Tag Archives: environmental

Republicans join Democrats against Trump’s Great Lakes cuts

It  sounds like an idea that would warm a conservative Republican’s heart: Kill funding of a regional environmental cleanup of the Great Lakes that has lasted seven years and cost the federal government more than $2 billion, with no end in sight. If states want to keep the program going, let them pick up the tab.

That is what President Donald Trump’s 2018 budget plan proposes for the Great Lakes Restoration Initiative, an ambitious push to fix problems that have long bedeviled the world’s largest surface freshwater system — from invasive species to algal blooms and toxic sludge fouling tributary rivers.

During the Obama administration, the program generally got about $300 million a year. Trump’s offer is zero. His spending plan says it “returns the responsibility for funding local environmental efforts and programs to state and local entities, allowing EPA to focus on its highest national priorities.”

The response from Republicans in Great Lakes states: No, thanks.

“I think it makes sense for us to continue to make prudent investments in protecting and improving the Great Lakes,” Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker told The Associated Press, adding that he would lobby the Trump administration and congressional leaders to put the money back.

Gov. Rick Snyder of Michigan considers Great Lakes funding “very important to Michiganders, therefore we know there is strong support among Michigan’s congressional delegation and we will work with them to preserve the funding,” spokeswoman Anna Heaton said.

GOP lawmakers from the region also rushed out statements defending the program. It “helps protect both our environment and our economy,” U.S. Sen. Rob Portman of Ohio said.

The reaction illustrates a political fact of life: Whether you consider something in the budget valuable or wasteful can depend a lot on where you’re from.

And it underscores the resistance Trump may encounter to some spending cuts he is proposing for the Environmental Protection Agency, the Department of Interior and other agencies that draw frequent attacks from congressional Republicans yet fund projects and services with support back home.

The president’s spending blueprint also targets a Chesapeake Bay cleanup begun in 1983 that received $73 million last year, plus other “geographic programs.” It doesn’t identify them, but a proposal by the Office of Management and Budget this month called for cutting all or most funding for San Francisco Bay, Puget Sound and the Gulf of Mexico.

Asked for more details, EPA released a statement saying the plan “reflects the president’s priorities” and that Administrator Scott Pruitt “is committed to leading the EPA in a more effective, more focused, less costly way as we partner with states to fulfill the agency’s core mission.”

The Great Lakes region includes swing states crucial to Trump’s election — Michigan, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Wisconsin. There’s also New York, Minnesota and Illinois. And Indiana, whose former governor, Mike Pence, is now Trump’s vice president.

Coincidentally, the budget plan was released as about 100 Great Lakes advocates paid a yearly visit to Washington, D.C., in support of the restoration initiative. They flocked to the offices of home-state lawmakers, reminding them that Congress voted only last year to extend the program another five years.

“We are going to turn once again to our bipartisan congressional champions,” said Todd Ambs, director of the Healing Our Waters-Great Lakes Coalition.

While Democratic lawmakers excoriated Trump’s proposal _ “incredibly short-sighted and reckless,” said Rep. Dan Kildee of Michigan _ Republicans noted that former President Barack Obama at times recommended more modest reductions to the initiative, which Congress rejected.

Some also pointed out that former President George W. Bush signed initial legislation authorizing a wide-ranging Great Lakes cleanup, although he sought little money for it.

The initiative has funded nearly 3,000 projects across the eight states. Among them: efforts to prevent Asian carp from invading the lakes, prevent nutrient runoff that feeds harmful algal blooms, rebuild wetlands where fish spawn and remove sediments laced with PCBs and other toxins.

Nearly all the federal grants require cost-share payments from a state, local or tribal agency, or perhaps a nonprofit organization. But Ambs said they can’t afford to shoulder the burden alone.

Without federal support, “all of this restoration work would come to a halt,” he said.

 

Earth to Trump: Environmentalists begin cross-country roadshow tour

Hundreds of people in Oakland and Seattle this week kicked off the cross-country Earth2Trump roadshow.

The two-route, 16-stop tour will build a network of resistance against President-elect Donald Trump’s attacks on the environment and civil rights.

The shows include live music, national and local speakers and a chance for participants to write personalized Earth2Trump messages that will be delivered to Washington, D.C., on inauguration day Jan. 20.

