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Showing posts from October, 2010

Planet Diversity Anti-GMO Protest In Nagoya: Photos

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Over 1,000 people participated in the Planet Diversity parade on October 15, 2010 in Nagoya. More people attended this event than two years ago in Bonn, Germany.

Planet Diversity



2 years ago, during the COP9 MOP4 negotiations, the Planet Diversity Parade had some 700 participants.

Here in Japan, activists, farmers, consumers, kids, invited guests from Korea, Malaysia, Canada, Australia, Sweden ... A wonderful march throught he busy streets of Nagoya, under intense police protection, with front-page newspaper coverage.

Seems to me that the push for healthy, organic foods, farming without pesticides and chemical fertilizers, by farmers who care about biological diversity, rejecting patents on seeds, is gaining some tremendous momentum around the world.

View as a Slide Show!
















Last Minutes From MOP5-COP10 In Nagoya

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You can watch the livewebcast from the United Nations biodiversity conference on this website (this is as good as it gets):

COP10/MOP5 IMC

3 documents are left late Friday night: One is clear (no square brackets) and two that still need discussion.

More later.

Update 7:

India notes that this has been the most successful of all COP meetings. India is eagerly looking forward to welcoming you all to India in 2011. Sayonara!

Update 6:

At 2:20AM, the representative of the indigenous people also mentions the struggle of the people in Okinawa against the construction of a military base in the sensitive Henoko area.

Update 5:

Malaysia is commenting that 2 protocols have been adopted in Nagoya, including the Nagoya-Kuala Lumpur Supplementary Protocol on the Cartagena Protocol about liability and redress in case of damage caused by genetically modified organisms.

You lose some, you gain some, but Malaysia feels confident that the new treaty on Access and Benefit Sharing (ABS) will make sure that genetic…

Nagoya Updates: Biological Diversity Not For Sale

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Mattias Ahren, representative of the Saami people from Northern Scandinavia, is in Nagoya to defend traditional knowledge in the ABS negotiations.

Photo: Winnifred Bird, who blogs for Earth Island Journal

ABS means Access and Benefit Sharing, and it may be the straw that broke the camel's back... As the Arab saying goes.

Winnifred Bird notes:

This Wednesday, while the pre-COP 10 biosafety conference was still mid-stride, a negotiating session began down the hall to finalize an Access and Benefit Sharing (ABS) Protocol to the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD). The Protocol deals with genetic resources and associated traditional knowledge that's collected in one country and used in another (for example, the DNA of a plant from Brazil used to develop medicine in Canada). The press corps immediately moved camp to the hallway outside the meetings, which were cordoned off on the grounds that they were "highly sensitive." I followed, because those negotiations could very…

Webcast Service From COP10 In Nagoya

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The webcasts from the conference about biological diversity in Nagoya are quite a good way to get a feeling for international negotiations, if that's your thing ;) They have both a live on air feed and an on demand library of videos from the main events.

For example, if you want to know more about the treaty about liability and redress for genetically modified crops (we now have a new agreement that will put pressure on the biotech industry in case they cause damage to the environment or human health) please watch this video from the plenary session on Oct 16:

COP-MOP5 Plenary session adopting the new liability and redress treaty (196 min, the good bit - the adoption of the treaty - starts around 118 min and there is a good speech at around 158 min)

Asahi Shinbun also had this story today: GM treaty requires compensation

New rules aimed at exacting compensation from businesses or organizations that allow internationally traded genetically modified crops to spread into the wild were a…

NHK: "COP10 Members At Odds On Bioresources"

Just quoting this as the mighty NHK here in Japan does not provide a record of what they report, and I think bloggers [should][may][must] try to act as a memory of things that happen that we care about:

Member countries of the UN Convention on Biological Diversity remain at odds over how to share benefits derived from biological resources.

A 4-day preparatory meeting ended in the central Japanese city of Nagoya on Saturday without agreement on the contentious issues. The participating countries will continue talks at the 10th meeting of the Conference of the Parties, or COP10, starting on Monday.

