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MARCH AGAINST MONSANTO

Posted by strattof on October 11, 2013

MONSANTO’S GENETICALLY MODIFIED SEEDS: WHY WE SHOULD STOP THEM

What are genetically modified (GM) seeds?

GM seeds have had genes from other organisms inserted into them. Genetic engineering is completely different from natural breeding, as it involves the direct transfer of genes from organisms into entirely different species. Monsanto’s GM seeds are engineered to be resistant to glyphosate, the active ingredient in Monsanto’s powerful herbicide, Roundup.

Are GM foods safe to eat?

  • GM foods are approved for human consumption based on company-produced science. Health Canada does not do its own testing. There is no mandatory labeling in Canada.
  • There are 2 main sources of adverse health effects from GM foods: genetic engineering and the herbicide Roundup.
  • Independent research has shown that Monsanto’s GM foods can lead to serious health conditions, including cancer, Crohn’s disease, infertility, and birth defects.

Are there any environmental risks?

Once GM seeds are released into the environment, they cannot be controlled. They contaminate traditional crops; destroy genetic diversity; create super weeds that are herbicide resistant; and result in increased herbicide use. Worse, the herbicide, glyphosate, triggers pathogens that continue in the soil for years, lessening the soil’s ability to grow healthy food for future generations.

Who owns GM seeds?

GM seeds mean corporate control, as corporations, like Monsanto, take out patents on genetic sequences. Biotech corporations make huge profits, while farmers suffer huge losses. Forbidden to save their seeds and replant them, farmers are trapped into paying higher and higher prices for seeds and chemicals.

TAKE ACTION

In an obscene development, a Monsanto executive is winning this year’s “Nobel Prize of agriculture” – the prestigious World Food Prize – for creating GMOs. Receiving it legitimizes the sort of rampant genetic modification Monsanto pioneered.

Tell the World Food Prize Foundation not to reward Monsanto’s outrageous practices: http://action.sumofus.org/a/world-food-prize-monsanto-syngenta/5/2/

M A R C H   A G A I N S T MONSANTO

DATE:      Saturday October 12

TIME:       10:30 am – 1:30 pm

WHERE:   Starts at the Legislative Building

                Ends at City Square Plaza

October 12 is WORLD FOOD DAY, a good time to MARCH AGAINST MONSANTO, the largest seed company in the world and owner of 86% of GM seeds.

FURTHER INFORMATION

www.facebook.com/events/583443078335565

www.march-against-monsanto.com

IT’S TIME TO TAKE BACK OUR FOOD!

 

Posted in environment, justice, water | Leave a Comment »

WASTE WATER TREATMENT PLANT REFERENDUM, SEPTEMBER 25: VOTE YES!

Posted by strattof on August 18, 2013

September 25 2013, you will be asked to vote on whether you support the City of Regina publically financing, operating, and maintaining Regina’s new $224.3 million waste water treatment plant.

This is an exciting and historic opportunity for our city which has not had a referendum since 1994.

  • Get out and vote on September 25th.  The referendum gives Regina citizens a rare opportunity to have a direct say on a particular matter.
  • VOTE YES and reject the P3 model for our city’s new waste water treatment plant. Turn the page and find out why you should Vote YES

WHY VOTE YES 4 REASONS

1. VOTE YES to save Regina taxpayers money.

According to City Council, the P3 deal will save Regina taxpayers money. It is true that the P3 deal comes with up to $58.5 million in federal government infrastructure funding. If Regina chooses not to go the P3 route, we will lose that federal funding.  

However, this does not mean a P3 waste water plant is a good deal. $58.5 million in federal funding will not make up for the additional costs of the P3.

Cities can borrow money more cheaply than private companies. Private borrowing interest rates are higher than public rates.

P3 loans are usually paid back over a longer period than direct municipal borrowing. In this case it’s a 30-year period over which the City would have to pay interest on the loan.

