Greenpeace’s new South African head, and ides of all kinds

New Greenpeace leader
South African Kumi Naidoo has taken over this month as head of Greenpeace, as I mentioned in June. He intends to make his main focus the impact of climate change on the world’s poor, and with the deal in Copenhagen under threat, has already criticised US president Obama, saying that “During his election campaign… every single speech that he gave, he talked about a planet in peril, referring to climate change… We all understood that he ‘got’ it.”

Now, this week, the oil lobbiests will be celebrating as Obama and other world leaders said it would not be possible to reach a climate change deal ahead of next month’s UN conference in Copenhagen. They also dropped a target of halving greenhouse gas emissions by 2050, outlined in an earlier draft.

Without binding targets, the leaders of the world can continue to build coal power stations “in their national interest”, or chop down forests to “make best use of their national resources”.

As Naidoo says, “We can’t change the science. The science is clear. We have to change the politics”. Unfortunately, it’s looking like politics as usual, where the world’s leaders meet and make deals behind closed doors. Greenpeace’s renewed focus on providing a voice to the world’s poor, most vulnerable to climate change, is a welcome breath of fresh air.

Herbicides, Insecticides and Pesticides
Do you know the difference between herbicides, insecticides and pesticides or do your eyes glaze as one ‘ide’ merges into the next? It’s quite simple really. Insecticides kill insects, and herbicides kill plants. Both are pesticides, as are a range of other ‘ides’ designed to kill various other things, such as fungicides (fungi) and alvicides (birds).

It’s easy to be misled if you don’t know the difference. In the US, the use of genetically-modified crops has resulted in a drop in insecticide usage of 29 million kilograms since 1996. How wonderful! Cue organic farming is all a load of nonsense outcry. However, at the same as insecticide use was dropping, thanks mainly to these traits now being present in the crop, herbicide use grew by 174 million kilograms. More worryingly, 46 percent of the total herbicide increase occurred between 2007 and 2008, as the ‘superweed’ phenomenon spreads. Other plants are becoming less susceptible to the herbicides, so more and more are being applied.

Of course farmers who adopt this model are forced to buy a particular brand of herbicide, supplied by the same company that supplied them the seed.

A failed technology, of benefit to biotech company shareholders only.

As Naidoo said in a recent interview, “most starving people live in countries with food surpluses, and worldwide we have more than enough food to go round. The solution to hunger does not lie in genetic manipulation. It lies in resolving the social, political and economic issues that prevent food from reaching hungry people. As the U.N. said in their agriculture assessment, sustainable, ecological farming techniques can do far more to address poverty and food security than G.M.O.s”.

What’s new
Our stock levels are looking healthier again, and there are more old favourites back in stock. We still have Elgin apple juice, as well as apple cider vinegar, jams and grape juice, and Nature Fresh mouthwashes and toothpastes are back too. There’s also tofu, and stacks of new seeds from Sandveld organics. Sandveld provide a valuable service supplying organic seed as more and more seed companies are bought up and put out of business by the biotech giants.

We’re also happy to announce a new collection point in Tokai.

To order, head on over to

Have a fantastic week,
the Ethical Co-op team.