Humanists for Social Justice and Environmental Action supports Human Rights, Social and Economic Justice, Environmental Activism and Planetary Ethics in North America & Globally, with particular reference to the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and other Human Rights UN treaties and conventions listed above.

Friday

Chile fines Canada’s Barrick Gold Corp. $16M for environmental violations | Globalnews.ca

Chile fines Canada’s Barrick Gold Corp. $16M for environmental violations | Globalnews.ca
VALLENAR, Chile – Chile’s environmental regulator blocked Barrick Gold Corp.’s US$8.5 billion Pascua-Lama project on Friday and imposed its maximum fine on the world’s largest gold miner, citing “very serious” violations of its environmental permit as well as a failure by the company to accurately describe what it had done wrong.
After a four-month investigation, the Environmental Superintendent said all other construction work on Pascua-Lama must stop until Barrick builds the systems it promised to put in place beforehand for containing contaminated water.
Read more: Chilean court suspends Barrick mine due to environmental irregularities
The fines add up to eight billion pesos – about $16 million – the highest possible under Chilean law.
Trading in the Canadian company’s shares was halted on the Toronto and New York stock exchanges as the ruling prompted a sell-off. Barrick’s stock has lost more than half its value in the last year, due mostly to setbacks with Pascua-Lama, which straddles the Chile-Argentine border amid glaciers and snow-capped peaks at a lunch-aching 16,400 feet (5,000 metres) above sea level.

Monsanto Gives Up Fight for GM Plants in Europe

Monsanto Gives Up Fight for GM Plants in Europe
The world's largest producer of seeds, Monsanto, has apparently given up on attempts to spread its genetically modified plant varieties in Europe. A German media report said the firm would end all lobbying for approval.

The world's largest producer of seeds, Monsanto, has apparently given up on attempts to spread its genetically modified plant varieties in Europe. A German media report said the firm would end all lobbying for approval.

The German newspaper "taz" reported Friday that US agriculture behemoth Monsanto had dropped any plans to have farmers grow its genetically modified (GM) plant varieties in Europe.

Monsanto Europe spokesman Brandon Mitchener was quoted as saying the company would no longer engage in any lobbying fur such plants on the continent, adding that at the moment the firm was unwilling to apply for approval of any GM plants.

Monsanto said its decision was partly based on low demand from European farmers. "We've understood that such plants don't have any broad acceptance in European societies," Monsanto Germany spokeswoman Ursula L├╝ttmer-Ouazane commented. "We haven't been bale to make any progress over the years, and it's counter-productive to tilt against windmills," she added.   

Japan blocks U.S. wheat after Monsanto GMO strain found growing wild

Japan blocks U.S. wheat after Monsanto GMO strain found growing wild | The Raw Story
Japan has suspended imports of some US wheat after genetically engineered crops were found on an Oregon farm, a government official said Friday.
Tokyo’s move came as the European Union told its member states to test imports from the area, saying any genetically modified wheat would not be sold to consumers.
Japan’s farm ministry on Thursday cancelled a bid for 25,000 tonnes of Western White, a soft white wheat produced in the Pacific northwest, a ministry official said, in the wake of the discovery of the modified wheat.
“As long as the situation remains unchanged, we have no choice but to avoid bidding for the product,” the official said, adding Tokyo’s annual imports of the brand total 800,000 tonnes.
“We are asking US authorities to disclose information related to the incident as quickly as possible,” the official said. Other types of US wheat are not affected.
Japan imports around five million tonnes of wheat a year, 60 percent of which is from the US, making it one of the largest importers of the crop.
It does not allow GM wheat. Imports make up 90 percent of the wheat the country consumes.

