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Florida's ecosystem, civil rights under attack

by Labor and Ecosystem coalition Friday, Feb. 24, 2006 at 9:47 PM

Florida's ecosystems, human and civil rights all coming under attack by corporate influenced development. Some ideas for local communities in FL to regain their health, land and dignity from profit hungry corporations.

Recent discussions in coastal Florida expressed concerns about future red tide outbreaks and possible measures to prevent them..

Some details from a recent public forum (2/22/06) about red tide prevention near Sarasota;

Red tide is an outbreak of algae bloom (Harmful Algae Bloom) caused by a phytoplankton that feeds off excess nutrients in the Gulf and other ocean waters. Usually the primary source of input is from agriculture and other inorganic applied fertilizer run off into waterways..

This article from Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution provides info on causes of red tide outbreaks;

"Red Tide and Dead Zones"

http://www.whoi.edu/oceanus/viewArticle.do?id=2487

"The most widespread, chronic environmental problem in the coastal ocean is caused by an excess of chemical nutrients. Over the past century, a wide range of human activities—the intensification of agriculture, waste disposal, coastal development, and fossil fuel use—has substantially increased the discharge of nitrogen, phosphorus, and other nutrients into the environment. These nutrients are moved around by streams, rivers, groundwater, sewage outfalls, and the atmosphere and eventually end up in the ocean.

Once they reach the ocean, nutrients stimulate the growth of tiny marine plants called phytoplankton or algae. When the concentration of nutrients is too high, this growth becomes excessive, leading to a condition called eutrophication."

Some suggested solution to reducing the input of chemical nutrients is using native plants for landscaping. Native plants are plants that are indigenous to the Florida ecosystem and generally do not require any fertilizer or other chemical pesticide input. Native plants also provide pollinator insects and endangered species with habitat, also require less water as they evolved together with Florida's hot and seasonal water variations..

Some web sites with more info on native plants;

Florida Native Nurseries;

http://www.afnn.org/search_afnn.asp?n=22

Florida Native Plant Society;

http://www.fnps.org/

Other factors contributing to nutrient runoff are not as easily prevented as changing plants used in landscaping. Many developers attempt to use turf grasses in excess near watersheds. These turf grasses require mowing, fertilizer applications and other chemical inputs. There are also other options to turf, including ground cover plants and native grasses. The monolithic turf lawn can also be made more friendly to biodiversity by including buffers and lawn beds with native flowers to break up the monoculture lawn..

Florida's agriculture also depends on excess input of fertilizers, pesticides, herbicides, etc..

Here is an issue where both farm workers and eco-activists can share common ground. The dependency of agriculture corporations on petrochemically derived fertilizer/pesticides is toxic to both farm workers and the ecosystem/watershed. Here coalition groups can organize together to encourage agriculture corporations to decrease their dependency on petrochemical pesticides/fertilizers and instead increase IPM (Intergrated Pest Management) strategies including beneficial insects, organic pesticides and time release organic fertilizers..

Following these simple measures both farm workers and eco-activists can feel safer. Recently a rally of immigrant workers in Ft. Myers Florida expressed their desire to be treated with respect. This includes fair wages, non-discrimination and a safe workplace. Immigrant farm workers should not be placed at risk for cancer, hormone distruption and other illness by repeated exposure to petrochemical toxic pesticides..

Other issues discussed at Sarasota/Manatee Sierra Club meeting 2/21/06;

Isaac Group Holdings development corporation recently bought land to build parking garages in downtown Sarasota. Real estate prices skyrocket as taxpayer subsidized developers cater to the wealthy. Houseless people are criminalized for sleeping in public under both Sarasota and Bradenton "no camping" ordinances. Workers paid near or below minimum wage build houses far out in the suburbs, yet affordable housing remains a pipe dream. As McMansions with monoculture lawns replace oak woodlands, wetlands and other ecosystems needed for providing oxygen, cool shade and flooding buffers, traffic and smog increases asthma and respiratory ailments. Public transit and affordable pedestrian friendly housing or suburban sprawl and smoggy air?

