[cenn] CENN- June 29, 2006 WEEKLY DIGEST

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29.6.2006

News From Georgia < > >>

The Fate of Georgian Forests is still unclear

On June 13, 2006 session of Georgian Parliament Committee of Environmental
Protection and Natural Resources has been held. On the session were invited
the representatives of Ministry of Environmental Protection and Natural
Resources (MoE), NGOs and experts of this field. On agenda among other
issues was Forest Policy Concept developed by MoE (Document: Position of the
Ministry of Environmental Protection and Natural Resources of Georgia on the
Reform of Governance and Usage of Resources of the State Forests; also
called Concept of Reform).

Legislators wanted to understand the position of MoE on the Forest Reform,
as they were not informed on that issue (MoE has submitted the document to
be reviewed only the day before). At great surprise only one representative
of MoE attended the session – Deputy Minister Mr. Irakli Gvalazde. Besides
informative vacuum confusion of the committee members have been extended due
to the fact that two different documents ("Georgian Forest Policy and
Strategy" and "Concept of Reform") have been messed up. As Committee was not
satisfied by the answers received from representative of MoE, it was decided
to hold the session dedicated to the Forest Sector of Georgia in the nearest
future.

As Irakli Macharashvili (Association Green Alternative – GA) informed Zviad
Cheishvili, Head of Sustainable Development Department (at MoE) declared
that he was not acquainted with the document that Irakli Gvaladze
represented on the Parliament Committee session, and he is preparing other
presentation on this issues to bring on the State Session (Public Radio;
June 15, 2005 – Debates held between I. Macharashvili and Z. Cheishvili).

Background: On May 30, 2006 State Minister Kakha Bendukidze, the First
Deputy Minister of MoE David Chantladze and Head of Sustainable Development
Department Zviad Cheishvili declared that legislative amendments allowing
state owned forests long-term leasing (for 49 years) were to be brought up
on the agenda of State Session (Rustavi 2).

The First Deputy Minister D. Chantladze declared the aim of this concept is
that after leasing the forest will have the owner (Radio Liberty; May 30,
2006). Z. Cheishvili, Head of the Sustainable Development Department agrees
on that issue: "The Concept of the Forestry Management System Reform means
the change of the current institutional structure; in particular it is
implementation of forestry long term lease. Long term lease leads to
sustainable use of forests because a businessman who has leased the forest
will not unsustainably log the trees. He will be interested in the rational
use of leased resources." (Georgia Today, 22-29 June, 2006).

Minister of MoE George Papuashvili considers that first of all forest
inventory should be conducted and afterwards it is rational to lease the 20%
of the State forest. As Mr. G. Papuashvili declared on the briefing held
after State session (May 31, 2006) he is planning to raise this issue on the
nearest State Session. At the same time Z. Cheishvili is sure that forest
inventory is not needed; but only categorization should be conducted (Public
Radio; June 15, 2006).

I. Matcharashvili agrees that the reform in the forest sector is necessary,
but to him, it should be implemented properly. I. Matcharashvili is sure
that the reform should be implemented after forest inventory and total
economic valuation of Georgia’s forests.

"NGOs require the conducting of full and detailed description of every tree
in the forests. We are not going to spend time and money for it," said Z.
Cheishvili (Georgia Today, 22-29 June, 2006).

On the state session Minister Mr. G. Papuashvili have declared that forest
inventory process and forest utilization concept will be developed until the
end of the year. In his words basing on the results of the forest inventory
forest will be categorized and, afterwards the conditions and initial prices
will be estimated. Mr. Papuashvili also declared that partly the areas that
would be never leased were identified; these are areas at high risk of
flooding and Borjomi-Bakuriani Forest Park. He considers that economically
and ecologically long-term leasing is justified. In the case of long-term
leasing forest protection conditions would be strict and MoE will monitor
the implementation of contact condition on annual bases or in each two year.
(Newspaper "Khvalindeli Dge" (Tomorrow), #61 (933); June 17-19, 2006).

