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South America Environment, Science &Technology, and Health Newsletter Edition 88

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: World Bank Close To Approving Amazon Beef, Other Projects; Record Biotech Plantings in 2006; Colombia: Irrigation District on Its Way; Outbreak of Brucellosis in Southern Chile; Forests: Brazil Gambles on Monitoring of Amazon Loggers; Amazon rainforest relies on African dust; Wildlife: Chile Draws Up Endangered Species List; Brazil: New Law against Biopiracy; EU to Ban Imports of Wild Birds; Chile: Promoting Endangered Huemul Deer; Brazil: Plants with Economic Potential; Fishing & Marine Conservation: Argentine hake biomass again down to critical levels; Chile: Step Forward for Blue Whale Protection; Brazil Hosts the First South American Fishers Forum; Argentine anchovy fishery may damage South Atlantic ecosystem; Climate Change: Crunch year for planet Earth; Multimillion Dollar Effort to Study Polar Ice Thaw; Chile: Climate-Change Cyclist Travels 13,097 Miles to Santiago; Pollution: Firewood Source of Santiago, Chile Contamination; Cell Phones Getting Greener; Energy: Brazil Infrastructure Plan Doesn't Include Nuclear Plant; Peru President Garcia Touts Maple Gas Ethanol Project; Argentina: A Boost for Renewable Energies; General: Vast Pipelines in Amazon Face Challenges over Protecting Rights and Rivers; Brazil: Indigenous Groups Surviving in the Amazon; Uruguay: Film Explodes "Myths" About Pulp Mill; Does the Environment Need a New Global Agency?; In Peru, a Move to Get Farmers to Trade in Fish Rather Than Coca; Update on Avian Influenza: Bird Flu Will Challenge to U.S. Health System, Expert Predicts

Click here for a calendar of up-coming ESTH events across the Western Hemisphere

Agriculture

World Bank Close To Approving Amazon Beef, Other Projects

 

JAN. 23, 2007 -The International Financial Corporation, the private lending arm of the World Bank, is close to making a final decision on a US$90 million loan that would help one of Brazil’s top beef exporters double beef production capacity at its facilities in the Amazon region of Para state.  For the IFC, this is a controversial and unprecedented investment, according to the bank’s own assessment.  However, according to the press report, it would serve as a “certificate of confidence“that Bertin is a good steward of the environment and abides by fair labor practices. That’s good news for Bertin because the view of Brazilian beef overseas is often one of a sector living large off cheap labor as it wipes out swaths of rainforest.  “No other lender is going to demand, monitor, and follow through on social and environmental policies like the IFC. “

 

Source - http://www.cattlenetwork.com

 

Record Biotech Plantings in 2006

 

JAN. 18, 2007 – A biotechnology advocacy group reported that a record number of biotech crops were planted worldwide last year, but critics complained the gains were more of the same: aimed at making corn, soy and cotton crops resistant to weed killers and bugs.  None of the genetically engineered crops for sale last year were nutritionally enhanced and much of the output feeds livestock, which critics said undercuts industry claims that biotechnology can help alleviate human hunger.  Still, the report prepared by the industry-backed International Service for the Acquisition of Agri-Biotech Applications touted the record as evidence that crops engineered to cut pesticide use can ease poverty and financially benefit small farmers around the world.  Some 10.3 million farmers in 22 countries grew engineered crops on 252 million acres last year, a 13 percent increase over 2005, according to the report. About 9.3 million of those people were considered subsistence farmers.  The United States, Argentina and Brazil were the top three countries that grew genetically engineered crops last year, mostly soy.

 

Source – New York Times http://www.nytimes.com

 

Colombia: Irrigation District on Its Way

 

JAN. 6, 2007 - The Colombian Institute for Rural Development (INCODER) is to undertake construction of the Triangulo de Tolima land development project (in the central province of the same name), with an investment of 150 million dollars.  German Molina, INCODER coordinator in Tolima province, told Tierramerica that this will be the biggest project of its kind in the country, after the southern irrigation district of Rancheria which is currently under construction. The project will benefit some 45,000 people who live on 24,000 hectares in the south of the province that will be cultivable under irrigation. Eleven thousand of the beneficiaries are indigenous people, Molina added.  The Environment ministry awarded the environmental permit for the project to INCODER on Dec. 27. The Institute will be in charge of providing infrastructure, operation, maintenance, land preparation, sowing and irrigation.

