A blog maintained by Tevita Kete, PGR Officer
Secretariat of the Pacific Community (SPC), Suva, Fiji Islands
This weblog documents the activities of Pacific Agricultural Genetic Resources Network (PAPGREN), along with other information on plant genetic resources (PGR) in the Pacific.
The myriad varieties found within cultivated plants are fundamental to the present and future productivity of agriculture. PAPGREN, which is coordinated by the Land Resources Division of the Secretariat of the Pacific Community (SPC), helps Pacific countries and territories to conserve their crop genetic diversity sustainably, with technical assistance from the Bioversity International (BI) and support from NZAID and ACIAR.
SPC also hosts the Centre of Pacific Crops and Trees (CEPaCT). The CEPaCT maintains regional in vitro collections of crops important to the Pacific and carries out research on tissue culture technology. The CEPaCT Adviser is Dr Mary Taylor (MaryT@spc.int), the CEPaCT Curator is Ms Valerie Tuia (ValerieT@spc.int).
PAPGREN coordination and support
Mr William Wigmore
Mr Adelino S. Lorens
Dr Lois Englberger
Mr Apisai Ucuboi
Dr Maurice Wong
Mr Tianeti Beenna Ioane
Mr Frederick Muller
Mr Herman Francisco
Ms Rosa Kambuou
Ms Laisene Samuelu
Mr Jimi Saelea
Mr Tony Jansen
Mr Finao Pole
Mr Frazer Bule Lehi
Interested in GIS?
Wednesday, March 26, 2008
Posted 1:19 PM by Tevita
From : Global Crop Diversity Trust
Admit it. Together with a cup of coffee, the daily headlines – murders, wars, scandals and the like – pump us up. We are addicted to the drama of it all.
We're not alone. Animal communication, as Prof. Ray Jackendoff of the Center for Cognitive Sciences at Tufts University observes, focuses on the immediate and pressing as well: food, danger, threat, reconciliation.
Chimpanzees, born in captivity, react with terror upon first seeing a snake. No teaching, no learning required. Like other animals, we as a species are hard-wired to respond to imminent threat. Literally hard-wired, according to psychologist Stephen Pinker of Harvard University. We are programmed to react and react quickly to a punch being thrown in our direction, as well as to something that jumps out of the dark and startles us. We have reflexes, physical, mental and social.
We are not hard-wired, it seems, to respond so quickly or appropriately to threats that are around the corner, regardless of their size, certainty or deadliness. Armies can be mobilized over night to counter threats, real or perceived. Climate change, on the other hand, engenders debate and careful consideration as if the biggest danger it poses lies in quick and decisive action. Mobilization takes time.
Politicians dealing with crop diversity are similarly inclined to deal with immediate and flashy issues while underestimating the importance of even larger chronic problems. Focused on financial and legal matters, delegates to a recent meeting of the Governing Body of the International Treaty on Plant Genetic Resources scarcely uttered the phrase "climate change". Lost in earnest discussions of "benefit sharing" was the fact that some 50% of crop diversity collections held in developing countries are in urgent need of rescue and regeneration after years of slow deterioration. The problem was first noted in 1996.
A crop diversity crisis?
Most unique samples could rot and die without an emergency or crisis being proclaimed. We don't immediately feel pain by not conserving crop diversity.
Agricultural crises will occur (that's a certainty), but we will probably never have a "crop diversity crisis", because of the lag time between cause and effect. Today's oversights in caring for this resource provoke tomorrow's emergencies, but at most we are hard-wired only to deal with the latter.
What would constitute a crisis or an emergency for crop diversity? Obvious answer: A big, valuable, unique collection could be wiped out.
But wait; isn't this exactly what is happening? Consider the 50% regeneration figure cited above, based on data supplied by the countries themselves. We are losing diversity. The loss is just not happening quickly enough to be defined, like a punch being thrown at our face, as an imminent threat. That's the good news, I suppose. It's also the bad news.
Hard choices are only made when no other options remain.
For the moment, too many of us are still exploring the option of "business as usual". In international arenas, this manifests itself as old "us versus them" politics as countries jockey for position. They curse and cajole rather than collaborate.
We will have reached a different plane in the decades-old debate over plant genetic resources when our bio-politicians recognize the threat around the corner and start to enunciate and support strategies for dealing with it - when they realize that positioning agricultural systems to provide food security in a climate changed world is the supreme benefit to be generated from crop diversity.
In the plant genetic resources world, neither donor nor recipient is hard-wired to respond to unarticulated threats with unarticulated remedies. But in the absence of such a shared vision, political and financial support is inadequate. Should we be surprised?
Clear and present danger
This does not mean that threats and dangers are not out there, or that plans don't exist for dealing with them. By 2050, the world's population will increase by 37% to 9.2 billion, resulting in a commensurate need for more food. Rising incomes are likely to generate even greater demand. Currently yields of crops that the poor depend upon, such as roots and tubers (cassava, yam, sweet potato, taro) are on track to provide just a 29% increase by 2050, meaning that an already bleak situation will get worse. More frightening, that 29% does not factor in a changing climate and the multitude of additional challenges that will pose to agriculture.
Producing more food will be especially challenging in developing countries, given the additional and negative impact climate change will have. Either we can cut the forests and bring more land into agricultural production - but at what cost? Or, we can try to increase crop yields on existing land. This cannot and will not be done without use of crop diversity.
So here's the threat: 800 million malnourished today, and a very uncertain ability to feed those people, plus many more tomorrow, in an environmentally sustainable manner.
What do we need to do with our collections of crop diversity to prepare for this?
• Identify and secure existing diversity in facilities capable of conserving and distributing it, quickly;
• Safety duplicate it in another genebank plus the Svalbard Global Seed Vault;
• Screen it for traits plant breeders and farmers need now and are about to need, and develop information systems to help users identify and deploy these resources;
• Guarantee funds to maintain a global system in which unique diversity is secured, and encourage countries to provide additional and adequate support to meet their specific national needs regarding conservation and use.
