Archive | August 9, 2015

Scotland to Ban Growing Genetically Modified Crops*

Scotland to Ban Growing Genetically Modified Crops*

Is this a sign to come on English-Scottish relations?

Scotland says it will ban genetically modified crops on its soil. According to officials, the move will protect the environment. They are also taking advantage of new EU laws, allowing member states to decide whether they want to grow the crops or not.

Although the EU imports large quantities of GM crops from abroad, it is less sure about growing them on their own soil. Some environmental groups are worried about the impact they could have on the countryside, while there are also concerns over health issues for humans, despite producers of the crops insisting they are safe.

Only Monsanto’s maize MON810, which is cultivated in Spain and Portugal, is currently on sale for human consumption within the EU.

“Scotland is known around the world for our beautiful natural environment – and banning growing genetically modified crops will protect and further enhance our clean, green status,” Richard Lochhead, the Scottish government’s minister for the environment, food and rural affairs, said in a statement.

The politician also added there was no public demand for introducing GM crops.

“There is no evidence of significant demand for GM products by Scottish consumers and I am concerned that allowing GM crops to be grown in Scotland would damage our clean and green brand, thereby gambling with the future of our £14 billion ($22 billion) food and drink sector,” Lochhead added.

‘GM not the answer to food security’

The decision was taken by Scotland’s devolved parliament, with the UK’s legislative body in London having no say in the matter.

The move was welcomed by the Scottish Green MSP Alison Johnstone. In a statement on the party’s website, she said,

Opting out of growing genetically modified crops is the right move for Scotland. Cultivation of GM crops would harm our environment and our reputation for high quality food and drink.”

GM is not the answer to food security, and would represent further capture of our food by big business. Scotland has huge potential with a diverse mix of smaller-scale producers and community food initiatives, and we need to see those grow further.”

However, the decision has not proved to be universally popular, with farmers saying they will lose out to competitors due to the ban being introduced.

“There is going to be one side of the border in England where they may adopt biotechnology, but just across the River Tweed farmers are not going to be allowed to. How are these farmers going to be capable of competing in the same market?” the National Farmers Union of Scotland vice-president Andrew McCornick told the Scotsman newspaper.

In April, the European Union gave the green light to start importing 10 new types of genetically modified crops for the first time since 2013. The crops, which include maize, soybeans, cotton and oilseed rape will be authorized for human food and animal feed for the next 10 years, the European Commission announced.


Related Topics:

For the People, to the Scots*

Russian Oligarchs Expanding their Influence in Scot-Free Property*

Big Oil and the Lost Fight for Scottish Independence*

Scotland: The State Take-over of Children*

Speeding-up Big Brother in Scotland after the Independence Vote*

Scottish Primary School Kids Given Terrorism Homework*

More Reason to Hold onto Scotland: Cameron Follows Black Gold to the Shetlands*

How Blair Conspired with Whitehall for Ownership of Scottish Oil Fields*

GM Wheat Trial in U.K. Proves a Failure*

What S. Australia did to Increase Crop Yield by 300% without GMO’s!*

U.S. Diplomacy: Retaliation and Pain for Countries that Reject GMO’s*

Outsourcing the Killing Chain: Eleven Drone Contractors Revealed*

Outsourcing the Killing Chain: Eleven Drone Contractors Revealed*

By Pratap Chatterjee

Hundreds of private sector intelligence analysts are being paid to review surveillance footage from U.S. military drones in Central Asia and the Middle East, according to a new report from the Bureau of Investigative Journalism.

Bureau reporters Crofton Black and Abigail Fielding-Smith name eleven companies that have won hundreds of millions of dollars in contracts to plug a shortage in personnel needed to analyze the thousands of hours of streaming video gathered daily from the remotely piloted aircraft that hover over war zones around the world: Advanced Concepts Enterprises, BAE Systems, Booz Allen Hamilton, General Dynamics, Intrepid Solutions, L-3 Communications, MacAulay-Brown, SAIC, Transvoyant, Worldwide Language Resources and Zel Technologies. (see details below)

“Contractors are used to fill the gap to give enough manpower to provide flexibility necessary for military to do things like take leave,” one analyst who worked with the Air Force at Hurlburt Field airbase in Florida, told the Bureau.

Private companies have been providing support for military intelligence for many years. Ever since CACI’s role in supplying interrogators at Abu Ghraib came to light in 2004, CorpWatch has regularly documented dozens of companies like BAE Systems, Booz Allen Hamilton, L-3 Communications and SAIC that have provided such services to the federal government ranging from surveillance equipment and weapons to propaganda experts and imagery analysts.

Today, these contractors are flocking to the drone business, which has become the linchpin of President Barack Obama’s military strategy, just as the ground war has wound down. Although the Central Intelligence Agency has garnered most of the media attention for targeted killing delivered by drones in countries like Pakistan and Yemen, the bulk of the so-called “War on Terror” is really conducted by U.S. Air Force pilots and support personnel who fly 65 round-the-clock “combat air patrols” of Global Hawk, Predator and Reaper drones around the world from faraway locations.

