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News at Brighter Green

Brighter Green Associate Wanqing Zhou interviewed by Our Hen House 7/23/14

Brighter Green Associate Wanqing Zhou was interviewed by Our Hen House on Brighter Green's What's For Dinner? and China screening tour in June and July 2014.

Brighter Green and Partner Global Forest Coalition Published in "Square Brackets" 7/1/14

Brighter Green and partner Global Forest Coalition published their article "Implementing Aichi Target 3 in the livestock sector" in "Square Brackets: CBD Newsletter for Civil Society".

Brighter Green Releases June 2014 Newsletter 6/27/14

Brighter Green releases its June 2014 newsletter highlighting achievements and events in the first part of 2014. You can view the newsletter here.

Brighter Green Launches "What's For Dinner?" China Screening Tour 6/15/14

Brighter Green launches the China tour of the short documentary film "What's For Dinner?". The film is screened in multiple cities through July 2014 and provinces including Beijing, Shanghai, and Zhejiang province. To learn more please click here.

Brighter Green Presents at the Global Research Forum on Sustainable Production and Consumption 6/11/14

Brighter Green Associate Wanqing Zhou presented her paper, "The Triangle: Factory Farming in the U.S., China and Brazil" in Shanghai, China at the Global Research Forum on Production and Consumption.

BG Partner Global Forest Coalition Releases Paraguayan Case Study 5/22/14

Brighter Green partner Global Forest Coalition publishes Paraguayan case study on the environmental and social impacts of unsustainable livestock and soybean production.

Brighter Green and Global Forest Coalition New Report and Briefing Paper 5/22/14

Brighter Green and the Global Forest Coalition announce the release of a new report and briefing paper on redirecting government support for unsustainable livestock production as the key to biodiversity conservation.

Brighter Green Appears in the Scientific American Magazine 5/20/14

The Scientific American article "China's Appetite for Meat Swells, Along with Climate Changing Pollution" references Brighter Green research as well as quotes Executive Director Mia MacDonald and Associate Wanqing Zhou.

What's For Dinner? Page on Icarus Website 5/9/14

Brighter Green's short documentary film What's For Dinner? is now featured on Icarus Films' website, WFD's North American distributor. Visit the website for more information on screening or purchasing the film.

Brighter Green Releases Policy Brief of "Beyond the Pail: the Emergence of Industrialized Dairy Systems in Asia" 4/28/14

Brighter Green released the policy brief for the most recent policy paper, Beyond the Pail: the Emergence of Industrialized Dairy Systems in Asia. The brief, available here, provides a succinct summary of the paper and recommendations.

Brighter Green's film What's For Dinner? to be featured in the Environmental Film Festival in the Nation’s Capital 3/21/14

Brighter Green's short film What's For Dinner? was recently selected to appear in the Environmental Film Festival in the Nation’s Capital. It appeared on March 19th at 12PM in the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars, along with a discussion partnering with the China Environment Forum.

Associate Sangamithra Iyer Publishes eBook 3/5/14

Brighter Green Associate Sangamithra Iyer publishes an eBook entitled The Lines We Draw distributed by Hen Press, the publishing arm of Our Hen House. The book explores the boundaries — physical, biological, and ethical — evolved out of a conversation with the late Dr. Alfred Prince, a hepatitis researcher, about the use of chimpanzees in medical research, and is expanded into a larger discussion about ethics.

Brighter Green Releases New Policy Paper on Industrialized Dairy in Asia 2/20/14

Brighter Green releases their newest policy paper Beyond the Pail: the Emergence of Industrialized Dairy Systems in Asia exploring the trend toward increased dairy consumption and production in Asia and argues that the growth of industrial systems results in severe consequences for the environment, public health, animal welfare, and rural economies. You may access the paper here.

Brighter Green Presents at the Ivy League Vegan Conference 2/7/14

Brighter Green Executive Director Mia MacDonald and Associate Sangamithra Iyer present a session entitled "The Global Diet & Sustainability: Multi-country Perspectives" at the Ivy League Vegan Conference at Princeton University. The conference is in its third year and is dedicated to exploring veganism and bioethics.

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In Burma, Both Arms Go Up Again

November 13, 2010 1:51pm
Filed under:

What does the snub-nosed monkey think about her country's future?

