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South America Environment, Science &Technology, and Health Newsletter Edition 89

by Portal Web Editor last modified Jan 10, 2013 08:03 AM The information contained was gathered from news sources from across the region, and the views expressed below do not necessarily reflect those of the Regional Environmental HUB Office or of our constituent posts. Addressees interested in sharing any ESTH-related events of USG interest are welcome to do so.
Agriculture: Mercosur Helps Bolivia Combat FMD Outbreaks; Brazil Maps Out Agricultural Sprawl in the Amazon; Brazil: Unlocking a Bacterial Genome; Health: Dengue Alert Issued In South America; Water Issues: Pantanal in South America declared “Threatened Lake of the Year 2007”; Clean Water - Hold the Salt - in Brazil's Northeast; Judge Rejects Legal Challenges to Huge Brazilian Water Project; Forests: Guyana: Major Deficiencies Uncovered In Barama Forest Management; Chile: Native Forest Law to Be Replaced In Congress; Wildlife: Peru: Andes Field Trip Reveals New Species of Climbing Rodent; Dolphin/Whale Tourism and Conservation Conference February 27-28 in Lima; Bogotá Airport Expansion Causes Wetland Concerns; Wildlife Sanctuary in Chile Said To Remain Damaged By Mill; Protected Areas: Bogotá Plans Vast Park for Andean Slopes; Science & Technology: Latin America 'Ripe For Regional Collaboration'; Waste Management & Pollution: Venezuela: CFC Production Falls; Chile’s Best Surfing Waves to Be Trashed by Waste-Water Sludge, Claim Protesters; Brazil: Recycled Debris for Public Works; Argentina: Renewed Campaign against Garbage Burning; Authority Created to Lead Riachuelo Cleanup; Energy: Chile’s Biofuel Committee Announces Recommendations; Brazilian Company Signs Contract with Boeing, NASA to Develop Alternative Aircraft Fuel; IDB Fund Creates Clean Energy Markets Cluster; Comment Period Begins for Planned Chilean Dam; Madeira Dams Now Top Brazilian Hydro Priority; Biofuels Truck Makes Splash in Peru; General: Colombia, Ecuador Try to Close Rift Over Spraying; NGOs Support Amazon Invasion, Brazilian Daily Reports; Brazil: Government Officials Expect Rapid Approval of Environmental Bill; Peru: Informal Mining in Madre de Dios Circulates US$ 800 to 900 Million; Update on Avian Influenza; Latin American Preparedness for Avian & Pandemic Influenza; Peru and Regional Efforts; Barring Bird Flu in Brazil, Chicken Companies Eye Record Trade;
Click here for a calendar of up-coming ESTH events across the Western Hemisphere.

Agriculture

Mercosur Helps Bolivia Combat FMD Outbreaks

 

February 5, 2007 - Several Mercosur members have offered Bolivia to “unite efforts” and help control “as soon as possible” the outbreak of foot and mouth disease.  Bolivia declared last week a “state of emergency” following the confirmation of outbreaks in three counties in Santa Cruz province.  Argentina, Brazil, Chile, Paraguay and Uruguay acting under the Southern Agriculture Council also underlined that vaccination against FAM is “the valid instrument to control the disease and a necessary but sufficient condition for the reopening of markets”.  Bolivia’s Animal Health and Food Quality department declared the three counties under quarantine and ordered the revaccination of 40.000 head of cattle.  The 17 reported cases of FAM, including five hogs “will not be sacrificed, but re-vaccinated”, said Bolivia’s Rural and Agriculture Development Deputy Secretary Javier Escalante who anticipated that in three weeks time he expects the “emergency to be lifted” with the help from Argentine and Brazilian experts.