The Center for Biological Diversity is organizing the shows in coordination with groups around the country.

“This wave of resistance against Trump is only starting to build. What we saw in Oakland and Seattle will continue to grow bigger and stronger in the coming weeks,” said Kierán Suckling, executive director of the center.

He added, “And after Trump is in office, we’ll be there every day to oppose every policy that hurts wildlife, poisons our air and water, destroys our climate, promotes racism, misogyny or homophobia, or marginalizes entire segments of our society.”

The shows in Seattle and Oakland featured Hawaiian singer Makana, Brazilian funk band Namorados da Lua and singer/songwriters Dana Lyons and Casey Neill.

Attendees also signed a pledge of resistance and added their personal messages into large globes bound for D.C.

“I’m so inspired by the outpouring of empowerment and resistance we’re already seeing,” said Valerie Love, one of the Earth2Trump organizers who spoke at Oakland’s event. “When we come together and speak with a single voice, we become a force that can stand up and defend our environment, civil rights and democracy.”

Next stops
The central tour travels by train. One stop, in Portland, Oregon, featured Portland singer Mic Crenshaw and American Indian storyteller Si Matta, who was part of the water-protector occupation at Standing Rock.

The southern tour that began in Oakland will be in Los Angeles on Thursday from 6:30 p.m.-9 p.m. at Global Beat Multicultural Center. The show features Los Angeles Poet Laureate Luis Rodriguez and musicians Casey Neill and Allyah.

See a map of the tour and more details at www.Earth2Trump.org.

Follow the tour on social media with #Earth2Trump and on the Center’s Medium page.

Army halts work on Dakota Access Pipeline, calls for re-routing it

The  Army Corp of Engineers announced this afternoon that it will not grant an easement for the controversial Dakota Access Pipeline to cross the Missouri River next to the Standing Rock Sioux Reservation, according to the National Congress of American Indians.

Instead, the Army Corp of Engineers will study the environmental impact of rerouting the 1,172-mile pipeline, which is 87 percent complete. The current route would have run within a half-mile of the Standing Rock Sioux reservation. Tribal leaders and environmentalists are concerned that a rupture in the line would contaminate the reservation’s water.

Such pipeline breaches are rare but have caused massive damage.

Once complete, the Dakota Access Pipeline will carry 470,000 barrels of light crude oil per day from northwestern North Dakota to south-central Illinois.

In September, Dallas-based Energy Transfer Partners, which owns the pipeline, won a federal lawsuit granting it the right to complete the pipeline on its opposed path. But protesters who had begun blocking construction in August refused to disperse. They’ve built an encampment at the site that has attracted supportive people from all over the world, including celebrities and other high-profile personalities.

Las month, Standing Rock Sioux Tribe chairman Dave Archambault II asked the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to reassess its original conclusion that the Dakota Access Pipeline crossing would not affect tribal members. An independent consultant hired by the tribe had found that the federal government’s environmental assessment of the pipeline’s impact was unsound.

In fact, Richard Kuprewicz of Accufacts, Inc., a consulting firm that advises government agencies and industry about pipelines, said an oil spill at Standing Rock would also impact an estimated 17 million people downstream from the river.

As reported today by The Associated Press, U.S. Secretary for the Interior Sally Jewell said in a statement that the Corps’ “thoughtful approach … ensures that there will be an in-depth evaluation of alternative routes for the pipeline and a closer look at potential impacts.”

Jewell also said that the decision today “underscores that tribal rights reserved in treaties and federal law, as well as Nation-to-Nation consultation with tribal leaders, are essential components of the analysis to be undertaken in the environmental impact statement going forward.”

Energy Transfer Partners has said in the past that it would not reroute the pipeline. Speculation is that the company will wait until President-elect Donald Trump takes office and then go forward with its original plans. During his campaign, Trump promised to get rid of government “red tape” and federal regulations that stall energy projects due to their environmental impact.

Federal financial disclosures filed in May showed that Trump owns interest in the pipeline and that Energy Transfer Partners CEO Kelcy Warren donated $3,000 to Trump’s campaign, plus $100,000 to a committee supporting Trump’s candidacy. Warren also donated $66,800 to the Republican National Committee.

