Food security can’t wait for GE’s empty promises

Rice Farmers Planting Rice in the Philippines. 23 Jan 2014, © Greenpeace / John Novis

Across vast tracts of the Philippines, farmers are adapting their farming methods to withstand climate change. They’re producing food in times of drought and typhoons through resilient forms of ecological agriculture. Meanwhile some scientists are saying ‘wait, we’ll feed you eventually with a form of rice that has not yet been grown outside of a highly controlled research environment’.

It’s known as GE ‘Golden’ rice, but it’s far from golden as the name tries to suggest. It has failed as a solution and isn’t currently available for sale, even after more than 20 years of research. Even its developer, the International Rice Research Institute, has admitted there is no proof that it will address Vitamin A Deficiency responsible for widespread malnutrition.

So in the absence of a promised ‘solution’ from the advocates of genetic engineering, farmers in the Philippines – where ‘Golden’ rice is being researched – are getting their hands dirty producing food that actually feeds families and will equip them to withstand the effects of climate change.

Ecological Rice Harvest in The Philippines. 15 March 2015. © Roy Lagarde / Greenpeace

Greenpeace has been supporting them.

So when we are accused of blocking the development of ‘Golden’ rice by a group of scientists, we can only point to the facts: there is no ‘Golden’ rice. It is a likely dead end. A failed, expensive experiment. Instead, what the Philippines needs, and millions of farmers across the world, is support they can use. This is not just our opinion, but the view of scientists with considerable experience of the issue and who have published their findings in the peer reviewed scientific literature.

It is no coincidence that in the run-up to an important decision on GE food labelling in the US state of Vermont, that the issue of ‘Golden’ rice has been raised again. Golden rice has been the poster child of the GE lobby groups keen to pave the way for global approval of other more profitable genetically engineered crops.

Farmer Ariel de la Cruz in The Philippines, 18 December 2014. © Charlie Saceda / Greenpeace

So let’s look at this issue from the right perspective.

The Greenpeace campaign for ecological food and farming is built on rigorous scientific analysis, supported by extensive internal discussions and developed in consultation with external experts. The solutions we campaign for are science-based and proven in theory and practice. We campaign against an introduction of GE crops, pesticides and other chemicals in the industrial farming system and promote an ecological farming model that works with biodiversity and respect for planetary boundaries to support sustainable food production.

Today we have been challenged by a diverse group of scientists, a group with which Greenpeace has a fundamental difference of perspective. This group of scientists appears to be perpetuating a myth. Other scientists have assessed agriculture and food production in a more multidisciplinary way. Agriculture is not solely a technological activity with a pure focus on high yields. Agricultural fields harbor biodiversity, they serve as a source of clean water and rural areas should be a place for thriving and sustainable economies.

Fruit and Vegetables Stall in Quiapo Market, 16 Jan 2014. © Greenpeace / John Novis

Development, use and effectiveness of technologies such as GE should not be assessed from a one-sided perspective – in this case a historically deeply embedded and technocratic perspective of western scientists. In analysing GE in a multidisciplinary way, as 400 agricultural experts of the International Assessment of Agricultural Science Knowledge and Technology for Development (IAASTD) did in 2008, it is clear that GE crops will not solve the urgent issues of climate resilience, ecological impacts and food insecurity. Instead, the use of GE crops leads to new problems from pesticide use, to the market dominance of a few powerful companies and generates some fundamental doubts concerning our ability to feed the world’s population if this highly technological paradigm persists

So rather than support a costly experiment such as ‘Golden’ rice that has failed to produce results for the past 20 years and which has diverted attention from methods that already work, the world’s scientists should focus instead on climate proofing global agriculture. We need to address malnutrition through a more diverse diet, equitable access to food and a shift to climate resilient eco-agriculture.

Action at the Department of Agriculture in Quezon City, 24 March 2014. © Luis Liwanag / Greenpeace

Sound and ethical science clearly shows it would be irresponsible to impose GE ‘Golden’ rice as a quick-fix remedy to people on the frontlines of climate change. It doesn’t work.

Droughts and typhoons in the Philippines will not wait – and Filipino farmers don’t have time to wait for a golden goose. There are safe and effective options already available to help farmers feed their communities and there’s a real chance here for governments and the philanthropic community to support these endeavours.