 

Source - MercoPress http://www.mercopress.com/vernoticia.do?id=9788&formato=html 

 

Brazil Maps Out Agricultural Sprawl in the Amazon

 

JAN. 25, 2007 - Brazil's Census Bureau (IBGE) published a new map outlining where agricultural boundaries are encroaching on the Amazon rain forest, in a move that will help authorities monitor human activities in the region. The new maps outline data for each type of activity, allowing authorities to better monitor what is damaging the environment the most.  The deforestation began with extensive cattle ranching and soy farming between 1970 and the 1990s, with soy moving into the area in the 90s, IBGE said. The Amazon is the fastest growing cattle region. Between 1995 and 2001, when nationwide pasture land grew by 0.6 percent, states like Para had growth of 6 percent and Rondonia had 14 percent, according to local livestock consultancy Scot Consultoria.

 

Source – IHT http://www.iht.com

 

Brazil: Unlocking a Bacterial Genome

 

Jan 20, 2007 - The genetic map of the Gluconacetobacter diazotrophicus bacterium, an important nitrogen fixant for sugarcane, sweet potato and pineapple crops, was deciphered in Brazil, and its use in agriculture could generate significant environmental benefits.  The study, begun in 2001 by Riogene, a network of research centers in Rio de Janeiro state, was concluded in December with the identification of more than 3,600 genes.  "The next step will look for genes involved in the metabolic process so that in five years or less we can produce bacteria with greater capacity for fixing nitrogen from the air," José Ivo Baldani, of the agro-biology center at the national farm research agency, EMBRAPA, told Tierramerica.  Injected into sugarcane, the genetically modified bacteria could help save 30 percent in nitrogen fertilizers, benefiting the environment and cutting farmers' costs. Scientists are also seeking substances that would improve plant development and protect them against pests.

 

Source – Tierramerica http://tierramerica.net/english/2007/0120/iecobreves.shtml

 

Health     

Dengue Alert Issued In South America

 

FEB. 06, 2007 - A health alert has been declared in Brazil, Paraguay and Bolivia after an outbreak of dengue fever.  The authorities have blamed higher rainfall this season as a cause of the unusually rapid spread of the disease.  Experts also say the uncommonly warm weather has boosted the population of mosquitoes, which transmit the disease. Dengue fever is not uncommon in South America, where thousands of cases are recorded every year. The difference this time is the speed with which the disease has spread across the south of the continent.

 

Source – BBC http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/americas/6335819.stm

 

Water Issues

Pantanal in South America declared “Threatened Lake of the Year 2007”

 

FEB. 01, 2007 - “Threatened Lake of the Year 2007” is the South American Wetland Pantanal, informs the international foundation Global Nature Fund (GNF). Every year, on the occasion of World Wetlands Day, GNF highlights the threatened state of a unique water body to the world. Deforestation, monocultural farming, intensive cattle ranching as well as gold and diamond mining affect the 140,000 square-kilometer large wetland. The construction of new ethanol distilleries will increase the critical situation which might lead to the ecological devastation of world’s largest wetland by 2050. The Pantanal, located in the heart of South America and shared by Brazil, Bolivia and Paraguay, is characterized by tropical forests, savannah, rivers, lakes and swamps.

 

Source – Ecotropica (please contact Larissa Stoner for complete article)

 

Clean Water - Hold the Salt - in Brazil's Northeast

 

JAN. 29, 2007 - Thousands of people in Brazil's semi-arid Northeast are slaking their thirst thanks to a technology that is little used in Latin America: the reverse-osmosis membrane, which desalinizes and purifies water. A filter designed by Brazilian experts should be ready in two years.  For now, the membranes are being used to desalinize ground water supplying small communities in the interior of the Northeast in Brazil. Several government bodies have set up some 2,000 desalination stations over the past decade, but most have been closed or are operating precariously, because they are too small scale or the operators lack training, said Renato Ferreira, project manager at the Environment Ministry's water resources division.  The Fresh Water Program, launched in 2004, is aimed primarily at recuperating the equipment and ensuring its maintenance, involving the local communities in management, and training technicians.

