Sunday, January 31, 2010

Saturday, January 9, 2010

Pesticides Worsening the Honey Bee Crisis

Shared by: F. Los on January 7, 2010

Ottawa - Sierra Club Canada is calling on the Canadian Government…


Editor's note: Were they listening? On Dec. 30-'09, I sent the message below to the Sierra
Club. Today, they issue a release, calling for action! While it may not be the kind of action I had asked for, you won't hear me complaining. An immovable object like our federal government needs all the persuasion which can be mustered from any and all quarters! Yaaaaay Sierra! l.p.

Larry Powell
View Contact
To:Green Peace ; Greenpeace ; Greenpeace International ; Prairie Sierra Club ; Sierra Club ; Sierra Club ... more

Dear Greenpeace/Sierra Club,

I am passing on the news release, below.

Might there be a chance for a similar lawsuit in Canada to succeed?

I know that groups such as Eco-Justice and Environmental Defense sometimes take on such things, on behalf of groups such as yours.

Many thanks for your consideration.

Have a green day!
Larry Powell
See our planet through a fresh lens.
Visit: "Paths Less Travelled. Stories rarely told by mainstream media."

Contact: Josh Mogerman

Big Win for Bees: Judge Pulls Pesticide

Bee toxic Movento pulled from market for proper evaluation...

Friday, January 8, 2010

Pesticides Loom Large in Animal Die-Offs

"better dying through chemistry"
7 Jan 2010 - by Tom Laskawy - Grist
Please also read - Plight of the Humble Bee and
Poisoning Nature's Pollinators.

photo courtesy Natural
Resources Defense Council

Editor's comment - To corrupt and heartless (are there any other kind?) pesticide regulators everywhere - I hope you can sleep at night. Instead of doing the decent, honourable thing by protecting our precious planet and the creatures in it, you have lost your souls up the asses of the corporations who make these god-damndable poisons and, instead of doing the honest jobs you get paid by the people to do, you are letting the Bayers and Monsantos of the world get away with their dirty work. You belong in jail! l.p.

Thursday, January 7, 2010

Standing the Precautionary Principle on its Head

The Manitoba Government Celebrated '09 by Allowing Industrial Pollutants to be Released in the Swan Valley - by Larry Powell
(Double-click headline for latest story on this topic.)

It was a fateful decision.

One year ago tomorrow, Stan Struthers, who was then Manitoba's Minister of Conservation, said "yes" to a request from Louisiana Pacific Canada Ltd (LP).

As a cost-cutting measure, the corporation wanted to permanently do away with devices called regenerative thermal oxidizers, or RTOs, which have helped control toxic emissions from its plant at Minitonas since it opened in the mid '90s.

The plant makes "oriented strand board," a type of sheeting used in house construction. It is made from hardwood trees the corporation harvests over a wide area of western Manitoba, including the Duck Mountains.

"Evening in Duck Mountains."

Painting by Mary Jane Eichler.
That permission from the government, first said to be temporary, set in motion a series of events which has now dragged on for a full year.

Yet the central question, should the equipment be shut-down permanently or put back online, has yet to be answered.

The government instructed an advisory agency, the Clean Environment Commission (CEC) to investigate the merits of LP's application. The CEC heard from witnesses both for and against in the summer. It was expected to make recommendations to the Government this fall. But it has decided it wants more information from the company.

According to "Concerned Citizens of the Valley"(CCV), a group opposed to LP's application, the Commission wants the company to "complete air dispersion modeling that will conform to Manitoba guidelines."

Margaret Romak of CCV says, "This begs the question; why did LP submit modelling that was not up to standard?"

The CEC’s request for more information means its report has been delayed until spring.

And that government decision last January means those pollution controls remain shut down in the meantime.

So Just How Much Pollutant is Being Released?

*Dr. Charles Simon of the Florida-based company, Precision Analytical Laboratories Inc., estimates, without controls, the mill would put more than 1,000 tonnes of Volatile Organic Compounds (VOCs) into the air in one year. That's more than 40 times what they would have been had the controls remained online.
VOCs include cancer-causing substances such as formaldehyde.