 

Source – Tierramerica http://tierramerica.net/english/2007/0106/iecobreves.shtml

 

Outbreak of Brucellosis in Southern Chile

 

JAN. 8, 2007 - An outbreak of bovine brucellosis has been confirmed in the Chilean province of Osorno, according to the Minister of Agriculture Alvaro Rojas.  Measures to isolate the outbreak in the rural area of Osorno have been taken and “we’re talking with farmers about the complications to rural activities which this entails”, Rojas is quoted by an Osorno daily adding that since “we have an open alert system”, the re-appearance of the outbreak was rapidly detected”.  Luis Paredes, from SAG’s Livestock department said that the outbreaks come as a “great surprise”, since “Osorno has been the region which has most advanced in the matter and no outbreaks had been reported for a very long time”.  “We believe we are facing isolated cases but it’s a call of attention to remind us we must be alert at all times”, added Paredes.

 

Source – MercoPress http://www.mercopress.com/vernoticia.do?id=9596&formato=html 


Forests

Brazil Gambles on Monitoring of Amazon Loggers

 

JAN. 14, 2007 - A Brazilian government plan set to go into effect this year will bring large-scale logging deep into the heart of the Amazon rain forest for the first time, in a calculated gamble that new monitoring efforts can offset any danger of increased devastation.  The government of President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva, in an attempt to create Brazil’s first coherent, effective forest policy, is to begin auctioning off timber rights to large tracts of the rain forest. The winning bidders will not have title to the land or the right to exploit resources other than timber, and the government says they will be closely monitored and will pay a royalty on their activities.  The architects of the plan say it will also help reduce tensions over land ownership in the Amazon, the world’s largest tropical forest, which loses an area the size of New Jersey every year to clear-cutting and timbering.  But the called-for monitoring of the loggers allowed into the rain forest’s largely untouched center will come from a new, untested Forest Service with only 150 employees and from state and municipal governments. That concerns environmental and civic groups because local officials are more vulnerable to the pressures of powerful economic interests and to corruption.

 

Source – New York Times http://www.nytimes.com

 

Amazon rainforest relies on African dust

 

JAN. 10, 2007 - A single spot in the Sahara desert is responsible for over half the Amazon basin's annual supply of minerals, researchers say.  In a study published in Environmental Research Letters, scientists show that dust winds arising from the Bodele depression — northeast of Lake Chad — are the main mineral source fertilizing the Amazon rainforest in Latin America.  Using recent advances in satellite instrumentation, researchers produced the first quantitative estimate of the dust emission: 56 per cent of the Amazon's total annual mineral supply.  It was known that West African dust winds played an essential role in the Amazon mineral supply.  But the rate of emission from the Bodele depression has not been measured until now.  According to the study, the soil of the Amazon rainforest is shallow, poor in nutrients and almost without soluble minerals.  The health and productivity of the Amazon basin depends on nearly 50 million tons of mineral-containing dust transported annually across the Atlantic Ocean from the Sahara.

 

Source – SciDev http://www.scidev.net/News/index.cfm?fuseaction=readNews&itemid=3327&language=1

 

Wildlife

Chile Draws Up Endangered Species List

JAN. 13, 2007 - Chile is home to some 30,000 types of flora and fauna and, as is increasingly the case throughout the planet, many of those plant and wildlife species are seriously endangered.  In fact, two Chilean tree species – the Juan Fernandez Sandalo and the Toromiro, of Easter Island – are already extinct, according to the National Environmental Commission (CONAMA).  If measures aren’t taken to protect them, more Chilean species, including the Huemul deer, the Taruca deer and the Andean cat, will follow.  Last month, CONAMA published the results of study that sought, for the first time ever, to classify native Chilean plants and animals according to their endangerment. CONAMA’s research focused on 35 species and concluded that 20 face a real danger of extinction.  The government entity now plans to expand the list by as many as 150 additional species.

