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NEW S & CAMPAIGN S

Deutsche Bank says 'GM is dead' Europe's biggest bank has warned investors to sell their shares in companies producing GM foods, because consumers don't want to buy their products.

tude of their position but, alas, to no avail. Monsanto is little match for Prince Charles, an anti-GMO advocate, when it comes to sensitivity for the English people's desires," the report says.

In a report sent to thousands of institutional investors, Deutsche Bank said that "growing negative sentiment" is causing problems for leading biotech companies like Monsanto and Novartis.

"We note that Monsanto has spent more than $1.5m (about £1 million) to persuade English consumers of the recti­

GM seeds have become so unpopular that the bank likens the technology to nuclear power. They believe the seeds could become "a liability" for farmers: "GMOs are being demonised by their opponents. What food manufacturer will 'take a bullet' for GMO corn in the face of such controversy?"

To add insult to injury, recent US

research shows that yields in GM maize, soya and cotton are not necessarily an improvement on natural strains, nor do they require fewer pesticides.

Falling share prices reflect the consumer backlash. In the last six months, Monsanto's share price has fallen 11 per cent, against a stock market that has seen an overall rise in share values. Delta & Pineland, the company that owns the "Terminator" technology patent, and which Monsanto is in the process of buying, has seen an even more dramatic devaluation - falling 18 per cent.

Getting Abreast of the Problem Cosmetic surgeons in America have reported a disturbing new trends. Girls as young as 16 are queuing up for breast implants.

next phase in their lives."

"It is becoming more and more common to operate on teenagers," said Edward Domanskis, a cosmetic surgeon in Newport Beach, an affluent area just south of Los Angeles.

"It used to be that most women coming in for implants were in their late twenties and early thirties and had had children. We get a lot of girls coming in now around the time they are leaving high school. They want bigger breasts for the

Between 1997 and 1998, the number of breast enhancements performed by members of the American Society of Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery on girls aged 18 and under rose a dramatic 57 per cent to 1,840. The total number of operations, including those done by other surgeons, could be twice that.

The sudden surge in implants can be partly explained by the booming US economy, which has bought the price of a breast operation to a relative low. With credit schemes that offer payments as low as $40 (£25) a month, it is easy for teenagers to earn enough pocket money

over their summer holidays to pay for surgery. But Sybil Goldrich, who runs Command Trust Network, an information service on the dangers of implants, has another explanation:

"These girls have grown up with role models like Britney Spears," she says.Although the 17-year-old pop idol denies having had surgery, teenagers, desperate for a figure like hers, are turning to the surgeon's knife.

"For many of these girls, breasts are a replacement for some very necessary counselling," says Goldrich. "They need to learn to appreciate themselves as a complete person, including their breasts."

Revelations from the Rubble Turkey is planning a nuclear power station, just 20 miles from an earthquake faultline. Meanwhile, Colombian architects have discovered the secret to 'quake proof housing.

death tolls.

In the wake of the recent horrific earthquake in Istanbul, Turkey has come under growing pressure to abandon plans for a nuclear reactor just 20 miles from the Ecemis faultline. Greenpeace has warned that the power station could turn into one of the worst-ever man made disasters. But the government says the reactor, which would be built at Akkuyu Bay on the southern coast, is essential.

Meanwhile, in Colombia, an enormous earthquake last January brought a revelation from the rubble, which may yet yield lessons for countries like Turkey as they recover from the vast

Two of Colombia's towns tell the story. In Barcelona, (population 7,000), where middle-class, European-style houses are built out of concrete, the earthquake caused massive damage and 48 people died. In Pijao, much closer to the earthquake's epicentre, but mostly containing dwellings of 'poor mans' bamboo, only one of the 10,000 inhabitants died - and he lived in a concrete house.

Simon Velez, a bamboo architect, believes the discovery may change the face of Colombian house building. Although popular prejudice still sets a demand for the more expensive concrete houses, Velez has perfected a design whereby a thin layer of mesh-encrusted concrete conceals a sturdy bamboo framework. And, just like "proper" homes, the design features solid foundations and tiles on the roof.