Thursday

NEWS: Harper eliminated reviews of tar sands projects following warning of water disruption

NEWS: Harper eliminated reviews of tar sands projects following warning of water disruption
Postmedia News reports, “The federal government removed some oilsands projects from a list of those requiring environmental screenings, after being told in an internal memorandum that this form of industrial development could disturb water sources and harm fish habitat.”
The May 5, 2011 memo from a senior assistant deputy minister to the deputy minister of the Department of Fisheries and Oceans states, “Steam injection operations have the potential to cause surface upheaval and groundwater extraction operations may impact groundwater-surface water interactions. This could result in reductions in surface water flows in watercourses, leading to potential impacts on fish habitat.” The article adds that the memo suggests that some water-intensive in-situ projects also required reviews and authorizatons because of threats to the water supply and fish habitat.
“The memo … came a year before Prime Minister Stephen Harper’s government introduced hundreds of pages of changes to Canada’s environmental laws, which will allow the government to exclude some oilsands projects from reviews. In total, the changes eliminated about 3,000 federal environmental assessments, including hundreds of evaluations of projects involving fossil fuels and pipeline development, once the laws were adopted in July 2012. …The Fisheries Act previously allowed for the minister to issue an authorization, allowing industrial developers to disrupt fish habitat, provided that they compensate with other measures to protect ecosystems. The new laws adopted in July, removed a requirement for some authorizations, shifting the focus instead to the protection of commercial, recreational or aboriginal fisheries.”
Keith Stewart, a climate and energy campaigner for Greenpeace Canada obtained the memo.

Wednesday

Tell Sharkey & Malloy Connecticut Supports GMO Labeling! |

Tell Sharkey & Malloy Connecticut Supports GMO Labeling! | Food Democracy Now
ast week the Connecticut Senate passed a heroic GMO labeling bill by a vote to 35 to 1. Tragically, in response, Governor Malloy (D-CT) and Speaker of the House Brendan Sharkey (D-Hamden) intentionally forced a weak amendment on a House version of the bill that gutted any serious labeling of GMOs in the state. It's outrageous that for the second year in a row that Gov. Malloy and Speaker Sharkey have worked together to stop serious efforts to get a strong GMO labeling bill passed in Connecticut.
For the past 2 years activists on the ground in Connecticut have been working to reach a compromise with Governor Malloy and negotiated with his office in good faith. Now, he has now shown us his true colors. Last Thursday, before any of the members of the House had a chance to read the Amendments to the GMO labeling bill provided by Governor Malloy’s office, Speaker Sharkey called the bill for a vote in the middle of the night when they thought no one was watching, and it passed.  But, we were watching!
We need your help today to make sure we can win GMO labeling this year! With only a few weeks left, we need you to act today!
Pleae send this letter and then make a call to Governor Malloy at (860) 566-4840 and Speaker Sharkey at (860) 240-8500. Join us to help make GMO labeling a reality in Connecticut

Thursday

Tomgram: Engelhardt, Terracide: The Biggest Criminal Enterprise in History |

Tomgram: Engelhardt, The Biggest Criminal Enterprise in History | TomDispatch
We have a word for the conscious slaughter of a racial or ethnic group: genocide.  And one for the conscious destruction of aspects of the environment: ecocide.  But we don’t have a word for the conscious act of destroying the planet we live on, the world as humanity had known it until, historically speaking, late last night.  A possibility might be “terracide” from the Latin word for earth.  It has the right ring, given its similarity to the commonplace danger word of our era: terrorist.

Tuesday

Letter to stop seed regulation changes / GE Crops and Foods

Letter to stop seed regulation changes / Alfalfa / GE Crops and Foods (Not on the Market) / Topics / Resources / Take Action - Canadian Biotechnology Action Network - CBAN

Letter to stop seed regulation changes

Re: Regulations Amending the Seeds Regulations, Canada Gazette Part 1 VOL. 147, NO. 10 — MARCH 9, 2013
Deadline for submissions -- May 23, 2013
The National Farmers Union asks you to submit your letter of concern about the significant regulatory changes to Seed Variety Registration. You can just fill out the form below to send this letter instantly to the Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA).
The changes will allow greater corporate control over seeds in Canada and reduce choice for Canadian farmers. Read the letter below to understand the concerns, or read the Action Alert from the National Farmers Union.
Thank you for your action!

Monday

Avaaz - taking action on GAP!

Avaaz - Thanks for taking action on GAP!
"....after our campaign caused a media storm in H&M's home country Sweden, they've signed the Bangladesh worker safety agreement!!!

