I am writing to ask you urgently to email or write to your MEP about some European legislation on pesticides that the European Parliament will vote on in a plenary session on around 23 October. As with many environmental and food safety issues, crucial decisions affecting all of us are now taken at European level, and pesticide safety is no exception. The European Commission are introducing new, Europe-wide laws on pesticides, and there is a chance that these will actually strengthen protection of the public from dangerous sprays.
The European Parliament's Environment Committee has agreed several key amendments to the proposed law, but these now have to be agreed by the European Parliament, and all MEPs have a vote. The chemical industry and the UK's National Farmers' Union are lobbying hard to have all these changes rejected by the Parliament, while Georgina Downs of UK Pesticides Campaign, who initiated many of these proposals, has been working to have them accepted. I have listed below five of the key amendments that the MEPs will have to agree or reject. If you feel any of these are important, and should be agreed by the European Parliament, please let your MEP know. You can find your MEP's name and contact details at: http://www.europarl.europa.eu/members/public.do?language=en
Many thanks to all of you who asked Gordon Brown 'to Wake Up!' to the benefits of organic food and farming, by feeding him an organic breakfast. It is still not to late to join in if you haven't already done so - we'll be reporting the number of hits to the Prime Minister - open this link to play and email it on to your friends and colleagues: http://www.soilassociation.org/wakeupgordon
Prohibiting pesticide use in and around public areas like people's homes, hospitals, public parks, playgrounds and schools The Environment Committee voted in favour of an amendment to prohibit pesticide use in and around public areas, including residential areas, parks, public gardens, sports and recreation grounds, school grounds, playgrounds, and in the vicinity of public healthcare facilities (clinics, hospitals, rehabilitation centres, health resorts, hospices), particularly, although not exclusively, to protect sensitive groups, such as, babies, children, pregnant women, embryos and foetuses, the elderly, those with pre-existing medical conditions and who may be taking medication, along with all other vulnerable groups. The amendment also specified that the no-spray zones should be substantial and that in all these areas non-chemical alternatives should be used.
Vulnerable groups to include residents subject to high pesticide exposure over the long term The Environment Committee voted in favour of an amendment that described vulnerable groups as: “Persons needing specific consideration when assessing the acute and chronic health effects of plant protection products. These include pregnant and nursing women, embryos, and fetuses, infants and children, the elderly, people who are ill and those taking medication, workers and residents subject to high pesticide exposure over the long term.”
Residents to have the right to know what is being sprayed next to where they live Environment Committee voted in favour of an obligation to inform residents and neighbours about pesticide spraying in their locality, as well as the requirement for farmers and other pesticide users to provide information on the pesticides used directly to residents and neighbours who request access to it.
Call a pesticide a pesticide (not a 'lant protection product'!) The Environment Committee voted in favour of an amendment to change the entire terminology used throughout the adopted text, including the title, from 'Plant Protection Products' to 'esticides'. The term 'lant protection products' attempts to put a positive spin on chemicals that are deliberately designed to be toxic. The use of this wording throughout the Commission’s proposal, including the title, was inappropriate as many members of the public will not be familiar with this terminology, and its use could lead to confusion amongst members of the public.
Give priority to ways of growing healthy crops without using pesticides The Environment Committee also voted in favour of a number of amendments for the prioritization of non-chemical methods of plant protection and pest and crop management. The only real solution to eliminate the adverse impacts of pesticides is to take a preventative approach with the widespread adoption of truly sustainable non-chemical and natural methods of plant protection and pest and crop management (including rotation, physical and mechanical control and natural predator management), as happens in organic systems. This protects not only public health, but animals, wildlife, air, water, soil, food and the wider environment. Reliance on complex chemicals designed to kill plants, insects or other forms of life, cannot be classified as sustainable.
Take Part in April 14 National Day of Action on Climate Change
The Organic Consumers Association's Planting Peace Campaign invites you to join the No War No Warming Coalition on April 14th when we go out with Step It Up to call on Congress to cut carbon 80% by 2050.
