'Monsanto Protection Act' slips silently through US Congress
The US House of Representatives quietly passed a last-minute addition to the Agricultural Appropriations Bill for 2013 last week - including a provision protecting genetically modified seeds from litigation in the face of health risks.
The rider, which is officially known as the Farmer Assurance Provision, has been derided by opponents of biotech lobbying as the “Monsanto Protection Act,” as it would strip federal courts of the authority to immediately halt the planting and sale of genetically modified (GMO) seed crop regardless of any consumer health concerns.
The provision, also decried as a “biotech rider,” should have gone through the Agricultural or Judiciary Committees for review. Instead, no hearings were held, and the piece was evidently unknown to most Democrats (who hold the majority in the Senate) prior to its approval as part of HR 993, the short-term funding bill that was approved to avoid a federal government shutdown.
Senator John Tester (D-MT) proved to be the lone dissenter to the so-called Monsanto Protection Act, though his proposed amendment to strip the rider from the bill was never put to a vote.
And from Salon:
The Food Democracy Now and the Center for Food are directing blame at the Senate Appropriations Committee and its chairman, Sen. Barbara Mikulski, D-Md. According to reports, many members of Congress were apparently unaware that the “Monsanto Protection Act” even existed within the spending bill, HR 933; they voted in order to avert a government shutdown.
“It sets a terrible precedent,” noted the International Business Times. “Though it will only remain in effect for six months until the government finds another way to fund its operations, the message it sends is that corporations can get around consumer safety protections if they get Congress on their side. Furthermore, it sets a precedent that suggests that court challenges are a privilege, not a right.”
Trial to Begin for Gulf Oil Spill Litigation
Nearly three years after a deadly rig explosion in the Gulf of Mexico triggered the nation’s worst offshore oil spill, a federal judge in New Orleans is set to preside over a high-stakes trial for the raft of litigation spawned by the disaster.
Barring an 11th-hour settlement, U.S. District Judge Carl Barbier will hear several hours of opening statements today by lawyers for the companies involved in the 2010 spill and the plaintiffs who sued them. And the judge, not a jury, ultimately could decide how much more money BP PLC and its partners on the ill-fated drilling project owe for their roles in the environmental catastrophe.
Read more: http://www.laboratoryequipment.com/news/2013/02/trial-begin-gulf-oil-spill-litigation
The Question on Everyone's Mind: If Spring Came Early, What Will Summer Feel Like?
A new study asserts that natural gas is a weak weapon against climate change—
Although natural gas burns more cleanly than coal, a new study argues that replacing all the world’s coal power plants with natural gas would do little to slow global warming this century.
“There are lots of reasons to like natural gas, but climate change isn’t one of them,” said physicist Nathan Myhrvold, lead author of the new study. “It’s worthless for [fighting] climate change, as far as we can tell.”
Because natural gas still produces carbon dioxide, it won’t cut emissions effectively enough to reverse global warming. Bottom line: it’s time to come to terms with the fact that fossil fuels are not going to help us with our climate change problem.
One of the most incredible animals in the world. The Axolotl. Able to grow whole limbs back. Has special gils AND lungs. Remains in a larvae state for most of it’s life but if there is a drought it will convert in to a full Mexican Salamander. Dude kicks butt.
Most of them are dark in color. Albinos are captive bred but there is information that they are in the wild also.
Scientists have studied this little guy for years….
How climate change could be the ruin of Los Angeles (AtlanticCities)
“L.A. still gets nearly 90 percent of its drinking water from out-of-town resources, just as it has for more than a century. But the Sierra Nevada snowpack could shrink by as much as 90 percent by 2100, experts say. Runoff already peaks 10 to 15 days earlier today than it did 50 years ago, according to a 2008 Purdue University study.
Meanwhile, aquifers along the coast of Los Angeles County are already experiencing “seawater intrusion,” according to the National Resources Defense Council, which last year called out L.A. officials for lagging behind other big cities in planning for such climate change-related effects. The group warns that a 55-inch sea level rise would double the number of toxic waste sites, power plants and other critical infrastructure situated inside L.A. County’s 100-year flood zones.”
Read the rest at The Atlantic Cities
I talk about this all the time. The watersheds of Los Angeles don’t support the population in the first place.
Whoa, offshore drilling in Belize is not going to fly.
There are only four barrier reefs in the world and Belize has one of them.
So, the answer is no. No drilling. Ever.
Wild Salmon Are Not Holding Up, Study Finds
Since 1964, the Mokelumne River Fish Hatchery in California has supplied the watershed with four to 10 million juvenile Chinook salmon each year. The hatchery began the practice as a way of countering the effects of dams that block migration and making sure that the salmon population remained viable. But recent research shows that the massive influx of hatchery-raised fish is masking the fact that wild fish populations are not holding up.
How plastic bags are poisoning the planet's greatest predators: 65ft long sperm whales are being killed by human pollution
It has the biggest brain of any animal — a massive 18lb to our human 3lb — yet we really have no idea what it does with it.
This magnificent predator — at 65ft long, the greatest that has ever existed — spends 90 per cent of its life in the profound depths, able to dive deeper than any other animal.
For precisely that reason, it is the least studied of all the great whales.
And of all whales, it is under the greatest threat, too — from what we humans are doing to its environment. Only now are we beginning to understand these creatures. But is it too late?
I’m studying for a final in biological oceanography right now, and I came across this fantastic shot of the world’s largest reef system, the Great Barrier Reef. Amazing.
Canada set to announce Kyoto pullout
Environment Minister Peter Kent is expected to announce Monday that Canada is formally withdrawing from the Kyoto accord. The decision to do so will save the government an estimated $7 billion in financial penalties. The Conservative government says it has no choice given the economic situation.
Environment Minister Peter Kent is expected to announce Monday that Canada is formally withdrawing from the Kyoto accord.
The decision to do so will save the government an estimated $7 billion in financial penalties. The Conservative government says it has no choice given the economic situation.
Australia refuses to protect Japanese whaling ships
Australia rejected a call from Japan to provide more security for its fleet in Antarctic waters, the site of clashes with animal rights activists. The Japanese fleet left port Tuesday on its annual hunt, and activists with the militant Sea Shepherd Conservation Society, who plan to harass the whalers, said they were preparing to join them within day.
Oh no, it’s whaling season again? :(
Good for Australia, sticking to their guns.
90,000 petition for bottle ban in Grand Canyon
National Park officials and environmentalists go head to head in the battle to keep plastic bottles out of the Grand Canyon.
Dugongs are large (8-10 feet) herbivorous mammals with an average lifespan of about 70 years. These enormous vegetarians can be found in warm coastal waters from East Africa to Australia, including the Red Sea, Indian Ocean, and Pacific.
Dugongs are related to manatees and are similar in appearance and behavior— though the dugong’s tail is fluked like a whale’s. Both are related to the elephant, although the giant land animal is not at all similar in appearance or behavior.
Kermode Bear (Spirit Bear) - In a moss-draped rain forest in British Columbia, towering red cedars live a thousand years, and black bears are born with white fur. Photographs by Paul Nicklen.