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EU Approves three new GM Crops

“This is a big step backwards for anyone who wants their food to be produced responsibly, fairly, and sustainably.” GM Freeze Director Liz O’Neill

The European Union has approved three biotech soy traits for import and processing. The latest three are:
• Monsanto’s Roundup Ready 2 Xtend with dicamba and glyphosate tolerance
• Monsanto’s Vistive Gold, which is a high oleic soybean with glyphosate tolerance
• Bayer’s Balance GT which offers tolerance to glyphosate and the company’s HPPD inhibitor (developed with MS Technologies)
Commenting on the news that the European Commission has authorised three new GM soybeans for import, after the European Council (member countries) could not reach a decision, GM Freeze Director Liz O’Neill said

“We hear constantly about the hypothetical potential of new GM techniques but this is the real face of GM 2.0 – more monocultures, sprayed with more herbicides.”

The recent US National Academies of Science report on GM highlighted the “major agricultural problems” caused by GM herbicide tolerant crops and EU approval for three more will only make those problems worse.
EU consumers have been voting with their wallets for years. Sales of GM foods are minimal across Europe because they have to be declared on the label. However, that’s not the case with meat, eggs and dairy products from animals fed on GM. Today’s move will bring yet more GM into the UK and the rest of Europe and consumers will find it very difficult to avoid buying GM-fed.
GM Freeze is the UK’s umbrella campaign for a moratorium on GM in food and farming. Members include the Soil Association, Friends of the Earth, farmers, scientists, retailers, and local campaigners.
Europe is a major soybean customer with more than 165 million bushels of exports already in 2016.

Fracking’s affect on Farms Ignored by UK Govt

Frackings impact on farms left out of UK Govts assessment.

A Defra report into the impact of shale gas on the rural economy was released on Wednesday (1 July 2016).
But the 22-page report, much of which had been withheld, devotes just two sentences to farming.
It warns that the industrialisation of the landscape from shale gas exploration could adversely impact farming and rural tourism businesses and that possible surface water pollution could impact people who ate “contaminated wildlife, livestock, or agricultural products”. But Defra has discontinued the study, and a spokesman at the Department for Energy and Climate Change (Decc) said it had not done any specific impact assessment on farming and food production because it was satisfied the risks of fracking could be managed.
Decc said it based this on the findings of two reports – but Farmers Weekly found that neither of these looked in any detail at the impact on farming businesses and food production.

This is despite numerous concerns raised by farmers, the public and MPs about possible water contamination, degradation of farmland, food safety and the potential loss of contracts with processors and retailers.

Tony Holden, a dairy farmer’s son in Lancashire, said he feared supermarkets would ban produce from fracked farmland.

“I’m really worried because if we have an accident on farm and [the well] spurts stuff out, that land is redundant, useless. Farmers aren’t being told the truth,” he said.
Get yourself informed.If anyone comes in a shiny suit and offers up lots of money, they’re probably not the person you want to be dealing with.”

The Most Socially Just Tax?

Should taxes be levied on basic essentials or luxuries?

Although many people in government and politics are reluctant to change the tax regime, we should recognize that our present complicated system for taxation is unfair and has many faults. The biggest problem with taxation is to arrange it on a socially just basis. Many companies employ their workers in various ways and pay them diversely too, and since these companies may be registered in different countries in a number of categories, the whole business of determining what makes up a criterion for a truly just tax payment system becomes impossible, particularly if based on a fair measure of human work-activity. So why try, when there is a far better means available which is really a true and socially just method?

According to classical economist Adam Smith (Ref.1), land is one of the 3 factors of production and the usefulness of land is seen in the price that tenants are willing to pay as rent, for access to the particular site in question. Land is often thought of as being a form of capital since it is traded in the same way as other durable capital goods items; however it is not actually man-made and thus rightly does not fall under the category of capital goods. The land was originally a gift of nature for which all men (and women) should be free to share. However, its site value does depend on human effect, which grows and greatly depends on its location and is usually related to the numbers of the communities in that region plus natural resources such as rivers, minerals, animals or plants of specific use or beauty. Consequently, most of the land value is created by man within his society and therefore its advantage should logically and ethically be returned to the community for public use, as explained by Martin Adams (Ref. 2).

But due to our existing laws, land is owned and formally registered and its value is traded, even though it can’t be moved to another place like many other kinds of capital goods. This right of ownership gives the landlord a big advantage over the rest of the community because he determines how it may be used or if it is to be held out of use, until the city grows and the particular site becomes more valuable. Thus speculation in land values is encouraged by the law in treating a site of land as personal property—as if it were an item of capital goods, even though it is not (see Ref.3).

