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LAY OF THE LAND

Safety in Numbers | 10 reasons not to drill | Crisis Vultures | Future Farms | Rail resurgent | Coho salmon | Bold Strokes | Cheese Sticks | Panama Canal North? | Value of Nature | Updates

UPDATES

Freedom for Mexican Activists In November, Mexican President Vicente Fox ordered the release of imprisoned environmentalists Rodolfo Montiel and Teodoro Cabrera. The two have been the focus of intense lobbying by the Sierra Club, Amnesty International, and many others since their 1999 arrest and torture for protesting logging in their home state of Guerrero. (See "Defending the Forest, and Other Crimes," July/August 2000.) Their release followed the international outcry over the murder last October of their former attorney, human-rights lawyer Digna Ochoa. "Defenders of human rights and the environment in Mexico will not be truly safe," warned the Sierra Club's Alejandro Queral, "until those who threaten, torture, and murder these heroes are brought to justice."

Pandora's Box of Pollen Confirming the fears of anti-biotech activists ("Tinkering With the Tortilla," September/October 2001), the Mexican government has found that some native corn is already contaminated by bioengineered varieties. Mexican scientists have identified 15 locations where native maize had interbred with Bt corn, the transgenic variety widely used in the United States. Even though growing Bt corn is illegal in Mexico, large amounts are imported for tortilla production, and illicit plantings are believed to be widespread.

After the Fall The young tree-sitters at Fall Creek in Oregon's Willamette National Forest ("Generation Green," November/ December 2000) have saved more than half of their old-growth grove from logging. Occupying an interlocked village of platforms 200 feet above the ground for more than three years, the tree-sitters resisted attempts by the U.S. Forest Service to dislodge them. In addition to providing shelter, the treetop vantage points led the activists to discover nests of the red tree vole, a favorite food of the threatened northern spotted owl. After the find was confirmed by federal biologists, 51 of the site's 96 acres were closed to logging--and further nests located by the tree- sitters may spare the remainder. Only then, they say, will they return to the ground.

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