Revisiting Environmental Activists

vandana shiva

This week, we bring you two interviews from our archive with environmental activists from around the world. First, we pulled a story about activist Tzeporah Berman, who we talked to about bringing together activists and corporate interests. After that, we revisit the time we interviewed another prolific environmental activist, Dr. Vandana Shiva, a physicist, ecologist and author from India. We talked to Shiva about her work, seed heritage, and the paradigm shift that she sees as necessary for ecological and community well-being.

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Photo by: Frank Schwichtenberg


Women in the Agriculture: Let’s level the field

Women from the Mbini Self-Help Group showing off the fields

Happy International Women’s Day! We hope that you are having a wonderful time celebrating the achievements of the women in your life.

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Women in Agriculture

We’re going to have a tough time feeding the world in coming decades. Already, 800 million people are malnourished, according to the UN’s World Food Programme. That’s one in nine people worldwide.

Climate change and water shortages will only make things more difficult. We’ll have to find ways to grow more food. We’ll need more land, new farming techniques, pesticides and seeds.

And we’ll have to strengthen gender equality too. According to the UN, women’s inability to access resources keeps up to 150 million people hungry. In Africa and South America, giving women more say over agriculture could make all the difference. Trevor Chow-Fraser speaks to Dr. Amy Kaler of the University of Alberta, as well as Jane Frances Asaba and Selina Rodriguez from Edmonton’s Lady Flower Garden.

Photo credit to McKay Savage.

Did Roundup Ruin Gluten?


What’s with the spike in gluten-related illnesses? This week, we take a look at glyphosate and ask if it’s the cause of so many people’s diet troubles. We’ve also got the latest episode of Science Faction, where we’ll learn about strange signals from deep in outer space.

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Is Celiac Caused by Roundup?

Danielle Dolgoy connected with Ali Kenefick, a graduate student from the University of Gastronomic Sciences in Italy. Ali’s research focuses on nutritional epidemiology – the study of food-related illnesses. Her own struggles with Celiac disease led her to zero in on gluten and the recent spike in gluten-related illnesses. What she discovered, and what many researchers are coming to conclude, is that a seemingly innocuous chemical that has come to dominate the North American industrial agriculture marketplace, is most likely the culprit responsible for all the IBS.

Science Faction: Space Bursts

On this episode of Science Faction, we learn about strange signals from space that suddenly appear and then disappear without a trace. We hear from astrophysicist Dr. Victoria Kaspi from McGill University. If you like what you hear, be sure to check out the other Science Faction episodes.

What’s Happening

Renewable Energy 101 Webinar – Wednesday March 11th 6PM EST

On Wednesday, March 11, there will be a webinar about Ontario’s renewable energy system. Renewable Energy 101 will cover the basics of generation, as well as the opportunities for co-ops and communities to participate. The thirty minute webinar starts at 6PM Eastern time, and there will be time for questions afterwards. Sign up here.

Business Beyond Tomorrow 2015 – Friday March 13, Montreal

Concordia University’s John Molson Sustainable Business Group and Enactus Concordia want to unleash your innovative mind!! The conference will start off with a speaker series revolving around the topics of entrepreneurship, marketing, and sustainability. Then, there will be a 3 course meal. The event will close out with a networking cocktail where students will pitch business projects in competition for $1000 in start-up funding. Tickets are $15, and you can register here.

The Tale of the Evans Cherry

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This week, we’ve got a special segment of Dispatches of the Dirt brought to you by Terrainforma’s Danielle Dolgoy and Hamdi Issawi. Find out how the magical Evans Cherry came to be in Edmonton’s supposedly unforgiving climate!

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Geoengineering and Vandana Shiva on Seed Freedom

A figure in an orange space suit walks along rocky striations along the coast.

Geoengineering may transform our relationship with the planet. (Image credit: jacques fou)

This week, we dig into views on transforming landscapes. Calgary sustainability writer Chris Turner shares his take on using planet-scale engineering to solve the climate crisis. Then, Boston’s Brian Swett talks about an eye-opening relationship that encouraged him to aim higher on green building. And world-renowned physicist and ecologist Vandana Shiva opens up about advocating for the freedom to plant what we want and restore our relationship with the land. Listen close, and you might just hear the world changing.

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Stories of Oil and Organics

Man with scarf gestures with his hands emphatically. Book cover inset.

Mika Minio-Paluello works his magic at the University of Alberta. Photo credit: Trevor Chow-Fraser

On Terra Informa this week, we will dive into a raw milk story following Richard Griebel and Kathy Charpentier in Castor, Alberta. Next, we will transfer to Bloomfield to listen to Michelle Lutz’s story of her organic farming with a hospital in Michigan! Finally, we will travel with Mika Minio-Paluello to explore a special oil road, along with stories of repressive governments, secret police, Canadian attack helicopters, and more.