The US military, the single largest consumer of petroleum, and the war on Iraq, a country with massive oil reserves, are obvious targets for actions against global warming. The first thing Congress needs to do to reduce carbon emissions is to set a timetable for the withdrawal of the US military--and US oil companies--from Iraq.
For t hose of us whoâ€™ve been working for years to bring our troops home from Iraq, these are crucial weeks â€¦ now that both the U.S. House and Senate have passed legislation for withdrawal of combat troops by varying dates in 2008. We in the antiwar movement brought this aboutâ€”including our friends in the Congressional Progressive Caucus and coalitions like United for Peace & Justice.
But we canâ€™t relax. Both the House and Senate versions of the Iraq Supplemental Funding bill are flawed. The â€œdeadlinesï¿½? are to far off (a non-binding March 31, 2008 in the Senate; September 1, 2008, in the House) and far too softâ€”allowing thousands of U. S. troops to stay in Iraq for vaguely-defined â€œtrainingï¿½? and â€œanti-terrorismï¿½? missions. And they allocate yet another $100 billion toward the occupation.
The good news is that President Bush and the Republicans stand exposed as having no strategy except â€œstay the courseï¿½? and â€œthe situation in Iraq is imp roving.ï¿½? Bush gas repeatedly threatened to veto any bill with even weak time-lines. This puts him in conflict with the American public, which wants all troops home within a year, according to polls.
Letâ€™s force Bushâ€™s hand. Donâ€™t let Democrats in the House and Senate weaken the Supplemental further behind closed doors.
The Senate and House will be appointing a conference committee to write a compromise Iraq supplemental billâ€”which could be voted on as early as April 16. The antiwar movement must insist that what comes out of the conference committee is a compromise between what the House and Senate Passed, not a compromise with what Bush wants.
Our overriding demandâ€”in line with public sentiment expressed in Novemberâ€™s election and recent pollingâ€”remains that Congress should push for fully-funded, complete withdrawal within a year. Anything short of that is already a compromise. Thereâ€™s no room for further compromise with Bush!
T hatâ€™s our message to Congress, in public protests and in letters-to-the-editor. If Congress doesnâ€™t retreat and the President vetoes the bill, people will see that â€œBushâ€™s Veto Pen Kills Troops.ï¿½? Most Iraqis want U.S. troops out of their country; U.S. military force is no solution in Iraq.
Join Us in Action â€“ Organize a No War, No Warming Action at a Gas Station on April 14th!
On April 14th, tens of thousands of Americans will gather all across the country at meaningful, iconic places to call for action on climate change. The demand: Step it up Congress! Cut carbon 80% by 2050! We urge peace and justice groups to join this day of protest. Send the message â€œFight Climate Change, Not Wars for Oilï¿½? by organizing a protest at a local gas station. What better location to send a message about war, oil and the consequences of oil addiction than a gas station?
Here are a few action ideas:
â€¢ Stage a die-in at the p umps â€¢ Put up crosses or cardboard tombstones with the names of the dead â€¢ Lock yourself to a pump â€¢ Call Congress and the President from the gas station â€¢ Leaflet motorists â€¢ Ride bicycles around the gas station chanting â€œBikes not bombs!ï¿½? â€¢ Put up signs â€¢ Chalk the driveways â€¢ Stage a mock blood and oil spills (oil: molasses and water; blood: thinned tomato paste) â€¢ March from a gas station to a nearby recruiting station or vice-versa â€¢ March from a gas station to a Congresspersonâ€™s home or office
There are already over 1,200 protests planned for April 14th. Letâ€™s get the peace and justice movement involved in this great day of action!
No War No Warming can provide you with posters you can download and use at your protests, e ducational flyers you can hand out to passersby, and a template press release you can use to get local media coverage. Just let us know youâ€™re organizing an action by posting event details to http://www.NoWarNoWarming.org or emailing your protest information to email@example.com.
