Tuesday, March 31, 2009
-- the PHOTOS
Each year's Festival at Fortaleza fills my camera with a huge number of photos. It's a good thing because trying to describe a spiritual journey of 10 days at Fortaleza is a daunting task. So here are a series of slide shows.
NOTE: You can skip the slide shows any go directly to the full collection here.
Opening Works and New Year
A few pics from the first concentration work and the New Year work that opened this years gathering.
Every year the Encounter for a New Horizon is full of special moments. This year one such moment was Lucio's haircut. It was on New Year's Day. Saturnino had been kidding him for weeks about his long hair. Lucio evidently made a firm New Year resolution to take action. What fun it was!
Lojinha - The Little Store
There was a fine New Year's day inauguration of the little store and visitor center at Fortaleza. It began outside with Cicero telling stories for Padrinho Luiz Mendes and then everyone carried the party inside, ending with a grand entertainment for the children.
Spiritual Works in the Forest
The day of spiritual works in the forest begins with a festive gathering at the church and then drinking Daime and strolling through the forest to sing hymns at three locations. One of the high points it when Padrinho Luiz offers his dramatization of the forest spirit Casmerim delivering a message that the forest provides everything and must not be damaged.
It is also recognized that in nature nothing is permanent -- the great Copaiba tree now lies on the ground as a result of a big wind storm last year. But nothing in nature is wasted. The ecologists say that a fallen log is the most important structural component of a forest. It stores water, provides a habitat for many plants and creatures, and decays to create new soil. The ways of nature are infinite and the cycles life and death create a world without end.
This year a fourth spiritual work in the forest was added to the official calendar. The new Salão de Apui is especially dedicated for the singing of Padrinho Alfredo's hinario, Nova Era.
During festival times many visitors camp, creating mini-tent cities of folks from the same region. So there's bound to be a Sao Paulo "Barraca", one for Campo Grande, Minas Gerais, etc. Tents and laundry dominate and so does intimacy and friendship.
Xipamano River Trip
The land of Fortaleza is bordered by the Xipamano River which separates Brazil and Bolivia. This year the community has inaugurated a series of boat trips, up the river, to visit and "old-style" settlement of "colonistas" who inhabit, farm and raise livestock on one of the cleared areas on the Bolivian side.
Solon and Berg led a presentation of stories and songs -- telling of the past and of their love for nature.
The birthday of Padrinho Luiz Mendes -- and Junaida and Janaina -- is like a non-stop festival of joy. It begins at night with a spiritual session singing the hinario's of two of Padrinho's dear friends -- Seu Tufi Amin and Eduardo Gabrish. One of the most moving times comes near the end when people offer their heartfelt words expressing their deep love for Padrinho. It continues with a morning breakfast and cake party and later an afternoon barbecue.
Day of the Holy Kings
The day of the Holy Kings is one of the most important festivals of the official Santo Daime calendar. It signifies the completion of a year of spiritual activity to begin anew the day-to-day work of living in the Holy Peace of God.
It is also a time for personal milestones such as baptisms and receiving a star. This year Flora and Gustavo were baptized by Padrinho Luiz and Christina (from France) received her star.
Theater and Culture
One of the events that everyone looks forward to is the night of theater and culture presenting the folklore of Amazônia. This year's "choreographers" were Joaquim and Cicero who held many rehearsals and guided family and friends and audience to a fine time for all.
Forró is the popular dance form from Northeastern Brazil where Mestre Irineu was born. In its modern form it is a vigorous dance like a polka but more rhythmic and hip twisting and it has been remixed into forms that are currently popular in the Brazilian dance club scene.
In Fortaleza it is danced mostly in the old-fashioned waltz style. This year's innovation was that the music was led by a saxophone player who used to play at some of the Concentration Works of Mestre Irineu.
Closing and Farewells
The closing spiritual session of each year's encounter involves singing the hiarios Novo Horizonte (Luiz Mendes) and Nova Jerusalem (Pad Sebastiao).
At the closing there is a very special time for people to share their thoughts and feelings. The words are like prayers -- true words from the heart. There is a second kind of prayer as well. It's what the Native Americans call the "listening prayer" Yes, indeed, speaking and listening from the heart is surely a way that one might sum up what it's like to experience an Encounter for a New Horizon.
At Fortaleza the work never ends. Immediately following the farewells and departures yet another cycle of work started -- the making of the Daime beginning with the night of the full moon.
We hope to see you next year which should be pretty special -- it marks the 70th birthday of Mestre Conselheiro Luiz Mendes.
Saturday, March 28, 2009
Here's an early mainstream media reaction to the recent court victory for Santo Daime in the US as presented by ABC News.
The good news is that people tell me that something similar happened in Brazil when Santo Daime was first made legitimate. Eventually it all quieted down. Nowadays, Santo Daime receives very fair, balanced and even favorable treatment in Brazil's mainstream media. Here is O GLOBO's treatment in it's extremely popular family magazine, FANTASTICO. More recently, Mestre Irineu and Santo Daime were featured in 3 episodes of a popular mini-series called Amazônia.
Of course, the fear-mongers can become a serious problem but, for now, let's hope and pray that things will settle down as they have in Brazil.
The debate over biochar hots up.
By George Monbiot. Published on his Guardian blog, 27th March 2009
Reading their responses, I realise that it was unfair of me to include James Lovelock and Jim Hansen on the list of those who have been suckered by the charleaders. Their position is more nuanced than I made out. Chris Goodall, to his credit, has accepted that he was too bullish about the technology. The points he makes in its defence seem fair and well-reasoned.
On the other hand, I wasn’t harsh enough about Peter Read. In his response column today he uses the kind of development rhetoric that I thought had died out with the Indonesian transmigration programme.
To him, people and land appear to be as fungible as counters in a board game. He makes the extraordinary assertion that “degraded land” - which he wants to cover with plantations - is uninhabited by subsistence farmers, pastoralists or hunters and gatherers. That must be news to all the subsistence farmers, pastoralists and hunters and gatherers I’ve met in such places. Then he repeats the ancient canard that, by denying such people the opportunity to have their land turned into a eucalyptus plantation/hydroelectric dam/opencast mine/nuclear test site/re-education camp or whatever
project the latest swivel-eyed ideologue is trying to promote, we are keeping them in poverty.
Has he learnt nothing from the past 40 years of development studies? Does he not understand that development is something that people must choose, not something that can be imposed on them from on high by megalomaniacs?
As for the “unused potential arable land” he wants to use, that could apply to most of the surface of the planet that possesses a soil layer: rainforest, wetland, savannah - you name it. From my office window I can see a perfect candidate for his attentions: the brakes and thickets of the Cambrian Mountains. I can also see the kind of crop with which Read would cover them: the sitka spruce plantations that blight the lives of everyone who loves the countryside here. Yes this land is degraded, overgrazed and poorly managed. But is there anyone who would prefer that it was all converted to plantations?
But at least a debate is taking place. For far too long this technology has gone largely unchallenged by environmentalists, fooled perhaps by Read’s cunning rebranding of charcoal as biochar, on the grounds - wait for it - that this stuff is “finely divided”. By all means, as Hansen and Kharecha recommend, let’s use genuine waste - whether from crops, forestry, sewage or food - to make charcoal. But let’s stop the charleaders from pyrolising the planet in the name of saving it.
Friday, March 27, 2009
My good friend Newman sends us this report of New Year celebrations in Bali (25 March):
It's Nyepi Day here. That's Balinese New Year.
The evening before; New Years Eve, you make a racket and chase out all the demons and bad energies that have taken up residence in your house over the year. Then you sit quietly at home all day Nyepi Day. You are not allowed to go out on the streets, certainly not drive a vehicle (medical emergencies excepted). If you are really serious about it, you don't cook or talk for the day.
The idea is that the demons and lost souls that have accumulated in the nooks and crannies of your home over the year will be chased out and then (because things are so quiet and still) think that there is no life in the house; so they'll go find some place else to hang out and your place will be energetically cleaned out.
It's perhaps evident to the Balinese that destructive energies seem to take up residence in the emotional bodies of boys and young men in particular. Thus in the month preceding Nyepi groups of youths in each Banjar are organized to build the baddest monster they can imagine. These monsters are called "Ogoh ogoh"
and can range from one to four meters high and take the form of traditional Balinese "Buta Kala" (forces of evil) or contemporary versions of the same (Punk Rockers , Grim Reapers and Bikers have been popular in more recent years.). They are mounted on bamboo platforms and are the carried by the teams of young men or boys that built them in a Nyepi Eve Ogoh Ogoh parade. The monsters in the Ubud parade line up on Jalan Raya and Jalan Monkey Forest and one by one are rushed into the central space of this main crossroad in the center of town (cross roads are the gathering places of dark energies in many world cultures). The parade is accompanied by the marching gamelan of the banjar and the boys rush at the crowds with their huge raucous creations.
There is an air of Carnival about the whole evening as thousands of people gather to see the spectacle. There is also a great sense of competition between the different teams and the harnessing and channeling of this energy is perhaps akin to sending young men off to war, in this case a symbolic, artistic war that is part of a larger energy cleansing ceremony for the whole community. Fireworks and explosions continue into the night until midnight. The Ogoh Ogoh Parade does for the larger community what the banging of pots and pans does for the home; negative energies are stirred up out of their lairs and the whole of the next day find nobody about in the village; so they go find someplace else where they can bother people (perhaps someplace that never stops, I can think of a few that definitely seem to have more than the normal share of negative energy !).
Consequently today; Nyepi day, is beautifully quiet, perhaps like Bali was a hundred years ago before there were any cars or motorbikes (I live in the middle of the rice padis, so it's not so noisy here anyway.). I love this day, one is forced to stop the fast pace of life and reflect. I think the whole planet could use to do the same. I can hear birds and roosters, morning doves and wind chimes. The rainy season has wound down and it is cool in the mornings now and quite hot in the afternoons. It's lovely.
