Category Archives: Agriculture

Judge sides with Hoopa Valley and Yurok Tribe scientists, preventing Klamath fish kill

 

By  / Intercontinental Cry

A federal judge on Aug. 26 denied a request by the San Luis Delta Mendota Water Authority and Westlands Water District for a temporary restraining order and preliminary injunction against the higher supplemental flows from Trinity Reservoir being released to stop a fish kill on the lower Klamath River.

The releases that the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation began last week, resulting from requests by the Hoopa Valley and Yurok Tribe fishery scientists to release Trinity River water to stop a fish kill–like that one that killed up to 78,000 adult salmon in September 2002–will continue. The two Tribes, the Pacific Coast Federation of Fisherman’s Associations and the Institute for Fisheries Resources were intervenors for the defendant, Interior Secretary Sally Jewell and the U.S. Department of Interior, in the litigation.

Trinity River below the Lewiston Dam during last year's supplemental water releases (Photo: Dan Bacher)
Trinity River below the Lewiston Dam during last year’s supplemental water releases (Photo: Dan Bacher)

In his decision, U.S. District Court Judge Lawrence O’Neill said,

The Court concludes that there is no clear showing of likelihood of success on the merits. Even if Plaintiffs are likely to succeed on the merits of at least one of their claims against Reclamation in connection with the 2015 FARs (Flow Augmentation Releases), the balance of the harms does not warrant an injunction at this time.

“The potential harm to the Plaintiffs from the potential, but far from certain, loss of added water supply in 2015 or 2016 does not outweigh the potentially catastrophic damage that ‘more likely than not’ will occur to this year’s salmon runs in the absence of the 2015 FARs,” ruled O’Neill.

This denial of the request by corporate agribusiness interests to halt badly needed flows for the lower Klamath River is a big victory for the Hoopa Valley Tribe, Yurok Tribe and fishing groups. Both this year and last, Tribal activists held protests demanding the release of Trinity River to stop a fish kill.

Read more at Intercontinental Cry

Lierre Keith: The Girls and the Grasses

Captured in a test tube, blood may look like a static liquid, but it’s alive, as animate and intelligent as the rest of you. It also makes up a great deal of you: of your 50 trillion cells, one-quarter are red blood cells. Two million are born every second. On their way to maturation, red blood cells jettison their nuclei―their DNA, their capacity to divide and repair. They have no future, only a task: to carry the hemoglobin that will hold your oxygen. They don’t use the oxygen themselves–they only transport it. This they do with exquisite precision, completing a cycle of circulation through your body every twenty seconds for a hundred days. Then they die.

The core of hemoglobin is a molecule of iron. It’s the iron that grasps the oxygen at the surface of your lungs, hangs on through the rush of blood, then releases it to wanting cells. If iron goes missing, the body, as ever, has a fallback plan. It adds more water to increase blood volume; thin blood travels faster through the fine capillaries. Do more with less.

All good except there’s less and less oxygen offered to the cells. Another plan kicks in: increased cardiac output. The heart ups its stroke volume and its rate. To keep you from exploding, the brain joins in, sending signals to the muscles enfolding each blood vessel, telling them to relax. Now blood volume can increase with blood pressure stable.

But still no iron arrives. At this point, the other organs have to cooperate, giving up blood flow to protect the brain and heart. The skin makes major sacrifices, which is why anemics are known for their pallor. Symptoms perceived by the person―you―will probably increase as your tissues, and then organs, begin to starve.

If there is no relief, ultimately all the plans will fail. Even a strong heart can only strain for so long. Blood backs up into the capillaries. Under the pressure, liquid seeps out into surrounding tissues. You are now swelling and you don’t know why. Then the lungs are breached. The alveoli, the tiny sacs that await the promise of air, stiffen from the gathering flood. It doesn’t take much. The sacs fill with fluid. Your body is drowning itself. This is called pulmonary edema, and you are in big trouble.

I know this because it happened to me. Uterine fibroids wrung a murder scene from me every month; the surgery to remove them pushed me across the red cell Rubicon. I knew nothing: my body understood and responded. My eyes swelled, then my ankles, my calves. Then I couldn’t breathe. Then it hurt to breathe. I finally stopped taking advice from my dog―Take a nap! With me!–and dragged myself to the ER, where, eventually, all was revealed.

Two weeks later, the flood had subsided, absorbed back into some wetland tissue of my body, and I felt the absence of pain as a positive. Breathing was exquisite, the sweetest thing I could imagine. Every moment of effortless air was all I could ever want. I knew it would fade and I would forget. But for a few days, I was alive. And it was good.

Our bodies are both all we have and everything we could want. We are alive and we get to be alive. There is joy on the surface of the skin waiting for sunlight and soft things (both of which produce endorphins, so yes: joy). There is the constant, stalwart sound of our hearts. Babies who are carried against their mothers’ hearts learn to breathe better than those who aren’t. There is the strength of bone and the stretch of muscle and their complex coordination. We are a set of electrical impulses inside a watery environment: how? Well, the nerves that conduct the impulses are sheathed by a fatty substance called myelin―they’re insulated. This permits “agile communication between distant body parts.” Understand this: it’s all alive, it all communicates, it makes decisions, and it knows what it’s doing. You can’t possibly fathom its intricacies. To start to explore the filigree of brain, synapse, nerve, and muscle is to know that even the blink of your eyes is a miracle.

Pracht_1.tif

Our brains were two million years in the making. That long, slow accretion doubled our cranial capacity. And the first thing we did with it was say thank you. We drew the megafauna and the megafemales, sculpted and carved them. The oldest known figurative sculpture is the Goddes of Hohle Fels, and 40,000 years ago someone spent hundreds of hours carving Her. There is no mystery here, not to me: the animals and the women gave us life. Of course they were our first, endless art project. Awe and thanksgiving are built into us, body and brain. Once upon a time , we knew we were alive. And it was good.

__________

And now we leave the realm of miracles and enter hell.

Patriarchy is the ruling religion of the planet. It comes in variations―some old, some new, some ecclesiastical, some secular. But at bottom, they are all necrophilic. Erich Fromm describes necrophilia as “the passion to transform that which is alive into something unalive; to destroy for the sake of destruction; the exclusive interest in all that is purely mechanical.” In this religion, the worst sin is being alive, and the carriers of that sin are female. Under patriarchy, the female body is loathsome; its life-giving fat-cells vilified; its generative organs despised. Its natural condition is always ridiculed: normal feet must be turned into four-inch stubs; rib cages must be crushed into collapse; breasts are varyingly too big or too small or excised entirely. That this inflicts pain―if not constant agony―is not peripheral to these practices. It’s central. When she suffers, she is made obedient.

Necrophilia is the end point of sadism. The sadistic urge is about control–“the passion to have absolute and unrestricted control over a living being,” as Fromm defined it. The objective of inflicting pain and degradation is to break a human being. Pain is always degrading; victimization humiliates; eventually, everyone breaks. The power to do that is the sadist’s dream. And who could be more broken to your control than a woman who can’t walk?

Some nouns: glass, scissors, razors, acid. Some verbs: cut, scrape, cauterize, burn. These nouns and verbs create unspeakable sentences when the object is a seven-year-old girl with her legs forced open. The clitoris, with its 8,000 nerve endings, is always sliced up. In the most extreme forms of FGM, the labia are cut off and the vagina sewn shut. On her wedding night, the girl’s husband will penetrate her with a knife before his penis.

You don’t do this to a human being. You do it to an object. That much is true. But there is more. Because the world is full of actual objects—cardboard boxes and abandoned cars—and men don’t spend their time torturing those. They know we aren’t objects, that we have nerves that feel and flesh that bruises. They know we have nowhere else to go when they lay claim to our bodies. That’s where the sadist finds his pleasure: pain produces suffering, humiliation perhaps more, and if he can inflict that on her, it’s absolute proof of his control.

Behind the sadists are the institutions, the condensations of power, that hand us to him. Every time a judge rules that women have no right to bodily integrity—that upskirt photos are legal, that miscarriages are murder, that women should expect to be beaten—he wins. Every time the Fashion Masters make heels higher and clothes smaller, he smiles. Every time an entire class of women—the poorest and most desperate, at the bottom of every conceivable hierarchy—are declared legal commodities for sex, he gets a collective hard-on. Whether he personally uses any such women is beside the point. Society has ruled they are there for him, other men have ensured their compliance, and they will comply. He can kill one—the ultimate sex act for the sadist—and no one will notice. And no one does.

There is no stop to this, no natural endpoint. There is always another sentient, self-willed being to inflame his desire to control, so the addiction is forever fed. With other addictions, the addict bottoms out, his life becomes unmanageable, and the stark choice is stop or die. But the sadist isn’t hurting himself. There’s no looming bottom to hit, only an endless choice of victims, served up by the culture. Women are the feast at our own funeral, and he is happy to feed.

_____

If feminism was reduced to one word, it would be this: no. “No” is a boundary, spoken only by a self who claims one. Objects have neither; subjects begin at no. Feminists said no and we meant it.

The boundary of “no” extended outward, an insult to one being an injury to all: “we” is the word of political movements. Without it, women are cast adrift in a hostile, chaotic sea, holding our breath against the next Bad Thing. With the lens of feminism, the chaos snaps into sharp focus. We gave words to the Bad Things, then faced down denial and despair to see the pattern. That’s called theory. Then we demanded remedies. That’s what subjects, especially political subjects, do. Emmeline Pankhurst, leader of the British suffragettes, worked at the Census Office as a birth registrar. Every day, young girls came in with their newborns. Every day, she had to ask who the father was, and every day the girls wept in humiliation and rage. Reader, you know who the fathers were. That’s why Pankhurst never gave up.