 

Source – Tierramerica http://tierramerica.net/english/2007/0127/iacentos.shtml



Judge Rejects Legal Challenges to Huge Brazilian Water Project

 

JAN. 2007 - A Brazilian Supreme Court judge has overturned injunctions that had held up a R$4.5-billion (US$2 billion) government project to divert water from Brazil’s second largest river basin to the arid northeast.  The six states where the reservoirs are located support the project, but the plan is opposed by the four states that border the Sao Francisco River Basin—none of which has a reservoir.  The project, which critics claim would have major environmental impacts, must now obtain a construction license from Ibama, the licensing arm of Brazil’s Environment Ministry.  Ibama Licensing Director Luiz Felippe Kunz says his agency, which has given the project preliminary approval, will likely issue a license in the next few months.  “[A] project that cuts through this much land will scar it, but won’t devastate it,” Kunz says. “Also, this is arid land with little vegetation, not virgin forest.”

 

Source – EcoAmericas (please contact Larissa Stoner for complete article)

 

Forests

Guyana: Major Deficiencies Uncovered In Barama Forest Management

 

JAN. 28, 2007 - An international audit agency has found Barama Company Ltd (BCL) and its auditor SGS- Qualifor deficient at varying levels, which led to a three-month suspension of BCL's certification.  Accreditation Services International GmbH (ASI), which conducted a forest management audit at Barama for the Forest Stewardship Council (FSC), found nine major and seven minor nonconformities for which it has requested corrective actions. The audit found that BCL has been deficient on a number of fronts, including harvesting on Amerindian reservations, logging outside its concession, not maintaining basic health and safety requirements for workers, lack of evidence of sustainability in harvesting, failure to perform the relevant environmental impact assessments and unsafe disposal of environmentally hazardous waste.

 

Source – Stabroek News (please contact Larissa Stoner for complete article)

 

Chile: Native Forest Law to Be Replaced In Congress

JAN. 24, 2007 - The creation of a “short law” intended to replace the long-debated Native Forest Law legislation has been approved in the Senate, in an attempt to do away with several bureaucratic debates that have frozen the original law project for years.  The new proposed legislation provides incentives toward the proper handling of the native forest by small owners and has been approved for discussion in the Environmental and Agriculture commission in March.  The project recommends a system of incentives for the handling of forests and direct mechanisms of resource allocation in order to enhance the project’s reach to small owners. The plan also allows the National Forestry Commission (CONAF) to create general forest handling outlines to be followed by small owners and allow them to operate within a regulated legal framework.  While the new legislation is a great advance in environmental matters, critics maintain the government is still lagging behind in several issues regarding the protection of native forests, especially in regard to endangered species such as the Alerce trees in the Region X.

Source – Santiago Times (no link)

Wildlife

Peru: Andes Field Trip Reveals New Species of Climbing Rodent

 

JAN. 25, 2007 - Zoologists have discovered a new species of squirrel-like mammal, which they have described as a strikingly unusual creature, in the high mountains of Peru.  The nocturnal animal looks similar to a squirrel, and is about the same size, but DNA tests have shown that it is more closely related to a family of South American spiny rats, whose fur bristles with spines. The new species is a climbing rodent with strange-looking, long, dense fur, a broad head and thickly furred tail tipped with white. It also has a distinctive blackish crest of fur on its crown, nape and shoulders.  Scientists discovered the rodent during a field survey in 1999 of Peru's Manu National Park and Biosphere Reserve Mountains on the lush eastern slopes of the Andes in southern Peru, which is one of the richest regions in the world for wildlife.  Its formal scientific description and official naming has only now been made public with the current publication of a description of the Manu reserve findings in the journal Mastozoologia Neotropical. The same field trip, which extended from 1999 to 2001, uncovered 11 additional species new to science, namely one opossum, seven bats and three other rodents.

 

Source - Science Editor (no link).  Also, contact Lima ESTHoff for more details: howardhh@state.gov

 

Dolphin/Whale Tourism and Conservation Conference February 27-28 in Lima

 

JAN, 2007 – The Humane Society International (HSI), using an OES-I grant will put on a conference a conference in Lima to promote conservation and responsible tourism.  A/S Claudia McMurray will speak at this event. Contact ESTHoff at howardhh@state.gov if you are interested in attending.  Although it is illegal, Peruvians have historically eaten dolphin meat, and HSI with local partner NGO Mundo Azul have conducted a program to show fishermen the benefits of dolphin conservation, discourage public consumption of dolphin meat and train law enforcement officers.