Simon further calculates, without the RTOs, the mill would release almost 400 tonnes of another family of emissions, Hazardous Air Pollutants (HAPS) in a year. That's 100 times what would have otherwise been the case.

HAPs, which include pollutants such as benzene, can cause cancer and birth defects.
The chances of ozone and smog formation, he adds, will also be "significantly greater" if LP's application is granted.

While Simon is not immediately available for comment, it is not believed he took into account that the mill has been operating at reduced capacity for some time now. Since that would obviously result in fewer emissions, his numbers would need to be reduced by an unknown factor.
Dr.Simon was one of three specialists in industrial pollution hired by Concerned Citizens of the Valley, the Boreal Forest Network and Manitoba's Public Interest Law Centre. They examined the claims made and methods used by LP to support its application. The citizen's groups oppose LP’s application, saying it will harm air quality in the valley.

The findings of the three experts have been submitted to the CEC for consideration.

Dr.Simon says he understands every corporation has a responsibility to its shareholders to make money.

But he adds "In my experience with forest products companies, the strong motivation to externalize air pollutant costs (make someone else pay) can only be overcome by regulation.".

Is There a Win-Win Solution to all of this?"

Dr. Simon believes there is.

He says hundreds of devices known as bioreactors are already being used successfully around the world to control industrial emissions. He believes bioreactors might not only provide the best control technology available for the mill, they’d cost about the same or less than would new RTOs. And operating costs would be about one quarter of what they would otherwise be.

Simon believes a bioreactor could also replace pollution controls known as wet electrostatic precipators, WESPS. These help control particulate matter coming from the mill. The company has kept these in operation and are not included in its application.

Bioreactors are often metal cylinders which generate massive amounts of bacterial activity. This break down harmful substances before they can escape from the plant.

If there is a bright side to the closure of the old RTOs, Dr. Simon recognizes that at least the greenhouse gasses they produced have now been eliminated. That's because they needed large amounts of natural gas to keep them heated.

But bioreactors, he notes, don't produce greenhouse gases at all in their operation.

As CCV puts it, "This technology can greatly reduce greenhouse gases and operating costs while effectively controlling the toxins and other pollutants. It would address the environmental, social and economic elements of this issue."

“The Province granted 'temporary' discontinuation of the RTO pollution control system to LP, in January 2009, in spite of the Clean Environment Commission’s 1994 recommedation that RTOs be installed as a condition of the company’s operation in the province,” said Susanne McCrea of the Boreal Forest Network.
"They now want to keep the RTOs offline AND increase their emissions, without exploring newer, less expensive pollution control options," McCrea added. "Here we are a full year later, still waiting for the province to take action to protect public health. "

Another of the experts, **Dr. Gordon Brown, finds LP’s application falls short on a number of counts.

* It didn't place air pollution monitors in the right places. This finding confirms the position of CCV who have been sharply critical of LP's move to place the monitors upwind of the plant, where they could detect only limited amounts of the true emission levels.

* It didn't take into account possible health effects from odours the plant produces.

* And it didn't consider that inhaling the air is not the only way human health can be put at risk. Local food and water may also provide pathways for pollutants. And these pathways were not analyzed.

In all, Brown finds the way LP calculated human health risks did not meet acceptable industry standards.

The third specialist, ***David Chadder believes;

* LP did not properly document air quality impacts.

• Failed to meet Government of Manitoba or industry standards.

* Did not account for all the "hazardous contaminants of interest."

What do the People Think?

Dr.Simon talked to people living in Swan River and elsewhere in the valley in August.

"Every citizen with whom I spoke first mentioned their concern for jobs of their compatriots. LP's threat to close the mill if forced to operate the RTOs.....has been taken seriously.....The citizens appear to be faced with the choice to either agree to allow their air shed to be polluted far beyond what any comparable community would have to bear in the US (similar plants there are required to operate with the best pollution controls available), or see their family and friends suffer the catastrophe of job loss with immediate cessation of family income that have been present for nearly 15 years."

“Paths Less Travelled” asked the new Minister of Conservation, Bill Blaikie, the previous Minister, Stan Struthers and the MLA for Swan River, Rosann Wowchuk, to comment on this story. They did not respond.


