Sunday, January 25, 2009

Hindus laud Albania Orthodox Autocephalous Church for strong stand on environment - BALTISCHE RUNDSCHAU

Hindus laud Albania Orthodox Autocephalous Church for strong stand on environment - BALTISCHE RUNDSCHAU: "Hindus have praised Orthodox Autocephalous Church of Albania for promoting “respect towards the environment” and calling over-exploitation and contempt towards nature an “unforgivable abuse”.

Acclaimed Hindu statesman Rajan Zed, in a statement in Nevada (USA) today, applauded Archbishop His Beatitude Anastasios’s powerful stand in this regard: “…cultivation of a religious conscience, with evident interest in the natural environment, constitutes the basic element of glorification and gratitude towards the Creator of the Universe.”

Faiths coming out in support of the environment was a remarkable signal, Rajan Zed said and urged all world religious leaders, religions and denominations to openly bless the environmental causes. Ancient Hindu scriptures, especially Atharva-Veda, were highly respectful of mother nature, he added."

Friday, January 16, 2009

Biowatch versus Monsanto -- appeal for support

Biowatch will be arguing for leave to appeal and appealing the costs orders against the organisation at the South African Constitutional Court on Tuesday, 17 February 2009. The Centre for Child Law and Lawyers for Human Rights are the amici curiae for the appeal which should be the final step in a long legal wrangle over gaining access to information pertaining to the release of Genetically Modified Organisms into the South African food production system and the environment. We invite as many of our friends and supporters, as are able, to attend the Constitutional Court hearings at Constitution Hill in Johannesburg.

The legal wrangle began in 2003 when Biowatch applied to the Pretoria High Court for an order that the Minister of Agriculture and the Registrar for Genetic Resources provide information on the basis for granting permits for genetically modified crops in SA.

Monsanto SA, a producer of genetically modified seeds, joined the court proceedings to oppose the application by Biowatch. The case was heard in 2004 by acting Judge Dunn who in February 2005, ruled that Biowatch should be given access to eight of the eleven categories listed in its request to the government departments. He stated that Biowatch had a constitutional right to the information it requested, that access to the information was in the public interest and that Biowatch had been forced to go to court to get access to the information. However, he supported Monsanto’s argument that Biowatch had cast its requests so widely that Monsanto was forced to go to court to protect its commercial, confidential interests. Judge Dunn ordered Biowatch to pay Monsanto’s legal costs.

A full bench of the Pretoria High Court heard an appeal by Biowatch against the costs order in April 2007 when the organisation argued that the awarding of a costs order against a nongovernmental organisations could have a deterrent effect on future public-interest litigation.

In November 2007, Judges Fanie Mynhardt and Molopo-Sethosa dismissed Biowatch's appeal. However, Judge Justice Poswa, in a minority, dissenting judgment handed down in May 2008, stated that he would have ordered the Department of Agriculture and Monsanto to pay all Biowatch's legal costs.

In September 2008, the Supreme Court of Appeal dismissed Biowatch's application for leave to appeal against the high court order with costs.

Over 200 individuals and organisations have sent in letters of support to Biowatch

Biowatch email address for letters of support is:

Phone: 021-447-5939

Thursday, January 15, 2009

Double standard in Wild Coast toll road

With the deadline for public comments for the Wild Coast Toll road looming on 22 January, Sustaining the Wild Coast (SWC), has condemned the new EIA as ‘still saddled with dealing with the problems of an extensive infrastructure proposal that was developed and promulgated in a manner that was anything but objective and independent’.

In its comment on the Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA), SWC argues that the foundations of the proposal are fundamentally flawed because the SANRAL preferred route was developed as an isolated and unsolicited bid by a consortium of private bidding companies whose primary motivation was profit, rather than arising out of an integrated and comprehensive regional development plan. As the basic premises of the proposal remain unchanged, many of the fundamental concerns that were raised by the public in 2003 have still not been addressed.

SWC lists numerous public and legal concerns that were raised in the 2004 Appeal Review which the new EIA has failed to address. These include unrealistic mitigation measures given the current capacity of local government structures in the Eastern Cape Province; that by excluding the tolling process from the EIA a bias is created in socio-economic impact assessments and that it is still not certain that tolls will be affordable for poor communities, that the need for a Toll road and for a route through the Pondoland Centre of Plant Endemism (an internationally recognized ‘hotspot’ of plant endemism) are still not adequately justified, that the precautionary principle has not been applied, and that public participation processes are still not in compliance of NEMA.
The Appeal Review was commissioned in 2004 by the new Minister of Environmental Affairs and Tourism, Minister van Schalkwyk, in response to the large number of public appeals petitioning against the Record of Decision (ROD) made in December 2003 which had approved the N2 Wild Coast Toll Road Environmental Impact Assessment of 2003.
The SWC EIA commentary states that the EIA is ‘rank with double standards’.

Posted on January 14th, 2009 (

Monday, January 12, 2009

Floods in KwaZulu-Natal and Mozambique

Statement from the Anglican Archbishop of Cape Town, Thabo Makgoba, on the storms and flooding in KwaZulu Natal and Mozambique

Thursday 8 January 2009

Archbishop Thabo Makgoba has sent messages of support to areas of KwaZulu Natal and
Mozambique where storms and flooding have caused death and destruction. The Anglican Archbishop of Cape Town, whose area of responsibility includes several of South Africa's neighbouring countries, assures the Bishops and people of the Church's prayerful support, while calling for greater political commitment and practical action in overcoming global warming.

Writing to the Bishop of Natal, Rubin Philip, and the Bishop of Lebombo, Dinis Sengulane, Archbishop Makgoba says: 'Our hearts go out to those who have lost loved ones, who have been injured, and who have lost homes and livelihoods through these storms and flooding. We hold them all in our prayers and in our love, and especially remember before God those who have died. May all in need hear the still small voice of God within the anguish and chaos they face, bringing comfort and strength in the days ahead.

'I encourage our churches and parishioners to offer what help they can, whether through prayer upholding all who have died, been injured or displaced, of providing practical assistance wherever possible. I call on the governments and authorities concerned to take the necessary steps in declaring these disaster zones and providing both immediate help and longer term resources for reconstruction.'

The Archbishop adds: 'Events such as these demonstrate the need for greater political will, and more urgent and comprehensive action, in overcoming global warming and its effects. Humanity must learn to treat God's creation with due respect, if we are not to do our world and ourselves irreparable harm. The rest of the world must take account of what is happening here, for what we are experiencing is a global problem requiring global solutions.'

Issued by the Office of the Anglican Archbishop of
Cape Town
Inquiries: Cynthia Michaels 021- 763-1320 (office hours)

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