Carbon credits for no-till with GM crops and glyphosate?
This is a serious development that, if approved, will herald a big expansion of GM agriculture.
The following is an excerpt from a long but important article that explains how corporations are milking the climate crisis. For full article and references, please go to http://www.cetri.be/spip.php?article1940&lang=en
The false solutions to save the climate: Agribusiness Transnational Corporations (TNCs) and UNFCCC process
La Via Campesina
30 November 2010
A new global economic order is emerging with agriculture ”” specifically biomass ”” as its nexus. Policymakers and corporate executives refer to the new "bioeconomy," claiming that humanity can transition from a global economy based on fossil fuels to one based on biomass from agricultural crops, forests and algae. Touted as "clean," "green" "renewable" and "sustainable," the false solutions being proposed by governments and transnational corporations in response to the climate, energy and food crises are propelling the expansion of the bioeconomy. Yet beneath these claims, the bioeconomy is facilitating the expansion of industrial agriculture, and vertical integration and market consolidation for agribusiness transnational corporations (TNCs).
The United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) is rapidly becoming a platform to legitimize, regulate and expand the bioeconomy. Big Grain, Big Biotech and Big Forestry TNCs benefit from the increasing number, scope and percentage of agricultural methodologies approved by the UNFCCC for carbon emissions offsets, carbon sequestration and adaptation to climate change. Yet instead of reducing greenhouse gas emissions and stabilizing the climate, the false solutions to the climate crisis provide new ways for TNCs to expand and consolidate control of seeds, lands, water and forests, and therefore pose serious threats to farmers, indigenous peoples, fisherfolk and rural workers.
The false solutions to the climate crisis are based on myths, specifically that of limitless, renewable biomass. Even so-called renewable resources, for example, agricultural crops for agrofuels, depend on finite resources such as geographic land area, soil nutrients and fresh water. Thus we are told that biotechnology will solve the problem of finite resources. Many of the false solutions being proposed within the UNFCCC draw on the myths above and integrate others, in particular that the same economic model ”” indeed the same TNCs ”” that created the climate crisis will now be the solution to the crisis through the carbon credit market. The carbon credit market is also predicated on myths, specifically that all greenhouse gas emissions, everywhere, can be regulated and controlled by a single, complex global system that is managed by the same financiers and corporations that created the climate crisis. The carbon credit market is founded on several mythical mechanisms:
*Through the implementation of the Clean Development Mechanism (CDM), industrialized countries and TNCs in the Global North can continue to emit the same amount of greenhouse gasses at the same rate and still meet their required emissions reductions by funding CDM projects, most of which are in developing countries in the Global South.
*Carbon offsets, based on a system of cap and trade, are when a polluting TNC purchases credits for reducing, avoiding, or sequestering emissions occurring elsewhere, instead of reducing emissions at the source.
*Carbon sequestration holds that emissions can continue as long as the same amount of emissions are sequestered elsewhere. The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change considers soil carbon sequestration to offer the greatest potential for climate change mitigation in agriculture. According to Wikipedia, sequestration is the process of removing carbon from the atmosphere and depositing it in a reservoir. It is a geoengineering technique for long-term storage of carbon dioxide.  Sequestration is problematic because its methodologies (biochar, forest preservation sinks, etc) depend on a continuous model of land use for a particular area, for example, that land where biochar has been buried will never be plowed or developed. It also creates an excuse for polluters to keep polluting at the source, claiming that their emissions are being sequestered elsewhere.
*Described as potentially the 'largest land grab of all time,' Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and Forest Degradation (REDD) places forests (and agricultural land, if we consider REDD +) directly into the carbon market for the benefit of TNCs. REDD allows polluting TNCs to buy their way out of reducing their greenhouse emissions at source by supposedly conserving forests. However, according to the Indigenous Environmental Network, REDD is rife with "perverse incentives" to convert natural forests into monoculture tree plantations and to actually increase deforestation.
Until now, a low percent of CDM funding has gone to agricultural practices (not including energy production from waste biomass), though this number is increasing as more methodologies for sequestration and offsets are approved. According to the UNFCCC web site, agriculture represents just 2.58 percent of approved methodologies, while aforestation and reforestation represent 9.28 percent of approved methodologies. This does not include methodologies for energy production that utilizes biomass and waste biomass.  Agriculture represents 4.38 percent (128 projects) of all registered CDM projects, while afforestation and reforestation represent .58 percent (17 projects). Most agricultural methodologies are focused on reducing emissions from industrial meat production facilities, as opposed to requiring more sustainable models of production (i.e., small-scale) that would generate fewer emissions.