But GAP's digging in their heels. If they don't sign, many US companies could follow suit. Their shareholder meeting is in 24 hours and the pressure's building - let's take this right to CEO Glenn Murphy's door with phone calls, a massive petition delivery and ads in his hometown!

We have 24 hours left until GAP’s Annual Shareholders Meeting begins -- it’s our best chance to shame CEO Glenn Murphy into signing the Bangladesh Fire and Safety Agreement. Let’s flood Glenn Murphy with messages that shame him to personally feel public pressure to sign, bombard GAP HQ with calls and create a ‘social media storm’ on GAP’s facebook and twitter pages!

Wednesday

OXFAM: Tell your MP to keep aid focused on poverty and human rights

OXFAM: Tell your MP to keep aid focused on poverty and human rights

Take Action – Write Today | Oxfam.ca.
Keep aid focused on poverty and rights
Big changes are underway in Canada’s aid program. As part of budget Bill C-60, the federal government plans to merge the Canadian International Development Agency (CIDA) with the Department of Foreign Affairs and International Trade (DFAIT).
Let’s make sure that ending poverty and promoting human rights remain at the heart of Canada’s international development efforts, Please reach out to your Member of Parliament.
Big changes are underway in the Canadian international development landscape.In March, the federal government announced it would merge the Canadian International Development Agency (CIDA) with the Department of Foreign Affairs and International Trade (DFAIT). Two weeks ago, omnibus budget legislation (Bill C-60) was introduced, setting out the framework for the merger.
Before the House of Commons votes on Bill C-60 in June, we urgently need you to reach out to your Member of Parliament. We need to ensure that ending poverty and promoting human rights are at the heart of our international development efforts.
Canada has been a leader in promoting women’s rights and gender equality, food security and the eradication of polio. Canadians can be proud of the results of this good work. But there is still a lot to accomplish on the road to a more equitable world and the CIDA-DFAIT merger raises several key questions:
  • How will it impact development priorities?
  • Will Canada’s foreign aid maintain a focus on reducing poverty and promoting rights?
  • How much of Canada’s aid budget will be devoted to reducing poverty vs other foreign policy and trade interests?
  • Where do NGOs, with decades of experience in working with the poor, fit in?
Act right now. The House of Commons is due to vote on Bill C-60 very soon

March Against Monsanto Is The Beginning of The End For Monsanto

March Against Monsanto Is The Beginning of The End For Monsanto
The grassroots March Against Monsanto movement is spreading across the nation, and the initiative spells out an increasingly massive number of activists and concerned citizens who will ultimately be responsible for ending the GMO juggernaut through peaceful protest and the spread of information.
It really comes down to the basic understanding that what we want is real food — not chemical-laden junk that is riddled with genetically modified organisms. And of course Monsanto is responsible for the majority of such junk, holding a monopoly over the GM seed market with 90% of staple crop seeds under Monsanto control. Seeds that are sold to ignorant farmers who oftentimes end up killing themselves after they find that the seeds produce decreased yields and milk the farmers financially dry through the enforceable patents that come along with the seeds. Patents that Monsanto goons carefully enforce, preying upon small farmers through devious lawsuits and farm stakeouts.
Even organic and natural farmers are subject to such legal attacks, since it’s possible for the patented seeds (which India calls biopiracy) to blow over to such farms and begin to grow. This is also how widespread GMO contamination begins, to which the USDA simply responds ‘get insurance’. We can even go back decades to find that Monsanto was integral in the creation of the infamous Agent Orange, a Vietnam-era chemical warfare weapon which estimates say killed or maimed around 400,000 people and caused a startling 500,000 birth defects.
But the days where this information could hide as footnotes within the media are over.