Our friend and maskmaker
extraordinaire Newman winters in
Bali where he lives and works with
local carvers and mask makers.
There are some fine examples of Newm's work at Newman's Commedia Mask Company.
Wednesday, March 25, 2009
Tuesday, March 24, 2009
[NOTE: I have been updating this post as comments arrive from many notable voices. They are appended to the Monbiot article.]
There's great biochar debate going on in at the guardian.co.uk with heayweights George Monbiot, Chris Goodall and James Lovelock pulling no punches. It's really worth considering. please ...
Woodchips with everything. It's the Atkins plan of the low-carbon world
by George Monbiot
The latest miracle mass fuel cure, biochar, does not stand up; yet many who should know better have been suckered into it
Whenever you hear the word miracle, you know there's trouble just around the corner. But no matter many times they lead to disappointment or disaster, the newspapers never tire of promoting miracle cures, miracle crops, miracle fuels and miracle financial instruments. We have a limitless ability to disregard the laws of economics, biology and thermodynamics when we encounter a simple solution to complex problems. So welcome, ladies and gentlemen, to the new miracle. It's a low-carbon regime for the planet that makes the Atkins diet look healthy: woodchips with everything.
Biomass is suddenly the universal answer to our climate and energy problems. Its advocates claim that it will become the primary source of the world's heating fuel, electricity, road transport fuel (cellulosic ethanol) and aviation fuel (biokerosene). Few people stop to wonder how the planet can accommodate these demands and still produce food and preserve wild places. Now an even crazier use of woodchips is being promoted everywhere (including in the Guardian). The great green miracle works like this: we turn the planet's surface into charcoal.
Sorry, not charcoal. We don't call it that any more. Now we say biochar. The idea is that wood and crop wastes are cooked to release the volatile components (which can be used as fuel), then the residue - the charcoal - is buried in the soil. According to the magical thinkers who promote it, the new miracle stops climate breakdown, replaces gas and petroleum, improves the fertility of the soil, reduces deforestation, cuts labour, creates employment, prevents respiratory disease and ensures that when you drop your toast it always lands butter side up. (I invented the last one, but give them time).
They point out that the indigenous people of the Amazon created terras pretas (black soils) by burying charcoal over hundreds of years. These are more fertile than the surrounding soils, and the carbon has stayed where they put it. All we need to do is to roll this out worldwide and the world's problems - except, for the time being, the toast conundrum - are solved. It takes carbon out of circulation, reducing atmospheric concentrations. It raises crop yields. If some of the carbon is produced in efficient cooking stoves, it reduces the smoke in people's homes and means they have to gather less fuel, curtailing deforestation.
This miracle solution has suckered people who ought to know better, including James Lovelock, Jim Hansen, the author Chris Goodall and the climate campaigner Tim Flannery. At the UN climate talks beginning in Bonn on Sunday, several governments will demand that biochar is made eligible for carbon credits, providing the financial stimulus required to turn this into a global industry. Their proposal boils down to this: we must destroy the biosphere in order to save it.
In his otherwise excellent book, Ten Technologies to Save the Planet, Goodall abandons his usual scepticism and proposes we turn 200m hectares of "forests, savannah and croplands" into biochar plantations. Thus we would increase carbon uptake by grubbing up "wooded areas containing slow-growing trees" (that is, natural forest) and planting "faster growing species". This is environmentalism?
But that's just the start of it. Carbonscape, a company that hopes to be among the first to commercialise the technique, talks of planting 930m hectares. The energy lecturer Peter Read proposes new biomass plantations of trees and sugar covering 1.4bn hectares.
The arable area of the UK is 5.7m hectares, or one 245th of Read's figure. China has 104m hectares of cropland. The US has 174m. The global total is 1.36bn. Were we to follow Read's plan, we would either have to replace all the world's crops with biomass plantations, causing instant global famine, or double the cropped area, trashing most of the remaining natural habitats. Read was one of the promoters of first-generation liquid biofuels, which played a major role in the rise in the price of food last year, throwing millions into malnutrition. Have these people learned nothing?
Of course they claim everything can be reconciled. Peter Read says the new plantations can be created across "land on which the occupants are not engaged in economic activity". This means land used by subsistence farmers, pastoralists, hunters and gatherers and anyone else who isn't producing commodities for the mass market: poorly defended people whose rights and title can be disregarded. Both Read and Carbonscape speak of these places as "degraded lands". We used to call them unimproved, or marginal. Degraded land is the new code for natural habitat someone wants to destroy.
Goodall is even more naive. He believes we can maintain the profusion of animals and plants in the rainforests he hopes to gut by planting a mixture of fast-growing species, rather than a monoculture. As the Amazon ecologist Philip Fearnside has shown, a mixture does "not substantially change the impact of very large-scale plantations from the standpoint of biodiversity".
In their book Pulping the South, Ricardo Carrere and Larry Lohmann show what has happened in the 100m hectares of industrial plantations established around the world so far. Aside from destroying biodiversity, tree plantations have dried up river catchments, caused soil erosion when the land is ploughed for planting (meaning loss of soil carbon), exhausted nutrients and required so many pesticides that the run-off has poisoned marine fisheries.
In Brazil and South Africa, tens of thousands of people have been thrown off their land, often by violent means, to create plantations. In Thailand the military government that came to power in 1991 sought to expel five million people. Forty thousand families were dispossessed before the junta was overthrown. In many cases plantations cause a net loss of employment. Working conditions are brutal, often involving debt peonage and repeated exposure to pesticides.
As Almuth Ernsting and Rachel Smolker of Biofuelwatch point out, many of the claims made for biochar don't stand up. In some cases charcoal in the soil improves plant growth, in others it suppresses it. Just burying carbon bears little relation to the farming techniques that created terras pretas. Nor is there any guarantee that most of the buried carbon will stay in the soil. In some cases charcoal stimulates bacterial growth, causing carbon emissions from soils to rise. As for reducing deforestation, a stove that burns only part of the fuel is likely to increase, not decrease, demand for wood. There are plenty of other ways of eliminating household smoke which don't involve turning the world's forests to cinders.
None of this is to suggest that the idea has no virtues, simply that they are outweighed by hazards, which the promoters have overlooked or obscured. Nor does this mean that charcoal can't be made on a small scale, from material that would otherwise go to waste. But the idea that biochar is a universal solution that can be safely deployed on a vast scale is as misguided as Mao Zedong's Great Leap Backwards. We clutch at straws (and other biomass) in our desperation to believe there is an easy way out.
Response from Chris Goodall:
Biochar: Much is unknown but this is no reason to rule it out
Biochar - where wood and crop wastes are cooked to release the volatile components buried in the soil - is a cheap and highly beneficial way of disrupting the global carbon cycle
George Monbiot is right to tell biochar enthusiasts to calm down. Some of us have been guilty of febrile proselytising for this most unlikely scheme for geo-engineering. It is often thus: it is only after a period of reflection and assessment that some of the disadvantages of a new weapon against climate change become apparent.
Nevertheless in his eagerness to get us to tone down our enthusiasm he goes too far. Biochar is a useful and important way to help reduce atmospheric concentrations of CO2.
First of all, let's ask why small knots of dedicated people have been focusing on biochar for the past five or 10 years. Biochar looks as if it is a cheap and highly beneficial way of disrupting the global carbon cycle.
As plants grow, they naturally absorb carbon dioxide, only to give it back as they die and then rot away. Huge volumes of carbon are continuously moving between the soil, plants and the atmosphere, dwarfing the emissions from the burning of fossil fuels. If instead of letting plant matter rot, it is turned into charcoal which is almost pure carbon and stable for many centuries, we are reducing atmospheric concentrations of CO2.
No one disputes the basic science, even George. If we can get this to work on a large scale, we can make a significant difference to greenhouse gas levels. We will have to take the organic outputs of large areas of land in order to achieve this and Monbiot is right to express horrified disbelief at some of the figures that we have suggested.
Here we depart from the path of agreement. Monbiot mentions but then ignores the other benefits of biochar. These are at least as important as direct climate change mitigation. First, soil dosed with charcoal can substantially improve agricultural productivity. Food crops grow better. Trees planted in biochar often have better root systems. Crop yields are improved. This means that we can provide food supplies for more people from a smaller area of land. Growing bigger plants and trees, which are largely made from carbon, hydrogen and oxygen has a secondary effect of holding back CO2 that would otherwise be in the air. It is another form of useful carbon sequestration, albeit a once-only gain, adding to the primary effect of storing charcoal in the soil.
The second effect of biochar is to reduce the emission of other greenhouse gases, such as nitrous oxide and methane, from the soil. Thirdly, conventional fertilisers added to biochar appear to be much more effective and less likely to be washed away. Biochar-dosed soil therefore maintains its fertility better.
No one argues that biochar's effects are well understood. Scientific investigation is only just beginning. Next month sees the publication of Biochar for Environmental Management, a book edited by Johannes Lehmann and Stephen Joseph, two of the world's pre-eminent scientific advocates of biochar. This 400-page book is not the work of gullible fools, it is a resolutely serious attempt to tell the world of the many uncertainties surrounding how best to make and apply biochar.
Its chapters on climate change mitigation are not an attempt to minimise the problems but rather to offer realistic and practical ways of utilising biochar's beneficial properties for the good of the planet and its poorer people. Yes, we don't yet understand fully why biochar works but this is not an argument to ignore it or rule it out. I challenge George to read the science in this book and then tell us whether he is quite so sceptical as he is today.
