By the end of today, all 19 government requests for bans of GM crop cultivation are expected to go unchallenged by biotech companies, pathing the way for two thirds of the EU’s farmland and population to remain GM-free. The growing opposition to GM crops coincides with a new Greenpeace report reviewing evidence of GM environmental risks, market failures, and increased pesticide use.
According to information obtained from the Commission, biotech companies have so far accepted all requests for opt-out bans, except for Denmark, Luxembourg and Malta, for which the deadline expires today.
Greenpeace EU food policy director Franziska Achterberg said: “Over the past 20 years, GM technology has only been taken up by a handful of countries for a handful of crops, so no wonder two thirds of Europe have decided to ban it. Where GM crops are grown, they lead to increased pesticide use and the entrenchment of industrial farming systems that in turn exacerbate hunger, malnutrition and climate change.”
Around 85 per cent of GM crops are cultivated in just four countries in the Americas (US, Brazil, Argentina and Canada), representing only three per cent of global agricultural land. The Greenpeace report – 20 years of failure – highlights the main problems associated with GM crops, including:
GM crops increase pesticide use – Practically all GM crops are either engineered to produce a pesticide or to withstand the spraying of certain herbicides. Pests and weeds are developing resistance to these toxins, creating new superbugs and superweeds. This leads farmers to use even more chemicals.
GM crops do not feed the world – Studies show that GM crops do no increase yields and can affect the livelihoods of small-scale farmers, representing a threat to food security.
There is no scientific consensus about the safety of GM crops – Despite the biotech industry’s attempts to reassure consumers about the safety of GM crops, over 300 independent scientists dispute these claims . Genetic engineering remains a risky technology that can trigger unintended and irreversible impacts on the environment and human health.
While GM crops struggle to live up to the claims of the biotech industry, innovative sustainable farming methods offer a viable alternative. Modern ecological farming practices are a proven and sustainable solution to the challenges facing farming. They prevent soil erosion and degradation, increase soil fertility, conserve water quality and protect biodiversity. Moreover, scientific evidence shows that growing different crops and single crop varieties in one field, as is done in ecological farming, is highly reliable in increasing resilience to erratic weather changes.
Similarly, modern biotechnology, like Marker Assisted Selection (MAS), can produce crops which resist floods, droughts and diseases and presents limited safety concerns compared to GM crops. MAS is also faster than GM in delivering new crops onto the market . However, these alternatives will continue to be ignored if we get locked in the GM-industrial agriculture system, says Greenpeace.
What a brilliantly playful way to advance equal rights and birth a body positive/sex positive culture. On August 23rd in a march on the Venice Boardwalk, we celebrated the 95th anniversary of Women’s Right to Vote with a parade to ##Free the Nip, 2 square inches of female human anatomy. It was the 8th annual Go Topless Day in Venice organized by Raelian Lara Terstenjak and her team.
Male shirtlessness is ‘officially’ referred to as ‘barechestedness.’ The female equivalent of barechestedness is toplessness. For some strange reason these two states of shirtlessness have two different legal meanings – female shirtlessness is considered erogenous and obscene.
Apparently men in New York won their nipple freedom in the 60s sometime–according to Wikipedia: “…rules relaxed only for men on beaches and swimming pools (in New York City, a man could be fined for removing his shirt in Central Park as late as 1960) but permissiveness gradually grew and crossed gender lines.”
Suppression+Oppression=Obsession. And in some places even Possession and total loss of rights for women. Let’s End the Obsession with female body parts as sex objects for suppression and exploitation leading to sexual violence across the globe.
In California, it is legal for anyone to be shirtless in public, however, Los Angeles city and county rules prohibit topless sunbathing for females only. In April 2014, after a 40-year ban, the Venice Beach Council voted 12-2 to “support women being afforded the same rights as men to sunbathe topless.” Still, the measure hasn’t become ‘official’ so everyone had to cover their nipples with something.
Hundreds of barechested, courageous men and women marched to end the suppression inherent in body negative culture. Many men wore bikini tops and bras to illustrate the silliness of nipple fear. The parade was led by a fanciful group of nipple adorned men and women, a mermaid, King Neptune, and a beauty queen towering above the crowd on stilts. Imagine playful, happy people comfortable in their own skin, delighting in a beautiful sunny day at the beach.
And imagine gawkers. Lots of them. The Body Positive/Sex Positive model respects the innate sanctity and unique beauty of every one of us. Our bodies are shame free!
