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Wednesday, February 20, 2008


On February 20th, 2008, Monsanto announced that it was establishing a global seed treatment platform. The global seed treatment platform is a natural complement to the company’s seed strategy as well as our investments in breeding and biotechnology. In line with this announcement, Monsanto announced that it is focused on identifying new proprietary seed-based technologies that can be launched in parallel with our soybean, corn and cotton platforms.

  • In 2009, Monsanto plans to treat all Roundup Ready 2 Yield soybeans with a proprietary treatment. Today less than 25 percent of soybean seeds sold in the United States are treated.

  • In 2010, we plan to have a proprietary seed treatment for the launch of our SmartStax corn product.

  • In 2011, Monsanto plans to have a proprietary seed treatment solution for our Deltapine cotton genetics portfolio.

To support the development of these proprietary seed treatments, the company is currently working to negotiate and finalize a number of licensing and supply agreements. Monsanto announced that it has already formed a number of strategic alliances including separate agreements with Becker Underwood and Plant Health Care Inc. The agreement between Monsanto and Becker Underwood is focused on evaluating a biological seed treatment aimed at helping soybeans improve both their nitrogen fixation ability and overall plant performance. Monsanto is also working with Plant Health Care Inc. to develop and commercialize a novel seed-based solution for nematodes, a plant parasite that can severely limit crop yields around the world in crops such as corn, soybeans, cotton and vegetables.

The global seed treatment industry generates annual sales of greater than $1.5 billion, with almost $900 million in the crops key to Monsanto’s business. Currently, Monsanto treats more than 1 billion pounds of seed each year and sees the potential to expand treatment to new crops and new geographies.

Note from Chi: Notice the use of PROPRIETARY SEED BASED TECHNOLOGIES. What this means is that the farmer has to use seeds treated by Monsanto's patented methodology in order to remain competitive - in the short term. Over the longer term (three or more years) the farmers will be totally dependent on these seeds. Doesn't this ring anyone's alarm bells?


Internet Users worldwide are becoming more and more concerned about their rights to read and to publish in the digital press. Censorship at it's worst can be seen here.


90 percent of genetically modified crops in developing world
By Luisa Massarani, Manila, Feb 19 : Ninety percent of farmers growing genetically modified (GM) crops are in developing countries, according to a report.
The report, by the International Service for the Acquisition of Agri-Biotech Applications (ISAAA), said that GM crops were grown by 11 million small farmers in 2007 - 90 percent of the GM-growing farmers worldwide.

This was an increase of 18.3 percent from 2006, when some 9.3 million small farmers were represented, Scidev.net reported.

In terms of area, the biggest GM producer is still the US, followed by Argentina, Brazil, Canada, India and China.

"With increasing food prices globally, the benefits of biotech crops have never been more important," said Clive James, co-author of the report and chairman of ISAAA, a non-profit organisation that promotes biotechnology for the poor.

According to the report, 23 countries - 12 of which were developing nations - planted GM crops in 2007, on 114.3 million hectares worldwide. Of the total, 43 percent of the crop area was in developing countries.

Brazil saw the largest absolute increase in area under GM crop cultivation in 2007 - 3.5 million hectares - retaining its position as the third largest adopter of GM crops with an estimated 15 million hectares.

Earlier, environmental organisation Friends of the Earth released a report that differs from ISAAA findings.

Friends of the Earth say GM crops are not alleviating hunger and poverty. They argue that the majority of GM crops are not aimed at the poor and are instead used for animal feed, biofuels and highly processed food products for consumption in rich countries.

Their report also points out that GM crops designed to be herbicide tolerant have spawned herbicide-resistant weeds in Argentina, Brazil and the US, thereby encouraging greater use of chemicals to control them.
--- IANS

So the crops being grown are not food crops for people? Is that worse or better for people and for the environment? Are farmers in developing nations truly benefiting from GM crops or it it a matter of short term gain at the expense of long-term survival?

Monday, February 18, 2008


"F.B.I. Gained Unauthorized Access to E-Mail

WASHINGTON — A technical glitch gave the F.B.I. access to the e-mail messages from an entire computer network — perhaps hundreds of accounts or more — instead of simply the lone e-mail address that was approved by a secret intelligence court as part of a national security investigation, according to an internal report of the 2006 episode.
F.B.I. officials blamed an “apparent miscommunication” with the unnamed Internet provider, which mistakenly turned over all the e-mail from a small e-mail domain for which it served as host. The records were ultimately destroyed, officials said.