• Chris Goodall is the author of Ten Technologies to Save the Planet
Response from James Lovelock
Biochar: let the Earth remove C02 for us
What we have to do is turn a portion of all the waste of agriculture into charcoal and bury it
I usually agree with George Monbiot and love the way he says it but this time – with his assertion that the latest miracle mass fuel cure, biochar, does not stand up – he has got it only half right.
Yes, it is silly to rename charcoal as biochar and yes, it would be wrong to plant anything specifically to make charcoal. So I agree, George, it would be wrong to have plantations in the tropics just to make charcoal.
I said in my recent book that perhaps the only tool we had to bring carbon dioxide back to pre-industrial levels was to let the biosphere pump it from the air for us. It currently removes 550bn tons a year, about 18 times more than we emit, but 99.9% of the carbon captured this way goes back to the air as CO2 when things are eat eaten.
What we have to do is turn a portion of all the waste of agriculture into charcoal and bury it. Consider grain like wheat or rice; most of the plant mass is in the stems, stalks and roots and we only eat the seeds. So instead of just ploughing in the stalks or turning them into cardboard, make it into charcoal and bury it or sink it in the ocean. We don't need plantations or crops planted for biochar, what we need is a charcoal maker on every farm so the farmer can turn his waste into carbon. Charcoal making might even work instead of landfill for waste paper and plastic.
Incidentally, in making charcoal this way, there is a by-product of biofuel that the farmer can sell. If we are to make this idea work it is vital that it pays for itself and requires no subsidy. Subsidies almost always breed scams and this is true of most forms of renewable energy now proposed and used. No one would invest in plantations to make charcoal without a subsidy, but if we can show the farmers they can turn their waste to profit they will do it freely and help us and Gaia too.
There is no chance that carbon capture and storage from industry or power stations will make a dent in CO2 accumulation, even if we had the will and money to do it. But we have to grow food, so why not help Gaia do the job of CO2 removal for us?
• James Lovelock is an independent scientist, author, researcher, environmentalist. He is known for proposing the Gaia hypothesis.
We never said biochar is a miracle cure
by Pushker Kharecha and Jim Hansen
George Monbiot's implication that we believe biochar is a miracle solution to CO2 reduction is grossly misunderstood.
It is unfortunate that George Monbiot has insinuated that one of us (Jim Hansen) is a believer in biochar as a "miracle" solution for the climate crisis. If he is basing this on our published papers, then he has grossly misunderstood them. An attentive reader would know his insinuation is false by simply examining our land use-related assumptions in our recently published peer-reviewed paper, Target atmospheric CO2: Where should humanity aim?
Broadly speaking, our climate change mitigation scenarios are strictly illustrative in nature, in other words, they serve to convey the types, magnitude and time frame of mitigation measures needed to reduce atmospheric carbon dioxide amounts. Although we do mention waste-derived biochar as a possible mitigation option, it certainly does not mean we are advocating that as the panacea. Indeed, as we very clearly outline in the paper, our scenarios assume waste-derived biochar provides only a very small fraction of the land use-related CO2 drawdown, with reforestation and curtailed deforestation providing a magnitude more. Nowhere do we assert or imply plantations should be grown specifically for biochar, or that reforestation should be at the expense of food crops, pristine ecosystems or substantially inhabited land. Furthermore, all relevant numbers used in our mitigation scenarios are derived from the peer-reviewed scientific literature.
On the issue of land use changes in general, our paper clearly states any biofuels approach must be very carefully designed, and we cite two major critiques of current biofuels approaches. We agree there are still fundamental uncertainties associated with biochar as a mitigation option, but the peer-reviewed papers we cite describe these uncertainties.
Monbiot's piece might leave readers with the impression that human-assisted reforestation is a lose-lose situation everywhere on the planet. However, there are numerous scientific assessments that indicate there are hundreds of millions of hectares of suitable, sparsely inhabited lands — lands degraded by human activities in the first place. Given that reforestation occurs on a large scale even in nature (for example natural succession), it makes perfect sense to promote sensible, anthropogenic reforestation, among other reasons to undo the damage caused by large-scale deforestation.
Pushker Kharecha and Jim Hansen are at the Nasa Goddard Institute for Space Studies and Columbia University Earth Institute
Response from Monbiot
25 Mar 09,
I accept that (unlike some of the other people I mentioned) you are not advocating the creation of biomass plantations. But I believe that you might still be making a wrong call here.
Yes, I based what I said on the paper you reference: Target atmospheric CO2: Where should humanity aim? In it you say:
"Replacing slash-and-burn agriculture with slash-and-char and use of agricultural and forestry wastes for biochar production could provide a CO2 drawdown of ~8 ppm or more in half a century ."
In the Appendix to the paper you note that:
"Waste-derived biochar application will be phased in linearly over the period 2010-2020, by which time it will reach a maximum uptake rate of 0.16 GtC/yr."
I note that neither in the paper nor in the Appendix do you produce an estimate for the amount of plant material required to supply 0.16GtC/yr, or seek to determine how much of this could be provided by agricultural or forestry wastes.
Chris Goodall, in the book I referenced, proposes that to create 0.4GtC of charcoal we'd need to process about 1.6Gt of biomass. This, he suggests, requires dedicated biochar production across 200m hectares. If his ratios are correct, your proposal would require waste products equivalent to annual dedicated biomass production across 80m hectares. Do such quantities of available waste exist? And how much of it is genuinely available, and genuinely waste? (ie not earmarked for composting/ploughing in/animal bedding, cooking fuel/other forms of biomass burning etc).
Are you in danger of setting up a target which cannot be met by the means you propose?
As for "slash-and-char", if this were to be supported by carbon credits or some other financing mechanism, would that not create a powerful incentive for deforestation - effectively subsidising slash and burn farming?
response from Kharecha
25 Mar 09
Pushker Kharecha here, Jim's co-author on the 'Target CO2' paper who was responsible for devising the mitigation scenarios.
Re your comments above (3/25/09, 2:22 pm)...First, I think you still might be misunderstanding the nature of our scenarios. As we mention above, they are purely illustrative in nature (as are all such scenarios), thus we are not suggesting that it's absolutely necessary to include biochar in mitigation efforts. The basic point is that fossil fuel emissions reductions alone will not be sufficient to achieve our atmospheric CO2 target of 350 ppm within this century, i.e. we will need to maintain existing biospheric CO2 uptake capacity (by ending deforestation) and restore human-degraded lands (by reforestation, enhancing soil carbon storage, etc.).
As we also mention in the above posting, in our scenarios we assume that the combination of curtailed deforestation and enhanced reforestation are over an order of magnitude greater than that of waste-derived char. This was precisely to acknowledge the fact that these strategies have already proven successful on the necessary scales (when devised properly of course), whereas large-scale char use is still fraught with uncertainties. The bottom line is that even if we omitted the char component from our scenarios, the land use-related CO2 drawdown would be virtually unaffected. If one were looking for substitutes for our char component, a perfectly viable one would be soil carbon sequestration via improved agricultural practices such as conservation tillage (which could actually provide an even higher contribution than the char value we assumed).
Re our specific assumptions for char that you've referred to here, first note that by 'waste-derived biochar', we mean precisely that, i.e. char which is produced from material that would have otherwise not been used (e.g., burned or placed in landfills instead). The value you're referring to (0.16 GtC/yr) is directly from a review paper in a refereed scientific journal (reference 85 in our Target CO2 paper). That review paper lists the following five *current* global sources of waste as the basis of the 0.16 GtC/yr value: forest and mill residues (0.04 and 0.05 GtC/yr, respectively); rice husks (0.04 GtC/yr); groundnut shells (0.002 GtC/yr); and urban waste (0.03 GtC/yr; this one is the most uncertain). All of these sources are assessed to have high/medium availability and suitability, and none of them would entail production of new biomass.
As for whether slash-and-char would encourage deforestation, that is obviously not our intent, nor is it a reasonable inference from our paper. As we state therein, we assume that deforestation is linearly phased out by 2015 (a lofty goal, but again, this shouldn't be taken too literally -- if it ends up not happening until say 2020 or so, that's not the end of the world). Furthermore, we suggest a price (tax) on carbon emissions that increases with time, thus any future deforestation would end up being substantially taxed, not subsidized. So the slash-and-char issue really would only apply to the period over which deforestation is being phased out. And just to clarify, note that slash-and-char was only mentioned in the main text -- it was not included in the mitigation scenarios (see Section 15 of the Supplement).
response from Monbiot:
25 Mar 09
I take your points. What you say sounds reasonable to me.
Press Release: IBI Response to Recent Guardian Article on Biochar
March 25, 2009: For Immediate Release:
IBI has taken note of an article by George Monbiot in the UK Guardian on March 24, 2009 that questioned the validity of biochar as a climate mitigation tool and the scientists and others who support the development of biochar.
The Guardian has published responses from several of those biochar supporters mentioned by Mr. Monbiot, including James Hansen, Chris Goodall, and James Lovelock.
IBI sent The Guardian the response below written by IBI staff members Stephen Brick and Debbie Reed.
For more information, contact:
Stephen Brick, IBI Executive Director, firstname.lastname@example.org
Debbie Reed, IBI Policy Director, email@example.com
Thayer Tomlinson, IBI Communications Director, firstname.lastname@example.org
George Monbiot is right on the mark about our seemingly irresistible tendency for embracing miracle cures. And it is refreshing to have the press remind us that the laws of thermodynamics will continue to apply in our quest to reduce global carbon emissions. But his diatribe against biochar-like most such screeds-would have us throw the baby out with the bathwater.
This has been said often, but it needs to be said again: there is no magical pathway for cutting global carbon emissions. There is only a collection of steps-complex, costly, and, politically challenging. Put another way, there is no single remedy for the whole problem; but there are, very likely, one hundred different actions that can each bear one percent of the burden. Serious people have understood this for some time, and this would include, we believe, a large fraction of the general public that Mr. Monbiot presumably wishes to warn.