In short, make absolutely sure crop diversity is as safe, as financially secure, and as readily available for use as it can be. Accomplish this and humanity will benefit immeasurably. In the long run, this is the contribution the Trust hopes to make to implementation of the International Treaty, and to humanity.
Pinker and others think humans are hardwired not just to focus on present dangers but to cooperate. Who knows? If he is right, we should soon see some evidence in the field of crop diversity. Climate change and population growth are poised to throw a combination of punches that would impress even Mohammed Ali. But to escape those punches, we have to move now.
Steven Pinker, The Blank Slate: The Modern Denial of Human Nature, Penguin. 2003.
See the website of the International Treaty on Plant Genetic Resources for Food and Agriculture: www.planttreaty.org
The Trust has initiated a massive global initiative addressing virtually all of the bullet points printed above. For more information, visit our website: www.croptrust.org
The Trust has moved into wonderful new offices overlooking the Circus Maximus at the Food and Agriculture Organization of the UN, in Rome. We are grateful to FAO for their generosity and assistance.
Finally, we say "thank you" and bid farewell to our colleague Brigitte Laliberté, who headed our work developing regional and crop conservation strategies. Brigitte assumes a new position as coordinator of the Global Public Goods initiative with the genebanks of the CGIAR, based at Bioversity International. We look forward to continuing to work closely with her!
Tuesday, March 25, 2008
Posted 2:30 PM by Tevita
Banana R&D updates
From : PROMUSA
GM banana trials in Uganda
With the field-testing of genetically modified (GM) bananas, Uganda takes another step towards developing its own transgenic crops.
Is the banana going extinct?
A new book explores the reasons why the days of the Cavendish banana as an export commodity may be counted.
Assessing the impact of improved varieties of banana in East Africa
A new report from the International Food Policy Research Institute highlights the findings from a set of studies to assess the economic impact of improved banana cultivars and management practices.
The causal agent of Black leaf streak sequenced
The sequencing of the Mycosphaerella fijiensis genome was announced at the first meeting of the ProMusa Crop Protection working group.
Newly elected Chairpersons of the ProMusa working groups
The members of each working group have participated in an electronic election to choose the Chairperson and Vice-chairperson of their respective group.
Read more... http://www.promusa.org/index.php?option=com_content&task=blogcategory&id=23&Itemid
First ISHS/ProMusa symposium
Posted 1:50 PM by Tevita
New FAO publication on agricultural biotechnologies
From : SciDev
What role can agricultural biotechnologies play in helping developing countries cope with growing water scarcity?
The summary document of the FAO e-mail conference entitled 'Coping with water scarcity in developing countries: What role for agricultural biotechnologies?' has now been published. It provides a summary of the main issues discussed during this moderated email conference, hosted by the FAO Biotechnology Forum from 5 March to 1 April 2007, based on the messages posted by the participants, 75 per cent of which came from people in developing countries.
The major topics discussed were the application of biotechnologies (mainly genetic modification and marker-assisted selection) to develop crops with improved drought resistance or water use efficiency; the use of bacteria and mycorrhizal fungi in water-limited conditions; and the use of biotechnology in wastewater treatment.
See http://www.fao.org/biotech/logs/C14/summary.htm or contact firstname.lastname@example.org to request a copy.
John Ruane, agricultural officer (Biotechnology) Email: email@example.com
Posted 1:27 PM by Tevita
TRIPS COUNCIL ONCE AGAIN MARKED BY DIVISIONS OVER DISCLOSURE AMENDMENT
From : ICTSD
Longstanding differences on whether WTO rules should be altered to require patent applicants to disclose the use of any biological resources or associated traditional knowledge - on pain of patent revocation - featured prominently at a 13 March meeting of the WTO Council for Trade-Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights (TRIPS).
Brazil, India, Cuba, Peru, Ecuador, Pakistan, Thailand, Venezuela said that there was high and growing support among the WTO Membership for an amendment of the sort they had proposed (IP/C/W/474) in order to protect biodiversity. Uganda expressed a similar view, on behalf of the group of least-developed countries.
Their proposed amendment would include a mandatory requirement to disclose the origin of biological resources and/or associated traditional knowledge in patent applications. It would also require evidence of compliance with prior informed consent and fair and equitable benefit sharing arising from the commercial or other utilisation of such resources and knowledge. They argue that such an amendment - with the threat of revocation if disclosure requirements are not adequately met - is necessary to prevent 'biopiracy'.
The Dominican Republic and the group of African, Caribbean, and Pacific (ACP) countries recently announced their backing for the proposal, prompting their co-sponsors to note that nearly 80 of the WTO's 151 members now support a TRIPS amendment.
Following the typical pattern established for discussions on the issue, the US, Japan, Australia, New Zealand, Canada and Korea said that while they were opposed to bio-piracy, they did not consider a disclosure requirement to be the most efficient way of addressing such concerns.
They added that they were still not convinced about the existence of a conflict between the TRIPS Agreement and the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD), and thus there was no need for amending the WTO rules. They argued for considering alternative methods for preventing the misappropriation of traditional knowledge and genetic material, such as the database system proposed by Japan (IP/C/W/504 and IP/C/W/472). More facts-based discussions on concrete cases of misappropriation are needed, they said.
The EU reiterated that it was prepared to negotiate a disclosure of origin requirement, but that it would not support requirements for either prior informed consent or proof of equitable benefit sharing. However, it contended that the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO), rather than the WTO, was the appropriate forum for discussions on disclosure. The EU also argued that failing to accurately provide information on the origin of biodiversity or traditional knowledge used in an invention should not result in patent revocation, in order to avoid endangering the viability of the patent system. Sanctions, it claimed, should instead be sought outside patent law.
The US, for its part, argued that a disclosure requirement would not address resources exported from countries through normal commercial channels that eventually may be used as starting materials for research and or innovation. It added that due to the tenuous relationship between origin and inventorship, it is not likely that the disclosure proposal would prove effective at achieving its stated purpose.
The TRIPS Agreement itself provides for a review of Article 27.3(b), which deals with the patentability of plants and "essentially biological" processes for producing them. The Doha mandate asked WTO Members to broaden this review to look at the relationship between the TRIPS Agreement, the Convention on Biological Diversity, and the protection of traditional knowledge and folklore.