The signatory countries were expected to discuss the issue of biological resources, with the goal of setting up international rules and adopting a protocol. They agreed on the less divisive issues.

But they failed to reach a resolution on ways to prevent companies from industrialized nations from using biological resources without developing countries' permission.

They were also unable to agre…

Videos From Nagoya COP10/MOP5 About Biodiversity

Last weekend, there was a parade of some 1000-2000 people walking in central Nagoya, under severe police protection, with farmers, anti-GMO activists, housewifes and kids (many from co-ops and organic Teikei networks around Japan), as well as invited guests from South Korea, Malaysia and Canada (and Sweden).

I did a quick search and found a few videos on Youtube:





BBC Editor [Explains] [Provides Poor Excuse For] [Has No Idea] About COP10 In Nagoya

Just found this gem from the BBC Editors Blog, where they try to explain why the international media has been totally absent from the UN negotiations during the past week in Nagoya.

The [lack of] [lackluster] media coverage of a major international treaty having been finalized (about liability and redress issues regarding damage from genetically modified organisms) and lack of progress about the controversial topic of Access and Benefit Sharing of genetic resources (a deep divide between the resource-rich countries in the south and the north, where biotech industries want to patent and profit from said resources) is depressing.

The BBC editor [explains] [cops out saying] [makes some good points but fails to get to the core of the problem that media is no longer telling people what is really going on]:

The Convention on Biodiversity was established at the Rio Earth Summit in 1992 with the aim of preventing the creeping extinction of the various forms of life on earth which are under thre…

Biopiracy Revisited In Nagoya

Very briefly, as I am going from meeting to meeting, and the next session starts in 15 minutes: the negotiators of the Access and Benefit treaty has made some progress, they claim, having completed 19 articles with 23 remaining. They have until October 29 to finalize the important treaty, that they are referring to as "the heart of the Convention on Biological Diversity." Very difficult negotiations on issues like monitoring and compliance, and how to make sure that researchers actually have "prior informed consent" from the people in the region where he or she got a particular genetic resource...

I am mostly in the room with the compliance talks (Article 13) and it was interesting how the different groupings are very careful to not give in on any issue. For example, there is talk about creating check-points, and if they should be national authorities, or research institutions, or even the patent offices (many coutries in Europe use this as a way to control if genet…

Anti-GMO Parade For Biodiversity In Nagoya (Updated)

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Some 1000 activists, farmers, and consumers held events in Nagoya on Sunday, with a big parade through the busy city. The Japan Citizens' Network for Planet Diversity, Co-ops including Seikatsu Club and many local NGOs, Organic farmers and members of the Shumei Network, and Consumers Union of Japan and the No! GMO Campaign made the front page news this sunny Monday morning, as the government delegates start negotiations today about biological diversity.

COP10 starts with MOP5 (including liability and redress issues), and there has been some progess.

The way these negotiations work is complicated and they used a style that is called "Friends of the Chair" to deal with gridlock, when opposing parties cannot agree. This means the negotiations take place with smaller groups of countries, and the results are then proposed to the others. Last night, this went on past midnight, until after 2AM, when a solution was found.

Thus, one important topic was solved rather cleverly early o…

Nuclear Free World: Germany Blinks, Büchel To Drop 22 (Old) US Nuclear Bombs

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Japan has its Three Non-Nuclear Principles. I have always wondered why Germany allows US missiles on its territory. Finally, Germany has moved a step closer to ridding its soil of the last remaining American atomic weapons:

The federal government plans to end the deal by 2013 and perhaps earlier, when it decommissions its ageing Tornado fighter jets, which are equipped to drop the nuclear bombs, the Rheinische Post reported. At present, the Tornado fighters, stationed at the Bundeswehr base at Büchel in the Mosel region, are ready to drop the estimated 22 American-owned nuclear bombs stored on German soil. Those bombs are housed at the the Büchel base, guarded by US soldiers.