Although the fate of the Dakota Access Pipeline’s route still hangs in the balance, Archambault said in a statement today that “with this decision we look forward to being able to return home and spend the winter with our families and loved ones, many of whom have sacrificed as well.”

The epic, months-long standoff between law enforcement and pipeline protesters has escalated recently at the main protest site, Oceti Sakowin Camp. Hundreds of veterans traveled to the encampment last week to protect the protesters, who have been ordered to disperse on Monday.

Attorney General Loretta E. Lynch announced Friday in a videotaped statement that she was dispatching federal mediators to ensure the ongoing standoff did not erupt into violence.

But the Army’s announcement today appears to have eased tensions, at least for the time being.

“We wholeheartedly support the decision of the administration and commend with the utmost gratitude the courage it took on the part of President Obama, the Army Corps, the Department of Justice and the Department of the Interior to take steps to correct the course of history and to do the right thing,” Archambault said.

After four years, Wisconsin GOP forced to adopt air pollution standards

After four years of Republican defiance and a lawsuit, the state Department of Natural Resources is finally ready to adopt federal air pollution standards.

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency published new limits on fine particulate matter in January 2013. Wisconsin law requires the DNR to adopt rules matching EPA standards to ensure state permits meet federal requirements but the Republican-controlled agency didn’t do it.

Environmental groups Clean Wisconsin and the Midwest Environmental Defense Center sued in 2014 to force the agency to comply.

The groups and the DNR quietly settled the lawsuit last year with an agreement calling for the DNR to get rules reflecting the federal standards into state code by March 31, 2017. Agency officials have now drafted the regulations and the DNR board is expected to adopt them at a Dec. 14 meeting and forward them to Gov. Scott Walker. If he signs off and no lawmakers object, the rules would likely go into effect in late March.

“We’re glad to see DNR finally adding these health-based air quality protections to help address the many respiratory illnesses like asthma, bronchitis and emphysema that many Wisconsin residents face,” said Amber Meyer-Smith, Clean Wisconsin’s government relations director. “It’s unfortunate that the DNR needs to be compelled to add these protections, but we’re glad they’re complying with the settlement timelines.”

DNR officials said at the time the lawsuit was filed that they were working on drafting the rules but it was slow-going because the rule-making process requires the DNR to analyze the standards’ economic impact. Agency spokesman Andrew Savagian said this week that Walker authorized the DNR to begin work on the rule in June 2015. He had no immediate comment on why work didn’t start until the settlement was reached.

Fine particulate matter is a mix of small particles and liquid droplets made up of acids, organic chemicals, metals, soil or dust particles often found near roads, dusty industries or in smoke from forest fires or power plants. The particles can pass through the throat and nose and enter the lungs, causing health problems, according to the EPA. The federal rules revised the annual standard for the amount of particulate matter allowable in the air from 15 micrograms per cubic meter to 12 micrograms per cubic meter.

DNR officials wrote in a Nov. 7 memo to Secretary Cathy Stepp that all areas of the state are currently within the new standards. They solicited information about what effect adopting the federal standards would have on businesses and particulate matter sources from more than 1,600 stationary sources in Wisconsin and a half-dozen business associations, including Wisconsin Manufacturers and Commerce, the state’s largest business group and a staunch Republican ally, and concluded the regulations would have little to no impact.

The 2015 settlement also required the DNR to adopt tighter restrictions the EPA set in 2010 for sulfur dioxide and nitrogen oxide. The DNR sent those rules to the Legislature in April 2015, shortly before the settlement was approved. They went into effect this August.

Savagian said that rule took so long because it was the first one the DNR’s air program implemented under the economic impact requirement.

Sulfur dioxide is a gas produced from fossil fuel combustion at power plants and other industrial facilities. The gas has been linked to a number of respiratory ailments, according to the EPA. Nitrogen oxide results from vehicle emissions and contributes to smog. It can cause airway inflammation and exacerbate problems for asthma suffers, the EPA has said.

It’s unclear how Donald Trump’s presidency and solid Republican control of Congress will affect the future of environmental regulations. Trump has vowed to get rid of all federal regulations, and the GOP already has shown a willingness to do the same.

 

Washington voters to decide on nation’s 1st carbon tax

Washington lawmakers have tried and failed in recent years to make polluters pay for their carbon emissions to fight climate change.

Now, voters will get to decide.

