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Cablegate: South America Esth News, Number 102

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E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: SENV EAGR EAID TBIO ECON SOCI XR BR
SUBJECT: SOUTH AMERICA ESTH NEWS, NUMBER 102


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1. The following is the one hundred second in a series of
newsletters, published by the Brasilia Regional Environmental Hub,
covering environment, science and technology, and health news in
South America. The information below was gathered from news sources
from across the region, and the views expressed do not necessarily
reflect those of the Hub office or our constituent posts.
Addressees who would like to receive a user-friendly email version
of this newsletter should contact Larissa Stoner at
stonerla@state.gov. The e-mail version also contains a calendar of
upcoming ESTH events in the region. NOTE: THE NEWSLETTER IS NOW
ALSO AVAILABLE ON THE BRASILIA INTRANET PAGE, BY CLICKING ON THE
'HUB' LINK.

2. Table of Contents

Agriculture
--(3)Paraguay: The Dark Side of the Soy Boom
--(4)'Roundtable on Responsible Soy' Members Meet in Mato Grosso,
Brazil

Health
--(5)Colombia: Malaria Winning the Battle in Choco
--(6)Peru: Malaria Moves In Behind the Loggers
--(7)New Web Portal Connects Tropical Disease Research

Forests
--(8)International Tropical Timber Council Commits US$4 Million for
Tropical Forest Law Enforcement

Wildlife
--(9)Brazil: Scientist Claims to Find New Pig Species

Science & Technology
--(10)Chile: Pressure from Researchers May Lead to Increase in
Budget

Infrastructure Development
--(11)Plans for Highway Linking Chile, Brazil and Landlocked
Bolivia
--(12)Brazil-Bolivia: Challenge Blocks Amazon Dams
--(13)South American Gas Pipeline Will Connect Caribbean with
Pacific Ocean

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--(14)Revolt in the Andes: A Vote of Sorts against Big Mines

Pollution
--(15)Life in Peru's most polluted town
--(16)Chile: Authorities Outraged Over New Leak at Los Pelambres
Mine

Energy
--(17)Brazil: Greenpeace Pledges Legal Action to Block Construction
of Nuclear Plant
--(18)Colombia, Uruguay: Study Names Top Would-Be Biodiesel
Producers
--(19)Q&A With Corporate Social Responsibility Expert on Chile's
Proposed Aysen Dams
--(20)Germany to Support Chilean Renewable Energy Efforts

Climate Change
--(21)The Carbon Calculus
--(22)Brazil Considers Targets For Amazon Deforestation Reduction

General
--(23)Amazon Fire Wars Exacerbate Global Warming
--(24)Environment-Latin America: Same Old Problems, Says UNEP
Report

-----------
Agriculture
-----------

3. Paraguay: The Dark Side of the Soy Boom

NOV. 08, 2007 - Paraguay has become the world's fourth largest
exporter of soy, behind the United States, Brazil and Argentina.
According to the Agriculture Ministry, soy is grown on 2.4 million
hectares of land and accounts for 38 percent of the country's
agricultural production. The Paraguayan Chamber of Cereals and
Oilseeds Exporters (CAPECO) announced that their goal for 2008 is to
expand soy cultivation to four million hectares and to double export
revenues from the commodity, which in the first quarter of 2007
amounted to 780 million dollars. But that figure fails to reflect

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the social and environmental consequences of the expansion of soy
cultivation, according to the documentary "Soberania violada"
(Violation of Sovereignty). The documentary, produced by a
Paraguayan team, portrays the drama of campesino (small farmer)
communities that experience the spread of soy plantations as a
threat to their survival. According to the documentary, intensive
soy production has caused a fall in traditional activities like
timber extraction, cattle ranching and even production of cotton,
which used to be the country's main agricultural export. The area
under cotton cultivation has dropped from 509,000 hectares in 1990
to only 160,000 hectares in 2006.

Source - IPS News

4. 'Roundtable on Responsible Soy' Members Meet in Mato Grosso,
Brazil

NOV. 12, 2007 - The Principles, Criteria, and Development Group (of
the Roundtable on Responsible Soy Production) had its first meeting
in Mato Grosso, Brazil, in October 2007. The group is composed of
individuals from different countries including Argentina, Belgium,
Brazil, China, Holland, India and USA. The two central objectives of
the group are: 1) to develop a set of standards of responsible soy
value chains, which outline what is meant by responsible production,
processing and commerce of soy beans and soy bean products; and 2)
to develop an associated verification system. The goals of the work
were refined during the meeting, with the participants concluding
that while producers will necessarily play a significant role in
implementing responsible production, the work of the group needs to
address responsibility along the whole soy value chain, to avoid
placing an unfeasibly large burden on the producers.

