Month: February 2009

Seeds, sovereignty, and the Vía Campesina: Plants, property, and the promise of open source biology

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Colonos recommends this paper by Jack Kloppenburg, “Seeds, sovereignty, and the Vía Campesina: Plants, property, and the promise of open source biology“, prepared for the Workshop on Food Sovereignty: Theory, Praxis and Power, 17-18 November 2008, St. Andrews College, University of Saskatchewan, draft dated 22 November 2008, 34 pp.

Here is a very interesting excerpt (pp. 16-17):

“The specific mechanism Michaels goes on to propose is a “General Public License for Plant Germplasm (GPLPG)” that is explicitly modeled on the GPL developed by the FOSS movement for software.
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Oil spill in the Ecuadorian Amazon

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It’s a disaster.

colonos is here reproducing an article from the Ecuadorian national daily El Comercio (in Spanish).

The extent of the spill is yet to be determined, but basically it occurred due to a rupture of the 305km long pipeline running from the Amazon to the coast. On Tuesday, the pipeline broke in the cantón El Chaco in the rainforest at the foothills of the Andes where it runs 20m under the ground. The river Santa Rosa turned black. The pipeline carried 130,000 barrels of crude at the moment of rupture. The company reports that the oil exports are guaranteed until the end of the month. Clean up, according to the company, might last over a year. But how clean is clean?

Fecha: Miércoles 25 de Febrero de 2009
Fuente: El Comercio

La rotura de una de las sueldas de la tubería del Oleoducto de Crudos
Pesados (OCP) ocasionó un derrame de petróleo de proporciones en el
cantón El Chaco.

A las 10:30, María Macas se sorprendió al ver que el río Santa Rosa era
una gran mancha negra que corría lentamente. Uno de sus mayores temores se hizo realidad ayer: hubo un derrame de petróleo que cubrió el cauce del río, las piedras y la maleza de las orillas.
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The Medicinal Garden of the Royal Military Hospital in Goa: Timothy Walker’s Research

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Frederick Noronha features a very interesting interview about the (in situ) Medicinal (botanical) Garden of the Royal Military Hospital in Goa , which can be viewed here:

Visit FN’s blog entry for further info about the important and inspiring work of Timothy Walker..

Mapping Indigenous Mexico for whom?

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US Academics Are Mapping Resources in Mexico; Corporations and the US Military Are the Beneficiaries of the Data

By Silvia Ribeiro

La Jornada February 3, 2009

colonos are reproducing here an investigation by the ETC Group, also posted on NarcoNews

As the Union of Organization of the Sierra Juarez [Unión de Organización de la Sierra Juárez de Oaxaca] has complained (Unosjo, 15/1/09), they have been victimized by a new type of appropriations in their communities: “geo-piracy”. This refers to using (and abusing) the local wisdom of the indigenous and rural villages to make digital highly detailed maps of their geography, resources, (hydrology, natural and cultivated biodiversity, archeology, social, cultural) to place all this on electronic pages with open access, at the disposition of whoever wants to use it. For example, corporations, institutions, or the army of the United States, which financed the project in Oaxaca. What is true, is that previously the project was carried out in nine communities of the Potosi Huasteca, and it is going on in the Sierra Tarahumara.

The implications of this type of activity are so vast, that it is difficult to sum them up. The detailed and precise map of the territories is only possible if it is extracted from local knowledge of those who live there. On processing this knowledge with new technologies, such as systems of digital geographic information, superimposed on satellite maps freely accessible on Google, one obtains an enormous volume of information which is not known or can not be appraised. These maps are of great utility for military ends and for counterinsurgency, but also for industrial purposes (exploitation of resources like minerals, plants, animals and biodiversity; mapping access roads already constructed or “necessary”, sources of water, settlements, social maps of possible resistance or acceptance of projects, etcetera). Read the rest of this entry »

COICA Declaration at the World Social Forum

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Written by COICA
Tuesday, 10 February 2009

- reproduced by colonos without any change (originally posted at UpsideDown World) -

The Amazon Basin Indigenous Peoples Organization (COICA) with our worldview, diversity of languages, history, cultures, spirituality, territory, economy, have existed since before recorded time. We have adopted different forms of organization and identity under the framework of the nation states which have established laws and regulations according to their own interests, not recognizing the ancestral rights of the first inhabitants of the amazon region.