Bureau officials noticed a “surge” in the e-mail activity they were monitoring and realized that the provider had mistakenly set its filtering equipment to trap far more data than a judge had actually authorized.

The episode is an unusual example of what has become a regular if little-noticed occurrence, as American officials have expanded their technological tools: government officials, or the private companies they rely on for surveillance operations, sometimes foul up their instructions about what they can and cannot collect.

The problem has received no discussion as part of the fierce debate in Congress about whether to expand the government’s wiretapping authorities and give legal immunity to private telecommunications companies that have helped in those operations.

But an intelligence official, who spoke on condition of anonymity because surveillance operations are classified, said: “It’s inevitable that these things will happen. It’s not weekly, but it’s common.”

A report in 2006 by the Justice Department inspector general found more than 100 violations of federal wiretap law in the two prior years by the Federal Bureau of Investigation, many of them considered technical and inadvertent.

Bureau officials said they did not have updated public figures but were preparing them as part of a wider-ranging review by the inspector general into misuses of the bureau’s authority to use so-called national security letters in gathering phone records and financial documents in intelligence investigations.

In the warrantless wiretapping program approved by President Bush after the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks, technical errors led officials at the National Security Agency on some occasions to monitor communications entirely within the United States — in apparent violation of the program’s protocols — because communications problems made it difficult to tell initially whether the targets were in the country or not.

Past violations by the government have also included continuing a wiretap for days or weeks beyond what was authorized by a court, or seeking records beyond what were authorized. The 2006 case appears to be a particularly egregious example of what intelligence officials refer to as “overproduction” — in which a telecommunications provider gives the government more data than it was ordered to provide.

The problem of overproduction is particularly common, F.B.I. officials said. In testimony before Congress in March 2007 regarding abuses of national security letters, Valerie E. Caproni, the bureau’s general counsel, said that in one small sample, 10 out of 20 violations were a result of “third-party error,” in which a private company “provided the F.B.I. information we did not seek.”

The 2006 episode was disclosed as part of a new batch of internal documents that the F.B.I. turned over to the Electronic Frontier Foundation, a nonprofit group in San Francisco that advocates for greater digital privacy protections, as part of a Freedom of Information Act lawsuit the group has brought. The group provided the documents on the 2006 episode to The New York Times."


Bill of Rights for Federal Scientists

A Bill of Rights for Scientists
The Union of Concerned Scientists wants Congress to pass a Scientists' Bill of Rights to protect federal researchers from political pressure and intrusion. Steve Mirsky reports. For more information, go to http://www.ucsusa.org/scientificfreedom.

On February 14th, the Union of Concerned Scientists issued a call for the protection of federal scientists. The UCS press conference took place in space made available by the American Association for the Advancement of Science, whose annual meeting is taking place in Boston. Francesca Grifo is the director of the UCS’s scientific integrity program: “As we transition to the next administration, regardless of who we vote to place at its helm, we must ensure that the falsifying of data; the fabricating of results; the selective editing; the intimidation, censoring and suppression of scientists; the corruption of advisory panels; and the tampering with scientific procedures all stop.”

To that end, the UCS wants Congress to pass a scientists’ bill of rights. Kurt Gottfriend is professor of physics emeritus at Cornell University and a cofounder of the UCS: “We therefore call on the next president and Congress to codify the basic freedoms that federal scientists must have if they are to produce the scientific knowledge that is needed by a government dedicated to the public good.”

