SANTIAGO, Dec 11 (Tierramérica).- Environmental groups and other civil society organizations, led by the Pesticide Action Network (RAP-Chile), launched a campaign calling for a ban on the use of lindane in the treatment of lice and scabies, due to its toxic effects on health and the environment.
"It's shameful that lindane, an organochloride banned since 1998 by the Ministry of Agriculture for its farm uses continues to be applied to our children's heads," María Elena Rozas, of RAP-Chile, told Tierramérica.
Rozas said the chemical is completely banned in 11 Latin American countries and the European Union because it is a carcinogen and because it causes neurological damage, infant aplastic anemia and CHARGE syndrome.
An informational manual will be distributed, mentioning commercial and natural alternatives to lindane, and signatures will be collected to send a letter to Chile's President Michelle Bachelet.
Return of the Harpy Eagle
GUATEMALA, Dec 11 (Tierramérica).- A harpy eagle (Harpia harpyja), raised in captivity in Panama and released in Belize two years ago, was sighted early this month in the jungles of the northern Guatemalan department of El Petén.
The species has not been seen in this area in the past quarter century, Estuardo Hernández, biology expert in the city of Tikal, told Tierramérica. The bird was identified, he said, thanks to a satellite transmitter and a ring around its right leg.
Harpy eagles, the largest bird in the area, can stand 85 to 107 cm tall, and are considered endangered.
A Push for Energy-Saving Lightbulbs
CARACAS,, Dec 11 (Tierramérica).- In the coming months the government's "Mission Energy Revolution" will provide four million Venezuelan households with some 52 million energy-saving lightbulbs, made in China and purchased via Cuba.
President Hugo Chávez, in the final stretch of the campaign that led to his re-election, initiated the program on Nov. 17, delivering the first neon bulbs, which consume one-fifth the electricity that standard bulbs use, in poor communities on the northeastern island of Margarita.
"Finally they are carrying out an action that we have been proposing since 1991, because this is a country that consumes and wastes gasoline and electricity," José Moya, president of the Federation of Environmental Organizations, told Tierramérica.
Venezuela, with a capacity to produce 18 megawatts of electricity per hour, generates 92,000 gigawatts monthly, and in the last year saw its electrical consumption rise seven percent.
Three Forestry Victories
RIO DE JANEIRO, Dec 11 (Tierramérica).- The government of the Brazilian Amazon state of Pará on Dec. 4 created seven conservation zones covering 15 million hectares. Together, they form a vast ecological corridor north of the Amazon River, from the Atlantic Ocean to the Colombian border.
Also, after 14 years in the political system, Brazil's national Congress approved the Mata Atlantica Law, to preserve the remnants of the coastal forests, which cover just seven percent of their original area, and to promote their recovery.
And the Environment Ministry announced that beginning in 2007 it will conduct a national forest inventory, a "census of forests" -- native and planted -- to guide related policies.
"These are noteworthy advances, but the threats will persist until the idea that preserved forests are opportunities for development is consolidated," Roberto Smeraldi, director of Friends of the Earth-Brazilian Amazon, told Tierramérica.
Fruitful Recycling Effort
HAVANA, Dec 11 (Tierramérica).- An experimental project for recycling domestic waste, implemented this year in 810 households in Havana's San Isidro neighborhood, has produced organic material for use as fertilizer and income from the sale of solid waste materials.
Each person produces an average of 0.7 kilograms of waste, which the families separate into organic and solid categories. The first is used to produce fertilizer for a nearby garden, and the second is picked up each day by a government community service agency, which determines its value.
"The pilot phase of the project, carried out with 14,000 dollars provided by Canada, will end in February. We hope to expand it in 2007 to some 2,000 families," said Marilyn Fernández, vice-president of the State Work Group of Havana Bay.
This project is one of several that the group has under way, with the ultimate goal to protect the bay. Old Havana alone -- the municipality where San Isidro is located -- generates 161 tons of waste daily. *Source: Inter Press Service.
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