The Year We Didn't Want

...Or "193 Shades of Grey".

2012 Whizzed and then it Fizzed, but 2013 can be Better

To get 2013 off with a technological BANG, ETC staff are offering (what, for us, amounts to) a ‘light-hearted’ reflection on the year past and projections for the one already upon us.

Uppers: At the end of the year, New Scientist announced that we have reduced the under-5 child mortality rate by 60 % in the last 20 years. In the United States, government studies revealed during the year that teenage pregnancies have declined 40 % since 1990; teenage smoking (at 10.6 %) is at its lowest level since records were first kept in 1975; the number of traffic fatalities in New York City (declining ever since 1971) are the lowest since 1910; in spite of a 50 % increase in the number of firearms, the number of US households possessing guns is continuing to drop. And, in late October, The Economist reported that, across most industrialized countries, the annual crime rate has been dropping steadily since the mid-1990s. In 2012, studies announced that homophobia, at least in OECD states, is declining steeply – a little short of World Peace or ending hunger but still something to celebrate.

Growing Maize Disaster

Mexico remains on high alert following the attempts of Monsanto and other agribusiness multinationals to win the government’s approval to plant 2.5 million hectares of transgenic maize in Mexico, the center of origin and diversity of maize. As ETC wrote last month, approval would allow the boldest coup of a global food crop in history and would threaten biodiversity, farmers’ rights and resilience in the face of climate change. While the outgoing government of Felipe Calderón did not approve the applications before leaving office on November 30th, its last-minute, surreptitious changes to regulatory procedures removed obstacles that could have hindered the new administration’s ability to grant the companies’ requests.

Inside and outside Mexico, voices have decried the attack aimed at the heart of Mexican cultures, food, health and nature. Since mid-November, there have been workshops and public meetings, as well as petitions and protests by farmers, artists, activists and scientists in social and print media and on the radio. La Via Campesina, Grain and ETC Group wrote an open letter to the UN’s Food and Agricultural Organization (FAO) and Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD) asking the multilateral agencies to intervene for the sake of global food security.

Sign the global petition against commercialization of GMO Maize in Mexico!

It may be a time of thanksgiving for the harvest in North America but in the boardrooms of Monsanto, Du Pont and Dow Agrosciences biotech executives may be saving their biggest thanks to the outgoing Mexican President: Felipe Calderon.

In these last dying days of his presidency, Calderon is widely expected to grant permission for the commercial planting of more than 2.5 million hectares of genetically modified maize (corn) in the global centre of origin and diversity for this important world food crop. If he does so this move of historical importance would amount to a "knife in the heart" of both Mexico's ancient maize culture and the diversity of maize worldwide.

Please take a moment to sign and support a new international petition against the impending commercialization of GMO maize in Mexico at http://www.avaaz.org/en/petition/Stop_Monsanto_in_Mexico/?fSLKJbb&pv=1

The Great Mexican Maize Massacre

Gene Giants Prepare the Genetic Wipe-out of One of the World’s Most Important Food Crops

Agribusiness giants Monsanto, DuPont and Dow are plotting the boldest coup of a global food crop in history. If their requests to allow a massive commercial planting of genetically modified (GM) maize are approved in the next two weeks by the government of outgoing president Felipe Calderón, this parting gift to the gene giants will amount to a knife in the heart of the center of origin and diversity for maize. The consequences will be grave – and global. With the approvals and December planting deadlines looming, social movements and civil society organizations have called for an end to all GM maize in Mexico. Mexico’s Union of Concerned Scientists (UCCS) has called on the Mexican government to stop the processing of any application for open-field release of GM maize in Mexico. ETC Group joins these calls, and appeals to the UN Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) and to the UN Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD) – intergovernmental bodies mandated to support food security and biodiversity – to take immediate action.

Please take a moment to sign a global petition against the commercialization of GMO maize in Mexico at:
http://www.avaaz.org/en/petition/Stop_Monsanto_in_Mexico/?fSLKJbb&pv=1

International Marine Treaty Body Agrees Statement of 'Grave Concern' Regarding Haida Gwaii Ocean Fertilization Dump

The Contracting Parties to the London Convention and London Protocol, at their Joint Meeting in London this week (29 October to 2 November 2012), agreed on a statement of concern regarding the iron fertilization project in ocean waters west of Canada.

World’s Largest Geoengineering Deployment Off Coast of Canada’s British Columbia

Commercial geoengineer obtained more than $1 million of community funds; Governments meeting in Hyderabad, India to discuss oversight of geoengineering

More information about the world’s largest geoengineering deployment to-date has come to light since news of the iron-dust dump made headlines on Monday. The so-called ‘Haida Salmon Restoration Corporation’ (HSRC) claims it dumped 100 tonnes of iron particles into the Haida Eddy of the north-east Pacific Ocean to produce an artificial plankton bloom, even though the practice is prohibited by globally agreed moratoria and Canadian law. The CEO of HSRC, John Disney, claims that several Canadian government agencies – including Environment Canada – were apprised of HSRC’s ocean fertilization plans before deployment. Canada’s Environment Minister says an investigation is underway and the dump would be illegal if it indeed happened.

Full Press Coverage of 2012 Ocean Fertilization Scheme Near Haida Gwaii

In mid-october 2012 ETC Group, working with partners, uncovered a large-scale unauthorised geoengineering scheme that had been carried out in July 300km off the west coast of Canada, close to the islands of Haida Gwaii. We discovered that this ocean fertilization scheme, which involved at least 120 tons of iron dust and iron sulphate being dumped into a highly biodiverse marine ecosystem, appeared to have given rise, at least in part, to an unusually large (10,000 sq km) plankton boom. We also learned that the principal actor behind this large dump of iron was Russ George formerly CEO of Planktos, a company that had attempted to dump iron in the waters west of the Galapagos Islands and the Canary islands in 2007. In ETC Group's view this activity violated at least three international moratoria established through the IMO's London Convention and the UN Convention on Biological Diversity.

This page presents a partial record of the media reporting and scientific and official responses to this large real-world geoengineeirng scheme.

The ABCs of Ensuring Precaution on Geoengineering

A briefing for delegates to CBD COP11

In October 2010 in Nagoya, Parties to the CBD adopted a landmark decision to place a moratorium on the testing and deployment of geoengineering technologies (Decision X/33 para 8w) – recognising the particular threat to biodiversity and livelihoods. That moratorium marked the first time an international body had begun to establish oversight over this new field.

From 8th - 19th October 2012 the CBD will be meeting again at COP11 at Hyderabad India. ETC Group proposes that parties meeting in Hyderabad adopt an “ABC” of precaution:

Synthetic Biology - 10 key points for delegates

At COP 11, government negotiators will be asked to consider bringing a new and emerging area of industrial activity under the oversight of the Convention on Biological Diversity. Synthetic Biology is a burgeoning technological field that builds artificial genetic systems and programmes lifeforms for industrial use. It urgently requires effective governance. This briefing details ten key points to consider.

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