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‘Green Economy’ - New Disguise for Old Tricks?
by Giuliano Battiston via reed - IPS Wednesday, May 30 2012, 8:33am
international / environment / other press

FLORENCE, May 28, 2012 (IPS) - Though the current global economic and financial crises are undoubtedly devastating much of the world, they present the perfect opportunity for remodeling our economic system, according to participants at the ninth annual Terra Futura (Future Earth) exhibition of ‘good practices’ in social, economic and environmental sustainability held here from May 25-27.

"What, how, how much and for whom to produce? Those are the questions we urgently need to answer," said Guido Viale, environmental economist and author of several books on ecological issues.

"The crisis offers us a chance to ecologically reconvert the ways we produce and use goods and services, paving the way to reduce our dependency on fossil fuels, to respect biodiversity and to create a safe, low-carbon economic system."

The first step towards a healthier economy and a cleaner environment is "to find cost-effective ways to improve our energy infrastructure and to ‘decarbonise’ our energy supply," said Monica Frassoni, president of the European Alliance to Save Energy (EU-ASE), which was established at the United Nations Climate Change Conference (COP16) in December 2010 and includes some of Europe’s leading multinational companies, along with a prominent cross-party group of European politicians.

"With no binding commitment to energy efficiency for 2020 and no verifiable energy saving targets for EU members, Europe risks (feeding) its addiction to fossil fuels," Frassoni added.

As important as the need for an institutional framework and compulsory sectorial save-energy targets for key sectors of the European economy is the need for a radical change in lifestyle.

"The changes that are going to last are those rooted in a changed mindset," Karl-Ludwig Schibel, coordinator of the Italian branch of the Covenant of Mayors, explained.

Launched by the European Commission in 2008, after the adoption of the EU Climate and Energy Package, the Covenant of Mayors is a European movement whose aim is to meet and exceed the EU’s 20 percent CO2 reduction goal by 2020. "We strongly believe in the effectiveness of a bottom-up process, promoted by citizens, regional authorities and local administrators. It is here that the deepest mindset revolutions are going on," said Schibel.

According to leading environmental activist Vandana Shiva, cultural awareness of our intrinsic and fragile bondage to the "lively earth" is the most important tool to promote justice, sustainability and a new economy.

"It’s time to abandon the centralised, fossilised, sclerotic model adopted (throughout) the industrial era and build a new model – a decentralised, democratic, horizontal model, where all ecosystems are respected and in which diversity is a value. It means we should fight the monocultures of the mind boosted by industrialism. It means (being) careful about old tricks hidden by new words, such as the ‘green economy’," she added.

Shiva is certainly not alone in her vision for a healthier planetary future. Susan George, chair of the Board of the Transnational Institute, told IPS, "I don’t like to use the word ‘green economy’, as it risks (becoming) a means through which global corporate capitalism makes profits, with a new, more respectable face."

Twenty years after the first Earth Summit, the international community will gather once more in Rio de Janeiro from Jun. 20-22, for the United Nations Conference on Sustainable Development. The Rio+20 conference will discuss the topic of green economy, whose definition of Green remains a matter of controversy.

George added, "Over the past years, I have proposed a Green New Deal, which means taking control over finance and investing in social and green transition. The first step is to socialise, not nationalise, the banks, to include citizens and customers in their management and to lend (money) for small environmental initiatives."

The so-called green economy, on the other hand, is something completely different. "I am pessimistic about Rio," George told IPS. "For the big corporations it is only an excuse to say: ‘The U.N. is slow and ineffective, while we are effective and smart; so, give us all the money and we will invest it into the green economy’. But they just want to make new profits. We must ask: a green economy for who, and run by whom?"

Barbara Unmüßig, president of the Heinrich Boll Stiftung, recently wrote in ‘The Green Economy: A New Magic Bullet?’, "Large sectors of global civil society only see (the green economy) as an extremely profitable business sector."

She said that, in order to truly make a difference, the green economy model should also pay attention to issues of power and equity while shifting global policy emphasis away from free trade and growth.

© 2012 IPS-Inter Press Service


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U2, Bono? Celeb partners with Monsanto, G8, to biowreck African farms with GMOs
by Rady Ananda - Activist Post Wednesday, May 30 2012, 11:42am

At the G8 Summit held two weeks ago at Camp David, President Obama met with private industry and African heads of state to launch the New Alliance for Food Security and Nutrition, a euphemism for monocultured, genetically modified crops and toxic agrochemicals aimed at making poor farmers debt slaves to corporations, while destroying the ecosphere for profit.

And Bono, of the rock group U2, is out shilling for Monsanto on this one.

It’s phase 2 of the Green Revolution. Tanzania, Ghana, and Ethiopia are the first to fall for the deception, with Mozambique, Cote d’Ivoire, Burkina Faso and other African nations lining up for the “Grow Africa Partnership,” under Obama’s “Global Agricultural Development” plan.

In Obama Pitches India Model of GM Genocide to Africa, Scott Creighton writes:

But African civil society wants no part of this latest Monsanto aligned ‘public private partnership.’ Whatever will the progressives do now that their flawless hero has teamed up with their most hated nemesis to exploit an entire continent like they did to India not that long ago?

With a commitment of $3 billion, Obama plans to ‘partner up’ with mega-multinationals like Monsanto, Diageo, Dupont, Cargill, Vodafone, Walmart, Pepsico, Prudential, Syngenta International, and Swiss Re because, as one USAID representative says ‘There are things that only companies can do, like building silos for storage and developing seeds and fertilizers.’

