quinta-feira, novembro 26, 2009

Uncontacted tribe’s forest bulldozed for beef
9 November

The only uncontacted tribe in South America outside the Amazon is having its forest rapidly and illegally bulldozed by ranchers who want their land to graze cattle for beef.

The Ayoreo-Totobiegosode is the only uncontacted tribe in the world currently losing its land to beef production.

The ranchers’ operations were exposed by satellite photos taken on 1 November. Since 2 November, an ad by Survival publicising the deforestation has been playing on a major Paraguayan radio station, Radio Nanduti.

The ranchers, from Brazilian company Yaguarete Pora S.A., are operating on the tribe’s land in Paraguay despite having their licence suspended by the Environment Ministry in August for previous illegal clearance.

They are clearing the forest, the home of the Ayoreo-Totobiegosode tribe, using bulldozers alleged to belong to Jacobo Kauenhowen, owner of a large bulldozer business in a nearby Mennonite colony.

‘This is a serious threat to the Totobiegosode. The illegal deforestation carried out by Yaguarete in Paraguay is continuing without any control whatsoever,’ said the Paraguayan NGO GAT, which is working to protect the Ayoreo’s lands.

Last year Yaguarete, together with another Brazilian company, River Plate S.A., destroyed thousands of hectares of the tribe’s land.

Some of the Totobiegosode have already been contacted and have relatives among those who remain uncontacted.

Survival director, Stephen Corry, said today, ‘The Totobiegosode are the most vulnerable uncontacted tribe in the world. A tragedy is unfolding right before our eyes – and the satellite camera’s lens. President Lugo must not sit back and watch as Paraguay’s most vulnerable people see their homes and livelihoods annihilated.’

terça-feira, novembro 17, 2009

10 reasons why organic can feed the world
Ed Hamer and Mark Anslow

1st March 2008

Can organic farming feed the world? Ed Hamer and Mark Anslow say yes, but we must eat and farm differently
Organic farms have the potential to become energy exporters1 Yield

Switching to organic farming would have different effects according to where in the world you live and how you currenlty farm.

Studies show that the lessindustrialised world stands to benefit the most. In southern Brazil, maize and wheat yields doubled on farms that changed to green manures and nitrogenfixing leguminous vegetables instead of chemical fertilisers. In Mexico, coffee-growers who chose to move to fully organic production methods saw increases of 50 per cent in the weight of beans they harvested. In fact, in an analysis of more than 286 organic conversions in 57 countries, the average yield increasewas found to be an impressive 64 per cent.

The situation is more complex in the industrialised world, where farms are large, intensive facilities, and opinions are divided on how organic yields would compare.

Research by the University of Essex in 1999 found that, although yields on US farms that converted to organic initially dropped by between 10 and 15 per cent, they soon recovered, and the farms became more productive than their all-chemical counterparts. In the UK, however, a study by the Elm Farm Research Centre predicted that a national transition to all-organic farming would see cereal, rapeseed and sugar beet yields fall by between 30 and 60 per cent. Even the Soil Association admits that, on average in the UK, organic yields are 30 per cent lower than non-organic.

So can we hope to feed ourselves organically in the British Isles and Northern Europe? An analysis by former Ecologist editor Simon Fairlie in The Land journal suggests that we can, but only if we are prepared to rethink our diet and farming practices.

In Fairlie’s scenario, each of the UK’s 60 million citizens could have organic cereals, potatoes, sugar, vegetables and fruit, fish, pork, chicken and beef, as well as wool and flax for clothes and biomass crops for heating. To achieve this we’d each have to cut down to around 230g of beef (½lb), compared to an average of 630g (1½lb) today, 252g of pork/bacon, 210g of chicken and just under 4kg (9lb) of dairy produce each week – considerably more than the country enjoyed in 1945. We would probably need to supplement our diet with homegrown vegetables, save our food scraps as livestock feed and reform the sewage system to use our waste as an organic fertiliser.

2 Energy

Currently, we use around 10 calories of fossil energy to produce one calorie of food energy. In a fuel-scarce future, which experts think could arrive as early as 2012, such numbers simply won’t stack up.

Studies by the Department for Environment, Food and Rural affairs over the past three years have shown that, on average, organically grown crops use 25 per cent less energy than their chemical cousins. Certain crops achieve even better reductions, including organic leeks (58 per cent less energy) and broccoli (49 per cent less energy).

When these savings are combined with stringent energy conservation and local distribution and consumption (such as organic box schemes), energy-use dwindles to a fraction of that needed for an intensive, centralised food system. A study by the University of Surrey shows that food from Tolhurst Organic Produce, a smallholding in Berkshire, which supplies 400 households with vegetable boxes, uses 90 per cent less energy than if non-organic produce had been delivered and bought in a supermarket.

Far from being simply ‘energy-lite’, however, organic farms have the potential to become self-sufficient in energy – or even to become energy exporters. The ‘Dream Farm’ model, first proposed by Mauritius-born agroscientist George Chan, sees farms feeding manure and waste from livestock and crops into biodigesters, which convert it into a methane-rich gas to be used for creating heat and electricity. The residue from these biodigesters is a crumbly, nutrient-rich fertiliser, which can be spread on soil to increase crop yields or further digested by algae and used as a fish or animal feed.

3 Greenhouse gas emission and climate change

Despite organic farming’s low-energy methods, it is not in reducing demand for power that the techniques stand to make the biggest savings in greenhouse gas emissions.

The production of ammonium nitrate fertiliser, which is indispensable to conventional farming, produces vast quantities of nitrous oxide – a greenhouse gas with a global warming potential some 320 times greater than that of CO2. In fact, the production of one tonne of ammonium nitrate creates 6.7 tonnes of greenhouse gases (CO2e), and was responsible for around 10 per cent of all industrial greenhouse gas emissions in Europe in 2003.

The techniques used in organic agriculture to enhance soil fertility in turn encourage crops to develop deeper roots, which increase the amount of organic matter in the soil, locking up carbon underground and keeping it out of the atmosphere.

The opposite happens in conventional farming: high quantities of artificially supplied nutrients encourage quick growth and shallow roots. A study published in 1995 in the journal Ecological Applications found that levels of carbon in the soils of organic farms in California were as much as 28 per cent higher as a result. And research by the Rodale Institute shows that if the US were to convert all its corn and soybean fields to organic methods, the amount of carbon that could be stored in the soil would equal 73 per cent of the country’s Kyoto targets for CO2 reduction.

Organic farming might also go some way towards salvaging the reputation of the cow, demonised in 2007 as a major source of methane at both ends of its digestive tract. There’s no doubt that this is a problem: estimates put global methane emissions from ruminant livestock at around 80 million tonnes a year, equivalent to around two billion tonnes of CO2, or close to the annual CO2 output of Russia and the UK combined. But by changing the pasturage on which animals graze to legumes such as clover or birdsfoot trefoil (often grown anyway by organic farmers to improve soil nitrogen content), scientists at the Institute of Grassland and Environmental Research believe that methane emissions could be cut dramatically. Because the leguminous foliage is more digestible, bacteria in the cow’s gut
are less able to turn the fodder into methane. Cows also seem naturally to prefer eating birdsfoot trefoil to ordinary grass.

4 Water use

Agriculture is officially the most thirsty industry on the planet, consuming a staggering 72 per cent of all global freshwater at a time when the UN says 80 per cent of our water supplies are being overexploited.

This hasn’t always been the case. Traditionally, agricultural crops were restricted to those areas best suited to their physiology, with drought-tolerant species grown in the tropics and water-demanding crops in temperate regions.

Global trade throughout the second half of the last century led to a worldwide production of grains dominated by a handful of high-yielding cereal crops, notably wheat, maize and rice. These thirsty cereals – the ‘big three’ – now account for more than half of the world’s plant-based calories and 85 per cent of total grain production.

Organic agriculture is different. Due to its emphasis on healthy soil structure, organic farming avoids many of the problems associated with compaction, erosion, salinisation and soil degr dation, which are prevalent in intensive systems. Organic manures and green mulches are applied even before the crop is sown, leading to a process known as ‘mineralisation’ – literally the fixing of minerals in the soil. Mineralised organic matter, conspicuously absent from synthetic fertilisers, is one of the essential ingredients required physically and chemically to hold water on the land.

Organic management also uses crop rotations, undersowing and mixed cropping to provide the soil with near-continuous cover. By contrast, conventional farm soils may be left uncovered for extended periods prior to sowing, and again following the harvest, leaving essential organic matter fully exposed to erosion by rain, wind and sunlight.

In the US, a 25-year Rodale Institute experiment on climatic extremes found that, due to improved soil structure, organic systems consistently achieve higher yields during periods both of drought and flooding.

5 Localistion

The globalisation of our food supply, which gives us Peruvian apples in June and Spanish lettuces in February, has seen our food reduced to a commodity in an increasingly volatile global marketplace.

