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AG00119_.gif (2913 bytes)EcoNews reaches thousands of people each month, including every MLA in BC and every CRD municipal politician. It’s 95% funded by donations from readers like you. If you value the information it provides, will you support it with a donation?

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Contact Econews

Guy Dauncey, Editor
395 Conway Road, Victoria, BC
CANADA V9E 2B9
Tel (250) 881-1304
www.earthfuture.com

Executive director of The Solutions Project

 
Econews

Newsletter No. 159 - Serving the Vision of a Sustainable Vancouver Island - May 2006

Now available as PDF's! Front (PDF94kb) - Middle (PDF247kb) - Green Diary (PDF78kb)


COULD ORGANIC FARMING FEED THE WHOLE WORLD?

It is a critically important question, for five reasons:

1. Sooner or later, the world is going to run out of the oil and gas that are used to make fertilizers and pesticides, and the evidence points to "sooner" rather than "later". Ever since 1961, we have discovered less new oil every year. The oil that we have become addicted to will soon become very expensive.

2. The global climate crisis demands that we stop producing greenhouse gases. Industrial farming produces 8% of the world’s emissions through CO2, methane from cattle, and nitrous oxide from nitrogen fertilizers.

3. It is only with organic farming that food retains the anti-oxidants, salicylic acids, and salvestrols that plants use to fight off insects, fungi, and competing plants, giving us protection against cancer and other diseases. Organically raised cows produce milk which contains 50% more vitamin E, 75% more beta carotene (which our bodies convert to Vitamin A), two to three times higher levels of anti-oxidants, and more omega 3 essential fatty acids.

4. Over the past 50 years, the level of nutrients in food in the developed world has fallen by 50% as industrial farming has leached the nutrients out of the soil, replacing them with fertilizers. A British study found that compared with the 1930s, the mineral content of milk, cheese and beef grown today has fallen by as much as 70%.

5. Organic farming restores the much-needed wildlife that is disappearing from our world. Another British study found that a typical organic field has five times as many wild plants, 57% more species, 44% more birds in cultivated areas, twice as many skylarks, and twice as many butterflies as a non-organic farm.

So could organic farming feed the world if there was a wholesale shift? Or would we be forced to "turn wilderness and parkland to farmland and reduce biodiversity, at tremendous cost and no benefit", as Patrick Moore claims, or that "The first impact of a global mandate for organic farming would be the plow-down of 5 to 10 million square miles of wildlife habitat, much of it in the densely populated tropics, which have perhaps 100 times as many wild species per square mile as the US or Europe," as Dennis Avery of the right-leaning Hudson Institute claims?

The evidence that organic farming could in fact feed the world is quite stunning. In the May/June 2006 issue of World Watch Magazine, Brian Halweil examines the question. He finds that there are "myriad studies from around the world showing that organic farms can produce about as much as, and in some settings much more than conventional farms." "The long-standing argument that organic farming would yield just one-third or one-half of conventional farming was based on biased assumptions and lack of data."

In North America and Europe, a survey of 200 studies showed that taken overall, organic yields were about 80% of conventional yields, with many studies showing a narrowing gap. Reviewing 154 growing seasons’ worth of data on various crops, agricultural scientist Bill Leiphardt found that organic corn yields were 94%, organic wheat yields 97%, and organic soybean yields 94% of conventional crops. Organic tomatoes showed no yield loss at all. One organic farmer in Michigan raised 27 tons of vegetables on six-tenths of an acre in a short season.

In the developing world, where hunger sends so many to bed with empty stomachs, a study of over 200 agricultural projects found that for all of the projects, involving 9 million farms on nearly 30 million hectares, yields increased by an average of 93%. The organic farms are growing almost twice as much as the conventional farms. Furthermore, the yield increases are highest and most consistent in precisely the poor, dry, remote areas of the world where hunger is the most severe.

When a team from the University of Michigan applied this data to a global model, looking at total conversion to organic methods, they found that for the world as a whole, organic methods yielded 4,381 calories per person, which is 75% more than is achieved today, and significantly higher than the average caloric requirement for a healthy person of between 2,200 and 2,500 calories a day.

They also found that greater use of nitrogen-fixing crops could result in 40% more nitrogen being fixed than is achieved by the synthetic nitrogen today, without any additional land area being needed to cultivate the crops.