El Niño Documentation: Impacts on Agriculture in the Philippines. 12 October 2014. © Greenpeace / John Novis

Greenpeace is campaigning for a paradigm shift, a transition, from industrial agriculture to ecological farming. A food system based on diversity instead of endless monocultures of crops with high chemicals inputs. A model which works with nature, instead of against it. This agroecological model is backed by independent scientists, farmers, communities and consumers all over the world. Modern GE-free smart breeding technologies are a part of the solution. A technology such as marker assisted breeding enables breeders to identify crops with beneficial traits – such as increased vitamin or mineral content, climate resilience, or resistance against plant diseases. It’s happening, on the field, with far bigger effectiveness to solve the urgent crises agriculture and food production than GE so far has shown, with lower costs, both economically as for the environment.

Herman van Bekkem is Ecological Farming Campaigner at Greenpeace Netherlands and Wilhelmina Pelegrina is Food and Ecological Agriculture Campaign Coordinator at Greenpeace Southeast Asia.

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Echelon Introduces BACnet Gateway For Echelon LumInsight™ Desktop

Echelon Corporation, a leading independent control networking company for the Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT), today announced new capabilities for intelligently managing lighting using popular Building Management Systems (BMS) via its new LumInsight BACnet gateway. Part of the Lumewave by Echelon™ solution, LumInsight Desktop software offers a BACnet gateway to address the growing desire of enterprise facilities managers to control, manage, and monitor all their lighting devices and sensors, indoor and outdoor, in an industry standard platform as well as supports multiple building operations from a single dashboard.

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The melting Arctic ice calls for protecting what I love

Greenpeace International Executive Director Jennifer Morgan sailing with the Arctic Sunrise on Svalbard, in the high Arctic. 26 Jun, 2016 © Christian Åslund / Greenpeace

Last week I visited the Svalbard archipelago in the northern Barents Sea to bear witness to the rapid changes occurring in the Arctic. In many ways, the Arctic is the frontline of dramatic environmental changes that will impact everyone.

Until recently, the northern Barents Sea, one of Earth’s last pristine environments, had been safely protected with ice cover. However, this is no longer the case. Due to the effects of climate change, sea ice is melting, the area is changing dramatically, and a new ocean is opening up. This enables the oil and fishing industries to expand into the far North.

This far away land and its seas are no longer what they used to be and are surprisingly not protected. Norway, due to its role in deciding what happens in these waters, has a key part to play. If we are to retain what we have left, and make the area more able to be resilient in the face of the changing climate, the Norwegian government must make the waters a marine protected area. Up to now, however it has shown a lack of political will to do so.

Giant fishing trawlers bulldozing the sea

Having spent 20 plus years as a climate campaigner, I didn’t travel to the Arctic with rose-colored glasses. I knew the ice was melting. The Earth’s 2015 surface temperatures were the warmest since modern record keeping began in 1880, according to independent analyses by NASA and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA). NASA reports that spring 2016 was the hottest recorded in the Northern hemisphere.

With the Arctic warming twice as fast as the rest of the world, the ancient glaciers of Svalbard are retreating. Witnessing the ice melt – with my own eyes in my new role as Executive Director, Greenpeace International – I imagined the day in just a short few decades when the Arctic will have ice-free summers and it petrified me.

Climate change is opening up the northern Barents Sea and the fishing industry is advancing further to the North each year. Which means previously untouched areas are turning into a new hunting ground. Dozens of giant trawlers are already above the 78th parallel, a historic development.

This industry is using bottom trawling as part of their practice. Bottom trawling does not mean just taking cod; it is like clear-cutting forests but underwater. The trawlers carry 100-metres long nets weighing with heavy metal rollers that smash everything in their path. They are like bulldozers of the sea. Fragile seabed communities of sea pens and corals that need decades to grow can be wiped out in seconds. And with the industry, comes trash.

Arctic islands are covered with trash

Greenpeace International Executive Director Jennifer Morgan holding up a message to the Norwegian government in front of a pile of garbage collected from a beach at Sarstangen on Prince Carls Forland, the west coast of Svalbard. 25 Jun, 2016 © Christian Åslund / Greenpeace

Probably like most people who don’t live here, I imagined this part of the Arctic as a land of ice and snow with limited traces of human beings. I expected to see more glaciers and more majestic ranges covered in white. Instead our Greenpeace crew, campaign team and the three winners of our poster competition, found trash.

I wasn’t sure how much trash we would find, but at the end of day one we had collected a large mound of trash – buoys, fishing nets, rope, glass, plastic bottles and more. The recurring piece of trash though was shoes – was this a message about our human footprint?

For Svalbard, it is estimated that about 80 percent of the trash washed ashore comes from industrial fishing. In annual Barents Sea fisheries surveys the highest litter counts coincide with areas of intensive fishery and shipping.