 

Source – Santiago Times (no link)

 

Brazil: New Law against Biopiracy

 

Jan 13, 2007 - A new Brazilian regulation requires biotechnology patent applicants to prove that they had legal access to the genetic resources involved in the products and inventions they wish to register.  The requirement, imposed by the Genetic Heritage Management Council and the National Institute of Industrial Property from the beginning of this year, also applies to traditional knowledge used in research.  "It's an important step towards overcoming biopiracy and promoting the distribution of the benefits of biodiversity, as required by the Convention on Biological Diversity (1992)," Fernando Mathias, a lawyer with the non-governmental Socioenvironmental Institute, told Tierramerica. However, this pioneering law will need controls to be in place to ensure that patent royalties go to the owners of the genetic resources and the traditional knowledge that formed the basis of the developed product, Mathias added.

 

Source – Tierramerica http://tierramerica.net/english/2007/0113/iecobreves.shtml

 

EU to Ban Imports of Wild Birds

 

JAN. 12, 2007 - The trade in wild birds is to be permanently banned across the European Union starting in July, EU animal health officials have decided.  The move will replace a temporary ban imposed by Brussels in 2005 as part of measures to prevent outbreaks of the deadly H5N1 strain of bird flu.  Animal welfare campaigners say the permanent ban will save millions of birds, including many rare species.  Only captive-bred birds from approved countries will be allowed into the EU.  Tighter controls on the health and quarantine of imported birds are also to be imposed.

 

Source – BBC http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/europe/6253543.stm

 

Chile: Promoting Endangered Huemul Deer

JAN. 11, 2007 - Kris Mc Divitt, wife of controversial U.S. environmentalist Doug Tompkins, has launched an ecotourism event aimed at raising awareness of Chile’s endangered huemul deer.  Organizers of the “Ruta del Huemul (Huemul Deer Path)” event hope around 600 participants will take part in weekend activities of walking and hiking through Region XI – home of the threatened deer. The huemul deer population faces both natural and man-made threats. The over-grazing of sheep and cattle, wind and water erosion, road construction and fire and logging are just some of the factors contributing to the deer’s’ gradual extinction.  As well as raising awareness about the plight of the huemul deer – which suffered a population decline of 58 percent over the last two decades – Mc Divitt is promoting the creation of a new national park. The Patagonia National Park (Parque Nacional de la Patagonia) will cover 173,000 acres of southern Chile and be managed by Mc Divitt’s organization, Conservacion Patagonica.

 

Source – Santiago Times (no link)

Brazil: Plants with Economic Potential

 

JAN. 6, 2007 - In Brazil, the pupunha palm (Bactris gasipaes kunth) produces 20 tons of oil per hectare, four times more than the African palm (Elaeis guineensis), the source of the oil that is second in terms of world consumption. Cultivation of pupunha palm, found in the Amazon region and Central America, has been expanding to provide heart of palm, but not yet for its vegetable oil, which will be in growing demand to make biodiesel. It is one of 775 native species with great economic potential identified by the Ministry, which will publish this information in five volumes, starting this year, in a bid to encourage their sustainable use.

Source – Tierramerica http://tierramerica.net/english/2007/0106/iecobreves.shtml

 

Fishing & Marine Conservation

Argentine hake biomass again down to critical levels

 

JAN. 20, 2007 - The southern stocks of Argentine hake (Mercluccius hubbsi) are in fragile biological balance which will have a negative impact on catches this year and even more in 2008.  According to the conclusions from the preliminary assessment , Technical Report 92/06 from Mar del Plata’s National Institute for Fisheries Research and Development, INIDEP, a considerable drop in the numbers of classes 1 and 2 of hake (between 18 and 30 centimeters) has been confirmed.  Based on this information and a considerable reduction in hake’s breeding biomass, scientists are recommending a drastic cut in catches of juveniles, both directly and in the by catches. Recruitment has dropped to the critical levels of 1998/2000.  The report highlights that as yet “there is no concrete information as to the reasons for this drop, but something happened between January 2005 and January 2006”.