Private companies need to make a profit. Regina citizens will not only pay for the service, we will also pay for the profit that must be paid to shareholders in the private company that is operating and maintaining the facility over the 30-year period.

City Council claims an additional $78.6 million in savings if the project is a P3. However, it will not say where these savings will come from. What is City Council hiding?

Regina Water Watch, the citizens’ group that organized the petition campaign, says that rejecting the P3 and choosing the publically financed, operated, and maintained model for the new plant will save Regina taxpayers about $13 million. All of the calculations involved are publically available. Google Flushing Money Away or go to: http://reginawaterwatch.ca/files/2013/05/Regina-Waste-Water-Treatment-Plant-Report.pdf

Transparency is essential for democracy. Ask Mayor Fougere and your City Councillor to disclose their secret calculations so citizens can cast an informed ballot.

2. VOTE YES to keep our water public.

According to our Mayor and City Council, waste water isn’t water. It’s sewage or poop. They are wrong.

Waste water is part of the water system. After treatment, it is typically discharged into a river or a lake. In other words, it is treated in order to make the water reusable. “A clean water supply, especially so with regard to sewage, is the single most important determinant of public health” (Wikipedia).

City Council also claims it will control the new plant. Since the plant will be operated and maintained by a private, for-profit company for 30 years, it will actually be nearly impossible for the city to maintain control of the facility. For this reason, the P3 deal can rightly be viewed as a transfer of an essential public service into private hands.

3. VOTE YES to maintain a high quality of service.

Private companies minimize cost in order to maximize profit. When they take over a public service, such as waste water treatment, they typically cut costs by laying off workers and reducing safety measures.

The waste water system in Hamilton-Wentworth provides an instructive example. In order to cut costs, the private company running the plant laid off half the workers. The result? A disastrous reduction in service quality with raw sewage being dumped into Hamilton Harbour. In the end, the city had to step in and take back the plant and clean up the mess.

4. VOTE YES TO KEEP REGINA’S WASTE WATER TREATMENT PLANT UNDER LOCAL CONTROL AND OUT OF THE HANDS OF HUGE CORPORATE FORCES.

Handing off one of our most vital services and assets to a multinational corporation is a lose-lose situation. ●Regina taxpayers lose money. ●The City of Regina loses control of an essential public service.

Who wins with P3s? Large multinational corporations.

WATER IS NOT A COMMODITY.

WATER IS:

A HUMAN RIGHT

A COMMON GOOD

A PUBLIC SERVICE

AN ESSENTIAL HUMAN NEED

KEEP REGINA WATER PUBLIC

Posted in environment, justice, water | 2 Comments »

BOTTLED WATER GOODBYE

Posted by strattof on July 21, 2011

Earlier this year, the grade 7 and 8 students of Sacred Heart elementary school in Estevan decided they wanted to ban bottled water from their school. When Nestlé Waters Canada got wind of the students’ decision, they sent a letter of rebuttal to the Estevan Mercury and also offered to fly in a company representative from Toronto to debate the issue with the students.  

On June 6, the students and their teachers hosted Nestlé Waters Canada’s Director of Corporate Affairs, John Challinor II. His main arguments were that banning bottled water did not reduce the number of plastic bottles in landfills and that bottled water is a necessary right. Presenting the case against bottled water were local members of Development and Peace and KAIROS. (See inside this leaflet for their arguments.)

Although the debate had no declared winner or loser, the students seem to have stuck to their original decision: The Coca Cola machine that dispensed bottled water at the school has been removed.  

8 REASONS TO BAN BOTTLED WATER

1. Bottled water is not safer or healthier.

●Bottled water companies advertise their product as a safer and healthier alternative to tap water. Nothing could be further from the truth. Bottled water is regulated as a food product under the Canadian Food Inspection Agency. As such, water bottling plants are inspected on average only once every three years. Regulation of tap water, on the other hand, is far more stringent. In general, municipal tap water is tested continuously during and after treatment. ●25% of bottled water is taken directly from the tap.