So I ask you, is it erogenous to bare a nipple? I’ll confess, nipples are erogenous and interesting, of any gender. To me, a sexy nipple is a sexy nipple. So what. Let’s be honest–a shirtless man isn’t ‘promiscuous’ and obscene, and ‘asking for it.’ Men just like the feeling of being shirtless and are comfortable with their chests. I feel the same way.
Our partners at the Gills Club recently interviewed Mission Blue founder Dr. Sylvia Earle. Learn more about the Gills Club and their amazing work on their website.
Why did you start studying marine biology?
My first encounter with the ocean was on the Jersey Shore when I was three years old and I got knocked over by a wave. The ocean certainly got my attention! It wasn’t frightening. It was more exhilarating than anything else. And since then life in the ocean has captured my imagination and held it ever since. I started out as a kid and never did grow up. The best scientists and explorers have the attributes of kids. They ask questions and have a sense of wonder. They have curiosity. Who, what, where, why, when, and how!
What do you enjoy most about being a scientist?
You never know what you’re going to find! Ninety-five percent of the ocean is not explored. Diving in, meeting creatures, and observing the wondrous diversity of life on earth are the real joys of exploring the ocean, for me. On land, only about half of the many major divisions of life occur over all the continents and islands put together – the terrestrial parts. But even in a bucket of seawater you may find as many of these major divisions of animal life, plus a nice dollop of photosynthetic organisms as well. About half of the creatures that occur in the ocean occur only there, of the major divisions. Think of starfish and their relatives. There’s no counterpart anywhere on the land or anywhere in fresh water. Or look at the whole category of life that includes the jellyfishes and the corals. Well, there are a very few freshwater jellyfishes, but they are such a small number compared to the great, great majority that are out there in the ocean. And so on down the list. There are a handful of freshwater sponges, but there are thousands, tens of thousands of marine species. So the dominant diversity of life on earth, contrary to what some people think, is not rainforests, as wonderfully diverse as they are. It’s the ocean! It’s the ocean!
Do you have a favorite memory from being on the water?
Oh, there are so many. I was at a place called Marion Reef in the Coral Sea, diving in 70 feet of water, and these grey reef sharks circled us. I could not count them, there were so many – at least 100. They were forming a great wheel around us but were quietly curious, not aggressive. It was a little hair-raising – had they chosen to gang up on us, they could have easily consumed us. But they were just looking. I remember it so well in my mind’s eye.
What is the most interesting thing you have learned from your research/conservation work?
The Ocean is alive. It is the cornerstone of earth’s life support system, and the cornerstone of the ocean’s life support system is life in the ocean. Oxygen is generated by living creatures. Every fish fertilizes the water in a way that generates the plankton that ultimately leads back into the food chain, but also yields oxygen and grabs carbon – it’s a part of what makes the ocean function and what makes the planet function.
Take away the ocean and we don’t have a planet that works. Take away life in the ocean and we don’t have a planet that works. All life needs water, and all life needs other forms of life to have the complex communities of life, ecosystems of life that ultimately over four-and-a-half billion years arrived at a state that is just right for humankind.
I have had the privilege of spending more time than others in the ocean and have seen things that others haven’t. People need to know. You can’t care if you don’t know and most people simply don’t know.
How does your research benefit shark conservation?
My self-appointed job is to inspire people to explore the ocean for themselves and to use their talents, whatever they are, to make a difference for the natural world. Part of that job is to spread the word that as top predators, sharks are fundamental to ocean health and they’re certainly not enemies. Occasionally a shark will take a bite. But we are not on their menu – they are on ours. We are the real top predators and kill them for sport, kill them for their fins, their liver, their meat. But they ignore us for the most part. We shouldn’t really have trouble in their presence.
A successful dive is usually a dive where you are fortunate to see sharks of any sort. Their numbers have dropped precipitously since when I first began diving in the 1950s – 90% of them are gone, most of them in the last 30 years. We’ve become extremely good at killing not only them, but also what sharks eat, throwing the entire food web into disarray. People need to know that healthy shark populations are worth more to mankind (in terms of tourism dollars and ecosystem stabilization) than dead sharks.
What would you say to aspiring young female marine biologists?
The Ocean is vulnerable. What we do or don’t do will make a difference. As individuals, young people can make a difference. The only difference that has been made ever in the world, for good or for not so good, always starts with somebody, an individual. Look in the mirror, consider your talents, and think about how you might use them to make a difference. Some have artistic skills; others are good with numbers or have a way with words. Everyone has power to make a difference as an individual – or by joining the company of others who share a common goal. The key is in knowing that what you do matters, including doing nothing!