Source - Roundtable on Responsible Soy

------
Health
------

5. Colombia: Malaria Winning the Battle in Choc

NOV. 03, 2007 - In the context of the decades-long Colombian civil
war, many who flee the fighting in infested areas carry malaria with

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them. According to the non-governmental Consultancy for Human
Rights and Displacement, between 1999 and 2006, nearly 70,000 people
were displaced in the Choco region, whose population is about
800,000. As of September of this year, 19,971 cases of malaria had
been reported in Choco, and in 2006 there were 12,441, but the 2007
increase is due to previous "under-reporting". The highest numbers
were 31,713 in 1998, and close to 32,000 in 2002, says Palacios.
Malaria is endemic across much of Colombian territory. More than 25
million people of the national population of 45 million live in
malaria zones, according to official data. In 2004 there were 25
malaria deaths reported, according to the Ministry of Social
Protection, and 123,177 cases, more than 47 percent in the
western-Pacific region, where Choco is located. Colombia signed on
to the global campaign to "Roll Back Malaria" by half by 2010, but
the country doesn't seem to be on the road to achieve that goal.

Source - IPS News

6. Peru: Malaria Moves In Behind the Loggers

OCT. 31, 2007 - Malaria has returned to the many villages only
accessible by boat in the Peruvian Amazon, inflicting on the
inhabitants days of fever, permanent anemia and - in the worst cases
- death. Article continues

In Peru, malaria was almost eradicated 40 years ago, but this year
64,000 cases have been registered in the country, half of those in
the Amazon region. It is thought there are many more unregistered
cases deep within the massive and humid rainforest, where health
authorities find it almost impossible to gain access. Two
scientific reports last year linked malaria with deforestation.
Peruvian researchers found that frontier areas cleared of trees for
logging, settlements, roads, farming or mining were far more likely
to harbor malaria-carrying mosquitoes. Deforestation is allowing
the mosquito to move to new areas, spreading malaria to places where
people are not aware of the disease, where villagers lack the means
to get hold of mosquito nets and preventive medicines, and where
health authorities have no presence.

Source - The Guardian

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7. New Web Portal Connects Tropical Disease Research

OCT. 31, 2007 - A web portal to help people identify and use vital
information related to infectious diseases was launched at Forum 11,
the annual meeting of the Global Forum for Health Research.
TropIKA.net, run by the Special Program for Research and Training in
Tropical Diseases (TDR), will provide free information chosen by
experts for practical use in infectious disease studies. Ridley
said that increased funding for tropical diseases, along with
open-access efforts from publishers and research institutes, has led
to large amounts of available information, but this is often
dispersed across various sources and offers inconsistent
conclusions. At TropIKA.net, leading experts in the field are
invited to analyze the scientific literature to provide clear
information of its worth to researchers in developing countries for
their work in tropical diseases.

Source - SciDev

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Forests
-------

8. Tropical Timber Council Commits US$4 Million for Tropical Forest
Law Enforcement

NOV. 15, 2007 - The forty-third session of the International
Tropical Timber Council (ITTC 43) took place from 5-10 November
2007, in Yokohama, Japan. The Council approved 15 projects and
three pre-projects, and pledged US$ 5.6 million in project
financing. The Council also approved the International Tropical
Timber Organization (ITTO) Biennial Work Program for 2008-2009, with
a total budget of US$ 9.2 million. Part of the funding announced at
this session included US$ 4 million targeted at Tropical Forest Law
Enforcement and Trade, provided by a major contribution by the
Netherlands coupled with Japan, the US, Australia, Norway and the
Japan Lumber Importers Association. The Council also reviewed the
status of ITTA, 2006, which has only been ratified by the US,
Malaysia Switzerland and Poland, but which must be ratified by ten
consumer and twelve producer countries before it enters into force.


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Source - ITTO

--------
Wildlife
--------

9. Brazil: Scientist Claims to Find New Pig Species

NOV. 06, 2007 - A Dutch scientist thinks he has discovered a new
species of wild pig nearly twice the size of other pigs in Brazil's
Amazon region. At four feet long and 90 pounds, the pig is the
latest in a string of new species that Marc van Roosmalen reported
to have found since 1996. His findings were published in the Oct. 29
edition of the German scientific journal Bonner Zoologische
Beitrage. Van Roosmalen, said his discovery of the peccary _ a kind
of wild pig he dubbed Pecari maximus _ points out the need to
protect the region as a habitat for wild species. Van Roosmalen's
success in discovering new species in the Amazon has earned him
international acclaim.

