tolerance for imports containing unapproved GE products. Imports found to contain unapproved GMOs will be destroyed or shipped back to origin. Violators may incur penalties of up to one-year imprisonment and may be fined. The legislation also seeks mandatory labeling for GMOs in food.

Philippines: The community of Valencia called for a five-year moratorium on GE food and GE crop trials and commercialization. The Philippine president recently announced a moratorium on GE crop research.


The European Union is expected to approve very strict legislation on labeling and traceability; products thereof will have to be labeled even if traces of GE material cannot be found in them.

Norway: Ban on the import of six GE crops and products which contain antibiotic resistance genes – two GE vaccines, GE maize, tobacco, chicory, and oil swede rape. 31 GE applications have been rejected to date.

Austria: Bans on three varieties of GE maize – Novartis, Monsanto and AgrEvo. The Federal Institute for Less-favored and Mountainous Areas is pressing for GE-free legislation and published a study on GE free zones, initiatives in the States of Vorarlberg and Salzburg to ban GE trials.

Germany: Ban of Novartis Bt maize. The initiative “No GE on communal land” of BUND (Friends of the Earth Germany) launched activities in several German communities to discuss and vote on the GE free resolutions. Applications have been launched in: Bad Vilbel, Blauenstein, Lahr, konstanz, Hannover, Hamburg. Applications have been accepted in: Mynchen, Reutlingen, Freidrichsdorf, Blomberg, Selingenstadt, Niddatal, Maintal, Riedstadt, Adendorf, Schwebheim, Pinneberg, Schwabach, Lan-genhagen, Wyhe, Burgdorf, Neetze, District Traunstein. Several Protestant regional church organizations have banned GE crops from their land: Hannover, Hessen und Nassau, Sachsen, Protestantic Church of Westfalen, Protestantic Church in Berlin-Bradenburg, Church Province of Sachsen.

United Kingdom: The Church of England has refused permission for GE crop trials on 60,000 hectares of its land, dozens of local authorities supply GE free school lunches, while the House of Commons has banned GE food for its catering. The Island of Jersey has banned GE crops.

Spain: The Basque government has imposed a five-year blanket moratorium for GMOs. The provinces of Castilla-La Mancha and Baleares have banned GE food, while Andaluc’a declared a five-year moratorium on GE crops trials and food.

Italy: Bans on GE crops in four regions – Tuscany, Molise, Lazio and Marche – and 25 provinces, cities and communes, including Rome, Milan, Turin, Brescia, and Genoa.

Greece: Ban on AgrEvo herbicide resistant rapeseed, moratorium on GE crop trials.

France: Ban on PGS and AgrEvo herbicide resistant rapeseed.

Luxembourg: Ban on Novartis Bt maize.

Portugal: Ban on Novartis Bt maize.


Brazil: Ban on the planting of GE seeds. The states of Rio Grande do Sul and Mato Grasso do Sul have declared their intentions to remain GE-free. 18 states have called upon the central government to block commercial GE crop planting.

Paraguay: The Ministry of Agriculture plans to ban the commercial planting of GE crops.


Saudi Arabia: Ban on GE food and declared not to import GE wheat.


United States of America: Maryland has banned GE fish. There are various bills calling for moratoria on GE food (Vermont), and bans on GE wheat (North Dakota and Montana) have been filed within the last year. Several municipalities have declared moratoria on GE food (Burlington, Vermont), bans of GE crops (City of Boulder, Colorado), or urged the federal government to ban GE food (City and County of San Fransisco, California).


14 South Pacific countries – American Samoa, Cook Islands, Fiji, Kiribati, Federated States of Micronesia, Marshall Islands, Nauru, Niue, Papua New Guinea, Samoa, Solomon Islands, Tonga, Tuvalu and Vanuatu – have recommended a moratorium on the import of GMOs pending the implementation of appropriate national risk assessment and risk management procedures.

Australia: Ban GE rapeseed as weed in Tasmania, and a ban on commercial planting of GE crops in Western Australia. Australian States have been given the right to declare themselves GE free. Some communities (e.g. Bondi/Sydney, West Wimmera Shire) have declared themselves GE free.

New Zealand: Trials of GE salmon have been blocked by the government. Some local bodies in Auckland and Wellington have declared themselves GE free.


© Third World Network, 2001

Photo by flickr users Tim & Selena Middleton

Palo Alto Bans Styrofoam

styrofoam cupENVIRONMENT CALIFORNIA– Take-out food and drinks in Palo Alto will come in either paper or plastic containers after the city council on Monday voted unanimously to ban expanded polystyrene, popularly but incorrectly called Styrofoam.

The ban will take effect next Earth Day — April 22, 2010 — despite calls for an earlier start from some on the council. A restaurant group thanked the city for the grace period, saying it will help small businesses use up existing supplies before making the transition.

As a concession to the trade group, the city offered an additional one-year “hardship” exemption to businesses that can show they would be hurt financially by the switch to other materials.

Palo Alto follows Oakland, San Francisco, Millbrae and several other cities in banning polystyrene foam, which is hard to recycle and often ends up as litter. Volunteers in Palo Alto have photographed bits of the foam in local creeks, where it can harm fish and other wildlife.

The ban will force businesses to shift to packaging made of either recyclable plastic, paper or other compostable materials. According to a city survey, more than two-thirds of Palo Alto restaurants already avoid polystyrene foam.

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© Environment California, 2009 

Photo by flickr user Skyepeale

The Ron Paul Posse

ron paulSAN DIEGO READER– Some of them have been seen suspending large banners from freeway overpasses. Others have been spotted at busy intersections waving signs that call for revolution. And groups of them have been heard on street corners in the Gaslamp and Pacific Beach discoursing on the need to end foreign military occupation, restore civil liberties, and dissolve the IRS and CIA.

They are San Diego’s soldiers in the grassroots army of presidential candidate Ron Paul, a ten-term Republican Congressman from Lake Jackson, Texas, and they are taking on the establishment one homemade sign and one commandeered street corner at a time.

With nearly 975 members, the San Diego branch of the Ron Paul campaign is the fourth largest in the country, behind those in New York City, Austin, and Chicago. The chapters are unaffiliated with Paul’s national headquarters in Arlington, Virginia, receiving neither aid nor direction. Local members shell out their own money to print stickers and campaign literature, and they can be seen making runs to the hardware store for paper and spray paint to make their signs. They sell buttons, shirts, and Ron Paul DVDs from the beds of their trucks: DVDs for 25 cents, a button for $1, and shirts for $5.

They also hold meetings at places like the Boll Weevil restaurant in San Marcos. On January 10, some of North County’s newest members cram into the Boll Weevil’s empty dining room to introduce themselves and share their efforts with others in the campaign. The excitement from the 31 in attendance overpowers the scent of the half-pound steerburgers.

The supporters span the political and age spectrums. They range from a politically disgruntled man in his late 60s wearing a checkered flannel shirt to a 20-year-old female law student.

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© San Diego Reader, 2008

Photo by flickr user Jayel Aheram

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