To say no to the sadist is to assert those girls as political subjects, as human beings with the standing the comes from inalienable rights. Each and every life is self-willed and sovereign; each life can only be lived in a body. Not an object to be broken down for parts: a living body. Child sexual abuse is especially designed to turn the body into a cage. The bars may start as terror and pain but they will harden to self-loathing. Instilling shame is the best method to ensure compliance: we are ashamed—sexual violation is very good at that—and for the rest of our lives we will comply. Our compliance is, of course, his control. His power is his pleasure, and another generation of girls will grow up in bodies they will surely hate, to be women who comply.

_______

What has been done to our bodies has been done to our planet. The sadist exerts his control; the necrophiliac turns the living into the dead. The self-willed and the wild are their targets and their necrotic project is almost complete.

Taken one by one, the facts are appalling. In my lifetime, the earth has lost half her wildlife. Every day, two hundred species slip into that longest night of extinction. “Ocean” is synonymous with the words abundance and plenty. Fullness is on the list, as well as infinity. And by 2048, the oceans will be empty of fish. Crustaceans are experiencing “complete reproductive failure.” In plain terms, their babies are dying. Plankton are also disappearing. Maybe plankton are too small and green for anyone to care about, but know this: two out of three animal breaths are made possible by the oxygen plankton produce. If the oceans go down, we go down with them.

How could it be otherwise? See the pattern, not just the facts. There were so many bison on the Great Plains, you could sit and watch for days as a herd thundered by. In the central valley of California, the flocks of waterbirds were so thick they blocked out the sun. One-quarter of Indiana was a wetland, lush with life and the promise of more. Now it’s a desert of corn. Where I live in the pacific northwest, ten million fish have been reduced to ten thousand. People would hear them coming for a whole day. This is not a story: there are people alive who remember it. And I have never once heard the sound that water makes when forty million years of persistence finds it way home. Am I allowed to use the word “apocalypse” yet?

The necrophiliac insists we are mechanical components, that rivers are an engineering project, and genes can be sliced up and arranged at whim. He believes we are all machines, despite the obvious: a machine can be taken apart and put back together. A living being can’t. May I add: neither can a living planet.

Understand where the war against the world began. In seven places around the globe, humans took up the activity called agriculture. In very brute terms, you take a piece of land, you clear every living thing off it, and then you plant it to human use. Instead of sharing that land with the other million creatures who need to live there, you’re only growing humans on it. It’s biotic cleansing. The human population grows to huge numbers; everyone else is driven into extinction.

Agriculture creates a way of life called civilization. Civilization means people living in cities. What that means is: they need more than the land can give. Food, water, energy have to come from someplace else. It doesn’t matter what lovely, peaceful values people hold in their hearts. The society is dependent on imperialism and genocide. Because no one willing gives up their land, their water, their trees. But since the city has used up its own, it has to go out and get those from somewhere else. That’s the last 10,000 years in a few sentences.

The end of every civilization is written into the beginning. Agriculture destroys the world. That’s not agriculture on a bad day. That’s what agriculture is. You pull down the forest, you plow up the prairie, you drain the wetland. Especially, you destroy the soil. Civilizations last between 800 and maybe 2,000 years—they last until the soil gives out.

What could be more sadistic then control of entire continents? He turns mountains into rubble, and rivers must do as they are told. The basic unit of life is violated with genetic engineering. The basic unit of matter as well, to make bombs that kill millions. This is his passion, turning the living into the dead. It’s not just individual deaths and not even the deaths of species. The process of life itself is now under assault and it is losing badly. Vertebrate evolution has long since come to a halt—there isn’t enough habitat left. There are areas in China where there are no flowering plants. Why? Because the pollinators are all dead. That’s five hundred million years of evolution: gone.

He wants it all dead. That’s his biggest thrill and the only way he can control it. According to him it was never alive. There is no self-willed community, no truly wild land. It’s all inanimate components he can arrange to this liking, a garden he can manage. Never mind that every land so managed has been lessened into desert. The essential integrity of life has been breached, and now he claims it never existed. He can do whatever he wants. And no one stops him.

__________

Can we stop him?

I say yes, but then I have no intention of giving up. The facts as they stand are unbearable, but it’s only in facing them that pattern comes clear. Civilization is based on drawdown. It props itself up with imperialism, conquering its neighbors and stripping their land, but eventually even the colonies wear out. Fossil fuel has been an accelerant, as has capitalism, but the underlying problem is much bigger than either. Civilization requires agriculture, and agriculture is a war against the living world. Whatever good was in the culture before, ten thousand years of that war has turned it necrotic.

But what humans do they can stop doing. Granted every institution is headed in the wrong direction, there’s no material reason the destruction must continue. The reason is political: the sadist is rewarded, and rewarded well. Most leftists and environmentalists see that. What they don’t see is the central insight of radical feminism: his pleasure in domination.

The real brilliance of patriarchy is right here: it doesn’t just naturalize oppression, it sexualizes acts of oppression. It eroticizes domination and subordination and then institutionalizes them into masculinity and femininity. Men become real men by breaking boundaries—the sexual boundaries of women and children, the cultural and political boundaries of indigenous people, the biological boundaries of rivers and forests, the genetic boundaries of other species, and the physical boundaries of the atom itself. The sadist is rewarded with money and power, but he also gets a sexual thrill from dominating. And the end of the world is a mass circle jerk of autoerotic asphyxiation.

The real brilliance of feminism is that we figured that out.

What has to happen to save our planet is simple: stop the war. If we just get out of the way, life will return because life wants to live. The forests and prairies will find their way back. Every dam will fail, every cement channel, and the rivers will ease their sorrows and meet the ocean again. The fish will know what to do. In being eaten, they feed the forest, which protects the rivers, which makes a home for more salmon. This is not the death of destruction but the death of participation that makes the world whole.

Sometimes there are facts that require all the courage we have in our hearts. Here is one. Carbon has breached 400 ppm. For life to continue, that carbon needs to get back into the ground. And so we come to grasses.

Where the world is wet, trees make forests. Where it’s dry, the grasses grow. Grasslands endure extreme heat in summer and vicious cold in winter. Grasses survive by keeping 80 percent of their bodies underground, in the form of roots. Those roots are crucial to the community of life. They provide physical channels for rain to enter the soil. They can reach down fifteen feet and bring up minerals from the rocks below, minerals that every living creature needs. They can build soil at an extraordinary rate. The base material they use to make soil is carbon. Which means the grasses are our only hope to get that carbon out of the sky.

And they will do it if we let them. If we could repair 75 percent of the world’s grasslands—destroyed by the war of agriculture—in under fifteen years, the grasses would sequester all the carbon that’s been released since the beginning of the industrial age. Read that again if you need to. Then take it with you wherever you go. Tell it to anyone who will listen. There is still a chance.

bison

The grasses can’t do it alone. No creature exists independent of all others. Repairing the grasslands means restoring the ruminants. In the hot, dry summer, life goes dormant on the surface of the soil. It’s the ruminants who keep the nutrient cycle moving. They carry an ecosystem inside themselves, especially the bacteria that digests cellulose. When a bison grazes, she’s not actually eating the grass. She’s feeding it to her bacteria. The bacteria eat the grass and then she eats the bacteria. Her wastes then water and fertilize the grasses. And the circle is complete.

The grasslands have been eradicated for agriculture, to grow cereal grains for people. Because I want to restore the grasses, I get accused of wanting to kill six billion people. That’s not a random number. In 1800, at the beginning of the Industrial Age, there were one billion people. Now there are seven billion. Six billion are only here because of fossil fuel. Eating a non-renewable resource was never a plan with a future. Yet pointing that out somehow makes me a mass murderer.

Start with the obvious. Nothing we do at these numbers is sustainable. Ninety-eight percent of the old-growth forests and 99 percent of the grasslands are gone, and gone with them was most of the soil they built. There’s nothing left to take. The planet has been skinned alive.

Add to that: all civilizations end in collapse. All of them. How could it be otherwise if your way of life relies on destroying the place you live? The soil is gone and the oil is running out. By avoiding the facts, we are ensuring it will end in the worst possible way.

We can do better than mass starvation, failed states, ethnic strife, misogyny, petty warlords, and the dystopian scenarios that collapse brings. It’s very simple: reproduce at less than replacement numbers. The problem will take care of itself. And now we come to the girls.

What drops the birthrate universally is raising the status of women. Very specifically, the action with the greatest impact is teaching a girl to read. When women and girls have even that tiny bit of power over their lives, they choose to have fewer children. Yes, women need birth control, but what we really need is liberty. Around the world, women have very little control over how men use our bodies. Close to half of all pregnancies are unplanned or unwanted. Pregnancy is the second leading cause of death for girls age 15-19. Not much has changed since Emmeline Pankhurst refused to give up.

We should be defending the human rights of girls because girls matter. As it turns out, the basic rights of girls are crucial to the survival of the planet.

girl with wolf

Can we stop him?

Yes, but only if we understand what we’re up against.

He wants the world dead. Anything alive must be replaced by something mechanical. He prefers gears, pistons, circuits to soft animal bodies, even his own. He hopes to upload himself into a computer some day.

He wants the world dead. He enjoys making it submit. He’s erected giant cities where once were forests. Concrete and asphalt tame the unruly.

He wants the world dead. Anything female must be punished, permanently. The younger they are, the sooner they break. So he starts early.

