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EU biofuel (agrofuel) target

By 2020 each European country should be using 10% biofuel in transport. This target is mainly to provide stability for commercial investment in biofuels. Even though many EU countries are not building up to the implementation of the target as quickly as expected, it is already causing serious damage to ecosystems, biodiversity, food production and communities in the global south. Yet many people in the UK and other EU countries are not aware that every time they fill up their cars with petrol, they are burning biofuel.

Biochar Knowledge Gaps

Biochar is biomass burned in the near absence of oxygen and it is basically identical to charcoal, but used for different purposes. It is being widely promoted by various interests as a soil amendment and to sequester carbon, often with little detailed argument or evidence in support of the claims made.
The book "Biochar for Environmental Management" provides of a large collection of articles about biochar by a total of some 50 researchers and specialists from a wide range of universities, government departments and companies. It demonstrates clearly that there are major gaps in knowledge. However, at the same time, some writers speak of biochar as a means to address climate change and propose it for carbon markets, in spite of these knowledge gaps.

Can sustainability criteria for certification of agrofuels be effective?

Agrofuel production involves the artificial creation of a new market with the help of government incentives, targets and subsidies. These are necessary because agrofuels cannot compete without them, so they need support in order to develop.

Rio+20, the “Green Economy” and the Real Priorities

At the recent preparatory conference for Rio+20 in New York (7-8th March) it became clear that the “green economy” concept is complicating an already difficult process. Definitions of sustainable development have been argued over for years; now we are invited instead to see everything in terms of a “green economy”. UNEP, which produced its massive economics-dominated report shortly before the prepcom/conference, defines the “green economy” as one that results in improved human wellbeing and social equity, while significantly reducing environmental risks and ecological scarcities.

Green economy and biofuels: what did the CBD say ?

With next year’s Rio+20 Earth Summit due to meet in the ‘biofuel republic of Brazil’ it is little wonder that the fights over agrofuels will be intensifying in the years ahead. UNEP’s flagship ‘Green Economy’ study published last month appears to bless a massive expansion of agrofuel – advocating for over a fifth (21.6%) of all liquid fuels to be bio‐based by 2050. Sourcing all that biological feedstock is a feat that even UNEP admit will gobble up over a third (37%) of global agricultural and forest ‘residues’ – a hefty take from already overstressed ecosystems.

Finance, targets, green economy and innovative financial mechanisms

Discussions on funding, financial targets and innovative financial mechanisms were extremely difficult during the COP10 in Nagoya in October 2010 and clearly revealed the divide between North and South. They also reflect a wider struggle going on over the effectiveness and implications of market‐oriented approaches to the three Rio Conventions, including biodiversity
conservation. This struggle that is going to be central for "Rio+20", the 2012 United Nations Conference on Sustainable Development where 'green economy' is one of the two main topics on the agenda.

GM mosquito OX513A ...

Oxford-based company Oxitech genetically modified the yellow fever mosquito (Aedes aegypti) to develop the GM variety OX513A. OX513A mosquitoes are genetically modified to require the antibiotic tetracycline in order to survive to adulthood. The mosquitoes are grown in the lab with tetracycline present, before adult males and females are separated.

CSO statement on the planned field release of GM mosquitos

As civil society organizations from around the world, we write to you to respectfully put forward our views on the issue of the release of genetically modified (GM) Aedes aegypti mosquitoes in Malaysia. It is not clear when such releases will occur, but given the tremendous international interest in the issue, it would be regrettable if the field trials were to be shrouded in secrecy.

Open Letter on the release of GM mosquitos in Malaysia

Many of us were among the 87 civil society organizations from around the world that sent you, in December 2010, a statement of concern regarding the field release of genetically modified (GM) Aedes aegypti mosquitoes in Malaysia. At the time, we had stated that it was not clear when such releases would occur, but given the tremendous international interest in the issue, it would be regrettable if the field trials were to be shrouded in secrecy.

GM chicken - a solution to bird flu?

On 14 January 2011, Science published an article by Lyall et al. entitled 'Suppression of Avian Influenza Transmission in Genetically Modified Chickens'. The authors state themselves that their research and results are about a 'proof of principle' - something which by definition is a long way away from actual applicability and does not consider any safety issues.

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