What does it take?

A strongly-worded position paper published by the Low Impact Fishers of Europe (LIFE) Platform has come out firmly against Individual Transferable Quotas (ITQs) as an integral component of EU fisheries policies and management, which LIFE says have a disproportionately negative impact on small scale coastal fishing communities.

Branding ITQs as a bad idea for coastal fishing, LIFE’s position paper, entitled Rights Based Management and Small Scale Fisheries in the EU: Human Rights Versus Property Rights, analyses Rights Based Management (RBM) from a small scale coastal fishing communities (SSCF) perspective, and concludes that, under ITQs regimes, SSCF always tend to lose out.

‘ITQs are a system based on an economic logic that does not account for wider impacts and different forms of value. They make access to fisheries more difficult for SSCF, prevent access for new fishers, result in excessive concentration of quotas, drive inequality, and negatively impact small coastal communities,’ LIFE’s spokesman stated.

‘Sweden is establishing an ITQ system for demersal fisheries in the Baltic and North seas in January 2017. Although it is reported that measures will be included to protect SSCF, much will depend on whether they receive a fair quota share to begin with, and to what extent the SSCF quota is ring fenced from the quota trading system.’

LIFE has set out its clear position in opposition to the introduction of ITQs, and judges that many of their purported benefits are hypothetical, false, ideologically motivated, exaggerated, or all of these, claiming that ITQs do not improve sustainability or stewardship, and only improve efficiency in a narrow economic sense. Sustainability and stewardship are mainly determined by rigorously set and enforced TACs, and by engaging fishers in genuine co-management.

Alternative forms of allocating fishing opportunities can deliver the social, environmental and economic benefits that the CFP seeks to achieve, without jeopardising the survival of the small- scale fleet and the wider value they provide to society.

LIFE’s paper presents alternatives that would require a differentiated approach to managing the SSCF and large scale sectors, and would include a ring-fenced community quota or quota pool, allocated to and managed by a SSCF PO, Co-operative, or other organisation collectively owned and run by the SSCF, and secondly allocation based on social, economic and environmental criteria, as per Article 17 of the CFP, to reward those who fish the most sustainably, with capacity regulated by effort control rather than by economic efficiency, plus clear state ownership of TACs.

The full text of LIFE’s position paper can be found here.


EU states rebel against plans to relicense weedkiller glyphosate

Vote to approve relicensing of ingredient in herbicides including Roundup had been due on Monday, but it might be postponed

A farmer sprays pesticides on to crops in Bailleul, France.
A farmer sprays pesticides on to crops in France. The World Health Organisation has linked glyphosate to cancer. Photograph: Philippe Huguen/AFP/Getty

A rebellion by several EU countries could scupper plans by the European commission to approve the relicensing of a weedkiller linked to cancer by the World Health Organisation (WHO).

The vote to relicense glyphosate, a key ingredient in herbicides such as Monsanto’s multibillion-dollar brand Roundup, had been scheduled at a two-day meeting of experts from the EU’s 28 member states, which begins on Monday.

But officials are now saying that they may postpone the vote rather than lose it, raising the prospect of a legal limbo for glyphosate, the licence for which runs out in June.

France, the Netherlands and Sweden have all said they will not support an assessment by the European food safety authority (Efsa) that glyphosate is harmless.

That ruling ran counter to findings by the WHO’s cancer agency that glyphosate was “probably carcinogenic to humans”, causing a bitter row over scientific methodology and industry influence.

The Swedish environment minister, Åsa Romson, said: “We won’t take risks with glyphosate and we don’t think that the analysis done so far is good enough. We will propose that no decision is taken until further analysis has been done and the Efsa scientists have been more transparent about their considerations.”

An Efsa panel based its recommendation that glyphosate was safe enough for a new lease of life on six industry-funded studies that have not been fully published.

The substance is so widely used that it is commonly found in British bread, German beer and, according to one study, the urine of people in 18 countriesacross Europe.

Glyphosate use has been banned or restricted in large parts of Europe because of alleged links to a host of health problems, ranging from birth defects and kidney failure to coeliac disease, colitis and autism.

Romson said: “We are raising concerns because our citizens are raising concerns. They want to feel safe and secure with food and production in our society.”

Public pressure over the pesticide has been intense, with nearly 1.5 million people petitioning the EU’s health commissioner, Vytenis Andriukaitis, for a ban on the substance.

But splits between national environment and agriculture ministries across Europehave left diplomats holding their glyphosate voting cards close to their chests, with decisive meetings lined up for later this weekend.