A war against your body is a war against your life. If he can get us to fight the war for him, we’ll never be free. But we said every woman’s body was sacred. And we meant it, too. Every creature has her own physical integrity, an inviolable whole. It’s a whole too complex to understand, even as we live inside it. I had no idea why my eyes were swelling and my lungs were aching. The complexities of keeping me alive could never be left to me.

One teaspoon of soil contains a million living creatures. One tiny scoop of life and it’s already more complex than we could ever understand. And he thinks he can manage oceans?

We’re going to have to match his contempt with our courage. We’re going to have to match his brute power with our fierce and fragile dreams. And we’re going to have to match his bottomless sadism with a determination that will not bend and will not break and will not stop.

And if we can’t do it for ourselves, we have to do it for the girls.

Whatever you love, it is under assault. Love is a verb. May that love call us to action.

Lierre Keith is the author of six books. Visit her website at www.lierrekeith.com

Editor’s note: This essay first appeared August 8, 2015 on RadFem Repost.

 

Study finds agriculture and deforestation accelerate soil erosion 100 times faster

By Joshua E. Brown / University of Vermont

A new study shows that removing native forest and starting intensive agriculture can accelerate erosion so dramatically that in a few decades as much soil is lost as would naturally occur over thousands of years.

Had you stood on the banks of the Roanoke, Savannah, or Chattahoochee Rivers 100 years ago, you’d have seen a lot more clay soil washing down to the sea than before European settlers began clearing trees and farming there in the 1700s. Around the world, it is well known that deforestation and agriculture increases erosion above its natural rate.

But accurately measuring the natural rate of erosion for a landscape — and, therefore, how much human land use has accelerated this rate — has been a devilishly hard task for geologists. And that makes environmental decision-making — such as setting allowable amounts of sediment in fish habitat and land use regulation — also difficult.

Now research on these three rivers and seven other large river basins in the U.S. Southeast has, for the first time, precisely quantified this background rate of erosion. The scientists made a startling discovery: rates of hillslope erosion before European settlement were about an inch every 2,500 years, while during the period of peak land disturbance in the late 1800s and early 1900s, rates spiked to an inch every 25 years.

“That’s more than a hundred-fold increase,” says Paul Bierman, a geologist at the University of Vermont who co-led the new study with his former graduate student and lead author Luke Reusser, and geologist Dylan Rood at Imperial College, London. “Soils fall apart when we remove vegetation,” Bierman says, “and then the land erodes quickly.”

Their study was presented online Jan. 7 in the February issue of the journal Geology. Their work was supported by the National Science Foundation.

Precious resource

“Our study shows exactly how huge an effect European colonization and agriculture had on the landscape of North America,” says Dylan Rood. “Humans scraped off the soil more than 100 times faster than other natural processes!”

Along the southern Piedmont from Virginia to Alabama — that stretch of rolling terrain between the Appalachian Mountains and the coastal plain of the Atlantic Ocean — clay soils built up for many millennia. Then, in just a few decades of intensive logging, and cotton and tobacco production, as much soil eroded as would have happened in a pre-human landscape over thousands of years, the scientists note. “The Earth doesn’t create that precious soil for crops fast enough to replenish what the humans took off,” Rood says. “It’s a pattern that is unsustainable if continued.”

The scientist collected 24 sediment samples from these rivers — and then applied an innovative technique to make their measurements. From quartz in the sediment, Bierman and his team at the University of Vermont’s Cosmogenic Nuclide Laboratory extracted a rare form of the element beryllium, an isotope called beryllium-10. Formed by cosmic rays, the isotope builds up in the top few feet of the soil. The slower the rate of erosion, the longer soil is exposed at Earth’s surface, the more beryllium-10 it accumulates. Using an accelerator mass spectrometer at the Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory, the geologists measured how much beryllium-10 was in their samples — giving them a kind of clock to measure erosion over long time spans.

These modern river sediments revealed rates of soil loss over tens of thousands of years. This allowed the team to compare these background rates to post-settlement rates of both upland erosion and downriver sediment yield that have been well documented since the early 1900s across this Piedmont region.

While the scientists concluded that upland erosion was accelerated by a hundred-fold, the amount of sediment at the outlets of these rivers was increased only about five to ten times above pre-settlement levels, meaning that the rivers were only transporting about six percent of the eroded soil. This shows that most of the material eroded over the last two centuries still remains as “legacy sediment,” the scientists write, piled up at the base of hillslopes and along valley bottoms.

“There’s a huge human thumbprint on the landscape, which makes it hard to see what nature would do on its own,” Bierman says, “but the beauty of beryllium-10 is that it allows us to see through the human fingerprint to see what’s underneath it, what came before.”

“This study helps us understand how nature runs the planet,” he says, “compared to how we run the planet.”

Soil conservation

And this knowledge, in turn, can “help to inform land use planning,” Bierman says. “We can set regulatory goals based on objective data about how the landscape used to work.” Often, it is difficult to know whether conservation strategies — for example, regulations about TMDL’s (total maximum daily loads) of sediment — are well fitted to the geology and biology of a region. “In other words, an important unsolved mystery is: “How do the rates of human removal compare to ‘natural’ rates, and how sustainable are the human rates?” Rood asks.

While this new study shows that erosion rates were unsustainable in the recent past, “it also provides a goal for the future,” Rood says. “We can use the beryllium-10 erosion rates as a target for successful resource conservation strategies; they can be used to develop smart environmental policies and regulations that will protect threatened soil and water resources for generations to come.”

From University of Vermont: http://www.uvm.edu/~uvmpr/?Page=news&&storyID=19904

Industrial civilization forcing 41% of amphibians, 26% of mammals to extinction

By Robin McKie / The Observer

A stark depiction of the threat hanging over the world’s mammals, reptiles, amphibians and other life forms has been published by the prestigious scientific journal, Nature. A special analysis carried out by the journal indicates that a staggering 41% of all amphibians on the planet now face extinction while 26% of mammal species and 13% of birds are similarly threatened.

Many species are already critically endangered and close to extinction, including the Sumatran elephant, Amur leopard and mountain gorilla. But also in danger of vanishing from the wild, it now appears, are animals that are currently rated as merely being endangered: bonobos, bluefin tuna and loggerhead turtles, for example.

In each case, the finger of blame points directly at human activities. The continuing spread of agriculture is destroying millions of hectares of wild habitats every year, leaving animals without homes, while the introduction of invasive species, often helped by humans, is also devastating native populations. At the same time, pollution and overfishing are destroying marine ecosystems.

“Habitat destruction, pollution or overfishing either kills off wild creatures and plants or leaves them badly weakened,” said Derek Tittensor, a marine ecologist at the World Conservation Monitoring Centre in Cambridge. “The trouble is that in coming decades, the additional threat of worsening climate change will become more and more pronounced and could then kill off these survivors.”

The problem, according to Nature, is exacerbated because of the huge gaps in scientists’ knowledge about the planet’s biodiversity. Estimates of the total number of species of animals, plants and fungi alive vary from 2 million to 50 million. In addition, estimates of current rates of species disappearances vary from 500 to 36,000 a year. “That is the real problem we face,” added Tittensor. “The scale of uncertainty is huge.”

In the end, however, the data indicate that the world is heading inexorably towards a mass extinction – which is defined as one involving a loss of 75% of species or more. This could arrive in less than a hundred years or could take a thousand, depending on extinction rates.

The Earth has gone through only five previous great extinctions, all caused by geological or astronomical events. (The Cretaceous-Jurassic extinction that wiped out the dinosaurs 65 million years ago was triggered by an asteroid striking Earth, for example.) The coming great extinction will be the work of Homo sapiens, however.

“In the case of land extinctions, it is the spread of agriculture that has been main driver,” added Tittensor. “By contrast it has been the over-exploitation of resources – overfishing – that has affected sealife.” On top of these impacts, rising global temperatures threaten to destroy habitats and kill off more creatures.

This change in climate has been triggered by increasing emissions – from factories and power plants – of carbon dioxide, a gas that is also being dissolved in the oceans. As a result, seas are becoming more and more acidic and hostile to sensitive habitats. A third of all coral reefs, which support more lifeforms than any other ecosystem on Earth, have already been lost in the last few decades and many marine experts believe all coral reefs could end up being wiped out before the end of the century.

Similarly, a quarter of all mammals, a fifth of all reptiles and a seventh of all birds are headed toward oblivion. And these losses are occurring all over the planet, from the South Pacific to the Arctic and from the deserts of Africa to mountaintops and valleys of the Himalayas.

A blizzard of extinctions is now sweeping Earth and has become a fact of modern life. Yet the idea that entire species can be wiped out is relatively new. When fossils of strange creatures – such as the mastodon – were first dug up, they were assumed to belong to creatures that still lived in other lands. Extant versions lived elsewhere, it was argued. “Such is the economy of nature,” claimed Thomas Jefferson, who backed expeditions to find mastodons in the unexplored interior of America.

Then the French anatomist Georges Cuvier showed that the elephant-like remains of the mastodon were actually those of an “espèce perdue” or lost species. “On the basis of a few scattered bones, Cuvier conceived of a whole new way of looking at life,” notes Elizabeth Kolbert in her book, The Sixth Extinction: An Unnatural History. “Species died out. This was not an isolated but a widespread phenomenon.”

Since then the problem has worsened with every decade, as the Nature analysis makes clear. Humans began by wiping out mastodons and mammoths in prehistoric times. Then they moved on to the eradication of great auks, passenger pigeons – once the most abundant bird in North America – and the dodo in historical time. And finally, in recent times, we have been responsible for the disappearance of the golden toad, the thylacine – or Tasmanian tiger – and the Baiji river dolphin. Thousands more species are now under threat.