So there we have it. A worldwide transition to organic farming could produce more food, with far higher nutrient qualities, while protecting the world’s forests, wilderness and wildlife.

So now we need to plan for the full conversion of every farm in Canada, before the energy crisis hits.

Guy Dauncey


ECONEWS

AG00119_.gif (2913 bytes)A monthly newsletter, funded by your donations, that dreams of a world blessed by the harmony of nature, the pleasures of community, & the joys of personal fulfillment, protected and guided by active citizenship.

Donations can be sent to EcoNews, 395 Conway Rd, Victoria, BC, V9E 2B9. For a receipt send stamped addressed envelope.

Donations can also be sent by PayPal, please send to GuyDauncey@EarthFuture.com, be sure to 'earmark' it to EcoNews.

The Money

Mar

Apr

May

Copies printed

2000

2000

2000

Sent by email

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2362

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Editorial

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You?

Advertising

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Balance

$1154 $503

A big thankyou to Dan Schubart, Harv Maser, Cliff Boldt, Helen Lane, Moireen Phillips, Nora Layard, Kathleen Sogge, Thor Henrich, Paul Gareau, Elke Schlufter, Jim Hackler, Sharon Haave, Bonnie Cruickshank, Garry Oak Meadow Preservation Society, & David Greer.


THE ECO-CORNER
$5/line (non-profits, low-income free)
1" box $40, $2" box $70. Insert $180

* VEGAN HOUSE! Seeking responsible, progressive, positive, eco-friendly veggie for 5bdrm house in Oak Bay, May 1st or after! veganhouse [-at-] gmail.com 598-0194

* Charming guest room, $25/night. Cook St Village, ocean. 250-361-3102

* Courtenay Cohousing Call 250-338-0187 www.creeksidecommons.ca

* Female roomate needed. Beautiful character house in Quadra village. Garden potential. Big and bright. $467 incl. Queer-friendly. 386-0020

* Garden suite for rent, spacious, new, furnished, blocks from UVic, utilities included except phone. $750 381-7580.

* Small house on rural acreage, well and septic. Garden space, landscaped yard. Semi-furnished, sunroom, sunlights, 4-burner gas stove. Private, quiet, no kids, no pets. $750. 652-2613

* Seeking partners to buy land for Permaculture centre somewhere in SW BC. rainwalk@mars.ark.com

* Small house on rural acreage, well and septic. Garden space, landscaped yard. Semi-furnished, sunroom, skylights, 4-burner gas stove. Private, quiet, no kids, no pets. $750. 652-2613

* CRD Parks is seeking applications for Volunteer Naturalists to welcome & inspire visitors at our nature centres. 478-3344 www.crd.bc.ca/parks.

* For Sale: 1990 Mazda MPV van. $3995. Great condition, one previous owner (also a greenie!). Carolyn & Guy, 881-1555.

* Needed - someone with a good sense of smell to view rental accommodation for me to identify if there are any odors in different places (scents, incense, cigarette smoke, chemicals) or mold.  Pay negotiable.  Annie, 380-1259

* Saanich Environmental Advisory Cte seeks nominations for its annual environmental awards. Call 475-5494 local 3408. Deadline is 4pm May 17th.

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ETHICAL INVESTING
The Pinch Group
Connecting your money with your values
www.pinchgroup.ca
250-405-2468

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ON YER BIKE!

It’s spring, it’s warm, you’ve got no more excuses. Dust off the saddle, oil the chain, and off you go! And hey, why not jump in? May 29th to June 4th is Bike to Work Week. Last year, 5,919 cyclists took part, including 947 new cyclists (first time commuters), and 40% women. Workplaces organize teams, and there are prizes and challenges – and a free one-day Bike to Work Skills course, in case you’ve forgotten your hand signals. The launch in on May 29th (See Diary). See www.biketoworkvictoria.ca

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CANCER and SALVESTROLS

Last month EcoNews broke the news on salvestrols, the cancer-fighting compounds that are absent from most food unless it is grown organically. (Salvestrols are a plant’s natural fungicide. If a plant is sprayed with a chemical fungicide, it does not need to generate them). As well as being available in organic food, a company called Nature’s Defence is making them available in capsule form for people who have cancer, sourcing the salvestrols from old-fashioned varieties of orange grown organically in China (1 capsule contains the salvestrols from 20 kg of fruit). The clinical trials will be ready in 5 years, and until then, results are viewed as anecdotal, but they are still very impressive.