The March Against Monsanto, which is a worldwide movement encouraging everyone to start their own local get together (here’s the Google document with all the organization info for every area) in defiance of the GMO juggernaut, is generating massive success. And with this success and media coverage comes awareness, which is absolutely essential. It was back in 2011 that I declared Monsanto be the worst company of 2011 in what became a media blitz campaign to spread awareness. Ultimately, it even led to one of my articles becoming the most highly shared articles of that year — something that I am extremely grateful to readers for.
March Against Monsanto is a lot like that campaign, as it is simple, accessible, and absolutely making waves in the media. Just wait until several thousand protesters converge on major cities demanding that our politicians enact legislation to combat Monsanto — a company which has numerous employees and former employees stationed within government.
But what’s more? Whatever comes after the March Against Monsanto will likely be even larger and more open source. It will likely take what worked with the March Against Monsanto campaign, enhance it, and apply it to more than just Monsanto as well. This is how we get our voices heard, through massive awareness movements like this. I encourage everyone to checkout the Google document and get involved in your area. Be friendly, pass out some articles from NaturalSociety, and spread the word — personable individuals are the most effective in communicating a message of truth to others.

Insanity: US Approves Bee Death Pesticide as EU Bans It

Insanity: US Approves Bee Death Pesticide as EU Bans It
Corporate politics is business as usual inside the United States, as I am once again shocked to report the EPA has sided with industry lobbyists over public health in approving a highly dangerous pesticide that the European Union recently decided to ban over fears of environmental devastation. Not only have neonicotinoid pesticides been linked repeatedly to mass bee deaths, also known as Colony Collapse Disorder (CCD), but the continued use of such pesticides threatens other aspects of nature (and humans) as well.
What’s even more amazing is that the decision not only comes after the EU publicly discussed the major dangers surrounding the use of the pesticides, but after the USDA released a report surrounding the continued honeybee deaths and the related effects — a report in which they detailed pesticides to be a contributing factor. Just the impact on the honeybees alone, and we now know that these pesticides are killing aquatic life and subsequently the birds that feed upon them, amounts to a potential $200 billion in global damages per year. We’re talking about the devastation of over 100 crops, from apples to avocados and plums.
And there’s countless scientists and a large number of environmental science groups speaking out on this. The EPA has no lack of information the subject. And sure, there are other contributing factors to bee deaths, there’s no question about that. We have an environment right now being hit with Monsanto’s Roundup even in residential areas, we have chemical rain, we have insane amounts of EMF — but it’s pretty clear that neonicotinoid pesticides are at least a major contributing factor. And beyond that, they have no place in the food supply to begin with.
The Pesticide Action Network (PAN) details the EU ban that came right before the EPA acceptance of the death-linked  pesticide:

Fracking is not a right: Tell Lone Pine to drop its NAFTA lawsuit against Quebec’s moratorium on fracking!

Fracking is not a right: Tell Lone Pine to drop its NAFTA lawsuit against Quebec’s moratorium on fracking!
When the people of Quebec spoke out against fracking, the provincial government listened. Quebec put a moratorium on the controversial and dangerous method for extracting hard-to-reach natural gas until the environmental impacts could be studied.
Fracking uses enormous amounts of water and sand, mixed with toxic chemicals, which are forced into the ground at high pressure to fracture shale rock or coal beds to release natural gas or oil. The process is linked to earthquakes and water pollution, which is why communities around the world are trying to stop it.
You would think the Quebec government has an obligation to protect its people and their environment. But a U.S. fracking company called Lone Pine Resources thinks otherwise.
Lone Pine, which wanted to frack for gas under the St. Lawrence River, has threatened to sue Canada under the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA). The company is demanding $250 million in compensation for Quebec’s moratorium, which it says violates Lone Pine’s “right” to frack!
We shouldn’t have to pay to protect ourselves and our environment. Communities, not private firms, should have the final say on fracking and other projects that threaten water sources, the environment and public health – and there should be no penalty for

Monday

'Making Free Prior and Informed Consent a Reality': New Report Launched in London