We need to convey a sense of urgency because the world is changing quickly. The next ten years is likely to be the most important time in the next 10,000 years. We have options that we are going to lose within ten years unless we take action now. Every day, options close. Take care of the ocean as if your life depends on it, because it does.
When I met Sylvia Earle
As long as I have known about the ocean, I feel like I’ve known about Dr. Earle. Growing up in land-locked Canada I followed Dr. Earle’s career with great interest & was always inspired by women like her & Eugenie Clark. In fact, one of my lifelong ambitions – close to the top of my bucket list – was to meet Sylvia and have the opportunity to chat with the woman who changed the face of marine science for so many young women growing up in the 1980s. But it was always just that: an ambition; a wish. Something I never in my wildest dreams thought would become a reality. And then, in early 2014, my old boss & colleague, Dr. Tony Ribbink (Sustainable Seas Trust) – a close friend of Sylvia – met with our team at the SA Shark Conservancy & mentioned that Sylvia would be visiting South Africa to launch her Hope Spot initiative. When he asked if we could help launch the Cape Whale Coast Hope Spot (and mentioned I could actually meet Sylvia), I immediately jumped at the opportunity. I really & truly could not believe I would be meeting her face-to-face (and that the queen of marine science would actually be visiting the NGO I started in 2007!!)! Even now I squeal (internally, of course!) at the thought! After many months of preparation, Sylvia finally arrived in Hermanus to launch the Hope Spot. She was obviously tired from her transcontinental flight & crazy South African travel schedule, yet when she spoke with me I felt like we were the only two people in the world. She had me captivated from hello! Not to mention that she held my 10-day old son – surely a sign of incredible things to come! Despite being 79 years old, Sylvia has the energy levels of a 20 year old & is possessed with an undying passion for the oceans that is obvious in every word she speaks. She is one of the most magnetic people I have ever had the pleasure of meeting, and I feel so incredibly lucky to have met her.
A dolphin is lifted via crane into the tanks
at Taiji’s Dolphin Resort
Photo: Sea ShepherdOn this Earth Day 2015, there is major news to report from The World Association of Zoos and Aquariums (WAZA). The organization has today announced that it has suspended the membership of the Japanese Association of Zoos and Aquariums (JAZA) because JAZA has refused to prohibit its member aquariums from taking dolphins captured in Taiji, Japan’s brutal drive hunt.
In a statement released today, April 22, 2015, WAZA writes, “The basis for the suspension is a determination that JAZA has violated the WAZA Code of Ethics and Animal Welfare. Moreover, WAZA Council re-affirmed its position that members of WAZA must confirm that they will not acquire dolphins from the Taiji fishery.”
Each year since 2010, Sea Shepherd’s Cove Guardians have been on the ground in Taiji daily throughout the six-month drive hunt season – which spans from September 1 until March – documenting and live streaming every capture and slaughter of dolphins and small whales as part of our Operation Infinite Patience campaign, ensuring the eyes of the world remain on Taiji’s infamous killing cove. Our Cove Guardian volunteers have documented time and time again the inextricable link between captivity and the slaughter. In Taiji, dolphin killers and trainers work side-by-side to hand-pick the “prettiest” dolphins (those without visible scars) to be sold for captivity. This occurs simultaneously to the slaughter process, and newly imprisoned captive dolphins must witness the murder of their family members before their very eyes. Those taken captive are transported to Taiji Harbor’s holding pens or are immediately taken to one of three captive facilities in Taiji. Some are ultimately sold to other aquariums in Japan or overseas to end up in China, the Middle East, and elsewhere.
The captive trade is the true reason for the drive hunt in Taiji, the economic fuel that drives the hunting boats each day. Just one captive dolphin can be sold for $100,000 USD or more.
A bottlenose dolphin struggles during
the violent captive selection process
Photo: Sea ShepherdSea Shepherd supports WAZA’s decision to suspend the membership of JAZA for its role in Taiji’s horrific massacre of wild cetaceans. While we are elated to hear this long-overdue announcement, we also stand in firm opposition to the confinement of highly intelligent and socially complex whales and dolphins in captivity at WAZA aquariums, swim-with-dolphin programs and other captive facilities that continue to drive the demand for captive dolphins, and the wild captures still occurring around the world. These highly intelligent, sentient and socially complex marine mammals belong in the open ocean where they can engage in their natural behaviors and live in their natural family groups — not performing tricks for food in concrete bathtubs while being subjected to loud music and noisy crowds.