The TRIPS Council meeting also addressed other issues, such as technical cooperation and capacity-building. The WTO Secretariat urged least-developed countries to submit reports assessing the technical assistance they need to implement the TRIPS Agreement, since only Uganda and Sierra Leone had done so thus far.
Noticeably absent from the meeting's agenda was the enforcement of intellectual property protections, a contentious issue raised regularly by developed countries such as the EU and the US at recent sessions of the council. Developing countries have generally resisted efforts to make enforcement a 'standing issue' on the council's agenda, which would require it to be discussed at each meeting.
The TRIPS Council meeting concluded with the nomination of Ambassador Gail Marie Mathurin (Jamaica) as chair. She succeeds Nigerian Ambassador Yonov Frederick Agah.
Monday, March 24, 2008
Posted 9:14 PM by Tevita
RP faces copra shortage, as biofuel demand rises
By Conrad M. Cariño, Senior Desk Editor
From : The Manila Times
Biofuel’s gain, particularly biodiesel, is copra’s loss.
Demand for biodiesel from coconut will cause a shortage of about 100,000 metric tons (MT) of copra in 2009, according to the administrator of the Philippine Coconut Authority.
Oscar Garin said Friday the country must produce 2.7 million metric tons of copra, the dried meat of coconut, in 2009 to meet the expected demand for coconut methyl ester, the biofuel component from coconut oil.
This will impact on the country’s export of traditional coconut oil, which is processed for use as cooking oil and an ingredient in the processing of food, pharmaceutical products and cosmetics.
But meeting the 2.7-million metric ton production for 2009 will be a tough call, Garin admitted, because copra production has been on a decline since 2005 with a production of 2.6 million metric tons, 2.5 million metric tons in 2006, and 2.3 million metric tons in 2007.
This year, the coconut agency is projecting a 2.43-million metric ton production in copra, with a program encouraging the use of table salt as fertilizer contributing to the increased output.
“Production declined in 2006 because of the typhoons [hitting the country]. But this year’s absence of a dry season favors coconut production,” Garin said.
The coconut agency sees copra production hitting 2.6 million metric tons in 2009.
“Where will we get that 100,000 MT shortfall? That’s the problem,” Garin said.
To increase copra production in the next few years, the coconut agency is alloting P1.98 billion this year and P2.59 billion next year. The propagation of salt as fertilizer is a major program of the agency to increase copra production.
Studies by the coconut agency show that the use of common table salt can increase copra production from 20 percent to 25 percent.
Garin said their ambitious program to plant an additional 16 million coconut trees nationwide in the next three years will impact on copra production in 2009, because it takes up to five years for a coconut tree to be productive from the day it is planted.
The country today has more than 324 million coconut trees planted to more than three million hectares of lands.
The high demand for copra for biodiesel, however, will benefit coconut farmers because they will have an alternative market for their produce, a member of the Farmer Sectoral Council said. The council is a consultative body of farmers under the National Anti-Poverty Council.
Also, a source from the biotechnology industry, told The Manila Times that any shortfall in copra production for cooking oil can be easily met by domestic malunggay production.
The source said malunggay oil has almost the same profile as sunflower oil, which is free of unhealthy trans-fatty acids. The oil from malunggay is extracted from its dried seeds.
This early, there are thousands of entrepreneurial farmers and landowners who are already growing malunggay for its oil, and because the tree can be productive one to two years from planting even without fertilizer or pesticide use.
Posted 8:41 PM by Tevita
Hawaii Lawmakers Tackle Taro Issue
March 20, 2008, 11:48AM
From : Houston News
HONOLULU — State lawmakers considering a 10-year moratorium on genetically engineering taro heard arguments from both sides of the emotionally charged issue Wednesday.
Supporters of the moratorium say the taro plant, which is used to make the starchy food poi, is a vital part of Hawaiian culture and should be kept pure, not genetically altered.
"(Taro) is in our beliefs and our culture," Walter Ritte, 63, told the House Agriculture Committee. "It is in us."
Supporters held signs that read, "No GMO taro" and "Save the taro," and carried taro plants as they spoke.
Hanohano Naehu, 31, a taro farmer on Molokai, said biotechnology companies were looking to profit from genetically modified taro.
"This is about greed," he said.
But opponents of the moratorium say Hawaii's taro is in danger from insects and diseases, and genetic modification could produce taro capable of withstanding these threats.
Previous research has involved introducing disease-resistant genes from other plants into the native taro.
"It would be foolish to throw away any potential tool that could help to sustain taro production on Hawaii," said Susan Miyasaka, an agronomist at the University of Hawaii at Manoa.
The bill lawmakers are considering would ban taro genetics research at the university and other institutions.
Miyasaka said disease has contributed to a decline in the number of Hawaiian varieties of taro as well as its yield per acre.
Alan Takemoto, executive director of the Hawaii Farm Bureau, said lawmakers should reject the moratorium but find a way to protect Hawaiian varieties with cultural significance.
"We are unable to support (the moratorium) because it puts a restraint on research and technology that could benefit our farmers," he said.
Other opponents say the moratorium would create the perception that Hawaii was against scientific research and technology, which could keep businesses away and hurt the state's economy.
The House Agriculture Committee heard hours of testimony Wednesday. It is expected to vote on the measure at a later date.
Posted 8:07 PM by Tevita
Go Green With Coconut Doormats
Sunday, March 23, 2008 2:38:49 PM
From : 13 Central Florida News
Allison Walker, Your Home
The folks at The Personalized Doormats Company said if you do not use a doormat every time you go into your home, 50 percent more dirt would accumulate. That is why they said a doormat is a natural way to keep your home clean.
"That's the first line of defense," said Jill Mecca, who helps run the Lake Mary-based company.
Mecca was at a home and garden show in Orlando with a display that can help you go green. She said choosing a mat made out of coconut -- or the fibers from coconut husks, called coir -- are 100 percent natural.
"They're really rugged and durable, and they have that great scraping action to run dirt off your feet," Mecca said.