It has to be mentioned that in accordance with the agreement between MoE and
UN Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) before the finalization of the
document: Georgia’s Forest Policy Concept (Goals, Principles and Objectives)
– no serious changes has to be undertaken in the forest sector. On the
meeting held in Gudauri, Georgia (May 22-24, 2006) Deputy Minister, Sopiko
Akhobadze declared that on the basis of this document state statement would
to be developed that would confirm priority principles of forest politics;
Afterwards development of politics document was to be launched that finally
would be approved by President and Parliament statement.

GA considers that reform is going in non transparent way that raises
misunderstanding and confusion not only among general public but also in
members of parliament. All these give government opportunity to manipulate
and ignore all comment/remarks (GA Press Release, June 23, 2006). In the
official letter of GA to the Head of Georgian Parliament Mrs. Nino
Burjanadze (June 19, 2006; #-04/05-31) is written: "Association Green
Alternative twice has held – December 27, 2005 and March 7, 2006 –
discussion of the paper. Although invitation was sent to the Parliament
Committee of Environmental Protection and Natural Resources, unfortunately
committee members did not attend the meetings." (Association has applied
with official letter to the Head of Georgian Parliament Mrs. Nino Burjanadze
(Georgian version of this letter can be seen on the following web site:
nadze.pdf ).

In their Press Release Association Green Alternative expresses its concern
on this issue and hopes that "Georgian Parliament will play positive role in
the fate of Georgian Forests and will contribute to the transparency of the
reform process."

Prepared by CENN

2006-06-28

< > Tender Announcement –
Special License on Wood Processing

< > Georgia to receive
additional natural gas for shah-deniz

< > International Corporation
< p?ca=Georgia> MCG Signs a Service
Contract with Georgian Gas

< > Civil sector and the
government argue over Georgia’s forests

< a
en.php?ca=Georgia&g t; TBILISI NATIONAL PARK REVIVAL has been Launched

< > ENERGY MINISTRY CONSIDERS
ACQUIRING ADDITIONAL AZERI GAS BY GEORGIA

< > EU
< gia> EXPERTS IDENTIFYING
POTENTIAL PRIORITIES OF AID TO GEORGIA IN AGRICULTURAL SECTOR

< > Tbilisi Water gets ISO
certificate

< > Georgia to transit 25
million tons of crude oil

< > Czech company’s purchase
of energy assets sparks controversy

29.6.2006

News From < jan> Azerbaijan >>

Azeri official says subsea pipeline "realistic" before Caspian status agreed

Source: Turan News Agency, 2006-06-23

Azerbaijan considers that the construction of a subsea pipeline in the
Caspian Sea is possible before the determination of the sea’s legal status,
the Azerbaijani president’s special representative on the Caspian issues and
deputy foreign minister, Xalaf Xalafov, has told journalists.

"We consider the implementation of trans-Caspian projects quite realistic.
If the coastal Caspian countries and interested states have political will,
projects of this kind could be implemented," he said commenting on a
possible construction of a trans-Caspian pipeline between Azerbaijan and
Kazakhstan.

As for the construction of subsea pipelines in the Caspian Sea, Xalafov
believes that the countries interested in these projects "consider this
possible" despite various opinions and positions on this issue.

Some opponents of the project on the construction of the trans-Caspian
pipeline between Azerbaijan and Kazakhstan claim that the consent of all the
Caspian countries is needed for this. But it is difficult to agree with
this: it was sufficient to reach an agreement between Russia and Turkey when
a subsea gas pipeline between these two countries was built in the Black
Sea.

< jan> Azerbaijan calls tender
for iron ore mine

< jan> Oil tanker shipments –
The shortest-term default for Trans-Caspian oil

29.6.2006

News From Armenia < > >>

GLOBAL GOLD MINING TO INVEST $10 MILLION IN ARMENIA

Source: ARMENPRESS, 2006-06-23

The US-based Global Gold Mining company has invested around $65. million in
the last several years in prospecting Armenian mines. The chief manager of
its Armenian subsidiary, Ashot Poghosian, said the volume of investments
will rise to $9.6 million before the end of 2006.

In 2004 the company was granted a license to prospect mines in Armenian
Tukhmanuk, Hankavan and Getik areas and in Marjan. Poghosian told a news
conference today that prospecting in Tukhmanuk was nearly over. He said some
75,000 tons of gold ore are supposed to be extracted this year. Experts
estimate that every one thousand ton of ore there contains 6 grams of gold
and 12 grams of silver.