Germany, Denmark and Italy have yet to clarify their positions on the proposal that the chemical be given a new 15-year licence.

On Friday morning, France’s environment minister, Ségolène Royal, signalled that France would oppose the move. “We need the commission to align the most protective position for health, which is the WHO position,” she said. “We will say no.”

Commission officials told the Guardian that a vote would not go ahead if support for relicensing continued to erode.

“If we see that many states want to think it over or there is a growing [opposition], if there is not a qualified majority, I doubt that it will be put to a vote,” one official said. “The ball is in the member states’ court.”

After a Dutch parliament vote opposing the renewal of glyphosate’s permit, the Netherlands called for a postponement of the EU-wide decision. “If there is no possibility to postpone the vote, then we will vote against the proposal,” said Marcel van Beusekom, a spokesman for the Netherlands agriculture ministry.

Although the licence for glyphosate will run out at the end of June, there could still be time to avoid the issue falling into legal limbo if the vote does not back relicensing. The commission could appeal against the decision or bring forward another proposal, EU sources said.

Richard Mosse

Throughout 2012, Richard Mosse and his collaborators Trevor Tweeten and Ben Frost travelled in eastern Democratic Republic of Congo, infiltrating armed rebel groups in a war zone plagued by frequent ambushes, massacres and systematic sexual violence. The resulting installation, The Enclave, is the culmination of Mosses’ attempt to radically rethink war photography. It is a search for more adequate strategies to represent a forgotten African tragedy in which 5.4 million people have died of war-related causes in eastern Congo since 1998.

A long-standing power vacuum in eastern Congo has resulted in a horrifying cycle of violence, a Hobbesian ‘state of war’, so brutal and complex that it resists communication, and goes unseen in the global consciousness. Mosse brings a discontinued military surveillance film into this situation, representing an intangible conflict with a medium that registers an invisible spectrum of infrared light, and was originally designed for camouflage detection. The resulting imagery, shot on 16mm infrared film by cinematographer Trevor Tweeten, renders the jungle war zone in disorienting psychedelic hues of vivid magenta, lavender, cobalt, and puce. Ben Frost’s ambient audio composition, comprised entirely of organic Congolese field recordings, hovers bleakly over the unfolding tragedy.

NOTE: Infrared-sensitive photographic plates were developed in the United States during World War I for spectroscopic analysis, and infrared sensitizing dyes were investigated for improved haze penetration in aerial photography. After 1930, new emulsions from Kodak and other manufacturers became useful to infrared astronomy.

SOURCE: Annual Report of the Director Bureau of Standards to the Secretary of Commerce for the Fiscal Year Ended June 30, 1919 U. S. Govt. Print. Off., United States National Bureau of Standards, pp. 115–119, 1919.

Technology which enables us to view/experience different dimensions of our world may mostly be applied in defense/commerce/politics however on a much broader level they let us visualise an ‘other’, previously un described version of events and thus brings to the fore the concept of other states/realities which we may included in our world view in order to accommodate the possibility of an endless addition/amendment of our original position. 

Below is my experimentation with an image taken on a sunny blue sky day – some scattered clouds and a draped green foreground has been altered – light affected – by way of imagining what another set of eyes might see – what another dimension may bring to the fore – shifting importance – noting no importance – simply viewing it all deeply.

pic2 effect reduced

Vandana Shiva, based in  Dehra Dun, India is an internationally renowned activist for biodiversity and against corporate globalization, and author of Stolen Harvest: The Hijacking of the Global Food Supply; Earth Democracy: Justice, Sustainability, and Peace; Soil Not Oil; and Staying Alive. The last section of this essay was adapted by the author from “Forest and Freedom,” written by Shiva and published in the May/June 2011 edition of Resurgence magazine. Shiva is a YES! Powerful Ideas, Practical Actions contributing editor.

The Dead-Earth Worldview

The war against the Earth began with this idea of separateness. Its contemporary seeds were sown when the living Earth was transformed into dead matter to facilitate the industrial revolution. Monocultures replaced diversity. “Raw materials” and “dead matter” replaced a vibrant Earth. Terra Nullius (the empty land, ready for occupation regardless of the presence of indigenous peoples) replaced Terra Madre (Mother Earth).

This philosophy goes back to Francis Bacon, called the father of modern science, who said that science and the inventions that result do not “merely exert a gentle guidance over nature’s course; they have the power to conquer and subdue her, to shake her to her foundations.”