In an editorial, Nature argues that it is now imperative that governments and groups such as the International Union for Conservation of Nature begin an urgent and accurate census of numbers of species on the planet and their rates of extinction. It is not the most exciting science, the journal admits, but it is vitally important if we want to start protecting life on Earth from the worst impacts of our actions. The loss for the planet is incalculable – as it is for our own species which could soon find itself living in a world denuded of all variety in nature. As ecologist Paul Ehrlich has put it: “In pushing other species to extinction, humanity is busy sawing off the limb on which it perches.”

From The Guardian: http://www.theguardian.com/environment/2014/dec/14/earth-faces-sixth-great-extinction-with-41-of-amphibians-set-to-go-the-way-of-the-dodo

Film Review: Open Sesame: The Story of Seeds

By Norris Thomlinson / Deep Green Resistance Hawai’i

Open Sesame examines the importance of seeds to humans as the genesis of nearly all our domesticated foods. It details the tremendous loss in varietal diversity of our crops over the last century, due in large part to increasing corporate control over the seed market.

Farmers and gardeners in every region once had access to dozens of varieties of each vegetable and staple crop, finely adapted to the specific growing season, temperatures, rainfall patterns, insects, diseases, and soils of their area. With few people now saving their own seed, we’ve entrusted our food supply to a handful of seed companies selling the same handful of varieties to growers across the US. This will prove increasingly problematic as climate chaos increases divergence from climatic norms. We need a return to seed saving and breeding of numerous local varieties, each starting from a baseline adaptation to the specific conditions of each area. Diversity gives a better chance of avoiding complete catastrophic crop failure; this variety may yield in the heavy rains of one year, while that variety may succeed in the drought of the next.

The film shows beautiful time lapse sequences of seeds sprouting and shooting into new life. Even rarer, it shows people feeling very emotional about seeds, displaying extra-human connections we normally only see with domesticated pets, and hinting at the human responsibility of respectful relationship with all beings described by so many indigenous people. The movie highlights great projects from seed schools and the Seed Broadcast truck educating people on why and how to save seed, to William Woys Weaver and others within Seed Savers Exchange doing the on-the-ground work of saving varieties from extinction, to Hudson Valley Seed Library trying to create a viable business as a local organic seed company.

Civilization and Agriculture

Unfortunately, Open Sesame has an extremely narrow focus. Though it rightly brings up the issue of staple crops, which many people ignore in their focus on vegetables, it trumpets our dependence on grains, even showing factory farmed cattle, pigs, and chickens in an uncritical light. This assumption that humans need annual crops reveals an ignorance of agriculture itself as a root cause of our converging environmental crises. Even before industrialism accelerated the destruction and oppression, civilization and its cities, fed by organic agriculture, was eroding soil, silting up waterways, turning forests into deserts, and instituting slavery and warfare. Though the diminished diversity within our food crops should indeed cause concern, the far greater biodiversity loss of mass species extinctions under organic agriculture should spark great alarm, if not outright panic.

In one scene, the documentary shows a nighttime urban view of industrial vehicles and electric lights, bringing to mind the planetary destruction enacted by the creation and operation of these technologies. Beneath the surface, this scene contains further social and imperialistic implications of packing humans into artificial and barren environments. The residents of this scene are fully reliant on imported food and other resources, often stolen directly, and all grown or mined from land stolen from its original human and non-human inhabitants. But the film goes on to point out, without any irony, that all civilizations began with humans planting seeds, as if the only problem we face now is that industrialization and corporate control applied to agriculture threaten the stability of otherwise beneficial systems.

In a similar disconnect, Open Sesame proclaims the wonders of gardening, farming, and “being in nature” while showing simplified ecosystem after simplified ecosystem ― annual gardens and fields with trees present only in the background, if at all. As any student of permaculture or of nature could tell you, the disturbed soil shown in these human constructions is antithetical to soil building, biodiversity, and sustainability. The film describes seeds “needing” our love and nurturing to grow, positioning us as stewards and playing dangerously into the dominating myth of human supremacism. Such dependence may (or may not) be true of many of our domesticated crops and animals, but I think it crucial to explicitly recognize that in indigenous cultures, humans are just one of many equal species living in mutual dependence.

Though the documentary chose not to tackle those big-picture issues, it still could have included perennial polycultures, groups of long-lived plants and animals living and interacting together in support of their community. For 99% of our existence, humans met our needs primarily from perennial polycultures, the only method proven to be sustainable. The film could have chosen from hundreds of modern examples of production of vegetables, fruit, and staple foods from perennial vegetable gardens, food forests, and grazing operations using rotating paddocks. Even simplified systems of orchards and nutteries would have shown some diversity in food production options. Besides being inherently more  sustainable in building topsoil and creating habitat, such systems rely much less on seed companies and help subvert their control.

Liberal vs Radical

The Deep Green Resistance Youtube Channel has an excellent comparison of Liberal vs Radical ways of analyzing and addressing problems. In short, liberalism focuses on individual mindsets and changing individual attitudes, and thus prioritizes education for achieving social change. Radicalism recognizes that some classes wield more power than others and directly benefit from the oppressions and problems of civilization. Radicalism holds these are not “mistakes” out of which people can be educated; we need to confront and dismantle systems of power, and redistribute that power. Both approaches are necessary: we need to stop the ability of the powerful to destroy the planet, and simultaneously to repair and rebuild local systems. But as a radical environmentalist, I found the exclusively liberal focus of Open Sesame disappointing. There’s nothing inherently wrong with its take on seed sovereignty; the film is good for what it is; and I’m in no way criticizing the interviewees doing such great and important work around seed saving and education. But there are already so many liberal analyses and proposed solutions in the environmental realm that this film’s treatment doesn’t really add anything new to the discussion.

A huge challenge I have with liberal environmentalism is its leap of logic in getting from here (a world in crisis) to there (a truly sustainable planet, with more topsoil and biodiversity every year than the year before.) Open Sesame is no exception: it has interview after interview of individuals carrying out individual actions: valuable, but necessarily limited. Gary Nabham speaks with relief on a few crop varieties saved from extinction by heroic individual effort, but no reflection is made on the reality of how much we’ve lost and the inadequacy of this individualist response. We see scene after scene of education efforts, especially of children. We’re left with a vague hope that more and more people will save their own seed, eventually leading to a majority reclaiming control over their plantings while the powerful agribusiness corporations just fade away. This ignores the institutional blocks deliberately put in place precisely by those powerful companies.

The only direct confrontation shown is a defensive lawsuit begging that Monsanto not be allowed to sue farmers whose crops are contaminated by patented GMOs from nearby fields. The lawsuit isn’t even successful, and the defeated farmers and activists are shown weary and dejected, but with a fuzzy determination that they can win justice if they keep trying hard enough. The film could instead have built on this example of the institutionalized power we’re up against and explored more radical approaches to force change. Still within the legal realm, CELDF (Community Environmental Legal Defense Fund) helps communities draft and pass ordinances banning things like factory farming, removing corporate personhood, and giving legal rights to nature within a municipality or county. Under such an ordinance, humans could initiate a lawsuit against agricultural operations leaching chemicals and sediment, on behalf of an impacted river. This radical redistribution of decision making directly confronts those in power and denies them the right to use it against the community and the land.

In the non-legal realm, underground direct attacks and aboveground nonviolent civil disobedience have successfully set back operations when people have cut down GMO papayas, burned GMO sugar beets, and sabotaged multiple fields and vineyards. The ultimate effectiveness of these attacks deserves a whole discussion in and of itself, but they would have been worth mentioning as one possible tactic for ending agribusiness domination of our food supplies.

In a perfect demonstration of the magical thinking that wanting something badly enough will make it happen, the documentary concludes with a succession of people chanting “Open sesame!” We’ve had 50 years of experience with this sort of environmentalism, long enough to know it’s not working. We also know that we, and the planet, have no time left to waste. We need to be strategic and smart in our opposition to perpetrators of destruction and in our healing of the damage already done. The Decisive Ecological Warfare strategy of Deep Green Resistance offers a possible plan for success, incorporating all kinds of people with all kinds of skills in all kinds of roles. If you care about the world and want to change where we’re headed, please read it, reflect on it, and get involved in whatever way makes the most sense for you.

After four month blockade, Argentine activists win construction stoppage at Monsanto plant

By Inter Press Service

Residents of a town in Argentina have won the first victory in their fight against biotech giant Monsanto, but they are still at battle stations, aware that winning the war is still a long way off.

For four months, activists in Malvinas Argentinas, a town in the central province of Cordoba, have maintained a blockade of the construction site where the U.S. transnational company is building the world’s biggest maize seed treatment plant.

In this previously peaceful town, protestors continue to camp in front of the construction site and to block access to it, even after a provincial court order this month put a halt to the works.

The campaign against the plant, led by Asamblea Malvinas Lucha por la Vida (Malvinas Assembly Fighting for Life) and other social organizations, began Sept. 18 in this town 17 kilometers from the capital of Cordoba.

Tense situations ensued, with attempts by the provincial police to disperse the demonstrators and provocations by construction union envoys, but a provincial labor court ruling on Jan. 8 upheld the activists’ cause.

“The ruling shows that the residents’ arguments are just, because they are claiming basic rights that are recognized and established in the constitution and federal legislation,” Federico Macciocchi, the lawyer representing opponents of the plant, told IPS.

The court ruled that the municipal ordinance authorizing construction of the plant in this mostly working class town of 15,000 people was unconstitutional.