Each of these patrols, which involve three to four aircraft, require as many as 186 individuals who staff a complex and global system. Typically pilots and camera operators work out of bases like Creech in Nevada, while maintenance crews work in friendly countries like Afghanistan and Saudi Arabia. Video analysts work out of military bases like California and Florida while military lawyers who are required to approve strike decisions are stationed at the Al-Udeid base in Qatar.

Imagery analysts who review video footage are among the lowest ranked among the personnel who work in the drone war hierarchy. Typically these are entry level “airmen” who only need a high school diploma and eleven months of military training. The drone pilots are officers with undergraduate degrees and more years of training.

Both airmen and officers become eligible to work as private contractors after they complete their military service, where they can be paid twice as much for the same work, and get the added bonus of picking their hours and work locations. (The Air Force Times estimates that drone maintenance pilots stationed overseas who work for companies like Raytheon can make as much as $225,000 a year) Since all the initial training and the security clearances are provided by the military, all the contractors are required to do is recruit Air Force veterans and then put them on their payrolls.

By all accounts, the private contractors do not take part in making decisions as to who to kill nor are they allowed to fire missiles.

But contractors do sometimes play a key role in military missions by the very nature of their analytical work. In 2010, Major General Timothy McHale identified an SAIC staffer who led a team of imagery analysts to track three vehicles in Daikundi province, Afghanistan. The information provided by these analysts led to some two dozen people being killed but later investigations would reveal that none of the people on board the vehicles were militants.

List of Imagery Analyst Contractors

Advanced Concepts Enterprises: Sub-contractor to MacAulay-Brown (See here)

BAE Systems (No contract identified. However the company identifies details here)

Booz Allen Hamilton (See here)

General Dynamics (See here)

Intrepid Solutions: Won a five year contract with U.S. Army’s Intelligence and Security Command in 2012 (See here)

L-3 Communications: Won a $155 million contract in 2010 to provide services to the U.S. Special Operations Command for five years. (See here)

MacAulay-Brown: Won a $60 million contract in 2011 to provide 187 analysts to U.S. Air Force Special Operations Command for three years. (See here, and here, and here)

SAIC: Won a 2007 contract to provide 202 analysts to the U.S. Air Force Special Operations Command (See here)

Transvoyant: Won a $49 million five year contract with the U.S. Marine Corps (See here)

Worldwide Language Resources: Won a $1 million 2010 contract with the U.S. Army. (See here)

Zel Technologies provides over 100 imagery analsyts to the U.S. Air Force Special Operations Command (See here)


Related Topics:

U.K.-based Israeli-owned Drone Factory Faced Forced Shutdown*

Drone Operators Asked to Follow their Conscience*

Forgetting 1,600 Deaths‏ is not for a Drone Operator

USA Drone Base in North Africa*

Court Rules Warrantless Cell Phone Tracking Violates Fourth Amendment*

Court Rules Warrantless Cell Phone Tracking Violates Fourth Amendment*

By Jenna McLaughlin

A divided appellate court panel in Richmond, Virginia, ruled on Wednesday that citizens do not give up their privacy rights just because their mobile-phone providers know where to reach them.

The decision is the strongest assertion of the Fourth Amendment rights of mobile phone users out of three appellate court decisions on the matter, setting up a likely Supreme Court hearing.

“The tide I think is turning,” said Hanni Fakhoury, a senior staff attorney with the Electronic Frontier Foundation, which joined a friend-of-the-court brief in the case of Aaron Graham, a man convicted of armed robbery after his cell phone location information over seven months was obtained by the government from Sprint.

The Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals ruling rejected the “third party doctrine,” a legal theory that private information held by a company is not protected by the Fourth Amendment’s prohibitions against unreasonable search and seizure.

The ruling acknowledged the prevalence and advancement of technology in our lives. “People cannot be deemed to have volunteered to forfeit expectations of privacy by simply seeking active participation in society through use of their cell phones,” the court wrote.

“It’s great for us going forward,” says Nate Wessler, a staff attorney with the American Civil Liberties Union’s Speech, Privacy, and Technology Project.

“It’s a robust recognition of how much private information can be revealed through our cell phone records — doctor’s office visits, AA meetings … in the aggregate, it paints a strong picture of our lives.”

Wessler said a Supreme Court hearing on the case is now more likely.

In fact, the Fourth Circuit decision calls for it. The panel split 2 to 1, with one judge finding for the government.

Writing for the majority, Judge Andre Davis wrote:

“If the Twenty-First Century Fourth Amendment is to be a shrunken one, as the dissent proposes, we should leave that solemn task to our superiors in the majestic building on First Street and not presume to complete the task ourselves.”


Related Topics:

Unconstitutional Senate Intelligence Authorization Act makes you a Criminal*

Journalist Wins Fifth Amendment Case*

U.K.’s “Anti-extremism” Plan Brings Repression at Home and War Abroad*

Battle On To Keep Ambiguous Language about Family Out of Major UN Agreement*