Although year-round availability makes for good marketing in the eyes of the biggest retailers, the costs to the environment are immense.

Friends of the Earth estimates that the average meal in the UK travels 1,000 miles from plot to plate. In 2005, Defra released a comprehensive report on food miles in the UK, which valued the direct environmental, social and economic costs of food transport in Britain at £9 billion each year. In addition, food transport accounted for more than 30 billion vehicle kilometres, 25 per cent of all HGV journeys and 19 million tonnes of carbon dioxide emissions in 2002 alone.

The organic movement was born out of a commitment to provide local food for local people, and so it is logical that organic marketing encourages localisation through veg boxes, farm shops and stalls. Between 2005 and 2006, organic sales made through direct marketing outlets such as these increased by 53 per cent, from £95 to £146 million, more than double the sales growth experienced by the major supermarkets. As we enter an age of unprecedented food insecurity, it is essential that our consumption reflects not only what is desirable, but also what is ultimately sustainable. While the ‘organic’ label itself may inevitably be hijacked, ‘organic and local’ represents a solution with which the global players can simply never compete.

6 Pesticides

It is a shocking testimony to the power of the agrochemical industry that in the 45 years since Rachel Carson published her pesticide warning Silent Spring, the number of commercially available synthetic pesticides has risen from 22 to more than 450.

According to the World Health Organization there are an estimated 20,000 accidental deaths worldwide each year from pesticide exposure and poisoning. More than 31 million kilograms of pesticide were applied to UK crops alone in 2005, 0.5 kilograms for every person in the country. A spiralling dependence on pesticides throughout recent decades has resulted in a catalogue of repercussions, including pest resistance, disease susceptibility, loss of natural biological controls and reduced nutrient-cycling.

Organic farmers, on the other hand, believe that a healthy plant grown in a healthy soil will ultimately be more resistant to pest damage. Organic systems encourage a variety of natural methods to enhance soil and plant health, in turn reducing incidences of pests, weeds and disease.

First and foremost, because organic plants grow comparatively slower than conventional varieties they have thicker cell walls, which provide a tougher natural barrier to pests. Rotations or ‘break-crops’, which are central to organic production, also provide a physical obstacle to pest and disease lifecycles by removing crops from a given plot for extended periods. Organic systems also rely heavily on a rich agro-ecosystem in which many agricultural pests can be controlled by their natural predators.

Inevitably, however, there are times when pestilence attacks are especially prolonged or virulent, and here permitted pesticides may be used. The use of organic pesticides is heavily regulated and the International Federation of Organic Agriculture Movements (IFOAM) requires specific criteria to be met before pesticide applications can be justified.

There are in fact only four active ingredients permitted for use on organic crops: copper fungicides, restricted largely to potatoes and occasionally orchards; sulphur, used to control additional elements of fungal diseases; Retenone, a naturally occurring plant extract, and soft soap, derived from potassium soap and used to control aphids. Herbicides are entirely prohibited.

7 Ecosystem impact

Farmland accounts for 70 per cent of UK land mass, making it the single most influential enterprise affecting our wildlife. Incentives offered for intensification under the Common Agricultural Policy

are largely responsible for negative ecosystem impacts over recent years. Since 1962, farmland bird numbers have declined by an average of 30 per cent. During the same period more than 192,000 kilometres of hedgerows have been removed, while 45 per cent of our ancient woodland has been converted to cropland.

By contrast, organic farms actively encourage biodiversity in order to maintain soil fertility and aid natural pest control. Mixed farming systems ensure that a diversity of food and nesting sites are available throughout the year, compared with conventional farms where autumn sow crops leave little winter vegetation available.

Organic production systems are designed to respect the balance observed in our natural ecosystems. It is widely accepted that controlling or suppressing one element of wildlife, even if it is a pest, will have unpredictable impacts on the rest of the food chain. Instead, organic producers regard a healthy ecosystem as essential to a healthy farm, rather than a barrier to production.

In 2005, a report by English Nature and the RSPB on the impacts of organic farming on biodiversity reviewed more than 70 independent studies of flora, invertebrates, birds and mammals within organic and conventional farming systems. It concluded that biodiversity is enhanced at every level of the food chain under organic management practices, from soil micro-biota right through to farmland birds and the largest mammals.

8 Nutritional benefits

While an all-organic farming system might mean we’d have to make do with slightly less food than we’re used to, research shows that we can rest assured it would be better for us. In 2001, a study in the Journal of Complementary Medicine found that organic crops contained higher levels of 21 essential nutrients than their conventionally grown counterparts, including iron, magnesium, phosphorus and vitamin C. The organic crops also contained lower levels of nitrates, which can be toxic to the body.

Other studies have found significantly higher levels of vitamins – as well as polyphenols and antioxidants – in organic fruit and veg, both of which are thought to play a role in cancer-prevention within the body.

Scientists have also been able to work out why organic farming produces more nutritious food. Avoiding chemical fertilizer reduces nitrates levels in the food; betterquality soil increases the availability of trace minerals, and reduced levels of pesticides mean that the plants’ own immune systems grow stronger, producing higher levels of antioxidants. Slower rates of growth also mean that organic food frequently contains higher levels of dry mass, meaning that fruit and vegetables are less pumped up with water and so contain more nutrients by weight than intensively grown crops do.

Milk from organically fed cows has been found to contain higher levels of nutrients in six separate studies, including omega-3 fatty acids, vitamin E, and beta-carotene, all of which can help prevent cancer. One experiment discovered that levels of omega-3 in organic milk were on average 68 per cent higher than in non-organic alternatives.

But as well as giving us more of what we do need, organic food can help to give us less of what we don’t. In 2000, the UN Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) found that organically produced food had ‘lower levels of pesticide and veterinary drug residues’ than non-organic did. Although organic farmers are allowed to use antibiotics when absolutely necessary to treat disease, the routine use of the drugs in animal feed – common on intensive livestock farms – is forbidden. This means a shift to organic livestock farming could help tackle problems such as the emergence of antibiotic-resistant bacteria.

9 Seed-saving

Seeds are not simply a source of food; they are living testimony to more than 10,000 years of agricultural domestication. Tragically, however, they are a resource that has suffered unprecedented neglect. The UN FAO estimates that 75 per cent of the genetic diversity of agricultural crops has been lost over the past 100 years.

Traditionally, farming communities have saved seeds year-on-year, both in order to save costs and to trade with their neighbours. As a result, seed varieties evolved in response to local climatic and seasonal conditions, leading to a wide variety of fruiting times, seed size, appearance and flavour. More importantly, this meant a constant updating process for the seed’s genetic resistance to changing climatic conditions, new pests and diseases.

By contrast, modern intensive agriculture depends on relatively few crops – only about 150 species are cultivated on any significant scale worldwide. This is the inheritance of the Green Revolution, which in the late 1950s perfected varieties Filial 1, or F1 seed technology, which produced hybrid seeds with specifically desirable genetic qualities. These new high-yield seeds were widely adopted, but because the genetic makeup of hybrid F1 seeds becomes diluted following the first harvest, the manufacturers ensured that farmers return for more seed year on year.

With its emphasis on diversity, organic farming is somewhat cushioned from exploitation on this scale, but even Syngenta, the world’s third-largest biotech company, now offers organic seed lines. Although seedsaving is not a prerequisite for organic production, the holistic nature of organics lends itself well to conserving seed.

In support of this, the Heritage Seed Library, in Warwickshire, is a collection of more than 800 open-pollinated organic varieties, which have been carefully preserved by gardeners across the country.

Although their seeds are not yet commercially available, the Library is at the forefront of addressing the alarming erosion of our agricultural diversity.

Seed-saving and the development of local varieties must become a key component of organic farming, giving crops the potential to evolve in response to what could be rapidly changing climatic conditions. This will help agriculture keeps pace with climate change in the field, rather than in the laboratory.

10 Job creation

There is no doubt British farming is currently in crisis. With an average of 37 farmers leaving the land every day, there are now more prisoners behind bars in the UK than there are farmers in the fields.

Although it has been slow, the decline in the rural labour force is a predictable consequence of the industrialisation of agriculture. A mere one per cent of the UK workforce is now employed in land-related enterprises, compared with 35 per cent at the turn of the last century.

The implications of this decline are serious. A skilled agricultural workforce will be essential in order to maintain food security in the coming transition towards a new model of post-fossil fuel farming. Many of these skills have already been eroded through mechanisation and a move towards more specialised and intensive production systems.

Organic farming is an exception to these trends. By its nature, organic production relies on labour-intensive management practices. Smaller, more diverse farming systems require a level of husbandry that is simply uneconomical at any other scale. Organic crops and livestock also demand specialist knowledge and regular monitoring in the absence of agrochemical controls.

