Mexican Forest Activists Convicted
Just four months after being awarded the Goldman Environmental Prize, Mexican activist
Rodolfo Montiel and fellow farmer Teodoro Cabrera were convicted of what human-rights
activists believe to be trumped-up charges of illegal weapons possession and drug
trafficking. Montiel was sentenced to nearly seven years in jail, while Cabrera received
In April, Montiel received the Goldman Prize, one of the world's most prestigious
environmental awards, for his work against logging company Boise Cascade. The company had
been clearcutting old-growth forests on the mountains in the southern state of Guerrero,
causing soil erosion that damaged crops. Montiel and Cabrera were arrested shortly after
the organization of Campesino environmentalists, which they helped found, effectively shut
down logging in the area.
A July report by Mexico's National Commission on Human Rights and a report by
Physicians for Human Rights confirmed the men's claims that they were tortured with
electric shocks and forced to sign blank pieces of paper that later became their
"confessions." The Sierra Club and Amnesty International have been working to
free them from jail since the men were arrested a year and a half ago.
Lawyers representing Cabrera and Montiel have appealed the verdict.
Sprawl Mall Bites the Dust
With the switch of one vote, the specter of a monstrous mall lurking at the edge of
Salt Lake City turned to vapor and vanished. In mid June, when a Salt Lake City Council
member changed his mind on the zoning proposal at the last minute, the Utah Chapter
celebrated not just the demise of the mall, but another strike against the proposed Legacy
This highway would destroy wetlands and promote sprawl for 125 miles between Brigham
City and Nephi. The mall, planned for Legacy's intersection with Interstate 80, would have
generated 71,000 car trips a day, adding to Salt Lake's air-pollution woes. Its proposed
location, more than 40 blocks from any current housing, would have encouraged other
sprawling developments to the west of the city.
New Biotech Policy
Planting genetically engineered corn, tomatoes and other crops should stop until more
research is conducted on environmental and health impacts, according to a policy recently
adopted by the Sierra Club's Board of Directors.
The transgenic crops that are taking over American farm land are made by splicing
genetic material from one species into another. For instance, a toxin normally produced by
bacteria is added to corn and soy to make the crop insecticidal. Pollen can carry these
genes to closely related crops or wild relatives.
The biotechnology policy also calls for a new regulatory framework and an end to
government boosterism for these products, for mandatory labeling and post-marketing
surveillance, and for all countries to respect the right of other countries to refuse
genetically engineered seed or food.
For the full text of the policy, go to www.sierraclub.org/biotech
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