Bitter Seeds: The Human Toll of GMOs

Every 30 minutes, a farmer commits suicide in India, a phenomenon that has been steadily rising since the 1970s. Documentary filmmaker Micha X. Peled took his cameras to the vibrant farming community of Telung Takli in the state of Maharashtra—which sits at the heart of the crisis— to find out why. Peled’s 2011 film Bitter Seeds starts out with brief scenes from the funeral of a farmer who has just committed suicide. It swiftly cuts away to follow the story of Ram Krishna Kopulwar, who has been farming cotton on the same three acres since he was seven, as he plants genetically modified (GM) Bt cotton seeds for the first time. The question at the heart of the film is whether or not this gentle family man will join the list of farmers who have given Maharashtra and a handful of neighboring states the nickname of “India’s Suicide Belt.”

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Solar Co-ops: Neighborhood “Solar Support Groups” Reap Big Savings

This article, by Andrew Schein and Kara Turtinen, originally appeared in the September/October 2011 issue of the Green American.    Visit the Green America Web site to subscribe to the Green American. When Tim O’Neil approached fellow Mt. Tabor Neighborhood Association member Stephanie Stewart in 2009 about starting a solar buying cooperative in their suburban Portland community, she loved the idea. “Literally within a couple of days, Stephanie had created a Web site and a logo,” says O’Neil. Then O’Neil and Stewart turned to Lizzie Rubado of the nonprofit Energy Trust of Oregon to help them put together workshops on installing solar panels. Originally, the new team expected to sign up 50 or so people, and they hoped that about 10-20 would go through with the installation. After all, 2008 saw only 38 solar panel installations across the entire city of Portland, Rubado says. To their surprise, about 300 people signed up for what would become the Solarize Portland solar buying co-op. One-hundred and twenty homeowners installed solar panels that year.

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Plastic Monday: Bag the bags.

When I started researching plastic bag laws for the “Plastics Challenge” issue of our Green American, I thought I was already aware of how wasteful and polluting plastic bags really are.  After all, I’ve carried my reusable organic cotton shopping bags to the grocery store for as long as I’ve been old enough to do my own cooking.  Aesthetically and practically, I simply prefer a roomy tote bag with a comfy shoulder strap to a fist full of flimsy plastic handles any day, so it’s always been an easy green choice to make. But looking into the recycling statistics for plastic bags made me think even more about all the other plastic bags in my life – the plastic bags that I sometimes place into into those smugly green organic cotton totes (frozen veggies, or bulk grains, for example).   The plastics industry certainly thinks of them all the same, grouping them together in a category known as “postconsumer film,” which includes other waste like newspaper bags, food bags, pallet wrap, and plastic product wrappers. This collapsing of the category makes it tricky to suss out a statistic on how many plastic shopping bags get recycled in this country.  The EPA’s most recent figure for the bags – 1 percent being recycled – dates to 2005, with all subsequent statistics addressing recycling rates for the overall “film” category.   And in 2009 (the most recent year for which we have the stats), […]

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9 Toxins to Keep Off Your Body

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Do you know what “fragrance” means when you see it on the label of a personal care product? Neither do we! That’s because all sorts of chemicals used to scent products can be clumped under the vague term “fragrance” – and they don’t have to be disclosed. Found in everything from shampoo to deodorant, a single product’s secret fragrance mixture […]

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