These items are not only a blight on the landscape, they are dangerous. Reindeer, polar bears and other animals get entangled in old fishing nets and suffocate. Birds consume toxic particles of plastic. Plastics can carry pollutants that, if ingested, may also accumulate through the food chain.

As part of our ‘Protect What You Love’ campaign, the team decided to organize a beach clean up to raise awareness about the consequences of bottom trawling and the trash left behind by the fishing industry.

According to UNESCO, globally, up to 1 million seabirds and 100,000 marine mammals and sea turtles die each year from eating plastic or getting entangled in plastic debris.

Urgent need for legal protection

This unequivocal destruction of the underwater ecologies is legal. The current protected areas cover just a small part of unique marine habitats, and the rest is open for destructive oil production and industrial fishing.

For now, some of the world’s largest seafood and fishing companies have committed to not expand their search for cod into large, previously un-fished areas in the northern Barents Sea in the Norwegian Arctic.

The initiative, brokered by Greenpeace, marks the first time an entire industry has collectively called for Arctic protection – in the absence of legal protection in these areas.

The agreement states that any fishing company expanding into the agreed to Arctic waters will not be able to sell their cod to a number of major seafood brands and retailers. But the agreement, though in good faith, is voluntary.

Our environment – whether it is the Arctic or the Amazon – needs protecting. I believe the Arctic waters are crucial for the life of our planet and should be protected.

The Norwegian government needs to act fast to ensure these previously untouched areas of the northern Barents Sea are protected and any expansion of fishing is stopped.

Jennifer Morgan is Executive Director at Greenpeace International.

This story first appeared on The Huffington Post.

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So how did they get that grand piano to the Arctic?

Composer and Pianist Ludovico Einaudi Performs in the Arctic Ocean. 16 Jun, 2016 © Pedro Armestre / Greenpeace

The Steinway baby grand piano was slung and swung on board in Germany, it was lashed down in the hold and we headed north. We took in a storm off the coast of Norway where green seas were shipped over the pitching bow and portholes resembled washing machines. As the degrees of latitude rose, those of temperature dropped. When we crossed the Arctic Circle and all the time we traveled I wondered what sound would finally come out of that adventurous piano.

Ludovico joined in Longyearbyen. We took him out onto the fjords in search of ice. It wasn’t difficult to find. 28 miles from Longyearbyen is Wahlenbergbreen – a surging glacier. I approached slowly, bringing the Arctic Sunrise into Yoldiabukta Bay, looking for leads through the ice and weaving my way between aquamarine icebergs and bergy bits so striped with moraine that they resembled select candies.

In the last mile we left our satellite footprint behind. We had found the edge of the world and became unplugged from distraction. All attention became focused on the elements of the bay whilst our intention was firmly founded on Saving The Arctic. A ringed seal craned its neck from atop a block of ice and watched the Greenpeace boat glide slowly past.

I found anchorage in a depth of 60 meters of water in position 78°29’N 14°18’E just 550 meters off the ice wall. The stage was lowered to the water, set with geometric angles that reflected the arctic light. The baby-grand was set upon the stage and a piano stool passed out the pilot door. Ludovico donned a lifejacket and stepped off the boat.

When his fingers struck the first keys I was standing at the pilot door to the Arctic Sunrise. Ludovico Einaudi, rafted up beside the ship, played the first note of Elegy to the Arctic. The moment was suspended above the lapping sound of water and the crystalline chink of ice melting. My spine tingled and I wept – it was beautiful beyond words. He floated away with his grand piano towed behind a dinghy. The music drifted up, punctuated by the ice cliffs imploding, rumbling, plunging and as if in applause the collapsing ice sent waves racing out to rock us all together.

He played for the Arctic Terns, the Awks, the White Winged Gulls and the Black Legged Kittiwakes. He played for the crew of the Arctic Sunrise. He played for the 8 million who have lent their signatures to Save The Arctic. He played for those generations to come and he played for my son, Gwynfi on his 4th birthday.

Captain Mike Fincken has been sailing with Greenpeace for over 20 years.

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GlacialPower Launches Efficient and Reliable 100 Watt LED Driver

GlacialPower, a division of LED technology manufacturer GlacialTech Inc, is pleased to announce the GP-LS100P-36 1E, a 100 Watt LED driver with a 40V DC output. This rugged and reliable driver is suitable for demanding outdoor or indoor applications – including locations with challenging environmental conditions and fluctuating power supplies – thanks to its very wide input range of 90 to 305 VAC and 47 to 63 Hz, IP67 waterproofing and dustproofing, and full OVP, OCP, SCP, and OTP protection. The GP-LS100P-36 1E is compliant with tough new EU directives for power efficiency, and also offers constant current and constant voltage operation modes.

