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Eco soundings

John Vidal

Wednesday September 6, 2000

Dam the report
Eco Soundings' millennium award for imaginative accounting goes to international firm Ernst and Young, which was asked to do an environmental impact study for an Indian power company wanting to build two hydro-electric dams. These would flood hundreds of acres of forest next door to two wildlife reserves in Karnataka. The hot shot accountants' report was nodded through by the government, but it has now been found to be extraordinarily similar to an earlier report submitted by another company about a different dam project 90 miles away. Indeed, it is two rivers, two types of dams, two forest types, two locations but one report with only the names changed. Ernst and Young are deeply embarrassed. "It was written and submitted in haste - we will be preparing another report," says a spokesman.

Thunk. A new report from Monsanto lauding the corporation's achievements. No mention of the recent court case in Philadelphia where Monsato was forced to pay $90m for selling defective and toxic PCBs that left an office building contaminated after a 1994 fire. Monsanto argued that they stopped making PCBs in the 1970s and could not therefore be held responsible. Perish the thought that they would ever have to use that defence over GMs.

Market know how
Farmers' markets are the rage. More than 200 are up and running and many more in their pilot stages. Now the Soil Association is running a one-day course on September 20 for anyone who wants to find out more. Call 0117-914 2425 for details.

Fighting talk
Splendid September edition of the Ecologist magazine, made memorable by a spat over corporations between Sir Jonathon Porritt and George Monbiot, both regular contributors to these pages. The personal invective is priceless. Monbiot, says Porritt, is "absolutist", "morally superior", "holier than thou", with "flawed" views. Porritt, counters Monbiot, is little more than a "collaborator" with a "naive and dangerous" approach, a man who is irredeemably "compromised" and "used" by corporations. Ouch, ouch.

Behind bars
The US has reached an environmental and social milestone. There are now more prisoners (2m) than farmers (1.9m). We have some catching up to do. For the record, Britain has 593,000 farmers and a mere 75,000-odd prisoners.



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