Another benefit of a coir mat is something not all synthetic doormats can do.
"They're naturally mold and mildew-resistant, as coconuts are, because they sit on the beach," Mecca said.
The catch is that you do not want to plop this mat down anywhere. Coir doormats do not do well in an uncovered entryway.
Some flooring experts said direct exposure to rain can cause the mat to curl and lose its weave.
Also, you might have a hard time finding them in stores. According to an online encyclopedia, India and Sri Lanka produce 90 percent of the coir produced every year, and half of it stays in those countries
Posted 7:37 PM by Tevita
SAMOA'S ORGANIC COCONUT OIL A GOOD TEMPLATE
From: Pacific Radio News
Date: 25 March 2008
Auckland 6am: Samoa's ground breaking international success with marketing its organic coconut oil is being held up as a model for other Pacific countries.
Recently an initiative from the Samoan Women in Business organisation resulted in a major contract being signed to supply the international skincare firm The Body Shop with up to 30 tonnes a year of certified organic coconut oil.
There are about 200 organic farms in Samoa, and they're earning just over $3 for a kilo for the oil, with another 50 cents a kilo going into a community development fund.
Oxfam Director Barry Coates says the organic niche market increases the coconut oil's value by 40% and if copied by other producers, it could be a major boom for Pacific exports. (LISTEN)
Posted 5:01 PM by Tevita
Biofuels : the fake climate solution
From : Avaaz.org
Each day, 820 million people in the developing world do not have enough food to eat. Food prices around the world are shooting up, sparking food riots from Mexico to Morocco. And the World Food Program warned last week that rapidly rising costs are endangering emergency food supplies for the world's worst-off.
How are the wealthiest countries responding? They're burning food.
Specifically, they're using more and more biofuels--alcohol made from plant products, used in place of petrol to fuel cars. Biofuels are billed as a way to slow down climate change. But in reality, because so much land is being cleared to grow them, most biofuels today are causing more global warming emissions than they prevent, even as they push the price of corn, wheat, and other foods out of reach for millions of people.
Not all biofuels are bad--but without tough global standards, the biofuels boom will further undermine food security and worsen global warming. Click here to use our simple tool to send a message to your head of state before this weekend's global summit on climate change in Chiba, Japan, and help build a global call for biofuels regulation:
Sometimes the trade-off is stark: filling the tank of an SUV with ethanol requires enough corn to feed a person for a year7. But not all biofuels are bad; making ethanol from Brazilian sugar cane is vastly more efficient than US-grown corn, for example, and green technology for making fuel from waste is improving rapidly.
The problem is that the EU and the US have set targets for increasing the use of biofuels without sorting the good from the bad. As a result, rainforests are being cleared in Indonesia to grow palm oil for European biodiesel refineries, and global grain reserves are running dangerously low. Meanwhile, rich-country politicians can look "green" without asking their citizens to conserve energy, and agribusiness giants are cashing in. And if nothing changes, the situation will only get worse.
What's needed are strong global standards that encourage better biofuels and shut down the trade in bad ones. Such standards are under development by a number of coalitions8, but they will only become mandatory if there's a big enough public outcry. It's time to move: this Friday through Saturday, the twenty countries with the biggest economies, responsible for more than 75% of the world's carbon emissions9, will meet in Chiba, Japan to begin the G8's climate change discussions. Before the summit, let's raise a global cry for change on biofuels:
A call for change before this week's summit won't end the food crisis, or stop global warming. But it's a critical first step. By confronting false solutions and demanding real ones, we can show our leaders that we want to do the right thing, not the easy thing.
As Kate, an Avaaz member in Colorado, wrote about biofuels, "Turning food into oil when people are already starving? My car isn't more important than someone's hungry child."
It's time to put the life of our fellow people, and our planet, above the politics and profits that too often drive international decision-making. This will be a long fight. But it's one that we join eagerly--because the stakes are too high to do anything else.
Ben, Ricken, Iain, Galit, Paul, Graziela, Pascal, Esra'a, Milena -- the Avaaz.org team
 World Food Programme. "Hunger Facts." Accessed 10 March 2008. http://www.wfp.org/aboutwfp/facts/hunger_facts.asp
 The Sunday Herald (Scotland). "2008: The year of global food crisis." 9 March 2008. http://www.sundayherald.com/news/heraldnews/display.var.2104849.0.2008_the_year_of_global_food_crisis.php
 The Australian: "Biofuels threaten 'billions of lives'" 28 February, 2008. http://www.theaustralian.news.com.au/story/0,25197,23336840-11949,00.html
 AFP: "WFP chief warns EU about biofuels." 7 March 2008. http://afp.google.com/article/ALeqM5hpCFf3spGcDQUuILK5JFV-6NL1Dg
 New York Times: "Biofuels Deemed a Greenhouse Threat." 8 February 2008. http://www.nytimes.com/2008/02/08/science/earth/08wbiofuels.html
 The Times: "Rush for biofuels threatens starvation on a global scale." 7 March 2008. http://www.timesonline.co.uk/tol/news/environment/article3500954.ece ... also see BBC: "In graphics: World warned on food price spiral." 10 March 2008. http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/world/7284196.stm
 The Economist: "The end of cheap food." 6 December 2007. http://www.economist.com/opinion/displaystory.cfm?story_id=10252015
 See http://www.globalbioenergy.org, http://cgse.epfl.ch/page70341.html, and http://www.timesonline.co.uk/tol/news/environment/article3489640.ece.
 Government of Japan. "Percentage of global carbon dioxide emissions (FY 2003) contributed by G20 nations." http://www.env.go.jp/earth/g8/en/g20/index_popup.html
Posted 4:36 PM by Tevita
We organize the Vth "CIPAM" : "Colloque International sur les Plantes Aromatiques et Médicinales" from 3 to 6 november 2008 at Nouméa
From : APPAM
The International Symposium on Aromatic and Medicinal plants (CIPAM) brings together participants from french overseas regions and other communities. It was first staged in Reunion Island in 2000 then took place in Guadeloupe (2001), French Guiana (2004) and French Polynesia in 2006. It will next be hosted by New Caledonia in 2008 (5th CIPAM) before a possible date in Paris in 2010.