They say when it rains, the locals can hear them sneeze in the forest. We're talking about a new species of monkey recently 'discovered' in Burma. Mongabay.com reports:
“Myanmar snub-nosed monkey (Rhinopithecus strykeri), was only discovered after researchers heard reports from hunters of a strange monkey with upturned nostrils and prominent lips. It is known locally as mey nwoah,or 'monkey with an upturned face...

Rainwater collects on the monkey's upturned noses causing them to sneeze. To combat this, the monkeys spend their rainy days with heads tucked between legs.”

Though just discovered, these monkeys, like so many beings in Burma, face severe threats.

I recently read Emma Larkin's book, Finding George Orwell in Burma. Larkin wondered what the influence of this country was on Orwell's decision to become a writer and sets on a journey following Orwell's footsteps in Burma. Looking for Orwell in Burma, Larkin finds Burma in Orwell. Several people she meets believe Orwell actually wrote a trilogy about the country: Burmese Days, Animal Farm and 1984. Orwell, they tell her,was a prophet. Modern Burma under the military junta, the State Peace and Development Council (classic Orwellian double speak), is not unlike Winston Smith's 1984.

Larkin shares a joke about a Burmese man who travels many miles to a neighboring country to see a dentist. When he arrives, the dentist is shocked by the distance traveled and asks the man if there are any dentists in Burma. The man replies, ‘Yes, we have many dentists. The problem is we aren't allowed to open our mouths.’

Many folks trace the origins of modern Burma's woes back to 1962, when General Ne Win came to power. One man tells Larkin, this was the time of "green spectacles." The origin of this phrase is quite disturbing.

During WWII, many of Burma’s farms were destroyed by battles and bombs. As a result, many animals refused to eat the parched grain because of the "unhealthy white color." The Japanese had invaded and were using donkeys to transport their munitions. They were afraid that their donkeys might starve.
"They fashioned spectacles of green tinted glass and wire and hooked them around the donkeys' ears."

The donkeys saw their feed as green and resumed eating. "To look at a thing that is bad and be forced to think it is good," was how one man described to her the time of Ne Win.

There is another joke about this period in history that Larkin shared. (Orwell had once said “every joke is a tiny revolution.” ) A soldier living in a hut in Rangoon caught a large fish and put him in a bucket of water to carry home. He wanted to cook the fish with tomatoes and onions, but got home to find no vegetables. He decided to just fry in oil, but also did not have oil. Perhaps just grilling on the stove would be enough, but he couldn't find any charcoal. He decided to just let the fish go. The fish jumped in the water screaming "Long Live Ne Win."

But it would be incorrect to think that the animals in Burma were better off.

The snub nosed monkey just discovered, was only found because of hunters' reports. Chinese logging concessions are threatening their habitat and I'm reminded by similar patterns of ecological destruction elsewhere in the world. Natural resource extraction lines the pockets of those in power, while the other beings in Burma remain at risk.

I was recently at a Conference on Burma, organized by the Free Burma Alliance and Amnesty International with panels of activists, filmmakers, NGOs and writers. Everyone spoke passionately of all the problems facing Burma: longest running civil war with minority groups, forced labor along oil pipeline construction, use of child soldiers, rape of women, incarceration of political prisoners and the inequitable distribution of wealth and power.

No green tinted spectacles or Orwellian doublespeak could mask these realities.

And yet, in discussions about the future, it was hard to map out clear solutions. There was talk of boycotting and denying the results of the recent election and also for establishing a commission of inquiry by the International Criminal Court. What role could the international community play when India and China have invested interests in the country? Even American and European companies have been complicit in human and environmental rights violations.

There’s a hint of defeatism in the discussion, as if, like the snub-nosed monkey, we're just waiting out the storm with our heads between our legs.

Today offered a glimmer of hope as pro-democracy leader and Nobel Laureate Aung San Suu Kyi was released from house arrest.

President Obama called her a hero of his, and offered these words about her release:

“Whether Aung San Suu Kyi is living in the prison of her house, or the prison of her country, does not change the fact that she, and the political opposition she represents, has been systematically silenced, incarcerated, and deprived of any opportunity to engage in political processes that could change Burma. It is time for the Burmese regime to release all political prisoners, not just one.”


Aung San Suu Kyi's lawyer, also expressed his delight over her release, but cautioned the world, that this did not reflect a major change in the country.

As we continue to wait out the storm— the reign of the military junta— I am reminded of a poem of the imprisoned Burmese comedian Zargana:

“However”
We cry out
"We’ve won!"
And raise both arms in glee.
But when we lose
Both arms go up again.