Globe and Mail
Majority would limit industry's right to challenge environmental policies
by MARTIN MITTELSTAEDT
A new poll of Americans and Canadians by Environics has found thatmore than 70 per cent of respondents in both countries wantrestrictions on the ability of energy companies to use the NorthAmerican free-trade agreement to sue governments over theirenvironmental-protection polices.
The survey was commissioned for the Council of Canadians, an Ottawa-based nationalist group, which said the results indicate widespreadpublic support for renegotiating what are known as the investorprotection provisions in Chapter 11 of NAFTA.
"There is remarkable agreement between Canadians and Americans on theneed to promote the public interest and constrain the power of energycorporations," said Maude Barlow, chairwoman of the council.
The council is using the poll, which it is releasing today, to supportits campaign to have U.S. President Barack Obama and Prime MinisterStephen Harper discuss renegotiating the NAFTA provision at theirmeeting scheduled for later this month.
The investor protection clause was in the spotlight last fall when DowAgroSciences LLC said it was considering challenging the federalgovernment over Quebec's decision to ban the cosmetic use ofpesticides on residential lawns.
The poll also found overwhelming support among Canadians for a green-jobs program of the kind touted by the Obama administration involvinginvestments in wind and solar energy and energy efficiency, with morethan nine out of 10 in favour.
Environics surveyed 1,000 people in each country in late January andearly February. The margin of error in a poll of this size is threepercentage points, 19 times out of 20.
The Council of Canadians
For Immediate ReleaseFebruary 9, 2009
Canadians and Americans Say, Put the Environment and People FirstBinational poll shows strong opposition to use of NAFTA’s Chapter 11
OTTAWA / February 9, 2009 - U.S. President Barack Obama should pressahead with plans to renegotiate NAFTA when he meets with CanadianPrime Minister Stephen Harper later this month to discuss binationalenergy and environmental policies, concludes the Council of Canadians,which has commissioned a new binational poll of Canadians andAmericans on NAFTA and Canada-U.S. energy policy.
The poll, conducted by Environics, found that over 70 per cent ofAmericans and Canadians believe energy corporations should not beallowed to sue governments (which current, controversial provisions ofChapter 11 of NAFTA allow) for changes in government policy thatprotect the environment or otherwise promote the public interest.
The poll also found that an overwhelming 9 out of 10 Canadians believethe Harper government should pursue a comprehensive strategy to createmore green jobs in renewable energy and improved energy efficiency.This means Obama is more in tune with Canadians’ green priorities thanHarper. Obama has shown strong support for renewable energy, astrategy sorely lacking from the recent Canadian federal budget.
“There is remarkable agreement between Canadians and Americans on theneed to promote the public interest and constrain the power of energycorporations. And there is overwhelming consensus among Canadians onthe desire to promote renewable energy,” says Maude Barlow, Chair ofthe Council of Canadians. “Unfortunately, the Canadian government andBig Oil refuse to change NAFTA, which leaves energy and environmentalsecurity a victim of the whims of the market.”
“Americans and Canadians want a green energy future and agree that thetime to start is now,” says Susan Casey-Lefkowitz, senior attorney atthe U.S.-based Natural Resources Defense Council. “There are cleantechnologies ready for roll-out at this moment, so we are seeing nopatience for environmentally destructive fuels like tar sands oil. Wehave to hold energy companies to a higher level of accountability.”
“NAFTA is a dangerous barrier to effective government policiesaddressing climate change and diminishing energy resources. Over halfof the complaints under NAFTA’s chapter 11 have directly challengedenvironmental policies,” says Andrea Harden-Donahue, Energy Campaignerwith the Council of Canadians. “This is a problem that is only goingto get worse and more costly as both governments try to come to termswith the growing environmental and economic crises. This has atremendous impact on any discussions in Canada or between Canada andthe U.S. towards adopting an effective climate change policy.”
For more information or to arrange an interview contact: Dylan Penner,Council of Canadians, 613 795-8685
BINATIONAL POLL RESULTS
Environics Research Group was commissioned by the Council of Canadiansto conduct a poll on attitudes towards energy policy and the NorthAmerican Free Trade Agreement. Between January 22 and February 1,2009, 1,000 Canadians and 1,000 American respondents were interviewed,resulting in a margin of error of +/-3.09 per cent 19 times out of 20for each country polled.