According to a 2006 report by the University of Essex, organic farming in the UK provides 32 per cent more jobs per farm than comparable non-organic farms. Interestingly, the report also concluded that the higher employment observed could not be replicated in non-organic farming through initiatives such as local marketing. Instead, the majority (81 per cent) of total employment on organic farms was created by the organic production system itself. The report estimates that 93,000 new jobs would be created if all farming in the UK were to convert to organic.

Organic farming also accounts for more younger employees than any other sector in the industry. The average age of conventional UK farmers is now 56, yet organic farms increasingly attract a younger more enthusiastic workforce, people who view organics as the future of food production. It is for this next generation of farmers that Organic Futures, a campaign group set up by the Soil Association in 2007, is striving to provide a platform.

Africa doesn't need a green revolution. It needs agroecology
Dan Taylor

23rd September, 2009

Green Revolution architect Norman Borlaug is credited with 'feeding India'. But the feat took more than hybrid varieties and fertiliser, and it will take a much more sophisticated approach to help Africa feed itself
The conditions for a Green Revolution in Africa are not, and have never been, in placeThe recent death of Norman Borlaug the ‘grandfather’ of the Green Revolution makes this a good time to reflect on food and farming in the 21st Century and the Malthusian Time Bomb that he sought to defuse.

It is often suggested that Borlaug succeeded in achieving significant yield increases in crops in Asia through a combination of dwarf varieties, inputs in the form of inorganic fertlisers and irrigation.

However, the Green Revolution was institutional as well as agronomic, with the state providing the infrastructural support needed for making this transformation successful.

The conditions for a Green Revolution in Africa are not, and have never been, in place. Recent interventions such as the Millennium Development Project, Alliance for a Green Revolution for Africa or even the up-to-now successful input subsidy in Malawi are unlikely to be sustainable.

The flaw in these interventions is the narrow perspective adopted: agricultural sustainability cannot be reduced to questions of production alone. Neither is agricultural sustainability simply the wise and careful stewardship of the land. Both views remove farming from its social, economic, political and historical determinants. Rather, it would be better to recognise the need for social transformation that embeds agriculture as stewardship in webs of social relationships that link production, consumption, questions of equity and environmental justice.

Think in systems

Agricultural ecology, or agroecology, provides a shorthand for this complex understanding of the biological, socio-economic and cultural elements that embody an agricultural ecosystem. Hence agroecology introduces agricultural systems that mimic the natural ecosystems they have replaced, and maintains the link between the cultivation of the land and the culture of the people who farm it. In direct contrast to the universalising message of the New Green Revolution, agroecology is particular, contextual and nuanced. It strikes a balance between production, stability and resilience through diversification rather than intensification.

The traditional agricultural systems that industrial agriculture has replaced were characterised by diversified strategies. Farmers would plant a number of different crops in the same field - for example, maize, sorghum and millet could be intercropped with cowpeas and pumpkins in its drier upper limits. Meanwhile the retention of useful natural tree species or the cultivation of others combines annual and perennial crops in this rich mosaic.

These agricultural systems make the fullest possible use of agroecological niches and conserve the resource base on which agriculture depends, ensuring production in the long term. Each crop has different times of planting, growth habit and maturity date, thus extending the growing season and reducing peak labour demands by lengthening the period of harvest. The outcome is to lower the risk of crop failure and hunger, and to offer a more diverse and healthy diet.

Growing for growth

Given current population pressures, agroecology needs to look forwards to other ways of maintaining and enhancing soil fertility. We, at Find Your Feet, support farmers to conserve their soils by rotating their crops, applying compost, taking measures against soil erosion and introducing leguminous crops. We also encourage farmers to save seed that is adapted to local conditions. This is in contrast to the present over-reliance on high yielding modern seed varieties - normally hybrid maize - and fertilisers. Our on-farm trials in Malawi have demonstrated that, under field conditions, there is no real benefit in using hybrid maize over open-pollinated varieties given the fact that the main constraints to maize production are soil fertility and soil moisture.

In doing so we are not suggesting panaceas but alternatives that require knowledge and perspicacity. We believe that there are specific solutions to specific farming problems, not a one-size-fits-all agriculture that is often proposed by the advocates of high input industrial agriculture. Some solutions may be technical, requiring a drought resistant crop, others, social and political, such as the need for agrarian reform.

The relevance of looking at agriculture from an agroecological standpoint is not confined to the developing world. Here in Europe/UK, the industrial model of agriculture has led to a rural crisis. The emphasis on farming as business has lead to fewer, larger farms and a declining rural economy, with consequent depopulation of rural areas. Agroecology recognises agriculture’s multifunctionality - its role in creating and/or maintaining the landscape as well as producing food, providing employment, and conserving biodiversity.

In the face of impending and dramatic climate change, we need to do more to build resilience into our farming systems. This can best be achieved by looking to agroecology as the way forward because it will rebuild the countryside and the webs of social and ecological relationships on which it depends. We acknowledge Borlaug’s contribution to increasing agricultural yields but question the path he took to do so – the neglect of the environment in the singular concern for productivity gains was short-sighted in the extreme. It is a legacy that we must address if we are to resolve the environmental crisis of today.

Dan Taylor is the director of Find Your Feet

segunda-feira, novembro 16, 2009

Anualmente pelo menos 1,8 milhões de crianças (menores de 5 anos) morre de diarréia. Mas essa doença é “apenas” o último estágio de uma tragédia maior que insistimos em ignorar. Sabemos que 90% desses óbitos infantis estão directamente ligados à contaminação das águas e à falta de saneamento básico.
Dentro da referida faixa etária, as infecções respiratórias agudas cobram a vida de uns 2 milhões, 70% dos quais são conseqüência de problemas ambientais de origem antrópica. O pior é que dentro das casas dessas crianças vitimizadas é onde a poluição atmosférica s revela mais grave.
Já agora, a Sociedade Brasileira de Cardiologia assevera que os riscos de (síndrome da) morte súbita em crianças recém-nascidas é 5 vezes maior nas casas de fumadores...

Relação entre agrotóxicos, transgenicos e morte de células-humanas
“O glifosato estimula a morte das células de embriões humanos”
Por Darío Aranda, do jornal Página/12

Gilles-Eric Seralini, referência europeia no estudo de agrotóxicos, confirmou os efeitos letais do glifosato em células humanas de embriões, placenta e cordão umbilical. Alertou sobre as consequências sanitárias e ambientais, e exigiu a realização de estudos públicos sobre transgênicos e agrotóxicos. Quando publicou suas pesquisas, recebeu críticas e desaprovações. Leia a seguir.

Gilles-Eric Seralini é especialista em biologia molecular, professor da Universidade de Caen (França) e diretor do Comitê de Pesquisa e Informação sobre Engenharia Genética (Criigen). E se transformou em uma dor de cabeça para as empresas de agronegócio e para os resolutos defensores dos transgênicos. Em 2005, descobriu que algumas células da placenta humana são muito sensíveis ao herbicida Roundup (da empresa Monsanto), inclusive em doses muito inferiores às utilizadas na agricultura. Apesar de seu abundante currículo, foi duramente questionado pelas empresas do setor, desqualificado pelos meios de comunicação e acusado de “militante verde”, entendido como fundamentalismo ecológico.

Mas, em dezembro passado, voltou à tona. A revista científica Pesquisa Química em Toxicologia (Chemical Research in Toxicology) publicou seu novo estudo, em que constatou que o Roundup é letal para as células humanas. Segundo o trabalho, doses muito abaixo das utilizadas em campos de soja provocam a morte celular em poucas horas. “Mesmo em doses diluídas mil vezes, os herbicidas Roundup estimulam a morte das células de embriões humanos, o que poderia provocar mal-formações, abortos, problemas hormonais, genitais ou de reprodução, além de diversos tipos de cânceres”, afirmou Seralini em seu laboratório na França.

Suas pesquisas fazem parte da bibliografia à qual o Comitê Nacional de Ética na Ciência faz referência em sua recomendação para se criar uma comissão de especialistas que análise os riscos do uso do glifosato.

O pesquisador havia decidido estudar os efeitos do herbicida sobre a placenta humana depois que uma análise epidemiológica da Universidade de Carleton (Canadá), realizado na província de Ontário, havia vinculado a exposição ao glifosato (ingrediente base do Roundup) com o risco de abortos espontâneos e partos prematuros. Mediante provas de laboratório, em 2005, Seralini confirmou que em doses muito baixas o Roundup provoca efeitos tóxicos em células placentárias humanas e em células de embriões. O estudo, publicado na revista Environmental Health Perspectives, indicou que o herbicida mata uma grande proporção dessas células depois de apenas 18 horas de exposição a concentrações menores do que as utilizadas no uso agrícola.