For the first time, President Bush acknowledged the threat of global warming during his State of the Union speech. He also presented a plan to increase fuel economy for cars that, if properly implemented, could offer serious cuts in the amount of global warming pollution generated in the United States.
Unfortunately, the president's proposal to reduce U.S. oil dependence doesn't go far enough to protect against dangerous global warming. We must set an overall cap on heat-trapping emissions for the entire economy-addressing transportation, electricity, and other sources of pollution. Although the president mentioned "changing the way America generates electric power" including advances in solar and wind energy-he stopped short of advocating for sensible legislation that would require utilities to produce 20 percent of the nation's electricity from renewable sources like wind and solar power by 2020.
Furthermore, the president failed to address that technological advances need to be based on unbiased, independent science. America can not effectively address the serious consequences of global warming if our scientists our being stifled by political interference.
While the State of the Union included some positive rhetoric about providing America with the means to build a cleaner, more secure future, the president and Congress must work together to ensure his words become action.
Global warming is the greatest environmental challenge of our time. Sea levels are on the rise, ice and snow cover are decreasing, and storms are becoming more powerful. Leading scientists, such as James Hansen of NASA’s Goddard Institute for Space Studies, caution that we are nearing a climate “tipping point,” beyond which large-scale, dangerous impacts would become unavoidable.
Scientific evidence suggests we must prevent global average temperatures from rising more than 2°Celsius (3.6°Fahrenheit) above pre-industrial levels to avoid the worst effects of global warming. To stay below this threshold, atmospheric concentrations of carbon dioxide must stabilize at or below 450 parts per million. This goal requires cutting today's levels of worldwide global warming emissions roughly in half by mid-century. Given that the United States leads the world in both absolute and per capita emissions, we must achieve even deeper reductions here at home, on the order of 80 percent below 2000 levels by 2050.
The science is clear and action is needed now. To ensure the deep reductions needed to leave our children and grandchildren a safe climate, UCS calls on Congress to establish a mandatory economy-wide limit on global warming pollution that ensures near-term emission cuts and puts us on a path to achieve the science-based 80 percent reduction target.
While the president’s call to reform car fuel economy standards in the way he did for light trucks does not inspire much confidence given the administration’s lackluster performance on pickups and SUVs, the preliminary details of his plan are actually quite intriguing.
The president has joined leaders in Congress calling for increasing the gas mileage of cars, SUVs, minivans and pickup trucks to 34 mpg by 2017. This is the equivalent of a four percent improvement per year. However, this will only be a breakthrough if the president and Congress work together to pass a law guaranteeing that this goal becomes reality, while avoiding loopholes and escape clauses. The increase would also cut global warming pollution by 95 million metric tons of carbon dioxide in that same year. This is equivalent to taking 14 million of today’s cars and trucks off the road.
The president also staked out an aggressive target on biofuels and “alternative fuels.” UCS analysis shows that meeting the administration’s target of 35 billion gallons of renewable fuels by 2017 would cut our projected oil demand by 1.5 million barrels per day in 2017. This would reduce our oil dependence by 6.4 percent. If these changes are to be a real advance, however, these fuels must be produced without polluting the air, water, and soil—a formidable challenge. If alternative fuels are made from coal instead of renewable resources, the president will not stop the projected growth in carbon dioxide emissions from cars, light trucks and SUVs. Instead of cutting global warming pollution, making gasoline or diesel from coal would double the amount of global warming pollution produced from gasoline today.
The address also included support for plugin hybrid development (the Big Three auto companies are asking for $500 million for battery research). If funded, the support would benefit both plugin hybrid and non-plugins alike. More cost-effective, compact, and efficient battery electrical energy storage and output technologies are hurdles that all hybrids need to overcome for better efficiency and more market penetration in the future.
Challenges remain for effective execution of these proposals, but opportunities for real progress abound with a new Congress and political momentum.
