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1. The following is the seventy-ninth in a series of newsletters, published by the Brasilia Regional Environmental Hub, covering environment, science and technology, and health news in South America. The information below was gathered from news sources from across the region, and the views expressed do not necessarily reflect those of the Hub office or our constituent posts. Addressees who would like to receive a user-friendly email version of this newsletter should contact Larissa Stoner at The e-mail version also contains a calendar of upcoming ESTH events in the region.

2. Table of Contents Agriculture --(3)Cultivation of Coca Exacts Rising Environmental Cost --(4)Colombia: Turn To Transgenics Spurs GM-Free Zones --(5)Soybean Boycott in the Amazon Region Health --(6)A hard look at HIV in Latin America and the Caribbean --(7)Brazil: Copaiba as Anti-Inflammatory --(8)Transgenic Mosquitoes Enlisted in Fight Against Malaria Protected Areas --(9)Chile, Argentina Agree To Create Cross-Border Nature Reserve --(10)Colombia: Fire Devastates Nature Reserve --(11)Colombia: Malpelo Island Declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site Science & Technology --(12)Brazil's Innovation Law: Lessons for Latin America --(13)Peru Launches National Plan for S&T --(14)Fifth Space Conference of the Americas in Quito, Ecuador --(15)Brazilian Researchers Call for Stronger Science Dissemination --(16) Peru Approves Biotech Law Climate Change --(17)Bill Clinton Launches City Climate Change Partnership --(18)Caribbean: MOU to Help Low-Lying States Adapt to Climate Change Pollution --(19)Colombia: Border Closed to Toxic Waste --(20)Opening of Chilean Pulp Mill Generates Opposition --(21)Argentine Water Supply Faces Uranium Threat Energy --(22)Chile Wind Farms Help Promote Energy Independence --(23)Brazil: The Vegetable Oil Revolution - From the Kitchen to the Car General --(24)Call for Ecological Integration in Mercosur --(25)In Chile, Mapuche score Supreme Court win --(26)Brazil: Selective Garbage Collection Expands --(27)Brazil: Another Highway Threatens the Amazon BRASILIA 00001618 002 OF 011 --(28)Argentina: A Warning on Dune Disappearance ----------- Agriculture -----------

3. Cultivation of Coca Exacts Rising Environmental Cost JULY 2006 - Coca, the raw material for cocaine, continued to spread throughout Colombia in 2005, penetrating into the heart of some of the world's most fragile and biodiverse ecosystems, according to reports released by two drug control agencies. Despite the aerial fumigation of nearly 346,000 acres (140,000 has), a record high, the area covered by coca crops expanded 26 percent in Colombia last year, according to a report released in March by the U.S. State Department's Office of National Drug Control Policy. A second report, released last month by the UN Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC), estimates the increase at 8 percent. Drug experts described as especially worrisome the spread of coca in the northwestern state of Choco, the southeastern department of Vichada and the southern department of Amazonas-richly biodiverse regions vulnerable to the slash-and-burn techniques of coca growers. Source - EcoAmericas (please contact Larissa Stoner for complete article)

4. Colombia: Turn To Transgenics Spurs GM-Free Zones JULY 2006 - When leaders from the Zenu Indian tribe, from northern Colombia, discovered last year that a government research institute was testing genetically modified (GM) corn just 60 miles (100 kms) from their reserve, they moved fast. In August of last year, they dispatched tribal representatives to Mexico to consult with Indian and peasant leaders about the effects of transgenic corn there. Then, in October, they gathered in Colombia and announced they would prohibit cultivation of gene-modified crops in their 54,000-acre (22,000-ha) reserve, which spans the northern Colombian states of Cordoba and Sucre and is home to 17,000 people. Wearing straw hats and holding palm-fiber bags in an open coliseum surrounded by corn fields, 300 Zenu leaders also called on authorities to ensure gene-altered foods are not transported through Zenu territory or introduced through food-aid projects. They vowed to protect native plant varieties and traditional farming techniques. But for the Zenu and other Indian and peasant groups in Argentina, Costa Rica and Mexico that have banned transgenic crops, larger issues are at stake. Latin America is a center of origin and of biological diversity for vital plants including corn, potatoes, yucca, beans, tomatoes and cotton. Maintaining this biodiversity not only guards against future crop failures, it also preserves a low-cost form of chemical-free farming that for centuries has allowed indigenous communities to sustain themselves without harming the environment. Source - EcoAmericas (please contact Larissa Stoner for complete article)

