March Against Monsanto this Saturday-Penticton Herlad

Penticton residents are invited Saturday to join with others from around the world to protest against the use of genetically modified organisms in food production.

The fifth annual March Against Monsanto is set to begin at 11 a.m. in Gyro Park, organized by Locals Supporting Locals.

According to co-ordinator Kevin Proteau, 38 countries have either banned GMOs or are in the process of doing so.

“Health Canada, in contrast to the rest of the world, is approving more GMO products such as apples and potatoes into our markets every year despite the move away from conventional agriculture that includes GMO,” he said in a press release.

Gabe Cipes from Summerhill Pyramid Winery is expected to speak at the event, as are other local agriculturalists, about their solutions for providing GMO-free foods.

Monsanto is targeted by the annual protests because it’s a leading producer of seeds for genetically modified food crops.

Rallies are also planned for Vernon, Penticton, Lumby and Enderby, which Proteau says are among 400 scheduled around the globe.

read more

Why Are BC’s Independent Schools Getting So Much Money?

Why Are BC’s Independent Schools Getting So Much Money?

Private school funding is increasing three times faster than support for public schools. The Tyee explores why.

By Katie Hyslop, Today, TheTyee.caprivate school

BC Teachers’ Federation posts on Facebook — more than a dozen in May — usually get a few dozen likes or shares.

But one recent post hit a nerve, inspiring over 8,600 shares, 6,300 comments and reaching about 600,000 people so far.

”This year, B.C. gave $358 million to private schools, including those for the super-elite. Meanwhile, Osoyoos is being forced to close its high school because of government underfunding,” read the text superimposed on photos of St. Michaels University School, where tuition for Canadian students runs upwards of $21,000 a year, and Osoyoos Secondary School, the community’s only high school slated for closure because of falling enrolment. Parents are reportedly planning to open an independent high school rather than have students bus 22 kilometres to a school in Oliver.

”When B.C. communities like Osoyoos are being forced to close their only high school, why are B.C. taxpayers subsidizing elite private schools?” the teachers’ union asked in its post.

The provincial government has been subsidizing independent schools since 1977. The NDP has said it wouldn’t change the funding formula if elected next May.


The Tyee has launched a brand new crowd-funding campaign to support a year-long series that will send education and youth reporter Katie Hyslop around B.C. to investigate how B.C.’s next generation is grappling with the legacy we’re leaving them.

One year out from the next provincial election, can you imagine a more vital, but likely to be ignored, constituency with crucial perspectives to share?

To fund this project, we’ll need to raise $25,000 by May 30. But we cannot do it without Tyee reader support.

Learn more about the projecthere. To pledge support, gohere.

But half of B.C.’s 60 public school boards are grappling with deficits that reach a combined $84 million. They are closing schools and cutting programs, including supports for vulnerable students.

And the public appetite for funding private schools appears to be waning, at least among the parents, educators, and trustees in districts like Vancouver, Chilliwack, and Okanagan Similkameen — which includes Osoyoos — that are facing budget shortfalls.

Since 2005, government funding for independent schools has increased by 66 per cent. Funding for public schools has risen by 19 per cent.

There are two levels of funding for independent schools, based on how much they spend per student. Group 1 schools spend the same or less than public schools, and receive 50 per cent of the per-student funding of public schools. Group 2 schools spend more per student than public schools and receive 35 per cent of the public school funding.

Independent schools receive the same funding as public schools for special needs students, distributed learning or online education and the Provincial Learning Network, the province’s high-speed Internet connection.

Independent schools don’t get public funds for capital expenses, like new buildings. But last year the government gave them a property tax break.

More students equal more money

Independent schools are getting more money — a budgeted $358 million last year — because they are attracting more students. Peter Froese, executive director of the Federation of Independent Schools Associations of BC, said that independent schools have seen an increase of 15,000 students since 2005/06, while public schools have lost 60,000 students.

The funding protection offered to public districts with dropping enrolment, known as the Enrollment Decline supplement, is included in the per student funding calculation to the benefit of both the public district and the independent schools who sit within those districts’ bounds.

Cuts that public school districts are forced to make, like the $54 million districts were asked to cut in administrative spending, do impact the amount of money independent schools receive, too, Froese added.

So do funding freezes or minimal increases: ”In the public sector we had 6,600 extra students this last year, but the government didn’t put a ton of extra money into education. It lowered the per student [funding] in many of the districts, and that dropped the grant in 32 of the districts for independent schools.”

The education ministry says ”the funding formula for independent schools has not changed in 25 years. Increases in funding are tied to the per pupil rate (which is rising) and any enrolment increases.”

But that’s not how the teachers’ union sees it. The union made headlines in February 2015 when it released a report alleging the $82-million Labour Settlement Fund was added into per-student funding when calculating independent school subsidies. The result, the union said, was a $5-million boost to private schools.

In another emailed statement, this time to News 1130, then-education minister Peter Fassbender wrote the union’s allegations were ”completely wrong.”

”The fact is, we’ve seen average per student funding for public schools increase by 40 per cent since 2000/01, to an estimated $8,819 for 2014-15 enrolment,” read the statement. ”We need to focus on student outcomes, not unnecessary and unhelpful distractions.”