1. The following question was asked of Americans and Canadians:
Chapter 11 of the North American Free Trade Agreement, or NAFTA,allows corporations to sue member governments for compensation anytimethey feel that government policies, such as environmental policies,might reduce their profits.
DO YOU STRONGLY SUPPORT, SOMEWHAT SUPPORT, SOMEWHAT OPPOSE OR STRONGLYOPPOSE ENERGY COMPANIES BEING ABLE TO SUE NATIONAL GOVERNMENTS FORLOST PROFITS AS A RESULT OF GOVERNMENT POLICIES?
RESULTS:United States: SUPPORT 26% OPPOSE 71% DON’T KNOW/REFUSED 3%Canada: SUPPORT 23% OPPOSE 72% DON’T KNOW/REFUSED 5%
2. The following question was asked of Canadians only:
Addressing climate change will likely involve more energy conservationand efficiency, as well as transitioning to renewable energy sourcessuch as wind, solar and tidal power.
DO YOU STRONGLY SUPPORT, SOMEWHAT SUPPORT, SOMEWHAT OPPOSE OR STRONGLYOPPOSE THE CANADIAN GOVERNMENT DEVELOPING A COMPREHENSIVE STRATEGY TOCREATE MORE "GREEN JOBS" THROUGH IMPROVED ENERGY EFFICIENCY AND THEEXPANSION OF RENEWABLE ENERGY SOURCES?
RESULTS:SUPPORT 93% OPPOSE 5% DON’T KNOW/REFUSED 2%
700-170 Laurier Avenue West Ottawa, ON, K1P 5V5 CA; Tel: (613)233-2773; 1-800-387-7177Fax: (613) 233-6776; firstname.lastname@example.org; © The Council ofCanadians, 2008
Monday, February 09, 2009
Pesticide use bugs lawmakers: Link to lobster die-off comes into focusWritten by Chipp Reid
A pair of Democratic lawmakers say they plan to grill the stateDepartment of Environmental Protection over its efforts to restore thestate’s lobster industry while ignoring industry experts on theeffects of pesticides lobstermen say continue to kill the animals.
Commercial fishermen claim pesticides many communities used to combatmosquitoes caused the lobster die-off in 1999 that all but wiped-outthe state’s $40 million lobster industry. The DEP, however, says thereis not enough scientific data pointing specifically to the pesticidesmalathion or Altosid as the root cause of the die-off. Without thatevidence, the DEP says, it cannot and will not ban the use of thechemicals.
“It’s time we stop looking at Long Island Sound like it’s just arecreational body of water and start looking at it like it’s a jobsite. We lost an entire industry on the Sound,” said Senate AssistantMajority Leader Bob Duff, D-Norwalk. “If we had a massive die-off on afarm in northern Connecticut, you can bet the DEP would still beconducting tests and would ban everything to find out why. I don’tunderstand why it’s different with the Sound.”Connecticut has spent $1 million trying to restore the lobster fisheryand could spend another $200,000 on the program. State Rep. RichardRoy, D-Milford and chairman of he House Environment Committee, said hefinds the DEP stance puzzling.
“They’re trying to restore an industry, but they don’t listen to theindustry about potential problems with pesticides. That’s odd,” Roysaid. “It doesn’t make much sense to work to restore the lobsterfishery if we’re allowing chemicals to keep killing the lobsters.”
Fishermen and environmentalists agree with Roy. They say therestoration program little more than a waste of money if the DEPdoesn’t ban malathion or Altosid.
“It doesn’t make a lot of sense to spend money on restoring a fisheryif we’re just going to allow people to keep using the pesticides thatkilled the lobsters in the first place,” said Nick Crismale, presidentof the Connecticut Lobstermen’s Association.
“We know. We were there. We saw what can only be the effects ofpesticide poisoning. If the DEP doesn’t do something about thepesticides, there’s no way we can restore the lobsters.”
The 1999 die-off came days after towns in Fairfield County,Westchester County and Long Island as well as New York City, sprayedmalathion to kill mosquitoes carrying the West Nile virus. At the sametime, the remnants of Hurricane Floyd inundated the state. Fishermensay the storm washed the pesticides into Long Island Sound, resultingin the die-off. The DEP, however, says the storm caused many otherfactors that led to the mass die-off.