Biochar, produced and used appropriately, should be considered amongst the hundred. Done right, biochar produces four value streams: waste reduction, energy production, soil fertilization and carbon sequestration. Biochar can be made from animal manures and food processing wastes. These residuals are costly to those who produce them, and create greenhouse gas emissions if left untreated. Bio-gas and oil can be used for heating, generating electricity and transportation. Biochar can reduce the need for conventional, fossil-fuel based fertilizers. Finally, biochar can lock up carbon in the soils for extended time periods.
We don't have all the answers on biochar production and utilization; indeed, the mission of the International Biochar Initiative is to seek these answers, objectively and quickly. We know that there are bad ways to make biochar, that crop monoculture for producing feedstock is not a good idea, and that biochar does not affect all soils equally. None of this should rule biochar out of court, however, as we also are assembling a body of knowledge on how to produce and use biochars that are beneficial. In this way, biochar resembles many other carbon-cutting technologies that face uncertainties. In our case, all we seek is an opportunity to be heard fairly as we move towards Copenhagen.
We have no doubt that exaggerating the benefits of biochar is not helpful. On the other hand, the potential of biochar deserves serious consideration. Mr Monbiot's glib dismissal of this potential is unwarranted.
Stephen Brick is the Executive Director of the International Biochar Initiative
Debbie Reed is the Policy Director of the International Biochar Initiative
I've been meaning to repost this interview from Yale's Environment 360
Pollan is the main food columnist for the NY Times and has offered consistently excellent critiques of industrial agriculture. Here he takes on the environmental movement. As an environmentalist myself, I take his words very seriously.
In an interview with Yale Environment 360, best-selling author Michael Pollan talks about biofuels and the food crisis, the glories of grass-fed beef, and why environmentalists must look beyond wilderness to sustainability.
It’s easy to think of Michael Pollan as a food writer. After all, his most successful books — including his most recent, In Defense of Food: An Eater’s Manifesto — focus on food and the implications of the choices we make about what we eat. But Pollan’s work also delves deeply into the environmental effects of those choices — from the impact of America’s corn-based agriculture on its ecosystems to the carbon impact of industrial-scale farming. And Pollan, who serves as Knight Professor of Science and Environmental Journalism at the University of California at Berkeley, has emerged as a staunch advocate of buying local food, growing one’s own produce, and generally making the kind of individual lifestyle choices that could lead to society-wide change in consumption habits.
San Francisco-based journalist Kate Cheney Davidson recently interviewed Pollan for Environment 360 at his home in Berkeley, California. In a wide-ranging discussion, Pollan talked about the need to cut back U.S. ethanol subsidies, why victory gardens worked, and why environmentalism needs to shift its focus from preserving wilderness to creating sustainability.
Yale Environment 360: In your book An Omnivore’s Dilemma, you explore the environmental, ethical, and political implications of our food system. Increasingly you hear people talk about the environmental or “carbon” impact of food. Do you think the footprint of our food has gotten any smaller since that book came out a couple of years ago?
Michael Pollan: I don’t think there’s been any significant change. There are basically two food chains that we have in this country, one a lot bigger than the other. First is a heavily fossil fuel-based food chain, the industrial food chain. The other is a more solar-based food chain, and in that I include things like organic agriculture, pastured meat production. To me, that’s kind of the key distinction. The fossil fuel-based food chain takes about ten calories of fossil fuel energy to produce one calorie of food energy. So it’s highly reliant on petroleum, and as a result is largely responsible for the greenhouse gas emissions associated with food production.
The other food chain is not innocent of an impact on the atmosphere, but it’s a whole lot smaller. It’s still essentially relying on photosynthesis, on solar collection by grasses, on sequestering carbon in the soil through feeding it with compost and things like that so its impact on the climate is much smaller. That solar-based food chain is growing, and this is where a lot of interest in agriculture is today, but it’s still tiny. Organic represents less than two percent of the food economy. Local is probably well under one percent. So I don’t think we’ve made a huge dent yet. But the models are there, and the models are becoming more popular.
e360: What sorts of models?
Pollan: You can compare conventional beef production to a grass-based system of beef production, which is how we used to produce beef. Cattle are evolved to eat grass — they have rumens so they can digest it. So when they [cows] are getting grass, you have a really exquisite and sustainable food chain — where the sun feeds the grass, and the grass feeds the ruminant, and the ruminant feeds us. They are not competing with us for food, and it doesn’t take vast amounts of fossil-fuel fertilizer to produce that food. It takes none, until you start trucking the animal off of the ranch.
The problem with that system for the marketplace was that it’s a slower way to produce beef, and it takes more skill. It’s a lot easier just to put them on a feedlot, give them lots of corn, give them antibiotics so they can survive the corn, give them hormones to speed up their growth. Suddenly you take a two-year process and get it down to 13-14 months. Time is money, so we moved that way.
But now the economics are changing because fuel is so expensive, and fertilizer is so expensive that the economics of grass-finished beef are starting to look a lot better. Certainly from a sustainability point of view it’s a thousand times better. Grass is the original solar technology. Every blade of grass is a little solar collector. That’s the free lunch — sun growing grass, and feeding grass to animals you can eat.
e360: Climate change is already disproportionately impacting the people who can least tolerate it: the poor. One of those manifestations, it’s feared, will be massive food shortages due to things like changing weather patterns and the demand for biofuels. We may have already begun to see this, as prices of staples like corn and rice skyrocket and people begin to riot over food they can no longer afford. What do you think can be done on a global scale to alleviate what may be the beginning of a food crisis on a level we’ve never seen before?
Pollan: From one level, it’s very simple. Grain is the basis of the diet for most of the people in the world, and grain prices have suffered this surge in prices over the last year that’s unprecedented. That’s because we began making this huge investment in ethanol and subsidizing ethanol production. That led to a spike in corn prices because we were making corn-based ethanol. But when you have a spike in one grain’s prices, all the farmers rush to produce more of that grain. So you had wheat and soybean farmers getting into corn and out of soy and wheat, so that reduced the supply of wheat and soy and the prices there went crazy too. So that’s the big cause.
What do we do? Well, it’s pretty simple. There are three things we need to do. One is fairly easy and the other two get harder. One is back off on this commitment to ethanol, reduce the subsidies we’re giving — it’s about 51 cents a gallon now — and cut out the tariffs on importing ethanol from Brazil. They can produce it more efficiently, and basically we’re protecting our market by keeping that ethanol out.
The next thing we have to do is a little more complicated. The other reason for this increase in food prices, and it’s related, is the high price of oil. If the food economy is as dependent on oil as I’m suggesting, we need to get the food economy off of fossil fuel and back onto the sun. We have to in effect “re-solarize” our food chain by getting animals off of feedlots, where they are eating grain and competing with people for grain. We need to develop organic agriculture, which helps sequester carbon and reduces the need for fossil fuel in the form of synthetic fertilizers. We need to move towards a more sustainable, more solar-based agriculture. That will take a lot of price pressure off, because so much of the underlying, expensive input in agriculture is oil. So you have a situation today where SUVs in America are competing with eaters around the rest of the world for good food and arable land. You can imagine who’s going to win.
So getting agriculture off of oil — that’s a long-term process. In the short-term, it’s not like you’re going to see a price difference. Organic produce isn’t going to be cheaper because the two food economies kind of track each other in price. But if you could remove that ingredient, the fossil fuel ingredient, from much of our food, I think that would help.
Most of this grain we’re talking about is being fed to animals. So meat-eating is a tremendous part of this problem too, and specifically the meat eating increase that we see in places like China and India. They want to eat meat the way we do. Well, here in America, we’re eating over 200 pounds of meat per person per year. When you factor in people not eating meat, that’s an obscene amount of meat. That’s meat at three meals a day, just about. So one way to take pressure off these grain stocks is to start eating the grain and not feeding it to animals and not feeding it to cars. We have to remember that the arable land in this world is a precious and finite resource, and we should be using it to grow food for people, not for cars and animals.
e360: In a recent article for The New York Times Magazine, you suggest starting our own gardens as a means to combat climate change. How do you see this as making a difference to such a global problem?
Pollan: I don’t know exactly what percentage of greenhouse gas we would reduce if everybody planted a garden, but it would be a percentage and it would be a help. If you go back to the victory garden moment in American history during World War II when the government strongly encouraged us all to plant gardens because we were reserving the output of our agricultural system for the troops and for starving Europeans — within a year or two, we actually got up to producing forty percent of our produce from home gardens. No food is more local, no food requires less fossil fuel, and no food is more tasty or nutritious than food you grow yourself. So it’s not a trivial contribution.
The process of growing your own food also teaches you things that are very, very important to combating this problem. One source of our sense of powerlessness and frustration around climate change is that we are so accustomed to outsourcing so much of our lives to specialists of one kind or another, that the idea that we could reinvent the way we live, change our lifestyles, is absolutely daunting to people. We don’t know how to do it. We’ve lost the skills to do it. One of the things gardening teaches is that you can actually feed yourself. How amazing, you’re not dependent on a huge, global system to feed yourself. I think where climate change is taking us is to a point where many of us will need to take care of ourselves a little better than we do now. We will be less able to depend on distant experts and distant markets. We will need to re-localize economies all over the world because we won’t be able to waste fossil fuel, like having our salmon filleted in China before we bring it to the United States from Alaska. These long supply chains are going to have to get shorter.
The writer Wendell Berry was right a long time ago when he said the environmental crisis is a crisis of character. It’s really about how we live. The thought that we can swap out the fuel we’re putting in our cars to ethanol, and swap out the electricity to nuclear and everything else can stay the same, I think, is really a pipe dream. We’re going to have to change, and the beginning of knowing how to change is learning how to provide for yourself a little bit more.I’m not dismissing the need for public action at all. It’s important in that individual action is not going to be enough to solve the problem.”
