1. 10TH January,2014 Rice News by Riceplus Magazine [email protected] BOC warned vs release of seized smuggled rice By Eva Visperas, The Philippine Star Posted at 01/10/2014 3:20 AM | Updated as of 01/10/2014 3:20 AM ROSALES, Pangasinan, Philippines The peasant coalition SamahangIndustriyangAgrikultura (Sinag) threatened to file a suit against the Bureau of Customs (BOC) if the agency releases seized rice that have no import permits. Rosendo So, Sinag president, told The STAR yesterday that the BOC should stand firm and stop the release of seized imported rice amid reports that smugglers are resorting to court actions to prevent Customs authorities from implementing the seizure of shipments. He said if the BOC gives in to pressure, it would set a bad precedent and many culprits would repeat the wrong procedure because they could get away with it anyway. Jesse Dellosa, BOC deputy commissioner for intelligence, said they noticed the shift in strategy of rice smugglers in the past months. So said rice importers should first apply for import permits from the National Food Authority (NFA), which is the proper procedure. It should not be that when the shipment is already here then you apply (for permits). That is wrong, So added. Dellosa said at least P725 million worth of smuggled rice had been seized since September from 1,936 shipping containers.
2. These entered the country through the ports of Manila, Davao, Cebu, Cagayan de Oro and Batangas. The BOC should not release the shipment because it involves illegal entry, So said. He said when seizure had been made, the owners said they could get import permit from the NFA and they set an appointment with the agency. But the NFA refused to issue the permit, he added. Lawyer ArgeeGuevarra, who earlier exposed the alleged anomaly in the NFAs rice importation, had urged the government to run after a certain Buddy R and not the fictional rice smuggler David Tan. Guevarra said Buddy R is a trader engaged with the Department of Agriculture who manages the kickbacks in connection with government-to-government (G2G) deals. He said Buddy R is engaged in buying NFA properties at a very cheap price and selling or leasing the same at a higher cost. This Buddy R is the governments David Tan in rice smuggling who is in charge of determining and distributing kickbacks from G2G scheme. He went to Singapore to receive kickbacks in relation to the April 2013 G2G rice importation from Vietnam, Guevarra claimed. He said this trader was among those he already charged before the office of the Ombudsman last month. He urged the Department of Justice to run after Buddy R who, industry sources revealed, is a businessman surnamed Roa. Last November, he said Roa raked in huge kickbacks from the importation of 500,000 metric tons of rice at a price of $462 per metric ton. Buddy R is a real person while David Tan is a product of fiction, a bogeyman or a phantom created to cow legitimate rice traders who oppose the G2G scheme. I will ask the DOJ to investigate this person to know his dealings and identify his handlers, including (Agriculture Secretary Proceso) Alcala and a congressman from Mindanao,Guevarra stressed. Last Wednesday, Guevarra said that exposure of David Tan is part of a grand scheme to divert the publics attention from the real culprits in rice smuggling. He previously filed a complaint against DA and NFA officials before the justice department and a separate plunder case against the same officials before the Office of the Ombudsman. Again, I say the witch hunt for a certain David Tan is obviously part of a grand plot to instill fear among legitimate rice traders who can be accused of being Tan himself. Buddy R is a real person while Tan is a fictional character created to ensure Alcala et als absolute control of the industry, Guevarra pointed out. With EduPunay Fates of wild rice, mines intertwined in northern Minnesota
3. Thursday, January 09 2014 Written by Dan Kraker, Minnesota Public Radio News, Wild rice, the iconic grain that grows across much of the northern half of the state, is at the center of a contentious debate over mining and the environment. A 40-year-old state law limits how much of a mining byproduct called "sulfate" can be discharged into wild rice producing waters. Prompted by mining industry concerns that the standard is too stringent, the state has been giving it another look and will release results of its two-year study Monday. For members of the state's Indian tribes, wild rice is sacred. Jim Northrup, who has harvested wild rice on Perch Lake on the Fond du Lac reservation for over half a century, said the grain called "manomin" in Ojibwe is a gift from the Creator that led his people to first settle here. "The old stories said we'd