Of course, that’s an outrageous lie. Private citizens have been building their own silos for centuries. But it’s true that only the biowreck engineers will foist patented seeds and toxic chemicals on Africa.

Bono says that there has to be a ‘public private partnership’ in order to get this done and that they are going to be using the ideas of the African people and farmers. Really? This is what the African farmers say to that…

‘We request that: – governments, FAO, the G8, the World Bank and the GAFSP reconsider their promotion of Public/Private Partnerships which, as they are now conceived, are not suitable instruments to support the family farms which are the very basis of African food security and sovereignty.’ African Civil Society Organizations

I wonder if that could be any clearer. They don’t WANT the public private partnerships involved in this process…. It’s not enough that huge mega-corporations are bleeding the nations of Africa dry by sucking the valuable mineral resources out of their hills. No. As Bono says about the development in Africa:

‘They’re future consumers for the United States. The president is talking business. This is good. It’s a whole new development paradigm today. The old donor/recipient relationship… it’s over.’
Volatility chimed in:

The history of corporate agriculture and its ‘Green Revolution’ is a perfect example of the unfulfilled promises, and therefore proven lies, of corporatism. What was the Green Revolution? With a huge one-off injection of fossil fuels, and building upon ten thousand years of agronomy, corporate agriculture temporarily increased yields within the monoculture framework.

But, in the Green Revolution, writes Volatility:

The soil is stripped of all nutrition and zombified by ever-increasing applications of synthetic fertilizer. Monoculture is ever more dependent on the increasing application of ever more toxic herbicides and pesticides. Deployment of GMOs escalates these vulnerabilities. Factory farms can exist only with ever increasing use of antibiotics. All these systems are extremely tenuous, vulnerable, not robust, not resilient. They’re all guaranteed to collapse. Hermetic monoculture, and industrial agriculture as such, is one big hothouse flower which requires perfect conditions to survive….

[T]he Green Revolution was a scam to use cheap fossil fuels to increase monocrop yield, drive tens of millions off the land, and use the stolen land and food to render food temporarily artificially cheap for Western consumerism.

Like with Monsanto’s Bt cotton deployed in India, at first yields improved and farmers profited. Now, however, according to a leaked Advisory from the Minister of Agriculture obtained by the Hindustan Times last month:

Cotton farmers are in a deep crisis since shifting to Bt cotton…. In fact cost of cotton cultivation has jumped…due to rising costs of pesticides. Total Bt cotton production in the last five years has reduced.

The Advisory definitively links farmer suicides to debt-enslavement enabled by the synthetic food model spawned by Monsanto, Dupont and other ecocidal corporations: “The spate of farmer suicides in 2011-12 has been particularly severe among Bt cotton farmers.”

Over half of US states are now plagued by agrochemically-induced superweeds. An industry sponsored study of pesticide use predicts that by 2016, nearly a billion pounds of these toxic chemicals will be poured on US soils.

Insects have also developed resistance. As reported last August, “The Western rootworm beetle – one of the most serious threats to corn – has developed resistance to Monsanto’s Bt-corn, and entire crops are being lost.”

In March, two dozen corn entomologists warned regulators that the only way to defeat growing insect resistance to genetically modified corn is to plant non-GMO seed. “Increasing pesticide use or buffer zone size will not solve the growing problem of rootworm resistance to corn genetically modified.”

But if that doesn’t deter African farmers, these petrochemicals have also been linked to human birth defects. Where “Roundup Ready soy is being cultivated on a massive scale,” reports Dr. Mercola, “widespread reports exist of immediate illness defects from massive glyphosate spraying operations.”

In fact, “Monsanto, Philip Morris and other U.S. tobacco giants knowingly poisoned Argentinean tobacco farmers with pesticides,” reports Courthouse News Service, “causing ‘devastating birth defects’ in their children, dozens of workers claim in court.”

The Bt toxin used to engineer cotton and corn also kills human kidney cells, reports Dr Eva Sirinathsinghji, and the drift from aerial application of Roundup prompted the Mississippi Rice Council to sound a national alarm over genetic damage to natural rice, calling for severely restricted aerial application.

Newly emergent pathogens have appeared, reports Dr. Don M. Huber, a plant pathologist who coordinates the Emergent Diseases and Pathogens committee of the American Phytopathological Society, as part of the USDA National Plant Disease Recovery System. Last year, his team discovered a “self-replicating, micro-fungal virus-sized organism which may be causing spontaneous abortions in livestock, sudden death syndrome in Monsanto’s Roundup Ready soy, and wilt in Monsanto’s RR corn.”

Huber’s warning to the USDA to halt GM crop approvals, and specifically, genetically modified alfalfa, was not only ignored, but two months ago, Ag Secretary Tom Vilsack hastened the approval process for genetically engineered crops.

“The new rules will cut the time needed to approve biotech crops in half,” reports Dr. Mercola, “from an average of three years, to about 13 months for new versions of already existing crop technologies, and about 16 months for brand new technologies.”

Obama’s Global Agricultural Development plan conspires with multinational corporations to foist these ecological and human health costs onto the public while siphoning the profits. As Creighton says, “Socialized costs, privatized profits. All in the name doing good and saving the people of Africa.”

Let’s hope these “public/private partnerships” are met with firm resistance by African farmers, as supported by this Declaration from a group of African civil society organizations. The last thing Planet Earth and all its organisms need is more toxic industrial chemicals.

cc Creative Commons.

Bono - corporate lackey
Bono - corporate lackey

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