Robert Boyle, the famous 17th-century chemist and a governor of the Corporation for the Propagation of the Gospel Among the New England Indians, was clear that he wanted to rid native people of their ideas about nature. He attacked their perception of nature “as a kind of goddess” and argued that “the veneration, wherewith men are imbued for what they call nature, has been a discouraging impediment to the empire of man over the inferior creatures of God.”

The death-of-nature idea allows a war to be unleashed against the Earth. After all, if the Earth is merely dead matter, then nothing is being killed.

As philosopher and historian Carolyn Merchant points out, this shift of perspective—from nature as a living, nurturing mother to inert, dead, and manipulable matter—was well suited to the activities that would lead to capitalism. The domination images created by Bacon and other leaders of the scientific revolution replaced those of the nurturing Earth, removing a cultural constraint on the exploitation of nature. “One does not readily slay a mother, dig into her entrails for gold, or mutilate her body,” Merchant wrote.

What Nature Teaches

Today, at a time of multiple crises intensified by globalization, we need to move away from the paradigm of nature as dead matter. We need to move to an ecological paradigm, and for this, the best teacher is nature herself.

This is the reason for starting the Earth University/Bija Vidyapeeth at Navdanya’s farm.

The Earth University teaches Earth Democracy, which is the freedom for all species to evolve within the web of life, and the freedom and responsibility of humans, as members of the Earth family, to recognize, protect, and respect the rights of other species. Earth Democracy is a shift from anthropocentrism to ecocentrism. And since we all depend on the Earth, Earth Democracy translates into human rights to food and water, to freedom from hunger and thirst.

Because the Earth University is located at Navdanya, a biodiversity farm, participants learn to work with living seeds, living soil, and the web of life. Participants include farmers, school children, and people from across the world. Two of our most popular courses are “The A-Z of Organic Farming and Agroecology,” and “Gandhi and Globalization.”

Source: http://womennewsnetwork.net/2013/09/20

The Poetry of the Forest

The Earth University is inspired by Rabindranath Tagore, India’s national poet and a Nobel Prize laureate.

Tagore started a learning center in Shantiniketan in West Bengal, India, as a forest school, both to take inspiration from nature and to create an Indian cultural renaissance. The school became a university in 1921, growing into one of India’s most famous centers of learning.

Today, just as in Tagore’s time, we need to turn to nature and the forest for lessons in freedom.

In “The Religion of the Forest,” Tagore wrote about the influence that the forest dwellers of ancient India had on classical Indian literature. The forests are sources of water and the storehouses of a biodiversity that can teach us the lessons of democracy—of leaving space for others while drawing sustenance from the common web of life. Tagore saw unity with nature as the highest stage of human evolution.

In his essay “Tapovan” (Forest of Purity), Tagore writes: “Indian civilization has been distinctive in locating its source of regeneration, material and intellectual, in the forest, not the city. India’s best ideas have come where man was in communion with trees and rivers and lakes, away from the crowds. The peace of the forest has helped the intellectual evolution of man. The culture of the forest has fueled the culture of Indian society. The culture that has arisen from the forest has been influenced by the diverse processes of renewal of life, which are always at play in the forest, varying from species to species, from season to season, in sight and sound and smell. The unifying principle of life in diversity, of democratic pluralism, thus became the principle of Indian civilization.”

It is this unity in diversity that is the basis of both ecological sustainability and democracy. Diversity without unity becomes the source of conflict and contest. Unity without diversity becomes the ground for external control. This is true of both nature and culture. The forest is a unity in its diversity, and we are united with nature through our relationship with the forest.

In Tagore’s writings, the forest was not just the source of knowledge and freedom; it was the source of beauty and joy, of art and aesthetics, of harmony and perfection. It symbolized the universe.

In “The Religion of the Forest,” the poet says that our frame of mind “guides our attempts to establish relations with the universe either by conquest or by union, either through the cultivation of power or through that of sympathy.”

The forest teaches us union and compassion

The forest also teaches us enoughness: as a principle of equity, how to enjoy the gifts of nature without exploitation and accumulation. Tagore quotes from the ancient texts written in the forest: “Know all that moves in this moving world as enveloped by God; and find enjoyment through renunciation, not through greed of possession.” No species in a forest appropriates the share of another species. Every species sustains itself in cooperation with others.

The end of consumerism and accumulation is the beginning of the joy of living.

The conflict between greed and compassion, conquest and cooperation, violence and harmony that Tagore wrote about continues today. And it is the forest that can show us the way beyond this conflict.