When Prof. Gerry Potter, Professor of Medicinal Chemistry and Director of the Cancer Drug Discovery Group at the Leicester School of Pharmacy, England, spoke in Victoria in April, he reported that among people under doctor’s supervision with terminal cancer who had been through chemo and radiation with no effect, 35% were given the "all clear" after using salvestrols. This includes people who had cancer of the breast, prostate, ovarian, testicular, brain, liver, lung, myosarcoma, and throat, and non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma. The best response came from those who took the capsules and also changed their diet and started exercising.

Among those whose cancers are not terminal, Potter thinks the response rates will be much higher. There is a remarkable story from Ken Shannon, a teacher, reiki master, and Qigong teacher from Powell River who was diagnosed with terminal prostate cancer. I don’t want to sound like someone pitching pills, so I encourage you to read his story in his own words: www.sohumone.com/Salvestrol.html. The capsules are being distributed in Canada by the Health Action Network Society. See www.salvestrol.ca

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Looking for a community that cherishes the Earth,
challenges the mind, and nurtures the spirit?  You'll be welcome here.

www.victoriaunitarian.ca/eco.php

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QUEBEC BANS PESTICIDES

One of the few scientific hold-outs for the "pesticides make greener lawns" companies in BC has been the belief that the weed killer 2,4-D was perfectly safe, backed by the federal Pest Management Regulatory Agency’s ruling that it did not cause cancer.

In April, however, a report in the journal Pediatrics and Child Health showed that 2,4-D is "persuasively linked" to cancer, neurological impairment and reproductive problems. Its authors said the Agency’s assessment was based mainly on animal studies, which cannot predict human consequences, that many of the studies were confidential and supplied by the manufacturers themselves, and that its assessment did not meet the necessary standards for ethics, rigour, or transparency in medical research.

Quebec didn’t wait for the new study. Following common sense and the precautionary principle, the province has passed a comprehensive ban on many domestic products that use chemicals considered toxic to humans and the environment. 210 lawn-care products are now off the market. The un-used stock (you’ll like this) is being transferred for sale in Ontario and western Canada.

Simultaneously, Pat Martin, NDP MP for Winnipeg Centre, has tabled a private members bill that would require pesticide manufacturers to prove that their products are safe before being placed on the market, rather than regulators having to prove they’re harmful. Well, there’s an idea!! From 1976 to 2001, the age-adjusted cancer-rate among males increased by 27.7%, and among females by 17.8%.

Here in the CRD, we are still waiting for a city councillor to have the guts to bring the model Pesticide Use By-Law to the table. How many more people must get cancer before someone acts? Why are our councils so limp when it comes to protecting our health? (See www.crd.bc.ca/rte/pest) 

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Elite Earth-Friendly Dry Cleaners

Victoria’s only solvent free dry cleaner
1019 Cook St. 381-2221
Mon-Fri 8-6 Sat 10-4
www.greendrycleaner.com 

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IN THE WILDS OF THE WEST

Tyrone Danlock is a nature-lover and backwoodsman who has spent many a long day alone in the forests, meadows and mountain slopes of the Yukon, Alberta and BC. "I apologize to no-one for liking wild animals just as they are – alive – and for wanting Nature’s ecosystems to remain intact and alive."

Now, living in Qualicum Beach, he has assembled his writings into a book of essays that are rough, beautiful, and very immediate. He takes you with him to the moment when the beaver kits come out of the den, and to face-to-face meetings with black bears and mountain goats.

Most of us could spend a lifetime in British Columbia and never come close to the vast realm of undisturbed nature that Tyrone has hiked, camped, explored, observed, and slept in. To enjoy his book is therefore a treat most rare that we should all indulge.

We live surrounded by an ancient, secret world for the entry to which most of us will never learn the password. Tyrone has the password, and he gives us an enormous gift by sharing what he has seen, felt, and learnt.

