Saturday, September 29, 2012

Mystery of the Disappearing Bees: Solved!

Beehives, Fort Whyte Centre, Winnipeg MB. Photos by PinP.

If it were a novel, people would criticize the plot for being too      
far-fetched – thriving colonies disappear overnight without leaving a trace, the bodies of the victims are never found.  Full story here. 


Friday, September 28, 2012

The Organic Movement "Gets the Ear" of the Government of Manitoba

Minister declares week of Dec. 22-29 "Organic Week" in Manitoba.
 Chemical-free veggies, fresh from a MB garden. PLT photo

Manitoba's Minister of Agriculture, Food and Rural Initiatives, Ron Kostyshyn, (l.) enjoyed a 4-course, gourmet organic meal with organic producers and retailers at an intimate Winnipeg restaurant last evening. Fusion Grill is long known for its support of fresh, local and organic food. 

Mr. Kostyshyn promised the guests his government would attempt to "raise the profile" of organic agriculture in the province.

He then signed a declaration, proclaiming Sept. 22-29th as "Organic Week in Manitoba." (The week just passed was National Organic Week.)

I was there, too, representing PLT and enjoying delicious dishes, ranging from roast heirloom squash to pumpkin crème brulee.

Please also read: "Manitoba Proclaims Organic Week," here.

After the feast,  I took the opportunity to "corner" the Minister to ask him how he felt about my article recently published in the Journal, Alternatives, exposing the "dark side" of Roundup, a pesticide widely used in agriculture. (I had sent him a link to the story three weeks ago, but hadn't heard back.) Below is a verbatim copy on the interview. 


PLT. Mr. Kostyshyn, I know the province is looking at banning the use of cosmetic pesticides on lawns and gardens and I think the Minister of Environmet seemed to sound like he might actually go for it (a ban). How big a leap is it to assume that some kind of ban or clampdown on agricultural pesticides might be in the works?

Minister. Well, obviously, Mr. Gord Macintosh is the Min. that's involved in the cosmetic ban at this point in time….

PLT.  But you are the Minister of Agriculture.

Minister. But I'm Minister of Agriculture, but the pesticide ban as far as lawn pesticides falls under his jurisdiction. 

PLT. I appreciate that. 

Minister.  So at this point in time, Mr. Macintosh and I have had some discussions but to speculate what's happening in future I think would be somewhat immature (sic) for me to make a comment at this time.

PLT.  Is it difficult for the province to have any control or does it have much control at all about the regulation of pesticides province-wide or is that pretty well a federal purvue?

Minister. Basically, we rely on the scientists with the fed. agencies that go through the necessary testing of the product that's being questioned.

PLT. I wonder if you'd do me a favour, I just had an article published in the Journal Alternative about Roundup. It points out and lists and documents a long and growing list of medical studies on the adverse effects of Roundup on crops, livestock, wildlife, on human beings, and yet this science seems to be getting lost somewhere out there. Would you do me a favour and read that article and get back to me on what you think of it…like, you must be aware of some of these studies?

Minister. Basically, I've heard some documentation. I have to be quite honest with you, Larry, I haven't investigated. But your request to bring forward that piece of documentation, if you would forward it to my office….my special assistant...

PLT. Actually, I did that, 3 wks ago in an email….I don't know if …you must have missed it but I did send it to you and several other people.

Minister.  I appreciate that. As you may remember, I was in Whitehorse, just got back..we were going thru "Growing Forward" and the hog industry…we were in the shortage feed….I'm not prioritizing..maybe the documentation is somewhere in the system but I haven't had the chance to read it.

PLT. if you could get back to me after reading and answer the questions in my email, that would be terrific.

Minister. I'll gladly get back to you.

Health Canada Reviewing Results of French Research

Vancouver Sun

Health Canada said Thursday it will take action if its review of a new study that found Canadian-grown genetically modified corn is linked to….Full story here.

Thursday, September 27, 2012

Lawsuit Seeks to Force Feds to Protect Endangered Species Along Pipeline Route

Vancouver Sun
VANCOUVER - A coalition of conservation groups is suing the federal environment minister to try and force Ottawa to protect endangered and threatened species along the proposed route of the Northern Gateway pipeline. Full story here.
Southern mountain caribou (l.) one of the "at-risk" species. Photo from Nature Conservancy of Canada.Photograph by: Canada-World

Monday, September 24, 2012

The Government of Manitoba is Lobbied to end Cosmetic Pesticides

Winnipeg Free Press

A coalition of health and environmental groups is hoping the Manitoba government will impose strict regulations and ultimately full-out bans regarding the use of cosmetic pesticides.... Details here.