On the ground, Indigenous perspectives on how FPIC should be operationalized have been routinely ignored. Yet if it is to be properly realized, the provision of FPIC must be interpreted according to its Indigenous context. For some it may be a matter of being able to say ‘no’ to mining flat out, but for others it may be the start of a process of consultation.
John Cutfeet of Kitchenuhmaykoosib Inninuwug (KI) First Nation, Canada relayed that the KI “respect the sovereign right of future generations to review our decisions.”
This view was seconded by Anne Marie Sam of the Nak’azdli First Nation, who described that for the Nak’adzli it could be appropriate for FPIC to be “an ongoing process.”
The report seeks to emphasize the importance of this grounded knowledge. Rather than trying to find a short definition for FPIC the new study seeks to elucidate its general principles to iron out the complications that industry hides behind. Recognising the concerns of Indigenous communities and that the promises and behaviour of mining companies are often diametrically opposed it places emphasis on the communities sovereign right to choose according to their own form of governance.
Part of the report is dedicated to highlighting the sophisticated protocols for the realization of FPIC that many Indigenous peoples have already developed themselves. These are incredibly important as they allow critics of mining companies to respond when asked ‘how can FPIC be done?’ A significant stumbling block in the past.
As Indigenous peoples develop their own ways of making FPIC a reality, mining companies that are serious about cleaning up their act must accept that this is the rights-based FPIC they must recognize. Those that don’t must be challenged ceaselessly.

Friday

The Mentally Ill in Indonesia Are Often Put in Chains and Locked Up

The Mentally Ill in Indonesia Are Often Put in Chains and Locked Up - SPIEGEL ONLINE
Not far from the glistening beaches of Bali, mentally ill people are kept in chains or locked up in small shacks. Locals simply don't know what else to do with them. But psychiatrist Luh Ketut Suryani has made it her job to set them free.

Thursday

Ignoring Bee Crisis, EPA Greenlights New 'Highly Toxic' Pesticide | Common Dreams

Ignoring Bee Crisis, EPA Greenlights New 'Highly Toxic' Pesticide | Common Dreams
Despite new findings that prove a heightened crisis in US bee populations and a recent ban in Europe on similar chemical applications, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has decided to further endanger the population Monday by approving a "highly toxic" new pesticide.
(Photo: MightyBoyBrian/ Flickr) The "EPA continues to put industry interests first to exacerbate an already dire pollinator crisis," writes the group Beyond Pesticides.
The agency granted sulfoxaflor, a product of the Dow Chemical Company, "unconditional registration" for use on vegetables, fruits, barley, canola, ornamentals, soybeans and wheat among others, despite the EPA's own classification of the insecticide as "highly toxic to honey bees."
According to the Washington Examiner, the EPA's studies on the chemical's long-term effect on bees proved to be "inconclusive due to some issues with the study designs" and thus the EPA has proposed simply reducing the amount applied.
As part of their decision, the EPA approved new language for the sulfoxaflor labels which reads, "Do not apply this product at any time between 3 days prior to bloom and until after petal fall," during heightened pollinator activity....
And, in addition to harming bees, sulfoxaflor has been known to cause tumors and carcinomas in mice and rats and has been classified as "suggestive evidence of carcinogenic potential."
Dismissing these concerns, the EPA alternately points to the "need for sulfoxaflor by industry and agriculture groups to control insects no longer being controlled by increasingly ineffective pesticide technologies," proving the ongoing and harmful nature of unsustainable techniques such as pesticide sprays

Wednesday

Get Salmon Feedlots Out of the Ocean by Alexandra Morton -

Get Salmon Feedlots Out of the Ocean by Alexandra Morton - GoFundMe
Alex is taking them to court again - you can help fund her here.
[note that Harper is giving funds to SUPPORT fish farming - and taking the funds AWAY from environmental science]

Industrial salmon farm or feedlot corporations have millions of dollars to spend on convincing you to eat their product, that it is safe and sustainable. I disagree. I am a biologist who has studied their impact on whales, their sea lice and now European salmon viruses in the Pacific Ocean.  I need your help to communicate the true costs of this industry to communities, wildlife and food security. You can read more about my work here: http://alexandramorton.typepad.com

Friday

ACTION ALERT: Stop fracking waste from being dumped into the Bay of Fundy!

ACTION ALERT: Stop fracking waste from being dumped into the Bay of Fundy!