For bamboo dwellers, termites and other wood-munching insects pose the most substantial threat of natural disaster. But, by turning to ancient Japanese wood smoking methods, Velez found that smoking bamboo with naturally pyrolitic wood shavings guarantees an insect-resistant building for 100 years.

Gunter Pauli, of the Zero Emissions Research Initiative (Zeri), is excited: "This is wonderful simple technology; local materials, cut from the surrounding renewable bamboo forest, preserved with natural smoke. Nothing is wasted and nothing is imported, it is earthquake proof, the local people can do it all themselves, and the environment doesn't suffer." And at £1,000 a throw half the price of a concrete house - even the Colombian housing department is showing interest.

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The Ecologist, Vol. 29, No 6, October 1999 'Scotland's Galapagos' to Face Oil Drilling This month, for the first time in 69 years, the descendants of the indigenous people of St Kilda reconvened their ancient parliament The villagers, together with Greenpeace, met to condemn oil developments, scheduled to begin off the island's coast in the next few months.

St Kilda, which lies 100 miles off the Scottish coast, is one of the wildest places in Europe. The last inhabitants moved away in 1930, and since then, puffins, fulmars, and gannets have run riot. Some 400,000 pairs of seabirds nest in the island's cliffs whilst St Kilda's marine life is one of the most diverse ecosystems in the world.

§ Descendants (above) of the original | St Kilda islanders (left) have reconvened S their ancient parliament to protest against ^ oil drilling.

Classed as a World Heritage Site, St Kilda ranks alongside places like the Galapagos Islands, Yellowstone National Park and the Great Barrier Reef. "I f any one of those sites were threatened by oil drilling, there would be an international outcry and that is exactly what there should be over the dangers facing

St Kilda," says Greenpeace director, Lord Peter Melchett.

In the face of resounding indifference from the British government, Greenpeace have turned to the United Nations Education Scientific and Cultural Organisation (UNESCO) to protect St Kilda. But the projected drilling is just

one of many oil contracts approved by British Prime Minister, Tony Blair. Al l in all, 30 companies plan to develop some 22,000 square miles of sea bed across the Atlantic Frontier. The projects, which are worth billions to the British economy, are being vigorously opposed. Greenpeace campaigner Rob Guterbock says; "No one would contemplate putting an oil rig next to the Taj Mahal, but that is exactly what the government is encouraging."

To voice your concerns about the St Kilda oil development, please contact: Greenpeace on stkilda@greenpeace. org or John Prescott, Department of the Environment, Transport and the Regions, Eland House, Bressenden Place, London SW1E 5DU, Tel: 0171 890 3000/energy @ detr. gov. ukfcomplaints @ detr. gov. uk

Thai Tree Trouble Thailand's national forests are for sale. Last week, the Forestry Department handed 175,000 acres of Thailand's public forests over to Chinese investors, to be turned into massive eucalyptus plantations for their paper mills.

Isn't this strange?" asked Sanitsuda Ekachai in the Bangkok Post. "China is such a huge country. I f Eucalyptus plantations are so great, why don't they grow

them themselves?" Because, as extensive Thai government conservation studies have shown, monoculture tree farms are seriously bad for a nation's environmental health.

The move makes a mockery of government conservation measures, not to mention their legal system. In 1992 the cabinet banned tree farms in national forests. Sales of public forest land also give a clear indication of the government's priorities: The fate of thousands

of Thailand's forest villagers comes second to the majesty of foreign investment.

But rolling out the red carpet to Chinese money will only cause trouble. Whether plantations are state or Chinese-owned, local people won't stand for it. A recent attempt by the Thai government to replace national forest with Eucalyptus plantations was scotched when furious farmers ripped up the saplings and smashed down nurseries.

The Ecologist, Vol. 29, No 5, October 1999

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