Continue reading Washington voters to decide on nation’s 1st carbon tax

Old steel mill will soon be world’s largest vertical farm

Stacks of leafy greens are sprouting inside an old brewery in New Jersey.

“What we do is we trick it,” said David Rosenberg, co-founder and chief executive officer of AeroFarms. “We get it thinking that, if plants could think: ‘All right, this is a good environment, it’s time to grow now.””

AeroFarms is one of several companies creating new ways to grow indoors year-round to solve problems like the drought out West, frost in the South or other unfavorable conditions affecting farmers. The company is in the process of building what an industry group says is the world’s largest commercial vertical farm at the site of an old steel mill in New Jersey’s largest city.

It will contain 12 layers of growth on 3 and 1/2 acres, producing 2 million pounds of food per year. Production is set to begin next month.

“We want to help alleviate food deserts, which is a real problem in the United States and around the world,” Rosenberg said. “So here, there are areas of Newark that are underprivileged, there is not enough economic development, aren’t enough supermarkets. We put this farm in one of those areas.”

The farm will be open to community members who want to buy the produce. It also plans to sell the food at local grocery stores.

Critics say the artificial lighting in vertical farms takes up a significant amount of energy that in turn creates carbon emissions.

“If we did decide we were going to grow all of our nation’s vegetable crop in the vertical farming systems, the amount of space required, by my calculation, would be tens of thousands of Empire State Buildings,” said Stan Cox, the research coordinator at The Land Institute, a nonprofit group that advocates sustainable agriculture.

“Instead of using free sunlight as we’ve always done to produce food, vertical farms are using light that has to be generated by a power plant somewhere, by electricity from a power plant somewhere, which is an unnecessary use of fuel and generation of carbon emissions.”

Cox says that instead of moving food production into cities, the country’s 350 million acres of farmland need to be made more sustainable.

But some growers feel agriculture must change to meet the future.

“We are at a major crisis here for our global food system,” said Marc Oshima, a co-founder and chief marketing officer for AeroFarms. “We have an increasing population that by the year 2050 we need to feed 9 billion people. We have increasing urbanization.”

Rosenberg also pointed out the speeded-up process.

“We grow a plant in about 16 days, what otherwise takes 30 days in the field,” he said.

 

Environmentalists challenge DNR sand mine pollution findings

A new Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources draft report wrongly concludes that sand mining operations don’t produce fine dust particles and shouldn’t impact human health, an environmental advocacy group contends.

The DNR released a potential update to its 2012 sand mining analysis for public comment this past week. The analysis tracks the latest scientific and socioeconomic information about sand mining in Wisconsin. The agency uses the analysis to inform policy discussions and decisions.

Sand mining has taken off in western Wisconsin since 2008, as fracking, a process to free petroleum and natural gas by cracking rock with injections of water, sand and chemicals, has taken hold. The region has high-quality silica sand that works well in the process; according to the report, 92 sand mines are currently active in the area. The boom has generated fears of air and water pollution.

A section of the report focuses on air pollution, stating that sand mines don’t appear to be producing the small pollutant particles that can lodge deep in human lungs and, according to some studies, cause health problems. Air quality monitors in western Wisconsin haven’t detected elevated levels of such tiny particles and the levels of larger particles are well below federal air quality standards, according to the report.

“As a result of existing regulations and the permitting and compliance activities … health related impacts from industrial sand facilities are not likely to be an issue,” the analysis states.

Midwest Environmental Advocates, though, insists that the DNR needs to take a tougher look at sand mining and solicit more data and input from experts and the public.

The analysis relies too heavily on voluntary air monitoring and industry-funded studies, the group said, and minimizes a University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire study that found sand mines may be causing or contributing to unsafe air pollution. The DNR has no evidence showing that sand mines don’t produce the smaller, more dangerous particles, the group said.

MEA attorney Sarah Geers pointed to a letter the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency sent to the DNR in August that a broad statement that mining processes don’t emit fine particles is accurate or appropriate.

“Robust public comment will improve the final (analysis), if the DNR will hear the public’s concerns, accept more air quality studies and address the legal and environmental concerns with fine particulate matter associated with frac sand mining,” the group said in a news release.