CIPAM 5 aims to promote the understanding and beneficial use of the aromatic and medicinal plants of New Caledonia and its geographical area, but also of all overseas territories and regions. To include a topic specific to New Caledonia, a theme relating to indigenous (native or endemic) plants offering ornamental and horticultural development potential is included. The goal is to give impetus to research and facilitate cooperation between stakeholders and scientific community specialists, industrial and economic stakeholders, traditional practitioners and members of the Melanesian community in the areas concerned.
After the symposium, the information and papers presented will be published; a list of resource persons will be circulated; possible projects or production agreements could be considered or facilitated; scientific and technological cooperation arrangements will probably emerge. Lastly, the most up-to-date information on regulations and legislation on these plants in the Pacific, France, Europe and the United States will have been offered to all.
The symposium will take place over 3 ½ days, with the opening at the Tjibaou Cultural Centre and 3 days of discussion at the IRD Noumea Centre. Attending will be specialist scientists but also industry professionals and traditional knowledge holders.
Natural substances of terrestrial origin and their bioactivity
Fragrances and cosmetics
Legislation on aromatic and medicinal plants and their economic use.
Research on traditional pharmacopoeias, medicinal plants, ethno-pharmacological approach, laboratory assessments.
It is relevant to state that the Pacific contains a major part of the world’s linguistic diversity and that investigation proceeds by cultural regions as defined by language.
Guest of Honour: Dr. Jacques Fleuventin, President of the French Society of Ethnopharmacology.
Plants containing essential oils, fragrant substances or terpenoids.
The perfume and cosmetic industries are always seeking new fragrances, with research focussing on terpenoids and essential oils.
Guest of Honour: Prof. Chantal Menut, ENSC, Montpellier
Chemistry of Natural Substances.
This cross-cutting topic is related to natural substances and their activity. Chemistry and biology are therefore essential tools for identifying the structure-activity relationship of bioactive molecules, especially those of therapeutic value.
Guest of Honour: Prof. Yoshi Asakawa, University of Tokushima Burni, Japan.
Tinctorial Natural Substances.
Research on tinctorial plants is frequently based on an ethno-botanical approach and the investigation of natural substances, many of which have cyclic structures or conjugated double bonds. This research is at an early stage in the Pacific.
Guest of Honour: Dr. Dominique Cardon, CNRS.
Native Ornamental Plants.
Plant genetic resources for the development of potential ornamental plants will be the main topic of this session. Relatively recent in New Caledonia, this theme is following the world trend of new ornamentals adapted to each region. It is also a way to fill the global market’s demand for innovative products.
Guest of Honour: Dr. Margaret Johnston, Floriculture Programme, University of Queensland.
Cultural, Heritage and Legal Aspects.
The legal aspects of the ethno-pharmacological approach, the legal protection of traditional knowledge, intellectual property and the implementation of the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD) in New Caledonia and in the Pacific will be addressed.
Guest of Honour: Dr. Clark Peteru, Samoan lawyer and founder member of the Call of the Earth Programme, Pacific Regional Environment Programme.
Last Updated ( Friday, 08 February 2008 )
Monday, March 10, 2008
Posted 5:32 PM by Tevita
USDA launches $275K in conservation grants
From : Saipan Times
HONOLULU-USDA-NRCS Pacific Islands Area director Lawrence Yamamoto announced the request for proposals for State Conservation Innovation Grants competition. The CIG program is designed to stimulate the development and adoption of innovative conservation approaches and technologies. The deadline to apply is March 31, 2008.
"Conservation Innovation Grants offer islanders a unique opportunity to test and establish new conservation tools that will help protect natural resources as they work on our island farms, ranches, and forest land," said Yamamoto. "We must produce food and fiber for our families. The NRCS Conservation Innovation Grant is an opportunity to help our island community find ways that are relevant and specific to our islands to meet these needs while protecting our natural resources for our children’s children," he said.
USDA’s Natural Resources Conservation Service Pacific Islands Area administers the State CIG. For Fiscal Year 2008, up to $275,000 is available for the state CIG competition. Funds for single- or multi-year projects, not to exceed three years, will be awarded through an area wide competitive grants process with applications accepted from Hawaii, Guam, American Samoa, and the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands from all eligible government or non-government organizations or individuals, including federally recognized tribes.
Applicants should explain how large a geographic area the project would benefit. These projects may be at the field, farm or watershed scale and must be located on one or more islands within the Pacific Islands Area. Applications should describe the use of innovative technologies or approaches, or both, to address a natural resource conservation concern or concerns.
Funding for CIG is made available through the Environmental Quality Incentives Program. All proposed CIG projects must involve EQIP-eligible producers. CIG funds that are used to provide direct or indirect payments to individuals or entities to implement structural, vegetative or management practices are subject to the $450,000 EQIP payment limitation. CIG is not a research program but rather a tool to stimulate the adoption of conservation approaches or technologies that have been studied sufficiently to indicate a high likelihood of success, and are likely candidates for eventual technology transfer.
CIG will fund projects targeting innovative on-the-ground conservation, including pilot projects and field demonstrations. Technologies and approaches that are commonly used in the geographic area covered by the application, and which are eligible for funding through EQIP, are not eligible for funding through CIG. Proposed projects must conform to the description of innovative conservation projects or activities published in the Announcement of Program Funding.
CIG funds pilot projects and conservation field trials that can last from one to three years. Grants for approved projects cannot exceed 50 percent of the total project cost. At least 50 percent of the total cost of the project must come from non-Federal matching funds (cash and in-kind contributions) provided by the grantee. Qualified applicants from Guam, American Samoa and the Commonwealth of the Northern Marianas Islands may request a waiver of matching requirements subjects to the terms contained in existing legislation. While NRCS will provide technical oversight for each project receiving an award, the grantee is responsible for providing the technical assistance required to successfully complete the project. To view the Announcement of Program Funding or to apply visit: http://www.grants.gov/. For more information about the State CIG program, contact Michael Whitt, CIG Program Manager at 808-541-2600 ext. 153 or Michael.Whitt@hi.usda.gov. For more information about NRCS conservation programs visit http://www.hi.nrcs.usda.gov or visit the nearest USDA Service Center. (USDA)
Posted 4:27 PM by Tevita
Invitation to e-forum Global Agro-Industries Forum : Improving Competitiveness and Development Impact
From : Paul FAO SAPA
The Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO), in partnership with the United Nations Industrial Development Organization (UNIDO), the International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD) and the Government of India (GOI), will convene a Global Agro-Industries Forum: Improving Competitiveness and Development Impact, in New Delhi, India during the period 8 to 11 April 2008.