President Bush talked about new energy technologies helping to "confront the serious challenge of global climate change” but the his willingness to invest billions in yet another generation of coal and nuclear power plants dwarfs his stated support for solar and wind energy.
The nation needs leadership on policies like the renewable portfolio standard, which would require utilities to produce 20 percent of the nation's electricity from renewable sources like wind and solar power by 2020. The renewable portfolio standard is the best way to cut power plant emissions, reducing emissions by 434 million metric tons, the equivalent of taking nearly 63 million of today's cars and trucks off the road.
To seriously address global warming, the president will need to go much further than the measures he outlined. UCS believes we must set an overall cap on global warming pollution for the entire economy.
In his State of the Union address, President Bush recognized the need for “technological breakthroughs…to confront the serious challenge of global climate change.” Scientists in the federal government are also working hard to understand and mitigate the impacts of global warming, but their work is being stifled by political interference. Without independent and accessible science, the federal government will not be able to effectively address the serious environmental and social consequences of global warming.
Fortunately, Congress will soon be stepping in. On Tuesday, January 30, the House Oversight and Government Reform committee will hold a hearing to investigate the manipulation, distortion, and suppression of federal climate change research.
That day, UCS will release the results of a report and survey of federal climate scientists that examines the level of political interference in climate science. At the hearing, UCS Senior Scientist Dr. Francesca Grifo will testify about the report and recommend reforms to restore scientific integrity to federal policy making. You can watch the hearing online on Tuesday morning at 10:00 a.m. EST.
The new UCS “A to Z” guide to political interference in science shows that, from airborne bacteria to Ground Zero, science continues to be misrepresented for political gain. With the president’s support, Congress must enact meaningful reforms so decisions within federal scientific agencies and advisory committees are based on objective and unbiased science.
We are glad to have received this next piece of news from Animal Friends Croatia. On August the 17th, this organization performed a street action to make the public aware of the fact that fishes are sentient beings and to encourage people to go vegetarian. The activists were lying under a fishing net dressed up solely in plastic wrap, creating a very powerful visual performance of humans looking like fishes and being in their situation. The slogan under which the action was performed was “Fish are not swimming vegetables”, which is an excellent motto, since that is what society seems to think about fishes. As Animal Friends Croatia themselves have commented on their action, “nobody acknowledges the agony of fish”, and “the number of individually killed animals is beyond our comprehension.”
Activities of this sort can be really effective, since they spread the message that other animals are sentient individuals just as humans, and that we should start respecting those individuals just as we respect other humans.
You can read more about this action in Animal Friends Croatia’s website:
PGA - People's Global Action - started in 1997. It has been a tool and a diffuse structure coordinating groups and people sharing common struggles and practices, in accordance with various anticapitalist and anti-authoritarian principles (see the hallmarks below). PGA initiated the Intercontinental caravan in 1999, as well as international action days of actions against the G8, the WTO, the World Bank, the IMF... In Seattle, Genoa, Prague, and in a number of less mediatic events, PGA was a driving force behind numerous actions and reflections. Amidst counter-summits, social forums & various actions, groups close to the PGA are now looking for new drives to challenge stagnation.
A very clear rejection of capitalism, imperialism and feudalism; all trade agreements, institutions and governments that promote destructive globalisation.
We reject all forms and systems of domination and discrimination including, but not limited to, patriarchy, racism and religious fundamentalism of all creeds. We embrace the full dignity of all human beings.
A confrontational attitude, since we do not think that lobbying can have a major impact in such biased and undemocratic organisations, in which transnational capital is the only real policy-maker.
A call to direct action and civil disobedience, support for social movements' struggles, advocating forms of resistance which
maximize respect for life and oppressed peoples' rights, as well as the construction of local alternatives to global capitalism.
An organisational philosophy based on decentralisation and autonomy.
