ENVIROBITES – The Home Front

Urban coyotes


There are an estimated 2,000 to 3,000 coyotes (Canis latrans) living in Greater Vancouver. Coyote encounters are common and the need to better understand this population is growing.


Phil Dubrulle, Stanley Park Ecology Society’s “Co-Existing with Coyotes” program coordinator, explains, “Spring is denning season for coyotes and with new pups to protect, coyote behaviour shifts so they may become more territorial close to den sites” from April to June. Pups typically emerge from the den around four to five weeks after birth and the family will stop using the den after eight to 10 weeks. Den sites are generally hard to find, as coyotes will build them behind thick, natural barriers such as thorny blackberry bushes often in golf courses or parks. In the urban environment, coyotes have adapted their denning strategy to also include digging holes under manmade structures such as the foundations of buildings.

Dubrulle adds, “If you are aware of an active den site, there are three basic steps you can take to ensure the safety of people, pets and the coyotes themselves. Report den sites and pup sightings to the Co-Existing with Coyotes program so we can help to inform and educate the community. People and pets should avoid the identified area from mid-April through early June. Keep a watchful eye out for people leaving food in the area. Some people believe they are helping the coyotes by feeding them when, in fact, they are contributing to coyotes becoming habituated to humans, which may ultimately lead to conflicts.

“People spend more time outdoors during the longer daylight hours and they are thus more likely to encounter coyotes. Coyotes are wild animals and they should be treated with caution and respect.” If you see a coyote, call or email the Co-Existing with Coyotes hotline: 604-681-WILD.

A non-profit organization since 1988, the Stanley Park Ecology Society promotes awareness of and respect for the natural world by playing a leadership role in the stewardship of Stanley Park through collaborative initiatives in education, research and conservation.

The world at large

World not ready for genetically engineered trees

The genetically engineered tree company ArborGen, a joint project of timber corporations International Paper, MeadWestvaco and Rubicon, decided suddenly on May 12 to change its plans and not sell shares in ArborGen publicly on the NASDAQ exchange, suggesting the company recognizes the market is not ready to support GE trees. globaljusticeecology.org

No artificially drought tolerant corn on the horizon

Monsanto has asked the US to approve a GM “drought tolerant” corn, but the US Department of Agriculture says the GM version is no better than non-GM corn varieties. The USDA notes, “Equally comparable varieties produced through conventional breeding techniques are readily available in irrigated corn production regions.” Monsanto’s rivals DuPont and Syngenta both announced new non-GM drought tolerant corn varieties earlier this year. Indigenous non-GM drought tolerant crop varieties are also readily available.

Bolivia passes first-ever Law of Mother Earth

On Earth Day, something groundbreaking happened in Bolivia. The country passed the Law of Mother Earth, the world’s first piece of legislation that gives the natural world rights equal to those of humans. Bolivia has long suffered from serious environmental problems from the mining of tin, silver, gold and other raw materials. Farmers have also had land and crops decimated by multinational corporations. Existing laws to protect natural resources were not strong enough. The Law of Mother Earth includes the following:

  • The right to maintain the integrity of life and natural processes.
  • The right to not have cellular structure modified or genetically altered.
  • The right to continue vital cycles and processes free from human alteration.
  • The right to pure water.
  • The right to clean air.
  • The right to balance, to be at equilibrium.
  • The right to be free of toxic and radioactive pollution.
  • The right to not be affected by mega-infrastructure and development projects that affect the balance of ecosystems and the local inhabitant communities

The law also promotes “harmony” and “peace” and “the elimination of all nuclear, chemical, biological” weapons.

– by Jordan Namerow. Posted at ajws.org

GM food labelling sovereignty

There is one more step, but if approved at another meeting this summer, the language finalized May 12 at a UN Codex meeting in Quebec would allow any country to pass its own national GM [genetically modified] food labelling laws without worrying about the US or Canada bringing a trade challenge under the World Trade Organization.

Making history

After 10 years of campaigning, any product containing GMOs must now be placed on separate shelving in supermarkets in Cyprus. This is the first such law in Europe.

Peru fights for food sovereignty

The Minister of Agriculture in Peru resigned, apparently motivated by the criticisms against him over his support for the introduction of GM crops in Peru and his relationship to a company that uses these products. Different sectors of society in Peru, including some of the most important groups of farmers, scientists and chefs, have formed a coalition to fight GMOs to “… ensure respect for the rights of food sovereignty and security obtained through biodiversity, agriculture and Peruvian cuisine.”

Experts no match for India’s environment minister

The moratorium on GM eggplant (brinjal) in India is likely to continue, despite the expert committee set up by the environment ministry favouring “limited release” of the crop. Environment minister Jairam Ramesh has made it clear his ministry was against such a move, saying, “There is no such thing as limited release.”

Monsanto patents the melon

Research conducted by the European coalition No Patents on Seeds! shows that in May 2011 Monsanto was awarded a European patent on conventionally bred melons (EP 1 962 578). Melons have a natural resistance to certain plant viruses. It is especially evident in melons grown in India. Using conventional breeding methods, this type of resistance was introduced to other melons and has now been patented as a Monsanto “invention.” In a precedent decision, the European Patent Office (EPO) decided in December 2010 that conventional breeding could not be patented. However, the EPO just excluded the process for melon breeding. The plants and all parts of the plant, such as the seeds and the melon fruit, have been patented as an invention.

From the Canadian Biotechnology Action Network www.cban.ca Donate today to support the Network’s various campaigns.

photo © Larry Jordan


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