5. Soybean Boycott in the Amazon Region BRASILIA 00001618 003 OF 011 JULY 28, 2006 - Multinational soy traders agreed to a two-year moratorium on the purchase of soybeans from newly deforested land starting in the 2006-07 crop season. A remarkable feature is that even soybeans grown on land legally cleared during this period on farms in the Amazon forest zone will not be purchased by these traders. The agreement followed a Greenpeace report claiming that the grain's cultivation is responsible for the deforestation of new lands in the Amazon. U.S. distributors Cargill, Archer Daniels Midland Co. and Bunge Ltd., as well as France's Dreyfus and Brazilian-owned Amaggi are all taking part in the boycott. Source - BRASILIA 1514 ------ Health ------

6. A hard look at HIV in Latin America and the Caribbean JULY 28, 2006 - The devastation the HIV virus is causing in Latin America and the Caribbean grabs a fraction of the attention paid to HIV/AIDS epidemics in sub-Saharan Africa and Asia. But by 2015 the region is expected to have nearly 3.5 million people living with HIV. Shared factors such as poverty, migration and homophobia are threatening to send these numbers spiralling upwards. In this special set of articles in Science, Jon Cohen describes the commonalities and key differences in what is driving the epidemic in Latin American and the Caribbean, and how countries there are fighting back

7. Brazil: Copaiba as Anti-Inflammatory JULY 29, 2006 - A study conducted by University of Sao Paulo's Ribeirao Preto science department has certified the anti-inflammatory properties of the copaiba plant (Copaifera officinalis). In testing on mice, this tree native to the tropical regions of Latin America and Western Africa presented anti-inflammation properties twice as strong as diclofenac sodium, a synthetic medication. To date, copaiba has been used in scents and varnishes, but traditional medicine has used it to prevent scarring and as an anti-inflammatory. Source - Tierramerica

8. Transgenic Mosquitoes Enlisted in Fight Against Malaria JULY 15, 2006 - Brazil's Rene Rachou Research Center has genetically modified a mosquito to remove its ability to transmit the parasite that causes malaria. If this mosquito can reproduce in nature, and replace the original disease-carrying mosquito, it would help control a disease that affects 300 to 500 million people each year -- 90 percent in Africa -- and claiming one million lives annually. Luciano Andrade Moreira, head of the research that began in 2003 at the Rachou Center, learned the technique when he studied for his BRASILIA 00001618 004 OF 011 doctorate degree in the United States, and applied it to Brazilian mosquito species -- the first project of its kind in a developing country. But this will not be the definitive solution to the malaria problem, which requires a combination of different strategies, including the conventional ones, like improved medical assistance and sanitation, and a reduction in the number of mosquitoes, he admitted. Similar studies are under way at the University of Sao Paulo, but focus on dengue -- another mosquito-borne disease. Source - Tierramerica --------------- Protected Areas ---------------

9. Chile, Argentina Agree To Create Cross-Border Nature Reserve July 27, 2006 - The governments of Chile and Argentina signed an agreement to create a 4.7-million-hectare cross-border nature reserve to be known as the Andean-North Patagonian Biosphere Reserve. The signatories were from Chile's 10th Region, Argentina's Chubut and Rio Negro Regions, Argentina's National Parks Administration, and its National Agricultural Technology Agency. Argentina will contribute 2.37 million hectares of territory to the reserve, while Chile will provide 2.29 million hectares, all of which has already been designated as park or reserve land. The Argentine Parks Authority will present an appeal to the United Nations Education Science and Culture Organization (UNESCO) in March 2007 for recognition of the area as a world nature reserve. Source - Xinhua News Agency. Kindly shared by US Embassy Santiago.

10. Colombia: Fire Devastates Nature Reserve JULY 15, 2006 - Colombia's environmental authorities have declared an ecological disaster as a result of the fires in the central-western nature park of Los Nevados that destroyed some 5,000 of the park's 58,000 hectares. Former environment minister Juan Mayr told Tierramerica that the case is worrisome because the park acts as a big water plant in the central Andes mountains, where rivers are formed that are essential to the main coffee-growing areas of Colombia. ""We will look at all formulas of access to the international community -- economic and scientific -- to accelerate the recovery of these areas,"" said the current minister of environment, Juan Lozano. Lozano noted that it could take at least 50 years to fully recuperate the areas destroyed by the fire. Source - Tierramerica

