Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Vietnam Era Weapon Being Used to Clear the Amazon

Vietnam Era Weapon Being Used to Clear the Amazon

by Stephen Messenger, Porto Alegre, Brazil on 07. 5.11
agent orange photo
Source: Wikipedia

Agent Orange is one of the most devastating weapons of modern warfare, a chemical which killed or injured an estimated 400,000 people during the Vietnam War -- and now it's being used against the Amazon rainforest. According to officials, ranchers in Brazil have begun spraying the highly toxic herbicide over patches of forest as a covert method to illegally clear foliage, more difficult to detect that chainsaws and tractors. In recent weeks, an aerial survey detected some 440 acres of rainforest that had been sprayed with the compound -- poisoning thousands of trees and an untold number of animals, potentially for generations.

Officials from Brazil's environmental agency IBAMA were first tipped to the illegal clearing by satellite images of the forest in Amazonia; a helicopter flyover in the region later revealed thousands of trees left ash-colored and defoliated by toxic chemicals. IBAMA says that Agent Orange was likely dispersed by aircraft by a yet unidentified rancher to clear the land for pasture because it is more difficult to detect than traditional operations that require chainsaws and tractors.

                              Photo: IBAMA

Last week, in another part of the Amazon, an investigation conducted by the agency uncovered approximately four tons of the highly toxic herbal pesticides hidden in the forest awaiting dispension. If released, the chemicals could have potentially decimated some 7,500 acres of rainforest, killing all the wildlife that resides there and contaminating groundwater. In this case, the individual responsible was identified and now faces fines nearing $1.3 million.

According to a report from Folha de São Paulo, the last time such chemicals were recorded in use by deforesters was in 1999, but officials say dispensing the devastating herbicide may become more common as officials crack down on the most flagrant types of environmental crime.

"They [deforesters] have changed their strategy because, in a short time, more areas of forest can be destroyed with herbicides. Thus, they don't need to mobilize tree-cutting teams and can therefore bypass the supervision of IBAMA," says Jerfferson Lobato of IBAMA.

agent-orange-effects.jpg While Agent Orange was originally designed to clear forest coverage in combat situations, its use became a subject of controversy due to its impact on humans and wildlife. During the Vietnam War, the United States military dispersed 12 million gallons of herbicide, impacting the health of some 3 million, mostly peasant, Vietnamese citizens, and causing birth defects in around 500 thousand children. Additionally, the chemical's effect on the environment have been profound and lasting.

Last month, over three decades after Agent Orange was last used in Vietnam, the US began funding a $38 million decontamination operation there. Meanwhile, in the Brazilian Amazon, the highly toxic chemical was being discovered anew and sprayed over the rainforest.

Friday, July 22, 2011

Monk leads protest over use of pesticides in Sri Lanka

Colombo - A Buddhist monk led hundreds of protestors Thursday to campaign against the use of pesticides in Sri Lanka after fresh scientific research revealed that waterways were contaminated with arsenic, which can cause kidney failure.
The monk, Ven Athureliya Rathana, who is also a parliamentarian, led a march from parliament to a temple in the south of the country to perform rituals against those promoting pesticides. 'Our protest is also aimed at creating awareness about the dangers of use of pesticides', Ven Rathana said.The protest came after a group of academics said they had found irrigation canals contaminated with arsenic, as well as people suffering from arsenic poisoning. 
The Sri Lankan government offers fertilizer at a subsidized rate to farmers, but the useage of pesticides and chemicals are also on the increase. Researcher Chann Jayasumna said that as many as 20,000 patients suspected to be suffering from pesticide poisoning are undergoing treatment at state-run hospitals. He said many of them are farmers.

10 More Highly Toxic Pesticides to Be Prohibited in China

Guangzhou, Guangdong -- (SBWIRE) -- 07/20/2011 -- The July issue of Crop Protection China News has come out recently., The headline news is China Ministry of Agriculture (MOA) announced on July 5 that 10 more highly toxic pesticides, including methidathion, phorate, isofenphosmethyl and carbofuran, etc., will be banned in 2011.

According to MOA, although China has been banning highly toxic pesticides in these years, there are still 22 highly toxic pesticides, mostly insecticides allowed to be produced, sold and used in China. Except the 10 highly toxic pesticides that are confirmed to be banned in 2011, the other 12 highly toxic pesticides will be gradually banned in the forthcoming years.

MOA also declared that the prohibition date of the remaining 12 highly toxic pesticides will be depended on whether there is enough amount of alternative pesticides with highly efficient and lowly toxic.

Statistics show that there are 400 pesticide enterprises and about 900 kinds of products in China involved in the production of the 22 highly toxic pesticides and the capacity of these pesticides has reached around 104,000t/a in China. The annual output of them reached 50,000t/a in 2010, accounting for 2.5% of the total output of pesticides in 2010.