Indicava ainda que esse fato poderia explicar os abortos e nascimentos prematuros experimentados por trabalhadoras rurais. Também ressaltava que, em soluções entre 10 mil e 100 mil vezes mais diluídas que as do produto comercial, ele já não matava as células, mas bloqueava sua produção de hormônios sexuais, o que poderia provocar dificuldades no desenvolvimento de ossos e no sistema reprodutivo de fetos. Alertava sobre a possibilidade de que o herbicida seja perturbador endócrino e, sobretudo, instava à realização de novos estudos. Só obteve a campanha de desprestígio.

Em 2007, publicou novos avanços. “Trabalhamos em células de recém-nascidos com doses do produto cem mil vezes inferiores às que qualquer jardineiro comum está em contato. O Roundup programa a morte das células em poucas horas”, havia declarado Seralini à agência de notícias AFP. Ressaltava que “os riscos são, sobretudo, para as mulheres grávidas, mas não só para elas”.

Em dezembro, a revista norte-americana Pesquisa Química em Toxicologia (da American Chemical Society) outorgou a Seralini 11 páginas para difundir seu trabalho, já finalizado. Focalizou-se em células humanas de cordão umbilical, embrionárias e da placenta. A totalidade das células morreram dentro das 24 horas de exposição às variedades do Roundup. “Estudou-se o mecanismo de ação celular diante de quatro formulações diferentes do Roundup (Express, Bioforce ou Extra, Gran Travaux e Gran Travaux Plus). Os resultados mostram que os quatro herbicidas Roundup e o glifosato puro causam morte celular. Confirmado pela morfologia das células depois do tratamento, determina-se que, inclusive nas concentrações mais baixas, ele causa uma grande morte celular”, denuncia na publicação, que indica que, mesmo com doses até dez mil vezes inferiores às usadas na agricultura, o Roundup provoca danos em membranas celulares e morte celular. Também confirmou o efeito destrutivo do glifosato puro, que, em doses 500 vezes menores às usadas nos campos, induz à morte celular.

Gilles-Eric Seralini tem 49 anos, nasceu na Argélia, vive em Caen, pesquisa a toxicidade de variedades transgênicas e herbicidas, é consultor da União Europeia em transgênicos e é diretor do Conselho Científico do Comitê de Pesquisa e Informação sobre Engenharia Genética (Criigen). “Publiquei três artigos em revistas científicas norte-americanas de âmbito internacional, junto com investigadores que faziam seu doutorado em meu laboratório, sobre a toxicidade dos herbicidas da família do Roundup sobre células humanas de embriões, assim como da placenta e sobre células frescas de cordões umbilicais, as quais levaram aos mesmos resultados, mesmo que tenham sido diluídas até cem mil vezes. Confirmamos que os herbicidas Roundup estimulam o suicídio das células humanas. Sou especialista nos efeitos dos transgênicos, e sabemos que o câncer, as doenças hormonais, nervosas e reprodutivas têm relação com os agentes químicos dos transgênicos. Além disso, esses herbicidas perturbam a produção de hormônios sexuais, pelo qual são perturbadores endócrinos”, afirma Seralini.

“O glifosato é menos tóxico para os ratos do que o sal de mesa ingerido em grande quantidade”, indicava uma propaganda da Monsanto há uma década, citada na extensa pesquisa jornalística “O mundo segundo a Monsanto”, de Marie-Monique Robin. No capítulo quatro, chamado “Uma vasta operação de intoxicação”, Seralini é contundente: “O Roundup é um assassino de embriões”. Fato confirmado com a finalização de seus ensaios, em dezembro de 2008.

A contundência e difusão do trabalho provocaram que a companhia de agrotóxicos mais poderosa do mundo quebrasse seu silêncio - apesar de que a sua política empresarial é não responder estudos ou artigos que não lhe sejam favoráveis. Mediante um comunicado e diante da agência de notícias AFP, a Monsanto França voltou a deslegitimar o cientista. “Os trabalhos efetuados regularmente por Seralini sobre o Roundup constituem um desvio sistemático do uso normal do produto com o fim de denegri-lo, apesar de ter se demonstrado sua segurança sanitária há 35 anos no mundo”.

A antiguidade do produto no mercado é o mesmo argumento utilizado na Argentina pelos defensores do modelo de agronegócio. As organizações ambientalistas reforçam que essa defesa tem seu próprio beco sem saída. O PCB (produto químico usado em transformadores elétricos e produzido, dentre outros, pela Monsanto) também foi utilizado durante décadas. Recebeu centenas de denúncias e foi vinculado com quadros médicos graves, mas as empresas continuavam defendendo seu uso baseado na antiguidade do produto. Até que a pressão social obrigou os Estados a realizarem estudos e, com os resultados obtidos, proibiu-se seu uso. “Com o glifosato, acontecerá o mesmo”, respondem as organizações.

Depois de uma pesquisa na Argentina do doutor Andrés Carrasco, na que se confirmou o efeito devastador em embriões anfíbios, as empresas do setor reagiram com intimidações, ameaças e pressões. Isso lhe soa familiar?

Sim, e muito. Com minhas pesquisas, as empresas também reagiram muito mal. Em vez de criticar os pesquisadores, uma grande empresa responsável que não tem nenhuma capacitação em toxicologia teria que se colocar em dúvida e pesquisar. Em dezembro de 2008, quando o nosso último artigo foi publicado, o Departamento de Comunicação da Monsanto disse que estávamos desviando o herbicida de sua função, já que ele não foi feito para atuar sobre células humanas. Esse argumento é estúpido, não merece outro qualificativo. É muito surpreendente que uma multinacional tão importante admitisse, com esse argumento, que não realiza ensaios de seu herbicida com doses baixas sobre células humanas antes de colocá-lo no mercado. Dever-se-ia proibir o produto apenas por esse reconhecimento corporativo.

Qual foi o papel dos meios de comunicação em suas descobertas?

Jornais e televisões falaram sobre os nossos estudos, se dão conta de que o mundo está se deteriorando por causa desses contaminantes, e que muitas doenças desencadeadas por esses produtos químicos já são vistas também nos animais e reduzem dramaticamente a biodiversidade. Mas também é preciso ter presente que o lobby das empresas é muito forte, que fazem chegar informações contraditóriasaos meios de comunicação, que finalmente desinformam a opinião pública e influenciam os governos.

Em 1974, a Monsanto havia sido autorizada a comercializar o herbicida Roundup, “que passaria a se converter no herbicida mais vendido do mundo”, ufana-se a publicidade da empresa. Em 1981, a companhia se estabeleceu como líder da pesquisa biotecnológica, mas recém em 1995 foi aprovada uma dezena de seus produtos modificados geneticamente, entre eles a Soja RR (Roundup Ready)”, resistente ao glifosato.

Monsanto promovia o Roundup como “um herbicida seguro e de uso geral em qualquer lugar, desde gramados e hortas, até grandes bosques de coníferas”. Também defendia que o herbicida era biodegradável. Mas, em janeiro de 2007, ela foi condenada pelo tribunal francês de Lyon a pagar multas pelo crime de “propaganda enganosa”. Os estudos de Seralini foram utilizados como prova, junto a outras pesquisas. A Justiça da França teve como eixo a falsa propriedade biodegradável do agrotóxico e até deu um passo mais: afirmou que o Roundup “pode permanecer de forma duradoura no solo e inclusive se estender para as águas subterrâneas”.

Diante da campanha de desprestígio, Seralini recebeu o apoio da Procuradoria Geral de Nova Iorque (que havia ganhado outro juízo contra a Monsanto, também por propaganda enganosa). A revista científica Environmental Health Perspectives publicou um editorial para destacar suas descobertas, e a revista Chemical Research in Toxicology se propôs publicar o esquema completo do modo de ação toxicológico.

“A Monsanto sempre entregou estudos ridículos sobre o glifosato apenas, enquanto que o Roundup é uma mistura muito mais tóxica do que só o glifosato. O mundo científico sabe disso, mas muitos preferem não ver ou não atacar as descobertas. No entanto, a empresa defendia que era inócuo. Confirmamos que os resíduos do Roundup representam os principais contaminadores das águas dos rios ou de superfície. Por outro lado, recebemos o apoio de partes dos pesquisadores que encontraram efeitos semelhantes, explicando assim abortos naturais e desastres nas faunas autóctones”, explica Seralini.

Com um mercado concentrado e um faturamento estratosférico, a indústria transgênica é denunciada por seu poder de incidência com aqueles que devem controlá-la. Até a Agência de Proteção Ambiental (EPA) dos EUA (o âmbito de controle competente) é acusada de ter cedido a suas pressões. Em agosto de 2006, líderes sindicais da EPA acusaram as autoridades do organismo de ceder diante da pressão política e permitir o uso de químicos prejudiciais.

“Correm-se graves riscos em fetos, grávidas, crianças e idosos”, denunciavam. A EPA havia omitido os estudos científicos que contradiziam aqueles patrocinados pela indústria dos pesticidas. “A direção da EPA prioriza antes a indústria da agricultura e os pesticidas do que a nossa responsabilidade em proteger a saúde dos nossos cidadãos”, finalizava o comunicado.