“You had a number of effects from the storm, from hypoxia [lack ofoxygen] to extremely low salinity to a major increase in watertemperature,” said Penny Howell, an environmental scientist with thefisheries division of the DEP. “Those had to have been bad things forthe lobsters. There is simply no evidence pesticide could have coveredthe entire Sound to have the kind of effect that caused the die-off.”
The DEP uses a series of tests Stony Brook University in New Yorkconducted in the wake of the die-off. Those tests concluded waterconditions as well as a parasite killed the lobsters rather than aparticular chemical. However, the School of Pathobiology andVeterinary Medicine at the University of Connecticut, in a test itconducted in 2003, found even minute traces of malathion can havelethal effects on lobsters. According to the UConn study, 0.55 partsper billion of malathion — equivalent to a teaspoon of chemical in anOlympic-sized swimming pool — either kills lobsters outright orseverely degrades its immune system.
“If a lobster’s immune system is degraded, of course it’s susceptibleto a parasite,” Crismale said.
Crismale also said attempts at the Lobster Institute of the Universityof Maine to infect healthy lobsters with the parasite the Stony Brookreport cited failed.
“A healthy lobster killed the parasite,” he said “Lobsters affected bypesticides died. You be the judge.”
Roy said he believes there is more than enough circumstantial evidencefor the DEP “to act on the side of caution.”
“We really don’t know what the killed the lobsters,” he said. “But weare trying to bring them back, and we are spending money. I think theonly way to find out is to begin to eliminate possible causes. Wecan’t do much to change the water temperatures. We can do somethingabout pesticide use. If we eliminate the pesticide, and the lobstersget better, then we know we’re onto something.”
The Commissioner’s Office
Roy said he would take up the issue with DEP Commissioner GinaMcCarthy.
The DEP itself appears divided over whether to enact even a limitedban on malathion and Altosid. Scientists in the fisheries divisionbelieve the pesticides pose a potential threat, but they also saythere is not enough direct evidence linking the pesticides to the die-off.
Dennis Schain, a spokesman for McCarthy, took a much firmer tack.
“If there isn’t any science to support a ban, we won’t ban it,” hesaid. “Case closed.”
At least one lawmaker disapproved of that approach.
“We’ve banned other pesticides without hard scientific data, and I seeno reason why this should be different,” said Duff. “We’re talkingabout jobs and the health of Long Island Sound. We should err on theside of caution, and if that means stopping the use of some chemicals,then we should stop.”
The debate over pesticides could rise to the federal level as well.The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency tells the states whichpesticides it allows. Ray Putnam, a scientists in the pesticidedivision of the EPA office in Boston, said it was then up to thestates to decide whether to shorten that list.
U.S. Senator Joseph I. Lieberman said he believes it’s time forConnecticut to adopt a shorter list.
“I will continue to fight the dumping of pesticides in Long IslandSound and will remain a staunch defender of the Sound’s shorelines andits marine life,” Lieberman said in a statement. “Long Island Sound isa precious natural resource, and it is essential that we remain goodstewards by preserving the Sound’s environmental integrity.”
Roy said the state has already taken steps to ban pesticide use onplaygrounds and at nursery and pre-schools.
“We want to protect children under 3 from exposure to harmfulchemicals,” Roy said.
The Milford Democrat also said adding malathion to a banned list wouldbring the state one step closer to his eventual goal.
February 9, 2009
MONSANTO PESTICIDES: An interview with scientist GILLES-ERIC SERALINI
by Extracts from an interview by Ken Roseboro (Posted by Linn Cohen-Cole)
INTERVIEW WITH GILLES-ERIC SERALINI
In May last year I interviewed Professor Giles-Eric Seralini,professor of chemistry and molecular biology at Caen University. Hestudied GM techology for two years in North America and hassuccessfully carried out GM transfers. This is an edit of what hesaid:
"I practised genetic modification not to make plants but to makebacteria to investigate the role of genes in cancer. I cloned severalgenes in human cells to look at hormonal promoted cancers.
When I heard that some commercalised GMOs were released in order toreduce pesticide use I thought it was great and asked to see the filesas I was working on the effects of pesticides on cancers. I asked forthe files and I found it was very difficult to get them. When Ieventually got the working documents I saw nothing had been done tolook at the actual effect of the pesticides within the plant. Insteadof reducing pesticide use, three-quarters of the GM were created inorder to absorb pesticides like Round-up and one-quarter designed toproduce their own pesticides. I was worried about the control of that.