Sarasota Homeless Coalition;

http://www.sarasotahomeless.org/

http://saveoursarasota.blogspot.com/2005_07_01_saveoursarasota_archive.html

One obvious way of reducing petroleum dependecy is promoting and providing more effective public transit;

American Public Transit Association;

http://www.apta.com/

Charlotte County is involved in legal action with Mosaic phosphate mine. Phosphate mines contribute a great deal of phosphate chemicals as run off into watersheds. Many phosphate corporations economically coerce non-unionized workers to rapidly mine the phosphate, then after a few years close down the plants, leaving toxic pollutants and unemployment as their legacy..

general info on phosphate mines;

http://www.fluoridealert.org/phosphate/overview.htm

Mosaic phosphate mine in Tampa;

http://www.baysoundings.com/sum05/phosphate23.html

Dept. of Fish and Wildlife is planning to capture and relocate the Florida panthers out of state, possibly development influenced. The two initiators for this idea are believed to be residing at Casa Blanca on Pennsylvania Ave. in Washington DC., and his kin residing at the Governer's mansion off North Monroe Street in Tallahassee. Maybe someone can capture, tag and relocate these two individuals and return them to their ranch in Texas..

One of many groups trying to save the Florida panther;

http://www.panthersociety.org/index.html

Citizens for Sensible Growth have petitions to prevent suburban sprawl from destroying the ecosystems around Sarasota..

http://www.sarasotacitizens.org/

Sarasota Interstate Park of Commerce has bulldozed oak scrub habitat, lawsuit pending..

Lockheed Martin claims they want to help clean up a groundwater toxic waste plume, yet is not coopertive with the community of Tallevast. Lockheed failed to notify residents they were appearing at their homes to test water.

http://www.environmentalhealthnews.org/archives.jsp?sm=fl8%3Bcoverage7%3BFloridafl13%3Bpublishername16%3BBradenton+Herald

Harardous Substance Research Center;

http://www.hsrc.org/hsrc/html/ssw/manatee.html



For more info on Sarasota/Manatee ecological concerns, visit the Sierra Club chapter;

http://florida.sierraclub.org/sarasota/

Recently there was an Earth First! gathering in Florida. For those unable to attend, it would be important to have an imc article about some issues discussed, and if there is any possiblity for EF! chapters in FL. The ecosystem in Florida is unique and needs diverse activist groups covering the many problems coming from corporate development intrusion..

http://earthfirst.org.uk/actionreports/?q=node/117

Fight against Scripps;

"Eco-rebellion stirring in the swamps"

http://www.earthfirstjournal.org/articles.php?a=859







add your comments



Farm workers rally ILUF follow up

Ya basta!



This from infoshop/GNN on the ILUF (Immigrant Latin United of Florida) immigrant right's march;

http://www.infoshop.org/inews/article.php?story=20060215055807543

http://gnn.tv/headlines/7630/Florida_Immigrant_Workers_Strike_Rally

"ILUF is organizing a rally entitled "Work Stoppage Demonstration for a Fair and Equitable Immigration law Day" this upcoming February 22nd.

The rallying point will be Senator Bill Nelson's office in Fort Myers.

"Work Stoppage Demonstration for a Fair and Equitable Immigration law Day"

Start: 2006-02-22 10:00

End: 2006-02-22 12:00

Timezone: Etc/GMT-5

Florida

ILUF is organizing a rally entitled "Work Stoppage Demonstration for a Fair and Equitable Immigration law Day" this upcoming February 22nd.

The rallying point will be Senator Bill Nelson's office in Fort Myers.

The Florida United Latinos Organization of Arcadia will hold a rally this upcoming Wednesday, February 22, 2006, near Senator Bill Nelson's office in Fort Myers located on Justice Ave Justice Center Annex Building 2000 Main Street, Suite 801, Fort Myers, Florida 33901.

The reason for this rally is to counteract for one day of Work Stoppage for a Fair and equitable Immigration law day against the Sensenbrenner immigration proposal, which would criminalize routine contact with undocumented aliens in this country as well as organizations that are perceived to give them support or refuge. In other words, ILUF is going to demonstrate to elected legislators and to the community in general what could be the result of this legislative proposal which manifests a rejection of our hard-working people in this country. For this reason, on that day immigrants who support the organization will not be present in their usual places of work that cause them to add to the progress of this country's economy. However they will be present to make their voices of protest heard in front of Senator Bill Nelson's office in Fort Myers. Senator Nelson has not yet taken a public stance with respect to immigration and this offensive legislation.