Seralini reafirma o poder econômico das agroquímicas e lembra que as oito maiores companhias farmacêuticas são as oito maiores companhias de pesticidas e de transgênicos, dentre as quais a Monsanto tem um papel protagônico. Por isso, pede a realização urgente de testes com animais de laboratório durante dois anos, como - segundo explica - ocorre com os medicamentos na Europa.

“Há um ingrediente político e econômico no tema, claramente, do qual as companhias estão por trás”, denuncia. Ele se reconhece um obsessivo do trabalho, adverte que há uma década analisa diariamente todos os informes europeus e norte-americanos de controles sanitários de transgênicos. E não tem dúvida: “Os únicos que fazem testes são as próprias companhias, porque são ensaios caríssimos. As empresas e os governos não deixam que esses trabalhos sejam vistos. Esses estudos deveriam ser realizados por universidades públicas e deveriam ser públicos”.

“Há 25 anos trabalho com as perturbações dos genes, das células e dos animais provocadas por medicamentos e contaminantes. Advertimos o perigo existente e propomos estudos públicos. Mas, em vez de aprofundar estudos e nos reconhecer como cientistas, querem tirar importância acadêmica chamando-nos ‘militantes ambientalistas’. Sabemos claramente que o ataque provém de empresas que, se os estudos forem feitos, deverão retirar seus produtos do mercado”, denuncia Seralini, que, hoje, adverte sobre o efeito sanitário não apenas dos agrotóxicos, mas sim dos alimentos transgênicos e de seus derivados.

Ele recorda que, com o milho transgênico (também tratado com Roundup) alimentam-se os animais que depois a população come (frangos, vacas, coelhos e porcos) e explica que todos os produtos que contêm açúcar de milho (molhos, balas, chocolates e refrigerantes, dentre outros) devem ser objeto de urgentes estudos.

“Há anos trabalhamos sobre a toxicidade dos principais contaminadores. Confirmamos que o Roundup é também o principal contaminante dos transgênicos alimentares, como a soja ou o milho transgênico, o que pode levar a um problema de intoxicação dos alimentos a longo prazo”.

A afirmação de Seralini vai em sintonia com as denúncias de centenas de organizações sociais, urbanas e rurais e de movimentos internacionais como a Via Campesina (grupo internacional de agricultores, índios, sem terra e trabalhadores agrícolas), que exigem alimentos sadios.

• A reportagem é de Darío Aranda, publicada no jornal Página/12, 21-06-2009. A tradução é de Moisés Sbardelotto

Pesquisador argentino que comprovou efeitos nocivos do glifosato é perseguido

Há duas semanas, o professor de embriologia Andrés Carrasco denunciou no jornal Página/12 os efeitos devastadores do composto herbicida glifosato sobre os embriões humanos (ver ). Esperava uma reação, "mas não tão violenta": foi ameaçado, armaram uma campanha de desprestígio contra ele e até afirmaram que suas investigações não existiam.

Em entrevista publicada no jornal Página/12 em 03/05/09, Carrasco contesta e renova suas acusações contra as multinacionais da agroquímica.

Veja aqui alguns trechos:


“Você esperava uma reação como a que ocorreu?

Não. Foi uma reação violenta, desmedida e suja. Sobretudo porque não descobri nada novo, só confirmei algo a que outros haviam chegado por outros caminhos. Por isso, não entendo porque tanta agitação das empresas. É preciso lembrar que a origem do trabalho remonta a contatos com comunidades vítimas do uso de agrotóxicos. Elas são a prova mais irrefutável do que eu investiguei com um sistema e modelo experimental com o trabalho de 30 anos, e com o qual eu confirmei que o glifosato é devastador em embriões anfíbios. Mesmo em doses muito abaixo das usadas na agricultura, ocasiona diversas e numerosas deformações.

Por que a difusão se transforma em um problema?

Porque não há canais institucionais confiáveis que possam receptar pesquisas desse tipo, com poderosos interesses contrários. Então, a decisão pessoal foi torná-la pública, já que não existe razão de Estado, nem interesses econômicos das corporações que justifiquem o silêncio quando se trata da saúde pública. É preciso deixar claro: quando se tem um dado que só interessa a um círculo pequeno, podemos guardá-lo até que o tenhamos ajustado até o menor detalhe e canalizá-lo pelos meios para esse pequeno círculo. Mas quando demonstramos fatos que podem ter impacto na saúde pública, é obrigação dar-lhe uma difusão urgente e massiva.”


“Por que o setor científico não estuda?

Porque não é em todo o mundo que há essa enorme quantidade de hectares com soja como ocorre na Argentina. Há quase 18 milhões de hectares. Do ponto de vista ecotoxicológico, o que acontece na Argentina é quase um experimento em massa.”


Leia a íntegra da entrevista em:


N.E.: Já relatamos diversos exemplos de pesquisadores que foram execrados no meio acadêmico após divulgarem resultados de pesquisas comprovando efeitos nocivos de plantas transgênicas à saúde e ao meio ambiente. Um dos mais famosos é o do pesquisador Ignacio Chapela, da Universidade de Berkeley, na Califórnia (EUA), que em 2001 descobriu que o pólen do milho transgênico havia contaminado variedades crioulas de milho no México, centro de origem da cultura, apesar de o cultivo de milho transgênico nunca ter sido autorizado no país. Outro caso notório é o do pesquisador Arpad Pusztai, do Instituto Rowett, um dos mais renomados da Grã-Bretanha, que foi punido e demitido em 1998 após divulgar resultados negativos sobre alimentos transgênicos.

Estes e outros casos do gênero são mostrados em detalhes no filme “O Mundo Segundo a Monsanto”, da jornalista francesa Marie-Monique Robin (http://stopogm.net/?q=node/548).

3. Monsanto doa laboratório a faculdade argentina

A Monsanto, multinacional da soja transgênica e dos agrotóxicos, doou um laboratório e mais um equipamento, somando cerca de 300 mil dólares, à faculdade de Ciências Agrárias de Zavalla, na Argentina, onde todo ano se formam centenas de engenheiros agrônomos.

Quando vemos as imagens/ícones do caucasiano efeminado que os vitorianos conceberam para representar o mito de Jesus Cristo. Dá vontade de esculhambar mesmo, apoiando até brincadeiras pouco inteligentes como esta.
Aconselho entusiasticamente que vejam o filme “ A Vida de Brian”, realizado e interpretado pelos geniais Monty Python. Acima de tudo, não deixem de ler o livro de Richard Dawkins “Deus, um delírio” (the God Delusion)

Antídoto para Sucuris
Taijin Kyofusho

Não me recrimines,
Nem me digas o que fazer,
Enquanto gasto o meu tempo
No enlevo de te admirar
A coragem de amar em desespero...
O luto dos amores cura-se...
Como a picada das raias
Ou o corte dos corais...
Os círculos concêntricos dessa dor
Dissimulam-se em padrões fractais
Que em flores impressionistas desabrocham
Abrindo gretas nas paredes do quotidiano;
Atentam contra o frio aprumo do concreto
E a solidão encaixotada GRITA
Quando falta a luz...e o vazio
Mostra a sua face insustentável,
Nos despindo sem pudor,
Nos descarnando sem piedade...
O que lemos no padrão das cicatrizes
São augúrios das nossas inseguranças.
Já só escuto promessas da morte,
Mas aceito o beijo da liberdade.


No que concerne aos espermatozoides, sabemos que os (X)Y, masculinos, são melhores nadadores do que os seus pares (X)X, femininos. Assim, uma mulher fecunda no pico do seu período fértil tem maiores probabilidades de gerar um menino.
Há alguns anos tomámos conhecimento de que os omnipresentes agrotóxicos contribuem imenso para a diminuiçao da fertilidade masculina.
Agora cientistas brasieliros (afectos à Univ. de S. Paulo) provaram que, quanto mais poluido está o ambiente, maior é o índice de nascimentos feminos. O cromossoma Y, para além de ser mais sensível à acidez natural da vagina, é também mais vulnerável aos efeitos deletérios dos poluentes químicos.

sábado, novembro 14, 2009

Vale a pena passar os olhos por este blog que caracteriza, satirizando, a hodierna classe média(/alta) brasileira.

As cinzas do quilombo na piscina

Curas que envenenam;
Do leito para a pia
Ganha-se a alforria.
O lobo temporal uiva de gozo;
Mantem-se o império das trevas.
Na cidadela os coros papagueam
Textos sagrados como libelos de sangue.
Seculares anseios nas bocas sem línguas;
Heresiotomias para calar blasfêmias.
O espectáculo deve mesmerizar o povo,
- Não inquietá-lo à toa!...