 

Source- MercoPress http://www.mercopress.com/vernoticia.do?id=9684&formato=html  

 

Chile: Step Forward for Blue Whale Protection

 

JAN. 13, 2007 - The Los Lagos Regional Commission for the Use of the Coastal Fringe in Chile has given definitive approval for a 46 square kilometer protected zone in the gulf of Corcovado and the sea surrounding Chiloe Island which is home to the blue whale (Balaenoptera musculus). Promoted by the Blue Whale Centre (CBA), the declaration of the Protected Multi-purpose Marine and Coastal Area was approved on Jan. 2. Maximiliano Bello of CBA explained to Tierramerica that the next step is to obtain the approval of the Aysen regional authorities. The entire process could be completed by the end of June.  On Dec. 21, the government awarded the Bicentennial Seal to the project to designate this protected area, for contributing to development in Chile, in anticipation of the national celebrations of 200 years of independence in 2010.

 

Source – Tierramerica http://tierramerica.net/english/2007/0113/iecobreves.shtml

 

Brazil Hosts the First South American Fishers Forum 

 

JAN. 12, 2007 - On December 12-14, an OES-sponsored workshop with the slogan "Catch Fish Not Birds" brought together 50 experts from across the world to take a look at the potential to reduce seabird bycatch throughout the South American long-line fishery via the adoption of mitigation measures in South America fishing fleets.  As a result of the event, several solutions to reduce the incidental catch of sea birds were identified between fishers, fishing entrepreneurs, researchers, NGO's and governments.  In addition, the partners conducted a full discussion of the economic and environmental benefits of reducing sea bird bycatch and committed themselves to implementing some of these mitigation measures throughout South America.

 

Source - BRASILIA   00000071

 

Argentine anchovy fishery may damage South Atlantic ecosystem

 

JAN. 09, 2007 - The indiscriminate Argentine anchovy (Engraulis anchoita) fishing in the southern zone of Argentina could inflict serious damage to Magallanic penguins, whales, seals and sea lions population numbers, warned a study published in scientific magazine Science.  The study says that the growing demand of fishmeal could encourage an unsustainable expansion of the Argentinean anchovy commercial fishery along the Patagonian coast. “Changes in the Argentine anchovy population could alter abundance of predators and prey. A reduction in the population of one species could spread along throughout the food chain and change the energy flow and the abundance of species that are not directly linked to Argentine anchovy,” scientists explain.

Source – MercoPress http://www.mercopress.com/vernoticia.do?id=9604&formato=htmlSee also http://tierramerica.net/english/2007/0120/iarticulo.shtml.  

 

Climate Change

Crunch year for planet Earth

 

JAN. 18, 2007 - This will be a crunch year for action on the climate crisis, according to a leading environmental lobbyist.  Never have the opportunities been better and the danger from failure greater, Friends of the Earth chief Tony Juniper said in an interview with Reuters.  "There is an urgency that wasn't there before," Juniper said. "The science is there, the economics is there and the politics is there ...If they don't take this opportunity then we really should start to think about the future of life on earth."  The scientists who mind the "Doomsday Clock" moved it forward two minutes on Wednesday to five minutes until midnight, symbolizing the growing risk of the annihilation of civilization, and for the first time said global warming was a threat. Early next month the International Panel on Climate Change will produce the first of four key reports this year assessing the latest scientific knowledge on global warming.  This will be followed by a report in April on adaptation, one in May on mitigation and a final overview in November.  A European Union-United States summit in April is expected to focus on energy security, and a Group of Eight summit in early June will highlight energy and climate.