Still, WAZA’s suspension of JAZA’s membership is a major step toward ending Taiji’s inhumane hunt that so brutally claims the lives of thousands of wild, migrating dolphins and whales each year. Even as an entity that is all about the captivity industry, today WAZA has taken an important step to distance itself from the slaughter that turns the waters of Taiji red with blood – blood that WAZA does not want on its hands. The tide is turning. One day, the cove will be a permanent and peaceful blue and profiting from the suffering of these familial and intelligent beings will be a practice driven into the past.
It seems as if almost every time I speak about Earth Day, someone says ‘Why isn’t every day Earth Day?’, which is true, but also kind of misses the point.
While there are many campaigns which are aiming to highlight the myriad ways in which we could take better care of our planet, the ones that are really grabbing my attention this year are the ones that are inspiring us to take DIRECT ACTION. To get our hands in the soil, to plant a seed, to turn off our computers and phones for a moment and give some much needed attention back to this amazing and beautiful planet.
This has now grown into hundreds of organisations joining together, including UPLIFT. It seems as if there is a collective awakening happening right now that has been inspired by the power of social media, but now seeks to go beyond that; to take tangible real world action that makes a difference. Those inspiring facebook pages that you might like and share in your daily newsfeed are beginning to talk to each other and realise that alone each page may reach thousands, or even a million or so, people a week. Working together, however, we have the potential to reach tens of millions of people in a way that challenges the traditional mainstream media outlets. The difference is that instead of highlighting what isn’t working in the world, all of the problems, injustices, conflicts and destruction, we can highlight what is working, the solutions, the collaborations and the co-creations that are making the world a better place. This is the essential vision of UPLIFT, which Satish Kumar has described as “Sarvodaya”, or “upliftment for all”.
So, how do I participate in “Pledge to Plant”?
It’s really simple. All you need to do is commit by clicking on the link below and registering. Already there are enough people registered to commit to planting over a million trees. And that’s just the beginning! If you share this message to your networks, you can be part of this global wave of action. In fact, the whole success of this campaign depends upon YOU to DO SOMETHING! Of course, the next thing you need to do is to find a tree to plant (contact your local nursery, garden centre, or permaculture impact centre for advice) and then somewhere appropriate to plant it. There’s a bonus if you can film yourself doing it and the share it with us, so we can show the world that this is actually happening.
If you still have any doubt whatsover that we need to change our collective behaviour and stop cutting down trees and start planting them instead, watch the entertaining (and moving) 2-minute video that The Master Shift created for Earth Day here. It’s been watched by over 13,000,000 people already, so the campaign is really starting to catch fire.
How much will it take before we wake up to the impact we have on the world?
“Nearly 20 percent of the world’s remaining forests are the distance of a football field, or about 100 meters, away from forest edges. Seventy percent of forest lands are within a half-mile of forest edges. That means almost no forests can really be considered wilderness,” Professor Nick Haddad, North Carolina State University.
Some people might argue that just planting a tree and then doing nothing else for the rest of the year makes no real difference. A good response is always to ask what that person actually did for Earth Day. Doing something is ALWAYS more powerful than being an armchair (or facebook) critic, but it is also true that we need to make a SYSTEMIC change to the way we treat our planet, not just an OCCASIONAL change. This is why the Declaration to Restore Mother Earth is so powerful, by making a personal commitment to change, we initiate the beginning of that systemic change, which is what we all really need to do in order to turn around the Global ecological crisis. Take a look at the video below and then sign the Declaration. It’s the perfect thing to do on Earth Day and also the best way we can ensure every day really is Earth Day too!
Make a personal commitment to Restore Mother Earth!
Another Impossible Mission Made Possible by Sea Shepherd
Commentary by Sea Shepherd Founder, Captain Paul Watson
The Thunder – the most notorious of the Bandit Six – is no more.
Photo: Sea Shepherd / Simon Ager
110 Days – the longest hot pursuit of a poaching vessel in maritime history is finally over.
The Thunder – the most notorious of the Bandit Six – is no more. The ship now rests 4,000 meters down on the bottom of the Atlantic Ocean. 72 kilometers of the Thunder’s illegal gill net are onboard the Sam Simon. Two other poachers, the Kunlun and the Viking, have been detained – the Kunlun in Thailand and the Viking in Malaysia.
This has been the most successful intervention against high-seas poaching in the history of anti-poaching operations.
Captain Peter Hammarstedt of Sweden on the Bob Barker and Captain Sid Chakravarty of India on the Sam Simon and their crews have done an incredible job in this four-month odyssey that began with the Sam Simon in Wellington, New Zealand and the Bob Barker in Hobart, Tasmania. The ships have crossed the Southern Ocean, the Indian Ocean around the Cape of Good Hope and up the South Atlantic to cross the equator on day 109 into the North Atlantic. The chase covered 10,260 nautical miles.
