July 2012

Global shark update

2012-Jul-26   ::   (0 comments)

Chinas popular Yao Ming
Yao Ming

Around the world, the movement to protect sharks has gained significant momentum in recent months.
In China, the Government Offices Administration of the State Council has announced it will stop serving shark fin soup at official banquets.

In the US, Illinois recently become the fifth state (and the second largest) to pass a ban on the sale, trade, possession, and distribution of shark fin products.

In Canada, the city of Calgary joined ten other municipalities, including Toronto, that have successfully voted to ban the sale and consumption of shark fin products.

WildAid is even witnessing their campaign permeate popular culture. In a recent episode of a popular TV series in China, the lead character references Yao Ming's WildAid PSA and convinces her colleague to say no to shark fin soup.

To quote Winston Churchill, perhaps this is the "end of the beginning." With your support, WildAid can continue to build upon their global public awareness campaign to end the demand for shark fin soup, and preserve the health of our oceans.

To support shark conservation, please consider making a contribution to WildAid.

Farmers victory over Monsanto & Co.

2012-Jul-12   ::   (0 comments)

A European court has ruled that an existing EU guideline on the marketing of seeds cannot prevent independent farmers from growing trading in old, officially non-approved seeds. It's a defeat for big agricultural firms.

The European Court of Justice on Thursday ruled that farmers on the continent were allowed to both produce and market seeds even from plant varieties which were not officially registered and approved.

The Luxembourg-based judges found that the production and sale of such seeds could not be prohibited on the basis of an existing EU guideline on seed registering. French industrial seed producer Graines Baumax had taken the domestic farmers' network Kokopelli to court, because it considered as illegal the latter's marketing of 461 seeds which were not officially catalogued.

Graines Baumax demanded compensation to the tune of 50,000 euros ($61,170) which it now won't get. The court ruling means a serious defeat for huge agricultural industry companies such as Monsanta, Syngenta or Bayer which already control 67 percent of the global trade in seeds.

Diversity at stake. Patents on seeds registered by such big enterprises have seen smaller farms in Europe and elsewhere getting more and more dependent. By using only officially approved seeds from such mega firms, farmers have had to use much more fertilizers and pesticides to get decent harvests, meaning that they usually spend five times as much on those as on the seeds themselves.
The European Court of Justice indicated that procedures to officially register seeds were currently so expensive that independent farms simply couldn't afford them.

The court's Advocate-General, Juliane Kokott, had pointed out that a strict ban on growing and marketing non-registered seeds would eventually lead to a massive loss of biodiversity and even greater market dominance by large industrial producers.

For now that has been avoided.