In Europe, groups who identify with the PGA principles meet about once every two years, through the initiative of a "convenor" collective. Since 1997, these conferences have been the opportunity for several days of exchanging practices and knowledge, and of establishing bonds, which allow us to be better organized in common actions.
The last conferences were held in Leiden (Netherlands) in September 2001 and in Belgrade (Serbia) in July 2004. Each time, they drew hundreds of people together and generated contacts, exchanges and strategical reflections. This year, the Francophone group STAMP is the convenor and the next european gathering of PGA will take place from the 19h of August to the 3rd of September 2006.
STAMP started through a bunch of individuals involved with "sans-titre", a network of individuals involved in direct action, autonomy and self-managed spaces around France. They now would like to open up the organizing process to all, around the few following principles.
Decentralization and local grounding:
This gathering will take place in two stages:
1. Decentralised gatherings will be held between smaller groups of people (around a hundred) in various locations. During nine days, in five different places, we'll mix thematic discussions and workshops linking local issues with reflections and initiatives from participating European groups. Each space will also propose a collective practical project and common realisation (construction, action...). Several locations are anticipated, including Lyon, Toulouse, Lavaur, Dijon, Geneva...
2. A centralised part will bring everyone together on one site, for four or five days, to allow everybody to share previous discussions and take decisions about the organization and future projects of PGA in Europe.
Non-specialization and "dishwashing-theory" mix:
During these meetings we want to favour non-specialization and the horizontal sharing of tasks. We would like to put particular attention on the collective organization of everyday life. Projects proposed by each conference space should allow us to exchange practical know-how, linked to the needs of the host locality.
A desire to strenghten links with Eastern Europe:
During the months leading up to the meeting, several travels will take place in these regions, in order to present the meeting and get to know local projects. Solutions will be investigated, in terms of visas and transport, to help people and collectives in precarious situations to travel here.
The organization of this gathering is a political and joyful project for us. It requires a lot of energies and commitment in order to become an open collective adventure, rather than the performance of a few "activism experts".
Regular organizational meetings will bring STAMP to different towns during the upcoming months. International meetings allow us to assess the advancement of this project and open up the organization to other people and groups of PGA Europe. The next one will take place the 21st and 22nd of April in Budapest.
About the contents...
Here are themes to be tackled around within the PGA encounters, some of which are rooted in some of the decentralized locations already. This list aims at opening perspectives, so that each participant can propose contents, workshops, texts... in the months preceding the conference.
development & preservation of autonomous spaces (squats, self-managed spaces, collective projects in cities and in the countryside);
gender issues, struggles against male domination & patriarchy;
industrial society, its relationship with space and the transformation of the social environment; the effect of industrial technology of human relationships;
social control, security and its politics, militarism and repression of protest; digital struggles:
digital struggles: Indymedia & the movement; alternative servers (riseup.net, squat.net), users' responsability & solidarity facing new repressions;
rejection of the State: experiences of self-management & direct democracy; market economy & consumerism versus alternative non market based economies;
struggles of workers and welfare claimants; anti-wage slavery; the fight against capitalism and its institutions (WTO, IMF, WB, EU, etc.); state of European capitalism (free exchange agreements, privatisation, etc.); the
current dead-end regarding anti-racism in our anti-capitalist/anti-establishment sphere. Post-colonialism, struggles around immigration, the abolition of borders;
capitalist management of resources and energy, impending environmental catastrophes, foreseenable alternatives and practical ecology;
the anarchist ghetto: militant politics & elitism; how to escape its insularity?
anti-essentialism and critique of the religious relation to « nature », as a shaper for our perception of age, gender, race; anti-speciesm & animal liberation.
"towards a new type of struggle?"
Confrontational direct action tactics and/or autonomy & practical alternatives building?
Co-existence or divorce with institutions, unions, NGO's and The Left
Our techniques and methods of organisation, actions and debates.