My larger, deeper proposal [in the article] was find one thing in your life that doesn’t involve spending money that you could do, one change that would make a contribution both to the fact of global warming and your sense of helplessness about global warming. I think what people are looking for, and why people respond to these kinds of suggestions, is that they do feel powerless. These issues are so big and so daunting and so complex that either you throw up your hands in despair, or you say, "let the experts work it out." I think what people want is a greater sense of their own power to change something now. We’re really impatient. We’ve been waiting for our leaders to do something about this issue for a really long time, and people like the idea that there is something they can do now, and that that something will matter — both for their own outlook and for the facts on the ground that we face.
I’m not dismissing the need for public action at all. It’s important in that individual action is not going to be enough to solve the problem, especially when people in China are going to be happy to emit every bit of carbon I manage not to emit. So we need both, but the two will work hand in hand. Bill McKibben puts it that doing things privately — changing our light bulbs, putting in gardens — this is like calisthenics. This is getting ready for the big changes we’re all going to have to make. I think that’s a healthy way to look at it.
e360: You’ve often mentioned that many of your ideas are not new, and in fact, many of them hearken back to the era of our grandparents and great-grandparents. Why, then, do you think your ideas and writing about food have hit such a chord with audiences now?
Pollan: It is interesting. We were having this conversation in the 1970s. It was kind of just when I was coming of age, and coming to consciousness about the political world when I was in college. We had Wendell Berry’s Unsettling of America, I think in 1977. Francis Moore Lappe’s book Diet for a Small Planet came out a couple years later. And we had a president [Jimmy Carter] talking about the energy crisis, putting on a sweater, and lowering the thermostat, and putting solar panels up on the roof of the White House. There was an energy crisis and it was driven then by a spike in the price of energy such as we’re having today.
But it was a simpler time. We didn’t around food have an obesity crisis, and we didn’t around energy have climate change. We would give a lot for their crises right now. They look pretty easy to solve compared to what we face. But we dropped the thread of that conversation. It happened when Reagan was elected and gas prices came back down. In the 80s, Reagan took the solar panels off the roof of the White House. Carter was belittled for his concern. It was a shrinking of the American horizon. The whole idea of limits was discredited by “morning in America” and the promise of unlimited growth once again.
So we had a kind of interruption in this conversation. And lo and behold, 30 years go by, 35 years, and we find ourselves with another oil shock, another food shock. So we’re resuming that conversation that was aborted. And none too soon.
e360: You’ve been called a writer of food, of agriculture, and of the environment. How would you categorize what you write, and where does your latest book, In Defense of Food, fit within your larger body of work?
Pollan: I don’t see myself as a writer of food and the environment. I see myself as a kind of nature writer who likes writing about the messy places where the human world and the natural world intersect. I’m much less interested in wilderness, where most American writers interested in nature writing go to think about nature, than I am in gardens and houses and diets. All these places where we can’t just look at nature and admire it, or deplore what’s happening to it, but we really have to engage, we have to change.
My writing all starts in the garden. My experience was entering the garden with a head full of Thoreau and Emerson, and finding those ideas, as beautiful as they are, do not prepare you for when the woodchuck comes and mows down your little crop of seedlings. That approach to nature counsels passive spectatorship, and argues implicitly that the woodchuck has as much right to your broccoli as you do, because it’s wild. So I, perforce, had to learn how to think about nature in a way that was a little different.
We’ve had in this country what I call a wilderness ethic that’s been very good at telling us what to preserve. You know, eight percent of the American landmass we’ve kind of locked up and thrown away the key. That’s a wonderful achievement and has given us things like the wilderness park.
This is one of our great contributions to world culture, this idea of wilderness. On the other hand, it’s had nothing to say of any value for the ninety-two percent of the landscape that we cannot help but change because this is where we live. This is where we grow our food, this is where we work. Essentially the tendency of the wilderness ethic is to write that all off. Land is either virgin or raped. It’s an all or nothing ethic. It’s either in the realm of pristine, preserved wilderness, or it’s development — parking lot, lawn.
e360: So how does this latest book, In Defense of Food, fit within your genre of nature writing?
Pollan: After An Omnivore’s Dilemma a lot of people said, “Well, aren’t you preaching to the choir?” I hated hearing that. I wanted to write a book that didn’t preach to the choir, which brought in a whole other circle of readers. I set out to write as popular and accessible and short a book as I can write. The subtitle is “An Eater’s Manifesto,” and it is a political book. Its motto: “Eat Food. Not Too Much. Mostly Plants.” isn’t exactly “Workers of the World Unite,” but in its own quiet way the goal is to invite people to this movement who might not think they have a stake in it.
In general people are motivated by their sense of personal health. This is why people began buying organic food. It wasn’t to change the world, most of them. It was really because they thought they would be safer eating this food than industrial food. So health is a very important way in with people.
But my message in this book is that your health is inseparable from the health of whole food chain that you’re a part of. That was the sort of stunning thing I learned writing both books — that there’s a direct connection between the health of the soil, the health of the plants, the health of the animals, and you as eater. We’re not just eating piles of chemicals that we can get from anywhere. All carrots are not created equal. Some of them are actually more nutritious than others. How the animals were raised has not just a bearing on their health, but on your health.
So that, I think, is the kind of the covert politics of the book: that your health is not bordered by your own skin, and that you must take a broader view of it if you’re really concerned. We have science now to back this up: that the healthfulness and the nutritiousness of the food you eat really depend on how it’s grown, not what it is.
e360: Do you think people sometimes don’t recognize the food they eat as an environmental topic?
Pollan: Oh yeah. I think for a long time we haven’t. It’s only been in recent years that there’s been some recognition that sustainable farming offers a very important model of not just how to grow food, but how to engage with the natural world. That there might actually be ways where you could change the landscape and actually improve it from objective criteria — biological diversity, or biomass. Or that there might actually be sustainable ways to grow food that in the process actually sequester carbon, or improve fertility. It need not be a zero-sum relationship.
I think most environmentalists have in their minds a belief, and it’s vindicated by a lot of what we’ve seen, that the human relationship with nature is zero-sum — for us to get what we want from the natural world, the natural world must be diminished. But go to a really well run pastured animal farm where they’re rotating crops, rotating species, and you will find a place where a lot of food comes off the land, and the land is improved as a result. That completely flies in the face of our tragic understanding of nature. I think it’s one of the great sources of hope. It suggests that there might be ways that we can figure out how to get what we need and not diminish nature.
So I think we’re undergoing a sea change. I think that environmentalists are recognizing that as important as wilderness is as a standard, as a baseline, sustainability is a very different baseline. I think our focus is moving from wilderness to sustainability. That’s not to say we have to destroy the wilderness to have sustainability. It’s just that, okay, we did that. That was the project that engaged us for 150 years. The project now is very much more the gardener’s project, or the farmer’s project, which is how to use nature without ruining it.
Monday, March 23, 2009
Norway emerges as champion of rainforest conservation
Wonderful example of what a small country is doing to help the Amazon Forest.
37,000 sq km of Amazon rainforest destroyed or damaged in 2008
Not good to say the least. In the August 2007-July 2008 period, there was an increase of 67 percent over the prior year period.
New potential "commodity boom" threatens to create a new "forest bust."
Already a significant driver of tropical forest conversion across southeast Asia, oil palm expansion could emerge as threat to the Amazon rainforest due to a proposed change in Brazil's forest law, new infrastructure, and the influence of foreign companies in the region, according to researchers writing in the open-access journal Tropical Conservation Science.
I've previously written about our dear friend Grandma Aggie who is the spiritual elder of the first people of Southern Oregon and who travels the world with a group of 13 Grandmothers offering wisdom from many native traditions.
Grandma Aggie also has a very special relationship with eagles. One might say that they are her "totem" or "power animal." So, it was with surprise and delight that, in an "unrelated coincidence," a new and very popular T-shirt has appeared in Rio Branco -- Aggy with an Eagle.
In the photo above it is modeled by Berg who is a grandson of Padrinho Luis Mendes.
And here's a video about the Grandmas
Sunday, March 22, 2009
HUGE VICTORY FOR AMAZON INDIANS
Brazil's Supreme Court has ruled in a 10-1 decision to support the creation of a huge Indian reserve of 4.2 million acres. The decision has its controversial aspects according to the article in Reuters but it's clearly a landmark decision.
Paula Goes at Global Voices Online provides more background and some great photos here.
I MEAN GREAT NEWS
US District Judge Owen Panner has released his decision. Santo Daime is now free in Oregon. The conclusions were so supportive that there is speculation that the government will not appeal this decision and that it will become a legal precedent beyond Oregon.
A huge bow of gratitude to all the people who risked imprisonment and their reputations to achieve
this victory for Santo Daime and religious freedom.
The full text of Judge Panner's decision follows.
IN THE UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT
FOR THE DISTRICT OF OREGON
CHUCH OF THE HOLY LIGHT OF
THE QUEEN, et al.,
MICHAL B. MUKASEY, et al.,
The issue is whether plaintiffs, who are followers of the
Brazilian Santo Daime religion, are entitled to an exemption
from the Controlled Substances Act to import and drink their
sacrament, Daime tea. Because Daime tea contains the
hallucinogen DMT, which is a Schedule I controlled substance,
the federal government contends that it may prohibit
plaintiffs i possession and use of Daime tea regardless of its
use as a sacrament in plaintiffs J religion.