 

Source – CNN (no link)

 

Multimillion Dollar Effort to Study Polar Ice Thaw

 

JAN. 13, 2007 - More than 60 nations, from Chile to China, and 50,000 scientists and researchers will be involved in the International Polar Year (IPY) 2007-2008, actually a two-year period that will last from Mar. 1, 2007 to the same date in 2009.  The IPY will study the Arctic and Antarctic regions, focusing on the effects of global warming produced by greenhouse gases. It has a budget of over 500 million dollars, to which Canada contributed 160 million.  The last major international effort to study the world's coldest regions took place 50 years ago and was called the International Geophysical Year. It was a landmark scientific collaboration involving 67 nations that produced data still used today.  The IPY is organized by the International Science Council and the World Meteorological Organization, and is sponsored by the United Nations Environment Program.

 

Source – Tierramerica http://tierramerica.net/english/2007/0113/iarticulo.shtml


Chile: Climate-Change Cyclist Travels 13,097 Miles to Santiago

JAN. 9, 2006 - David Kroodsma - a young environmentalist in the middle of a 15,000-mile journey from Palo Alto, California to Ushuia in Argentine Patagonia – pedaled into Santiago on January 2nd, marking the 13,097th mile of a 17-month trip.  Kroodsma has traveled through 15 countries between the U.S. and Chile - including Belize, El Salvador and Columbia - since he set off on his “Ride for Climate” in November 2005.  From Santiago he will travel south through Chile and Argentina to South America’s southern-most town of Ushuia at the tip of Tierra del Fuego.  Despite ultimately aiming to raise awareness for a U.S. audience – mainly through his personal website, www.rideforclimate.com - Kroodsma punctuates his journey with visits to local schools, where he talks to children about his trip and the effects of climate change.

 

Source – Santiago Times (no link)

 

Pollution

Firewood Source of Santiago, Chile Contamination

Jan. 20, 2007 - A recent study revealed an increase in air pollution caused by wood-burning stoves in Santiago.  Although wood stoves emit almost as much contamination as diesel combustion, their prohibition is unlikely.  The government maintains that the increase in wood smoke is not significant enough to warrant stove regulations in its anti-pollution plan. Scientists, however, insist the increase is important because the three major sources of air contamination in Chile are now industry, wood burning and diesel combustion.  Former National Commission on the Environment (Conama) director Pablo Badenier warned that stoves emit 200 tons of material particles a year—more than the projected emissions of the Transantiago transport system. There are an estimated 20,000 wood stoves in the city, each emitting more than one pound of material particles per hour.

 

Source – Santiago Times (no link)

Cell Phones Getting Greener

 

JAN. 08, 2007 - Cellular telephones that contain toxic chemicals are still being sold in Latin America and other developing regions. But thanks to strict European regulations, there are progressively fewer phones being made with cadmium, lead and other dangerous materials.
The new, stricter standards adopted by the European Union in 2006, forced the world's five leading cell phone manufacturers to eliminate toxic metals and other materials from their products.  In a year or two, the majority of the more than one billion new mobiles sold annually will meet the EU standards even if most countries don't have those restrictions, says Zeina Alhajj, a toxics expert with the environmental watchdog Greenpeace International.

 

Source – Tierramerica http://tierramerica.net/english/2007/0106/iacentos.shtml


Energy

Brazil Infrastructure Plan Doesn't Include Nuclear Plant

 

JAN. 22, 2007 - An ambitious infrastructure investment plan announced on January 22nd by President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva did not include completion of Brazil's third nuclear plant.  The investment plan calls for more than 503 billion reals (US$240 billion) through 2010 to be spent on repairing and building highways, boosting electric power generation, expanding ports and airports and providing housing, water and sewage service for poor Brazilians.  Completion of the Angra 3 nuclear power plant in Rio de Janeiro, which has been stuck in the planning stage for a number of years, "is not part of the (investment) plan," Mines and Energy Minister Silas Rondeau told reporters.  "Resumption of work on Angra 3 is part of the resumption of Brazil's nuclear program, which involves much more than generating electricity," Rondeau told reporters without going into details.  He said the future of the nuclear program was still under discussion. 