11. Colombia: Malpelo Island Declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site JULY 12, 2006 - The Malpelo Fauna and Flora Sanctuary, located in the Colombian Pacific Ocean, 506 km to the west of Buenaventura, has been declares a Natural World Heritage Site. The decision was made unanimously by the 21 member countries of the World Heritage BRASILIA 00001618 005 OF 011 Committee of the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO). The island of Malpelo is now the second protected area in the country with this prestigious title, with Los Katios National Park as the first declared in 1994. One of Malpelo's most outstanding aspects is that it is one of the two places in the world with confirmed sightings of the sandtiger shark (Odontaspis feroz), a deepwater shark locally known as ""the monster."" Additionally, large aggregations of pelagic species, including the large aggregations of more than 200 hammerhead sharks (Sphyrna lewini), more than 1,000 silky sharks (Carcharhinus falciformis), whale sharks (Rhincodon typus), and tuna (Thunnus spp.) have been observed around the island. Source - UNESCO -------------------- Science & Technology --------------------

12. Brazil's Innovation Law: Lessons for Latin America AUG. 03, 2006 - Innovation is now widely acknowledged as an essential tool for development. Other nations would do well to learn from the political challenges that Brazil's new legislation has unearthed. Last week, the five member countries (and five associate members) of the Latin American trade pact Mercosur agreed to work closely to boost trade, create jobs and reduce poverty. In doing so, they injected new life into an organization that was created as the Latin American equivalent of the European Union, but has since struggled to get off the ground. Closer technological cooperation and a common desire to boost innovation are seen as central to this bid for regional integration. It is expected that Mercosur countries - Argentina, Brazil, Paraguay, Uruguay, Venezuela and their associates - Bolivia, Chile, Colombia, Ecuador, Peru - will set up a program for science, technology and innovation. This would promote links between research institutions and private companies. Source - SciDev

13. Peru Launches National Plan for S&T JULY 25, 2006 - The GOP announced its plan for science, technology, and innovation until 2021. Scientific issues of interest are: biotechnology, genomics, materials science, environmental science, and information and communications technology for small and medium business enterprises. The budget for the national plan is USD36 million, of which USD25 will come from the Interamerican Development Bank. According to the press report, half of this budget will be spent on aquaculture, textile industry, and agricultural industry. The final goal of the plan is to increase investment in innovation and development from 0.1 percent of the country's GDP to 0.7 percent by 2021. Source - SciDev BRASILIA 00001618 006 OF 011

14. Fifth Space Conference of the Americas in Quito, Ecuador JULY 24, 2006 - The Brazilian Space Agency (AEB) participated in the Fifth Space Conference of the Americas in Quito, Ecuador, July 24-28. According to the report, Brazil aims to strengthen partnerships with other Latin American countries, especially Argentina, Chile, Peru, and Venezuela. Brazil has already made images from its CBERS satellites available, at no cost, for all Latin American countries and is in the process of discussing cooperation with other countries in sharing its Laboratory for Integration and Tests (LIT/Inpe), which is used for building satellites. Source - Brazilian Ministry of Science and Technology

15. Brazilian Researchers Call for Stronger Science Dissemination JULY 23, 2006 - During the 58th Annual Meeting of the Brazilian Society for Science Advancement, scientists called for long term advances in the dissemination of science issues in the country. According to the report, the Ministry of Science and Technology allocated USD3.6 million for projects that disseminate scientific issues. Nearly 20,000 people were at the meeting, which was held in Florianopolis July 16-21. Source - SciDev

16. Peru Approves Biotech Law JULY 17, 2006 - The Congress of Peru approved July 11 a Law of Modern Biotechnology. The new legislation intends to improve science and development training in universities, institutions, and business entities in Peru as well as promote education on modern biotechnology. The law was criticized by some sectors of society for not involving enough public debate during its formulation. Source - SciDev -------------- Climate Change --------------

17. Bill Clinton Launches City Climate Change Partnership AUG. 03, 2006 - The world's largest cities will work together to tackle climate change under a new partnership spearheaded by former US president Bill Clinton. The Clinton Climate Initiative (CCI), launched on 1 August in Los Angeles, United States, will collaborate with the Large Cities Climate Leadership Group chaired by the mayor of London, Ken Livingstone. The partnership aims to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and increase energy efficiency through a business-oriented approach - providing advice and technical assistance to 22 of the world's largest cities, including Buenos Aires, Cairo, Caracas, Delhi, Dhaka, Johannesburg, Mexico City and Sao Paulo. BRASILIA 00001618 007 OF 011 Source - SciDev

18. Caribbean: MOU to Help Low-Lying States Adapt to Climate Change Aug. 06, 2006 - A memorandum of under-standing (MOU) has been signed between the Caribbean Community (Caricom) secretariat and the Climate Change Centre in the region to help small islands and low-lying coastal states adapt to climate change. Mainstreaming Adaptation to Climate Change (MACC) is a USD10.9M project financed by the Global Environment Facility (GEF), Caricom member sates, the Government of Canada, and the Government of the United Sates through the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. Guyana and 11 other countries are participating, namely, Antigua and Barbuda, The Bahamas, Barbados, Belize, Dominica, Grenada, Jamaica, St Kitts and Nevis, St Lucia, St Vincent and the Grenadines and Trinidad and Tobago. Source - Stabroek News. Kindly shared by US Embassy Georgetown --------- Pollution ---------

