Seeds of Justice, Seeds of Hope
The Biofuel Fraud
Who Would Opposed Naming a Post Office after Rachel Carson?
May 8, 2007
Seeds of Justice, Seeds of Hope
by Anna Marie Carter
South Central Los Angeles has the highest crime rates, the largest drug saturation, the greatest welfare recipient population, and the fastest HIV-positive infection rates -- in one of the richest cities, in the richest state, in the richest country in the world. Yet, in the midst of this toxic atmosphere, seeds are sprouting, organic gardens are thriving, and healthy, whole foods are becoming part of everyday life.
|Anna Marie Carter, the "Seed Lady of Watts."|
My name is Anna Marie Carter, but I am also known as The Seed Lady of Watts." I am a certified Master Gardener through the University of California. I practice direct action by building free, organic gardens for people who suffer from HIV/AIDS, cancer, diabetes, high blood pressure, and obesity. We have over 200 students at our center, and we go out to where people are to plant gardens and teach classes.
My advocacy takes me to drug/alcohol/mental health facilities, community centers, schools, housing projects, and shelters for women returning from prison. I teach people how to grow their own food, organically. But that is not all I teach them.
The environment in Watts is toxic. We are told not to drink the water, the air is polluted, and there is not much rain. Community health is further jeopardized by the lack of real food. The food available in South Central is genetically engineered, pesticide-laden, hybridized, and irradiated. Most of this food is bagged, bottled, canned, boxed, or frozen. A majority of this food comes from South America and Mexico through free trade agreements. DDT is still widely used in Latin America.
There is no access to whole foods here. We do not even get food grown in California. The highly processed and low-quality food affects the physical and mental health of everyone here.
I had an organic vegetable, seed, and plant store many years ago on Crenshaw Boulevard. The first day I went to open the front door, I noticed three little boys standing nearby. They said Good morning and proceeded to set up the organic vegetable and flowers stands for the day. They were sent to me by a higher source.
We planted tomatoes that grew over seven feet tall. The boys sold the tomatoes and used the money for school clothes and supplies. One even paid his mothers utility bills. They are grown now, but whenever I see them they kiss and hug and thank me.
After graduating as a Master Gardener, I began my internship at the former Watts Family Garden. Now based at the city recreation center inside the Jordan Downs Housing Projects, we teach a class called the Value of a Seed, which takes children to the gardens where they can plant the ingredients that go into pesto, salsa, and coleslaw. We teach the children how to invent recipes and design logos so they can sell their own food products. Participants in the Made in Watts class make their own bath products for sale to our community.
We have our own Community Supported Agriculture project, which provides farm-fresh produce to the neighborhood. We operate our own organic produce stand and farmers market. We train youth in agricultural entrepreneurship. We show people how organic gardening creates value-added products.
The Organic Greenhouse class teaches people to grow chemical-free lettuce, herbs, and flowers indoors. The Kitchen covers vegan and vegetarian cooking. We also host anti-drug/gang rallies, HIV support groups, and holistic workshops. We involve the community in garden construction and we network with other low-income communities of color.
If you look at history, you can see it takes only one person -- one person who takes a stand, an advocacy, an action -- to change the entire world. Once upon a time, we were taught about Power to the People. I have lived through that and I've learned that People are the Power.
It doesn't matter how pretty you are, where you live, how many degrees you have, or what you drive, because if you dont start saving this planet, soon you wont have anywhere to live.
Anna Marie Carter is founder and CEO of the Watts Garden Club, PO Box 19234, Los Angeles, CA 90019, (323) 969-4740.
The Biofuel Fraud
We need a five-year freeze on biofuels
by George Monbiot / The Guardian of London
LONDON (April 3, 2007) -- It used to be a matter of good intentions gone awry. Now it is plain fraud. The governments using biofuel to tackle global warming know that it causes more harm than good. But they plough on regardless.