No Carnaval, a liberdade mascára-se de antoiança
E a igualdade tantaliza os que ousam sonhar.
Escapando à ígnea purificação,
Os súcubos roubam o sêmen
E os íncubus injectam-no nas malditas,
Assim gerando vozes dissidentes
- Que também nada saberão sobre África,
Mas que escutam os ventos de mudança;
O fragor da guerrilha libertária
Vinda da mata para se insinuar nas consciências
Dos boêmios desconhecedores de tais febres
Por nunca se aventurarem na colheita das mandrágoras,
Onde Zumbi se engasgou com a própria virilidade.
Bem diferentes são aqueles produzidos pelo Senhor
[do engenho
Quando os navios negreiros falham em trazer reses
(“Peças”, “madeira de ébano”, “galinhas”,...)
Lá da terra da danação (onde sobra músculo e falta trabalho),
Zeloso pela manutenção do seu rebanho bípede,
Faz clandestinas visitas à senzala...
Terror e ira na gênese da mulataria
Que serve na casa grande e a caminho do mercado.
Nega, poupa o teu menino desse atroz destino;
Envia-o de volta à pátria amada,
Sufocando-o antes que ele saiba ver.
Ah, essas lágrimas não lavarão o pelourinho!
O teu leite é alvo como o parasita que o irá mamar;
Seduzi-lo-ás ou botarás pimenta nos mamilos?...

O códice das batucadas incendeia a noite
Até o canto dos mutuns convoca os guerreiros,
Sabendo que as camélias amanhecerão rubras
Como os olhos dos injustiçados no breu

O sistema de castas imposto pelo culto ao capital
Que dilui na multidão os contornos do monstro...
O professor é mais um empregado do papai
Formando acólitos do fordismo.
Muitos condenarão às linhas de montagem
O que só a Amazônia conseguiu vencer

Vamos espreitar a nudez da miss eugenia?
Deificados pela máquina de propaganda,
Comemoram na piscina do condomínio
(Cujo nome homenageia a natureza que destruiu)
Graças a deus por mais este querubim!
Um príncipe de Mercedes a esposará.
- Porra, seus escurinhos, para quê lhes pago?!
Muros que só o sol a pique transpõe;
Cercas eléctricas e guardas armados,
E, ainda assim, invadem e poluem o meu jardim
As cinzas de um quilombo há muito esquecido!!
OU será que os bandidos queimam barricadas na favela?!...
- vêm nos esporões dos quero-quero, patrão....
Siá, os teus deuses moram no acaso
E os meus esvaíram-se no ocaso...


"It's the action, not the fruit of the action, that's important. You have to do the right thing. It may not be in your power, may not be in your time, that there'll be any fruit. But that doesn't mean you stop doing the right thing. You may never know what results come from your action. But if you do nothing, there will be no result."

- Gandhi

90 milhões de brasileiros não tem rede de esgotos; outros 50 milhões carecem de água tratada em casa. Apenas 4% dos esgotos no Brasil são alvo de algum tratamento.
A destruição da natureza silvestre continuam a um ritmo de galope apocalíptico.
E ainda há tanta gente por aqui que passa fome...
Mas o governo prepara-se para, em breve, gastar mais 7,7 biliões/bilhões de dólares em material bélico! Isso é uma fracção do que vai gastar com a Copa do Mundo (de futebol, em 2014) e com os Jogos Olímpicos no Rio de Janeiro (em 2016)... Estamos perante um governo que se diz socialista mas que, para além de sempre baixar as calças aos banqueiros, até tirou fundos ao sistema público de saúde para se auto promover na realização dos jogos Pan Americanos... E por aí vai...

black-throated saltator

A propaganda está para a democracia como o cassetete está par os Estados totalitários.- Noam Chomsky

quinta-feira, novembro 12, 2009

"Time to Stand Up"
By Richard Dawkins

"To blame Islam for what happened in New York is like blaming Christianity for the troubles in Northern Ireland!" Yes. Precisely. It is time to stop pussyfooting around. Time to get angry. And not only with Islam.

Those of us who have renounced one or another of the three "great" monotheistic religions have, until now, moderated our language for reasons of politeness. Christians, Jews and Muslims are sincere in their beliefs and in what they find holy. We have respected that, even as we have disagreed with it. The late Douglas Adams put it with his customary good humor, in an impromptu speech in 1998 (slightly abridged):

Now, the invention of the scientific method is, I'm sure we'll all agree, the most powerful intellectual idea, the most powerful framework for thinking and investigating and understanding and challenging the world around us that there is, and it rests on the premise that any idea is there to be attacked. If it withstands the attack then it lives to fight another day and if it doesn't withstand the attack then down it goes. Religion doesn't seem to work like that. It has certain ideas at the heart of it which we call sacred or holy or whatever. What it means is, "Here is an idea or a notion that you're not allowed to say anything bad about; you're just not. Why not?--because you're not!" If somebody votes for a party that you don't agree with, you're free to argue about it as much as you like; everybody will have an argument but nobody feels aggrieved by it. If somebody thinks taxes should go up or down you are free to have an argument about it. But on the other hand if somebody says 'I mustn't move a light switch on a Saturday,' you say, "I respect that."
The odd thing is, even as I am saying that, I am thinking "Is there an Orthodox Jew here who is going to be offended by the fact that I just said that?" But I wouldn't have thought "Maybe there's somebody from the left wing or somebody from the right wing or somebody who subscribes to this view or the other in economics" when I was making the other points. I just think "Fine, we have different opinions." But, the moment I say something that has something to do with somebody's (I'm going to stick my neck out here and say irrational) beliefs, then we all become terribly protective and terribly defensive and say "No, we don't attack that; that's an irrational belief but no, we respect it."

Why should it be that it's perfectly legitimate to support the Labor party or the Conservative party, Republicans or Democrats, this model of economics versus that, Macintosh instead of Windows--but to have an opinion about how the Universe began, about who created the Universe . . . no, that's holy? What does that mean? Why do we ring-fence that for any other reason other than that we've just got used to doing so? There's no other reason at all, it's just one of those things that crept into being and once that loop gets going it's very, very powerful. So, we are used to not challenging religious ideas but it's very interesting how much of a furor Richard creates when he does it! Everybody gets absolutely frantic about it because you're not allowed to say these things. Yet when you look at it rationally there is no reason why those ideas shouldn't be as open to debate as any other, except that we have agreed somehow between us that they shouldn't be.

Douglas is dead, but I think he would join me in asking people now to stand up and break this absurd taboo. My respect for the Abrahamic religions went up in the smoke and choking dust of September 11th. The last vestige of respect for the taboo disappeared as I watched the "Day of Prayer" in Washington Cathedral, where people of mutually incompatible faiths united in homage to the very force that caused the problem in the first place: religion. It is time for people of intellect, as opposed to people of faith, to stand up and say "Enough!" Let our tribute to the dead be a new resolve: to respect people for what they individually think, rather than respect groups for what they were collectively brought up to believe.

Notwithstanding bitter sectarian hatreds over the centuries (all too obviously still going strong), Judaism, Islam and Christianity have much in common. Despite New Testament watering down and other reformist tendencies, all three pay historic allegiance to the same violent and vindictive God of Battles, memorably summed up by Gore Vidal in 1998:

The great unmentionable evil at the center of our culture is monotheism. From a barbaric Bronze Age text known as the Old Testament, three anti-human religions have evolved--Judaism, Christianity, and Islam. These are sky-god religions. They are, literally, patriarchal--God is the Omnipotent Father--hence the loathing of women for 2,000 years in those countries afflicted by the sky-god and his earthly male delegates. The sky-god is a jealous god, of course. He requires total obedience from everyone on earth, as he is not just in place for one tribe, but for all creation. Those who would reject him must be converted or killed for their own good.
In The Guardian of 15th September, I named belief in an afterlife as the key weapon that made the New York atrocity possible. Of prior significance is religion's deep responsibility for the underlying hatreds that motivated people to use that weapon in the first place. To breathe such a suggestion, even with the most gentlemanly restraint, is to invite an onslaught of patronizing abuse, as Douglas Adams noted. But the insane cruelty of the suicide attacks, and the equally vicious though numerically less catastrophic 'revenge' attacks on hapless Muslims living in America and Britain, push me beyond ordinary caution.

How can I say that religion is to blame? Do I really imagine that, when a terrorist kills, he is motivated by a theological disagreement with his victim? Do I really think the Northern Ireland pub bomber says to himself "Take that, Tridentine Transubstantiationist bastards!" Of course I don't think anything of the kind. Theology is the last thing on the minds of such people. They are not killing because of religion itself, but because of political grievances, often justified. They are killing because the other lot killed their fathers. Or because the other lot drove their great grandfathers off their land. Or because the other lot oppressed our lot economically for centuries.