In 2003 I was chosen by the EU to review all the studies commercial GMsites in Europe. I saw that the reviews were not organised - theycould not answer the controls that were needed to enforce GM inEurope. I felt the crucial controls were to have labelling and a banon GM ingredients in food.
First Clinton and then Bush have said that the scientific argumentsand request for more controls should be ignored and they complainedabout GM labelling and assessment in Europe.
I began to work on Round-up and I discovered several things - doses ofRoundup lower than those recommended for agricultural use werepotentially toxic, and Roundup is considered less toxic to theecosystem than other pesticides. Even small amounts could disturbhuman and rat pregnancies, mouse kidneys, rabbit sperm and other humantissues. The pesticide disrypted endocrine production, which isnecessary for the creation of oestrogen, even in the male.
Last summer (2007) we challenged a Monsanto advertisement extollingthe biodegradability of Roundup - a dog finding a bone sprayed withRoundup and saying it was not toxic. The advert was banned andMonsanto was fined 15,000 euros.
I was asked to meet other experts and specialists from across Europeand we asked the Government for environmental assesments of GMOs. Theresult was EU Directive 201.
GM is not about feeding poor children. They are here to feed the richof the G8 countries. Countries that are very rich, and theirpoliticians, are in favour of it.
The technology has a lot of rich possibilities but the way they areexploiting and using it right now is to serve pesticides in the plantwithout the proper tests and assessments. If you were to do the propertests and assessments, GM is not profitable as it is.
99.9% of GM plants are to absorb or produce pesticides. People don'tsee that. They only see the propaganda about growing food in a desertor feeding the world, how all other problems will be solved if thistechnology is allowed.
There are 30 million kinds of plants in the world and just four -rice, wheat,maize and soya - give 60% of the food and energy. Itshould be possible to change that, making different plants adapted todifferent countries to help feed the world, but not if you makethousands of hectares of the same plants just for feeding pigs andcows.
The fact that you have only four plants imposes monoculture and alsothe control of the seeds. If you control the seeds that feed the worldyou become 100 times richer than Bill Gates because you can say whichcountry has which seed and which culture and you get paid every timesomebody uses that seed anywhere in the world. And if you add thepossibility of green oil you become master of the world. You arericher that any State or any country. You have more power, and youdecide who plants what.
The drug companies want to do that. The eight biggest drug companiesare the biggest GM makers and the biggest pesticide manufacturers.They are interested in GM not to make a lot of varieties but to havepatents for these four species. They began with maize and soya andthey had the patent last year (2007) for wheat in the United Statesand they are working on rice.
I believe GM seed will make hunger in the world. They will make peoplestarve. Poor people will not have enough money to buy the seed.
I think GMOs are dangerous because of the results that have beenproduced in the laboratory, because of Roundup residue and probablybecause of Bt residue. Maybe they have some other dangers that havenot been seen because of genetic engineering itself. It's possible insome cases and not in others.
I think GM technology is out of control.It is abnormal at the beginning of the 21st century to give theseseeds no more than three months trial, and this is a dishonest way offunctioning for genetic engineeting control.
I am not against genetic engineering itself, but I think that not toomany things are possible with it. It takes hundreds of genes to adaptto a changing environment and we are able to change a couple of themso we wont be able to adapt a seed to a different environment.
France has given 1bn euros to the genoplant project. German and Ukgovernments have done the same - they have invested a lot of money inbiotechnology.
You can't feed 240 million Europeans without tracing the product andGM is not traceable. There's no traceability in the States where 98%are produced at the seed level.
I'm confident that the effects of GM are not like toxic effects. Theyare like pesticides - they increase endocrine diseases, increasecancers and increase neurologial diseases like we have seen infarmers, increase malfunction and reproductive problems. But ifthere's no traceability you can't ask the right questions. It's likeParkinsons and Alzheimers diseases. Nobody asked if pesticides areinvolved. I think they might be.
A total of 400 pollutants have been found sticking to the DNA of ababy.
You can't find out about GM created diseases if you don't study it.
We are almost eating GM already through animal feed in Europe. AreAmerican people more sick because they are eating GM food directly?Are they living less and having more food-related diseases? The answeris yes to both of the last questions. Americans are living less andmore dying are early from food-related problems. Is that linked to GMor hormones in the cow or to all the addtives in the food they eat? Noone knows because no one is finding out. GM is not labelled overthere. It will go on like that for years if we don't study theproblem.