His book is self-published with Trafford (see www.trafford.com/04-1275) or from Tyrone at sunrise@mountainwild.ca. It’s also in Crown Publications on Fort St, the Western Canada Wilderness Committee store at 651 Johnson St, and at Volume 1 Books in Duncan. $37


Charles Douglas, nature.ca

 

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The Garden Path Nursery
Certified Organic Vegetables, Fruits, Seeds, Ornamentals, and Workshops

Open April 1st to July 3rd
Daily 10am to 5:30pm
395 Conway Rd, Victoria 250-881-1555
www.earthfuture.com/gardenpath

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CONFERENCES BLOOM IN JUNE

For those with an involvement with communities, June could be the ultimate high. It starts in Cumberland on June 8 & 9 with the 4th Annual Saving Small Towns Conference, with the theme "Building Community". In keeping with Cumberland’s small-town character, it’s a great chance to pause, talk, and learn about approaches that are generating success in small towns elsewhere. See http://cumberland.ihostez.com/siteengine/activepage.asp?PageID=85 Or call 250-890-0519

A week later in Victoria (June 15-17) we move to a grander level with "Gaining Ground: Sustainable Urban Development Leadership Summit" at the Laurel Point Inn. Speakers include Maurice Strong, Storm Cunningham (Author of The Restoration Economy) and James Kunstler (will suburbia collapse as the oil runs out?), and presentations on Dockside Green, Loreto Bay in Baja Maxico, and the Noisette Project in South Carolina. See www.gaininggroundsummit.com.

Then (June 19-23) we move to the global level with the World Urban Forum III in Vancouver, when thousands will gather from every corner of the Earth to discuss how we can turn the cities of the world into green paradises. It’s free. See www.unhabitat.org/wuf/2006

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THE EARTH-EATERS

Exxon’s retiring CEO, Lee Raymond, has spent the last decade trashing talk of global climate change and financing climate skeptics who have fed the North America belief that the well-oiled life can continue for ever. In 2005 he was paid $69.7 million. His retirement package is worth nearly $400 million. Hmm…

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FOOD FOR THOUGHT

"The consequences of a rise of 3° C, described last week by the UK government's chief scientific adviser, Sir David King, as ‘likely’, would be calamitous: a worldwide drop in cereal crops of between 20m and 400m tonnes, 400 million more people put at risk of hunger, and 3 billion people left at risk of flooding and without access to fresh water supplies. There can be no doubt about it: climate change is the most serious emergency the human species has faced."

- Robert McFarlane, Guardian, April 22

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THE WONDERFUL WORLD OF WEB

Some sites that have passed my way:

How big is the patch? Check this:

 

ACTION OF THE MONTH

GLOBAL CLIMATE CHANGE: TELL RONA TO STOP DREAMING!

At the end of April, the BC Sustainable Energy Association delivered a copy of the TIME Magazine Special Report on Global Warming to every MP in Ottawa. The magazine’s cover carries a picture of a polar bear floating on a few square meters of ice, and the words "BE WORRIED, BE VERY WORRIED: Climate change isn’t some vague future problem – it’s already damaging the planet at an alarming pace."

The Tory government has said that it wants to join the "anti-Kyoto" group known as the Asia-Pacific Partnership on Clean Development and Climate. a talking shop made up of the US, China, India, Australia, Japan, and South Korea which focuses on trade and the transfer of technologies to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, without setting any targets or timelines.

According to a late April survey, 90% of Canadians rate climate change as a serious problem. In response to the crisis, the Tory government has slashed Environment Canada’s climate change budget by 80%, and promises to produce its own "made in Canada’ proposals to reduce greenhouse gases.

They say the Liberals achieved very little. No wonder: many good proposals were blocked or sabotaged by the very same Albertan oil interests that are dripping in profits, and support the Tories. While the planet burns, the Tories get rid of the fire brigade.

Action: Please write to the Rt. Hon. Rona Ambrose, Minister of Environment, and plead, persuade, cajole, entice, convince, coax, reason, exhort, or in any way prevail upon her to come to her senses.

House of Commons
Ottawa K1A 0A6
Ambrose.R@parl.gc.ca

Tel 613-996-9778
Fax: 613-996-0785


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EcoNews, Guy Dauncey
395 Conway Road, Victoria
V9E 2B9
Tel/Fax (250) 881-1304

Author of "Stormy Weather: 101 Solutions to Global Climate Change"
(New Society Publishers)
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