But the Tornado jets are due to be decommissioned and the Rheinische Post reported that Germany would not continue the so-called NATO “nuclear sharing” agreement.

While the change is being driven primarily by budget cuts, it also takes Germany a step closer to getting rid of the remaining nuclear weapons on its soil…

Nagoya To Host United Nations Meeting On Biological Diversity

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Nagoya is the host of a major UN meeting starting this weekend. The United Nations has worked hard to get member countries to protect plants and wildlife, including animals. This is all part of the Convention on Biological Diversity and the Cartagena Protocol.

Nagoya will also host side events and the Planet Diversity Parade, as well as a large number of meetings where governments, NGOs and others will discuss progress - and setbacks.

Why is biological diversity so important?

Simply put, plants and living creatures co-exist beautifully. We survive together, in peacful co-existence. We need variety to survive; nature abhores incest. If we don't have diverse wildlife and satoyama and healthy rivers and oceans, we are in deep trouble. Climate change also adds to the mix, as the planet seems to go through huge, sudden changes. Meanwhile, multinational corporations like Monsanto and BASF managed to get patents on genetically modified (GM) seeds, but failed to provide the sustainable …

Spike Japan: Ikeshima Visit To Honour The Demise Of King Coal

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From Ikeshima: Goodbye to old King Coal

“Goodbye King Coal, you venal tyrant,” I thought to myself, “and good riddance. It’s good you’re gone, gone at last from these lands at least, gone with your lives cut short by dust blast and black lung, gone with your weeping widows, gone with your fatherless children. And goodbye to you, too, Ikeshima: may your dreams of ruin come true, may you rust in peace.”
Bloggers like Spike Japan make blogging seem fun again... He has the insights into the way rural Japan (and the centres of many small towns) are faring these days, with the once so vibrant shopping archades of the late 1970s and their plastic roofs and signs not-so-bright-and-colourful anymore, neglected beyond hope.

Great photography, too.

It may come as a shock to almost all of you living outside of Japan, and to some of you living in the center of its big cities, that as we approach the summer of 2009, swathes of the country are in ruins. It came as a shock to me, too, I have to confess, …

Japan Imperial Train E655

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When the Emperor and his wife Michiyo-sama took the Imperial Train late September 2010, a large number of densha otaku (I suppose "trainspotters" is the best English term, but some are of course just parents that bring their kids) were delighted: They all take photos and post videos on Youtube and other Internet media.

The train is a E655 and it had not been used for 2 years. This black train is much like Air Force One in the United States, but more down to earth, so to speak. The first Imperial Train trip was on 12 November 2008, when the train was used for a trip that the Japanese Imperial couple took with the Spanish Royal couple. It is a VIP train that ordinary people can also ride, as part of JR's extensive promotional activities called Joyful Train.

お召し列車 Omeshi Ressha refers to a non-scheduled service solely operated for the Imperial Family. E655 is built by Tokyu Car Corporation and Hitachi Ltd. The E655 series unit can be hauled by a diesel locomotive on non-elec…

Rare Earths Explained

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Most of our gadgets work in mysterious ways, that our high school science teachers didn't prepare us for (or we didn't pay attention). Remember the Periodic Table?

Periodic Table in Japanese

If you have been wondering what "rare earths" are, it may be useful to go back to Chemistry or Physics 101. Or even better, use google or yahoo for something useful, for a change!

Sorry if that sounds patronizing. I liked Mutant Frog's post called Breakin’ Supply: Electric Boogaloo but The Japan Times was unusually informative today, 1-0 to print media. In addition to the usual US perspective, Hiroko Nakata also has the details about Japan's dealings with Kazakhstan to secure a steady supply of these important metals:

Meanwhile, the industry ministers of Japan and Kazakhstan confirmed Wednesday that the two countries will cooperate on production of rare earth elements in central Asia.In March, Sumitomo Corp. signed a deal with Kazakhstan's national nuclear power company …