Founded in 1975, and currently published three times a year, Chain Reaction is the national magazine of Friends of the Earth Australia. The August 2016 edition will soon be mailed to members and subscribers. It has a feature on environmental racism, updates on the renewable energy revolution, a strong focus on the nuclear industry in Australia and heaps of book reviews.
The announcement by the Queensland Government's Minister for the Environment Stephen Miles to make the Fitzroy Delta a declared fish habitat marks the end to the Balaclava Island Coal Export Terminal proposed by then Xstrata (Glencore). At the height of Australia's coal boom, the pristine waters of the Fitzroy Delta and Balaclava Island's wetland were proposed for development to support coal exports. Friends of the Earth welcomes the decision by Minister Stephen Miles to protect the Fitzroy Delta, and the waters of Keppel Bay, which are home to the Snubfin Dolphin, and looks forward to the finalisation of the regions planning to protect the area from future development.
New federal energy and environment minister Josh Frydenberg has indicated a significant shift in energy policy for the Coalition. Minister Frydenberg has said that more renewable energy will be required with the decline of coal. The minister has also called for more gas supplies and suppliers and for gas moratoria to be removed. Friends of the Earth are encouraged by the positive rhetoric on renewable energy but urge the new minister to support bans on risky onshore gasfield development. “Mr Frydenberg correctly notes that renewables are not to blame for recent high electricity prices in South Australia” said Cam Walker of Friends of the Earth Australia.
A new report by Friends of the Earth International demonstrates how Underground Coal Gasification (UCG) and Coal Chemical technologies threaten to destabilise the earth’s climate and irreversibly damage local environments. The report, launched today, comes in the wake of UCG being banned in Queensland, Australia. There is interest in and development of UCG in Europe, Russia, Canada, the US, China and India. It is currently under moratorium in Scotland.
GM-Free Australia Alliance members reject the Productivity Commission’s recommendations to remove states’ rights to ban genetically manipulated (GM) crops for marketing reasons and to remove GM food labelling. GM crops pose unacceptable risks to our health, the environment and key export markets and removing the bans and GM labeling would eliminate choice for farmers and consumers. Louise Sales from Friends of the Earth’s Emerging Tech Project says: “The Productivity Commission has ignored the compelling evidence from the Tasmanian and South Australian Governments, and other stakeholders, that show the value of remaining GM-free. Instead its report reads like a Monsanto press release.”
Friends of the Earth is a founding member of the TPP Unions and Community Roundtable. We are committed to preventing the ratification of the TPP, and work with a variety of politicians, unions, community groups and individuals in order to achieve this goal. In order to accurately score politicians on their commitment to disabling the TPP, the following two questions were emailed to all parties and independents currently holding seats in the upper or lower house:
VICTORIA, 15 JUNE 2016: A renewable energy boom is on the horizon for Victoria as the Andrews government today announces state Renewable Energy Targets (VRET). The long-awaited announcement comes after a two-and-a-half year community campaign to grow renewables. "The Andrews government's announcement of Victorian Renewable Energy Targets is a big win for communities who want a pathway to 100 percent," said Leigh Ewbank, Friends of the Earth spokesperson. "These targets will make Victoria the national leader when it comes to renewable energy, which is good newsfor manufacturing, regional communities, and our climate."
Our food regulator Food Standards Australia New Zealand (FSANZ) has misrepresented the findings of two independent reports it commissioned on the safety of nanomaterials in food and food packaging. The reports were supposed to have been completed by June 2015 but were never released. On 27th May 2016 Friends of the Earth submitted an FOI request to FSANZ for these reports and associated documents. Six days after the request was filed FSANZ released the reports – claiming that the reports concluded “none of the nanotechnologies described are of health concern.” This as a deliberate misrepresentation of the reports. In fact, the reports draw attention to the major data gaps regarding the safety of nanoparticles in food and food packaging and raise concerns regarding the potential toxicity of nano-silica, titanium dioxide and silver.
In the lead-up to the Bendigo in a Warming Future forum, which will be held in Bendigo on June 15, a fieldtrip hosted by local ecologists highlighted the impacts of climate change which are already being felt in northern Victoria. Warning on local climate Climate change is already taking its toll locally. During a field trip to Bell Swamp and Mount Alexander on Friday, local ecologists pointed out examples of the impact on the region’s ecology. Examining a large group of dead Grey Box at Bell Swamp, located to the north west of Maldon, Damien Cook, ecologist with Rakali Consulting said, “trees die all the time and it's a natural occurrence, but so many dying at once indicates environmental change. These trees were aged between 300 and 500 years and had lived through countless floods and droughts. They’ve died as a consequence of recent extreme weather events – the millennium drought followed by the massive flood of 2011”.
Wednesday, 18th May 2016Independent testing commissioned by Friends of the Earth US has found risky nanoparticles deemed unsafe for use in toothpaste in baby formula. Six samples of baby formula made by Gerber®, Enfamil®, Similac® and Well Beginnings™ - which are all available online in Australia - were tested. Four of the samples contained nanoparticles of hydroxyapatite. Furthermore, 100 per cent of the hydroxyapatite particles in the samples were nano - demonstrating conclusively that they were intentionally produced (1).The European Commission’s Scientific Committee on Consumer Safety (SCCS) concluded that the needle-like form of nano-hydroxyapatite found in Gerber® Good Start Gentle®, Well Beginnings™ Advantage®, and Enfamil® formulas, which is similar in shape to asbestos, is potentially toxic and should not be used in toothpastes, tooth whiteners and mouth washes.