 

Source – IHT http://www.iht.com

 

Peru President Garcia Touts Maple Gas Ethanol Project
 
JAN. 11, 2007 - On January 5, U.S. oil firm Maple Gas signed a $650 million contract with the Piura Regional Government for a sugar cane-based ethanol plant.  President Garcia spoke at the signing ceremony, calling the biofuel project the start of an "agrarian revolution" that showcased foreign private investment.  Sited on the northern desert coast, the plant should produce 30 million gallons/year by 2010.  Garcia announced other biofuel projects in the works. The Maple project is a model for U.S investors on how to coordinate land and water rights acquisition with the national and a regional government.

 

Source - LIMA   00000087

 

Argentina: A Boost for Renewable Energies

 

Jan 6, 2007 - The government of Argentina published a law on Jan. 2 to promote the use of renewable energy sources, which envisages increasing their participation in the national electricity grid from one percent to eight percent over 10 years.  The law declares that generating wind, solar and geothermal power, among others, is "in the national interest", and promotes investment and research by means of tax incentives and subsidies for every kilowatt generated from alternatives to fossil fuels.  Juan Casavelos, coordinator of Greenpeace's energy campaign, told Tierramerica that this is a "very good sign" and that "any step that increases the share of renewable sources in the grid is of great value." However, he said the incentives should be larger.  According to Casavelos, a fund is needed to plan investments and make renewable energy supply more competitive.

 

Source – Tierramerica http://tierramerica.net/english/2007/0106/iecobreves.shtml

 

General

Vast Pipelines in Amazon Face Challenges over Protecting Rights and Rivers

 

JAN. 21, 2007 - In theory, the issue is a simple one: Brazil needs more sources of energy to keep its economy humming, and huge reserves of gas and oil are in the Amazon jungle. Problem solved.  Over the years, Petrobras, Brazil’s state-controlled oil company, has, in fact, invested more than $7 billion in Amazon exploration and development, and in 1986 it made a major find here. But only now — after a seemingly endless sequence of geographic, logistical, environmental and political challenges were overcome — is the first in what is intended as a series of pipelines finally being constructed, this one to carry gas the 400 miles from here to Manaus, a port city of 1.5 million at the junction of the region’s two biggest rivers that is emerging as an important industrial center.  But oil pipeline leaks and the collapse of an offshore drilling platform in other parts of the country have damaged Petrobras’s reputation, and there was initially strong resistance to the pipeline from local people, environmental and indigenous groups and archaeologists.  Rather than steamrolling the opponents and skeptics, however, as often happens in Brazil, the company chose to woo them. The two million residents of Amazonas State have been promised economic benefits that have contributed to the project’s $1.15 billion price, and scientists and environmentalists were consulted about how to minimize damage to the jungle that blankets the state.

 

Source – New York Times http://www.nytimes.com

 

Brazil: Indigenous Groups Surviving in the Amazon

 

JAN. 18, 2007 - Far more Indian groups than previously thought are surviving in Brazil's Amazon rain forest isolated from the outside world but they risk extermination at the hands of encroaching loggers and miners, experts say.  A study by Funai, the government's National Indian Foundation, and seen by Reuters estimates that around 67 Indian groups live in complete isolation, up from previous estimates of around 40.  "With the rate of destruction in the Amazon, it is amazing there are any isolated people left at all," said Fiona Watson, campaigns coordinator with Survival International, an advocacy group for tribal peoples.  Funai reviewed old and new discoveries of footprints, abandoned huts, and other signs of human life in the thicket of the world's largest rain forest.  "There are still vast unexplored areas and new indications of [Indian groups]," Marcelo dos Santos, head of Funai's department of isolated Indians, told Reuters.  Brazil is likely to have the largest number of uncontacted tribes in the world, Watson said.

