Coffee, the environment, and sustainable agriculture (fwd)

Lawrence F. London, Jr. london at
Sat Jan 3 21:54:22 EST 1998

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          london at   llondon at
---------- Forwarded message ----------
Date: Sat, 3 Jan 1998 12:29:17 -0800 (PST)
From: CANICULEBIRDS <shade_grown_coffee at>
To: sanet-mg at
Subject: Coffee, the environment, and sustainable agriculture

Dear all-

Coffee is the world's second largest commodity, after petroleum.
Technified coffee is starting to cause destruction to the natural
environment similar to the destruction caused by the advent of a
petroleum civilization. 

Migratory and resident songbird habitat is declining due to the
destruction of rainforests and of shade grown coffee farms in Central
and South America, by technified agribiz coffee plantations.  Shade
grown coffee farms are eco-sustainable.

The connection between production of technified coffee and
environmental damage is now firmly established.  One expert has noted
that "The coffee/bird connection is about
songbirds--warblers,orioles,tanagers, flycatchers, thrushes, vireos
and their forest- dependent cohorts. Some are clearly in decline.
Others seem to be holding on. But no one doubts that unless current
land-use trends are modified, the future of many of these songsters
will be bleak."
Moreover, Increased nitrogen fertilizer applications have gone hand
and hand with the widespread removal of shade cover from Central
American coffee plantations. In high concentrations, nitrates can
cause infant methemoglobinemia ("blue-baby syndrome") a potentially
fatal condition that impedes oxygen transport in infants'
bloodstreams. Other human health concerns surrounding nitrate
contamination of groundwater include suspected links between nitrates
and certain cancers, birth defects, hypertension, and developmental
problems in children. 

One of the main contributors to the use of chemical pesticides and
fertilizers in Latin America is US AID, which has provided
approximately $80 million to
abet the efforts. Chemicals, which are banned in the United States,
are sold by the tons, to Latin American producers for sun-grown coffee

Unlike petroleum, where the consumer has few alternatives to petroleum
products, a coffee consumer can boycott agribiz coffee, or switch to
eco-sustainable alternatives, like shade grown coffee.
A CANICULE e-zine on bird habitat,rainforests, and shade grown coffee
will be published on the Internet in mid-January, 1998. We'll be sure
and let you know the URL.

Alfred & Geri Webre

CANICULE is an ezine featuring resources and research on 
rainforests, bird habitat, and shade grown coffee.
CANICULE                       800-404-1826 (Canada/US)
20 Bay Street, Suite 1205      canicule at
Toronto, Ontario M5J 2N8       CANADA

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