 

Source –Lima ESTHoff

 

Bogotá Airport Expansion Causes Wetland Concerns

 

JAN. 2007 - Colombian environmentalists warn that a major expansion of Bogotá’s El Dorado airport, scheduled to begin in the next few months, could harm an important wetland.  The national government says the US$650 million project, which calls for new terminals, runways and other infrastructure, would double passenger capacity to 16 million annually and triple cargo capacity to 1.5 million tons a year.  The work, to be done over five years by a consortium of Colombian construction and engineering firms and the Swiss airport operator Flughafen Zurich, will give Colombia Latin America’s second biggest airport in passenger capacity after Mexico City’s Benito Juárez International Airport.  It also will fortify Bogotá’s position as the region’s cargo-transport leader.  But green activists worry that much of the construction will take place near the Jaboque wetland, a 363-acre (147-ha) urban marsh in the northwest of the city that harbors squirrels, wild guinea pigs (Cavia anolaimae) and 62 species of resident and migratory birds.

 

Source – EcoAmericas (please contact Larissa Stoner for complete article)

Wildlife Sanctuary in Chile Said To Remain Damaged By Mill

 

JAN. 2007 - A wildlife sanctuary near the southern Chilean city of Valdivia has yet to recover from pollution caused in 2004 by a pulp mill upstream of the wetland, according to a scientist who led a government-sponsored study of the problem.  Eduardo Jaramillo, an aquatic ecologist who headed a study of the Carlos Anwandter Nature Sanctuary in 2005 for Conama, Chile’s lead environmental agency, reported on the wetland’s status last November to a visiting delegation of Ramsar Convention officials.  The sanctuary, located on the Cruces River, has been on the Ramsar List of Wetlands of International Importance since 1981. Jaramillo says the reserve’s population of black-necked swans (Cygnus melancoryphus) has shown virtually no signs of recovery since it collapsed in the months following the February 2004 start-up of the Celco pulp mill, located 9 miles (15 kms) upstream of the sanctuary.  The swans, members of the world’s smallest swan species, numbered 6,000 at Carlos Anwandter before the contamination occurred. As of last Nov. 22, Jaramillo says, the sanctuary’s swan population stood at just 379.

 

Source – EcoAmericas (please contact Larissa Stoner for complete article)

Protected Areas

Bogotá Plans Vast Park for Andean Slopes

 

JAN. 2007 - Relentless development and the arrival of tens of thousands of civil war refugees in recent years have enveloped the Andean slopes on Bogotá’s eastern side in a kind of land-use chaos.  Green advocates fear that if this unruly combination of low- and high-income settlement continues advancing up the mountain sides, it will threaten the cloud forests, rivers and streams crucial for Bogotá’s long-term water supply.  That’s why environmentalists and editorial writers applauded Catalina Velasco, the planning director for Bogotá, when she announced last September that the city would spend more than $80 million to build a 26-mile-long (42-km), 1,025-acre (415-ha) park along the length of the mountain slopes that loom to the east. They call the plan far-sighted, saying it would create a physical impediment to untrammeled growth in the area.  The park plan, the El Tiempo newspaper pronounced, “is the best environmental initiative adopted in the last half century to benefit the quality of life in the city.”

Source – EcoAmericas (please contact Larissa Stoner for complete article)

 

Science & Technology

Latin America 'Ripe For Regional Collaboration'

 

FEB. 02, 2007 - Latin American and Caribbean countries are ready to forge new collaborations in science among themselves, according to delegates at an international conference in Brazil January 24–26.  Jacob Palis, vice-president of the Brazilian Academy of Sciences (ABC), said scientific partnerships between Latin American and Caribbean countries have great potential due to the regions' geographical proximity, similar cultures and comparable 'age' in scientific development.  Palis noted that countries in both regions had reached a level of scientific competence suitable for exploring partnerships between themselves. The conference brought together scientists from Argentina, Brazil, Chile, Cuba, Mexico, Peru and Venezuela to discuss the status and progress of science in their countries. It aimed to pinpoint potential areas for establishing cooperation with other countries, ranging from basic science to nanotechnology and climate change.