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Lumileds Expands and Improves Its Award Winning Luxeon C Color Line

Lumileds, the global leader in light engine technology, today expanded its line of Luxeon C Color LEDs to a total of 12 colors (and 8 whites), making it the industry’s broadest line of color LEDs available. The Luxeon C Color Line is an optically advanced portfolio of LEDs that enables flawless color mixing because the focal length of each LED is identical, enabling maximum optical efficiency in design.

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Brazil: the most dangerous country for environmental activists in 2015

Last year was the worst year on record for the murder of environmental activists, and more killings took place in Brazil than in any other country in the world.

Illegal Logs in Ka’apor Indigenous Land in Brazil. 1 Sep, 2015  © Lunae Parracho / Greenpeace

Activists across the globe are facing increasing violence as they stand up for the planet. An environmental defender was assassinated almost every other day in 2015, according to a new report from Global Witness.

Of those killed, a severely disproportionate number – 40 percent – were Indigenous People. And 50 of the 185 murders worldwide took place in Brazil.

Global Witness found that fights against mining projects, agribusiness expansion and the construction of new hydroelectric plants were the main causes of the killings. Not coincidentally, these are the three priority areas for the supposed development agenda of the Brazilian government.

Brazil is facing an escalation of violence in remote areas, and murderers often face no consequences. Almost all of the murders of environmental defenders in Brazil took place in the Amazon, where criminal activity is common. The lack of governance in the region victimizes the forest and its people.

Only days ago, a Greenpeace Brazil team conducted a flight over ​​the Sawre Maybu Indigenous Land in the heart of the Amazon – home of the Munduruku Indigenous People – and found evidence of illegal logging and mining activities.

Timber found at the northern limit between the Itaituba 2 National Forest and the Sawré Muybu indigenous village is evidence of the presence of illegal loggers. This is along the Jamanxim River, the main tributary of the Tapajós, at Itaituba city, in Pará State, Brazil. 2016. Photo Credit: Rogério Assis/Greenpeace

Just last week, there were clashes and deaths in three Brazilian states. In the state of Pará, Sergeant João Luiz de Maria Pereira was killed during an operation against illegal deforestation in the Jamanxim National Forest of Novo Progresso.

In Mato Grosso do Sul, a Guarani-Kaiowá Indigenous Person was shot dead in a 70 farmer attack on a farm neighbouring the Tey’i Kue Indigenous Land. Six other Indigenous People were hospitalized with gunshot wounds, including a 12-year-old child.

And in Maranhão, the Ka’apor people of the Alto Turiaçú Indigenous Land live under constant threat of attack. To prevent the invasion of their land and forest destruction, they have begun monitoring and patrolling their territory, but his has upset farmers and loggers seeking to exploit it. According to organisations that support the Ka’apor people, farmers and loggers are planning to attack villages. Yet the government agencies responsible for the safety of Indigenous People and their territory are not taking action.

Ka’apor People set up cameras to fight Amazon destruction. 28 Aug, 2015.   © Lunae Parracho / Greenpeace

If the Brazilian government doesn’t immediately implement measures to address this growing violence – if it continues weakening the rights of Indigenous and traditional Peoples in the name of economic interests – there is no doubt that there will be more victims.

Environmental defenders are putting their lives at risk to protect their lands, forests and rivers against destructive industries. We must stand in solidarity with them – no matter where we are in the world.

You can start now. Stand with the Munduruku Indigenous People of Brazil, who are fighting to keep their traditional territory in the heart of the Amazon from being devastated by a massive dam.

Márcio Astrini is the public policy coordinator for Greenpeace Brazil.

Another version of this blog was posted by Greenpeace Brazil.

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Honglitronic’s High Power AC LED Module Obtained the CE Certificate

Honglitronic high power AC LED module obtained the CE certificate, 10W LE002,and 20W LE003, that means that the products meet European Union’s safety and EMC standard with CE certified lable.The LED components with CE certification could be an advantage for customers to make use of in the design of lamps and lanterns, and cost saving. It also can help the client to shorten down the lamps and lanterns’ CE certification cycle.

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New 1,200/1,500 mA DC-DC CC LED Drivers from Mean Well

Mean Well has released LDD-L (300-1500 mA, step down mode and low voltage input), LDD-H (300-1000 mA, step down mode and high voltage input) and LDB-L (300-600 mA, buck-boost mode and low voltage input) series into the DC-DC LED constant current driver market for years and has been widely adopted. In order to further meet the application demands, Mean Well pushes the output current of LDD-H series up to 1200/1500 mA and is pleased to unveil LDD-1200-1500H/HW models.

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