—Steve Mirsky, at the AAAS conference in Boston

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Found this in Slashdot.com (News for Nerds)

Full Lunar Eclipse for the Americas on Wednesday

Posted by Zonk on Saturday February 16, @08:35PM
from the ooo-spooky dept.
KingArthur10 writes "It will be the last lunar eclipse until December 2010, and it should be spectacular. Shades of turquoise and red will pour over the moon's surface as it moves into the Earth's shadow around 8:43pm EST. As NASA reports: 'Transiting the shadow's core takes about an hour. The first hints of red appear around 10 pm EST (7 pm PST), heralding a profusion of coppery hues that roll across the Moon's surface enveloping every crater, mountain and moon rock, only to fade away again after 11 pm EST (8 pm PST). No special filter or telescope is required to see this spectacular event. It is a bright and leisurely display visible from cities and countryside alike. While you're watching, be alert for another color: turquoise. Observers of several recent lunar eclipses have reported a flash of turquoise bracketing the red of totality ... The source of the turquoise is ozone.' So, all of you amateur astronomers need to get out there and take pictures. It might be worthwhile sharing them on sites like SpaceWeather or Flickr so that our Asian, European, African, and Australian brethren can witness the sight as well."

Monsanto Rules

Monsanto millionaires see fortunes rise as stock more than doubles
BizJournals Sun, 17 Feb 2008 10:38 PM PST
Thirteen Monsanto Co. executives and directors sold more than $59 million worth of stock Nov. 15 through Feb. 4, benefiting from sky-high share prices boosted by record sales and profits.

Monsanto execs make millions on potentially dangerous products. Monsanto makes Round-up, a patented herbicide. Monsanto holds the patent on and produces seed for genetically modified crops that are not killed by Round-up. Farmers can then plant these crops and use Round-up to kill weeds without harming their cash crop. Nice and easy for the farmer. Until he realizes that he's stuck with the genetically modified crop available only from Monsanto and the herbicide available only from Monsanto. As more and more large farms are moving to these products, Monsanto gains control over more and more of the world's food supply. When the billions of people on the planet are dependent on one source for food, Monsanto rules the world. Think about it.

Of Politicians and Poultry


Sunday, February 17, 2008


Pushing the Colorado to its limit

By Matt Ford | Published: February 13, 2008 - 09:35AM CT

Lake Mead is the largest man-made lake in the United States; it consists of the water from the Colorado River held behind the Hoover Dam. Through a series of aqueducts, it supplies water to much of the southwestern United States. However, if current and projected water usage patterns and predicted climate change scenarios occur, then, according to a pair of researchers from the Scripps Institute of Oceanography, Lake Mead may dry up.

[] Without Lakes Mead and Powell, the researchers say that the Colorado river system will not have enough of a buffer to withstand a dry year or a sustained drought. Marine physicist Tim Barnett and climate scientist David Pierce computed that the Colorado river system is experiencing a net water loss of almost one million acre-feet of water per year. The amount of water being lost in a single year would be enough to supply eight million individuals.

The scientists' analysis was based on Federal Bureau of Reclamation records of past water demand and calculations of scheduled water allocations and climate conditions. Their results showed that, even if steps are taken towards implementing mitigation procedures, then the system could still run dry. Their paper is scheduled to be published in an upcoming edition of the AGU journal Water Resources Research. The effect of climate change in their work was factored in through a decrease in runoff entering the river using numbers reported in other peer reviewed journals. The other articles forecasted a consistent reduction between 10 and 30 percent over the next 30 to 50 years­that's enough water to affect between 12 and 36 million people.

The end result is that there is as much as a 10 percent chance that Lake Mead will be dry by 2014, and a 50 percent chance it will be dry by 2021. In addition, they calculated that there is a 50 percent chance the water level will be too low to use to generate hydroelectric power by 2017.

The duo state that they used conservative estimates of the situations relevant to their calculations, which means that reality could be worse then their predictions. They end their paper with the following: "Today, we are at or beyond the sustainable limit of the Colorado system. The alternative to reasoned solutions to this coming water crisis is a major societal and economic disruption in the desert southwest; something that will affect each of us living in the region."

Water Resources Research, 2008. To be published

Conspiracy Theory or Connecting the Dots?

Check out this link! It does seem that the Bush family is involved in the 9/11 attack up to their wallets. So why Iraq instead of Saudi Arabia? Read the link and then start adding two and two.

About Me

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I live on the Pacific slopes of the Talamanca mountain range in southern Costa Rica. My adult children live in the United States. I have a Masters Degree in Gerontology but have worked as a migrant laborer, chicken egg collector, radio broadcaster, secretary, social worker, research director, bureaucrat, writer, editor, political organizer, publicist, telephone operator, and more. My hobby of photography has garnered some awards.

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