The Florida United Latinos Organization will rally agricultural workers and immigrants from De Soto, Manatee, Sarasota, Pinellas, and Hardee counties and will enjoy the support of other representative organizations of this state and this country which will engage in similar protests around the country examples of which are -Mexicans who have begun protesting at international bridges, demonstrations and two-hour work stoppages in New York, as well as the campaign to refrain from the consumption of alcohol for the entire month of February organized by the Azteca Center. ILUF, hand in hand with other organizations on a statewide and national basis are in agreement that drastic measures must be taken in a unified show of force for this one reason. The legal situation of our people will not change unless we do something. It is important to make known to all of our employers, pastors, priests, organizations and the public in general how this legislation would affect them. Now is the time to emphatically say "Enough!"

"

as in Ya Basta!!

for more info on future events/locations contact;

Immigrant Latin United of Florida

Office (863) 491-0044

Fax (813) 434-2196

website address for ILUF?

also;

Coalition of Immokalee Workers takes on McDonalds HQ tour;

http://www.ciw-online.org/news.html



Florida Fair Trade Coalition;

http://www.flfairtrade.org/index.php

The agriculture corporations in Florida are supported by low wage immigrant labor (no health benefits) and taxpayer, water, subsidies and an EPA that looks the other way when toxic chemical pesticides and fertilizers that endanger worker's health are used on monoculture cash crops..

Methyl bromide is a known toxin, yet Florida agribusiness continues to spray tomatoes and strawberries with methyl bromide despite the health risks to workers and the watershed ecosystem..

From "The Scientist"

http://www.the-scientist.com/article/display/18858/

"Still, part of methyl bromide users' reluctance to change stems from the fact that many are "addicted" to methyl bromide, says Kert Davies of Greenpeace. Methyl bromide works so well as a soil fumigant that the system of growing things has evolved around it, he says, and changing to alternatives means changing the machines, plastic, and entire system. Methyl bromide was the "silver bullet," he says, that allowed farmers to prosper unnaturally, and make "buckets" of money. "That greed is part of the resistance to change," notes Davies. "Tomatoes in February are a luxury, not a right."

"

Ag-mart corporation in Plant City, FL grows tomatoes with excess pesticide use to the extreme that even corporate supermarkets like Publix refuse to carry their produce..

http://www.environmentalhealthnews.org/archives.jsp?sm=fl8%3Bcoverage7%3BFloridafr15%3Bexposurepathway14%3B5Pesticide_use13%3BPesticide+use

The use of pesticides in Florida by agribusiness like Ag-mart has also shown a correlation with birth defects in immigrant worker's children..

"IMMOKALEE
On Feb. 4, Jesus Navarrete, whose parents live about 100 feet away from Carlitos' family, was born with Pierre Robin syndrome. His jaw is underdeveloped, and that causes his tongue to fall into his throat, and he risks choking.

Taylor Jones/The Post

Two days later, on Feb. 6, Maria Meza gave birth to a child missing its nose, an ear and with no visible sexual organs. At first the child was given the name Jorge, but hours later was renamed Violeta after a more detailed examination determined that the baby was a girl. She died three days later of massive birth defects.

Meza now lives about a mile away, but in 2004, when they became pregnant, all three mothers lived within 200 feet of one another at the same migrant labor camp, called Tower Cabins. All of them are Mexicans and worked for the same produce company, picking tomatoes, in the same field just off Camp Keais Road in Immokalee. More than two dozen different pesticides and herbicides are used in that field.

When the harvest was completed in Immokalee, they moved on to fields in North Florida and North Carolina, but they say they continued to work for the same employer and were again exposed to agricultural chemicals.

Two of the women say they worked until they were seven months pregnant. Meza quit the fields after two months."

article continues at;

http://www.organicconsumers.org/OFGU/birthdefects031405.cfm

Corporations like Ag-mart and Dow (manufacture of methyl bromide) need to be held accountable for the numerous damage done to farm workers and the ecosystem, and for continuing a cycle of dependency (pesticide treadmill) of toxic petrochemically derived pesticides..

Methyl bromide alternative not much better;

http://www.fluoridealert.org/news/2516.html

Organic farming using crop biodiversity may be the safest future..



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