Regarding taxation and local community spending, the local or municipal taxes we pay are partly used for improving the infrastructure. This means that the land becomes more useful and valuable by itself, and the landlord will always benefit from our present tax regime. This also applies when the status of unused land is upgraded and it becomes fit for community development. Associated with this are the corrupting means of payment for this restricted item of news, when it is leaked to a would-be land value speculator. However, if land values were taxed instead of the many different kinds of production based activities of workers, such as earnings, purchases, capital gains, home and foreign company investments, etc., (with all the associated regulations, their complications and loop-holes) there would be many advantages. The only persons due to lose from this would be those who have been exploiting the growing values of the land over the past many years, when “mere” land ownership confers a financial benefit without the owner doing a scrap of work! Consequently, for a truly socially just form of taxation to apply there can only be one method–Land-Value Taxation. Let us look again at the general situation.

When an explorer discovers a prospect that may be suitable for his/her settlement, (or when a new site is being developed), the land is the first consideration. He/she chooses the place having the most beneficial natural resources. As more settlers arrive they tend to spread around this location. This is because of the greater availability of man-power, when they have difficult jobs that involve coordination and help, and also for reasons of being sociable. Then they can begin to specialize and this means a growing efficiency in producing specific goods. However, the land being occupied on the boarders of the settlement is further away from the business-center and is less useful. Consequently a range of land values develops with the original settler (now holding the village center), having the greatest site value. Marginal land on the edge of the settlement has almost no value, due to the comparatively high cost for bringing its produce to the central market. We should note that this distribution in land values is created by the community and not by the natural resources. As the city expands certain speculators in land values will deliberately hold potentially useful sites out of use, until planning and development have permitted their values to grow and meanwhile there is fierce competition for access to the most suitable sites for housing, agriculture and manufacturing industries. This unavailability of useful land means that the payment of high rents by tenants makes both their residence more costly and the provision of their goods and services more expensive. It also creates unemployment, causing wages to be lowered by the monopolists, whose land has already been obtained when it was cheap. Consequently this basic structure of the macroeconomics system is working to limit opportunity and to create poverty (Ref.3).

The most basic cause of our continuing poverty is the lack of properly paid work and the reason for this is the lack of opportunity of access to the land on which work must be done. The useful land is monopolized by a landlord who either holds it out of use (for purposes in speculation in its rising value), or charges the tenant too much for its right of access. In the case when the landlord is also the producer, he/she has a monopolistic control of the produce and charges more for it than what an entrepreneur having greater opportunity normally would.

A wise and sensible government would recognize that this problem derives from lack of opportunity to work and earn. It can be solved by the use of a tax system which encourages the proper use of land and which stops penalizing everything and everybody else. Such a tax system was proposed 136 years ago by Henry George, a (North) American economist, but somehow macro-economists seems never to have heard of him, in common with a whole lot of other experts. (I would guess that they don’t want to know, which is worse!) In Ref. 4, George proposed a single tax on land values without other kinds of tax on produce, services, capital gains etc. This regime of land value tax (LVT) has 16 features which benefit almost everyone in the economy, except for landlords and banks, who do nothing productive and expect that their land dominance will be its own reward, and believe in having a free lunch!

16 Aspects of LVT Affecting Government, Land Owners, Community and Ethics

Three Aspects for Government:
1. LVT, adds to the national income just as do other taxation systems.
2. The cost of collecting the LVT is much smaller than for income tax and other production-related taxes.
3. With LVT, the national economy stabilizes and no longer experiences the 18 year business boom and bust cycle, because speculation and over-pricing of land ceases.

Six Aspects Affecting Land Owners:
4. LVT is progressive, the owners of the most potentially productive sites pay the most tax.
5. The land owner pays his LVT regardless of how the land is used. When the land is leased to tenants most or all of the resulting ground-rent is the tax.
6. LVT stops the speculation in land prices, because any withholding of land from proper use is no longer worthwhile.
7. The introduction of LVT initially reduces the sales price of sites, even though their value (or potential usefulness) may continue to grow. This is because more sites become available and competition for them is less fierce.
8. With LVT, land owners are unable to pass the tax on to their tenant renters, due to the reduced competition for access to the land that will be in use.
9. With the introduction of LVT, land prices will initially drop. Speculators in land values will tend to foreclose on their mortgages and to withdraw their money for reinvestment. Therefore LVT should be introduced gradually so that it allows investors sufficient time for the speculators to transfer their money to company-shares, where their greater use will meet the increased demand for produce (see below).

Three Aspects Regarding Our Community:
10. With LVT, there is an incentive to use land for production or residence, rather than it laying idle or being partly used.
11. With LVT, greater working opportunities exist due to cheaper land and a greater number of available sites. Consumer goods become cheaper because entrepreneurs have less difficulty in starting-up and running their businesses. Demand grows, unemployment decreases.
12. As LVT is introduced, investment money is withdrawn from land and placed in durable capital goods. This means more advances in technology and cheaper goods too.

Four Aspects About Ethics:
13. The collection of taxes directly from productive effort and commerce is socially unjust. LVT replaces this form of extortion by gathering the surplus rental income, which comes without exertion on the part of the land owner. Consequently LVT is a natural system of money-gathering.
14. Bribery and corruption cease with LVT. Before, this was due to the leaking of news of municipal plans for housing and industrial development.
15. The improved use of the land will reduce the damage being done to the environment due to the sites being held unused being dumping grounds as well as the greater distances needing to be traveled between home and workplace requiring more transportation services and the associated emissions due to unnecessarily fossil fuel use.