* Simon has 33 years experience in the field of emissions from industries such as wood product plants. He's done consulting work for government departments in both Canada and the US. He holds a Bachelor of Science degree in Chemistry, Master of Science degree in Environmental Analytical Chemistry and a Doctor of Philosophy degree in Physical Chemistry.

** Brown, Ph.D., P.Biol., received his first two degrees from the University of Manitoba and now works for the Alberta office of the consulting firm, Intrinsik Envronmental Sciences Inc. of ON. It specializes in human health risk assessment.

*** Chadder, Hon. B.Sc., QEP, is with RWDI Air, Inc., based in about half-a-dozen Canadian cities. The company works with industry and governments to solve various problems of air quality, noise and other hazards. His experience with environmental consulting dates back to 1978.


AUTHOR’S COMMENT - Will the Precautionary Principle ever be adopted in Manitoba?

The Precautionary Principle has been defined as the "Magna Carta" of enlightened environmentalists and decision-makers. It would require that any product, development or practice even suspected of causing harm, must be kept off the market or not allowed to proceed until there is proof that the harm does not exist. In other words, the burden of proof would be on the proponent of such product, etc. to prove it is safe, rather than on the public to prove down the road, that it is not.

Instead of asking, how little harm can we do with any given project, or product, decision-makers seem to be asking, how much harm can we get away with?

Sound harsh?

Well, let's look at the LP story.

If the Manitoba government had heard LP's request, then put its governmental machinery into motion to explore the merits of that request, that would have been one thing.

But it did not.

Its first reaction was to give LP what it wanted, then try to figure out after the fact whether that was the right thing to do!

Surely that is the Precautionary Principle in reverse!

No one can fault the CEC for taking as long as it has. It obviously has many things to consider before making its final decision.

But, if the government believed LP was serious about its threat to close down the mill if it had to continue to pay to keep the pollution controls running, were there still not alternatives to what it did?

No government could ignore the consequences of losing an employer of some 200 workers.

So why didn’t it find out if the threat was real and justified?

If it was, could it not have offered LP some kind of public assistance, at least temporarily, until the plant weathered the current economic recession?

As far as anyone knows, this was never considered.


That is the best and most understandable summary of the situation I have seen. Thank you Larry. And you Dan for bringing it to my attention.
I am always a little surprised that the US has higher standards than we do on anything, especially if $$ are involved, but what would LP be asked to do if this mill were south of the border? Are we out of line in our expectations, or are we being treated as a third world nation and source of a cheap natural resource? I agree that LP is a boon to the local economy but in A FAB Country (Anything For A Buck) often the real price of a product should include the clean-up of harmful sequelae, or better still, avoiding them. Often cheaper in the long run and less stressful.

Andy Maxwell
You've certainly done your research and homework on this article. I worked for many years at Canfor's Panel & Fibre facility in New Westminster. We made panel board and raw baled fibre from waste wood. We had to be VERY environmental about this as we were situated in the midst of a large city and near a major hospital. We couldn't get away with sloppy environmental standards because of this. Many mills are in out-of-the-way "Company" towns. Most the locals are employed there and the small towns depend on the mill(s). Often with fierce loyalty because of self interest. It allows many companies to get away with environmental murder. Outa sight; outa mind?

Andy Mathisen

Wednesday, January 6, 2010

Farmer Suicides and Bt Cotton Nightmare Unfolding in India

Institute of Science In Society Report 06/01/10


The largest wave of farmer suicides and ecological nightmare
unfolding around Bt cotton

Dr. Mae-Wan Ho exposes the “fudged” data and false claims of
‘successes’ that have perpetrated the humanitarian disaster

The Bt cotton killing fields

As the cotton growing season drew to a close in the state of
Andhra Pradesh, farmer suicides once again became almost
daily occurrences. Officially, the total number of suicides
within a six-week period between July and August 2009 stood
at 15, but opposition parties and farmers’ groups said the
true total was more than 150 [1]. Opposition leader N.
Chandrababu claimed in a speech that he had the names and
addresses of 165 farmers who ended their lives because of
the distress caused by the drought.