Guided by the unanimous decision of the United States
Supreme Court in a very similar case, Gonzales v. 0 Centro
Espírita Beneficente União do Vegetal, 546 U. S. 418 (2006) (UDV
III), I conclude that the Religious Freedom Restoration Act, 42
U.S.C. §§ 2000bb to 2000bb-4, requires that plaintiffs be
allowed to import and drink Daime tea for their religious
ceremonies, subject to reasonable restrictions. I will enter
a judgment and permanent injunction.
These are my findings of fact and conclusions of law after
the court trial. Fed. R. Civ. P. 52 (a)
FINDINGS OF FACT
I. The Plaintiffs
There are about 80 active members of the Santo Daime
church living in Oregon. The plaintiff Church of the Holy
Light of the Queen (CHLQ) in Ashland has about 40 active
members. CHLQ oversees a small satellite church in Bend with a
Plaintiff Jonathan Goldman is CHLQ i s spiritual leader or
lIpadrinho. " Goldman has been studying the Santo Daime religion
for 21 years, traveling frequently to Brazil to receive
instruction from church leaders. He has learned Portuguese to
understand the Santo Daime hymns that constitute church
doctrine. Goldman has been an initiate of the Santo Daime
church for almost 19 years. He founded CHLQ in 1993 with
authorization from the Santo Daime mother church in Brazil.
I find that Goldman's testimony is credible. His conduct
over the years shows his sincerity and dedication to CHLQ and
There is a separate Santo Daime church in Portland, called
Céu da Divina Rosa (Church of the Divine Rose), with about 25
active members. The Portland church is led by plaintiff
Alexandra Bliss Yeager. I find Bliss-Yeager's testimony to be
forthright and honest.
The four remaining plaintiffs, Jacquelyn Prestidge, Gathel
Scott Ferguson, Miriam Ramsey, and Mary Row, M.D., are active
members of CHLQ. I credit the testimony of these plaintiffs
and the other church members who testified. These witnesses
appear to represent a reasonable cross-section of church
members. Many CHLQ members did not want to testify because
they feared repercussions if their membership in a
controversial church became public.
II. The Santo Daime Religion
The Santo Daime religion has its origins in the jungles
and rainforests of South America. For many centuries
indigenous tribes of the Amazon and Orinoco river basins have
brewed a psychoactive drink from a vine, Banisteriopsis caapi,
which they use as a medicine and in religious rituals. Both
the vine and beverages brewed from the vine are called
"ayahuasca," which means "vine of souls" or "vine of the dead."
As the name implies, ayahuasca is believed to allow
communication with the spirit world.
According to Santo Daime lore, the religion's founder, an
Afro-Brazilian man named Raimundo Irineu Serra, worked as an
itinerant rubber tapper and guard in the remote Amazon region
of northern Brazil when he met a shaman who taught him about
ayahuasca. Irineu, now known as Master Irineu, had visions of
a woman who called herself the Queen of the Forest, whom he
later identified as the Virgin Mary. The woman instructed him
to start a new religion using ayahuasca as its sacrament,
telling him that ayahuasca should be called "Daime," a
Portuguese word meaning "give me," as in the prayer, "give me
light," "give me strength," "give me wisdom."
Santo Daime is a syncretic religion, blending elements of
Catholicism with indigenous Amazonian and African beliefs.
Followers of the Santo Daime religion believe that Daime tea is
the blood of Christ, analogous to wine in the Catholic
Communion. They also believe that Daime tea itself is a holy
being of great power. Daime tea is consumed during all Santo
Daime services. CHLQ cannot survive as a viable church without
the Daime tea.
Although ayahuasca generally may be brewed with a variety
of different plants, the Santo Daime religion requires that
Daime tea be brewed from only the B. caapi vine (which
plaintiffs call JagUDe), and leaves of the shrub Psycnotria
viridis (which plaintiffs call Rainha). If consumed orally,
digestive enzymes destroy the DMT in P. viridis leaves before
the DMT can take effect. In Daime tea, however, the harmla
alkaloids in the B. caapi vine temporarily inhibit digestive
enzymes, allowing DMT in the P. viridis leaves to reach the
bloodstream and become psychoactive. Daime tea i s synergistic
action is complex and not yet fully understood.
Following Master Irineu's death in 1971, Santo Daime split
into different groups. CHLQ is affiliated with the Santo Daime
church started in 1974 by Sebastião Mota de Melo (known as
Padrinho Sebastião). When Padrinho Sebastião died in 1990, he
was succeeded by his son, Alfredo Gregorio de Melo. De Melo
has overseen the growth of the Santo Daime church in Brazil,
and the opening of branch churches in the United States, Japan,
The head office of the Santo Daime church, which is called
Centro Eclectico da Fluente Luz Universal Raimundo Irineu Serra
(CEFLURIS), authorizes and supervises the churches in Ashland
and Portland. CEFLURIS is responsible for brewing the Daime
tea and shipping it to CHLQ in Ashland and to the Portland
church. CHLQ is responsible for distributing Daime tea to the
satellite group in Bend.
The Brazilian government, after studying the Santo Daime
religion and the effects of Daime tea on church members, has
recognized the Santo Daime church as a legitimate religion and
permits sacramental use of Daime tea. The Catholic Church in
Brazil considers Santo Daime to be a valid religion and treats
the Santo Daime church as a full partner on humanitarian and
environmental issues. Santo Daime is also recognized as a
legitimate religion in Spain and the Netherlands.
The Brazilian government has recognized another syncretic
ayahuasca-based religion, the União do Vegetal (UDV) church.
The UDV church, which was founded in 1961, differs somewhat
from Santo Daime in doctrines and practices, but the UDV's
sacrament, called nhoascan (the Portuguese transliteration of
ayahuasca), is identical to Daime tea, and hoasca is consumed
only during church ceremonies.
Defendants emphasize that during the late 1970s, Padrinho
Sebastião briefly condoned the ritual use of marijuana, which
he called Santa Maria (Holy Mary). Brazilian authorities did
not approve the new sacrament, and the Santo Daime church has
affirmed that the Daime tea is the church's only sacrament and
that the church does not permit ritual use of marijuana.
Goldman testified that Padrinho Sebastiãoi a simple,
illiterate man who venerated all plants, was persuaded to
condone the use of marijuana while he was living in a tiny
isolated,community in the jungle. Goldman testified that CHLQ
has never permitted marijuana use because Daime tea is CHLQ's
only sacrament. CHLQ discourages the use of drugs, including
alcohol and marijuana, especially during the days before a CHLQ
"work n when Daime tea will be consumed. There is no evidence
that marijuana has been a part of CHLQ practice.
Defendants point out that when federal agents raided
Goldman's house in 1999 to confiscate a shipment of Daime teai
they also seized an unspecified amount of marijuana from
Goldman's bedroom. Plaintiffs state in a brief that the
marij uana belonged to Goldman i s wife, who was using it, for
medical purposes. Reply Br. 10 n.9. At trial, Goldman
testified that he was aware of the marijuana, but he did -not
give any explanation for its presence. Regardless of why
marijuana was in Goldman's bedroom nearly ten years ago, a
spiritual leader's possible personal failings should not
discredit the entire church.
Defendants also note that a very small minority of CHLQ
members stated on intake questionnaires that they occasionally
smoked marijuana, although they were trying to quit. This does
not reflect on CHLQ itself or on the majority of church
Federal agents also claimed to have seized a small amount of
bufotenine, a hallucinogenic drug derived from animal secretions.
Goldman testified that he had no knowledge of bufotenine or its
presence in his house, and that he had never heard of bufotenine
until learning about it through the discovery process a few
III. Events Leading to this Litigation
After Goldman's arrest and the seizure of Daime tea in
1999, plaintiffs attempted through counsel to negotiate an
agreement with the U. S. Department of Justice. The Department
refused to consider a religious exemption for plaintiffs. See
PIs. i Ex. 44.
Plaintiffs were more successful with the state of Oregon.
In 2000, the Oregon Board of Pharmacy determined that CHLQ' s
religious use of Daime tea was a Rnon-drug" use and therefore
not subject to state drug laws and regulations. Since then,
Daime tea has enjoyed a status under Oregon law similar to the
status of peyote when used as a sacrament by the Native
At about the same time as the raid on Goldman i shouse,
federal agents seized hoasca from a UDV branch church i~ Santa
Fe, New Mexico. Later that year, the New Mexico UDV church
brought an action in U. S. District Court, seek.ing inj unct i ve
relief. In 2002, U. S. District Court issued a preliminary
injunction, allowing the UDV church to import and use hoasca in
religious ceremonies, subj ect to reasonable conditions. Q
Centro Esp!rita Beneficiente união do Vegetal v. Ashcroft, 282
F. Supp. 2d 1236 (D. N.M. 2002) (UDV I), aff'd, 389 F.3d 973
(10th Cir. 2004) (en banc); see Pis. i Ex. 20 (copy of the UDV
preliminary injunction). The Supreme Court upheld the
preliminary injunction. Gonzales v. 0 Centro Espfrita
Beneficente União do Vegetal, 546 U.S. 418 (2006). As of now,
a final judgment has not been issued in the UDV litigation.
After Goldman's arrest in 1999, plaintiffs decided to
practice their religion in secret, so they stopped keeping
records of the Daime tea supply and of church activities. In
2006, after the Supreme Court's decision in the UDV case,
plaintiffs resumed their record keeping. Plaintiffs brought
this action in September 2008.
XV. Health Effects of Daime Tea
The parties dispute the extent of the danger posed by the
consumption of Daime tea during church ceremonies. There is no
question that Diame tea could be dangerous if used improperly.
Almost any substance can be toxic under the right conditions.
The Santo Daime church brews Daime tea in Brazil during art
elaborate religious ritual. Men gather the woody B. caapi vine
and pound it for hours with mallets, while women collect and
clean the P. viridis leaves. The shredded vine is boiled for
many hours, constantly tended. P. viridis leaves are not added
until boiling is nearly complete because the DMT dissolves
The resulting tea is a reddish brown liquid, with a very
unpleasant bitter taste. Church members usually drink between
45 to 150 milliliters of Daime tea during ceremonies, enough to
provide 15-60 milligrams of DMT, a small, barely effective
amount. See Gerule Am. Statement at 8.