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Move On

This week on Terra Informa, it’s time to move on. Students from Rhode Island’s Brown University want their school to stop investing in companies that profit from accelerating climate change. Then, Jennifer Cockrall-King wants cities to embrace urban agriculture, and Nicholas Mickelsen sings the praises of moving out to the farm.

Students from Brown University's Brown Divest Coal Campaign rally on the Main Green.

Students from Brown University’s Brown Divest Coal Campaign rally on the Main Green.

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Brown University students Do the Math
One of the most powerful ways university students in North America can use their school to send a message is by influencing where it invests. That’s university students across the US are rallying to pull their university’s endowment fund out of fossil fuel companies. They’re part of the national Do the Math movement across the US – inspired by environmental activist Bill McKibben – to divest from companies controlling oil and gas reserves. Student groups are hoping to blunt the businesses’ ability to accelerate climate change. Tammy Jiang is a student of public health at Brown University in Providence, Rhode Island. She’s a member of the Brown Divest Coal Campaign, and Terra Informa’s Chris Chang-Yen Phillips asked her how they’re hoping to accomplish that.

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Food and the City
Farming? In the city? Urban agriculture seems like a far fetched idea, especially living in Canada, where our growing season only lasts a couple of months. Terra Informa’s Nicole Wiart interviewed Edmonton food journalist Jennifer Cockrall-King on her new book “Food and the City.” Urban agriculture projects are popping up in Canada and all over the world, and its a trend Jennifer thinks might be the answer to many of the problems in our over industrialized food system.

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The Farm and the Country
Many young people in the English-speaking world choose to travel abroad and teach English in a foreign country. The enriching experience of extended cultural travel does not have to be restricted to the realm of teaching English. 
Terra Informa’s Miro Radovic recently sat down with young Edmontonian Nicholas Mickelsen to discuss a program that enabled him to spend almost a year on an organic farm in Europe as a WWOOFer with the World Wide Opportunities on Organic Farms network.

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What’s Happening

Edmonton: Scales, Tails, Hoots & Howls: A Closer Look at River Valley Biodiversity
Edmontonians, with spring upon us, wouldn’t it be lovely to learn about the biodiversity of animals that Edmonton has to share? Come to the John Janzen Nature Center on Sunday May 26 from 11 AM to 3 PM to see and hear the scales, tails, hoots, and howls of Edmonton’s creatures. These include salamanders and garter snakes to name a few. Also, a number of outdoor nature games will be going throughout the day to celebrate the awakening of springtime and life in Edmonton. The John Janzen nature center is located at Whitemud Drive and Fox Drive,

Victoria: Synergia
Residents of Victoria, BC; be sure to come out and support the Mustard Seed Food bank on May 31, 2013 at Synergia (SINNER-GIA). This special event showcases local musicians and the $15 dollar admission goes directly to the Mustard Seed Food bank to support families and individuals struggling to afford food with the rising cost of living. The event will take place at the Victoria event Centre on Broad Street in Victoria.

Live Below the Line
As Canadians, we are fortunate to have vast lands full of clean water and nutritious food. The same cannot be said for many around the world. Live Below the Line is a campaign that’s challenging the way people in Canada think about poverty. It is a campaign to help us understand the difficulties of living on a miniscule food budget, the way many impoverished families around the world have to. If you want to take the challenge and find a greater compassion and understanding for those families, live below the line asks Canadians to try and live on just $1.75 of food and drink each day for 5 days.

Food or Friend?

This week, we’ve been wondering: how do people decide when an animal is food and when it’s a friend? We will be talking to a wildlife biologist who’s also a hunter, and to two Edmonton-area farmers who raise pigs for very different reasons. And one more tasty morsel for you: George Stroumboulopoulos, host of CBC’s The Hour, talks about tiny ways Canadians can live a little greener.

Food or Friend?

Micro pigs from Angela Hardy’s farm in Sherwood Park, Alberta. This week we’re asking how we decide when animals are food, and when they’re friends.

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When is an animal a friend and when is it food? Kieran O’Donovan straddles an interesting an interesting line that gives him a pretty unique perspective on when an animal is a friend, and when it’s dinner. He’s a wildlife biologist and documentary filmmaker, but when he goes home to the Yukon, he’s also a hunter. Terra Informa’s Natalee Rawat sat down with Kieran to talk about how he sees our relationships with other animals.

Pets vs. Food

Remember Wilbur the pig from Charlotte’s Web? He was the runt of the litter, turned pet, threatened to be food, only to be saved by a spider. Terra Informa’s Nicole Wiart talked to Alberta Micro Pigs’ Angela Hardy and Irvings Farm Fresh’s Nicola Irving. The two of them both raise and breed pigs in the Edmonton area, one for food… the other for pets. Throughout the interviews, Nicole noticed strange similarities between both women and the way they viewed the pigs, despite raising, breeding, and feeding them for incredibly different purposes.