Photo credit: Cosmetic Pesticide Ban Manitoba

Sunday, September 23, 2012

Tipping Into New Climate Territory as Scientists Put Fears on Ice (Print & Video)

The Sydney Morning Herald
AS ARCTIC sea ice hits a record low, focus is turning to climate ''tipping points'' - a threshold that, once crossed, cannot be reversed and will create fundamental changes to other areas. Full story here.

Saturday, September 22, 2012

In Quebec It's Official: Mass Movement Leads to Victory for Students

Common Dreams

Naomi Klein: 'This is why radical movements are mercilessly mocked. They can win.' Full story here.

France Says No to Genetically Modified Crops, No to Fracking

Common Dreams staff

 France will maintain its ban on genetically modified crops [GMOs] and will ban fracking, politicians announced during an environmental conference held in Paris Friday and Saturday. Details here.

Friday, September 21, 2012

‘A Beautiful Day' for Environmentalists in Quebec, Canada

The Montreal Gazette
Shale gas, Gentilly both get the chop. Details here.

Kids exposed to Mercury or Lead More Likely to Have ADHD Symptoms, Canadian Study Finds

Environmental Health News

Children exposed to higher levels of mercury or lead are three to five times more likely to be identified by teachers as having problems associated with Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder, according to a scientific study published today. Full story here.

Thursday, September 20, 2012

Canadian Democracy: Death by Pipeline

Andrew Nikiforuk  "OnEarth - a Survival Guide for the Planet"

Shipping dirty tar sands oil could rip apart Canada’s wilderness -- and its democracy. Details here.

Unprecedented Safety Study Finds Harm From GM Corn

Canadian Biotechnology Action Network e-News 
  First-ever long-term safety test finds severe health impacts. Full story here.

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

New Ontario Legislation Will Encourage People to Buy More Locally-Grown Food

Winnipeg Free Press

AYR, Ont. - The Ontario government will introduce legislation to encourage people to buy more locally-grown food, Premier Dalton McGuinty announced Tuesday. Full story here.

Onions from my garden. Can't get any more local than that! PLT photo

Monday, September 17, 2012

Manitoba Pork Producers Seek $130 Million to Deal With Financial Crisis

Winnipeg Free Press
WINNIPEG - A Manitoba farm group is calling for $130 million in government loan guarantees to help producers deal with what it calls the worst crisis in the history of Canada's pork industry. Details here.

Saturday, September 15, 2012

Head Stuck in the Tar Sands

Agrarian Magazine
Shutting down Canada’s prized Experimental Lakes Area (ELA) is the latest atrocity in Harper Government’s war on evironmental science - by James Beddome
Please help us persuade the Government of Canada to reverse the decision to close Canada’s Experimental Lakes Area by signing the
 Public Petition to Save ELA!

ELA photo by CBC News

Canada to Stop Defending Asbestos, Striking Blow to Once-Mighty Industry

Brandon Sun
MONTREAL - The federal government has tossed in the towel and will stop fighting international efforts to list asbestos as a dangerous substance, striking another blow to a once-mighty Canadian industry now on the verge of extinction. Full story here.

Please also read: "The New Harper Government Sharpens its Claws on 'The Enemy'"

Petitioning Cosmetic Pesticide Ban Manitoba - Please Sign

Cosmetic pesticides are those chemicals used merely to maintain an appearance of a lawn or garden. Their purpose is not to protect public health or prevent invasive species from spreading, which makes exposure to these chemicals an unnecessary risk. Sign here.

Friday, September 14, 2012

Pipeline Opponents Plan Mass Sit-in at B.C. Legislature

CBC News
Opponents of the proposed Northern Gateway pipeline are organizing what they're calling the largest act of peaceful civil disobedience on the oil sands issue in Canada. Full story here.

The Great Bear Rainforest which the pipeline would cross.