My point is not that religion itself is the motivation for wars, murders and terrorist attacks, but that religion is the principal label, and the most dangerous one, by which a "they" as opposed to a "we" can be identified at all. I am not even claiming that religion is the only label by which we identify the victims of our prejudice. There's also skin color, language, and social class. But often, as in Northern Ireland, these don't apply and religion is the only divisive label around. Even when it is not alone, religion is nearly always an incendiary ingredient in the mix as well.

It is not an exaggeration to say that religion is the most inflammatory enemy-labelling device in history. Who killed your father? Not the individuals you are about to kill in 'revenge.' The culprits themselves have vanished over the border. The people who stole your great grandfather's land have died of old age. You aim your vendetta at those who belong to the same religion as the original perpetrators. It wasn't Seamus who killed your brother, but it was Catholics, so Seamus deserves to die "in return." Next, it was Protestants who killed Seamus so let's go out and kill some Protestants "in revenge." It was Muslims who destroyed the World Trade Center so let's set upon the turbaned driver of a London taxi and leave him paralyzed from the neck down.

The bitter hatreds that now poison Middle Eastern politics are rooted in the real or perceived wrong of the setting up of a Jewish State in an Islamic region. In view of all that the Jews had been through, it must have seemed a fair and humane solution. Probably deep familiarity with the Old Testament had given the European and American decision-makers some sort of idea that this really was the 'historic homeland' of the Jews (though the horrific stories of how Joshua and others conquered their Lebensraum might have made them wonder). Even if it wasn't justifiable at the time, no doubt a good case can be made that, since Israel exists now, to try to reverse the status quo would be a worse wrong.

I do not intend to get into that argument. But if it had not been for religion, the very concept of a Jewish state would have had no meaning in the first place. Nor would the very concept of Islamic lands, as something to be invaded and desecrated. In a world without religion, there would have been no Crusades; no Inquisition; no anti-Semitic pogroms (the people of the diaspora would long ago have intermarried and become indistinguishable from their host populations); no Northern Ireland Troubles (no label by which to distinguish the two 'communities,' and no sectarian schools to teach the children historic hatreds--they would simply be one community).

It is a spade we have here, let's call it a spade. The Emperor has no clothes. It is time to stop the mealy-mouthed euphemisms: 'Nationalists,' 'Loyalists,' 'Communities,' 'Ethnic Groups.' Religions is the word you need. Religion is the word you are struggling hypocritically to avoid.

Parenthetically, religion is unusual among divisive labels in being spectacularly unnecessary. If religious beliefs had any evidence going for them, we might have to respect them in spite of their concomitant unpleasantness. But there is no such evidence. To label people as death-deserving enemies because of disagreements about real world politics is bad enough. To do the same for disagreements about a delusional world inhabited by archangels, demons and imaginary friends is ludicrously tragic.

The resilience of this form of hereditary delusion is as astonishing as its lack of realism. It seems that control of the plane which crashed near Pittsburgh was probably wrestled out of the hands of the terrorists by a group of brave passengers. The wife of one of these valiant and heroic men, after she took the telephone call in which he announced their intention, said that God had placed her husband on the plane as His instrument to prevent the plane crashing on the White House. I have the greatest sympathy for this poor woman in her tragic loss, but just think about it! As my (also understandably overwrought) American correspondent who sent me this piece of news said:

"Couldn't God have just given the hijackers a heart attack or something instead of killing all those nice people on the plane? I guess he didn't give a flying fuck about the Trade Center, didn't bother to come up with a plan for them." (I apologize for my friend's intemperate language but, in the circumstances, who can blame her?)
Is there no catastrophe terrible enough to shake the faith of people, on both sides, in God's goodness and power? No glimmering realization that he might not be there at all: that we just might be on our own, needing to cope with the real world like grown-ups?

Billy Graham, Mr. Bush's spiritual advisor, said in Washington Cathedral:

But how do we understand something like this? Why does God allow evil like this to take place? Perhaps that is what you are asking now. You may even be angry at God. I want to assure you that God understands those feelings that you may have.
Well, that's big of God, I must say. I'm sure that makes the bereaved feel a whole lot better (the pathetic thing is, it probably does!). Mr. Graham went on:

I have been asked hundreds of times in my life why God allows tragedy and suffering. I have to confess that I really do not know the answer totally, even to my own satisfaction. I have to accept, by faith, that God is sovereign, and He is a God of love and mercy and compassion in the midst of suffering. The Bible says God is not the author of evil. It speaks of evil as a "mystery."
Less baffled by this deep theological mystery were two of America's best-known televangelists, Pat Robertson and Jerry Falwell. In a conversation on Robertson's lucrative television show (religion is tax-exempt), they knew exactly where to put the blame. The whole thing was obviously caused by America's sin. Falwell said that God had protected America wonderfully for 225 years, but now, what with abortion and gays and lesbians and the ACLU, "all of them who have tried to secularize America . . . I point the finger in their face and say you helped this happen." "Well, I totally concur," responded Robertson. Bush, to his credit, swiftly disowned this characteristic example of the religious mind at work.

The United States is the most religiose country in the Western world, and its born-again Christian leader is eyeball to eyeball with the most religiose people on Earth. Both sides believe that the Bronze Age God of Battles is on their side. Both take risks with the world's future in unshakeable, fundamentalist faith that He will grant them the victory. Incidentally, people speak of Islamic Fundamentalists, but the customary genteel distinction between fundamentalist and moderate Islam has been convincingly demolished by Ibn Warraq in his well-informed book, Why I Am Not a Muslim.

The human psyche has two great sicknesses: the urge to carry vendetta across generations, and the tendency to fasten group labels on people rather than see them as individuals. Abrahamic religion gives strong sanction to both--and mixes explosively with both. Only the willfully blind could fail to implicate the divisive force of religion in most, if not all, of the violent enmities in the world today. Without a doubt it is the prime aggravator of the Middle East. Those of us who have for years politely concealed our contempt for the dangerous collective delusion of religion need to stand up and speak out. Things are different now. "All is changed, changed utterly."

terça-feira, novembro 10, 2009

Aparentemente, esta foto nada tem de especial. Alguns poderão até dizer que, estética e tecnicamente, está uma merda. Não lhes nego razão. Mas, desafio qualquer um a conseguir fotografar uma paca silvestre, à noite, no Pantanal (ainda por cima, o meu flash externo, ETTL, não estava a funcionar). Boa sorte!...

obrigado pela música!
é inegável que essa porra do digiscoping me tem surpreendido pela positiva, mas tenho algumas dúvidas se tal técnica consegue fazer fotos destas...prova que estou errado!

sábado, novembro 07, 2009

La jornada 06 de Junio de 2009

Alerta médica: los transgénicos amenazan la salud

_Silvia Ribeiro*_

La Academia Americana de Medicina Ambiental (AAEM, por sus siglas en
inglés), hizo pública en mayo 2009 su posición sobre los alimentos
transgénicos. Por la salud y la seguridad de los consumidores” llaman a
establecer urgentemente una “moratoria a los alimentos genéticamente
modificados y la implementación inmediata de pruebas independientes y de
largo plazo sobre su seguridad”.

Llaman a los médicos “a educar a sus pacientes, a la comunidad médica y
al público para evitar los alimentos genéticamente modificados”; a
“considerar el papel de los alimentos transgénicos en los procesos de
enfermedad de sus pacientes” y a “documentar los cambios en la salud de
los pacientes cuando dejan de consumir alimentos transgénicos”. Instan
“a sus miembros, la comunidad médica y la comunidad científica
independiente, a recopilar estudios potencialmente relacionados con el
consumo de transgénicos y sus efectos sobre la salud, y a comenzar una
investigación epidemiológica para examinar el papel de los alimentos
transgénicos sobre la salud humana”.

Una importante conclusión en la que basan su toma de posición es que, a
partir de los múltiples ejemplos analizados, “hay más que una relación
/casual /entre alimentos transgénicos y efectos adversos para la salud”.
Explican que según los criterios de Hill (de Bradford Hill, ampliamente
reconocidos académicamente para evaluar estudios epidemiológicos y de
laboratorio sobre agentes que puedan suponer riesgos para la salud
humana) “existe /causalidad/ en la fuerza de asociación, la
consistencia, la especificidad, el gradiente y plausibilidad biológica”
entre el consumo de alimentos transgénicos y los efectos adversos a la

Entre los efectos negativos, comprobados a partir de decenas de estudios
en animales, mencionan “riesgos serios”, como infertilidad,
desregulación inmune, envejecimiento acelerado, desregulación de genes
asociados con síntesis de colesterol y regulación de insulina, cambios
en el hígado, riñones, bazo y sistema gastrointestinal. Citan, entre
otros, un estudio de 2008 con ratones alimentados con maíz transgénico
/Bt/ de Monsanto, que vincula al consumo de maíz transgénico con
infertilidad y disminución de peso, además de mostrar la alteración de
la expresión de 400 genes.