This e-forum is being conducted in preparation for twelve competitiveness round table discussions that will be conducted during the Global Forum. The purpose of the e-forum is two-fold:
(i) to take the roundtable discussions to the public in an effort to identify issues and experiences to be brought to the attention of the round table panellists; and
(ii) to highlight areas of interest and priorities for the Regional Workshops expected to be organized following the Global Forum.
The twelve round table discussions are set up under three clusters below to address what we consider to be the major drivers of agro-industrial competitiveness:
o Organization and Services
o Development and Innovation
o Operations and Enabling Environment
Posted 2:03 PM by Tevita
International rules and procedures in the field of liability and redress for damage arising from transboundary movements of living modified organisms
From : THIRD WORLD NETWORK BIOSAFETY INFORMATION SERVICE
The Fifth meeting of the Ad Hoc Open-ended Working Group of Legal and Technical Experts on Liability and Redress in the context of the Protocol will be held from 12-19 March 2008 in Cartagena, Colombia. The Working Group is in the process of elaborating the international rules and procedures in the field of liability and redress for damage arising from transboundary movements of living modified organisms, as mandated by Article 27 of the Protocol.
Greenpeace International has prepared several briefing documents for the meeting:
(1) A backgrounder which provides an overview of the issues. This is intended to supplement the earlier backgrounder and FAQ which were provided at the 4th meeting.
(2) A summary and analysis table, which updates the table provided for the 4th meeting. This is intended to help guide delegates through the Revised Working Draft and its options and act as a kind of table of contents. As before, the table sets out various issues and suggests some answers, in an effort to clarify the process.
(3) A briefing on the need for a fund mechanism for damage caused by LMOs, and its possible function and structure.
(4) A compilation document, which puts all the operating text suggestions by Greenpeace together into one contiguous document.
The backgrounder is reproduced below. All these documents can be found at http://www.biosafety-info.net/meetart.php?mid=23
Wednesday, March 05, 2008
Posted 3:14 PM by Tevita
Areas of Conservation Risk Mapped
From : Spatial Sustain
Other Links : http://journals.royalsociety.org/content/e2765374404n5444/
Researchers at the University of California, San Diego have mapped the globe with an eye toward areas that should be protected the most from habitat loss due to climate change. The maps reveal the ‘battlegrounds’ for conservation, pinpointing the areas where conservation investment would have the most impact for future biodiversity.
The researchers mapped regions that face the greatest habitat from climate change in relation to the amount of land protected and that region’s biodiversity. Areas with a great species diversity, such as Indonesia and Madagascar, have the fewest resources for conservation, whereas areas with networks of reserves (Austria, Germany, Switzerland) have far less biodiversity but greater resources for conservation.
“Tropical countries are currently sitting on vast tracts of forests that are substantial carbon sinks and if they can get adequate financial help to protect these habitats, both global climate change and biodiversity loss could be mitigated,” said Tien Ming Lee, a graduate student and the first author of the study.
Posted 12:47 PM by Tevita
Film festival calls for Pacific climate change stories
From : PACNEWS
05 MARCH 2008 APIA (Pacnews) ------- The Secretariat of the Pacific Regional Environment Programme (SPREP), in partnership with the British High Commission, Suva, is calling for submissions to the Pacific's inaugural Climate Change Film Festival to be held in August 2008 in Suva, Fiji.
The Festival will showcase stories about the impacts of, and responses to, climate change in the region.
The Festival is open to all films (animations, documentaries, music videos, short commentaries etc.) that highlight climate change issues within the Pacific. All films must be received by SPREP by 1 July 2008 to be considered for inclusion within the Festival.
Through this project, SPREP hopes to highlight the work that is being undertaken to mitigate the effects and adapt to the impacts of climate change by Pacific islanders. The Pacific islands region is one of the
most vulnerable in the world to the impacts of climate change, and raising the profile of this issue is a key priority for SPREP.
Director of SPREP, Asterio Takesy, said that it was critical to highlight the effects of climate change on Pacific island communities and promote the solutions that can reduce its impacts.
“The threat to day-to-day life in our region posed by climate change can sometimes be lost in the scientific and technical discussion.
Climate change is a clear and present danger in the Pacific region.
The Climate Change Film Festival is an excellent opportunity to arm filmmakers in the region with the skills to portray the specific challenges their communities and nations face in climate change, now and in the future, and to share these experiences and concerns with others in the Pacific and the world.”
The Festival is part of the Pacific Climate Change Film Project, an innovative partnership to train and support media professionals, filmmakers and storytellers from Pacific countries to share community
stories about climate change.
As part of the three-phase programme, participants from Fiji, Kiribati, Tonga, Tuvalu and Vanuatu underwent training in documentary filmmaking, learnt about climate change issues facing the region, and are now receiving support to produce their own films in country.
One of the participants, Naamon Marae from Kiribati, is grateful for the opportunity to share his country's unique climate change story through his short film.
“We are already feeling the effects of climate change especially with the increasing high tide and the frequent droughts. I hope my film will raise people's awareness to Kiribati's vulnerabilities and
thereby prompt policy makers to act without delay.”
