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Following the Money at COP 10 – October 26, 2010

Countries are divided over conservation funding, but will more money really solve the biodiversity crisis?

One morning a few days ago, I was sitting despondently at my desk in the COP 10 conference center, wondering whether another week of argument between delegates over targets, financial mechanisms, and benefit-sharing would really help bees and butterflies back home. Just then, Nick Nuttall, dapper spokesman for the United Nations Environment Program (UNEP), whirled into the room with a pile of press releases. I flagged him down.

"Nick," I said. "Tell it to me straight. Does what's happening at this UN biodiversity conference matter?"

Nick, of course, launched straight into an eloquent soliloquy on why COP 10 does matter, explaining how international targets motivate countries to act and multilateral… more

by: Winnie Bird

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Geo-Engineering Ban Likely at COP10 this Week – October 25, 2010

Outcome of talks on access and benefit sharing and conservation plan remains uncertain.

photo of a man with a globe talking to children

Three seats out of four were still empty this Friday in the Media Center at the Congress Center in Nagoya, Japan, where delegates from 193 countries are meeting for a UN conference on biodiversity this week and next. Outside, too, protesters in polar bear suits and demonstrates being beat back by police were nowhere to be seen. COP 10 is a far cry from the Copenhagen climate talks that made headlines for weeks straight last winter.

Yet articles on the meeting are slowly starting to appear in mainstream… more

by: Winnie Bird

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Conflicts over Biopiracy Could Endanger Biodiversity Conference – October 16, 2010

Negotiations over access and benefit sharing already underway ahead of tomorrow's opening ceremony

IMG_2618Winnie Bird Mattias Ahren, representative of the Saami people from Northern Europe, gets ready to start ABS negotiations.

Six months ago, the marine activist group Sea Shepherd issued a press release calling for a boycott of COP 10, the UN conference on biodiversity that begins tomorrow and runs through October 29 here in Nagoya, Japan. "[T]he conference will focus on equitable use and not on protecting species from diminishment and extinction . . . on exploitation of species and not their . . . conservation," it read. At the time, I thought that message was overly cynical. It… more

by: Winnie Bird

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GMOs Beyond Borders: The Politics of Risk – October 13, 2010

Can an international treaty help us make better choices about GMOs?

India already has 2,500 kinds of eggplant, but recently, Monsanto and Indian seed company Mahyco tried to introduce one more: "BT brinjal." Seeds for the insect-proof veggie were approved by regulators, but, facing public and academic outrage over an allegedly flimsy risk assessment, Indian Environment Minister Jairam Ramesh was forced to halt import of the seeds this February.

That’s just one example of a problem both pro- and anti-GMO scientists at this week’s MOP 5 biosafety conference in Nagoya, Japan, say is rampant. Around the world last year, 14 million farmers – 13 million of them in developing countries – grew genetically modified crops on over 330 million acres, but… more

by: Winnie Bird

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Polluter Pays Principal Set to Reach Biotech Industry – October 11, 2010

New global agreement would hold corporations accountable for environmental impacts of modified organisms

Beginning in 1998, biotech titan Monsanto sued Canadian canola farmer Percy Schmeiser for $400,000 after some of the corporation’s patented genetically modified seeds blew onto Schmeiser’s farm and sprouted there without his knowledge. But according to an international agreement likely to be adopted later this week, Monsanto could soon be the one paying for damage to biological diversity caused by runaway GM seeds.

The agreement would be part of the Cartagena Protocol on Biosafety to the Convention on Biological Diversity, whose 160 Parties have gathered in Nagoya, Japan this week for their fifth meeting, called MOP 5. The draft document up for approval at that meeting states that if… more

by: Winnie Bird

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