La Academia señala que ante la generalización del consumo de
transgénicos, lo urgente es realizar estudios epidemiológicos. Esto es
altamente relevante para el caso del maíz en México: aquí el maíz se
consume cotidianamente en toda la población, por lo que los efectos de
los trasngénicos en este tipo de alto consumo son diferentes y muchos
más graves que lo que se puede observar en casos puntuales.

Una fuente citada por el documento de la Academia es el extenso libro
/Genetic roulette/ (Ruleta genética) de Jeffrey Smith, que documenta en
forma minuciosa y con cientos de referencias científicas, 65 casos de
efectos adversos de los transgénicos sobre la salud de personas y
animales, incluyendo casos de vacas y ovejas que murieron en Alemania e
India, luego de alimentarse rutinariamente con cosechas transgénicas.
Este autor alerta que todos somos conejillos de indias para la industria
biotecnológica –que ha podido liberar en campo e invadir los alimentos
con transgénicos sin necesidad de probar su inocuidad para la salud
humana /en ninguna parte del mundo/– pero que particularmente los niños
y las mujeres embarazadas son las que corren mayores riesgos.

La asociación médica refiere también el reciente estudio de la Unión de
Científicos Preocupados de Estados Unidos, que analizando 13 años de
cultivos transgénicos muestran que éstos tienen menores rendimientos y
que si hubo aumento de producción no se debió a transgénicos sino a
manejos de tipo convencional. Introducen este análisis sobre
productividad, para concluir que tampoco en este aspecto muestran
ninguna ventaja, por lo que nada justifica el “serio riesgo para la
salud en las áreas de toxicología, alergia y función inmune, salud
reproductiva y salud metabólica, fisiológica y genética” que representan
los transgénicos, por lo que lo único sensato es aplicar un estricto
principio de precaución, estableciendo una moratoria total e inmediata.

A los riesgos que plantean los transgénicos en sí mismos, se agrega el
aumento de uso de agrotóxicos y las enfermedades que éstos provocan
(están diseñados para usar más agroquímicos, nuevamente no por
casualidad sino por causalidad: los fabricantes de trangénicos,
Monsanto, Dow, Dupont, Syngenta, Bayer, Basf, son también los mayores
fabricantes de venenos agrícolas del planeta).

La trampa está en la inversión de lógica que las trasnacionales han
logrado imponer : en lugar de etiquetar con una advertencia a los
alimentos que contienen agrotóxicos y transgénicos, obligan a que se
tenga que separar, etiquetar y cuesten más caros los alimentos orgánicos
y sanos.

La solidez de las posiciones argumentadas por la Academia de Medicina
Ambiental contrastan con la supina ignorancia del secretario de
Agricultura Alberto Cárdenas y otras autoridades gubernamentales que
declaran –sin /ninguna/ prueba de ello– que los transgénicos no son un
riesgo para la salud. Igual que con los cerdos industriales de Granjas
Carroll y otros grandes criadores. ¿Cuánta gente tendrá que enfermar o
morir para que dejen de proteger –y subsidiar– las ganancias de las
trasnacionales que crean las enfermedades?

Existen muchas alternativas para producir y alimentarse sanamente, que
no implican riesgos, mantienen las fuentes de sustento para las
mayorías, cuidan la biodiversidad, afirman la soberanía alimentaria y
los derechos de los campesinos. Los transgénicos solamente crean riqueza
para unas pocas trasnacionales, amenazando la salud de todos.

*Investigadora del Grupo ETC.

Posición de la AAEM en castellano:

quinta-feira, novembro 05, 2009

“Los transgénicos no evitan el hambre”
Izaskun Sánchez Aroca (Madrid)
Jueves 5 de marzo de 2009. Número 97
Luchadora desde los años ‘70 por la soberanía alimentaria, los derechos de los campesinos y de las mujeres, esta activista ecofeminista habló con DIAGONAL en su reciente visita sobre transgénicos, hambre y globalización.

DIAGONAL.: ¿Cómo ha afectado el cultivo de jatrofa (pequeño arbusto oleaginoso para agrocombustibles) en la crisis alimentaria?

VANDANA SHIVA: En la India dicen que la jatrofa sólo se promueve en zonas tan áridas que no podría plantarse otra cosa, así que supuestamente no amenaza la seguridad alimentaria. Pero eso no es cierto. Desde Navdanya hemos elaborado un estudio que analiza los grandes cultivos de jatrofa en los estados de Maharashtra, Rajastán, Chhattisgarh que demuestran que estos cultivos están desencadenando una crisis alimentaria en la zona, además de un problema de acceso a la tierra. En el estado de Rajastán están modificando las leyes para convertir tierras comunales, tradicionalmente de pastoreo, en cultivos de jatrofa. Hemos hechos un estudio que demuestra que la toxicidad de esta planta se extiende por el aire. El objetivo en la India es plantar 11 millones de hectáreas de una planta tóxica, lo que significa que estás dejando esa tierra desertizada. Además, la jatrofa representa un riesgo para los niños, que cogen los frutos, se los comen..., algunos se ponen enfermos o mueren. Es un sistema absurdo, tenemos más de 200 tipos de árboles y arbustos oleaginosos que podrían proveer energía localmente sin poner en peligro la seguridad alimentaria.

D.: Las industrias de la biotecnología afirman que los transgénicos han ayudado a aumentar la productividad en países como China o la India, mitigando los efectos de la crisis alimentaria.

V.S.: El único cultivo modificado genéticamente que tenemos en la India es el algodón BT. La gente no se come el algodón: lo usa para vestirse. Es muy característico de la industria de la biotecnología hacer asociaciones absurdas y llamarlo ciencia. Otra manipulación son las cifras de las exportaciones. En realidad India está exportando a costa de su industria local porque el 80% del algodón va a China, donde hacen ropa barata para la India, para España, para vender aquí y allá. Mientras, nuestros campesinos se suicidan por el precio de las semillas de algodón modificadas genéticamente. El algodón BT no sólo no aumenta la productividad sino que además es mucho más caro. Las semillas tradicionales de algodón costaban siete rupias por kilo, mientras que el de algodón BT cuesta 17.000 rupias. Además se supone que estas semillas están modificadas para controlar plagas, pero lo cierto es que crean otras nuevas, lo que conlleva un incremento del 30% en el uso de pesticidas. Y estos son datos recogidos en el campo, basados en los campesinos, no en los informes que los altos ejecutivos de Monsanto ojean desde su despacho en Londres o Bonn. Las exportaciones de algodón en la India han caído un 50% ¿y todas las grandes multinacionales de la agroindustria habrán perdido también un 50%? No. Porque el comercio y la producción ya no están relacionadas, por eso hay una crisis alimentaria. Han sido estas multinacionales las que nos han llevado a la crisis alimentaria, las que han especulado, las que no han dejado que la comida fuera accesible para las personas. El cultivo de algodón BT se está extendiendo tanto porque Monsanto se asegura de que no exista otro tipo de semillas, destruye cualquier suministro alternativo. Presionan a instituciones y gobiernos para que dejen de cultivar, de conservar, así que no existe ningún banco público de semillas. Además, engañan a los campesinos para que no intercambien semillas. Les ofrecen una variedad nueva con promesas de alto rendimiento y dinero y el campesino acepta, pero no se da cuenta de que Monsanto ha hecho lo mismo en cada pueblo, en cada Estado, hasta que de pronto hay grandes áreas que dependen del algodón BT de Monsanto.

Realmente, no es algo que esté basado en la elección de los campesinos sino en destruir su capacidad de elegir. En la India, en los lugares en los que se cultiva el algodón BT es donde el índice de suicidios es más alto. Más de 200.000 campesinos se han suicidado en los últimos 10 años.

D.: La mujer, a pesar de ser la guardiana de la biodiversidad, es la que más sufre las consecuencias de los cultivos transgénicos.

V.S.: Desde que las semillas están en manos de las mujeres, se convierten en sus guardianas y no hay ni muertes, ni suicidios. La globalización amenaza a las mujeres con cargas muy sangrantes. La primera es el asunto de los suicidios de los hombres. Mientras las mujeres se quedan en el campo, los hombres visitan las ciudades y se encuentran a los agentes de la compañía de semillas que les dicen “usa esta semilla milagrosa que te va a hacer rico”. En estas semillas no hay ninguna etiqueta que te diga que eso es ingeniería genética, así que tras dos años cultivándolas el campesino ha contraído una deuda tan grande que va a perder su tierra. Y es justo ese día cuando se bebe el pesticida. Entonces alguien encuentra el cuerpo y le dice a la mujer: “Tu marido está tirado en el suelo junto a una botella de pesticida”. Y en ese momento los agentes de las empresas de semillas, los nuevos prestamistas, empiezan a visitar la casa para cobrar la deuda. Las cargas más terribles de la globalización recaen sobre la mujer que, además, nunca ha participado en la toma de sus decisiones.