40 fishermen abandoned their sinking ship. Sea Shepherd crew collected the evidence of their illegal activities with a boarding party sent onto the Thunder. All 40 men were taken aboard the Sam Simon (30 Indonesian, seven Spanish, two Chilean and one Portuguese) and given food and blankets. There were no injuries sustained by the crews of any of the three ships. The Bob Barker escorted the Sam Simon to Sao Tome, where the Thunder crew were turned over to authorities.
No oil was observed after the sinking of the Thunder and there was very little fuel left onboard at the time of the sinking. All evidence gathered will be turned over to INTERPOL.
For over a decade the poachers have been fishing with impunity in the Southern Ocean. The last pursuit was in 2003, when the Australian Customs ship Southern Supporter chased the Uruguayan poacher VirasI for 21 days from Heard Island to the middle of the South Atlantic.
The poachers’ supremacy over the waters of the Southern Ocean ended this year.
Operation Icefish has focused attention on the illegal poaching of toothfish like never before, and has involved the authorities in New Zealand, Australia, Malaysia, Thailand, Mauritius, Nigeria, Equatorial Guinea, Spain and INTERPOL.
Nigeria stripped the Thunder of her registry and flag during the pursuit.
The crews on both the Sam Simon and the Bob Barker have carried out a marathon campaign that has ended in success.
Most if not all the Indonesian crew
may be forced laborers
Photo: Sea Shepherd / Jeff WirthSea Shepherd holds no animosity to the crew of the Thunder. They were treated with kindness and consideration and fed vegan meals. Most if not all the Indonesian crew may be forced laborers; that is a situation that requires investigation. It is not for Sea Shepherd to decide the fate of these men; they will now be dealt with by the appropriate authorities.
The scuttling of the Thunder was a deliberate act of desperation by a crew that has been abandoned by their unscrupulous, wealthy owners, alleged to be fishing companies based in Galicia, Spain. Spanish police have already raided some of these companies in the search for evidence.
The net is being closed around these illegal operations, the source of the illegal Chilean Sea Bass presently being sold in restaurants and markets around the world. In addition, more and more exposure is being given to the virtual slavery involved in the crewing of these pirate-fishing operations.
Sea Shepherd, her captains, officers, crew, shore staff and volunteers have done an amazing job and have carved a place in maritime history. Many of the “experts” and politicians said that Sea Shepherd would not even find the poachers or would be unable to stop them. They even insinuated that Sea Shepherd would be charged with illegal fishing if the net was retrieved, or sued for damages by the companies backing the illegal vessels.
Sea Shepherd ignored the nay-sayers, found Thunder, located the Kunlun and Yongding and Songhua, confiscated the net, and chased the Thunder until it surrendered with the poachers’ dramatic scuttling of their own ship.
Aside from the Viking, detained in Malyasia, the other member of the Bandit 6 is the Perlon. Three of the six stopped, two detained and one sunk is a powerful blow to the operators of this cartel. The cargos of the Viking and the Kunlun have been detained and the cargo of the Thunder lost. Together this cargo could be worth between $6 million and $12 million in financial losses.
Sea Shepherd has intervened over the years against illegal fisheries worldwide. We have conducted campaigns to defend tuna, dolphins from tuna seiners, shark, cod, salmon, sea cucumbers, lobsters, bluefin tuna, and toothfish. These campaigns have not been easy but they have been effective. We were sued by a Maltese tuna company for freeing 800 illegally caught fish and we prevailed in court. The Costa Ricans are still pursuing me for defending sharks. The Canadian government took me to court for protecting cod but we prevailed in the Canadian courts in that case also. Our battles on the sea and in the courts have never been easy but as my old friend Al Johnson said in our early days, “Hey, if it was easy, everyone would be doing this.”
Operation Icefish was not easy. The logistics of deploying two large ships on voyages each exceeding 10,000 miles and covering remote locations, extreme weather conditions, pulling in 72 kilometers of gill net, chasing poachers, debating politicians and bureaucrats, resupplying at sea, delivering evidence, rescuing fishermen and communicating to the media has been a challenge. However, the challenge was met without Sea Shepherd’s crew sustaining any injuries and without any injuries to the opposition. It could not have gone any better.
All in all it was an epic, historic campaign and I am immensely proud of what Sea Shepherd has accomplished with Operation Icefish.
Operation Icefish was a campaign of Relentless Passion, Persistence, Patience, Steadfastness, Seamanship, Success and Courage.
Source: Sea Shepherd