 

Source- SciDev http://www.scidev.net/News/index.cfm?fuseaction=readNews&itemid=3386&language=1


Waste Management & Pollution

Venezuela: CFC Production Falls

 

Jan 29, 2007 - Venezuela will produce 4,000 tons fewer of chlorofluorocarbons (CFCs) annually and 2,900 less in 2008 thanks to the closure of Produven, the leading local manufacturer of these refrigerants that deplete the Earth's atmospheric ozone layer. The measure is part of the 2004-2008 framework program agreed by the company and the government's Industrial Reconversion Fund.  According to reports from the Fund, the company is receiving 16 million dollars in reparations and, as established by law, the workers who are laid off or who change jobs will also be compensated. The plant ceased operations Dec. 31.  "Actions like this should take place with greater frequency, and they have been achieved in part because of the supervision of the Venezuelan plant by the Multilateral Fund for the application of the Montreal Protocol" on ozone-depleting substances, Yazenia Frontado, spokeswoman for the environmental group Vitalis, told Tierramerica.

 

Source – Tierramerica http://tierramerica.net/english/2007/0127/iecobreves.shtml

 

Chile’s Best Surfing Waves to Be Trashed by Waste-Water Sludge, Claim Protesters

Jan. 24, 2007 - Residents of Chile’s favorite surfing town, Pichilemu, are mounting a fierce campaign against the construction of a sewage pipe that will pump contaminated water directly into the waves of the famous spa town’s La Puntilla beach. Helped by an assortment of water-sports celebrities, they warn that the waste water pipe “will kill Pichilemu.”  The pipe - 17 kilometers long and 34 meters deep – is proposed by the Sanitary Services of Biobío Company (Essbio), which manages the area’s waste-water treatment. The company currently dumps its sewage into the Petrel Lagoon, which has turned a “glowing fluorescent” color due to years of contamination and overflows into the sea during rainy periods.  The government is now reviewing Essbio’s environmental impact assessment for the sewage duct and will announce its decision in late March 2007.

 

Source – Santiago Times (no link)

Brazil: Recycled Debris for Public Works

 

JAN. 20, 2007 - Sao Paulo Mayor Gilberto Kassab signed a decree recently that makes it obligatory to use recycled debris for paving and structures in public works projects.  Sao Paulo produces 17,000 tons of garbage daily. The three dumps under contract with the city receive 3.8 tons of rubble from the companies officially registered with the department of urban clean-up and from the city government itself.  "It is a very positive measure that the sector has been wanting a long time, and will certainly stimulate the consumption of this type of recycled aggregate," André Aranha Campos, councilor from the Sao Paulo civil construction industry union, told Tierramerica. In Brazil, it is estimated that construction debris represents 41 to 70 percent of all urban solid waste.

 

Source – Tierramerica http://tierramerica.net/english/2007/0120/iecobreves.shtml

 

Argentina: Renewed Campaign Against Garbage Burning

 

JAN. 20, 2007 - The Citizen Anti-Incineration Coalition relaunched its campaign for Argentina to ban the polluting process of waste incineration.  Garbage burners have been shut down already in Buenos Aires and the central city of Rosario. The activists want the ban extended nationwide, and call for alternative approaches like waste reduction, recycling and chemical disinfection.  "In Moron (30 km from the national capital), an incinerator was built in 1991, and since then 85 people from within a radius of 200 meters from the plant have died of cancer," Coalition member Gladys Enciso told Tierramerica.