 

Source – Reuters (no link)

 

Uruguay: Film Explodes "Myths" About Pulp Mill

 

JAN. 13, 2007 - A documentary film criticizing activists in the Argentine city of Gualeguaychu, who fear a pulp mill to be installed on the eastern bank of the border river between both countries will cause pollution, was shown for the first time in Uruguay on Jan. 12.  "No a los papelones", directed by Argentine Eduardo Montes Bradley, is being shown in cinemas in Montevideo and Punta del Este.  "It's about ideological falsehood, about a town afraid about something it knows nothing about. And it portrays those in the front line of the demonstrations using emotional arguments, such as that (the area's residents) will have three-headed babies," Pepi Goncalvez, the film's press spokeswoman, told Tierramerica. "It's not against people who do serious environmental work," she said.  The distributors are not showing the film in Argentina for fear of reprisals.

 

Source – Tierramerica http://tierramerica.net/english/2007/0113/iecobreves.shtml

 

Does the Environment Need a New Global Agency?

 

JAN. 08, 2007 - The creation of a new United Nations Environment Organization (UNEO), proposed by French President Jacques Chirac, has divided environmentalists. Some believe it will be useful for combating the challenge posed by global environmental deterioration, but others see it as a redundant proposal and a political maneuver by Chirac before the French general elections due in April and May.   Chirac proposed creating the UNEO on Dec.12 in Paris, after a meeting with the organizing committee for the International Conference on Environmental Governance, which the French government is hosting in February.  According to Chirac, this conference, to be attended by representatives from about 60 countries, and from many international and non-governmental organizations, should present "an inventory of the situation of the global environment and its alarming degradation, and present priority political proposals that are internationally acceptable."

 

Source – Tierramerica http://tierramerica.net/english/2007/0106/iarticulo.shtml

 

In Peru, a Move to Get Farmers to Trade in Fish Rather Than Coca

 

JAN. 04, 2007 - A new program aims to help coca growers raise paiche, a huge, endangered fish known for its flaky meat.  The program has a few thousand fish in each cage, with the goal of reaching a constant population of 8,000 paiches per cage. This may not seem like much, but with each fish reaching up to 25 pounds in a year, authorities believe that they will harvest enough paiche meat annually to satisfy local demand and begin exporting.  Edwin Vasquez, who left office as governor of Ucayali on Jan. 2, says marketing studies done by government agencies show that paiche steaks can sell for around $20 a pound in European and US gourmet markets. "This is an economic opportunity for communities that have few options," he says.  Mr. Vasquez believes that if the Imiria project is successful, similar efforts will pop up in the region. The US Agency for International Development (USAID), through one of its partner organizations, has contributed one-fifth of the $250,000 cost of the program as part of its anti-drug work in Peru.

 

Source – CSM http://www.csmonitor.com/2007/0104/p05s01-woam.html

 

 

Update on Avian Influenza

Bird Flu Will Challenge to U.S. Health System, Expert Predicts

 

JAN. 15, 2007 - A bird flu pandemic remains a threat that the U.S. health care system must take seriously despite less frequent media coverage and the absence so far of human cases in the United States, experts warned.  John Bartlett, an infectious disease expert at John Hopkins University, said the decentralized U.S. health system will make it more difficult to get ready for a possible human pandemic of H5N1 avian virus -- or anything else.  He disagreed with the suggestion that the bird flu threat has been overstated by the media.  "The number of cases in 2006 was more than it was in 2005, which is more than it was in 2004 ... so it continues to go up in people," he said in an interview.  "And it continues to be just as lethal as it was in the beginning," Bartlett said at a conference aimed at helping U.S. hospital administrators prepare for a pandemic. Hospitals "have to plan that there'll be no vaccine," he said, urging administrators to start "speaking collectively about the need for a much more ambitious and aggressive vaccine strategy."  With no federal guidance on who will receive pandemic vaccine once it is developed and manufactured, Inglesby said, state and local health authorities will have trouble making and enforcing decisions.  Bartlett and Inglesby said the absence of clear guidelines on an avian flu pandemic would pose ethical challenges when it came to choosing who would receive scarce treatments.

 

Source – CNN http://www.cnn.com/2007/HEALTH/01/15/bird.flu.usa.reut/index.html

 

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