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Monsanto on trial? Or 21st century capitalism?

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Crop 'dusting' with pesticide a few miles north of Ripley, Mississippi. Photo: Roger Smith via Flickr (CC BY-NC-ND).
Crop 'dusting' with pesticide a few miles north of Ripley, Mississippi.
Photo: Roger Smith via Flickr (CC BY-NC-ND).

Monsanto on trial? Or 21st century capitalism?

Pete Dolack

13th October 2016

The organizers of tomorrow's International Monsanto Tribunal describe it as a 'moral trial', while the company dismisses it as a 'mock trial' and 'stunt'. The truth, writes Pete Dolack, is that it's about much more than this one company. On trial is the entire neoliberal system of 'free market' finance and monopoly capitalism.

This is not reducible, however, to simple greed or evilness. Grow or die is the ever-present mandate of capitalism. Just because food is a necessity does not mean it is exempt from capitalism's relentless competitive pressures.

Monsanto is going on trial! Not, alas, in an official legal proceeding but instead a 'civil society initiative' that will provide moral judgment only.

The International Monsanto Tribunal will conduct hearings in The Hague beginning tomorrow, 14th October, and continuing over the weekend.

Athough it has no legal force, its organizers believe the opinions its international panel of judges will issue will provide victims and their legal counsel with arguments and legal grounds for further lawsuits in courts of law.

The organizers also see the tribunal as raising awareness of Monsanto Company's practices and the dangers of industrial and chemical agriculture. The tribunal web site's Practical Info page summarizes:

"The aim of the Tribunal is to give a legal opinion on the environmental and health damage caused by the multinational Monsanto. This will add to the international debate to include the crime of Ecocide into international criminal law. It will also give people all over the world a well documented legal file to be used in lawsuits against Monsanto and similar chemical companies."

There certainly is much material on Monsanto, a multi-national corporation that has long sought to control the world's food and which is able to routinely bend governments to its will.


How Urban Trees Can Save Lives

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How Urban Trees Can Save Lives

Planting Healthy Air report quantifies health benefits of trees for 245 cities globally

Heatwaves are one of the world's most underestimated threats, killing more than 12,000 people every year around the world—more than any other weather-related event. And heat is especially dangerous in cities, which tend to be much warmer than surrounding less-developed areas. On top of that, cities tend to have higher levels of air pollution, which contribute to more than 3 million deaths every year. With 70 percent of the world’s population predicted to live in cities by 2050, heat and air pollution constitute a major public health concern.

One relatively simple solution to this problem? Plant more trees in cities. Trees cool the air by casting shade and releasing water vapor, and their leaves can filter out fine particulate matter (PM)—one of the most dangerous forms of air pollution, generated from burning biomass and fossil fuels. The Nature Conservancy has studied the effects of trees on air quality in 245 of the world’s largest cities and documented the findings in the Planting Healthy Air report.

Key Takeaways of the Report

The Planting Healthy Air report documents which cities stand to benefit most from tree plantings, in terms of both heat and PM reduction, and how much investment would be required to achieve meaningful benefits.

The analysis found that investing just US$4 per resident in each of these cities in tree planting efforts could improve the health of millions of people, and that trees are as cost-effective as many other common solutions.

Most of the cooling and filtering effects created by trees are fairly localized, so densely populated cities—as well as those with higher overall pollution levels—tend to see the highest overall return on investment (ROI) from tree plantings.

The localized nature of trees’ effects, however, means that particular neighborhoods in virtually any city could benefit from plantings. City planners can even target plantings to protect areas with especially vulnerable populations—such as near schools and hospitals—or use trees as a screen against PM coming from highways and industrial areas.

While trees alone can't solve the entirety of cities' air and heat problems, they are a critical piece of the puzzle. The report shows that even a conservative global investment in urban trees can save tens of thousands of lives.

Editor's Note: Scroll through the interactive map at the bottom of the page to see which neighborhoods within each of the cities from the study have the highest return on investment for heat and PM reduction.

Source: https://global.nature.org/content/healthyair?intc=nature.hp.news3


Mesothelioma in Europe

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Mesothelioma in Europe

(article by Rachel Jones )

Mesothelioma is a type of cancer that involves tumors infecting the lining of the organs in the abdomen and lungs of the body. As a result of asbestos exposure, Europe along with a number of other countries has been hit hard by cases of this disease. This is primarily because of asbestos use throughout the 20th century. This asbestos exposure involves inhalation and often the fibers will become lodged into the lungs, damaging cells and causing infection regularly.

This disease is especially dangerous because of its long latency period. Often, decades will pass between the original asbestos exposure and the onslaught of symptoms, sometimes even lasting half a century. Following this latency period, some of the common symptoms are often confused with elderly age and regular health problems. Coughing, shortness of breath, weight loss, and fatigue are all regular examples of mesothelioma symptoms. The earlier the diagnosis, the better, considering that mesothelioma life expectancy is usually severe. The average life expectancy following a diagnosis is between eight and 14 months.


Mesothelioma Life Expectancy

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Mesothelioma Life Expectancy

Currently no cure for mesothelioma exists and the American Cancer Society explains that patients generally have a short average life expectancy of four to 18 months after diagnosis. Only 10% of mesothelioma patients survive more than five years after initial diagnosis. Since its recognition as a lethal form of cancer that develops after asbestos exposure, doctors and scientists have struggled to identify a course of treatment that can improve the prognosis for patients today.

Nevertheless, efforts today still generally focus on prolonging the overall quality of life and life expectancy of these patients instead of finding a cure. Among these treatments are experimental and alternative therapies meant to relieve symptoms and improve a patient’s ability to lead a normal life.

Factors that Affect Life Expectancy

Malignant mesothelioma, like other cancers, is described in four stages. Early detection has proven significant in leading to prolonged life expectancy.


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