Source – Tierramerica http://tierramerica.net/english/2007/0120/iecobreves.shtml

 

Authority Created to Lead Riachuelo Cleanup

 

JAN. 2007 - Advocates of an aggressive cleanup of Argentina’s famously polluted Matanza-Riachuelo River are welcoming the recent creation of a watershed authority to oversee such an effort, but they question whether authorities will provide the necessary follow-up action and funding.  The Argentine Congress last November passed a bill creating an authority to clean up the 40-mile (64-km) river, called the Matanza as it emerges from northern Buenos Aires province and the Riachuelo as it skirts the capital to reach the River Plate. The watershed authority would be coordinated by Argentina’s Environment Secretariat and would include representatives of Buenos Aires province and the Federal Capital, as well as a council of all 14 Buenos Aires province municipalities located in the Matanza-Riachuelo watershed. The authority also would have a citizen’s advisory body called the Social Participation Commission.

 

Source – EcoAmericas (please contact Larissa Stoner for complete article)

Energy

Chile’s Biofuel Committee Announces Recommendations

JAN. 24, 2007 - Chile’s Public-Private Bioenergy Committee released on January 22nd its report analyzing the development of biocombustible fuel in Chile. The committee made 21 recommendations that open a path of action towards sourcing sustainable fuel in Chile.  The report stressed the need for a guaranteed minimum demand for biofuel to make the technology economically viable. This would most likely be achieved by making biodiesel - a mix of traditional petroleum and biocombustible fuel – compulsory.  The committee recommended the biodiesel mix be set at initially 2 percent biofuel to 98 percent petroleum, which would then be increased in steps of 1.5 percent to a maximum level of 5 percent biofuel to 95 percent petroleum.  Biofuel in Chile – generally given the go-ahead by the environmentalists – has been at the center of an environmental controversy since a bill was introduced in Congress to promote cultivation of genetically modified organisms (GMOs) in order to develop the “green” industry.

 

Source – Santiago Times (no link)

Brazilian Company Signs Contract with Boeing, NASA to Develop Alternative Aircraft Fuel

 

JAN. 24, 2007 - Fortaleza biofuel production equipment manufacturer Biotec reportedly has signed a contract with NASA and Boeing to develop an alternative fuel for aircraft that could hit the market in two years. According to Tecbio President Expedito José de Sá Parente, “The technology is ours, Tecbio’s, which makes the fuel. Boeing will test the practical application of this technology in aviation, such as, for example, testing turbines. For now, laboratory tests are taking place, while the field test phase will come later. NASA is testing scientific issues, such as the degree of corrosion, the environmental impact and combustion capacity.”

 

Source – US Embassy Brasilia Public Affairs

 

IDB Fund Creates Clean Energy Markets Cluster

 

JAN. 18, 2007 - The Inter-American Development Bank’s Multilateral Investment Fund announced the creation of a new cluster of activities focused on Promoting Clean Energy Markets. This initiative will help small enterprises gain access to clean energy market opportunities while improving their competitiveness.  “In Latin America and the Caribbean, energy efficiency and renewable energy offer great potential to reduce the negative effects of increasing energy costs,” said IDB Team Leader Daniel Shepherd.  IDB programs to promote renewable energy and energy efficiency opportunities play a growing role in Central America in the context of the Plan Puebla Panama (PPP) and in connection with the Initiative for the Integration of Regional Infrastructure in South America (IIRSA). The new cluster has already approved two financings for projects to support market opportunities for clean energy:  A $975,000 grant to Fundación Chile and a $600,000 grant to the Ecologica Institute to work in rural areas of Tocantins, Brazil.

 

Source -IADB http://www.iadb.org/NEWS/articledetail.cfm?artid=3568&language=En

 

Comment Period Begins for Planned Chilean Dam

 

JAN. 2007 - A subsidiary of the Swiss mining company Xstrata has submitted an environmental-impact study on the first of three hydroelectric-dam projects it is planning on land in Chilean Patagonia that had formerly been slated for a massive aluminum smelter.  The submission, announced Jan. 8, marks the start of a 60-day period in which the public can review and comment on the impact statement, which is posted at the website of Conama, Chile’s lead environmental agency.  Called Rio Cuervo, the proposed dam would have an installed capacity of 600 megawatts, require an investment of US$600 million and come online in 2012.  It would be located in the Puerto Aysen region, just north of the central Patagonian city of Coyhaique, in an area where the Canadian company Noranda tried unsuccessfully to secure government approval to build a huge aluminum smelting plant that was to have been called Alumysa.