Two independent filmmakers from the Cook Islands and Samoa are also participating in this initiative. All films will be shown at the Festival as part of this project……..PNS (ENDS)
More information and entry forms visit: www.sprep.org/climate_change/filmproject/
For further details please contact SPREP Associate Media and Publications Officer, Nanette Woonton, T: (686) 21929, firstname.lastname@example.org
Tuesday, March 04, 2008
Posted 6:16 PM by Tevita
GMO taro bill moves forward
From : The Garden Island
Would put moratorium on developing GMO strains
by Rachel Gehrlein - THE GARDEN ISLAND
Supporters of a Senate bill aimed to impose a 10-year moratorium on the developing, testing and raising of genetically modified taro are relieved, after waiting for more than a year, that the bill will be heard on March 19.
After Senate Bill 958 was first introduced in January 2007 it failed but was carried over to the 2008 legislative session.
“We were very stubborn telling them (lawmakers) the bill needs to be heard,” said Chris Kobayashi, a Kaua‘i taro farmer. “The 10-year moratorium is just a time out so things could be explored further.”
Jeri DiPietro of GMO Free Kaua‘i agrees.
“(The bill) asks for a temporary moratorium, a time out,” DiPietro said.
“It is a moment to evaluate and use precaution in a new situation. If only a second look had been given before the Department of Agriculture allowed the importation of the apple snail and let it rage out of control into pest status.”
Kobayashi said the idea of GMO taro is scary because on the genetic level, if the taro is modified from the original plant, “we can never bring it back.”
“As farmers, we wouldn’t be able to see the difference,” Kobayashi said. “There is a lot of sharing of huli (the starts of taro) between farmers.”
Rep. Mina Morita, D-Kapa‘a-North Kaua‘i, said taro is a food crop that has cultural implications that scientists need to be aware of.
“The scientists should be responsible to the individual,” Morita said. “If individuals think GMO research is not necessary at this time, and the farmers don’t want to grow it and the consumers don’t want to eat it, who does it benefit?”
Wayne Nishijima, associate dean with the University of Hawai‘i’s College of Tropical Agriculture and Human Resources, said the university signed an agreement with the Royal Order of Kamehameha I a few years ago to not conduct GMO tests on known Hawaiian varieties of taro.
But Nishijima said the Hawaiian taro’s susceptibility to various pests, such as Phytophthora colocasiae — a fungus-like organism that invaded American Samoa taro in 1993 — could be solved with genetic engineering.
“The current GE project (at UH) is on Chinese taro to develop resistant varieties to Phytophthora blight,” Nishijima said. “No Hawaiian varieties have been genetically engineered, but we have researchers doing traditional breeding to develop Phytophthora resistant cultivars, but it takes time.”
But because none of the Hawaiian varieties have Phytophthora resistance, taro from other locales must be used, Nishijima said.
Nishijima feels that because UH has already signed a moratorium, there is no need for a law to be passed to create another moratorium.
“In my opinion, extending the moratorium to include genetic engineering of non-Hawaiian taro varieties does not follow their argument of infringement of their cultural rights and heritage,” Nishijima said. “What it will do is significantly limit our ability to address current and future problems. If the bill passes, it will put taro in a position to make it vulnerable to the devastation by new invasive species.”
In support of SB 958 imposing the moratorium, the Kaua‘i County Council has drafted Resolution 2008-04. The resolution is scheduled to be heard at the council meeting on March 12.
“We need as many testimonies as is possible to support SB 958,” DiPietro said in an e-mail. “You need not be a farmer. Consumers have a right to a choice too.”
GMO Free Kaua‘i will also hold a rally in support of the SB 958 today from 4 to 6 p.m. at the gateway at Lihu‘e Airport.
• Rachel Gehrlein, staff writer, can be reached at 245-3681 (ext. 225) or
Monday, March 03, 2008
Posted 5:43 PM by Tevita
WOMEN MUST PARTICIPATE IN ALL ASPECTS OF CLIMATE CHANGE DEBATE, IN PARTICULAR DECISION-MAKING ON ADAPTATION, MITIGATION, SAY SPEAKERS IN WOMEN'S COMMISSION
From : Media Newswire
(Media-Newswire.com) - With women making up the majority of the poor in developing countries and in communities that are highly dependent on natural resources, experts participating in the work of the Commission on the Status of Women today argued that practical solutions to the escalating global warming crisis hinge on women’s participation in all aspects of the climate change debate, including mitigation and adaptation.
During a lively interactive discussion on “gender perspectives on climate change”, the emerging issue the Commission had chosen to consider during its current session, a diverse panel of experts cited numerous studies showing that global warming was not a gender-neutral process. When natural disasters struck or severe weather changes occurred, they affected men and women differently, because, in most cases, their roles and responsibilities were based on inequalities.
To make matters worse, women were also underrepresented in decision-making about climate change and, most critically, in discussions and decisions about adaptation and mitigation, and disaster risk management. The panel called on Governments -- and the members of the Commission -- to empower women to participate in planning and decision-making, especially towards the development and implementation of gender-sensitive policies and programmes.
“When women’s rights are not protected, more women than men will die from disasters,” said Lorena Aguilar, Senior Adviser to the World Conservation Union, who decried the fact that the climate change debate had mostly been “gender blind”. But women were powerful agents for change and their leadership should be considered one of the priorities in adaptation and risk reduction strategies. “The issue of climate change is too important to ignore the voice of half the world’s population,” she added.
Further, given that gender equality was a prerequisite for sustainable development and poverty reduction, the inequalities that were magnified by climate change slowed progress towards those goals as well. Therefore, she called for, broader support for the development of a gender strategy or plan of action within the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change, and the establishment of a system for Governments to use gender-sensitive indicators and criteria when they reported to the Convention’s Secretariat.
Minu Hemmati, of Women for Climate Justice ( GenderCC ), said that, as the international community geared up to draft, by the end of 2009, a post-Kyoto Protocol strategy to protect the Earth’s climate, ensuring women’s voices in the process was of the utmost urgency. “This process will need a lot of awareness-building,” she said, because neither the Framework Convention nor the Protocol mentioned women or gender. And, even though it appeared that attitudes were changing and gender equality was now seen by some as a core principle of mitigating climate change and adapting to its impacts, women’s participation in relevant negotiations must be consistent and continuous.