2. Bottled water costs 200 3000 times more than tap water.

In most places in Canada, bottled water is a wasteful luxury. Canada has one of the best drinking water systems in the world, but the bottled water industry has worked hard to undermine our faith in public water. The industry sells water – what should be a shared public resource – for huge profits.

3. Bottled water contributes to climate change.

Water bottle plastic is a petroleum product. It requires large amounts of energy to make that plastic, not to mention the fuel needed to run bottling operations and to transport the bottles.

4. Bottled water containers contaminate the air.

Bottled water containers release highly toxic chemicals and contaminants into the air when they are manufactured and again when they are burned or buried.

5. Plastic water bottles end up by the millions in local landfills.

Canadian municipalities cannot support the amount of garbage generated by the bottled water industry. Although the plastic bottles are recyclable, at least 200 million of them end up in Canadian landfills every year. In some communities the percentage of water bottles ending up in landfills is 80%.

6. Bottled water leads to water shortages.

20% of Canadian municipalities have faced water shortages in recent years. Canada is a net exporter of bottled water, selling its ancient glacier waters all over the world mostly for the profit of the foreign-owned, big four water companies. Water shortages have also been reported in the Great Lakes region near water bottling plants. Twice as much water is used to produce bottled water than the amount in the bottle.

7.  Drinking water is a public resource, not a commodity.

Do you remember when drinking water fountains were much more numerous in Regina? That was before bottled water turned a public resource into a commodity, something that is not accessible to all people. Now, public water fountains aren’t being maintained or installed in new buildings. By marketing its water as safer and healthier, the bottled water industry undermines confidence in public water systems, paving the way for private water companies to take over under-funded local utilities.  

8. Water is a human right.

In the Global South, bottled water companies are buying up springs and wells and fencing them off so that local people can no longer use them. The companies then target the new middle class market. Some governments use the existence of bottled water as an excuse to avoid having to provide clean water to their citizens. As a result, those who cannot afford to buy bottled water, the majority of the population, end up consuming unhealthy water.

  • Congratulations to Estevan’s Sacred Heart School. 

  • We encourage the City of Regina to follow the Sacred Heart School example and ban bottled water from city facilities. In 2009, the Federation of Canadian Municipalities resolved to “phase out the sale and purchase of bottled water” on municipal property. 85 other municipalities have made good on that pledge.

BY THE NUMBERS

 30%  Proportion of Canadians who say bottled water is their primary source of water

 2.2 billion  Litres of bottled water Canadians consumed in 2008

 $1.6 billion  Amount Canadians spent on bottled water in 2008

 $8.5 million  Amount spent on bottled water by federal government departments in facilities where safe drinking water was easily accessible from 2004-2008

 $766,865  Amount spent by Environment Canada

 3,384  The number of water fountains that could be installed for $8.5 million

TO DO LIST

  • Contact Mayor Pat Fiacco and tell him you want the city to phase out the sale of bottled water on municipal property: Service.Regina@regina.ca or 777-7339.
  • Send the same message to your City Councillor.
  • Contact the Wascana Centre Authority and ask for the drinking water fountain that is situated in the north side of the Park on the path between Darke Hall and Albert Street to be repaired: wca@wascana.sk.ca or 522-3661.
  • Lobby to get a water fountain repaired or installed in a facility you frequent.
  • Promote tap water in your home and place of work.

 SOURCES AND RESOURCES

Bottled water is simply water in a bottle.

Tap into public drinking water.

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WATER: CHERISH EVERY DROP!

Posted by strattof on June 2, 2011

Water is the gift of life, the essence of life. Every organism needs water to survive.

We cannot live without clean water to drink.

We cannot eat without water to grow our food.

Our bodies are about 60% water.

The water we drink may have circulated through an ancient forest, through Gandhi or a polar bear.