The question of class, gender and racism at the heart of our struggle
Links with other protests within a global "across the board" strategy
We are already looking for various resources, including funds, to help for travel/visas, as well as other logistic costs. Any initiative, from money, to mosquito repellent cream, screwdrivers or tofu...) is welcome. Donations can be made to "Accueil caravane" at:
STAMP c/o Longo Mai 04300 Limans France
A detailed list of locations, events and issues will be available soon.
You may be aware of two recent significant events that are already having an impact on how the world sees water fluoridation:
1) On March 22, a National Research Council panel of the National Academy of Sciences released a report of their 3-year research on fluoride toxicity, concluding that the EPA’s current safety standards for fluoride in water supplies are not protective, that too much fluoride can be harmful to health, and recommending that the EPA toughen its fluoride safety standards.
2) On April 3, Dr. Elise Bassin's research paper, based on her doctoral thesis, was published in the medical journal Cancer Causes and Control. This peer-reviewed paper reiterates what her thesis asserted: at least a 5-fold increase in a rare bone cancer in young men after exposure to fluoridated water at a critical young age.
These two documents give more ammunition to our petition request for an immediate moratorium on water fluoridation and a Congressional investigation into this long-standing public health practice. (You can read more about both of these recent events on the POWA website at http://www.powalliance.org/campaigns.htm and much more on the FAN website at www.fluorideaction.org ).
Although we cannot update the POWA petition itself, when it is submitted to Congress, it will be accompanied by a cover letter listing all the latest developments, and mentioning that they only make stronger our support for a moratorium and a Congressional investigation. Meanwhile, we are stepping up efforts to gather more signatures more quickly, as we are getting closer to the time that this petition will be submitted to Congress. WE NEED LOTS MORE SIGNATURES!
WE NEED YOUR HELP!
a) If you are a recent signer, or have not previously responded to our requests, please contact people and list serves you know to ask them to sign this petition! (Use your own invitation, the letter on our website, or our Invite-a-Friend feature). Tell them to go to: http://www.powalliance.org/petition/index.html
b) If you are a professional with a higher degree (such as MD, PhD, DMD, JD, etc., and the relevant RDH, RN, PE, etc.), or represent a health or environmental (non-fluoride!) organization, please sign Second Look's Statement of Concern on Fluoridation! For all the information you need for that, go to: http://www.slweb.org/socintro.html
c) NOW IS THE TIME TO WRITE LETTERS TO THE EDITOR of your local newspapers! We want to get a huge public discussion going. This is a very vital step in moving the issue to where it needs to be: front and center in the minds of everyone everywhere. Short letters that get right to the point work best. Just incorporate basic facts selected from the latest news: * Fluoride is toxic waste * Fluoride is toxic and cumulative * The EPA unions' demands (see the POWA website for details at http://www.powalliance.org/campaigns.htm, Campaign 1, Part 2 box with links) * The NRC report * Bassin's paper and/or bone cancer in boys * You don't want it in YOUR water * Mention the POWA petition and the URL, www.POWAlliance.org
THANK YOU for keeping this issue alive, and for your part in helping to make big changes happen regarding water fluoridation!
PROTEST STARBUCKS: Frankenbucks National Week of Action June 19th-25th Despite years of grassroots pressure, Starbucks continues to serve milk from cows that are injected with Monsanto’s controversial genetically engineered recombinant bovine growth hormone, also known as rBGH or rBST. Virtually every industrial country, except for the United States, has banned the use of rBGH. Milk produced from cows injected with rBGH poses serious hazards to human health, including increased risks for cancer. The time has come to kick rBGH off the market, once and for all. If Starbucks, a major buyer of milk, were to ban rBGH dairy products in its coffee beverages other major corporations would likely do the same. Join OCA and allies June 19-25, to protest or leaflet at Starbucks cafes in your neighborhood. Help us reach our goal of 300 actions! Click here to leaflet Starbucks or for more informationhttp://organicconsumers.org/Starbucks/
Harold German Bustamante
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