In theory, fuels made from plants can reduce the amount of carbon dioxide emitted by cars and trucks. Plants absorb carbon as they grow -- it is released again when the fuel is burned. By encouraging oil companies to switch from fossil plants to living ones, governments on both sides of the Atlantic claim to be "decarbonising" our transport networks.
In the budget last week, Gordon Brown announced that he would extend the tax rebate for biofuels until 2010. From next year all suppliers in the UK will have to ensure that 2.5 percent of the fuel they sell is made from plants -- if not, they must pay a penalty of 15 pence / liter.
The obligation rises to 5 percent in 2010. By 2050, the government hopes that 33 percent of our fuel will come from crops. Last month George Bush announced that he would quintuple the US target for biofuels: by 2017 they should be supplying 24 percent of the nation's transport fuel.
So what's wrong with these programs? Only that they are a formula for environmental and humanitarian disaster. In 2004 I warned, on these pages, that biofuels would set up a competition for food between cars and people. The people would necessarily lose: those who can afford to drive are richer than those who are in danger of starvation. It would also lead to the destruction of rainforests and other important habitats.
I received more abuse than I've had for any other column -- except for when I attacked the 9/11 conspiracists. I was told my claims were ridiculous, laughable, and impossible. Well in one respect, I was wrong. I thought these effects wouldn't materialize for many years. They are happening already.
Since the beginning of last year, the price of maize has doubled. The price of wheat has also reached a 10-year high, while global stockpiles of both grains have reached 25-year lows. Already there have been food riots in Mexico and reports that the poor are feeling the strain all over the world. The US department of agriculture warns that "if we have a drought or a very poor harvest, we could see the sort of volatility we saw in the 1970s, and if it does not happen this year, we are also forecasting lower stockpiles next year".
According to the UN food and agriculture organization, the main reason is the demand for ethanol: the alcohol used for motor fuel, which can be made from maize and wheat.
Farmers will respond to better prices by planting more, but it is not clear that they can overtake the booming demand for biofuel. Even if they do, they will catch up only by ploughing virgin habitat.
Already we know that biofuel is worse for the planet than petroleum. The UN has just published a report suggesting that 98 percent of the natural rainforest in Indonesia will be degraded or gone by 2022. Just five years ago, the same agencies predicted that this wouldn't happen until 2032. But they reckoned without the planting of palm oil to turn into biodiesel for the European market. This is now the main cause of deforestation there and it is likely soon to become responsible for the extinction of the orangutan in the wild.
But it gets worse. As the forests are burned, both the trees and the peat they sit on are turned into carbon dioxide. A report by the Dutch consultancy Delft Hydraulics shows that every ton of palm oil results in 33 tons of carbon dioxide emissions, or 10 times as much as petroleum produces. I feel I need to say that again. Biodiesel from palm oil causes 10 times as much climate change as ordinary diesel....
For the whole story, please go to the following related sites below:
Who Would Opposed Naming a
Post Office after Rachel Carson?
by Gar Smith / The-Edge
Pennsylvania Representative JasonAltmire (D-PA) has proposed naming a US Post Office to honor Springdale, Pennsylvania native Rachel Carson. Carson, the author of the seminal environmental book, Silent Spring, has been hailed as the mother of the modern environmental movement but it appears that not everyone loves their mother.
Altmires bill (H.R. 1434) has been moved to the Senate for consideration in hopes that the Rachel Carson Post Office can be approved by May 27, the 100th anniversary of Carsons birth but the move to honor Carson has generated some heated opposition from some die-hard members of the GOP. While renaming a post office seldom makes headlines beyond the local papers, in this case, 53 House Republicans voted against honoring the memory of Rachel Carson, who died of breast cancer on April 14, 1964.
Fortunately, a total of 117 Republicans joined a united Democratic coalition to support the bill.
The-Edge believes these 53 staunch Republicans, who dared stand firm against the specter of Rachel Carson, deserve public recognition for daring to be true to their minority beliefs. Here, then, is the list of:
For more information contact: