Tuesday, February 25, 2014

GMOs Killed the Mexican Monarchs

Related(?): Glass of GMO Orange Juice 

It was.... China?

"Monarch butterflies drop, migration may disappear" by Mark Stevenson |  Associated Press, January 30, 2014

MEXICO CITY — The stunning and little-understood migration of millions of Monarch butterflies to winter in Mexico is in danger of disappearing, specialists said Wednesday, after numbers dropped to their lowest level since record-keeping began in 1993.

The situation was blamed on factors including displacement of the milkweed (which the butterflies feed on) by genetically modified crops and urban sprawl in the United States. It cited extreme weather trends and dramatic reduction of the butterflies’ habitat in Mexico due to illegal logging of trees they depend on for shelter....

While the Monarch is not in danger of extinction, the decline in their population marks a statistical long-term trend and can no longer be seen as a combination of yearly or seasonal events, specialists said.

The announcement followed on the heels of the 20th anniversary of the North American Free Trade Agreement, which saw the United States, Mexico, and Canada sign environmental accords to protect migratory species like the Monarch. The butterfly was adopted as a symbol of trilateral cooperation.

‘‘Twenty years after the signing of NAFTA, the Monarch migration, the symbol of the three countries’ cooperation, is at serious risk of disappearing,’’ said Omar Vidal, the World Wildlife Fund director in Mexico.

Lincoln Brower, a leading entomologist at Sweet Briar College in Virginia, wrote that ‘‘the migration is definitely proving to be an endangered biological phenomenon.’’

‘‘The main culprit,’’ he wrote in an e-mail, is genetically modified ‘‘herbicide-resistant corn and soybean crops and herbicides in the USA,’’ which ‘‘lead to the wholesale killing of the monarch’s principal food plant, common milkweed.’’

While Mexico has made headway in reducing logging in the officially protected winter reserve, that alone cannot save the migration, wrote Karen Oberhauser, a professor at the University of Minnesota. She noted that studies indicate that most of the butterflies migrate from the US Midwest.

‘‘A large part of their reproductive habitat in that region has been lost due to changes in agricultural practices, mainly the explosive growth in the use of herbicide-tolerant crops,’’ Oberhauser said.

Extreme weather — severe cold snaps, unusually heavy rains, or droughts in all three countries — have also apparently played a role in the decline.

But the milkweed issue now places the spotlight on the United States and President Obama, who will visit Mexico on Feb. 19, with events scheduled for Toluca, a city a few dozen miles from the butterfly reserve.

‘‘President Obama should take some step to support the survival of the Monarch butterflies,’’ said writer and environmentalist Homero Aridjis.

It is unclear what would happen to the Monarchs if they no longer made the annual trek to Mexico, the world’s biggest migration of Monarch butterflies and the second-largest insect migration, after a species of dragonfly in Africa.

There are Monarchs in many parts of the world, so they would not go extinct. The butterflies can apparently survive year-round in warm climates, but populations in the northern United States and Canada would have to find some place to spend the winter.

The migration is an inherited trait. No butterfly lives to make the full round-trip, and it is unclear how they remember the route back to the same patch of forest each year, a journey of thousands of miles.

How fascinating is nature!

Some think the huge masses of migrating butterflies release chemicals that mark the path and that if their numbers fall low enough, not enough chemical traces would remain.



Mexico butterfly country: Monarchs by the million

Monarch butterflies deserves executive attention

While on the subject of migrations:

"Obama meets with leaders of Canada, Mexico" by Jim Kuhnhenn |  Associated Press,  February 20, 2014

TOLUCA, Mexico (AP) — Pressed by North American allies on an array of politically fraught issues, President Barack Obama on Wednesday vowed to press ahead with stalled efforts to expand trade agreements for the Americas into Asia and overhaul fractured U.S. immigration laws.

See: Hor$e-Trading in the $enate 

You know who is getting shat on.

But Obama made no promises to frustrated Canadian leaders about his long-anticipated decision on the Keystone XL pipeline.

Related: Questions Regarding Canadian Fires 

They remain unanswered.

Closing a day of talks with the leaders of Mexico and Canada, Obama said the North American partners must maintain their ‘‘competitive advantage’’ on trade, in part by expanding into the fast-growing Asia-Pacific region. While Obama acknowledged that ‘‘elements in my party’’ oppose the Trans-Pacific Partnership deal, he disputed the notion that Democratic concerns would derail the agreement.

They will until the 2014 elections are over; then this thing will sail through.

‘‘We’ll get this passed,’’ Obama declared during a joint news conference with Mexican President Enrique Pena Nieto and Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper.

Even if the American people are against it.

The North America Leaders’ Summit — often referred to as the ‘‘Three Amigos’’ meeting — coincided with the 20th year of the North American Free Trade Agreement among the three countries, a deal that has vastly expanded cross-border commerce in the region but which remains a contentious issue in the United States over its impact on jobs and on environmental protections.

How could that be when the ma$ters of the universe devised a $y$tem that supposedly served all?

Trade experts say the agreement is due for an upgrade to take into account the current globalized environment and to address issues not touched in the original pact. But rather than reopen NAFTA, the three countries are instead relying on negotiations underway to complete the TPP, which is a trade bloc of 12 countries in the Americas, Asia and the Pacific.

Wow! That's larger than the North American Union.

Pena Nieto heralded the ‘‘innovative spirit’’ that spurred NAFTA and said new trade agreements ‘‘are bound to go beyond and enhance all together the progress that each one of our countries has made.’’ And Harper made clear that he was ‘‘focused on bringing those negotiations to a successful conclusion.’’

Despite the widespread agreement on trade, there were some sources of tension between the North American partners on immigration and the Keystone XL pipeline, both sensitive political issues in the United States.

In Mexico, government officials and the public alike are eager for progress in overhauling U.S. immigration laws. The prospects for sweeping legislation this year has dimmed in recent weeks, with many House Republicans unwilling to tackle the issue in a midterm election year.

See: Light Lunch 

I know it is a little early, but....

Still, Obama declared: ‘‘Immigration reform remains one of my highest priorities.’’

And back up it comes.

For Canada, a source of frustration with the U.S. has been the Obama administration’s long and drawn out review of the Keystone XL pipeline, which would carry oil from tar sands in western Canada 1,179 miles to Nebraska, where existing pipelines would then carry the crude to refineries on the Texas Gulf Coast. Canada has been pushing the U.S. for years to approve the pipeline, but environmental groups oppose it, and Obama has said he won’t approve it if it increases greenhouse gas emissions.

Well, he will eventually approve it because to not do so would mean they will be emitted anyway. The key here is no decision will be made before the 2014 elections -- but watch out afterwards.

A Nebraska judge on Wednesday struck down a law that allowed the pipeline to proceed through the state, a victory for opponents who have tried to block the project.

While Obama acknowledged that the U.S. review has been ‘‘extensive,’’ he defended the process, saying ‘‘these are how we make these decisions about something that could potentially have significant impact on America’s national economy and our national interests.’’

A final decision on Keystone isn’t expected until this summer, at the earliest, meaning the verdict could potentially come in the run-up to November’s midterm elections, in which energy issues are likely to be a factor in some key races.

No. It will be postponed until after.

Harper, an ardent supporter of the pipeline, said the U.S. State Department’s review was definitive in determining the pipeline won’t increase emissions.

‘‘My views in favor of the project are very well known,’’ Harper said.

Events elsewhere in the world competed for the leaders’ attention, most notably the violence that erupted in Ukraine as the government of President Viktor Yanukovych cracked down on protesters. Obama warned that there would be consequences if the clashes continued. Obama cautiously noted reports of a truce between the president and the protesters, saying it ‘‘could provide space for the sides to resolve their disagreements peacefully.’’

Days later and the U.S. faction has taken over. 

How come you never came to the aid of Occupy Wall Street, sir?

Obama spent just about nine hours in Toluca, the Mexican leader’s hometown, with Air Force One touching down Wednesday afternoon and returning to Washington shortly after the evening news conference.

So he flew in for it, and flew out right after, huh?

Does the rides on the jet planes help with the greenhouse gas emissions, or.... just asking.


RelatedUS travelers may gain easy access to Tijuana airport

That where he took off from? 

Now about that trade agreement:

"20 years after NAFTA, a changed Mexico" by Mark Stevenson |  Associated Press,  January 03, 2014

MEXICO CITY — Looking around a Mexico dotted by Starbucks, Walmart, and Krispy Kreme outlets, it is hard to remember the country before the North American Free Trade Agreement, which has dramatically expanded consumer choice and trade since it took effect 20 years ago on Jan. 1.

While it changed the country in fundamental ways, the treaty never met many of its sweeping promises to close Mexico’s wage gap with the United States, boost job growth, fight poverty, and protect the environment.

That's because it was all about enriching multinational corporations.

Mexico’s weak unions and competition from Asia and Central America kept wages down; the tightening of security along the US border closed Mexico’s immigration ‘‘escape valve;” and environmental provisions in the treaty proved less powerful than those protecting investors.

You know, everything those opposed argued would happen and were told, no, no. 

Looks like we may have found another accomplice in the Monarch murders, 'eh?

Mexico took advantage of the accord with the United States and Canada in some areas. The auto, electronics, and agriculture sectors grew, and foreign banks moved in, increasing access to credit, but a majority of Mexicans saw little benefit in income.


While there is undoubtedly a larger middle class today, Mexico is the only major Latin American country where poverty also has risen in recent years....

How interesting that the American middle class has shrunk while poverty has also risen during the same time frame. Looks like NAFTA killed the American worker!

Economist Alfredo Coutino, director for Latin America at Moody’s Analytics, said ‘‘the benefits arrived, but perhaps not of the magnitude that had been hoped for.” He noted that ‘‘if this agreement had not been signed, Mexico would have been in a much worse situation than it has been over the last 20 years.”

The theft artists that call themselves economists always say that when they can offer no proof, not one shred of it! It's an unknowable because that route was not taken! But it IS good propaganda and instantly disarms the other side.

Before NAFTA, Mexico was a closed, state-dominated economy reeling from debt and the underlying problems of Mexican farms — low productivity on small plots. That had set up perfect conditions for mass unemployment.

See something familiar there, Americans?

The trade accord, globalization, and foreign investment did help create jobs, albeit low-paid ones.

This is the point of the piece where I note that GLOBALIZATION has FAILED! It has worked for the top 1%, and that's it! The rest of us got the SHAFTA!

At supermarkets, shoppers are now familiar with everything from cranberries to chai and lemons (as opposed to the Mexican lime) that few had tasted before the treaty tore down trade barriers and tariffs between Mexico, Canada, and the United States.

Consumer goods and clothing that were trendy among Mexico’s wealthy are available to everyone, with more products and choice, especially among electronics, appliances, and cars.

If you can afford to buy one.

Coutino recalls that ‘‘before, in Mexico, it was a question of social status to have a pair of imported sneakers; they were very expensive . . . now the majority of Mexicans can have these things that were once considered luxuries.”

That is how the American citizen was turned into a "consumer" -- and you see the state of our economy, right?

Mexicans remain ambivalent....

Because most of them, like us up north, LOST in the DEAL!

There is no turning back.


The three North American countries are pushing to become even more economically integrated.

Yeah, keep pu$hing a failed policy and then wonder why we are all angry. Hey, at least the upper cru$t will get phat and that is all that is important.

With Mexico’s newly passed energy reform allowing private investment in the county’s oil sector, they aim to make the continent energy independent as well.

Oh, wow, they gave away the store to BP and Exxon!

NAFTA is almost forgotten in the latest controversial free-trade effort, the Trans-Pacific Partnership, a negotiation among 12 countries, including NAFTA’s three, to open trade between Asia and the Americas.

Forgotten by who because.... oh, right. Corporate pre$$ not $peaking for me.

Opposition to the Trans- Pacific Partnership is reminiscent of the dire predictions when NAFTA was being negotiated in the early 1990s.

That turned out to be true!

At the time, opponents predicted millions of US jobs would move south, and labor and farm groups forecast a mass exodus from the Mexican countryside.

Yeah, and?

But as a 2010 Congressional Research Service report said, ‘‘Most studies after NAFTA have found that the effects on the Mexican economy tended to be modest at most.”

The government that works for the corporations that benefited said it was good, huh?

On the plus side, trade between the three countries vastly increased, to about 3.5 times the 1994 levels, though US trade with China and other Asian nations has grown even faster in the last two decades. More foreign automakers have set up plants in Mexico, which now produces about 3 million vehicles per year. Mexico has increased auto-sector jobs by around 50 percent since 1994.

Yeah, that's a PLUS!

But Mexico’s auto jobs are notoriously low-paying, and little progress has been made in closing the wage gap with the United States.

But it's a PLUS! 

Average manufacturing industry wages were about 15 percent of US wages in 1997. By 2012 that figure had risen only to 18 percent. In some sectors, China’s wages have outstripped Mexico’s.

Yeah, but this whole thing has been a net plus, blah, blah, blah, for the Mexicans.

Nor has NAFTA kept all promises made on environmental front.

More broken promises, but re$earch shows.... SIGH!

The North American Development Bank, part of the side agreements to the accord, has spent over $1.33 billion to finance border projects for drinking water, waste water, and sewage treatment. But untreated sewage continues to flow and air quality remains low in many border communities.

So who stole the money?

US exports of spent lead- acid car batteries spiked 500 percent between 2004 and 2011. 

So NAFTA turned Mexico into a dumping ground for car batteries? Another plus?

Authorities are only beginning to consider certification requirements for companies that export batteries for processing to recover the lead.

NAFTA has done a very good job of protecting foreign investors, however.

I'm sure that is no $urprise to those still reading.

The trade pact set up binding arbitration panels, where investors can bypass the courts with complaints that government regulation unfairly affects their businesses.

Complaints are often against natural resource management or environmental rules.

Mexico and Canada have paid out about $350 million in damages to foreign investors, while the United States has not paid any.

‘‘The [arbitration] process is not like the domestic court system, it’s not fair and open,” said Scott Sinclair of the Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives.

Nothing is when it comes to bu$ine$$!


Maybe it was the oil that killed the butterflies:

"Bill would help open oil industry

MEXICO CITY — A Mexico senate committee proposed Saturday to open the country’s beleaguered, state-run oil sector to greater private investment. The Senate proposal would allow the government to grant contracts for exploration and extraction of oil and gas to multinational giants such as Exxon or Chevron, something that is currently prohibited under Mexico’s constitution (AP)."

Like I said above....

"Mexico moves to reopen its oil industry" by Adriana Gómez Licón and Katherine Corcoran |  Associated Press, December 13, 2013

MEXICO CITY — Mexico’s Congress voted Thursday to open the country’s moribund state-run oil industry to foreign and domestic investors, casting aside nationalist opposition to approve the most dramatic energy reform in seven decades.

The 353-134 vote will allow the government to give private companies contracts and licenses to explore and drill for oil and gas, deals now prohibited under Mexico’s constitution.

The final step, approval by 17 of Mexico’s 31 states, is widely seen as assured.

The state-run oil company, Petróleos Mexicanos, or Pemex, has had a monopoly since the government took over operations of foreign oil companies in 1938, a move that has been revered ever since as a symbol of national sovereignty.

Opponents say they fear that multinationals, especially from the United States, will once again regain the sort of domination they had over Mexico’s oil before 1938.

Meaning the Mexican government works for the same people mine does.

Mexico remains one of the top five crude exporters to the United States, shipping more than 1 million barrels a day.

Leftist lawmakers tried to block discussion of the measure on Wednesday by seizing the main chamber of the House of Deputies, blocking access with chairs and tables.

When the debate was moved to another room, they dragged out discussion for 20 hours before the measure was finally approved.

Really had to shove it down their throats, huh?

‘‘The homeland is not for sale! The homeland is to be defended!’’ they shouted while holding protest signs and Mexican flags.

One congressman of the leftist Democratic Revolution Party, Antonio García Conejo, undressed during a speech Wednesday to dramatize his assertion the bill is a ‘‘plunder of the nation.’’

But most oil analysts had a positive view of the bill hashed out by President Enrique Peña Nieto’s Institutional Revolutionary Party and the conservative National Action Party.

There you go!

They say major change is needed to rescue Mexico’s oil industry, where production has declined, and where Pemex hasn’t had the finances or expertise needed to tap the country’s vast deep-water and shale reserves.

Meaning more tracking and deep-water drilling in the Gulf.

While oil output has been rising in the United States and Canada, Mexico’s production has fallen 25 percent since 2004 despite increased investment.

According to Pemex statistics, the company has nearly 14 billion barrels in proven reserves and up to 115 billion barrels in prospective reserves, about half of which are in deep water or shale oil and gas.

‘‘The opening of Mexico’s markets to put it bluntly, we believe is very good for the people of Mexico and the people everywhere in the world that uses energy,’’ William Colton, Exxon Mobil’s vice president of corporate strategic planning, said in a webcast before the vote Thursday.

‘‘It’s win-win if there ever was one,” Colton added.

Yeah, we all know how altrui$tic are the oil companies.

Supporters say a better energy sector could add at least a full percentage point to Mexico’s annual growth rate, which was scaled back dramatically this year from a projected 3.5 percent to 1.3 percent. Backers also say it will be a boon to all three countries, the United States, Canada, and Mexico, in the North American Free Trade Agreement. 

Seems like we have heard this all before.

‘‘We are going to be able to develop services and competencies in dealing with energy that are transferrable from one country to another,” Thomas Donohue, president of the US Chamber of Commerce, told The Associated Press. ‘‘They all have some differences in commodities and have their own regulatory systems, but all of it will be in the context of a lot oil, a lot of gas, a lot of coal, and a fundamental ability to attract manufacturing, to improve supply chain, and to drive the creation of jobs and economic growth.’’

I was told coal is bad.

Barclays Research, part of the Corporate and Investment Banking division of Barclays Bank, says the process of boosting production will be slow.

Pemex estimates it needs more than $60 billion a year in investment to explore reserves, and currently gets about $24 billion.

‘‘We have to recognize that this is an important effort in a historic sense. However, the challenges are huge because of the amount that has to be done to implement the reform as it is designed,’’ said Michelle Michot Foss, head of the University of Texas’ Center for Energy Economics.

The measure would allow contracts for profit- and production-sharing and licenses under which companies would pay royalties and taxes to the Mexican government for the right to explore and drill.

Is it going to be chump change like up here?

Private companies could post reserves as long as they specify in contracts that all oil and gas belongs to Mexico.

The constitution would continue to prohibit oil concessions, considered the most liberal kind of access for private oil companies.

The bill also calls for mechanisms to prevent, detect, and punish corruption in all new contracts, though the specifics must be worked out in what’s known as the secondary laws. 

Good luck with that.

It also appears to reduce the influence of the powerful oil union run by Carlos Romero Deschamps, whose family is famous for its ostentatious lifestyle.

Nothing like the mouthpiece of elite wealth ending with an insult.


This post has run Mexico dry here.