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Monday, April 29, 2002

U.S. Species Diversity Countered by Species at Risk

ARLINGTON, Virginia, April 23, 2002 (ENS) -
Almost one quarter of U.S. states are facing the possibility of losing at least 10 percent of their native species, finds a new report from the Nature Conservancy. The report, released on Earth Day, examines the status of more than 21,000 wild plants and animals and ranks each state by both its biodiversity, and the risks to that biological wealth.

For full text and graphics visit: http://ens-news.com/ens/apr2002/2002L-04-23-06.html

More information from the report, which updates information in the book "Precious Heritage: The Status of Biodiversity in the United States," published in 2000 by The Nature Conservancy and NatureServe, is available at: http://nature.org/earthday/work/

Posted by Richard
4/29/2002 08:14:09 AM | PermaLink

Mexico Confirms Massive GM Contamination Of Its Maize

The Mexican government has confirmed that despite its ban on genetically modified maize, there is massive contamination of crops in areas that act as the gene bank for one of the world's staple crops. The announcement of the worst ever contamination of crops by GM varieties was made yesterday at the biodiversity convention meeting in the Hague. It fuels the controversy stirred by the discovery of mutant strains of maize, which was originally reported in November in the journal Nature and then embarrassingly disowned by the journal earlier this month.

But speaking at the Hague, Jorge Soberon, a senior civil servant and the executive secretary of Mexico's national commission on biodiversity, said government tests had now shown the level of contamination was far worse than initially reported. Mexico is the home of hundreds of varieties of maize which are allowed to crossbreed to produce the best crops for extreme conditions.

To preserve this gene bank, the government banned planting of GM crops in 1998. At first, Mexico rejected the claims of contamination which were published in Nature by Ignacio Chapela and David Quist, of the University of California at Berkeley. But the government went on to take samples from sites in two states, Oaxaca and Puebla, said Ezequiel Ezcurra, the director of the institute of ecology at the ministry of the environment in Mexico.

The states are the genetic home of maize. A total of 1,876 seedlings was taken, and evidence of contamination was found at 95% of the sites. One field had 35% contamination of plants. Mr Soberon confirmed this infiltration of supposedly pure strains was the worst recorded anywhere. "There is no doubt about it," he said. "We found it in 8% of seeds kernel by kernel." It appeared that maize imported into Mexico from the US for the production of tortillas may have been used as seed by farmers who were unaware that it contained grain derived from GM crops.

The worst contamination was found near main roads, along which maize is sold to villagers. In remote areas, contamination was down to between 1 and 2%. The revealing factor was the presence of the cauliflower mosaic virus, which is used widely in GM crops to "switch on" insecticides which have been inserted into them. Mr Soberon said the GM developers Monsanto, Syngenta and Aventis all used the same technology. The government could not find out which of the three varieties of GM maize was responsible for the contamination because the companies refused to disclose which protein they used in such a commercially sensitive project.

"I find that extremely difficult to accept," he said. "How can you monitor what is going on if they do not allow you the information to do it?" The research is continuing and, after the dispute that followed the publication of the original paper, the Mexican government is having it carefully reviewed by peers before offering it for publication in a scientific journal.

http://www.guardian.co.uk/Print/0,3858,4397091,00.html
By Paul Brown
Environment Correspondent
The Guardian - London
4-19-2


Posted by Richard
4/29/2002 08:10:15 AM | PermaLink

All Yellowstone Buffalo to be Killed

From: Buffalo Petition <buffpetition@wildrockies.org>

Karen Cooper of the Montana Department of Livestock announced yesterday that all wild buffalo roaming outside Yellowstone National Park on their traditional grazing and calving grounds will be slaughtered.

Public agencies will no longer use the facade of brucellosis testing to determine if buffalo exposed to the disease (& carrying the antibody) get the death sentence.  All will be killed.  Cooper said she does not know how long DOL will continue killing animals without testing them.  The State of Montana is out of control and wantonly killing off America's wild buffalo herd.

Yellowstone spokeswoman Marsha Karle said the National Park Service did not protest DOL's decision to get kill untested bison.

What can you do?
1) Nothing
2) Speak out Yellowstone National Park's Public Affairs person is Marsha Karle; 307-344-2015; P.O. Box 168, Yellowstone National Park, WY 82190-0168. Federal agencies must set a precedent and defend the biological integrity of this national treasure! APHIS - the agency responsible for brucellosis "management" needs to hear from you! Teresa Howes; 970-494-2567.   Why aren't they continuing to do tissue testing to prove their "disease management" excuse?  >  Future genetics of the herd is more important.  Let Scientists take their time and develop a reliable safe vaccine. a five minute call or 34 cent stamp could save a buffalo's life!
3) Pass this on to 32 friends in honor of the 32 buffalo slaughtered yesterday.
4) Pass this on to one acquaintance in honor of the abused buffalo whose was shot after her leg was broken in the capture facility or to one person in honor of the wild momma buffalo who had to give birth to her calf in the capture facility.

The American people must demand that wild buffalo be treated like wildlife and not treated as domestic livestock.  Buffalo need to be protected for future generations!  Arbitrary depopulation of the herd based on a population estimate that could be off by several hundred animals is absurd. Thank you!
_________________

"The so-called random shooting at the Montana borders is actually eliminating or depleting entire maternal lineages, therefore this action will cause an irreversible crippling of the gene pool. Continued removal of genetic lineages will change the genetic makeup of the herd, thus it will not represent the animal of 1910 or earlier. It would be a travesty to have people look back and say we were "idiots" for not understanding the gene pool."

Bison have developed a natural resistance genetically as long as they have enough to eat, limited stress and are not consumed by other disease. There is no magic bullet in wildlife disease, Therefore management is important. Vaccines are one management tool and one component, but genetic structure is necessary for future management. Every animal which is removed from the breeding population can no longer contribute to the genetic variability of the herd."

Remarks made by Dr. Joe Templeton, Texas A& M University, Dept. of Veterinary Pathobiology, to the GYIBC on May 21, 1998.

Posted by Richard
4/29/2002 08:07:46 AM | PermaLink