|The Daily Star|
BEIRUT: MP Mohammad Qabbani lashed out Thursday at the Energy Ministry for going ahead with the construction of the Janna dam in the Kesrouan district, northeast of Beirut, saying the project fell short of legal and technical requirements.In an open letter to the three top state officials, Qabbani, a member of Parliament’s Energy and Public Works Committee, said leakage at the dam’s reservoir was estimated to be between 35 and 52 percent citing a 2012 report by a German-funded cooperation project.
“In view of the current findings, it is strongly recommended not to go ahead with the construction of the planned Janna dam,” Qabbani said, quoting a report authored by the German Federal Institute for Geosciences and Natural Resources (BGR).
Read more: http://www.dailystar.com.lb/Business/Lebanon/2013/Jul-26/225110-mp-slams-ministry-over-janna-dam-project.ashx##ixzz2a64Zcm9X
(The Daily Star :: Lebanon News :: http://www.dailystar.com.lb)
|The construction plan of the Janna Dam in Nahr Ibrahim has been modified. The dam will be relocated to an area close to the predetermined location. The material that will be used in constructing the dam has also been changed. Works are expected to begin in May, 2013. Local firm Consolidated Engineering and Trading (CET) is the project’s contractor.
George Melki, Project Manager at Beirut and Mount Lebanon Water Establishment (BMLWE), said: “We had to move the dam to a higher location, and we will use roller compacted concrete in its construction for geological reasons.” An investigation conducted by the Ministry of Energy and Water showed that a dam made of rocks in this area would put the entire project at risk in case of an earthquake.
The BMLWE is responsible for monitoring the execution of the project’s two phases. Phase one includes building a conveying tunnel and access roads, while the second phase entails constructing the dam. “We have notified the contractor to begin works soon,” Melki said.
Reported by Yassmine Alieh – See more at: http://www.businessnews.com.lb/MyDesktooModule/storydetails.aspx?itemid=2781#sthash.4bE1Wk3Q.dpuf
Supreme Court guts Civil Rights-era voting protection, siding with ‘Old Confederacy’
A divided US Supreme Court voided a central part of the Voting Rights Act, a law put in place during the Civil Rights movement to prevent historically racist states from creating obstacles to voting, Tuesday.
Challenging Monsanto: Over two million march the streets of 436 cities, 52 countries
Feds delay approval of new Monsanto crops over environmental concerns
Published time: May 15, 2013 17:57
Edited time: May 16, 2013 14:41
AFP Photo / Philippe Huguen (Credit: RT)
Biotech giant Monsanto faced a surprising setback after federal authorities refused to approve a new generation of genetically-engineered crops that could survive an unprecedented use of herbicides.
The US Department of Agriculture announced Friday that they’ve ordered additional environmental impact statements (EIS) for herbicide-resistant crops that have been waiting for federal approval. Now Monsanto and the chemical company Dow will have to sit anxiously and await the results of those assessments before they are given the go-ahead to sell genetically-engineer plants that have raised serious environmental issues.
At stake is the future for a variety of corn, soybean and cotton crops that have been genetically-engineered to resist two heavy-duty pesticides, namely 2,4-D and dicamba. Both Monsanto and Dow have been hoping to get the go-ahead to sell these crops, but ordering further testing will set the release date back to perhaps 2015.
A number of farmers and environmentalists have opposed the selling of crops resistant to these chemicals, because the result could likely mean dousing fields with pesticides in unprecedented levels.
“The danger that 2,4-D and dicamba pose is a real threat to crops…nearly every food crop,” Steve Smith, director of agriculture at Red Gold, told Reuters last year.
Dr. Gina Solomon, a board-certified in Occupational and Environmental Medicine and Internal Medicine specialist, wrote of concerns stemming from the use of 2,4-D as a crucial component in an infamous chemical warfare campaign during the Vietnam War. “There’s no reason to continue allowing a toxic Agent Orange-ingredient in the places our children play, our families live and our farmers work. EPA must step up and finally put a stop to it,” she said.
And although the Environmental Protection Agency refused a petition to ban the sale of these chemicals, the USDA has now said they think further investigation is warranted.
Tom Philpott, a reporter for Mother Jones, broke down the significant of last week’s USDA decision to order more testing:
“What’s going on here is that under the National Environmental Policy Act, all federal agencies, including USDA, are required to perform an EIS if there’s a chance that a regulatory decision will affect the human environment. But for years, the USDA did not issue such analyses as part of its process of approving GMO crops, and watchdog groups like the Center for Food Safety have repeatedly and successfully sued the department for failing to do so,” Philpott wrote.