He said the company was not planning to prospect uranium ore deposits, for
which a special permission of the government is needed. But he said if
deposits of uranium are found during general prospecting the company would
ask the government to allow it to extract uranium.

< > Canadian Company to Search
for Oil and Gas in Armenia

< > LOSS OF WATER IN GYUMRI

29.6.2006

International < tional> News
>>

U.S. SUPREME COURT AGREES TO HEAR GLOBAL WARMING CASE

Source: ENS, 2006-6-27

The U.S. Supreme Court announced today that it is prepared to wade into the
global warming debate and consider a lawsuit that aims to require the
federal government to regulate carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gas
emissions from motor vehicles. The court’s decision was hailed by a
coalition of states and environmental groups who have long battled for
mandatory federal regulation of emissions linked to global warming.

Full article is available at :

< tional> Oregon Regulators
Adopt Californian Car Emission Rules

< tional> INTERVIEW – British
Climate Change Envoy Sees China as Key

< tional> IEA Says Expanded
Nuclear Power Can Curb Emissions

< tional> EU Consumers Say GMO
Food is Risk to Society – Poll

< tional> Ukraine Emissions
Dive, Risk Swamping Kyoto

< tional> Greening our cities

< tional> New Policy Measures
Needed to Reduce Energy Use in the Home

< tional> BALTIC SEA
COMMISSION TAKES 11 HOT SPOTS OFF POLLUTED LIST

< tional> EU Way Off Course
For Meeting Kyoto Targets Say Latest Figures

< tional> HELCOM announces the
elimination of several major pollution Hot Spots in the Baltic Sea region

< tional> Khalaf Khalafov: "We
plan to hold meeting on Caspian Sea status"

< tional> U.S., EUROPEAN
LEADERS INITIATE DIALOGUE TO AVERT CLIMATE CHANGE

29.6.2006

< ement> Announcement >>

Alert: Stop the commercial planting of genetically engineered plums-the
first temperate GE tree

(Please follow the directions at the bottom of this email to inform the USDA
of your opposition to GE plum trees before July 17th. )

The US Department of Agriculture is accepting public comments between now
and July 17, 2006 on a petition that would allow commercial growing and
marketing of the first genetically engineered (GE) plum trees. If approved,
this would remove all regulatory oversight of this GE variety, a
virus-resistant plum tree known as the Honey Sweet Pox Potyvirus Resistant
plum. This would open the door to GE varieties of many other related stone
fruits, such as peaches, apricots, cherries and almonds, that are
susceptible to the same virus. Ironically, this virus is not even found in
the US today according to the USDA, and is certainly not a significant
agricultural problem here.

The USDA admits that this GE plum will contaminate both organic and
conventional non-genetically engineered plum orchards if it is approved.
Since all commercial plum trees are cultivars that are relatively cross
compatible within the same species, Prunus domestica, contamination via GE
plum pollen carried by bees and other insects will infiltrate the plum
orchards of organic and conventional growers. The proposed buffer zones
between GE plums and other plums will not prevent genetic contamination from
being spread by pollinating insects.

Because this GE plum tree is also the first genetically engineered temperate
tree proposed for commercial planting, it also opens the door to the
commercialization of GE varieties of other temperate trees such as poplars,
pines, and walnuts.

The one GE fruit tree that has previously been approved, a virus resistant
Hawaiian papaya, has caused extensive contamination of organic, conventional
and wild papaya orchards on most of the Hawaiian Islands in just a few
years. This contamination has spread far more quickly than the USDA
predicted in its initial assessment. Once native and cultivated plum
varieties are contaminated with transgenic pollen, there is no calling it
back.

This petition has implications for all other GE tree species, as the USDA
and the industry want to gauge what the public’s reaction will be. It is
critical that all concerned about the threat of GE foods and GE trees
respond to this USDA petition.

[Comments to submit below. Please add any additional comments of your own.]