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Strombo and One Million Acts of Green

George Stroumboulopoulos, the host of the Hour on CBC, was at Grant MacEwan University here in Edmonton to speak about activism. Kyle Muzyka was at the speech, and in addition to speaking about activism, Stroumboulopoulos also spoke about a program generated to help Canadians become a little more green. As one of the many forces driving the “One Million Acts of Green” program, Strombo talks about how it started as a plan doomed to fail, and became something truly special.

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What’s Happening

Geological Wonders of British Columbia Lecture in Kamloops, BC
Over in BC, the Kamloops Exploration Group is hosting a talk on Geological Wonders of British Columbia this month. Bruce Madu will be speaking at the TRU Mountain Room as part of the group’s 2013 Lecture Series. Bruce is a geologist and the Director of the British Columbia Mineral Development Office in Vancouver. They provide resources on coal and mineral mining for government and industry, so it should be a fascinating opportunity to get to hear from someone who lives in the mining world, and ask some questions. That’s March 28 in the TRU Mountain Room in Kamloops, at 7 PM, and the talk is free. The lecture series continues April 4, when Ann Cheeptham will be talking about cave microbialites.

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Women in Science Lunch in Sydney, Nova Scotia
Over on the east coast, this April 6, Cape Breton University is hosting its Third Annual Women in Science Event. Meet fellow female scientists, learning about careers in science, and pick up some cool swag. They say last year’s Women in Science “Lunch and Learn” brought over 100 young women out from all over Cape Breton Island. This year, they’re hosting another Lunch event and a daylong Women in Science Retreat, filled with activities, giveaways, food, and learning. The event is aimed at young women in junior high, high-school, and just starting out in university. That’s at the Vershuren Centre on Cape Breton University Campus on April 6. It starts at 11 am, with lunch at 12, followed by a full afternoon of events. The cost is $10 per person.

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Wolf Skinning Workshop in Whitehorse, Yukon

Since we’ve been talking so much about hunting this week, we figured we’d shoot for a wild event coming up. On April 13th, the Yukon Trappers Association is hosting a Wolf Skinning Workshop at the Beaver Creek Community Club in Whitehorse. They’re a volunteer-run group, and this time they’ve rounded up Robert Stitt to run the workshop. It starts at 9:30 in the morning, and goes until, well, until you’re done. Call 667-7091 or email for more info.

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GMO Moratorium, Land Claims, and Oil Prices

This week on Terra Informa, stories from Ontario and the Andes about Indigenous-led shake-ups of land. First, we dig into the reasons Peru’s Indigenous farmers helped push for a national moratorium on GM crops. Then we’ve unearthed the latest update on long-running Algonquin land claim negotiations in Ontario. Finally, it’s the crude, dude: This week’s Ecobabble splashes cold water on the myth of a single global price for a barrel of oil.

GMO Moratorium, Land Claims, and Oil Prices

Farmers sharing potatoes in Peru’s Potato Park [Photo:]

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GMO Moratorium in Peru

Peru: it’s where you get your coffee, your maise, and your potatoes. You’ll be able to eat and drink your Peruvian products feeling a little better after listening to this next interview. At the end of 2012, the Peruvian government passed a ten year moratorium on GMO products coming in and out of the country in an effort to preserve indigenous agriculture and biodiversity.Terra Informa’s Nicole Wiart spoke with Marc Griebel, the communications coordinator for the Indigenous Peoples’ Biocultural Climate Change Assessment Initiative. Marc explores the reasons for the moratorium and the international affect he hopes to see in the future, specifically in Canada. Marc was born and raised on a family farm in rural Alberta, and is currently completing his thesis on biocultural heritage. We reached him in Cusco, Peru at the Potato Park.

More information: IPCCA resources on other international environmental movements lead by Indigenous people, ANDES Potato Park

Land in Ontario Under Algonquin Land Claim 
Beautiful lakes, full lush forests, and a place to call home for many families. It’s hard to believe that such vast land has been in the midst of negotiations for many years. In 1983, the Algonquins of Golden Lake, Ontario presented to the government of Canada a claim to Aboriginal rights  and a portion of the Ottawa and Mattawa river watersheds. The claim contend that the Algonquins have continuing ownership of 8.9 million acres of historical land. Following a legal and historical review of the Algonquin claim,Ontario agreed to enter into negotiations with the Algonquin’s in 1991. Since then there have been many changes to the negotiations. To further explain, Sam Piercey spoke to Government of Ontario representative CB Pappin.