It ordered a halt to construction work and banned the Malvinas Argentinas municipality from authorizing the construction until two legal requirements are fulfilled: carrying out an environmental impact assessment and a public hearing.

“This is a big step forward in the struggle, achieved by working together on institutional demands, along with social activism on the streets,” Matías Marizza, a member of the Malvinas Assembly, told IPS.

“This struggle has resulted in guaranteeing respect for the law,” the activist said.

The Malvinas Assembly and other organizations have decided to continue to camp out at the site and block access until the project is abandoned for good.

Monsanto replied to IPS’s request for comment with a statement that describes local activists as “extremists” who are preventing their contractors and employees from “exercising the right to work.”

The court ruling arose from a legal appeal lodged by local residents and the Club de Derecho (Cordoba Law Club), presided by Macciocchi.

The labor court has ordered an environmental impact study and a public hearing, he emphasized.

The views expressed in the public hearing will be “highly relevant,” he said, although under the General Environment Law, participants’ objections and opinions “are not binding.”

However, the law does stipulate that if the opinions of the convening authorities differ from the results of the public hearing, “they must justify them and make them public,” he said.

Now the Malvinas Assembly also wants a public consultation with a secret ballot.

Such a ballot would comply with the environmental law and “guarantee citizens’ full rights to decide on which model of local development and what kind of social and economic activities they want for their daily life, and what environmental risks they are prepared to take,” Víctor Mazzalay, another resident, told IPS.

“It is the people who should have that information and decide whether or not to accept the costs and risks involved,” said Mazzalay, a social researcher funded by the National Scientific and Technical Research Council (CONICET) at the University of Cordoba.

“An environmental impact assessment should include a public consultation so that citizens can provide the ‘social license’ necessary for developing any social, economic and productive activity that may affect their environment and health,” he said.

Monsanto’s statement said the company does not agree with the court ruling, but respects judicial decisions and will abide by the verdict.

The company stated that it had already conducted an environmental assessment, which is currently under review by the provincial Secretary of the Environment.

In Macciocchi’s view, the court’s ruling is definitive and “brings the legal conflict to an end.”

“The ruling arose from a legal appeal, so there is no further recourse in ordinary law,” he said.

Monsanto can still appeal to have the decision overturned by the provincial High Court (Tribunal Superior de Justicia, TSJ).

The company has already said that it will appeal. “We consider our right to build legitimate since we have complied with all legal requirements and have obtained authorization to build according to the regulations, as confirmed by the ruling of the Court of First Instance of Oct. 7, 2013,” their statement said.

However, in Macciocchi’s view “this appeal will not overturn the labour court ruling.”

“If we consider how long the TSJ takes to process an appeal, by the time there is a decision, the Malvinas municipality and the Environment Secretariat will have complied with the laws they previously violated,” he said.

According to the lawyer, the high court takes up to two and a half years for appeals lodged by individuals under sentence, and five to seven years in labor or civil cases.

“It would create a real institutional scandal if the TSJ were to deal with this case by leap-frogging all the other cases that have lain dormant in its offices for years,” he said.

The Jan. 8 ruling cannot prevent the definitive installation of the plant, which Monsanto plans should become operational during 2014.

“But if the citizens’ demonstrations against the plant and the environmental impact assessment are unfavorable to the company, Monsanto will not be able to instal the plant in Malvinas Argentinas,” Macciocchi predicted.

Mazzalay emphasized that the “substance” of the arguments of opponents to Monsanto’s plant was “the defense of the people’s right to decide on the kind of productive activities and the type of environmental risks they wish to undertake.”

The company announced it was planning to build more than 200 maize silos, and to use agrochemical products to treat the seeds. Monsanto is one of the world’s biggest manufacturers of herbicides and genetically modified seeds, and has operated in Argentina since 1956 when it established a plastics factory.

“It is frequently argued that there is a reasonable doubt that this productive activity is harmless to human health,” Mazzalay said.

In his view, “a multiplicity of scientific studies have shown negative effects on health from both seed transportation and handling of and exposure to different agrochemical products.”

“When there is a health risk related to environmental issues, reasonable doubt should bring the precautionary principle into play, that is, an activity should not be developed until it has definitely been proved to be harmless,” he said.

From Upside Down World: http://upsidedownworld.org/main/argentina-archives-32/4669-argentine-activists-win-first-round-against-monsanto-plant

Max Wilbert: Plows and Carbon: The Timeline of Global Warming

By Max Wilbert / Deep Green Resistance Great Basin

In June 1988, climatologist and NASA scientist James Hansen stood before the Energy and Natural Resources Committee in the United States Senate. The temperature was a sweltering 98 degrees.

“The earth is warmer in 1988 than at any time in the history of instrumental measurements,” Hansen said. “The global warming now is large enough that we can ascribe with a high degree of confidence a cause-and-effect relationship to the greenhouse effect… Our computer climate simulations indicate that the greenhouse effect is already large enough to begin to effect the probability of extreme events such as summer heat waves.”

Hansen has authored some of the most influential scientific literature around climate change, and like the vast majority of climate scientists, has focused his work on the last 150 to 200 years – the period since the industrial revolution.

This period has been characterized by the widespread release of greenhouse gases like carbon dioxide (CO2) and methane (CH4), and by the clearing of land on a massive scale – the plowing of grasslands and felling of forests for cities and agricultural crops.

Now, the world is on the brink of catastrophic climate change. Hansen and other scientists warn us that if civilization continues to burn fossil fuels and clear landscapes, natural cycles may be disrupted to the point of complete ecosystem breakdown – a condition in which the planet is too hot to support life. Hansen calls this the Venus Syndrome, named after the boiling planet enshrouded in clouds of greenhouse gases.

“If we also burn the tar sands and tar shale [low grade, high carbon fossil fuels], I believe the Venus syndrome is a dead certainty,” Hansen has said.

If humanity wishes to have a chance of avoiding this fate, it is important that we understand global warming in detail. Why is it happening? When did it start? What fuels it? And, most importantly, what can stop it?

How old is global warming?

New studies are showing that the current episode of global warming may be a great deal older than previously believed – which may entirely change our strategy to stop it.

While fossil fuels have only been burned on a large scale for 200 years, land clearance has been a defining characteristic of civilizations – cultures based around cities and agriculture – since they first emerged around 8,000 years ago.

This land clearance has impacts on global climate. When a forest ecosystem is converted to agriculture, more than two thirds of the carbon that was stored in that forest is lost, and additional carbon stored in soils rich in organic materials will continue to be lost to the atmosphere as erosion accelerates.

Modern science may give us an idea of the magnitude of the climate impact of this pre-industrial land clearance. Over the past several decades of climate research, there has been an increasing focus on the impact of land clearance on modern global warming. The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, in it’s 2004 report, attributed 17% of global emissions to cutting forests and destroying grasslands – a number which does not include the loss of future carbon storage or emissions directly related to this land clearance, such as methane released from rice paddies or fossil fuels burnt for heavy equipment.

Some studies show that 50% of the global warming in the United States can be attributed to land clearance – a number that reflects the inordinate impact that changes in land use can have on temperatures, primarily by reducing shade cover and evapotranspiration (the process whereby a good-sized tree puts out thousands of gallons of water into the atmosphere on a hot summer day – their equivalent to our sweating).

So if intensive land clearance has been going on for thousands of years, has it contributed to global warming? Is there a record of the impacts of civilization in the global climate itself?

10,000 years of Climate Change

According to author Lierre Keith, the answer is a resounding yes. Around 10,000 years ago, humans began to cultivate crops. This is the period referred to as the beginning of civilization, and, according to the Keith and other scholars such as David Montgomery, a soil scientist at the University of Washington, it marked the beginning of land clearance and soil erosion on a scale never before seen – and led to massive carbon emissions.

“In Lebanon (and then Greece, and then Italy) the story of civilization is laid bare as the rocky hills,” Keith writes. “Agriculture, hierarchy, deforestation, topsoil loss, militarism, and imperialism became an intensifying feedback loop that ended with the collapse of a bioregion [the Mediterranean basin] that will most likely not recover until after the next ice age.”

Montgomery writes, in his excellent book Dirt: The Erosion of Civilizations, that the agriculture that followed logging and land clearance led to those rocky hills noted by Keith.

“It is my contention that the invention of [agriculture] fundamentally altered the balance between soil production and soil erosion – dramatically increasing soil erosion.

Other researchers, like Jed Kaplan and his team from the Avre Group at the Ecole Polytechnique Fédérale de Lausanne in Switzerland, have affirmed that preindustrial land clearance has had a massive impact on the landscape.

“It is certain that the forests of many European countries were substantially cleared before the Industrial Revolution,” they write in a 2009 study.

Their data shows that forest cover declined from 35% to 0% in Ireland over the 2800 years before the beginning of the Industrial Revolution. The situation was similar in Norway, Finland, Iceland, where 100% of the arable land was cleared before 1850.

Similarly, the world’s grasslands have been largely destroyed: plowed under for fields of wheat and corn, or buried under spreading pavement. The grain belt, which stretches across the Great Plains of the United States and Canada, and across much of Eastern Europe, southern Russia, and northern China, has decimated the endless fields of constantly shifting native grasses.

The same process is moving inexorably towards its conclusion in the south, in the pampas of Argentina and in the Sahel in Africa. Thousands of species, each uniquely adapted to the grasslands that they call home, are being driven to extinction.

“Agriculture in any form is inherently unsustainable,” writes permaculture expert Toby Hemenway. “We can pass laws to stop some of the harm agriculture does, but these rules will reduce harvests. As soon as food gets tight, the laws will be repealed. There are no structural constraints on agriculture’s ecologically damaging tendencies.”

