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PRI's Environmental News Magazine

News Follow-Up

Air Date: Week of May 11, 2001

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Transcript

CURWOOD: Commentator Frank DiPalermo is a writer and performer living in San Diego.

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CURWOOD: You're listening to NPR's Living on Earth.

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CURWOOD: Time now to follow up on some of the news stories we've been tracking recently.

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CURWOOD: You may remember our coverage of the two Mexican anti-logging activists who received the Goldman Environmental Prize after being jailed in their country. Now, Rodolfo Montiel and Teodoro Cabrera will have new evidence heard in an appeal to the same court that convicted them of drug and weapons charges in 1999. Environmental activists call the charges trumped up. Alejandro Queral of the Sierra Club says the court must now admit medical records showing the two men confessed while being tortured.

QUERAL: If this appeal at the lower court level is denied, then the implications may be, or it may set a precedent for admitting evidence extracted under torture in other cases, and clearly this is a setback for civil society in Mexico.

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CURWOOD: There's been a resolution in the dispute between Canadian Farmer Percy Schmeiser and biotech giant Monsanto. Monsanto sued the farmer for growing its genetically-modified canola plants without paying for them. Mr. Schmeiser denies stealing the plants and says seeds containing the patented genes must have blown onto his fields. Now a federal judge in Canada has found the farmer guilty of infringing on the Monsanto patent for so-called "round-up ready canola." The judge said it didn't matter how the seed wound up on the farmer's property. Mr. Schmeiser calls the finding ridiculous, since it is now impossible even to buy canola seed that is guaranteed to be pure.

SCHMEISER: If a company cannot guarantee their seed, how in heaven's name will a farmer be able to not have an unwanted gene in his?

CURWOOD: Mr. Schmeiser says he's considering an appeal of the federal court's ruling.

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CURWOOD: In April, we told you about the first condor egg spotted since the endangered birds had been re-released into the wild. That egg was broken. But now biologists in California have spotted two more mating pairs exhibiting nesting behavior. Still, even if these eggs aren't viable, John Brooks of the Fish and Wildlife Service says the activity is an important marker for the captive-bred birds.

BROOKS: If these pairs of birds that tried this year and actually produced eggs but weren't able to raise chicks, next year may be their year.

CURWOOD: As a young lawyer, Interior Secretary Gail Norton successfully argued against environmentalists that the few remaining wild condors should be captured and helped to breed. Ms. Norton is planning to attend a condor release, and she invited Robert Redford to tag along. The actor, who starred in the spy thriller "Three Days of the Condor," declined. Mr. Redford wrote Ms. Norton that he would rather spend his time focused on, what he called, "the devastating repercussions of her environmental agenda." And that's this week's follow-up on the news from Living on Earth.

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CURWOOD: Just ahead: The bio-engineered rice that promises to save millions of lives. First, this environmental technology note from Cynthia Graber.

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