“The immediate effect will be a substantial delay in any final decision on approval,” added Philpott, who called the decision on the part of the Obama administration to delay a possible approval “such a surprise.” Only weeks earlier, the president signed into law an agricultural spending bill that included a provision that provides biotech companies with liability from future lawsuits filed over possible health hazards brought on by unregulated and untested GMO products.
Before that bill was advanced out of Congress, farmers petitioned Washington to warn what that act could accomplish.“The provision would strip federal courts of the authority to halt the sale and planting of an illegal, potentially hazardous GE crop while the US Department of Agriculture (USDA) assesses those potential hazards,” they wrote. “Further, it would compel USDA to allow continued planting of that same crop upon request, even if in the course of its assessment the Department finds that it poses previously unrecognized risks.”
In a statement delivered to Bloomberg this week, the Center for Food Safety said they saluted the USDA’s decision, but warned that it won’t necessitate an investigation as thorough as they’d like.
“While we welcome this decision, it remains to be seen whether the agency will undertake the required hard-look analysis of the environmental and economic impacts of these crops,” Bill Freese, science policy analyst for the center, wrote in a statement.
The Biotechnology Industry Organization, a group that represents makers of biotechnology drugs and crops, said it was “disappointed” by the decision and that the action “sets bad precedent for future consideration of safe and beneficial genetically engineered plant products.”
Scientists confirm: Pesticides kill America’s honey bees
Honey bees are quickly disappearing from the US – a phenomenon that has left scientists baffled. But new research shows that bees exposed to common agricultural chemicals while pollinating US crops are less likely to resist a parasitic infection.
As a result of chemical exposure, honey bees are more likely to succumb to the lethal Nosema ceranaeparasite and die from the resulting complications.
Scientists from the University of Maryland and the US Department of Agriculture on Wednesdaypublished a study that linked chemicals, including fungicides, to the mass die-offs. Scientists have long struggled to find the cause behind the Colony Collapse Disorder (CCD), in which an estimated 10 million beehives at an average value of $200 each have been lost since 2006.
Last winter, the honey bee population declined by 31.1 percent, with some beekeepers reporting losses of 90 to 100 percent of their bee populations. Scientists are concerned that “Beemageddon” could cause the collapse of the $200 billion agriculture industry, since more than 100 US crops rely on honey bees to pollinate them.
The new findings are key in determining one of the causes of the CCD, but they fail to explain why entire beehives sometimes die at once.
UMD and DOA researchers found that pollen samples in fields ranging from Delaware to Maine contained nine different agricultural chemicals, including fungicides, herbicides, insecticides and miticides. One particular sample even contained 21 different agricultural chemicals. To test their theory, they fed pesticide-ridden pollen samples to healthy bees and then infected them with the parasite. They found that the pesticides hindered the bees’ abilities to resist the infection, thus contributing to their deaths. The fungicide chlorothalonil was particularly damaging, tripling the risks of parasitic infection.
“We don’t think of fungicides as having a negative effect on bees, because they’re not designed to kill insects,” Dennis vanEngelsdorp, the study’s senior author, said in a news release.
He explained that federal regulations restrict the use of insecticides while pollinators are foraging, but noted that “there are no such restrictions on fungicides, so you’ll often see fungicide applications going on while bees are foraging on the crop. The finding suggests that we have to reconsider that policy.”
Bees are declining at such a fast rate that one bad winter could trigger an agricultural disaster. California’s almond crop would be hit particularly hard, since the state supplies 80 percent of the world’s almonds. Pollinating California’s 760,000 acres of almond fields requires 1.5 million out-of-state bee colonies, which makes up 60 percent of the country’s beehives. The CCD is a major threat to this $4 billion industry.
Entomologists suspect that a number of other factors also contribute to the CCD, including climate change, habitat destructing and handling practices that expose bees to foreign pathogens. But the effect of agricultural chemicals is particularly alarming, especially since the US does not have laws banning the use of the pesticides that are affecting bee health.
“The pesticide issue in itself is much more complex than we have led to believe,” vanEngelsdorp said. “It’s a lot more complicated than just one product, which means of course the solution does not lie in just banning one class of product.”(RT)
50,000 dead Oregon bees to be honored in memorial service
California coastline hosts ‘Great Pacific Garbage Patch’
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