I wanted a moratorium of GM in Europe. We were successful in that, butwe have been told we can't have any money for testing.
So this is the first time in the history of the world that whatamounts to a drug or pesticide has not been tested before release byanybody other than the company that makes it."
==============================Warning Industry Propaganda Below==============================
Monday, February 9, 2009
Consider Education Before Fertilizer BanBy Orlando Sentinel (Fla.)
Using home fertilizer improperly is bad for waterways. We understandthat.
Phosphorus and nitrogen, common components of fertilizer, promote thegrowth of algae and excessive vegetation. Got it.
Homeowners need to take more care. Absolutely.
But the answer to a problem isn't always found in a new law, which ishow Orange County proposes to solve the problem of fertilizer makingits way from lawns into lakes. It would regulate when and how peoplefertilize their lawns.
Let's face it: Many people don't know what those three big numbers onfertilizer bags mean. How many know the middle one is a measure ofphosphorus? And how many know that most lawns have ample phosphorus inthe soil?
We're thinking that if more people understood that protectingwaterways means getting phosphorus-free and slow-release nitrogenfertilizer, they'd probably be happy to do it.
Look how many people are starting to bring canvas bags with them togrocery stores so they don't use throwaway plastic. Look how manypeople willingly sort their glass, paper and cans in places whererecycling isn't mandatory.
Orange County's concern for the environment is understandable. Whenfertilizer washes into storm drains, it can end up fouling waterways.
Many people don't know this, just as they might not know the rightkind of fertilizer to buy and when to apply it.
A North Florida alliance of governments and institutions, called theRiver Accord, has a better idea. Working with the St. Johns RiverWater Management District, it conducts an aggressive springtime TV andbillboard campaign to help homeowners understand what's at stake whenthey don't use fertilizer properly.
A widespread campaign in Central Florida could go a long way, and itwouldn't create the kind of enforcement nightmare Orange County issure to discover in trying to control what kind of fertilizer peopleuse and when they use it.
Another attractive approach is to regulate the content of fertilizerat the manufacturer's level or at the retail level. Trying to policefertilizer at the homeowner's level seems not only impossible but sureto stir resentment, even if government is trying to do the rightthing.
Give these approaches a try before imposing a new law on homeowners.
February 09, 2009
News ReleasePesticides ban: impact of European Parliament's vote becoming clearer
Pesticides Safety Directorate outlines some substances facing the axe
Brussels, 9th February 2009 -- The UK's Pesticides Safety Directoratehas shown the true extent the European Parliament's vote on plantprotection products in January will have on crop production inBritain.
According to its latest impact assessment, the PSD argues thatproducts that control diseases in potatoes, oilseed rape, lettuces,peas, spinach, celery, onions and carrots could all be lost.
The key issue left to resolve is a clear definition of an 'endocrinedisruptor'. Under the parliament's vote, these would be banned fromthe market, yet no clear definition was given. If, for example, alltriazoles are classified as endocrine disruptors, wheat yields woulddrop by 10-20 percent.
Conservative MEP Robert Sturdy has agreed that there do need to betighter controls on pesticide use. However, he has argued against thedraconian approach taken by the MEPs, which will harm food productionand threaten Europe's food security.
"The true extent of the parliament's vote is now being realised.Products that we rely on to control vital crops are going to be lost.
"Food security in Europe and across the developing world is becoming amajor issue, yet the parliament has voted to make food production moredifficult.
"Falling food yields can only mean rising prices in the weekly foodshop.
"The PSD has accepted that their report is far from conclusive becausethere is still no clear definition of an endocrine disruptor. Allalong, we have called for a comprehensive European Commission impactassessment, yet one has not been provided. While this report gives agood indication, the full impact of the EU's new pesticides rules mustbe detailed by the commission."
Robert Sturdy MEP Robert Sturdy MEP
Conservatives in the European ParliamentEPP ED Group, European Parliament47-53 rue WiertzB-1047 Brussels, Belgium
Roger Helmer and Daniel Hannan are Non-Attached Members of theEuropean Parliament.The sole liability rests with the authors and the European Parliamentis not responsible for any use that may be made of the informationcontained therein.