Archive for 2010 February

Percy vs Monsanto

I attended the Canadian Organic Growers Toronto conference today, and could easily write a dozen posts.  I’ll write about just one speaker, Percy Schmeiser, who I had first listened to perhaps a decade ago or more at a Toronto Vegetarian Association event.  In those days I was not a food activist at all.  I just liked vegetables and wanted to be informed about what I was eating and feeding my family.  So I went to Mr. Schmeiser’s talk then not necessarily expecting to be convinced of the harm of genetically modified foods.

Mr. Schmeiser’s story is one of profound and infuriating wrong.  When I first heard him speak, he was embroiled in a legal battle with Monsanto, which had identified their genetically modified crop on his field, and demanded that he pay for using their patented product.  As a heritage seed developer, he certainly didn’t welcome Monsanto’s “contribution”, which had contaminated all his fields and destroyed 50 years worth of work.  All he did was refuse to pay.  And in retribution, Monsanto dragged him right up to the Supreme Court, counting on the fact that he would succumb to the immense pressure of overwhelming legal bills.     Read more »

2010 Feb 23: Danforth Greens pub night

Monthly Danforth Greens Pub Night
Tuesday, 2010 February 23, 7 pm – 10 pm
in the “Library Room”
729 Danforth Ave, east of Pape

We meet on the last Tuesday of each month.  Please join us!

Happy Valentine’s Day, Year of the Tiger

Valentine's Day, Year of the Tiger image courtesy of Charlene Chua Illustration.Wishing you a happy and prosperous Valentine’s Day and a romantic and sexy Lunar New Year!

[Tiger Valentine image courtesy of Charlene Chua Illustration.]

Why the tar sands will close

Over a year ago, I was directed to a scientific paper by two scientists from NASA’s Goddard Institute, Pushker A. Kharecha and James Hansen, which compared our known reserves of fossil fuels with the carbon we can safely burn without undue risk of destabilizing our climate. This paper concluded that in order to contain atmospheric carbon dioxide below 450 ppm, which would raise global temperatures about 2 degrees above preindustrial levels, we would need to cut down on our use of coal and unconventional oil (like the tar sands), as well as emissions from deforestation.     Read more »

Climate science challenged but strong

These are hard times for those of us working on climate change – scientists, environmentalists, policymakers and others.  The breathless rumours about the death of climate change science from denialists are not only premature, however, they are contrary to what anyone working in the field knows and understands.  The real question is whether we will embrace the science in time to prevent catastrophe.

I was studying Anthropology at the University of Toronto in the early 1980s.  At that time, Richard Leakey and Donald Johanson were embroiled in a bitter feud about the significance of Australopithecus afarensis.  Johanson had found remains of the 3.2 million year old hominid and was sure that it was a human ancestor.  Leakey was initially unwilling even to acknowledge that it deserved its own species name.  Johanson was still fighting off accusations of professional misconduct because he publicized his findings in a popular magazine and gave the specimen the catchy name “Lucy” before submitting his research to peer-review.  Some old textbooks that we used still referred to Piltdown Man, which had been revealed as a fraud four decades before.     Read more »