Besides, the prohibition of highly toxic pesticides will definitely provide a good chance for the development of biological pesticides in China. Actually, MOA has already started to draft the policy of encouraging pesticides players to conduct the R&D of biological pesticides, such as setting pilot projects of biological pesticide subsidies in Shanghai City, Shandong Province, etc. As the new policy's crackdown on highly toxic pesticides, it is expected that good prospect of biological pesticides will be expected in the coming years.

More news about the industrial trend, company dynamics, market price, and future forecast are unveiled in the latest issue of Crop Protection China News.

The following highlights are covered in the latest issue of Crop Protection China News:
- MOA announces to ban 10 more highly toxic pesticides in 2011.
- Huapont Pharm's merger with Nutrichem has been finally approved by CSRC on July 5, 2011.
- Lianhe Technology sets up a new pesticide intermediate subsidiary in Yancheng City.
- Jiangsu Lanfeng receives USD1.55 million of relocation compensation from local government on July 3, 2011.
- Sino-Agri enhances cooperation with foreign pesticide suppliers, aiming to provide efficient and eco-friendly products to domestic consumers.
- Noposion will gain a subsidy of about USD625 thousand from the government for the R&D on resin-based solvent.
- Heilongjiang Agriculture plans to develop some agricultural projects in Argentina, including the planting of soybean, corn and some other crops.
- Ministry of Agriculture would make a tighter control of the source of breeding materials, preventing a further illegal circulation of GM seeds.
- The price of Chinese potash fertilizer increases, which is beneficial to Sinofert.

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Posted Wednesday, July 31 2011 at 8:45 PM CDT - Permalink

Sunday, July 10, 2011

Europe to require listing of palm oil on product labels

Oil palm plantation in Malaysia. Photo by Jeremy Hance

Members of the European Parliament have voted in favor of listing specific vegetable oils — including palm oil — on product labels, reports the Clear Labels, Not Forests initiative which pushed for the measure.

The new agreement requires all vegetable oils to be labeled individually by 2015. Presently different oils are typically label under the generic term "vegetable oil."

Conservation groups pushed for the measure as a means to make consumers aware of whether the products they use contain palm oil, which environmental campaigners have linked to deforestation in Indonesia and Malaysia. Conservationists are hoping palm oil labeling could encourage consumer products companies to use more eco-certified palm oil, which is generally produced without conversion of biologically-rich rainforests and peatlands. The Roundtable on Sustainable Palm Oil (RSPO) is the leading certification standard.

"Consumers want to know if products contain palm oil, and where that palm oil comes from," said Helen Buckland, UK Director of the Sumatran Orangutan Society, one of the supporters of the Clear Labels, Not Forests initiative. "This new regulation will make palm oil visible on ingredients lists, enabling consumer choice and ultimately providing leverage for European companies to clean up their supply chains and only use certified sustainable palm oil."

"It is time for retailers and manufacturers to play their role in supporting the transformation of the industry."

The labeling measure has been strongly opposed by the Malaysian palm oil lobby, which fears that listing palm oil as an ingredient could result in discrimination against palm oil-containing products in the marketplace.

"Malaysia is of the view that labeling palm oil purely from the perspective of sustainable production is discriminatory," said Y.B. Tan Sri Bernard Dompok, Malaysia's Minister of Plantation Industries and Commodities, in a statement issued last month after Australia passed a similar labeling rule.

Palm oil is used widely in processed food products and cosmetics. Its high yield makes it a cheap source of oil.

Thursday, July 7, 2011

China to Ban 10 High Toxic Insecticides

China plans to ban 10 types of high toxic insecticides by the year's end in an effort to ensure farm produce safety and protect the ecological environment, the Ministry of Agriculture said Tuesday. The ministry and four other departments have drafted a scheme on elimination and ban the use of high toxic insecticides and the scheme has been submitted to the State Council, or the Cabinet, for approval, said Zhou Puguo, deputy director of the ministry's crop production bureau. 

The scheme will prompt the withdrawal of the registration certificates and production licenses for 10 insecticides, including fenamiphos and fonofos, and banning their production starting Oct. 31, 2011.
According to the scheme, sales and use of these insecticides will be banned starting Oct. 31, 2013, Zhou said. 

The government will conduct further research and evaluation related to the economic impacts of the ban on the use of a further 12 insecticides, as currently there are no suitable substitutes for them, he said.According to Zhou, more than 400 companies have registered about 900 products related to the 22 types of high toxic insecticides, which are mainly used on rice and cotton crops.

The government will give hard strike on illegal production and sales of high toxic insecticides that are banned by authorities. The illegal use of high toxic insecticides have resulted in people and farm animals becoming sickened, Zhou said.