Attempting to arrive at a consensus between 390 ethnic groups, representing a population of 2,779,478 people in the 10,268,471 square kilometer Amazon basin, we gathered in Belem do Para, Brazil from Jan. 27th through Feb. 1st for the World Social Forum. While at the forum we held intense meetings and in-depth debate and analysis about the reality of the indigenous peoples living in the Amazon and those from other biomes, offering our support and leadership in the process of the World Social Forum. Read the rest of this entry »

Food Energy Nexus: Livelihoods and Sovereignty

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Colonos would like to draw your attention to an interesting project by some good people unfolding in India, called Food Energy Nexus, which presents itself in this way:

“Millions of people living in the so-called developing world starved as the price of food soared in 2007-2008. Globally, the poorest are broadly women and children of colour, who were among the hardest hit by the rising food prices.

The drivers behind the latest food crises are complex with no single answer. But a range of actors including the IMF, NGOs, FAO has correlated biofuels with food price increases. Other factors have also significantly contributed to food price increases, such as increased demands for meat, supply dynamics, unseasonable droughts and rises in the price of oil.

netherlands_world_p_321169i

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Water Fall and Profit Rise: Ecuador, Correa and the Environment

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ECUADOR SIGNED DEAL TO DESTROY THE COUNTRY’S HIGHEST WATERFALL, THE SAN RAFAEL FALLS IN THE SUMACO BIOSPHERE RESERVE, SACRED TO THE INDIGENOUS PEOPLE WHO LIVE THERE.

See also these IIRSA related posts.

san-rafael-falls-quijos-river-amazon-ecuador

There has been a lot of cheering and celebration of Ecuador’s new constitution, which provides a bit of rhetoric about how nature has certain rights – like human rights – that, then, would save Pachamama from the Almighty Dollar. The Ecuadorian constitution is a milestone for the environmental movement – so they say, from The Misleading Guardian (commented here earlier) to more grass roots oriented, independent journalism.

However, some have been more careful, such as Upside Down World publishing Cyril Mychalejko’s Ecuador’s Constitution Gives Rights to Nature and Dan Denvir’s Whither Ecuador? An Interview with Indigenous Activist and Politician Monica Chuji, both of which contextualise the political process that by no means reflect or give just cause for any cheering and hope for the environment, let alone democratic principles (not that colonos really believe in those anyway, but still..). Ecuador’s revolutionary constitution is revolutionary for quite the opposite reasons: it entrenches IIRSA and private property in “all its forms”, essentially spelling the end of the Amazon as a rain forest and severely threatening the Andes mountain range.

All along, this blog has featured articles on Correa’s more than absent environmental sensitivity – indeed, the most read articles have concerned just that: Correa hates environmentalists (“infantile”, “romantic”, “indigenist” etc. etc. ) and wants to see the country turned into a Chinese-Brasilian investment project without trees and bees and primitive tribal attitudes.

In the beginning we were most often met with disbelief, anger even: How dare you criticise the Great Ecuadorian Revolution and cast doubt on the Latin American hope for 21st Century Socialism? Lately, however, we have had emails from people saying that they’re changing their minds in the face of the ever growing evidence that Ecuador’s constitution and Correa’s political programme serves global capitalism first and foremost (but then, of course, redistributes the loot from deforestation and displacement of peasants and indigenous peoples a little bit more fairly.  In order to save the country they have to destroy it?).

¿So what’s the news? Well, business as usual, Correa has revived yet another 1980s World Bank, Economic Hitman style project, this time to destroy the highest waterfall in Ecuador and nothing is much more sacred, powerful and constitutive of the spririt of nature (Pachamama, that is)  than a waterfall for the Kichwa people inhabiting the Sumaco Biospere Reserve – here is an excerpt from a piece called Ecuador’s Water Crisis: Damming the Water Capital of the World by Matt Terry, founder of the Ecuadorian Rivers Institute, which has an office in Tena, Napo:
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