Users may experience anxiety and discomfort soon after
drinking Daime tea. In perhaps a third of users, Daime tea
initially causes nausea and vomiting. It less frequently
causes diarrhea. Church members view these ostensibly
unpleasant effects as a beneficial purging or cleansing. Daime
tea may also cause mild increases in heart rate (5 to 15 beats
per minute) and blood pressure.
Daime tea's psychoactive effects begin about 20 to 30
minutes after ingestion, and last 1 to 2 hours. The body
eliminates DMT in about 3 to 4 hours.
As Daime tea takes effect, members may sit quietly with
eyes half-closed. Users describe the experience as dream-like.
They may experiènce visual effects, although not true
hallucinations (i.e., the person is aware that the effect is
not real) i alterations in the perception of time and space; and
intense emotions, including euphoria. Users report profound
insights into their personal problems.
Goldman states that in all his years with CHLQ, he has not
observed anyone who suffered serious physical or mental harm
caused by Daime tea. No apparent ill effects were found in
Brazilians who had regularly consumed hoasca during religious
services for more than thirty years. Defs. i Ex. 1169 at 40.
Several of plaintiffs' experts suggest that Daime tea or hoasca
may actually benefit church members mental and physical
health, although these expe~ts caution that larger and more
rigorous scientific studies are necessary to confirm possible
Defendants have not presented evidence that Daime tea is
addictive or causes long-term health problems. Defendants i
experts cite studies of LSD, pure DMT, or other powerful
hallucinogens. See. e.g., Frankenheim Statement at 8, 11;
Tella Statement at 6 (comparing the DMT in ayahuasca to pure
I find studies of LSD and pure injected DMT are
only marginally relevant in evaluating the risks of consuming
Daime tea in a religious ceremony. LSD is one of the most
potent and powerful hallucinogenic drugs known, whose effects
may last 8 to 12 hours. When DMT is inj ected, smoked, or
inhaled, it is far more powerful, although shorter-acting, than
DMT consumed in Daime tea. One researcher has found that the
harmala alkaloids in hoasca and Daime tea appear to render DMT
"far less potent." Defs.' Ex. 1122 at 176.
In 2006, plaintiffs commissioned a study of CHLQ members
by Dr. John H. Halpern,. a psychiatrist. Dr. Halpern has
written extensively on use and abuse of hallucinogenic drugs,
including a paper on the health of members of the Native
American Church who consume peyote as a sacrament. See Defs. '
Ex. 1154 (John H. Halpern, et al., Psychological and cognitive
effects of long-term peyote use among Natiye Americans (2005)).
Dr. Halpern's peer-reviewed report on CHLQ, published in August
2008, is apparently the only such study of Santo Daime church
members in the United States. ~ Defs.' Ex. 1103 (John H.
Halpern, et al., Evidence of health and safety in American
members of a religion who use a hallucinogenic sacrament).
Although Dr. Halpern frankly acknowledges the study's
limitations, I find the stndy is relevant and useful in
evaluating the health effects of Daime tea on plaintiffs.
Dr. Halpern interviewed 32 of CHLQ' s 40 active members.
The interviewees i experience ranged from 20 to 1300 Daime tea
ceremonies. Dr. Halpern found that the church members
interviewed generally were mentally healthy and appeared to
have benefitted from their participation in CHLQ services.
Five members who reported past alcohol dependence, and one
who reported past alcohol abuse, attributed their recovery and
continued abstinence from alcohol to attending CHLQ services.
This is in accord with a research paper on members of Santo
Daime and UDV, which noted that "dedicated members of these
modern religions typically lose their interest in the habitual
use of alcohol, cocaine, and other addictive substances."
Defs.' Ex. 1118, at 245 (J. C. Callaway, et al.,
Pharmcokinetics of Hoasca alkaloids in healthy humans)) .
About 60% of CHLQ members interviewed reported histories
of psychiatric conditions. Dr. Halpern stated that the study
suggests that participation in the Santo Daime church "is not
proving harmful even to those members most susceptible to
mental health problems." Defs.' Ex. 1103, at 20. Dr. Halpern
cites a double blind study of Brazilian Santo Daime members
which noted acute amelioration of anxiety and panic in church
ceremonies. Id. at 16.
Defendants i experts raise the possibility that Daime tea
could cause acute or long-term psychosis. See Frankenheim
Statement at 11. However, defendants rely more on speculation
than empirical evidence to support this assertion. For
example, one author, Robert Gable, systematically reviewed the
available scientific literature on risks of ingesting hoasca
and Daime tea. Defs. i Ex. 1089 (Robert Gable, Risk assessment
of ritual use of oral dimethyltryptamine (DMT) and harmala
alkaloids (2007)). Gable cited a study of UDV members in
Brazil which found that out of an estimated 25,000 servings of
hoasca, there were between 13 and 24 cases in which hoasca may
have contributed to a psychotic incident. Gable concluded that
the "reported UDV rate of psychotic episodes under 1% suggests
that the use of hoasca is not a triggering event for sustained
psychosis. Many or most of the UDV psychotic episodes were
transient in nature and resolved spontaneously. n Id. at 30.
Defendants' expert Alexander Walker argues that Gable minimizes
the risk of psychosis because the cited study covered 25,000
uses of hoasca, not 25,000 different persons using hoasca.
Even so, the study still indicates only a small risk that Daime
tea will cause a transient psychotic episode i and an even
smaller risk that Daime tea will cause long-term psychosis.
Plaintiffs' expert George Gerding states that set (i. e.
the drug user's purpose and expectations), and setting are
important to determining how a drug will affect a person. I
find that the set and setting fostered by CHLQ reduce the
potential danger posed by Daime tea. Plaintiffs i screening and
orientation process attempts to ensure that when applicants
first drink Daime tea during a church service, they do so with
the proper frame of mind.
The Santo Daime church forbids proselytizing. Potential
new members usually learn about CHLQ through word of mouth from
friends or relatives. Applicants generally must have a sponsor
who is already a church member. If the sponsor's answers to
questions about the applicant are acceptable, the applicant is
. given reading material about the Santo Daime religion. The
applicant is then screened and receives an orientation.
Goldman describes Daime tea as an arduous spiritual path
that is not suitable for most people. In its scréening
process, CHLQ attempts to select only those who are serious
about the Santo Daime religion, and to turn away would-be
recreational users or thrill-seekers. CHLQ demands a serious
commitment of time and energy from members, requiring
attendance three or four times per month at services lasting
several hours and sometimes almost all night. Members are
expected to learn some Portuguese so that they can understand
the hyms sung at most services.
Plaintiffs also attempt to screen persons who might be too
weak physically, or too unstable mentally, to drink Daime tea
safely. Plaintiffs 'screening process is not perfect, but
their track record indicates it has worked well enough. An
applicant occasionally may be allowed to participate in a CHLQ
work within a day of the initial interview. However, the
orientation is usually a longer process.
Plaintiffs give applicants detailed medical questionnaires
to determine whether an applicant has a medical condition or is
taking drugs, such as antidepressants, that might conflict with
drinking Oaime tea. CHLQ has prepared a seven-page list of
drugs that might cause problems in combination with Daime tea.
CHLQ periodically updates the list. CHLQ also advises members
to avoid certain foods, such aged cheese, and drink, such as
red wine, before drinking Daime tea.
Plaintiffs ask applicants about psychiatric histories,
criminal records, and drug and alcohol abuse. Goldman
testified that if an applicant has a history of psychiatric
problems, plaintiffs try to determine whether person might
benefit from the Daime tea. If a screener determines that an
applicant needs the type of attention or environment that the
church cannot provide, the screener will turn the applicant
away no matter how enthusiastic the applicant is.
Defendants criticize plaintiffs for not conducting a more
formal interviewing process. I note that the Native American
Church does not request medical information before allowing new
applicants to participate in services, even though the peyote
consumed during NAC religious ceremonies contains mescaline, a
hallucinogen comparable in strength to the DMT in Daime tea.
The application form for membership in the Native American
Church seeks only name, address, phone number, tribe, and
tribal enrollment. Pis.' Ex. 40.
Turning to setting, CHLQ permits plaintiffs to drink Daime
tea only in a controlled and supportive religious ceremony.
Access to the Daime tea is limited to three or four church
leaders. The spiritual leader who conducts the service
dispenses Daime tea individually to each worshiper.
Consumption of Daime tea outside of the church is a serious
During services, men and women sit separately. Members
generally are required wear modest white clothing. They are
forbidden to leave the ceremony once the service begins.
The church designates experienced church members as
"guardians" to monitor the congregation during services and
tend to members, particular new ones, who are suffering from
nausea, diarrhea, or other discomforts. The spiritual leader
conducting the ceremony circulates among the congregation to
counsel those who appear anxious or upset. Three church
members are physicians and two are registered nurses, so a
person with medical training is often present during services.
On rare occasions, plaintiffs have permitted children to
drink Daime tea, but only a token or symbolic amount. There is
no evidence that the church allows children to drink enough
Daime tea to experience psychoactive effects. Given the tea's
repulsive and nauseating taste, it seems unlikely that a child
would want more than a sip.
Defendants also raise the possibility that a fetus may be
harmed if a pregnant woman ingests Daime tea. Defendants cite
no evidence that pregnant CHLQ members have consumed Daime tea,
or that any harm has occurred. I note that in the Brazilian
studies UDV church, pregnant women routinely drink hoasca, and
have not reported harm. See, e.g., Defts.' Ex. 1088 at 11
(Dennis J. McKenna, et al., The Scientific investigation of
Ayhuasca: A Review of Past and Current Research) ("most n women
drink hoasca "throughout pregnancy and lactation").