The BCTF report also says the Unique Student Needs supplement — funding for indigenous students, students learning English, adult learners and other vulnerable students — is included in calculating per-student funding. Independent schools benefit even if they have no students requiring those services.

Froese said that pulling funding from independent schools wouldn’t help the public system. The Group 2 schools — about 15 per cent of the association’s members — could raise tuition fees and survive. But the majority of Group 1 schools relying on grants at 50 per cent of per-student funding in the public system would close, he said, sending roughly 60,000 students back to the public system.

Costs would double for those students, as their independent schools had been funded at half the public school rate.

BCTF President Jim Iker said the union never claimed that pulling public funds from private schools would be enough to cover shortfalls in the public system. Overall education funding needs to increase, he said.

”There would be more students to fund, and then perhaps districts wouldn’t have to be closing schools,” Iker said. Vancouver is considering closing up to 21 schools to save money and reach the 95-per-cent district classroom occupancy required to receive money to make schools safer in an earthquake.

The return of students — and the grants that come with them — could allow for the restoration of some services lost to budget cuts, Iker said.  [Tyee]

Read more: Education,

Glyphosate unlikely to pose risk to humans, UN/WHO study says

Glyphosate unlikely to pose risk to humans, UN/WHO study says

Chemical used in Monsanto’s Roundup weedkiller ‘unlikely to pose carcinogenic risk from exposure through diet’

round up.jpg

Several EU states rebelled against an EU proposal to relicense glyphosate earlier this year. Photograph: Philippe Huguen/AFP/Getty Images

Glyphosate, the key ingredient in Monsanto’s Roundup weedkiller brand, has been given a clean bill of health by the UN’s joint meeting on pesticides residues (JMPR), two days before a crunch EU vote on whether to relicense it.

The co-analysis by the UN’s Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) and World Health Organisation found that the chemical was “unlikely to pose a carcinogenic risk to humans from exposure through the diet”.

This finding flatly contradicts an assessment by the WHO’s cancer agency last year that the herbicide solution was “probably carcinogenic to humans”.

Harry van der Wulp, a senior policy officer at the FAO, said the latest analysis was the most comprehensive yet, but probably not the final word on the subject.

“These conclusions relate to exposure through the diet – that is very important,” he said. “It is not a general conclusion because anything beyond the diet was not in our mandate. It remains less clear what the situation is with occupational exposure.”

“My personal assessment is that it is a very complex puzzle and we are adding more and more pieces to it, but it is not necessarily complete yet.”

Several EU countries rebelled against a Brussels proposal to relicense glyphosate earlier this year. The latest version up for a vote on Wednesday or Thursday cuts the authorisation time from 15 years to nine.

The paper, which the Guardian has seen, also adds a biodiversity clause requested by Germany instructing EU countries to pay attention to “the risk to biodiversity and abundance of non-target terrestrial arthropods and vertebrates via trophic interactions”.
The stories you need to read, in one handy email
Read more
But this is unlikely to satisfy campaigners furious about the collateral damage they say that blanket spraying of the product on GM crops causes to nearby plants and animals. The Global Justice group has begun a “brandalism” campaign over the issue.

Industry groups groups are also unhappy that glyphosate receives different treatment from other chemicals that have received positive health and safety assessments.

Graeme Taylor, a spokesman for the European Crop Protection Association, an industry body, said: “I am not surprised by this latest finding, which is consistent with the findings of other assessments, such as those carried out by Efsa [European Food Safety Authority].”

Glyphosate is the world’s most widely used weedkiller and made up a third of Monsanto’s total sales, before taxes and interest last year. It is so ubiquitous that surveys show almost all Europeans have significant traces of the substance in their bodies.

Results from the urine samples of 48 MEPs last month showed that all had glyphosate traces in their bodies, with the average concentration being 1.7 micrograms a litre, 17 times above the limit for drinking water.

The Green MEP for the south-west of England, Molly Scott Cato, said: “With ongoing controversy over the health risks of glyphosate, we can be quite sure it has no place in the human body. We hold concerns for its impact on biodiversity, with evidence of glyphosate having detrimental impacts on the honey bee, monarch butterfly, skylark and earthworm populations, and posing a threat to the quality of our soil.”

The JMPR’s analyses are used to set the tolerable residue levels for products in international trade, although campaign groups such as Greenpeace contest its independence.

The group’s recommendation to maintain current allowable daily intakes (ADI) of 0-1mg of glyphosate per kilogram of body weight do not conflict with a recent Efsa proposal to raise the ADI in Europe from 0.3 to 05mg per kilogram.

More news Topics
Farming Herbicides Health United Nations World Health Organisation
Share on Pinterest Share on LinkedIn Share on Google+ Save for later
Reuse this content

Most popular

Sinéad O’Connor found safe after going missing from Chicago suburb

‘I need help’: Sophie Grégoire Trudeau’s plea sparks anger in Canada

Sophie Trudeau has challenged the fairytale that women can do it all | Suzanne Moore

Elon Musk apologizes for Tesla workers paid just $5 an hour by subcontractor

Trump’s ‘women problem’ doesn’t sway Republican leaders –

read more