16. Because the LVT takes away the advantage that landlords hold over other members of our society, it provides us all with a much greater equality of opportunity to earn a living. Entrepreneurs can operate in a natural way to help provide full employment and this means that earnings will correspond to the rise in the value that the labor or effort has put into the product or service. Consequently, after LVT has been properly introduced it will eliminate poverty.

References:

  1. Adam Smith: “The Wealth of Nations”, 1776.
  2. Martin Adams: “LAND– A New Paradigm for a Thriving World”, North Atlantic Books, California, 2015.
  3. Mason Gaffney and Fred Harrison: “The Corruption of Economics”, Shepheard-Walyn, London, 2005.
  4. Henry George: “Progress and Poverty” 1897, reprinted by Schalkenbach Foundation, NY, 1978.

The Take Back the Land Movement

 

The Take Back the Land- Movement is a American network of organizations dedicated to elevating housing to the level of a human right and securing community control over land. The Movement must be led by impacted communities and is firmly rooted in ‘Positive Action’ campaigns, including those which break the immoral laws which allow banks to gain billions in profit while human beings are made homeless.

http://www.takebacktheland.org/

https://www.facebook.com/pages/Take-Back-the-Land-Movement/

 

Thousand-Huts Campaign, Scotland

Thousand-Huts Campaign, Scotland

The “Thousand Huts” campaign was launched by Reforesting Scotland http://www.reforestingscotland.org on 15 June 2011. The campaign website is: http://www.thousandhuts.org/ [BROKEN LINK]

The Campaign seeks to celebrate, expand, protect & enjoy the use of huts in Scotland for living, working and relaxing in, & it is calling for: changes to the planning system to support hut building, better security of tenure for existing hutters, & an end to the eviction of hutters such as those at Barry Downs & Carnoustie.

Occupy Movement UK

Occupy Movement UK

On 15th October 2011 the Occupy Wall Street protests went global with over 1,000 protests around the world. In the UK occupations occured in a number of towns and cities. In London, activists tried to occupy Paternoster Square in front of the London Stock Exchange & Goldman Sachs. Police removed them, but they reconverged outside St Pauls Cathedral, where they remained for 4 months until they were evicted on 28th Feb 2012. Clergy at St Pauls in media interviews validated the views of the Occupy movement & Occupy’s critique of the current financial system. Occupy London continues to organise events all the time, including Occupy Democracy.

Lammas Low Impact Ecovillage, Pembrokeshire, Wales

http://www.lammas.org.uk/
Lammas Low Impact Ecovillage, Pembrokeshire, Wales:

Welcome to Lammas

The Lammas project has been created to pioneer an alternative model for living on the land. It empowers people to explore what it is to live a low-impact lifestyle. It demonstrates that alternatives are possible here and now.

The project centres around the ecovillage at Tir y Gafel, in North Pembrokeshire, which has been designed using a model that can be replicated across Wales. It combines the traditional smallholding model with the latest innovations in environmental design, green technology and permaculture. The ecovillage was granted planning permission in 2009 by the Welsh Government and is currently part-way through the construction phase. At its heart it consists of 9 smallholdings positioned around a Community Hub building, and it is supported by a range of peripheral projects and networks.

The ecovillage runs guided tours every Saturday from April to October and also runs a range of courses, conferences and events throughout the year.

The project actively supports aspiring low-impact projects in Wales through providing planning guides and resources as well as supporting independent academic studies.

We have just launched this; our new website. Enjoy!

ENGLISH & WELSH FORESTS: NO PUBLIC SELL-OFF …for now

Forest Camapigns NetworkAfter the government was forced to do a u-turn on selling off Britain’s woodlands, they set up a forests panel to help decide what to do next. Their consultation ended on 31st July 2011.

This was TLIO’s response.

On 4th July 2012, the panel published their report, recommending that forests in England & Wales should remain in public-ownership. The Government’s finally responded on 31st Jan 2013, confirming it would not be selling off publicly owned forests in England & Wales . However, in Jul 2013, the Govt published its initial proposals for managing England’s public forests, watering down many of the crucial recommendations in the Independent Panel’s report. To keep up-to-date on the latest developments, see here.

Keveral Farm

http://www.keveral.org/
Keveral Farm, Cornwall:

Keveral Farm is an organic farm community near Looe, Cornwall (in the south-west of England). We are 40 years old this year! The original community was established in 1973, and the farm is now owned and managed co-operatively by the members of the community. We are 10 adults plus a varying number of children. We live in a farmhouse, static caravans, a wooden cabin and a barn conversion.

Our farm-based activities include horticulture and veg boxes, camping including yurts for hire, ecological consultancy, orchards, apple juice and cider, preserves, woodland and tree work, mushrooms…. Some of us also work off the farm.

Volunteer
We take working visitors (including WWOOFers) to help us with our work, in exchange for food and accommodation or camping.