Europe to back GM corn for humans

The European Commission has said it will approve one variety of genetically modified corn for human consumption.

The ruling, to be discussed next week, would end a six-year moratorium on GM crops, which the US had challenged at the World Trade Organisation.

A bid by Swiss-based Syngenta to sell Bt-11 sweet corn for consumption will be approved, said European Commission spokesman Reijo Kemppinen.

Anti-GM campaigners say the decision has no political or scientific

Greenpeace political adviser Eric Gall said official reports in France
and Austria had discredited claims about Bt-11, saying there was not
enough scientific evidence.


He said it would not matter whether the Commission allowed the sale of the product because European consumers were still against GM foods.

"The only effect this will have is to widen the gap between the Commission and its citizens," Mr Gall told BBC News Online.

The Commission does not have the political support of members states and it certainly does not have the support of the European people
Eric Gall Greenpeace

The failure of EU governments to reach agreement on whether to lift the ban meant it has been passed back to the Commission.

The EU executive has pressed for end to the moratorium, saying strict new traceability and labelling rules provide protection for consumers.

Last month, France, Portugal, Austria, Luxembourg, Greece and Denmark continued to oppose lifting the ban.

Spain, Belgium and Germany abstained, while Italy, the UK, the
Netherlands, Ireland, Sweden and Finland voted to approve it.

David Byrne, the EU's commissioner in charge of food safety, showed his support at the time.

"I would imagine that, once these foods are authorised, they will be
able to go on the market," he said.

"And I expect under those circumstances the member states will respect the laws of the European Union."

Sceptical consumers

The decision will be valid in all 25 EU countries for 10 years.

The ruling would allow companies to sell the GM sweet corn in tins,
clearly labelled as a GM product, but growing the crop would still be

Bt-11 is being developed by a Swiss company and is the first of around 30 such products awaiting approval.

The European Commission last approved a genetically modified organism for sale in 1998.

The US has consistently challenged through the World Trade Organisation the European Union's reluctance to import and sell genetically modified crops and food.

Environmental campaigners say that pressure has forced the commission's hand.

The BBC's Europe correspondent Tim Franks says that although the
manufacturers may win the right to sell their product, convincing
sceptical European consumers will be another battle altogether.

The news comes days after US agri-chemical company Monsanto said that it would not try to market a strain of GM wheat because of consumer resistance.

Foreign buyers including Japan, the main purchaser of US wheat, say they are unwilling to buy the GM crop, not least because they see few benefits for either consumers or themselves.

Story from BBC NEWS:

Published: 2004/05/14 13:15:17 GMT


Informant: Teresa Binstock

Governor Seeks to Chop Red Tape for Loggers

Forms and reviews would be streamlined in exchange for a $10-million hike in fees.

From Associated Press

May 15, 2004

SACRAMENTO -- Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger wants to make it easier for timber companies to get approval for logging plans in exchange for a $10-million increase in logging fees.

In exchange for imposing the higher fees, the state should cut its
"overly burdensome" bureaucratic reviews of logging plans, mimicking the one- or two-page applications and brief one-stop reviews required by neighboring Oregon, the Republican governor said in his revised budget plan Thursday.

California requires that detailed timber harvest plans be prepared by
licensed foresters and other professionals. The typical plan runs 100 to 500 pages, costs $42,954 and waits 65 days for state approval -- a delay that climbs to an average 85 days for logging plans along the
environmentally sensitive northern coast.

Schwarzenegger's plan amounts to "massive regulatory relief for the
industry," objected the Sierra Club's Paul Mason. "Oregon has extremely lax forest practice rules. They're certainly not the state we want to be emulating."

Though California Forestry Assn. President Dave Bischel liked the idea of trimming the state's review, he objected to paying the $10 million in higher fees. The industry shouldn't have to pay more than the actual cost of reviewing timber harvest plans, he said, and that cost should drop considerably if the process is altered as Schwarzenegger proposes.

Schwarzenegger wants to let harvest plan approvals remain in effect
longer; expand a single plan to include entire watersheds; and reduce the paperwork. Plans still would be reviewed by the departments of Conservation and Fish and Game and the State Water Resources Control Board, though environmental groups contend those reviews are often ineffective.