As Hemenway notes, the massive global population is essentially dependent on agriculture for survival, which makes political change a difficult proposition at best. The seriousness of this problem is not to be underestimated. Seven billion people are dependent on a food system – agricultural civilization – that is killing the planet.

The primary proponent of the hypothesis – that human impacts on climate are as old as civilization – has been Dr. William Ruddiman, a retired professor at the University of Virginia. The theory is often called Ruddiman’s Hypothesis, or, alternately, the Early Anthropocene Hypothesis.

Ruddiman’s research, which relies heavily on atmospheric data from gases trapped in thick ice sheets in Antarctica and Greenland, shows that around 11,000 years ago carbon dioxide levels in the atmosphere began to decline as part of a natural cycle related to the end of the last Ice Age. This reflected a natural pattern that has been seen after previous ice ages.

This decline continued until around 8000 years ago, when the natural trend of declining carbon dioxide turned around, and greenhouse gases began to rise. This coincides with the spread of civilization across more territory in China, India, North Africa, the Middle East, and certain other regions.

Ruddiman’s data shows that deforestation over the next several thousand years released 350 Gigatonnes of carbon into the atmosphere, an amount nearly equal to what has been released since the Industrial Revolution. The figure is corroborated by the research of Kaplan and his team.

Around 5000 years ago, cultures in East and Southeast Asia began to cultivate rice in paddies – irrigated fields constantly submerged in water. Like an artificial wetland, rice patties create an anaerobic environment, where bacteria metabolizing carbon-based substances (like dead plants) release methane instead of carbon dioxide and the byproduct of their consumption. Ruddiman points to a spike in atmospheric methane preserved in ice cores around 5000 years ago as further evidence of warming due to agriculture.

Some other researchers, like R. Max Holmes from the Woods Hole Research Institute and Andrew Bunn, a climate scientist from Western Washington University, believe that evidence is simply not conclusive. Data around the length of interglacial periods and the exact details of carbon dioxide and methane trends is not detailed enough to make a firm conclusion, they assert. Regardless, it is certain that the pre-industrial impact of civilized humans on the planet was substantial.

“Our data show very substantial amounts of human impact on the environment over thousands of years,” Kaplan said. “That impact really needs to be taken into account when we think about the carbon cycle and greenhouse gases.”

Restoring Grasslands: a strategy for survival

If the destruction of grasslands and forests signals the beginning of the end for the planet’s climate, some believe that the restoration of these natural communities could mean salvation.

Beyond their beauty and inherent worth, intact grasslands supply a great deal to humankind. Many pastoral cultures subsist entirely on the animal protein that is so abundant in healthy grasslands. In North America, the rangelands that once sustained more than 60 million Bison (and at least as many pronghorn antelope, along with large populations of elk, bear, deer, and many others) now support fewer than 45 million cattle – animals ill-adapted to the ecosystem, who damage their surroundings instead of contributing to them.

Healthy populations of herbivores also contribute to carbon sequestration in grassland soils by increasing nutrient recycling, a powerful effect that allows these natural communities to regulate world climate. They also encourage root growth, which sequesters more carbon in the soil.

Just as herbivores cannot survive without grass, grass cannot thrive without herbivores.

Grasslands are so potent in their ability to pull carbon dioxide out of the atmosphere that some believe restoring natural grasslands could be one of the most effective tools in the fight against runaway global warming.

“Grass is so good at building [carbon rich] soil that repairing 75 percent of the planet’s rangelands would bring atmospheric CO2 to under 330 ppm in 15 years or less,” Lierre Keith writes.

The implications of this are immense. It means, quite simply, that one of the best ways to reduce greenhouse gases in the atmosphere is to move away from agriculture, which is based upon the destruction of forests and grasslands, and towards other means of subsistence. It means moving away from a way of life 10,000 years old. It means rethinking the entire structure of our food system – in some ways, the entire structure of our culture.

Some ambitious, visionary individuals are working in parallel with this strategy, racing against time to restore grasslands and to stabilize Earth’s climate.

In Russia, in the remote northeastern Siberian state of Yakutia, a scientist named Sergei Zimov has an ambitious plan to recreate a vast grassland – a landscape upon whom millions of herbivores such as mammoths, wild horses, reindeer, bison, and musk oxen fed and roamed until the end of the last ice age.

“In future, to preserve the permafrost, we only need to bring herbivores,” says Zimov. “Why is this useful? For one, the possibility to reconstruct a beautiful [grassland] ecosystem. It is important for climate stability. If the permafrost melts, a lot of greenhouse gases will be emitted from these soils.”

Zimov’s project is nicknamed “Pleistocene Park,” and stretches across a vast region of shrubs and mosses, low productivity communities called ‘Taiga’. But until 12,000 years ago, this landscape was highly productive pastures for a span of 35,000 years, hosting vast herds of grazers and their predators.

“Most small bones don’t survive because of the permafrost,” says Sergei Zimov. “[But] the density of skeletons in this sediment, here and all across these lowlands: 1,000 skeletons of mammoth, 20,000 skeletons of bison, 30,000 skeletons of horses, and about 85,000 skeletons of reindeer, 200 skeletons of musk-ox, and also tigers [per square kilometer].”

These herds of grazers no only supported predators, but also preserved the permafrost beneath their feet, soils that now contain 5 times as much carbon as all the rainforests of Earth. According to Zimov, the winter foraging behavior of these herbivores was the mechanism of preservation.

“In winter, everything is covered in snow,” Zimov says. “If there are 30 horses per square kilometer, they will trample the snow, which is a very good thermal insulator. If they trample in the snow, the permafrost will be much colder in wintertime. The introduction of herbivores can reduce the temperatures in the permafrost and slow down the thawing.”

In the Great Plains of the United States and Canada, a similar plan to restore the landscape and rewild the countryside has emerged. The brainchild of Deborah and Frank Popper, the plan calls for the gradual acquisition of rangelands and agricultural lands across the West and Midwest, with the eventual goal of creating a vast nature preserve called the Buffalo Commons, 10-20 million acres of wilderness, an area 10 times the size of the largest National Park in the United States (Wrangell-St. Elias National Park in Alaska).

In this proposed park, the Popper’s envision a vast native grassland, with predators following wandering herds of American Bison and other grazers who follow the shifting grasses who follow the fickle rains. The shifting nature of the terrain in the Great Plains requires space, and this project would provide it in tracts not seen for hundreds of years.

In parts of Montana, the work has already begun. Many landowners have sold their farms to private conservation groups to fill in the gaps between isolated sections of large public lands. Many Indian tribes across the United States and Southern Canada are also working to restore Bison, who not only provide high quality, healthy, traditional food but also contribute to biodiversity and restore the health of the grasslands through behavior such a wallowing, which creates small wetlands.

Grasslands have the power to not only restore biodiversity and serve as a rich, nutrient-dense source of food, but also to stabilize global climate. The soils of the world cannot survive agricultural civilizations for much longer. If the plows continue their incessant work, this culture will eventually go the way of the Easter Islanders, the Maya, the Greeks, the Macedonians, the Harrapans, or the Roman Empire – blowing in the wind, clouding the rivers. Our air is thick with the remnants of ancient soils, getting long overdue revenge for their past mistreatment.

The land does not want fields. It wants Bison back. It wants grasslands, forests, wetlands, birds. It wants humans back, humans who know how to live in a good way, in relationship with the soil and the land and all the others. The land wants balance, and we can help. We can tend the wild and move towards other means of feeding ourselves, as our old ancestors have done for long years. It is the only strategy that takes into account the needs of the natural world, the needs for a land free of plows and tractor-combines.

In time, with luck and hard work, that ancient carbon will be pulled from the atmosphere – slowly at first, but then with gathering speed. The metrics of success are clear: a calmed climate, rivers running free, biodiversity rebounding. The task of achieving that success is a great challenge, but guided by those who believe in restoring the soil, we can undo 8,000 years of mistakes, and finally begin to live again as a species like any other, nestled in our home, at peace and in balance, freed at last from the burdens of our ancestors’ mistakes.

Bibliography

Climate meddling dates back 8,000 years. By Alexandra Witze. April 23rd, 2011. Science News. http://www.sciencenews.org/view/generic/id/71932/title/Climate_meddling_dates_back_8%2C000_years#video

U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. Global Emissions. Accessed June 23rd, 2012. http://epa.gov/climatechange/ghgemissions/global.html

The prehistoric and preindustrial deforestation of Europe. By Kaplan et al. Avre Group, Ecole Polytechnique Federale de Lausanne. Quaternary Science Reviews 28 (2009) 3016-3034.

‘Land Use as Climate Change Mitigation.’ Stone, Brian Jr. Environmental Science and Technology 43, 9052-9056. 11/2009.

‘Functional Aspects of Soil Animal Diversity in Agricultural Grasslands’ by Bardgett et al. Applied Soil Ecology, 10 (1998) 263-276.

Zimov, Sergei. Personal Interviews, June/July 2010.

Abandoned Russian farmland soaks up 50 million tons of carbon every year

By John Upton / Grist

When the USSR collapsed, the communal farming systems that helped feed the union’s citizens collapsed with it. Farmers abandoned 1 million acres of farmland and headed into the cities in search of work.

New research by European scientists has revealed the staggering climate benefits of that sweeping change in land use. According to the study, published in the journal Global Change Biology, wild vegetation growing on former USSR farming lands has sucked up approximately 50 million tons of carbon every year since 1990.

