"A new earthquake" is what peasant farmer leader Chavannes Jean-Baptiste of the Peasant Movement of Papay (MPP) called the news that Monsanto will be donating 60,000 seed sacks (475 tons) of hybrid corn seeds and vegetable seeds, some of them treated with highly toxic pesticides. The MPP has committed to burning Monsanto's seeds, and has called for a march to protest the corporation's presence in Haiti on June 4, for World Environment Day.
In an open letter sent May 14, Chavannes Jean-Baptiste, the executive director of MPP and the spokesperson for the National Peasant Movement of the Congress of Papay (MPNKP), called the entry of Monsanto seeds into Haiti "a very strong attack on small agriculture, on farmers, on biodiversity, on Creole seeds ... and on what is left our environment in Haiti."(1) Haitian social movements have been vocal in their opposition to agribusiness imports of seeds and food, which undermines local production with local seed stocks. They have expressed special concern about the import of genetically modified organisms (GMOs).
When it comes to mental health, the Internet gets a bad rap. There are countless studies that suggest regular access to the Internet is linked to stress, anxiety and addiction. But before you stop tweeting and toss out your iPhone, it turns out that spending time on the Web could actually be making you happier.
A May 12 report by British researchers from the U.K.'s Chartered Institute of IT (known as BCS) have found a link between Internet access and well-being. But some benefit more than others from tapping into the information superhighway, including those with lower incomes or fewer qualifications, people living in the developing world and, perhaps most surprisingly, women.
Overall, the study found that access to the Internet leads people to feel better about their lives. "Put simply, people with IT access are more satisfied with life even when taking account of income," said Michael Willmott, the social scientist who authored the study, at a press conference. "Our analysis suggests that IT has an enabling and empowering role in people's lives, by increasing their sense of freedom and control, which has a positive impact on well-being or happiness."
Can it be done? Well, Paul English is going to give it a shot. I signed up for the Google group and got a deluge of e-mail from persons interested in volunteering, from marketing people to tecchies to non-profit types. So much mail came through that I finally switched it over to a daily digest mail. If interest is any indicator, Africa may beat rural America to wireless for all.
Paul English, the cofounder of travel search engine Kayak.com, wants to blanket all of Africa with free and low-cost Wi-Fi. It's a "big, big project," one that will consume the next decade of his life, English tells FastCompany.com.
JoinAfrica aims to bring a world of information to a continent whose population only has 8.7% Internet penetration right now. At the core of JoinAfrica is the belief that providing basic Internet is as essential to society as clean water and clean power.
English plans to kick off the nonprofit/for-profit hybrid this summer and begin creating partnerships between
JoinAfrica and local African for-profit telcos. JoinAfrica would first branch out existing Web connections in villages using, for example, simple WiMAC hubs. Through these hubs, JoinAfrica would provide residents with free basic Web service, including access to
email, Google, Wikipedia, and various news sources. Downloads of data-rich video, porn, or other non-essential sites would be limited (similar to what libraries in the U.S. do now), via a process called "bandwidth shaping." Local for-profits would charge for upgraded access and faster connection speeds,
and English is also searching for ways to make sure these local
companies continuously improve the service and lay more fiber.
Increasing access to energy is critical to ensuring socioeconomic development in the world's poorest countries. An estimated 1.5 billion people in developing countries have no access to electricity, with more than 80 per cent of these living in sub-Saharan Africa or South Asia.
The problem is most acute in remote areas: 89 per cent of people in rural sub-Saharan Africa live without electricity, which is more than twice the proportion (46 per cent) in urban areas. For these people, even access to a small amount of electricity could lead to life-saving improvements in agricultural productivity, health, education, communications and access to clean water.
Options for expanding access to electricity in developing countries tend to focus on increasing centralised energy from fossil fuels such as oil, gas and coal, by expanding grid electricity. But this approach has little benefit for the rural poor. Grid extension in these areas is either impractical or too expensive.
Neither does this strategy help tackle climate change. Power already accounts for 26 per cent of global greenhouse gas emissions and while most of this comes from the developed world, by 2030 developing countries are predicted to use 70 per cent more total annual energy than developed nations.
There is therefore a clear need for pro-poor, low-carbon ways to improve access to electricity in the developing world - solar power could be one such solution.
There was an article a couple of weeks ago in The New York Times about a study that uses hookworms as a treatment for allergies, such as hayfever. The general idea is that people with hookworms have T-cells that produce less of the chemicals associated with inflammatory response.
While carrying out field work in Papua New Guinea in the late 1980s, he noticed that Papuans infected with the Necator americanus hookworm, a parasite that lives in the human gut, did not suffer much from an assortment of autoimmune-related illnesses, including hay fever and asthma. Over the years, Pritchard has developed a theory to explain the phenomenon.
"The allergic response evolved to help expel parasites, and we think the worms have found a way of switching off the immune system in order to survive," he said. "That's why infected people have fewer allergic symptoms."
The downside? According to the CDC, hookworm can lead to serious complications in pregnant women, children, and malnourished persons. This is not a course of action for allergy sufferers who could be so compromised - or for those those of us who are just plain grossed out by the whole concept.... Still there is a following for this remedy - just try googling "helminthic therapy".
And, since we're on the subject of parasitic worms here, success is being met to eradicate Guinea worm disease. As recently as the late 80s, there were more than 20 million persons infected by it. If you think hookworms are disgusting, this is from the Carter Center:
Guinea worm disease is contracted when a person drinks stagnant water that is contaminated with microscopic water fleas carrying infective larvae. Inside a person's body, the larvae grow for a year, becoming thin thread-like worms, up to 3-feet-long. These worms create agonizingly painful blisters in the skin, through which they slowly exit the body. People with emerging worms must not bathe or step in sources of drinking water, because a worm will release hundreds of thousands of eggs, or larvae, into the water. Water fleas then eat the larvae, and people who drink unfiltered water from the pond become infected -- continuing the life cycle of the parasite.
A guinea worm - higher degree of yecch:
Today, only a few thousand cases remain, mostly in Sudan. You can read about the stunning success of the eradication efforts (largely due to The Carter Center) in this post, Eradicating the Guinea Worm, at PRI's The World.
We need the Senate to support the president’s International Affairs Budget request in order to preserve the effective global health programs, sustainable global agricultural development, basic education, debt relief, and economic development programs we as ONE members care about so much.
Right now, while the Senate is determining next year’s budget, we need your friends and family to contact their senators and let them know that fighting extreme poverty is important to them.
The bipartisan letter senators need to sign to show their support closes in just a few days. Please use the link below to ask your friends to take action right away.