The following comments are in reference to Docket No. APHIS-2006-0084

I oppose the deregulation of genetically engineered plum trees for the
following reasons:

1. Genetic contamination is a serious threat. Flowers and fruit in organic
and conventional plum orchards will become contaminated with GE plum genes
via pollen transported by bees and other insects that travel many miles in
search of pollen. The result is that organic and conventional plum growers
will lose their markets for non-GE plums as DNA testing confirms the
contamination, as it has with GE papayas in Hawaii. An organic tree might
remain organic itself, but the fruit and seeds will become contaminated.

2. The approval of GE plums would be a precedent setting step by USDA,
opening the floodgates for more GE trees including fruit, nut, ornamental,
and paper-pulp species, as well as trees engineered for soil remediation,
and other traits. Approximately 80 species and varieties of trees are
currently undergoing gene splicing research and development for commercial
use.

3. There is a serious concern about the genetic stability of the inserted
genes in GE plum trees. USDA claims that the plum pox viral resistance gene
and other inserted genes are sufficiently genetically stable, but the
testing has only been performed over ten years and not the entire
pollen-producing life span of a plum tree. Over the life of a tree, an RNA
virus such as plum pox is susceptible to many cycles of recombination,
leading to the creation of new plant viruses that could infect a wide
variety of plants. This can also occur with the viral DNA that has been
inserted into these plums.

4. The plum pox virus is not currently known to exist in the US as a problem
for plum growers. Thus there is no justification for exposing other trees,
plants, insects and people to the various hazards posed by GE plums.

5. The deregulatory petition completely ignores potential effects on bees
and other pollinator species. There are no studies that would allow us to
evaluate the potential hazards of GE tree pollen for a variety of insects,
or for consumers of honey. We also do not know how animals and insects that
browse on plum leaves might be affected.

6. The USDA’s environmental assessment admits that the GE plum readily
hybridizes within its species. Thus, there is a significant potential for
gene flow into native plum varieties. Wild plum trees are perennial species
living for several decades and populations exist in dozens of states from
coast to coast. GE plum trees will be long lived, and capable of
contaminating orchards and native plum tree populations for several decades.
One GE plum tree will be able to produce thousands of GE seeds and extensive
quantities of GE pollen, and will be capable of spreading fertile GE plum
seeds and pollen into the environment for many years. The petition did not
adequately evaluate the relative fitness of GE plum varieties as compared to
native plums; it is possible that the GE varieties would become more
successful in natural settings, and out-compete non-GE varieties. We
challenge the USDA spurious claim that contamination would be positive by
reducing potential reservoirs for harboring the plum pox virus in the wild.

7. There has been no short-term or long-term safety testing or feeding
trials for toxicity and other adverse effects of the genes inserted into the
GE plum trees. GE plums have not been tested on animals, birds or humans for
safety. Toxicity tests are necessary since unintended genetic effects are
known to occur with gene splicing. USDA has ignored the need for scientific
studies of gene splicing and for comprehensive studies of the environmental
consequences of GE plantings.

The US Department of Agriculture is accepting public comments between now
and July 17, 2006 on the petition to formally deregulate and allow
commercial growing and marketing of GE plums.

To submit your comments, send an original and three copies with your name
and address to Docket No. APHIS-2006-0084, Regulatory Analysis and
Development, PPD, APHIS, Station 3A-03.8, 4700 River Road, Unit 118,
Riverdale, MD 20737-1238. If you wish to submit a comment using the
Internet, go to In the "Agency" box, select
"Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service" from the drop-down menu; select
"NOTICES" as the Document Type and APHIS-2006-0084 as the "Keyword or ID."
Then press "submit" to submit or view public comments as well as the
agency’s supporting materials; click just beneath "Add Comments" and scroll
down to submit your letter.

Feel free to copy and paste any or all of the 7 points above, along with any
comments of your own. Please forward this widely among your friends and
other contacts.

Thanks for helping us STOP the genetic engineering of trees!

STOP Genetically Engineered Trees Campaign

<;

A project of Global Justice Ecology Project

P.O. Box 412

Hinesburg, VT 05461 U.S.

+1.802.482.2689 ph/fax

[email protected]

http://www. globaljusticeecology.org <;

———————————————-

Biotechnology Project

c/o Institute for Social Ecology

P.O. Box 93

Plainfield, VT 05667

[email protected]

————— ——————————-

29.6.2006

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