Source - Washington Post

--------------------
Science & Technology
--------------------

10. Chile: Pressure from Researchers May Lead to Increase in Budget

NOV. 02, 2007 - A protest led by Chilean scientists pressed the
Government of Chile to request from Parliament that the Science and
Technology budget for 2008 be increased by 25 percent, compared to
the budget proposed in September. More than one-thousand
researchers, university directors, and science students gathered in
from of Chile's Science and Technology Commission (CONICYT) on
October 26th to demand an increase in the science budget for the
country. "We are worried, [the government] invites us to build an
economy based on knowledge, but they do not value scientific work
appropriately," says Jorge Babul, president of the Council of
Scientific Societies, who led the protest. According to the press
report, the Parliament should come to a decision over the next few
days.

BRASILIA 00002184 007.2 OF 014

Source - SciDev

--------------------------
Infrastructure Development
--------------------------

11. Plans for Highway Linking Chile, Brazil and Landlocked Bolivia

NOV. 15, 2007 - The presidents of Chile, Bolivia and Brazil want to
step up plans to build a highway from the Pacific to the Atlantic
oceans that would boost trade, Chilean Foreign Minister Alejandro
Foxley said in Santiago. The highway would run from the Santos port
in Brazil, cut through Santa Cruz, Bolivia, and end at the northern
Chilean ports of Arica and Iquique. The highway would give
land-locked Bolivia key maritime access. Foxley said the
presidents: Chile's Michelle Bachelet, Bolivia's Evo Morales and
Brazil's Luiz Inacio Lula de Silva, discussed the issue during a
summit of Latin American leaders.

Source - MercoPress

12. Brazil-Bolivia: Challenge Blocks Amazon Dams

OCT. 20, 2007 - Brazil's government plans to build two hydroelectric
dams -- the Jirau and San Antonio -- on an uneven stretch of the
Madeira River, in the western Brazilian state of Rondonia, with
energy production potentials of 3,300 and 3,150 megawatts,
respectively. A recent report from the Bolivian Forum on the
Environment and Development called for an accord between the two
countries as "the only possible approach for making the project for
exploitation of the Madeira River effective". In addition, "a more
in-depth analysis" of the possibility of trans-border alterations in
water flow was called for during the Forum. Bolivian demands could
prolong the discussions about the project, whose Environmental
Impact Assessment will be reviewed in four hearings in November.
The Brazilian authorities have said, for now, that they are willing
to listen to their neighbors. The fact that Brazil shares the
Madeira River with Bolivia complicates the energy projects, but its
bilateral exploitation would be beneficial, according to Luiz
Pereira, director of the non-governmental Institute for the
Strategic Development of the Electrical Sector. "Energy integration

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is a good solution for Brazil and South America, with the aim of
overcoming dominant sources of energy, like Bolivian natural gas and
the gigantic hydroelectric Itaipu dam, which Brazil shares with
Paraguay."

Source - IPS News

13. South American Gas Pipeline Will Connect Caribbean with Pacific
Ocean

OCT. 14, 2007 - The presidents of Colombia, Venezuela, and Ecuador
announced Oct. 12th that new Ballenas-Maraciabo international
pipeline will be extended across Colombia to create the first
transoceanic pipeline on the continent. President [Hugo] Chavez
said that plans were ready to connect the pipeline with Central
America and the Andean countries of Ecuador, Peru, and Bolivia.
President Chavez also announced plans to connect the pipeline with
Panama and from there head north into Central America, expanding the
Union of South American Nation's (Unasur) plans to create a regional
energy grid to supply the continents increasing energy needs.
According to the article, there is currently a continental push for
greater integration, which was launched by the 12 presidents of the
South American nations in 2000. The success of the movement so far
has been mixed, with the northern half of the continent moving
forward on projects like the Ballenas-Maracaibo pipeline while the
southern cone remains bogged down in conflicts like that between
Argentina and Chile [over LNG].

Source - South Affairs Blog

14. Revolt in the Andes: A Vote of Sorts against Big Mines

SEPT. 20, 2007 - Many of the world's top mining companies have made
big investments in Peru and are now ramping up output just when
world prices for minerals are at record highs. The industry is
booming, as is the economy. But in the Andean highlands that contain
the mineral deposits, some Peruvians are turning against the mining
companies. The latest battle is at Rio Blanco, a remote spot close
to the border with Ecuador where the Andes meet the Amazon, forming
a misty cloud forest. On September 16th a loose coalition of
environmentalists, Catholic priests, and foreign NGOs held an
unofficial referendum in the three affected districts. Of the 17,971

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votes cast (a 60% community turnout, according to organizers), all
but 984 voted against the mine. Opponents say the mine would pollute
rivers that are vital for farmers in fertile valleys downstream and
accuse the company of ignoring local opinion. More broadly, they
argue that mining has failed to develop the Peruvian highlands. In
response to the protests, mining companies are spending more on
community development. According to the press article, it is time
for Peru to create an environmental agency focused on environmental
and social conflicts caused by large mining projects, rather than
rely on a minute representation of environmental concerns within the
Mining Ministry.