The DNR plans to hold a public hearing on the draft analysis July 24 in Eau Claire. The agency will take comments for at least 45 days before issuing the final version. DNR spokesman James Dick declined to comment on MEA’s complaints, saying the agency typically doesn’t respond to public comments as they come in.

 

Schools adding climate fiction to curriculums

Colleges and universities worldwide are incorporating into their curriculums the evolving genre of literature that focuses on the changes coming to Earth as the result of climate change — “cli-fi” or “climate fiction.”

Some of the books and movies now being considered part of the genre are old classics, while others were written more recently in direct response to today’s changing climate.

“It’s a very, very energized time for this where people in literature have just as much to say as people who are in hard science fields, or technology and design fields, or various social-science approaches to these things,” said Jennifer Wicke, an English professor at the University of Virginia who will be teaching a course this June on climate fiction at the Bread Loaf campus of Middlebury College in Ripton, Vermont.

The Bread Loaf School of English is mainly for elementary- and high school-level English teachers who can, in turn, take what they learn back to their classrooms to get their students to understand how literature can reflect current events.

“This course gives them a kind of model for helping to create and imagine English courses that will be particularly relevant to helping the young people whom they teach to understand that reading literature, looking at the arts, looking at film isn’t something you do as an aside,” said Bread Loaf school Director Emily Bartels, also a professor of English at New Jersey’s Rutgers University. “It’s something you do as you learn how to navigate your own moment in the 21st century.”

Climate fiction, a term that emerged less than a decade ago, is now being discussed by academics across the nation and world. Next month, about three dozen academics are expected to attend a workshop in Germany called “Between Fact and Fiction: Climate Change Fiction,” hosted by the Hanse-Wissenschaftskolleg Institute for Advanced Study in the northwestern city of Delmenhorst.

The website for the workshop lists some contemporary examples of books that fit the definition: Barbara Kingsolver’s “Flight Behavior,” about an Appalachian town to which confused monarch butterflies have migrated; Nathaniel Rich’s “Odds Against Tomorrow,” the story of a mathematician coping with catastrophe in New York; and Paolo Bacigalupi’s “The Water Knife,” about water wars in the southwestern United States.

But some of the literature now being recognized as cli-fi was written decades, or even centuries, ago. Some of Shakespeare’s works focus on humanity’s relationship with nature. Works of fiction such as H.G. Wells’ “The War of the Worlds” or “The Time Machine” also fit the profile of climate fiction, Bartels said.

Retired Hampshire College Professor Charlene D’Avanzo, a marine scientist who spends her summers in Yarmouth, Maine, is about to publish her first novel, “Cold Blood, Hot Sea,” the first of a three-volume series of what she describes as “cli-fi eco-lit novel and amateur sleuth mystery novels” sparked by what she sees as the harassment of scientists studying climate change.

She said that there’s much uncertainty in the scientific study of climate change and that readers are more willing to accept uncertainty in fiction. In her first book, the protagonist is an amateur sleuth who investigates the mysterious death of a colleague who was crushed to death by a buoy on a research vessel off Maine.

“You have to make people care,” she said.

Pipeline protest before Dem debate, and other community notes

Environmentalists protesting a planned pipeline expansion to bring more Canadian tar sands to Wisconsin will demonstrate on Feb. 11 outside the Milwaukee venue for the Democratic presidential debate.

The #ClipperIsTheNewKXL Rally will be at noon outside the Helene Zelazo Center for the Performing Arts on the UW-Milwaukee campus, where Hillary Clinton, Bernie Sanders and Martin O’Malley will debate that night.

Organizers of the youth-led demonstration are looking for lodging for travelers to Milwaukee.

For more information, email Cassie Steiner at cassandra.steiner@sierraclub.org.

The debate is at 8 p.m. on Feb. 11 at the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee campus. PBS NewsHour co-anchors Gwen Ifill and Judy Woodruff are the moderators.

Milwaukee Pride hires executive director

Milwaukee Pride, Inc., the parent organization of PrideFest Milwaukee, has named Eric Heinritz as its first executive director for a one-year, renewable term. 

Heinritz worked for Milwaukee World Festival, Inc., from 2001 to 2014 in a series of administrative leadership roles.  As a longtime volunteer and former member of the Milwaukee Pride, Inc. board, he has applied his knowledge of finance, operations and project management to increase efficiencies, create organizational structure and improve overall festival performance.