By November, similar reports were coming from another cotton
growing state Maharashtra. Farmers of Katpur village in
Amravati district sowed Bt cotton four years ago. Instead of
the promised miracle yields, huge debts have driven many to
suicide, and cattle were reported dying after feeding on the
plants [2] (see [3] Mass Deaths in Sheep Grazing on Bt
Cotton, SiS 30).

One ray of hope was that the 5000-odd farmers of the
Maharashtra village have decided to shun Bt cotton, and are
now growing soybean instead. Some have also taken to organic

“We were cheated by the seed companies. We did not get the
yield promised by them, not even half of it. And the
expenditure involved was so high that we incurred huge
debts. We have heard that the government is now planning
commercial cultivation of Bt brinjal. But we do not want Bt
seeds of any crop anymore,” said farmer Sahebrao Yawiliker.

Successive studies in Maharashtra have concluded that
indebtedness was a major cause of suicides among farmers

Within a week, two farmers in neighbouring villages in
Wardha district killed themselves. Their Bt cotton crops
were devastated by lalya, a disease that caused the cotton
plants to redden and wilt [5]. The first farmer, 55 year old
Laxman Chelpelviar in Mukutban, consumed the pesticide
Endoulfan when the first picking from his six-acre farm
returned a mere five quintals and an income of Rs15 000, way
below his expenses of Rs50 000. The second farmer, 45 year
old Daulat Majure in Jhamkola, was discovered by his mother
hanging dead from the ceiling. The cotton yield from his
seven-acre farm was a miserable one quintal, worth Rs3 000.

Read the rest of this report here

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Tuesday, January 5, 2010

Make it Your New Year's Resolution to Offer More Support for Organic and Sustainable Food and Farming in Manitoba!!

Greetings and Happy New Year from all of us at the Organic Food Council of Manitoba!
garden photo by l.p.
2009 was an extremely busy and exciting year for the Organic Food Council of MB (OFCM-COG), as well as for the organic sector in Manitoba and across Canada. THANK YOU! for your ongoing support and interest in OFCM-COG and our programs:
Growing Up Organic (GUO) and Manitoba Farm Mentorship (MFM).

Here's a sampling of what's new at OFCM-COG:

We simply cannot do what we do without the support of our members, program participants, and sponsors, and all of the champions of Manitoba's sustainable food and farming movement - YOU!

Please continue to offer your support:

If you aren't already an OFCM-COG member, please consider becoming one!

Or, make a direct donation online or through the mail to MFM or GUO.

Memberships are donation-based, and as a chapter of Canadian Organic Growers (COG), we receive 40% of membership dollars, which helps to support our activities here in Manitoba.

Support for GUO helps us to encourage schools, child care facilities and other institutions to source more organic food. Donate, or become a program sponsor.

Support for MFM helps us to encourage sustainable and organic farming as a career choice in MB. Donate, or become a program sponsor.

What about advertising for your farm or business? We offer online advertising and flexible sponsorship opportunities, and a significant and targeted network with which to promote your products and services. Prices are reasonable and options are flexible. Contact us for more details. • 204.779.8546 •

OFCM-COG gratefully acknowledges the support of our partners and sponsors:

Heifer International Canada

Manitoba Conservation Sustainable Development Innovations Fund

The Winnipeg Foundation

Assiniboine Credit Union

Food Matters Manitoba, home of the Manitoba Food Charter

Golden West Radio

Organic Meadow

Poplar Grove

Vita Health Natural Food Stores

Fresh Option Organic Delivery


Thank you and all the best in 2010!

Sunday, January 3, 2010

Triffids return to British TV

MB Co-Operator - John Morriss - 12/30/2009

As Canadian government and industry officials try to geet the GM flax variety....

Image courtesy of Wikipedia

Consumers Choose Locally Grown and Environmentally Friendly Apples

ScienceDaily (Dec. 31, 2009)

When asked to compare...

Saturday, January 2, 2010

Green Conservatism

Shared by: F. Los (the Green Pages) on Dec. 30 '09

I always read Lorne Gunter's column, although I almost never....

The Arctic may be sea-ice-free in summer by the 2030s

  Nature Communications                                                 Photo by Patrick Kelley   The Arctic could be sea-ice-free during th...