New Scientist reports that’s equivalent to 10 percent of Russia’s yearly fossil fuel carbon emissions:

“Everything like this makes a difference,” says Jonathan Sanderman, a soil chemist at CSIRO Land and Water in Australia. “Ten per cent is quite a bit considering most nations are only committed to 5 per cent reduction targets. So by doing absolutely nothing — by having depressed their economy — they’ve achieved quite a bit.”

He says the abandoned farmland is probably the largest human-made carbon sink, but notes it came at the cost of enormous social and economic hardship.

Modelling the effect into the future, [study co-author Irina] Kurganova estimates that, since the land has remained uncultivated, another 261 million tonnes will be sequestered over the next 30 years. At this point, the landscape will reach equilibrium, with the same amount of carbon escaping into the atmosphere as is being taken up.

The finding is a stark reminder of how Earth does a bang-up job of soaking up carbon if we leave more of it undeveloped and un-farmed.

From Grist: http://grist.org/news/abandoned-russian-farmland-soaks-up-50-million-tons-of-carbon-every-year/

Dominican Republic bulldozing wildlife preserve for agriculture

By Jeremy Hance / Mongabay

Last Wednesday, bulldozers entered the Loma Charco Azul Biological Reserve (LCABR) in the Dominican Republic and began clearing vegetation for agricultural development. The move stunned local conservationists who had not been notified ahead of time of the project. Although Charco Azul Biological Reserve is home to a wealth of threatened species—including the world’s largest population of the Critically Endangered Ricordi’s iguana (Cyclura ricordi)—the destruction of the reserve was signed off by the Dominican Republic’s Minister of the Environment, Bautista Rojas Gómez.

“The current Minister of the Environment simply does not care about protected areas. Other Ministry technical staff had denied the permit, but he signed it off himself, yielding to pressure from the Agrarian Institute,” Yolanda Leon, a biologist and president of the local NGO Grupo Jaragua, told mongabay.com.

Grupo Jaragua, which focuses on conservation efforts in the southwestern portion of the Dominican Republic, has called on the government to immediately halt the clearing. Meanwhile the National Institute of Lawyers for the Protection of the Environment are preparing to take legal action over the destruction, arguing that the clearing of a protected area is illegal under national law, reports the Environment News Service. To date, around ten hectares have been cleared, but the government plans on clearing over a hundred hectares.

The agricultural project is reportedly a part of a relocation project for families that have been impacted by rising water levels in nearby Enriquillo Lagoon. However, Grupo Jaragua warns that the arid land around Loma Charco Azul Biological Reserve is little suitable for farming.

“Many other areas have been cleared nearby and no land has been allotted to local people, nor water systems have been installed, they remain fallow.”

However even if the clearing stops, the situation has already created conflict in the region.

“The nearby locals who’ve been promised the land are threatening […] violence against the ministry, environmental groups and any iguana they find unless they receive the land,” Leon notes.

Charco Azul Biological Reserve, which was only established in 2009, is notable for housing around 600 Ricordi’s iguana, a species which is down to just a few thousand individuals and is only found in the Dominican Republic. These iguanas are known for their blood-red eyes. In addition, the reserve is home to endemic species like the least pauraque (Siphonorhis brewsteri), the Hispaniolan racer snake (Haitiophis anomalus), and a tree cactus (Dendrocereus undulosus).

Most recently researchers have discovered the presence of the Hispaniolan solenodon (Solenodon paradoxus) in the park as well. Listed as Endangered, the solenodon is one of the world’s most bizarre mammals: it is the only mammal to shoot venom out of its teeth like a snake. The solenodon is also a living fossil: virtually unchanged in the fossil record, solenodons ran underneath the feet of dinosaurs 75 million years ago. The Hispaniolan solenodon’s only living relative is in Cuba and is Critically Endangered.

The Loma Charco Azul Biological Reserve is apart of the UNESCO Jaragua-Bahoruco-Enriquillo Biosphere Reserve.

From Mongabay: “Dominican Republic sends bulldozers to destroy wildlife reserve, home to endangered species

Cherine Akkari: Local Food Systems in Quebec

By Cherine Akkari / Deep Green Resistance

Over the past few decades, our food system has become increasingly globalized [10]. With the rise of agribusiness, the ability to transport food cheaply over long distances and the development of food preservation techniques have enabled the distance between farm and market to increase dramatically.

Recently, such practices have been questioned for the damage they cause to the natural environment, their high energy consumption, and their contribution to climate change. In addition, the quality of the food available to residents is subject to increasing concern.

In fact, the trend toward increasing distances between producers and consumers has prompted many to question the environmental and social sustainability of our food choices [10]. The question of how to feed the urban population, particularly during crisis, is becoming urgent every day. Concerns about health and the loss of tradition and culture that began to take hold in post-modern society, the spread of the ‘food desert’, especially in poor urban areas [4], where there is no easy access to affordable food, food banks and soup kitchens, demonstrated that the urgency of access to food and food security for everyone must be confronted.

To note here, the modern movement for LFS (local food systems) as an alternative to the conventional agricultural system is not new. It started in Japan in the 1970s with the teikei, which means ‘putting the producer’s face on the product’ [10]. The teikei were organized around consumer cooperatives, whose members would link up with producers and even helped with the work on the farm [13]. A similar model was also adopted in Québec by Équiterre in 1995 where consumers, organized into groups, pay up front at the beginning of the season and receive deliveries of food baskets each week, thereby sharing the risk inherent in agricultural production [1].

Agriculture is a major driver of human-caused climate change, contributing an estimated 25 to 30% of global greenhouse gas emissions. However, when done sustainably it can be an important key to mitigating climate change [12]. The sustainable use of agricultural biodiversity is likely to be particularly beneficial for small-scale farmers, who need to optimize the limited resources that are available to them and for whom the access to external inputs is lacking due to financial or infrastructural constraints [19].

Benefits on a large-scale can also be achieved by focusing on improvements relevant to large commercial farmers and conservation agriculture has already been effective in this respect. Inevitably, there is considerable skepticism over the practicality of the widespread adoption of agricultural production practices that embody a greater use of biodiversity for food and agriculture and a greater emphasis on ecosystem functions [19].

Two major geopolitical realities have a constraining effect on peoples’ thinking. Firstly, modern, intensive farming in developed countries receives very large levels of financial support and all sectors of the agricultural and food industries are linked to this highly subsidized system. Secondly, there is a continuing commitment to ensuring that food prices remain low and that basic foodstuffs are affordable by all sectors of society including the poorest. These both tend to lead to a disinterest in the nature of agricultural production systems and present a very real barrier to the development of new approaches to production [19]. However, it is increasingly recognized that an appropriate policy framework can largely overcome these constraints and, indeed, must be developed .

In the last few years, more localized food supply chains have been proposed as a vehicle for sustainable development [5]; [6]; [9]; [15] and [21]. We can note here that the term ‘local’ is still contested and its definition varies from one local market development organization to the next. Literally, the term ‘local’ indicates a relation to a particular place, a geographic entity.

However, as our literature review has uncovered, most organizations have a more elaborate definition of what is local, often incorporating specific goals and objectives that an LFS ought to deliver into the definition itself.

There are three aspects of LFS, which are proximity (geographic distance, temporal distance, political and administrative boundaries, bio-regions, and social distance), objectives of local food systems (economic, environmental and social objectives), and distribution mechanisms in local food systems (farm shops, farmer’s markets, box schemes, community-supported agriculture, institutional procurement policy, and urban agriculture).

Besides the non-governmental organizations (NGOs), there is a growing interest by the public sector for local food, which is mainly linked to the idea of food sovereignty – a global movement that aims to transform food systems into engines of sustainable development and social justice. To note here is La Via Campesina [21], which was the first organization to develop the concept of food sovereignty in 1993 in Belgium [13].

Thus, the pursuit of food sovereignty implies that work should be done in international treaty negotiations and human rights conventions in order to allow state sovereignty over food policy—that is, to prevent interference from foreign powers in the policy-making process, lift restrictions placed by international trade agreements, and eliminate dumping practices [1].

In 2007 in Montreal, a definition of food sovereignty was developed by a Québec-based coalition for food sovereignty that included producer organizations, civil society groups, food distributors, and development organizations. The definition states that “food sovereignty means the right of people to develop their own food and agricultural policy; to protect and regulate national food production and trade in order to attain sustainable development goals, to determine their degree of food autonomy, and to eliminate dumping on their markets. Food sovereignty does not contradict trade in the sense that it is subordinated to the right of people to local food production, healthy and ecological, realized in equitable conditions that respect the right of every partner to decent working conditions and incomes” [1].

Over the last 60 years, Canada‘s overall food system has become more geared to large-scale systems of production, distribution and retail. In Quebec, the agricultural, food processing, and retail sectors account for 6.8% of GDP and 12.5% of all jobs. The province produces fresh and processed food worth $19.2 billion, while only consuming $15.4 billion (a 25% surplus), and retailers imported $6.9 billion worth of fresh and processed foods last year. About 44% of Quebec’s raw and processed food production finds its way into Quebeckers’ plates, the rest being exported to other Canadian provinces (30%) and overseas (245) [20].

We can note here that since 1941, the evolution of Quebec’s agricultural landscape is characterized by the decrease in the number of farms and a market concentration dominated by few producers. And this is very similar to what we see in other Canadian provinces and other industrialized countries [8].

As it was already mentioned in this report, local food systems are proliferating in Quebec [8]. There is now a growing interest in the production, processing, and buying of local food. New “local food systems” are being set up to organize the various components that will meet the needs of all the stakeholders in the community or region [7].