PrideFest Milwaukee is June 10–12. For festival news as it happens, follow Milwaukee Pride on Facebook and Twitter.

In other news

• SAFE COMMUNITIES BREAKFAST: The Safe Communities Annual Breakfast Meeting for “those with a stake in community safety” is set for March 3 at the Goodman Community Center in Madison. For more, email Safe Communities Madison-Dane Co. at info@safercommunity.net.

• EARLY INTERVENTION AID: The Medical College of Wisconsin’s Advancing a Healthier Wisconsin Endowment recently dedicated $300,000 over two years to help ensure children have access to early intervention developmental screenings in Milwaukee. Early intervention saves $13 for every $1 spent. For more, go to milwaukeesucceeds.org.

• WAY TO QUIT: The smoking rate among adults is at an all-time low nationally, but not in the LGBT community. LGBT Americans are up to 200 percent likelier to be addicted to nicotine. Experts at National Jewish Health run the nation’s largest nonprofit quitline, a first-of-its-kind program that matches smokers with counselors in their demographic group to help them quit. Tobacco-users who want to quit can call 800-QUIT-NOW.

• CHANCE TO BE SEEN: The Wisconsin LGBT Chamber of Commerce has partnered with Google Maps “Street View” to bring the popular technology to member businesses, beginning the first week of February. A Google Street View photographer will be in Milwaukee on Feb. 2, Green Bay/Appleton on Feb. 4 and Madison on Feb. 5. For more, go to wisconsin-lgbt.seeinsidebusinesses.com. 

— from WiG reports

Greenpeace: China farmers illegally growing GMO corn

Farmers are illegally growing genetically modified corn in China’s northeast, said the environmental nonprofit Greenpeace in a report that may generate further distrust of the government’s ability to ensure a safe food supply.

Beijing has spent billions of dollars to develop GMO crops that it hopes will ensure food supplies for its 1.4 billion people but has not yet approved commercial cultivation amid deep-seated anti-GMO sentiment. The new findings seem to confirm concerns that Beijing will be unable to supervise the planting of GMO crops once commercial cultivation is permitted, leading to widespread contamination of the food chain with GM varieties.

In its report, Greenpeace said 93 percent of samples taken last year from corn fields in five counties in Liaoning province, part of China’s breadbasket, tested positive for GMO contamination.

Furthermore, almost all of the seed samples taken from grain markets and samples of corn-based foods at supermarkets in the area also tested positive.

“It is very likely that much of the illegal GE corn has already entered grain storage warehouses, wholesale and retail markets across the country, ultimately ending up in citizens’ food,” said Greenpeace in a report.

While Greenpeace said it was not clear how the GMO corn seeds got into the marketplace, it has long been alleged that GMO plants being tested in field trials have been illegally sold to farmers for commercial use.

Such reports have intensified public opposition to the technology, with some anti-GMO campaigners going as far as suing the government over the failure to disclose information about its approvals for imported GMO crops and plans to allow domestic cultivation.

Among the six corn seed strains that tested positive in the Liaoning seed market, three have not been certified by China’s agriculture ministry, while three others were certified as conventional seeds and therefore had been contaminated by GMO varieties, said the organization.

The agriculture ministry did not immediately reply to a request for comment on the Greenpeace report.

The ministry said last year it was changing regulations to increase supervision of biotech products under development.

The GMO corn strains identified in the survey belong to international companies Monsanto, Syngenta and Du Pont Pioneer, said Greenpeace. None of the companies responded to emailed requests for comment.

Greenpeace blamed an “extremely lax and disorganized” seed market management system for the production and sale of illegal seed varieties.

It said many small seed breeders are not aware of the names of seeds they are breeding on behalf of other companies nor whether the origins of the seeds are legal.

Greenpeace recommends that the government investigate all corn breeding companies and destroy illegal GMO seeds. Additionally, there should be annual inspections of crops in north China during the sowing season, and tougher supervision of GMO crop research and cultivation. It says farmers should be compensated for their losses if GMO crops are destroyed.

The new findings could make Beijing even more cautious about proceeding with commercialization of any GMO crops, frustrating international and domestic seed firms.

Proponents of biotech crops in China argue that commercializing GMO products will reduce the need for farmers to resort to unapproved varieties to boost their yields.