SANTIAGO, (Tierramérica).- Former miners and retired workers in the town of Canto de Agua, 700 km north of the Chilean capital, are growing organic oregano in the middle of the desert, joining the ranks of the expanding mode of farming that is free of toxic chemical substances.
These new farmers obtain water from subterranean aquifers to irrigate a quarter hectare of oregano, though plans are to extend production to nine hectares. The only fertilizer used on the field is goat manure. The National Agricultural Development Institute (INDAP) is backing this endeavor through a support program for low-income farmers.
There are hundreds of farmers in Chile who use organic methods to produce vegetables, avocados, citrus fruits, honey, strawberries, cherries, and the quinua grain, as well as innovative organic worm farms.
In 1999-2000, income from Chile's organic product exports totaled four million dollars. Farmers here have developed organic farming with "high standards of quality," says INDAP director Ricardo Halabí.
Recyclers Demand Wages
RIO DE JANEIRO, (Tierramérica).- The informal recyclable waste collectors of Curitiba, capital of the southern Brazilian state of Paraná, are demanding that the city pay for the public service they perform in gathering 360 tons of garbage a day.
This represents 70 percent of the paper, plastic, glass and other recyclable waste that the 1.6 million inhabitants of Curitiba throw out each day, Margaret Matos de Carvalho, coordinator of the state Citizen and Waste Forum, told Tierramérica.
Wages would not be paid to individuals but would be collected in a fund to benefit the waste collectors and their families, Matos said.
If they are successful in obtaining payment, it could serve as a model to benefit the hundreds of thousands of workers who pick up the waste on city streets throughout Brazil. In Curitiba, there could be 5,000 to 20,000 people who are sustained by this informal work
NAFTA 'Pollutes Little'
MEXICO CITY, (Tierramérica).- The launch of the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) in 1994 worsened pollution in the border areas of Mexico and the United States and among some specific industries, but did not produce the environmental disaster that some critics had predicted.
A report from NAFTA's Environmental Commission maintains that since the treaty took effect the petroleum and metal industries and the transportation manufacturers reduced their contaminating emissions.
However, along the border areas, air pollution worsened due to the fact that road infrastructure did not expand at the same rate as cargo transport, says the Commission.
When Mexico, United States and Canada were negotiating the treaty, environmentalists and trade unionists warned that it would bring new environmental problems and aggravate existing pollution in North America, but the NAFTA Commission asserts that this has not occurred. *Source: Inter Press Service.
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