This morning, the Council of Canadians sent a letter to Nova Scotia Environment Minister Sterling Belliveau, requesting that Nova Scotia Environment (NSE) terminate Colchester’s approval for Atlantic Industrial Services (AIS) to discharge fracking wastewater into the Debert sewage system in order to protect the drinking water, public health and the surrounding ecosystem of the County.
According to Colchester County’s approval of AIS’ request, the “approval is subject to review and can be amended or terminated at any time if... directed to do so by NSE...”

There are a number of concerns with the approval from Colchester County, including:
  1. Health and safety concerns with fracking and fracking waste
  2. The approval violates the Environment Act
  3. Transparency and right to information
  4. Duty to consult with Indigenous communities
To learn more about the fracking that occurred in Nova Scotia in 2007-2008, read our blog and the Nova Scotia Fracking Resource and Action Coalition (NOFRAC) report.
Take action! Send a letter demanding that the N.S. Government disallow the releasing of toxic waste into the Debert sewage system and on to the Chiganois River, Cobequid Bay and the Bay of Fundy.

Thursday

Antibiotic-Resistant Bacteria: Big Ag Washes Its Hands of Any Responsibility

Andrew Gunther: Antibiotic-Resistant Bacteria: Big Ag Washes Its Hands of Any Responsibility
We can be pretty certain that in the coming days we will hear this message over and over again "So what if most of the meat on our supermarket shelves is contaminated with antibiotic-resistant bacteria? If you handle and cook your meat properly then a few bacteria shouldn't be a problem; and if you get sick with an untreatable disease then it's your own fault.'
The is the kind of contemptible retort we can expect from the intensive meat industry lobby and its many trolls in response to new research by the Environmental Working Group (EWG), which reveals high levels of life-threatening antibiotic-resistant bacteria on raw supermarket meat. Yet the "cook it properly and everything will be ok" spin is just Big Ag's latest attempt to absolve itself of any responsibility for squandering one of the most important medical innovations of our time- and putting American lives at risk.
The EWG analyzed data from the government's National Antimicrobial Resistance Monitoring System (NARMS), which was established to routinely test raw supermarket meat for antibiotic-resistant bacteria as a way of informing public health regulatory policy on the use of drugs in food-producing animals. Using the latest NARMS data, the EWG researchers detected antibiotic-resistant bacteria in a staggering 81 percent of ground turkey; 69 percent of pork chops; 55 percent of ground beef; and 39 percent of chicken breast, wings or thighs samples tested. The EWG's researchers also found "significant amounts" of antibiotic-resistant strains of Salmonella and Campylobacter, which together cause over 3.6 million cases of food poisoning a year. In addition, the researchers found that 53 percent of the raw chicken samples were contaminated with antibiotic-resistant strains of E. coli, some of which can cause severe diarrhea, urinary tract infections and pneumonia -- and even death.
I've written before that scientists from around the world now emphatically link the misuse of antibiotics in intensive livestock farming as one of the key causes for the dramatic rise in life-threatening antibiotic-resistant bacteria over recent years. Today, a staggering 80 percent of all the antibiotics produced in the U.S. are used on food-producing animals. In fact, we use more antibiotics per pound of meat produced than any other nation in the world.

Wednesday

Ontario's endangered species deserver better!

Ontario's endangered species deserver better!
The Ontario Government is set to weaken the rules protecting endangered plants and animals, leaving them ever further out on a dangerous limb. Any day now, Cabinet will be making the final decision — you need to tell them to stop and rethink. Please take a moment to call a Cabinet Minister near you.
What is happening?
The Ministry of Natural Resources has proposed jaw-dropping new exemptions for industry under the Endangered Species Act, 2007. In a move reminiscent of the Harris and Harper governments, the ministry is embracing environmental deregulation and creating brand new loopholes for industrial activities that harm endangered species and their habitats.

  • a five-year exemption for forestry, an industry that impacts about 30 million hectares of land in Ontario
  • permanent exemptions for existing pits and quarries and hydro operations
  • ew exemptions for planned or approved activities that would apply to pits and quarries, residential and commercial development, mining, renewable energy projects, hydro facilities, roads and more.