Defendants argue that consuming Daime tea could be fatal.
However, defendants have not presented evidence of that Daime
tea or hoasca has caused any deaths, although there
theoretically is a toxic dose. Plaintiffs i experts state that
the risk of a toxic overdose is minimized by the emetic effect
of Daime tea.
In Brazil, t~ousands of people consume hoasca or Daime tea
several times each month. The government of Brazil would not
allow the UDV and Santo Daime churches to operate if there was
evidence that Daime tea or hoasca was killing church members.
One researcher recently noted that, to his knowledge, "there
have been no deaths caused by hoasca or any other traditional .
ayahuasca brews." Defs.' Ex. 1089 at 29.
Defendants submit evidence regarding two deaths, neither
of which had anything to do with Daime tea or hoasca. One
death reportedly occurred after the victim ingested an unknown
potion that contained a very powerful drug, 5-methoxy-N,N-
dimethyltryptamine, which is not an active component of Daime
tea. The authors of the report admitted that "the composition,
dosage, and precise dosing timeframe are unknown.". Pls.' Ex.
46 at 407. . Antihistamine was also found in the victim's
system, which could have contributed to the death by
suppressing the vomiting reflex.
The other death cited by defendants is also irrelevant.
The autopsy report concluded that the victim, a 71-year-old
woman, had died from "acute nicotine intoxication" after being
gi ven repeated doses of a brew containing tobacco leaves.
Defendants raise other possible dangers, based largely on
extrapolation from studies of òther drugs and on speculation.
For example, defendants assert that Daime tea could cause
"central serotonin syndrome" if a person is also taking an
antidepressant such as Prozac. Defendants have no evidence
that drinking Daime tea or hoasca has caused this syndrome. In
any event, Prozac and similar drugs are on plaintiffs i list of
drugs that should be taken cautiously, if at all, with Daime
Defendants raise the possibility that plaintiffs will
allow the diversion of Daime tea to non-church members,
including recreational users. Defendants cite the testimony of
DEA Deputy Directory Denise Curry, who states that the amount
of Daime tea confiscated from Goldman in 1999 indicated that
CHLQ possessed more tea than needed for its members.
However, defendants presented no evidence that plaintiffs have
ever allowed Daime tea to be used without the church is
authorization. Because plaintiffs believe that Daime tea is a
sacrament, use of Daime tea outside of the church violates
Nor have defendants presented evidence of a viable market
for Daime tea. DMT itself is not a common drug of abuse.
Except when plaintiffs practiced their religion in secret
from 1999 to 2006, they have kept detailed perpetual logs
tracking the supply of Daime tea. Only three or four leaders
of each church have access to the supply of Daime tea.
CONCLUSIONS OP LAW
I. The Religious Preedom Restoration Act
The Religious Freedom Restoration Act (RFRA) prohibits the
federal government from nsubstantially burden(ingl a person's
exercise of relig!on even if the burden results from a rule of
general applicability." 42 U.S.C. § 2000bb-l(a). RFRA allows
the federal government to n substant ially burden a person IS
exercise of religion only if it demonstrates that application
of the burden to the person (1) is in furtherance of a
compelling governmental interest; and (2) is the least
restrictive means of furthering that compelling governmental
interest. n ~ § 2000bb-l (b) Case 1 :08-cv-03095-PA Document 160
The Ninth Circuit recently explained that II (tlo establish
a prima facie RFRA claim, a plaintiff must present evidence
sufficient to allow a trier of fact rationally to find the
existence of two elements. First, the activities the plaintiff
claims are burdened by the government action must be an
i exercise of religion.' Second, the government action must
i substantially burden i the plaintiff i s exercise of religion."
Navajo Nation v. U.S. Forest Serv., 535 F.3d 1058, 1068 (9th
Cir. 2008) (en banc) (quoting 42 U.S.C. § 2000bb-1(a)),
petition for cert. filed, 77 U.S.L.W. 3412 (Jan. 5, 2009) (No.
If a plaintiff meets the initial burden, the burden then
shifts to the government to prove "that the challenged
government action is in furtherance of a 'compelling
governmental interest i and is implemented by i the least
restrictive means. '" ~ (quoting 42 U. S.C. § 2000bb-l (b) ) .
If the government cannot meet its burden under this strict
scrutiny test, "the court must find a RFRA violation.
II. Plaintiffs Have Met Their Burden of Proof
Plaintiffs have established their prima facie claim by
more than a preponderance of the evidence. Plaintiffs have
established that they are sincere in their religious beliefs,
and that the ceremonial use of the Daime tea is essential to
It is obvious that prohibiting the use of Daime tea would
substantially burden the exercise of plaintiffs i religion. To
paraphrase the California Supreme Court's observation about the
role of peyote in the Native American Church, the ceremonial
use of Daime tea is "the sine qua non of (plaintiffs' i faith.
It is the sole means by which (plaintiffs) are able to
experience their religion; without (Daime teal (plaintiffsl
cannot practice their faith. n People v. Woody, 61 Cal. 2d 716,
725, 40 Cal. Rptr. 69, 394 P.2d 813, 820 (1964).
In the UDV litigation, at least at the preliminary
injunction hearing, the government conceded that the UDV
plaintiffs had made a prima facie claim under RFRA. Here¡
however, defendants challenge plaintiffs' sincerity, citing
plaintiffs' decision to conduct ceremonies in secret until the
Supreme Court ruling in favor of the UDV plaintiffs.
Plaintiffs' secrecy does not show a lack of sincerity.
Instead, it shows that plaintiffs remained committed to
practicing their religion despite the threat of criminal
prosecution and loss of professional status.
IIX. Defendants Have Not Met Their Burden
A. Compelling Interest
The government asserts that it has shown compelling
interests in prohibiting the Daime tea: protecting the health
of plaintiffs and others who drink Daime tea; and preventing
Daime tea from being diverted to recreational users.
Defendants also assert an interest protecting the integrity of
the DEA i S process for regulating controlled substances.
I conclude that the government has failed to show that
these interests justify prohibiting Daime tea outright. These
interests will addressed through the terms of the injunction I
will issue governing plaintiffs' use of Daime tea.
Generally speaking, the government may be said to have a
compelling interest in regulating any drug listed on Schedule I
of the Controlled Substances Act. Of course Daime tea could be
dangerous if misused. However, RFRA requires a more specific
inquiry into the government's compelling interest. See YJ,
546 U. S. at 430-31. Here, the evidence shows that Daime tea is
consumed in a ritual setting by church members who have been
screened for physical or mental problems, and for potential
The government argues that Daime tea is inherently unsafe
because it is not, produced in an antiseptic laboratory with
synthetic ingredients. The government correctly points out
that Daime tea varies in strength. Plaintiffs do not contend
that Daime tea is a uniform product, but there is no evidence
that natural variations in the tea have caused problems. This
concern is easily addressed by allowing the DEA to test the
Daime tea periodically.
The government cites the potential danger to children.
There is no evidence that children were harmed when given token
amounts of Daime tea. When Daime tea is not being dispensed at
church services, it is kept under lock and key.
The government raises the specter of danger to pregnant
women or to fetuses. There is no evidence that any such harm
has occurred in Oregon or elsewhere.
The government also asserts a compelling interest in
preventing diversion to recreational users. The government has
not presented evidence that there is a significant market for
Daime tea. The government also has not presented evidence that
plaintiffs have allowed the diversion of a single drop of Daime
tea. This is an issue best addressed through reasonable
guidelines for storing and inventorying plaintiffs i supply of
The government argues that it has a compelling interest in
maintaining the integrity of the DEAl s administrative process
for approving religious exemptions to the Controlled Substances
Act. The Supreme Court rejected this argument in UDV III,
stating RFR "piainly contemplates that courts would recognize
exceptions to how the law works. n 546 U. S. at 434 (original
B. Prohibition Is Not the Least Restrictive Means
The government has failed to show that outright
prohibition of the Daime tea is the least restrictive means of
furthering its interests. Here, the opinions issued by the
trial and appellate courts in the UDV litigation are
persuasive. The district court, after holding extensive
hearings, concluded that the evidence on health risks caused by
drinking hoasca were "in equipoise, n meaning that the
government had failed to carry its burden under RFRA. Many of
the same experts for the government here also testified in the
UDV litigation. Research completed since the district court's
decision in 2002, including Dr. Halpern's study of thèse
plaintiffs, further undermines the government's arguments for
complete prohibition. I also find it persuasive that the state
of Oregon considers CHLQ i S use of the Daime tea in religious
ceremonies to be a sacramental use that is not subject to
The Native American Church's use of peyote in religious
ceremonies is instructive on the feasibility of allowing
plaintiffs to continue the religious use of Daime tea. The NAC
has about 300,000 members. After an applicant completes a
simple application form, he or she may participate in
ceremonies involving the consumption of peyote. There is no
evidence that the NAC i s distribution and use of peyote have
resulted in any significant diversion to recreational users, or
serious health effects to NAC members.
Here, the Santo Daime church in Oregon has fewer than 100
members. The DEA, which monitors the NAC i S use of peyote,
should be capable of shouldering the administrative burden of
monitoring the importation and distribution of Daime tea in
Oregon. A permanent injunction wiii be entered promptly
consistent with this Findings of Fact and Conclusions of Law.
I need not address plaintiffs i claim under the Equal
Protection Clause of the Fifth Amendment.
Plaintiffs are entitled to relief under RFRA. Judgment
will be entered for plaintiffs in accordance with this opinion.
IT is SO ORDERED.
DATED this 18th day of March, 2009.
Owen Panner, U.S. District Judge