 

Source – EcoAmericas (please contact Larissa Stoner for complete article)

Madeira Dams Now Top Brazilian Hydro Priority

 

JAN. 2007 - Brazil is pinning its hydropower hopes on a planned two-dam Amazon complex whose possible environmental impacts worry Brazilian scientists and green groups as well as officials in neighboring Bolivia.  The proposed US$9 billion complex would feature two dams on the Madeira River in western Rondonia state. The dams, Santo Antonio and Jirau, would have installed capacities of 3,150 megawatts (MW) and 3,300 MW, respectively. Taken together, their capacity would exceed that of any Brazilian dam except Itaipu which, at 14,000 MW, is the world’s second most powerful after China’s Three Gorges Dam.  Brazil’s government wants to auction concessions for the dam complex in the first quarter of this year so construction can start in June and be completed by 2011, when government officials say the country will face energy shortages unless the dams are built.

 

Source – EcoAmericas (please contact Larissa Stoner for complete article)

 

Biofuels Truck Makes Splash in Peru

 

JAN. 2007 – The two Americans driving the Oil + Water biofuels truck from Alaska to Tierra del Fuego got a warm reception in Peru.  After demonstration stops along the Peruvian coast, the converted firetruck used waste fry oil from McDonald’s in Lima to demonstrate how plants can power vehicles.  After events at the Energy Ministry and the National Engineering University (where we met Peruvian agriculture students who had developed a similar truck), the visit was featured in Energy ministry press release, Peru’s top weekly and the Miami Herald.  www.oilandwaterproject.com

 

Source – Embassy Lima ESTHoff (contact Howell Howard for articles or visit their website)


General

Colombia, Ecuador Try to Close Rift Over Spraying

 

JAN. 2007 - Colombia and Ecuador are struggling to ease diplomatic tension following Colombia’s resumption of aerial fumigation along the 364-mile (586-km) border with Ecuador to eradicate plantations of coca, the raw material of cocaine.  As aircraft on Dec. 12 began spraying tens of thousands of gallons of herbicide on the Colombian side of the border, Ecuador activated its air defense system, recalled its ambassador to Colombia and asked both the Organization of American States (OAS) and the United Nations to intervene.  Ecuador argues that drift from the fumigant—a concentrated form of Monsanto’s Roundup, which contains the herbicide glyphosate—harms food crops, human health and the environment on its side of the border.  After nearly a month of escalating tension over the spraying, Colombian President Álvaro Uribe on Jan. 10 agreed to notify Ecuador in advance of future border-area fumigation. Uribe also pledged to support the creation of a binational commission that would find ways to ensure such operations do not affect Ecuadorian territory. Meanwhile, the two countries agreed to back an independent OAS study of health and environmental impacts of fumigation with glyphosate.

Source – EcoAmericas (please contact Larissa Stoner for complete article)

 

NGOs Support Amazon Invasion, Brazilian Daily Reports

 

JAN. 30, 2007 - Under the flag of environmentalism, international NGOs are playing a political role supporting foreign companies and governments in a bid for the internationalization of the Amazon, reports Brazilian daily Jornal do Brasil as part of its five-day series on the dangers presented by foreign presence in that region.  Institutions like Greenpeace, WWF and Survival International act without supervision of the GOB, and openly attack Brazilian sovereignty, says JB. Meanwhile, sister publication Gazeta reports on the losses presented by the biopiracy of Brazilian plant and animal species in the Amazon region.

 

Source – US Embassy Public Affairs

 

Brazil: Government Officials Expect Rapid Approval of Environmental Bill

 

JAN. 29, 2007 - Brazil's federal government expects congress to quickly approve a bill to ease environmental licensing processes for infrastructure, power, gas, oil and other projects, deputy environment minister Claudio Langone told BNamericas. The measure is considered key to implementing the 504bi-real (US$236bi) growth acceleration program (PAC). In accordance with this plan, the parliamentary lower house has received the complementary bill 388/07 from the executive power calling for changes to article 23 of the constitution, the house's website reported.  The PAC, announced on January 22, called for changes to the article in the constitution defining the roles and levels of cooperation of the federal government, states and municipalities in the preservation of the environment and fight against pollution.  "The most important element of the project is that it clearly establishes the criteria which defines the responsibility for licensing and the extent of the impact on the authority responsible for the area," Langone continued.  The changes are designed to alleviate the workload on the federal environmental protection agency (Ibama) and focus more decision-making power on the regions.