19. Colombia: Border Closed to Toxic Waste JULY 29, 2006 - Colombia will not import toxic or nuclear waste, according to a resolution by the Environment Ministry. Environment chief Juan Lozano said the measure adopted July 21 ""confirms that Colombia will not be able to import any type of dangerous waste, unless there is assurance of an industrial treatment process that mitigates all threat to the life and health of Colombians."" Ecologist Carlos Escobar, adviser to the Environmental Corporation of the Atlantic, stated that the measure will help resolve a problem whose true scope has not yet been realized. Citing the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) and reports from the Attorney General, Escobar said that in Colombia there are at least 5,400 tons of toxic waste buried or poorly stored -- equivalent to nearly half the total for all of Latin America. Source - Tierramerica

20. Opening of Chilean Pulp Mill Generates Opposition JULY 2006 - Wine growers, farmers, fishermen and thousands of other residents in Chile's Itata Valley, located in south-central Chile near the city of Chillan, are protesting the expected start-up next month of one of the world's largest pulp mills. The Nueva Aldea pulp project also is drawing fire from green groups. Last month, Greenpeace organized a road blockade to protest the USD1.5 billion mill, prompting Chilean Interior Minister Andres Zaldivar to threaten the expulsion from Chile of Argentine, Brazilian and Uruguayan activists involved. Itata residents fear the mill will pollute their valley's air as well as the waters of the Itata River, threatening their livelihoods and health. In part, their concerns arise from the sheer volume of output expected from the facility. Owned by the Chilean company Celulosa Arauco (Celco), the mill is BRASILIA 00001618 008 OF 011 designed to produce 856 million tons of pulp a year. Opponents cite the record of another pulp mill owned by Celco near the southern Chilean city of Valdivia. Authorities closed the Valdivia mill temporarily last year-just 15 months after it had opened-when they determined its discharges had contaminated a wetland reserve and caused a die-off and exodus of rare black-necked swans. Source - EcoAmericas (please contact Larissa Stoner for complete article)

21. Argentine Water Supply Faces Uranium Threat JULY 29, 2006 - Water intended for human consumption may have been contaminated by the Ezeiza Atomic Center. Experts from the International Atomic Energy Agency, the World Health Organization and local authorities will conduct a new assessment. Argentine judicial authorities are investigating cases of uranium contamination around the Ezeiza Atomic Center, in Buenos Aires province. The first complaint reached the judicial branch in 2000, when residents of the area sounded the alert about possible ""poisoning"" of the water supply with uranium, and blamed the nuclear facility for the potential health consequences for the nearby population. The center admitted to uranium contamination in two areas -- Campo 5 and Trincheras -- but assured that steps were taken to remedy the situation in one case, and that it is in the process of resolving the other. The area alleged to be affected involves three districts of Buenos Aires province: Ezeiza, Esteban Echeverria and La Matanza -- with a combined population of 1.6 million people. Source - Tierramerica ------ Energy ------

22. Chile Wind Farms Help Promote Energy Independence AUG. 02, 2006 - Even though [president] Bachelet's announcement that Chile will aspire to be completely energy independent within two years did not focus specifically on the wind energy alternative, groundwork has already been laid by private and university groups who will most certainly lobby to make wind energy an important part of Chile's energy independence effort. The town of Coyhaique in southern Chile, for example, could provide a glimpse into what an energy independent future would be like. There, three immense wind generators provide for the energy needs of 19,000 families in Region XI. ""Alto Baguales"" is the only industrial scale wind farm in Chile, but that number may multiply as businesses and researchers scope out new sites from Arica to Puente Arenas. Juan Walker, a representative of the Danish company Vestas that manufactured the three generators, is optimistic about Chile's wind energy future: ""Chile has the potential to produce 5,000 megawatts of wind energy within a timeframe of ten to twenty years,"" he said. Vestas plans to set up 50-megawatt wind farms in Regions IV and VII beginning 2008. Still, in comparison with countries like Germany, where 16,500 wind farms produce five percent of the country's energy, BRASILIA 00001618 009 OF 011 these wind farms will not do much to significantly address the nation's energy needs. NOTE: US Embassy Santiago has kindly shared a series of article related to a recent FAO conference on agroenergy and biofuels, held in Santiago July 26-28. If you are interested in reading them, please contact Larissa Stoner. Source - Santiago Times (no link)