Ecobabble: The Price of a Barrel of Oil
You probably hear it so often you don’t even think twice about it: The price of a barrel of oil. There’s a global price, and it goes up and down, and cable news guests rant about it. Well, to understand some of the biggest industrial projects in North America right now, you have to let go of that idea. Chris Chang-Yen Phillips has more, with this week’s Ecobabble.

More information: What the Glut? Why Cushing is Bursting and Hurting Oklahoma’s Economy (NPR)CBC Radio’s This is That parody on Alberta oil planesWhat the Brent/WTI oil price spread tells us (Wall Street Journal)

Community Supported Agriculture and Yangtze River

Today we take you on a tour of a different kind of community supported agriculture. David Adler coordinates one of only two community supported fisheries in the country, and he describes how it works and why it’s important. From Nova Scotia’s coast we move to one of China’s largest rivers. Dr. Larry Wang tells us about his work to restore the Yangtze after years of ecological damage.

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A lone boat sails down a gorge on the Yangtze River

Floating through the Wu Gorge on the Yangtze River. Photo Credit: Perfect Zero

Community Supported Agriculture
With the summer in full swing, a lot of people are turning to local farmers for their produce. One approach to finding local groceries that’s gaining a lot of popularity is Community Supported Agriculture. CSAs are a model of farming where community members buy shares in a farm’s crop at the beginning of the season. Then throughout the summer, usually once a week, they receive a basket of produce, and what comes in that basket depends on what happens to be in season. Members of the CSA get food that’s incredibly fresh and which has a smaller carbon footprint since it’s grown close to where they live. Plus they’re supporting their local economy. Today we talk to a group which has taken the CSA model and put a bit of a different spin on it. David Adler works with Off the Hook, a community supported fishery in Halifax, and he tells us why community support is so important.

Yangtze River

China’s Yangtze River is one of the biggest and longest rivers in the world. With its base in the glaciers of Tibet, it flows through China all the way to Shanghi. Despite its immense importance to the Chinese, both culturally and economically, the many competing uses of this river have left it in a deteriorating state. Dr. Larry Wang, a professor at the University of Alberta and recent recipient of an honorary degree, set out to restore this precious ecosystem and to transform the lives of farmers in China’s Yunnan province. With his childhood friend, Sam Chao, he co-founded ECO, the University of Alberta Ecological Conservancy Outreach fund. Our correspondent, Kathryn Lennon, caught up with Dr. Wang, and they spoke about his work with the Yangtze River.

More on this story: University of Alberta (1)University of Alberta (2)YouTube

News Headlines
Civil society groups call Rio+20 “a hoax summit”
World leaders left Brazil with not much to show from the UN’s Rio+20 summit. Development organization Oxfam said governments were too paralyzed by vested interests to seriously commit to environmental sustainability and reducing poverty. 20 years have passed since the first UN Conference on Sustainable Development in Rio de Janeiro, and this year, states came out with an even less ambitious agreement to meet those goals. Indigenous and civil society groups, unions, and farmers channelled their frustration at the process through a parallel People’s Summit also being held in Rio.
House of Commons passes omnibus budget bill
The federal government’s omnibus budget bill passed through the House of Commons. The bill changes and removes dozens of other laws, including removing most of the Species at Risk and  Fisheries Act protections and removing the Canadian Environmental Assessment Act. Opposition parties staged an around-the-clock debate to propose over 800 amendments to the bill, but the government voted down every single one. The Senate is expected to pass the bill this week, before Parliament takes a summer recess.
More on this story: The Province
Food price protests across Nunavut
In Nunavut, hundreds of protesters marked National Aboriginal Day by demonstrating against the very high cost of food there. Locals held up signs with slogans like ‘True North Strong and Expensive’ outside stores in communities across the territory, where a loaf of bread can cost you seven dollars. Leesee Papatsie protested with her son in Iqaluit. She rallied thousands to join a Facebook group called Feeding My Family. This week, government departments and local Inuit organizations are meeting to discuss long-term solutions, like getting the federal government to build more ports to lower shipping costs, and improving the federal Nutrition North retailer subsidies.
More on this story: NunatsiaqCTVCBC News
Leak of the Week: Enbridge pipeline near Elk Point 
Alberta’s oil and gas regulator announced that an Enbridge pipeline near Elk Point spilled about 1500 barrels of oil. The pipeline ships heavy crude from the oil sands to Hardisty, Alberta. The Energy Resources Conservation Board said the pipeline was shut down to contain the spill and no waterways were affected, unlike the Plains Midstream spill the week before which entered the Red Deer River. Enbridge blamed the spill on a failed flange gasket. Energy Minister Ken Hughes told the Toronto Star that with the number of pipelines in the province, the hundreds of oil spills a year simply cannot be avoided.
More on this story: Toronto StarThe Globe and Mail