"Details of that have to be worked out, but certainly the intention is
to maintain a high level of environmental review," said Bill Snyder, the forestry department's resources chief.

A second Schwarzenegger initiative would spend $39 million over five years for prescribed burns and other forest thinning to protect Sierra Nevada waterways. The state forestry department proposes to thin 105,000 acres to protect 1 million acres of watersheds.

"It's a very important program, and an example of the state thinking
creatively" to find fire prevention funds, said Jay Watson, director of the Wilderness Society's wild land fire program.

Copyright 2004 Los Angeles Times

Informant: Teresa Binstock

Discovering America as It Is

Where is the Resistance?
Posted on Sunday, May 16 @ 10:00:23 CDT
From: Harvey Rosetti

The most important part of government's role in a civilized society should be to ensure that everyone has an equal right to a decent life.

Where is the Resistance?
from a book by Valdas Anelaukas,
"Discovering America as It Is"

An answer to the problem of poverty in America would be to change the system or at minimum, regulate it, as has been done in Europe. But people here in America are afraid to do this, because as the U.S. Declaration of Independence itself said that people are "more disposed to suffer, while evils are sufferable, than to right themselves by abolishing the forms to which they are accustomed."

There are very few Americans who distribute political pamphlets or speak on street corners because most Americans work for capitalist employers. Most of those who have some understanding of the situation are also aware that to speak their full minds might result in losing their jobs. Others would argue that their resistance is directed through existing channels for changing the system, by impacting the electoral or legislative processes through lobbying, changes in party policy platforms, etc. We shall examine the effectiveness of this route, below.

But as for the credulous victims of American ideology - how can one hope to free the slave who believes his chains to be part of the natural order? Assuredly, not before that belief has been vanquished. As Johann Wolfgang von Goethe put it brilliantly many years ago: "None are more hopelessly enslaved than those who falsely believe they are free." Such is an ideological slavery...

Read further under:


Informant: CHAI

We are the Majority

We Must Be United in Struggle

"Today, the concentration of wealth and income in this country is not only greater than at any time since the 1920s, but it is far greater than in any other major country on Earth."

We Are the Majority
by Bernie Sanders

How do we build a political movement in this country that represents all of the people and not a handful of millionaires?

The middle class is collapsing, the people on top are making out like bandits, and the poorest people are struggling just to keep their heads above water.

Today, the concentration of wealth and income in this country is not only greater than at any time since the 1920s, but it is far greater than in any other major country on Earth.

It is not acceptable that the wealthiest 1 percent of the population owns more wealth than the bottom 95 percent.

That's not America...

Read further under:

Informant: CHAI

Petition Alert: Limit Violence in the Media

I have just read and signed the petition:


Please help by signing this petition. It takes 30 seconds and will really help.

Informant: Marley Winningham



How a secret Pentagon program came to Abu Ghraib.

Issue of 2004-05-24
Posted 2004-05-15

The roots of the Abu Ghraib prison scandal lie not in the criminal inclinations of a few Army reservists but in a decision, approved last year by Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld, to expand a highly secret operation, which had been focussed on the hunt for Al Qaeda, to the interrogation of prisoners in Iraq. Rumsfeld’s decision embittered the American intelligence community, damaged the effectiveness of élite combat units, and hurt America’s prospects in the war on terror...

Read further under:


Informant: Mike Conley

The Cultural Creatives: How 50 Million People Are Changing the World

A book review by Olivier Danes and Luc Guillory

A radically new culture is emerging in the US, one which favors a sustainable and responsible life-style. (1037 words) May 2004

A radically different culture is emerging in the US, according to a 12-year study of 100,000 Americans. The project, conducted by university professors Paul H. Ray, a sociologist and anthropologist, and Sherry R. Anderson, a psychologist, is described in their book The Cultural Creatives: How 50 Million People Are Changing the World.

It seems that a completely different kind of person is emerging from the prevailing mainstream materialistic Western society - a person with values and priorities which are in themselves a rejection of the generally accepted norms. These are people who see themselves as citizens of the world and, as such, are more able to empathize with others. They are altruistic, idealistic but practical, concerned about the environment, and willing to take action for the causes they believe in and for the less fortunate members of society. Cultural creativesbase their cultureon spiritual development and economic and ecological harmony.