Water connects each one of us with the whole world, with all living beings, past, present, and future, with earth and sky.

WATER CRISIS

The perception that Canada has an unlimited supply of water is false. According to a 2010 Statistics Canada study, the water supply in southern Canada, where 98% of the population lives, fell by 8.5% from 1971-2005.

WHAT IS HAPPENING TO CANADA’S WATER?

  • The Alberta tar sands (soon coming to Saskatchewan) are the single biggest contributor to water loss and contamination in Canada. It takes up to 5 barrels of water to produce one barrel of oil. Much of this water cannot be re-used because it is so badly contaminated. Stored in deadly toxic ponds, it leaks into the Athabasca River, threatening people and fish downstream.
  • Climate change, more accurately called “climate upheaval,” is affecting water quantity and hence food production. Scientists warn that for the Prairies, climate upheaval will bring swings between extreme events like flooding and massive rainfall, on one hand, and heat waves, droughts, and wildfires, on the other. It will also bring tornadoes as oceans warm, affecting air currents. In all such cases, food production will drop off.
  • Bottled water is draining water supplies around the world and clogging landfills with plastic. Canada now exports more bottled water than it imports, selling its spring and ground water all over the world, mostly for the profit of foreign-owned bottled water companies.
  • Individually, Canadians are water gluttons. Second only to Americans in per capita consumption, Canadians use 343 litres per person per day. That’s twice as much as the French and eight times more than the Danes. Whole households in poor countries use an average of 119 litres of water per day. Canadians flush more than that down the toilet every day. And it’s pure drinking water!

OUR WATER FOOTPRINT

Our total water footprint should (but doesn’t) include the water used in producing the food we eat and the manufactured stuff we buy: 

  • 1 pound of beef takes up to 19,000 litres of water
  • 1 pound of carrots requires 125 litres of water
  • Assembling 1 car uses up to 150,000 litres of water
  • Producing 1 plastic container for bottled water uses 7 litres of water
  • 1 sheet of paper requires 10 litres of water     

WATER ACTION

THE CITY OF REGINA

 1. Adopt a water-wise building code requiring the following:

  • greywater hookup in new buildings (using shower water in toilets, for exampl
  • low-flow toilets
  • rain barrels or cisterns to save water for use in gardens or for car-washing
  • solar panels

2. To counter climate change and its impact on water, invest massively in fossil-fuel conservation measures, such as public transit.  

AT HOME

●Turn off the tap ●Install low-flow toilets and shower heads ●Shower less ●Save a flush by saving bath water, kitchen rinsing or ”running to get cold” water, for use in the toilet ●Create a low-water lawn ●Grow vegetables using water from a rain barrel ●Cut out lawn pesticides to avoid poisoning underground water

PERSONAL

  • Buy less STUFF (all STUFF is manufactured with water 
  • Cut the intake of meat, especially beef, in half
  • Drink tap, not bottled, water
  • Use the dishwasher and washing machine ONLY when there is a full load. 
  • Adopt fossil-fuel conservation measures, such as taking the bus, turning off the air conditioner, and installing solar panels 
  • Speak out against the development of tar sands in Saskatchewan

 WORK WITH OTHERS

  • Influence the groups you are in to take water action 
  • Join an organization that is working on water and climate change issues. Such organizations include the Council of Canadians, the Sierra Club, and Oxfam.

SUNDAY JUNE 5: World Environment Day

CHERISH EVERY DROP OF WATER!

Make every day World Environment Day

by taking action for water

 WATER INFORMATION RESOURCES

  • Flow: For Love of Water DVD (2008) 84 minutes. Available at Regina Public Library.
  •  Water on the Table DVD (2010) featuring water warrior Maude Barlow, 79 minutes. Available at Regina Public Library.
  •  The Story of Bottled Water DVD (2010) 8 minutes. Free online.