Source -The Economist

---------
Pollution
---------

15. Life in Peru's most polluted town

NOV. 15, 2007 - The Blacksmith Institute, a US-based environmental
think tank, has ranked La Oroya as one of the top 10 most polluted
places in the world for the last two years. La Oroya, home to more
than 30,000 people, is a company town and many residents say nothing
about the pollution for fear of losing their jobs. Three years ago
the Peruvian health ministry (MINSA) found that 99.9% of children in
La Oroya under the age of seven had blood lead levels far above safe
norms. And a recent study of newborn babies by neurologist Dr Hugo
Villa showed a quarter of those tested had dangerously high lead
levels in their blood. The smelter was already 75 years old when
the Peruvian state sold it in 1997 to the US-based Doe Run
Corporation (privately-held) on the condition that emissions would
be cut. Doe Run says that at the time of sale, Peru had only just
begun conforming to international environmental laws, and the plant
was completely unregulated. The Peruvian Labor Association and
Inter-American Association for Environmental Defense say their
studies indicate toxic emissions have actually increased in the last
decade, in some cases substantially.

Source - BBC

16. Chile: Authorities Outraged Over New Leak at Los Pelambres Mine

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NOV. 01, 2007 - Chilean authorities expressed outrage when informed
of a toxic leak at a tailings dam in Region IV's Los Pelambres Mine.
That leak, which lasted five hours before mine officials notified
authorities, was disclosed to the press four days later. Los
Pelambres Mine is 60 percent owned by Chile's powerful Luksic family
and administered by Antofagasta Minerals, the mining arm of the
family's economic empire. This is the second time since August that
the plant has been responsible for a toxic spill. Radio Universidad
de Chile reported that toxic residue flowed from the facility at a
rate of 128 liters per second, resulting in a spill of more than
300,000 liters in the surrounding area. Officials believe that the
waste traveled some two kilometers before entering the nearby
Cuncumen River and its tributaries. A faulty pump, they say, was the
source of the accident.

Source - Santiago Times

------
Energy
------

17. Brazil: Greenpeace Pledges Legal Action to Block Construction of
Nuclear Plant

NOV. 06, 2007 - Greenpeace announced it is seeking court injunctions
to block the construction of a third nuclear power plant in Brazil.
The environmental group said it is seeking a restraining order from
a federal court in Angra dos Reis, a coastal resort south of Rio de
Janeiro and the site of Brazil's only two nuclear power plants.
Nuclear plants Angra 1 and Angra 2 have an installed capacity of
about 2,000 megawatts. Angra 3 would raise capacity to 3,300
megawatts at a cost of about US$3.6 billion, according to the Mines
and Energy Ministry. The government said this year it could build an
additional four to eight nuclear power plants after Angra 3.
Greenpeace is claiming in its suits that the construction of Angra 3
is "illegal and unconstitutional". It argues the plant lacks the
express authorization of President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva and the
approval of Congress.

Source - The Associated Press


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18. Colombia, Uruguay: Study Names Top Would-Be Biodiesel
Producers

OCT. 25, 2007 - Colombia, Ghana, Malaysia, Thailand and Uruguay are
the top five developing countries likely to attract biodiesel
investment because of their strong agricultural industries, relative
stability and low debt, says a US study. The analysis, 'A Global
Comparison of National Biodiesel Production Potentials', was
published October 24 in Environmental Science and Technology. The
analysis ranks 226 countries according to their potential to make
large volumes of biodiesel at low cost. The main objective was to
identify developing countries already exporting large amounts of
vegetable oil for profit - from palm or soybean crops for example-
but who may not have considered the option of refining it into
biodiesel. According to the study, these countries could improve
their trade balance - the difference between a county's imports and
exports - by exporting biodiesel or using the fuel to satisfy their
own energy needs.

Source - SciDev

19. Q&A With Corporate Social Responsibility Expert on Chile's
Proposed Aysen Dams

OCT. 25, 2007 - Alternatives must be sought to building the five big
hydroelectric dams planned by the HidroAysen company in Chile's
Patagonia region, says Fernando Avila, executive director of the
Association of Companies and Professionals for the Environment,
AEPA, in an interview with Tierramerica. The attorney is convinced
that companies can make economic profits while maintaining operating
practices that are compatible with environmental protection. Today
what is needed is a "center for environmental technologies --
public-private -- which has the technical authority to resolve
conflicts," he says. For the complete Q&A please refer to the link
below.