Pork Council Must Focus More on Farmers' Needs

14/04/2012 1:00 AM |     Brandon Sun - PRINT EDITION

Maple Leaf and government policy is to blame for the continued loss of hog producers and a risk to “thousands of jobs” at the Brandon slaughter plant.

Manitoba Pork Council general manager Andrew Dickson would have us believe that the province-wide hog production ban and new manure treatment regulations are the culprits.
Does Dickson forget that the loss of most independent hog farmers started when the Maple Leaf, Hy-Tek and Puratone corporations set up their pyramid scheme-like operations and the conservative Filmon government removed single-desk marketing protection in the late 1990s? Well before a moratorium and phosphorus regulation was put in place.
Further details here.

Himalayan Glaciers Retreating in Some Regions but Not Others

The consequences for the Himalayan water supply depend heavily on the region’s thousands of glaciers… Full story here.

Photo courtesy of MailOnline

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

Parents Need to Act Against Climate Change for Their Kids’ Sake

by Mark Hertsgaard - The Daily Beast

Droughts, heat waves, with the evidence mounting of major climate change, why aren’t parents taking action to protect their children from its dire effects? Mark Hertsgaard calls for parents to act just like they would if a train was heading toward their children. Full story here.

Damage from a wicked plow wind which struck a wide area of western Manitoba in July. PLT photos

Why Organic?

Rodale's - A note from our Executive Director   

The news has been flooded with all sorts of noise about the Stanford meta-analysis “Are Organic Foods Safer or Healthier Than Conventional Alternatives?” Although both the researchers themselves and the media made it sound as if conventional came out on top, the numbers clearly made the case for organic. Here is what we saw when we read the report:

PLT photo 

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Where Cows Are Happy and Food Is Healthy

New York Times
Don’t laugh, but maybe milk is tastier and healthier if it comes from a cow with a name. Full story here.
PLT photo

Friday, September 7, 2012

Weathergirl Goes Rogue

In Defence of Science

Schindler's Pissed - Alternatives Journal - Canada's Environment Magazine. 

Freshwater science pioneer David Schindler fires back about tar sands development, closing the Experimental Lakes Area, and why researchers should speak out. Full story here.

Also in this issue, "Field of Nightmares," exposing the dark side of Roundup. 

Wednesday, September 5, 2012

Ottawa to Unveil Weakened Emissions Rules for Coal-Fired Power

Globe and Mail
After a year of tough negotiations with companies and premiers that tested Ottawa’s resolve to fight climate change, Environment Minister Peter Kent is finally ready to present the final version of regulations to curtail greenhouse gas emissions from the coal-fired electricity sector. Full story here.

Field of Nightmares

Ottawa continues to embrace the widespread use of Roundup on Canadian farms by letting corporate seduction trump scientific evidence.
by Larry Powell
A crop-duster sprays a GMO crop in western MB. A PinP photo.
In its quest to dominate the planet's agricultural biotechnology sector, Monsanto's business model has produced significant collateral damage.

Generations of farming families in South America, India and other robustly developing regions have been devastated by the US-based multinational’s product line, namely its flagship herbicide Roundup and the patented seeds that go with it. 

In the 1970s, the company began genetically modifying canola, and they’ve since created their own patented versions of soybeans, corn, cotton and a range of other crops. The havoc wreaked by Monsanto’s remarkable growth in the interim includes widespread claims of pollution, illegal activity and damage to health and livelihoods, as well as a systematic effort to crush detractors and monopolize new markets with its financial heft.

Tuesday, September 4, 2012

Staples Canada Picks up Straw-Based Paper

Manitoba Co-operator

Step Forward Paper is made with 80 per cent straw

Manitoba farmers could see a lucrative new market for straw emerge, as the province moves closer to becoming the site of North America's first pulp and paper mill using straw. Full story here.

Saturday, September 1, 2012

Welcome to the Anthropocene - a New Geologic Era (Radio podcast + video)

This podcast has been airing on the CBC Radio program, "The Current." It suggests human activity has now placed us in an entirely new geologic epoc. And not a good one! Listen here.
                         (PLT video & photo)
I shot this video of my home (above) just after these winds toppled two mature spruce trees, narrowly missing our house as we slept. The still photo (r.) shows the gap left in the shelterbelt which protects us from the elements. To me, climate change is now personal! Larry Powell. 

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...