Top Stories

July 15, 2015


Dow to implement sustainable agriculture as part of carbon-mitigation for 2016 Olympics

The Dow Chemical Company, the Official Carbon Partner of the Rio 2016 Organizing Committee, has announced that Dow AgroSciences Brazil is working with Brazilian farmers to implement more sustainable agricultural practices that will generate climate benefits to mitigate Rio 2016’s direct carbon footprint. The Sustainable Agriculture project is a key element of Dow’s “Sustainable Future” programme being implemented across Brazil and Latin America, which utilises energy-efficient technologies and low-carbon solutions to minimise greenhouse gas emissions. In partnership with Farmers Edge, an expert in precision agronomy, and Irriger, which specialises in irrigation management, the project aims to minimise environmental impact and optimise productivity in corn and soybean crops through higher yields, better varieties and more targeted pest control management. (Sustainable Brands)


Insurance industry ‘should be forced to insure those at climate risk’

The insurance industry should be forced to protect citizens at risk from climate change, a new report from the University of Cambridge’s Institute for Sustainability Leadership (CISL) has claimed. The report analysed the role of the insurance industry in protecting societies against climate risk. It found that, as well as providing financial protection, insurers could encourage people to better protect themselves from climate risks through incentives in insurance contracts. The industry also has a unique expertise in identifying and mitigating risk, argued the report, while the global nature of insurance markets would help to spread the financial impact of climate disasters, especially for poor regions. As a result, the report urges policy makers to “utilise insurance regulation as an essential policy instrument to protect populations and assets from climate risks”. (Edie)


Google accidentally reveals data on ‘right to be forgotten’ requests

Less than 5 percent of nearly 220,000 individual requests made to Google to selectively remove links to online information concern criminals, politicians and high-profile public figures. More than 95 percent of requests come from everyday members of the public, including a woman whose name appeared in prominent news articles after her husband died, and another seeking removal of her address. The Guardian has discovered the new data hidden in source code on Google’s own transparency report – which places more emphasis on more “sensational” examples of right to be forgotten requests. Google said in a statement: “We’ve always aimed to be as transparent as possible about our right to be forgotten decisions”, adding that the data had not been made public because it was judged “not reliable enough”. (The Guardian)

Corporate Reputation

Monsanto, BP and Veolia agree to pay for cleanup of contaminated Welsh site

Monsanto, BP and Veolia have agreed to pay to contribute to the cleanup of a former quarry in South Wales that was polluted with a cocktail of toxic waste, including Agent Orange derivatives, dioxins and PCBs. The agreement marks the end of a five-decade-long saga that began when thousands of tonnes of waste from a Monsanto-owned plant in Newport was dumped at the quarry in the 1960s and 70s. Waste from BP was also dumped at the site, while Veolia acquired the contractors originally responsible for disposing of the waste from Monsanto. Although officials at the UK’s Department for the Environment were aware of the contamination in 1978, it was not until 2005 that efforts to clean up the site began. Despite the agreement, all three companies continue to deny liability, and the value of the settlement has not been disclosed. (The Guardian)

Technology and Innovation

Wristband tells you which chemicals you’re exposed to every day

A new wristband designed to reveal which chemicals people are exposed to on a daily basis has been launched via Kickstarter. It looks like a typical plastic Livestrong wristband, but uses a special material designed to suck up chemicals. “It soaks up what’s around it, whether you’re swimming, showering, or walking down the street,” says Marc Epstein, CEO of MyExposome. The wristband is analysed for more than 1,400 chemicals, with a particular focus on those that research suggests may pose a concern. In a pilot screening of 28 people, the startup found 57 chemicals, including at least one flame retardant and one pesticide per person. This data could be used to determine which chemicals are most common in certain neighbourhoods or across the country. “We think that to some degree the hook for people is to gather their individual data,” Epstein says. “But we think the long-term societal value is going to be even more impactful.” (Fast Company)

Image source: Agriculture in Brazil by João Felipe C.S/ public domain