Source - Tierramerica

20. Germany to Support Chilean Renewable Energy Efforts

OCT. 22, 2007 - The German government has pledged up to US$126
million to fund Chilean research into renewable energy and energy

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efficiency. A spokesperson for Chile's National Commission of Energy
told SciDev.Net that the German government will donate US$11.5
million and lend up to US$114.5 million for this renewable energy
effort. International Renewable Energy Agency (IRENA) - an
initiative led by Germany - aims to promote the use of renewable
energy sources such as solar energy, wind power, regenerative
biomass, wave and tidal power worldwide. It will also support
national energy planning, research centers and technology transfer
throughout the world, especially from industrialized nations to
developing countries. A bill on renewable energies - waiting to be
approved by the Chilean parliament - aims to increase renewable
energy production from its current level of 2.4 per cent to 8 per
cent of total energy production in Chile by 2020.

Source - SciDev

--------------
Climate Change
--------------

21. The Carbon Calculus

NOV. 08, 2007 - A change is in the works that could go a long way
toward making alternative energy less alternative, and more
attractive to consumers and businesses. [This] change would come
from Washington, if Congress does what it has talked about and puts
a price tag on greenhouse-gas emissions. Suddenly the carbon content
of fuel, or how much carbon dioxide is produced per unit of energy,
would be as important as what the fuel costs. In fact, it might
largely define what the fuel costs. That could shake up the
economics of energy, handicapping some fuels and favoring others.
Those that produce hefty emissions, like coal and oil, would likely
look much worse. And some - sunlight, wind, uranium, even corn
stalks and trash as well as natural gas - would probably look much
better. "Carbon-negative" fuels that take carbon dioxide out of the
atmosphere as they are made, might even become feasible. On November
08, a Senate subcommittee approved a bill to establish a
cap-and-trade system for carbon dioxide, and the Democratic
leadership is eager to have the Senate pass it by year's end.
Prospects in the House are less certain.

Source - The New York Times (please contact Larissa Stoner for

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complete article)

22. Brazil Considers Targets For Amazon Deforestation Reduction

OCT. 26, 2007 - Environment Minister Marina Silva stated that the
Government of Brazil is beginning to examine the adoption of targets
for reducing the deforestation of the Amazon, but that mandatory
goals would only be acceptable if the country received foreign
assistance to meet them. "We want to change the development model,
but for that we need help, because reducing deforestation helps the
entire planet," the minister reportedly said.

Source - Public Affairs US Embassy Brasilia

-------
General
-------

23. Brazil: Amazon Fire Wars Exacerbate Climate Change

NOV. 05, 2007 7 In Brazil, it's the end of the burning season, when
people use fire to clear land for farms and ranches. But people also
use fire as a weapon in range wars to push others off their land.
Scientists say this fire cycle is not just destroying parts of the
Amazon's southern forests, but altering the climate as well. It's
common in the frontier here for squatters or land grabbers to set
fire to land to force owners off, especially when land title is in
dispute. If they can show the owners aren't developing that land in
the first place, it's theirs. John Carter [from NGO Alianca da
Terra, a USAID/Brazil grantee] is in the middle of one of these
range wars. He's an American who has adopted Brazil as his home. His
ranch covers 22,000 acres. He says more than 90 percent of it has
just burned. And fires are still consuming what's left.

Source - NPR

24. Environment-Latin America: Same Old Problems, Says UNEP Report

OCT. 25, 2007 - Urban poverty and chaotic urban growth, loss of
biodiversity, degradation of marine ecosystems, water and air
pollution are just a few of the serious environmental problems that
continue to plague Latin America and the Caribbean, the U.N.

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Environment Program says in a new global report. "There are many
pending tasks in South America," Chilean chemical engineer Hector
Jorquera told IPS. "We have problems of pollution in cities and of
scarcity of water resources, threatened and endangered species,
over-exploitation of marine resources, and increasing risk of
diseases (especially skin cancer) caused by the thinning of the
ozone layer, which is having an extremely strong effect at the
southern tip of the continent." The UNEP report, drawn up by 390
experts and reviewed by another 1,000 around the world, is the
fourth "Global Environment Outlook: Environment for Development"
(GEO-4) survey. It describes the global changes seen since 1987 and
assesses the current state of the atmosphere, land, water and
biodiversity, while identifying priorities for action.

Source - IPS News

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