23. Brazil: The Vegetable Oil Revolution - From the Kitchen to the Car JULY 24, 2006 - Brazilian energy parastatal Petrobras recently publicized the development of a new diesel fuel, H-Bio, further bolstering Brazil's already prominent position in the world of biofuels. A hydrogenated synthesis of petroleum and vegetable oil, Petrobras is touting the social, environmental and economic benefits of the fuel as well as its capacity to reinforce Brazil's energy independence. Industrial tests of H-Bio began on June 20, and the company expects commercial/industrial production to commence by the end of 2006. While certain obstacles still merit attention, H-Bio fits into Petrobras' long-term emphasis on green fuel development. Source - BRASILIA 1480 ------- General -------

24. Call for Ecological Integration in Mercosur JULY 29, 2008 - Argentine environmentalists have proposed that the countries of Mercosur take a regional focus for drafting policies that involve their shared natural resources. For the first time, a forum of civil society organizations met in parallel to the Mercosur Summit, held July 20-21 in the central Argentine city of Cordoba. ""The environment does not understand borders. Natural resources are shared and so is responsibility for their management,"" Cecilia Iglesias, an activist with the Environmental Network, told Tierramerica. The Network and other environmental groups participating in the parallel forum also called for regulating the activities of highly contaminating industries, harmonizing environmental protection standards amongst the Mercosur members, and ensuring access to public information on related issues. Source - Tierramerica

25. In Chile, Mapuche score Supreme Court win JULY 2006 - The high court ruled that Aguas Araucania, a regional water company privatized in 2004, violated environmental laws by failing to conduct an environmental-impact study (EIS) and a public hearing before starting to build a sewage plant in the Araucania Region. It ordered the company to stop work on the 80,000-gallon (302,000-liter) -per-day plant, which is adjacent to Mapuche land, BRASILIA 00001618 010 OF 011 until it has an approved impact statement. And it concluded that the project, still in its early stages, might threaten the Mapuches' health and right to live in a clean environment, as well as ""their freedom to practice religious ancestral rites..."" Though the court ruling may not be the last word in the case, for Rivera and other of southern Chile's Mapuche Indians, it marks a step forward in their cause to combat what they describe as environmental racism. Source - EcoAmericas (please contact Larissa Stoner for complete article)

26. Brazil: Selective Garbage Collection Expands JULY 15, 2006 - The number of Brazilian communities with systems of selective garbage collection has increased 38 percent, according to a new study by CEMPRE, a business organization that promotes recycling. The southeastern cities of Porto Alegre, Curitiba and Santos are some of the 327 that already have this recycling service in place, and which reaches 25 million Brazilians. CEMPRE director Andre Vilhena [believes] the social commitment in Brazil is greater than in developed countries, so its model for selective collection of waste materials is being exported to other developing countries. CEMPRE has been studying collection of recyclable urban waste since 1994, when just one percent of all waste in Brazil was being recycled. Source - Tierramerica

27. Brazil: Another Highway Threatens the Amazon JULY 15, 2006 - Brazil's Ministry of Environment proposes creating 10 conservation areas along the route of highway BR-319, which will connect the Amazon cities of Porto Velho and Manaus. The aim is to plan an ""organized"" occupation of the land, with farm regulation and a government presence to prevent deforestation, [according to] Mauricio Mercadante, the ministry's director of protected areas. The proposal will be discussed at public hearings in six cities of the region in the next couple weeks. The imminent paving of the route has environmentalists worried -- they see it as a threat to Amazonian ecosystems of vast biodiversity. ""We will only accept it if they ensure protection of indigenous lands and small farms, and benefits for other populations,"" as well as an environmental impact study, said Adilson Vieira, coordinator of the Amazon Working Group, a network of 600 local organizations. Source - Tierramerica

28. Argentina: A Warning on Dune Disappearance JULY 15, 2006 - Sixty percent of the sand dunes have been lost in the last 35 years because of increased human activity in the eastern Argentine city of Puerto Madryn, on the Atlantic coast, says the Patagonia Natural Foundation. Gabriela Degorgue, head of the study presented July 7, stressed that the dunes ""give an identity to the landscape, but they also play a fundamental role in preserving the beach; they protect the cost from erosion and are habitat for unique BRASILIA 00001618 011 OF 011 species."" ""Without protection measure in the short term, there is a risk that there won't be any dunes left to protect,"" she said, urging an end to construction on the beach, restrictions on heavy machinery, and installation of special routes to reach the resorts. Source - Tierramerica Sobel"





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