Agrofuels: Until recently, agrofuels production was not an approved CDM methodology, yet energy production from waste biomass was. For example, Cabrera Central Energética AÃ§ucar e Ãlcool Ltda., a Brazilian subsidiary of Archer Daniels Midland and Grupo Cabrera, has a CDM project to generate electricity from waste bagasse from its ethanol plant. In October 2009, the CDM Board approved a methodology for biodiesel production from dedicated plantations on 'degraded or degrading land', a definition so wide that it covers most agricultural soils and many natural ecosystems. This methodology allows large agrofuel producers such as Archer Daniels Midland and Cargill to directly benefit from carbon credits for the first time. Any CDM methodology that entails energy production from crops, be it waste residues or production of agrofuels, will benefit the biotechnology TNCs, which are genetically-engineering micro-organisms and enzymes with the goal to reduce the energy required to break down biomass into agrofuels, increase cellulose biomass from crop waste and residues (e.g. corn stover, eucalyptus), and change the ratio of lignin to cellulose in biomass so that it can be converted into products such as agrofuels and bioplastics. According to Syngenta, "agriculture has the potential to reduce greenhouse gases through the production of crops for biofuels, a lower-carbon alternative to fossil fuels." Any CDM project that encourages industrial agrofuels producers to gain carbon credits, whether from biomass waste or direct production of agrofuels, presents serious threats to farmers, as it encourages land grabbing and speculation by foreign investors, degradation of lands, biodiversity and water with chemicals and monoculture production, and increasing the market power of TNCs.
Genetically-engineered, climate-ready crops: Crops that are genetically-engineered to withstand drought, heat, cold, flood and salt are being promoted by biotechnology TNCs as necessary to adapt to climate change. The advancement of GE climate-ready crops further threatens farmers' rights to seed agrobiodiversity through patent claims and genetic contamination. According to ETC Group, under the guise of developing 'climate-ready' crops, TNCs are pressuring governments to allow what could become the broadest and most dangerous patent claims in intellectual property history. The aim of plant breeding is no longer only to feed people, but to maximize biomass for agrofuels, bioplastics, etc. Just six corporations (DuPont, BASF, Monsanto, Syngenta, Bayer and Dow) control 77 percent of the 262 patent families (both issued patents and applications) published between June 2008 and June 2010 for climate-ready crops. Three companies DuPont, BASF and Monsanto account for 66 percent. The public sector has only 9 percent. DuPont alone accounts for 44 percent, while Monsanto accounts for 4 percent.
Chemical no-till agriculture: Although not yet approved, another methodology in the pipeline for carbon sequestration is chemical no-till agriculture (also called 'conservation' and 'sustainable agriculture' by the TNCs), based on the premise that agricultural emissions can be reduced by not tilling the soil, thereby sequestering carbon dioxide. Monsanto has been lobbying since 1998 for no-till agriculture to be an approved CDM methodology, and it is already recognized by the Chicago Climate Exchange. Monsanto claims its GE Roundup Ready crops help tackle climate change because they can be grown without tilling weeds into the soil, instead dowsing them with massive quantities of Roundup herbicide (glyphosate). If farmers that grow Roundup-Ready crops can access offset credits for the no-till methodology, sales of Monsanto's seeds will increase as will sales of its chemicals, as countries will encourage more large-scale farmers to plant Roundup Ready crops to qualify for carbon credits. In 2009 Monsanto won the Angry Mermaid award for its lobbying efforts to have chemical no-till agriculture and Roundup Ready soybean plantations approved by the UNFCCC. If chemical no-till agriculture is approved, industrial monocultures and their attendant use of GE crops and toxic chemicals will increase, further displacing rural communities from their lands, concentrating landholdings in the hands of TNCs, and poisoning water and human bodies with chemicals.
Nitrogen inoculation of legumes: In July 2009, UNFCCC approved the first agricultural production methodology for CDM, based on a technology that eliminates the use of nitrogen fertilizers on legumes by treating seeds with nitrogen-fixing bacteria. The methodology was created for use on industrial monocultures of soybean and maize rotations, and is based on a technology patented by Becker Underwood Inc., which developed the technology with Amson Technology LLC and Perspectives GmbH for a CDM project in Brazil. In 2008, Monsanto entered into a partnership with Becker Underwood to develop technologies for proprietary seed treatments for corn, soybeans and cotton. Monsanto has been offering nitrogen seed treatments since 2009 and all Roundup Ready 2 Yield soybeans are treated with this nitrogen-fixing bacteria. Monsanto is working to have seed treatments for Deltapine cotton and for SmartStax corn. This methodology is problematic because it encourages the expansion of chemical-intensive monoculture production of GMOs, controlled by TNCs ....