One useful way to see the idea of cultureis as a large repertoire of solutions for the problems and passions that people see as important in each time period. So these are the people who are creating many of the surprising new cultural solutions required for the time ahead,say Ray and Anderson.

Until very recently it was customary to describe American society in terms of two contrasting groups - the modernistsand the traditionalists. The modernists make up 49 per cent of the American population. This group includes people who believe in and literally as well as metaphysically buy intoa materialistic and suburban way of life. This lifestyle is taken to be the general norm, the official ideology, the way things are; it is what we see on our television screens. It is, in effect, the American dreamand is seldom called into question. Money, success, appearances, and technological progress are considered to be the most important elements of a good life.

Traditionalists, on the other hand, only represent 25 per cent of the population now, whereas at the time of the Second World War they represented 50 per cent. Traditionalists do not define themselves in terms of political orientation but according to their beliefs which are based on patriarchy; and their identity revolves around the importance of the family, the church and the community. At a psychological level, traditionalists seem to protect themselves from worldly influences that do not value what they have to offer. Their adherents live in the memory of a rural and religious American society which is a nostalgic and a rather vague image of a period between the 1890s and 1930s.

Shaping the future

Cultural creatives, as a new and developing phenomenon, began to emerge in the 1960s, representing around 5 per cent of the US population. Today, according to Rays and Andersons survey, this group represents 26 per cent of the adults in the US - 50 million people. They distance themselves from traditional and accepted beliefs, and have made a comprehensive shift in their worldview, values, and way of life - their culture, in short. These creative, optimistic millions are at the leading edge of several kinds of cultural change, deeply affecting not only their own lives but society as a whole. We call them the cultural creatives because, innovation by innovation, they are shaping a new kind of American culture for the 21st century,say the authors. Visionaries and futurists have been predicting a change of this magnitude for well over two decades. Our research suggests that this long anticipated cultural moment may have arrived.

The sheer size of the Cultural Creative population is already affecting the way Americans do business and politics. They are the drivers of the demand that we go beyond environmental regulation to real ecological sustainability, to change our entire way of life accordingly.

The testimonies of tens of thousands of people interviewed by Ray and Anderson indicate that the process of alienation from the mainstream and gradual development of a new set of priorities seems to follow a similar pattern.

For most of us, to change our vision of the world is a once-in-a-lifetime possibility. Distancing oneself from the blind trance generated by the old culture can start in childhood when detecting a lie told by adults who seem to believe in it. Even if it is difficult to detach oneself from the dominant social mores, there comes a time when the presence of such an untruth becomes unbearable to cultural creatives. At that point many report a process of withdrawal from the prevailing culture accompanied by the fear of being rejected or ignored by society. The next stage is to start a new mode of life. The third stage involves dealing with criticism, which is often coupled with resentment, silence or denial. The fourth stage consists of putting into practice their new values. The book gives numerous examples and testimonies of people who experienced these different phases individually, enabling readers to recognize themselves, to identify what stage they have reached and to recognize their potential and the challenges awaiting them.

With regard to the USA, the authors suggest that we are in the middle of a transitional phase.... When millions of people make such choices, in the space of a few decades only, this leads to a change in the collective identity of the people.However, the authors note: We have arrived at a crucial point where things could change extremely quickly, when a community is ready to take changes into its hands.

The new way of thinking relates to a more responsible life-style and a long-term approach to problems. We are on the verge of an unknown world that lies beyond our experience and we are going to have to cast aside our habitual reference points in order to build a new culture. - It's only a matter of having moral imagination and an inner heart-felt wisdom.Ray and Anderson believe that such a gigantic transition only happens once every 500 to 5,000 years.

P. H. Ray and S. R. Anderson, The Cultural Creatives: How 50 Million People Are Changing the World. Three Rivers Press, USA, 2001. ISBN 0609808451

Olivier Danes and Luc Guillory are Share International co-workers based in France

Informant: Martin Greenhut


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