move west until we came to a spot where food grew on the water," Northrup said. "And that perfectly describes manomin. It's become our identity now. It's who we are." Wild rice is now part of all of Minnesota's identity. It's even the official state grain. The plant's significance helped lead to a 1973 state law to protect it from sulfate pollution, a form of sulfur that occurs naturally in the environment, that's also a byproduct of industrial activities like wastewater treatment and mining. The law limits sulfate discharges into wild rice producing waters to 10 milligrams per liter during periods when the rice may be susceptible to damage. It's based on research done by John Moyle, a biologist for the Minnesota Department of Conservation in the 1930s and 40s that found that no large wild rice stands grew in waters high in sulfate. But the standard went largely unenforced until 2010, when the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency began to ask mining companies to document wild rice plants in lakes and streams where they discharge wastewater. The following year the agency issued a permit that limited sulfate discharges at U.S. Steel's Keewatin Taconite operation, known as Keetac. Nancy Schuldt, water resource policy director for the Fond du Lac Band of Lake Superior Chippewa, said high levels of sulfate have been measured in those waters, and wild rice stands are disappearing. "The poster child would be Sandy and Little Sandy lake, at the toe of the Minntac Tailings basin," she said. "A generation ago, band members from Grand Portage for instance, were having rice camps there, and there would be familial gatherings and it was a meeting place. And now there's no rice to harvest." But mining companies and some northern Minnesota lawmakers questioned the science behind the standard. In 2010 the Minnesota Chamber of Commerce sued to overturn it, although the case was eventually dismissed by the courts. Bills were introduced to weaken it. In the end, lawmakers set aside $1.5 million for a two-year study to determine whether the standard is scientifically valid. The results will be released later Monday.
4. "The study actually relies on multiple lines of investigation," said Shannon Lotthammer, director of the MPCA's environmental analysis and outcomes division. She said scientists have gathered more field data from northern Minnesota and have conducted experiments on wild rice plants in glass jars in the lab and in plants grown outside in plastic tubs, to try to learn exactly what effect sulfate has on the plants. An important question is whether sulfate by itself is the main culprit, Lotthammer said. Scientists theorize that hydrogen sulfide damages wild rice. In an oxygen-starved environment like the muck in wild rice lakes, bacteria essentially breathe in sulfate, and exhale hydrogen sulfide, which can be toxic to plants. "It's sulfate then being converted into sulfide in the sediment, and the sulfide affecting the wild rice through the roots," explained Lotthammer. The study's results should provide more clarity. But Lotthammer said it will take the MPCA until the end of February to answer a key question: "Do we believe that there's a reason to support, a scientific basis to support a change to the standard, and if so, does it look like the standard should be higher or lower, based on this new information?" The MPCA's decision is sure to be highly scrutinized, particularly by the mining industry. "We just believe that a standard should be based on science, and that companies shouldn't be required to invest maybe hundreds of millions of dollars, until we have science backing up whatever the appropriate sulfate level is for a standard to protect wild rice," said Frank Ongaro, executive director of Minnesota Mining. The industry group represents copper-nickel mines like PolyMet, currently under environmental review. PolyMet officials say they will meet the current standard. Supporters of the law argue it is based on sound science. Under the federal Clean Water Act, the burden of proof is on MPCA to show scientific proof before changing the standard, said Paula Maccabee, an attorney for WaterLegacy, a group that opposes the PolyMet proposal. "I think that's what we're counting on, is that, our laws don't make it easy for political pressure to weaken water quality standards," she said. The MPCA will analyze study results for the next two months. In April the agency will begin a rulemaking process to address any recommended changes to the wild rice standard, and to designate which waters are subject to the sulfate limits. Minnesota Public Radio News can be heard on MPR's statewide radio network of online atminnesota.publicra
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