The initiatives that are helping in this process in Quebec are: organic and other specialized agriculture ((316 certified organic livestock production units, 341 organic maple syrup producers, and 585 certified farms [18]), farmer’s markets (network of 82 open markets, seasonal or permanent, daily or occasional), community- supported agriculture (CSA) and solidarity markets (a new phenomenon, solidarity markets allow consumers to order through a web portal) [8].

Despite the growth of these initiatives, there remain several obstacles inhibiting their expansion. The three main obstacles are: lack of financing (for example, banks are not willing to issue micro-loans at competitive rates), economic power (in fact, the food retail sector is marked by high rates of market concentration; supermarkets have been able to achieve economies of scale because they do not have to pay for the social and environmental costs of their business practices), and knowledge (the lack of demand for local food attributed to a lack of information about where to procure it, and a lack of information about prices).

Now, identifying every obstacle, policy and existing initiative related to the nodes in the value chain in the literature of [1], we notice there is a dilemma between land protection and land access. This is mostly attributed to the case of zoning policy.

In 1978, and in the context of rapid economic development, speculation on land, fragmentation of the land, and non-agricultural use, the government of Quebec passed agricultural land protection legislation, the second in Canada. This law reflected a desire to plan and regulate in this area and an overseeing agency was also created – the Commission de protection du territiore agricole du Quebec (CPTAQ). This law effectively organized the use of agricultural land over the years. However, today with greater concentration of ownership and fewer people in the business of food production, the zoning law is causing problems since it acts as barrier for entry for smaller and more value-added producers who need smaller plots [8].

In fact, the zoning law is one of the laws that facilitates industrial long-distance agriculture at the expense of small-scale sustainable agriculture and short supply chains (e.g. zoning laws that favor big farms, subsidy systems that favor big retailers, funding schemes targeted at large producers, and so on) [1]. At the same time, we can see this on an international level – the pressure for city expansion, speculation and non-agricultural use is still strong.

Moreover, beyond the provincial level, municipalities have authority over certain zoning laws and by-laws that can facilitate or inhibit the development of LFS, particularly regulations concerning the use of agricultural zones for commercial purposes [1]. Though aimed at protecting agricultural zones from industrial development and other forms of encroachment, such by-laws effectively prevent on-farm direct sales or the use of farmland for farmers’ markets or farm shops [17] and organizers of such initiatives typically have to negotiate with municipal authorities for special permits or designated spaces [3].

However, agricultural zoning per se (designations for tax purposes) falls within provincial government jurisdiction or a land management agency, such as the Agricultural Land Reserve in British Columbia or the Commission pour la protection des terres agricoles du Québec [1].

To conclude, to achieve this vision of food sovereignty, LFS have to go beyond the distance traveled by food products before they reach the final consumers (food miles) and integrate social, economic and environmental benefits. Also, Farmers’ markets, CSAs and other initiatives are becoming increasingly present in industrial countries in recent years, but they still only represent a very small part of the food market [1].

For example, in Quebec, Équiterre’s CSA went from 1 to 102 farms between 1995 and 2006. It contributes to 73% of the average turnover of the farms, and yields an average annual profit of $3,582 annually when conventional agricultural produces an average annual loss of $6,255 [2] . In addition, regarding the zoning law, there are some good possibilities.

In fact, within the existing law, new initiatives are emerging elsewhere and new possibilities can be developed in other provinces. These include cooperative land trusts and the collective buying of land and green belts [8]. However, other aspects require reform. CPTAQ should be more flexible to LFS needs.

For example, in one case, the CPTAQ has agreed to allow municipal authorities in Ste-Camille to take management over a large farm that was for sale in order to help new young families establish small farms. In order to do this, the CPTAQ de-zoned the land, thus technically empowering municipal authorities to develop it however they chose; however, there was an understanding that the municipality would keep the land for agricultural use.

If this case is inspiring, there should be a formal way to make such arrangements without necessarily de-zoning the land and placing it at risk. The main and remaining question is how to allow the creation of small farms without endangering land protection for the future of agriculture in Quebec, especially in the context of rising non-agricultural activities in farming areas (e.g. shale gas exploitation) [8]. Even though there is no national policy to promote LFS, provincial governments have been active with various programs in this area.

There is much variations from one provinces to another, but the existing programs tend to cluster on the demand side, focusing on consumer education and marketing projects, even running some themselves (the origin labeling and promotion programs). To a lesser extent, there are some programs to support organic farming (transition programs) but very few focusing on processing and distribution. Moreover, it is important to provide knowledge for policy action on food sovereignty given the gap which exists in understanding the impact of existing public policy initiatives [1].

Agriculture is a globally occurring activity which relates directly and powerfully to the present and future condition of environments, economies, and societies. While agriculture has provided for basic social and economic needs of people, it has also caused environmental degradation which has prompted a burgeoning interest in its sustainability [17].

Moreover, like the concept of ‘sustainable development’, the term ‘sustainable agriculture’ has been interpreted and applied in numerous ways. At the broadest level there is some consistency in definition [17]. Most analysts and practitioners would probably accept that sustainable agriculture has something to do with the use of resources to produce food and fiber in such a way that the natural resource base is not damaged, and that the basic needs of producers and consumers can be met over the long term [17].

Despite this, it seems that there is little agreement on the meaning of ‘sustainable agriculture’. There is a little agreement on the meaning of ‘agriculture’, let alone the stickiness of a word like ‘sustainable’ [17].

References:

[1] Blouin et al. (September, 2009). LOCAL FOOD SYSTEMS AND PUBLIC POLICY: A REVIEW OF THE LITERATURE. Équiterre &The Centre for Trade Policy and Law, Carleton University.

[2] Chinnakonda, D., and Telford, L. (2007). Les économies alimentaires locales et régionales au Canada: rapport sur la situation. Ottawa: Agriculture et Agroalimentaire Canada.

[3] Connell, D.J., Borsato, R., &  Gareau, L.( 2007). Farmers, Farmers Markets, and Land Use Planning: Case Studies in Prince George and Quesnel. University of Northern British Columbia.

[4] Cummins, S. and Macintyre, S. (2002). Food Deserts – Evidence and Assumption in Health Policy Making.” British Medical Journal Vol. 325, No. 7361: 436-438.

[5] Desmarais, A. (2007). La Vía Campesina: Globalization and the Power of Peasants. Halifax, London, and Ann Arbor, Michigan: Fernwood Pub. Pluto Press.

[6] Halweil, B. & Worldwatch Institute. (2002). Home Grown: The Case for Local Food in a Global Market. Washington, D.C.: Worldwatch Institute.

[7] Irshard, H. (2009). Local Food – A Rural Opportunity. Government of Alberta. Agriculture and Rural Development. Retrieved from http://www1.agric.gov.ab.ca/$Department/deptdocs.nsf/all/csi13484/$FILE/Local-Food-A-Rural-Opp.pdf

[8] Lemay J-F. (2009). Local Food Systems and Public Policy: The Case of Zoning Laws in Quebec. Retrieved from

[9] Lyson, T.A. 2004. Civic Agriculture. UPNE. Available at: http://www.joe.org/joe/2009august/a1.phpp://www.joe.org/joe/2009august/a1.php

[10] MacLeod, M., and Scott, J. (May, 2007). Local Food Procurement Policies:A Literature Review. Ecology Action Centre For the Nova Scotia Department of Energy. Retrieved from

[11 ] Mundler, P. (2007). Les Associations pour le maintien de l’agriculture paysanne (AMAP) en Rhône-Alpes, entre marché et solidarité. Ruralia 2007-20. Available at: http://ruralia.revues.org/document1702.html [Accessed July 15, 2009].

[12] Nierenberg, D., and Reynolds, L. (December 4, 2012). Supporting Climate-Friendly Food Production. WorldWatch Institute. Retrieved from http://www.worldwatch.org/supporting-climate-friendly-food-production

[13] Pimbert, M. (2008). Towards Food Sovereignty: Reclaiming Autonomous Food Systems. London: International Institute for Environment and Development.

[14] Pretty, J. (1998). The Living Land: Agriculture, Food, and Community Regeneration in Rural Europe. London: Earthscan.

[15] Rosset, P. & Land Research Action Network. (2006). Promised Land: Competing Visions of Agrarian Reform. Oakland, California & New York: Food First Books.

[16] Smit, B., and Smithers, J. (Autumn, 1993). Sustainable Agriculture: Interpretations, Analyses and Prospects. Department of Geography, and Land Evaluation Group,

University of Guelph. Canadian Journal of Regional Science/Revue canadienne des sciences régionales, XVI:3), 499-524. ISSN: 0705-4580

[17] Wormsbecker, C.L. (2007). Moving Towards the Local: The Barriers and Opportunities for Localizing Food Systems in Canada. Master of Environmental Studies in Environment and Resource Studies. University of Waterloo.

[18] CARTV, (2009). Statistiques pour l’appelation biologique. Retrieved from

[19] FAO. (2011). Biodiversity for Food and Agriculture: Contributing to food security and sustainability in a changing world. Platform for Agrobiodiversity Research (PAR). Retrieved from http://www.fao.org/fileadmin/templates/biodiversity_paia/PAR-FAO-book_lr.pdf

[20] MAPAQ. (2009). Statistiques economiques de l’industrie bioalimentaire. Retrieved from http://mapaq.gouv.qc.ca/fr/md/statistiques/Pages/statistiques.aspx

[21] Vía Campesina. La Vía Campesina: International Peasant Movement—Small Scale Sustainable Farmers are Cooling Down the Earth. Available at: [Accessed June 13, 2009].