“The expertise is not there and needs to be brought in at national and international levels,” she continued, urging the members of the Commission to go back to their respective environment ministers and press for such participation. “Don’t mind the raised eyebrows,” she said. Women’s advocates must “talk up” the visible effects of climate change, from increasing desertification to increasing and more intense flooding worldwide, and their impacts on women, as well as men and societies as a whole. “We must make this a conversation about sustainable development. I think that is the goal,” she concluded.
Rachel Nampinga, Programmes Director of Eco-Watch Africa, said that, in many cases, women’s economic livelihoods and social roles relied directly on forest resources, so they were, therefore, disproportionately harmed by deforestation and had stronger interests than men in forest preservation. In Africa, girls and women spent long hours every day collecting wood, agricultural residues and dung for use as fuel; such time could be used for more productive activities. Their educational and income-generation opportunities were limited by a lack of modern energy services, keeping their families trapped in poverty.
Echoing the other experts, she said women’s participation in decision-making and in mitigation and adaptation instruments was still very low. Since male perspectives dominated in climate protection and planning processes, mechanisms created thus far failed to take into account the practical and strategic needs of women. “But the most vulnerable groups to climate change should be involved in developing adaptation and mitigation strategies,” she said, noting that African women were beginning to play important roles in tropical forest preservation. For example, in Zimbabwe, women’s groups managed forest resources and development projects through woodlot ownership, tree planting and nursery development.
The panel, which was moderated by Commission Vice-Chairperson Ara Margarian ( Armenia ), also included Anastasia Pinto, adviser to the Centre for Organization, Research and Education, and Woro B. Harijono, Director-General of the Meteorological and Geophysical Agency of Indonesia.
The Commission also continued its general debate today, hearing from some 33 delegations, which included representatives of several civil society groups, who touched on some other key topics. A speaker for the Coalition against Trafficking in Women said that trafficking in women and children was one of the most devastating forms of gender-based violence. Worse, it was on the rise, because it was being driven, in many parts of the world, by lax attitudes towards prostitution. Prostitution should not be labelled “sex work”, as if it were just another ordinary job. It should be seen as codifying male sexual privilege and a driver of a vicious cycle that included sexual trafficking and exploitation.
On gender-responsive budgeting, a representative of the Asia-Pacific Caucus said that State commitments on financing for gender equality had not gone far enough. Indeed, there remained a gap between commitments and full implementation on the ground, as practical application of plans and policies was challenged by non-effective financing. Millions of women in the Asia-Pacific, therefore, lacked sustainable livelihoods and full health care and lived in fear of violence and abuse. With all that in mind, she said, the achievement of full gender equality required more effective and widespread implementation and monitoring of gender-responsive budgeting, with gender impact statements included in national budgets.
Also participating in the general discussion were the Ministers of Gender and Women’s Affairs of Zimbabwe and Kenya, and the Vice-Minister of Burundi.
The discussion also included interventions from senior Government officials of Turkey, Syria, Israel, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Jamaica, Cambodia, Netherlands, Viet Nam, Kuwait, Thailand, Canada, New Zealand, United Kingdom, Barbados, Spain, Pakistan, Malaysia, Philippines, Armenia and Fiji, as well as statements by representatives of Japan, Denmark, Malta, Uganda and Portugal.
Posted 2:45 PM by Tevita
Health educators in American Samoa pushing healthy eating in Nutrition Month
From : Radio New Zealand International
Posted at 22:41 on 02 March, 2008 UTC
Health Educators in American Samoa are using "Nutrition Month" which has just got underway to spread the healthy eating message.
A study on non communicable diseases conducted in 2004 puts American Samoa among the top five Pacific island countries when it comes to obesity.
The Maternal Child Health Educator, Rosita Alailima Utu, says the numbers from the 2004 study give cause for concern:
“47.3 per cent of the population in our country are diabetic and 29.9 per cent of the adult population are regular smokers. Now the reason we are promoting this regular physical activity as well as nutrition, especially with nutrition month being in March, 93 point 5 per cent of the population are overweight and 74 point 6 per cent are obese.”
Posted 2:35 PM by Tevita
Cassava biofuel project on positive outlook
From : Didinet Issue 4, 2008
The multi-million kina cassava biofuel project in the Central Province has commenced the first phase of commercialising the cultivation of cassava.
A field day was organised recently at the project site in the Launakalana area of Rigo District to showcase the collaborative efforts by the Papua New Guinea Government and the Korean investor, Changhae Group, which gave birth to a pioneering industry in the country and may one day see PNG become a major player in the biofuel arena in the region.
Senior officials from the Department of Agriculture and Livestock (DAL), Central Provincial Administration, Department of Trade and Industry, Changhae Group, National Agricultural Research Institute (NARI) and community leaders attended the field day.
Prime Minister Grand Chief Sir Michael Somare officiated at the ground breaking ceremony at Bore village in the Rigo area on April 19, 2007, and since then the investor and stakeholders have been working patiently to commence operations.
At the field day, villagers and visitors were shown the progress that has been made so far. Led by DAL and Central Provincial Administration with technical advice from NARI and visiting cassava experts brought in by Changhae, a nursery has been established to plant nine selected varieties. From the nursery work on replication and multiplication of the nine varieties, the seedlings will be transferred to the company estate at Bore and also distributed to surrounding areas for out-grower and smallholder plantings. Associated facilities and infrastructure, including equipment, have been set up at the Bore estate and additional technical staff will soon arrive to take up various duties.
Changhae has plans to develop over 20,000 hectares of land in Launakalana for its nucleus plantations. In addition, it will encourage, to the extent possible, local farmers to grow and supply cassava to the company. High yielding varieties of cassava will be selected and made available to the farmers for cultivation. The farmers will grow cassava and process it into chips by cleaning, chopping and drying them in the sun. These dried chips can be stored for longer periods before they are sold to Changhae, which will initially export to Korea and other countries for processing into ethanol. The second phase of the project will see the setting up of an ethanol plant adjacent to the nucleus plantation where the chips will be processed locally into ethanol and sold to overseas markets.
Agrobiodiversity Weblog: For discussions of conservation and sustainable use of the genetic resources of crops, livestock and their wild relatives.