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CONSUMERISM

Posted by strattof on March 25, 2011

IT’S KILLING US

Consumerism, noun: a social and economic order that equates personal happiness with consumption and the purchase of material possessions; a widespread cultural belief in capitalist societies that more and more STUFF brings happiness and well-being.

Consume, verb: to use up, to destroy, to squander.

This is precisely what our culture of consumerism is doing: using up, destroying, and squandering the earth’s resources–resources that make our lives possible.

CONSUMERISM = SQUANDERING RESOURCES

  • Oxygen-giving forests are ravaged to provide timber and paper products. Much of that timber is transformed into monster houses, which are wasteful both of space and energy.  Some of that paper is (mis)used to print advertisements urging us to buy more stuff. 
  • Aquifers are over-pumped to produce crops used to feed cattle. Many of those cows become fast food McDonald hamburgers.
  • The manufacturing of all that stuff we buy requires lots of water and plenty of energy. The energy comes mainly from fossil fuels and dirty coal. 
  • The earth’s atmosphere is fouled with carbon dioxide emissions from the factories manufacturing the stuff, as well as from cars, and tar sands development. CO2 emissions cause global warming, which is making the earth less habitable for humans.
  • Global warming is causing the glaciers to melt. Glaciers are the source of water for southern Saskatchewan.
  • Stores are crammed with stuff made from the Earth’s resources. Much of that stuff is tossed out shortly after purchase, and ends up in the landfill.

A QUIZ FOR SHOPPERS: 8 QUESTIONS TO ASK OURSELVES EVERY TIME WE GO SHOPPING

  1.  Do I need it?
  2.  How long will it last?
  3.  Could I borrow it from a friend or family member?
  4.  Can I get it second hand?
  5.  How will I dispose of it when I’m done using it?
  6.  What resources have been used to produce it?
  7. Are those resources renewable or nonrenewable?
  8. Is it made from recycled materials and is it recyclable?

ALTERNATIVES TO SHOPPING OR HOW TO FIND TRUE HAPPINESS

Studies show that, after basic needs are met, real happiness comes, not from all that stuff we buy, but rather from such things as ●fulfilling social relationships ●engagement with community ●non-competitive games ●creative activities ●mental and spiritual enrichment ●contact with nature.

We can get out of the rat race by putting a stop to unnecessary shopping. When we are not pressured to work to pay for pointless stuff –a new outfit, a bigger car, the latest gadget–we have more time for activities that can give us lasting happiness.

“Advertising has us chasing cars and clothes, working jobs we hate so we can buy stuff we don’t need.” From the movie Fight Club, based on the novel by Chuck Palahniuk

THE RECOVERING CONSUMER’S PLEDGE

This month, rather than shopping, I will do 2 of the following:

  1. Spend more time with family and friends.
  2. Go out of my way to help someone in my neighbourhood.
  3. Invite someone over for coffee or soup.
  4. Take up a creative activity. Discovering the trendy skill of knitting is one option. Joining a choir is another.
  5. Borrow a book or DVD from the library.
  6. Expand my mind. Take a class.
  7. Play a game with a child or an older person.
  8. Take regular walks around my neighbourhood.
  9. Buy less so I can afford to give more.
  10. Add my strength to a group working for social change. Studies show that activists are healthier! ☺

RESOURCES TO HELP US CHANGE OUR VALUES

The Story of Stuff, available in book form at the library and as a 20 minute animation on line at: http://www.storyofstuff.com/

Linda McQuaig, All You Can Eat: Greed, Lust and the New Capitalism, a book available at Regina Public Library.

The Worldwatch Institute, State of the World 2010: Transforming Cultures from Consumerism to Sustainability, a book available at Regina Public Library. Sections of the book are available on line at http://blogs.worldwatch.org/transformingcultures/about-2/preview/

The Compact, a movement to buy nothing new beyond necessities, for one year. Google “The Compact.”

Earth provides enough to satisfy every man’s need, but not every man’s greed.  –Mahatma Gandhi

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