 

Source – BN Americas http://www.bnamericas.com  

 

Peru: Informal Mining in Madre de Dios Circulates US$ 800 to 900 Million

 

JAN. 20, 2007 – An informal mining site in the department of Madre de Dios, in the Peruvian Amazon, circulates nearly US$ 900 million and generates serious environmental contamination and child exploitation, claims the Minister of Mines and Energy, Juan Valdivia.  “An estimated 12 thousand people are dedicated to the activity of informal mining and the annual rate of gold production has reached 15.8 tons,” stated Valdivia.  He claims the rivers most affected are: Madre de Dios, Colorado, Inambari, Malinoski, and Puquiri as well as the Amaracaeri community reserve and the Huepetuhe zone.  Another serious impact of informal mining is slave labor, especially with children and teenagers who work to extract the minerals.

 

Note from Embassy Lima: the major contaminant is mercury, used to amalgamate the gold in artisanal mining. Lima currently has an Embassy Science fellow from the USGS who is studying mercury in all its uses in Peru; he is currently will visit Madre de Dios artisanal mining sites next week.

 

Source - Agencia Peruana de Noticias http://www.andina.com.pe/NoticiaDetalle.aspx?id=112571

 

 

Update on Avian Influenza

Latin American Preparedness for Avian & Pandemic Influenza

 

FEB. 02, 2007 - Representatives of the Pan American Health Organization (PAHO) met with Special Representative Lange and others, including USAID, on January 31 to describe PAHO’s organization and planning.  PAHO has established a task force and a separate emergency preparedness/disaster relief team focusing on phases 3-6 of a possible pandemic.  PAHO is assessing how countries are prepared to deal with a pandemic, and is concerned that preparations are not reaching into local communities.  PAHO reps also expressed concern about a lack of political will to build capacity in the face of competing needs and the absence of highly pathogenic H5N1 in the Hemisphere.  Preparations have been accelerated as a result of the World Cup Cricket matches to be held in four Caribbean countries from March 5 to mid-April.

 

Source - Avian Influenza Daily Activity Report (AIAG)

 

Peru and Regional Efforts

 

FEB. 02, 2007 - Peru is continuing to refine its Avian and Pandemic Influenza plan and is conducting surveillance, but it lacks the capacity for rapid assessment.  The implementation of an $845,000 HHS/CDC grant is under way.  The U.S. Naval Medical Research Detachment, located in Lima, is filling a gap in testing and training.  The US Embassy in Lima is urging assistance to the University of San Marcos to improve its program of bird testing.  USAID’s Health Program is also augmenting local preparedness.  Two locally organized conferences are planned for March in Lima:  one for the Andean Community (CAN) plus Chile, and the other for CAN plus other countries, including Cuba and Venezuela. 

 

Source - Avian Influenza Daily Activity Report (AIAG) and Lima 0299

 

Barring Bird Flu in Brazil, Chicken Companies Eye Record Trade

 

JAN. 29, 2007 - Recent reports of the deadly H5N1 bird flu virus found in Japan and Hungary will unlikely stop Brazilian chicken exporters from shipping record volumes to world markets in 2007.  “The worst-case scenario at this point is if a bird flu case is discovered here in Brazil.  Right now, bird flu is not a major problem for the sector because the reaction from consumers has changed,” said Ricardo Goncalves, executive director of the Brazilian Chicken Exporters Association, or ABEF.  “The bird flu impact is going to be less. People know this is not going to disappear and they’ve learned to live with it. They have the information they need about the disease now. The fear factor has subsided,” Goncalves said.

 

Source - CattleNetwork http://www.cattlenetwork.com

 

 

 
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