Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Michigan Grandmother Wins Environmental Prize

Richard C. Paddock San Francisco Correspondent
Link to full article below

SAN FRANCISCO (April 19) -- A Michigan grandmother who has fought pollution by factory livestock farms will be awarded the coveted Goldman Environmental Prize here tonight, along with activists from five other regions of the world.

The prize, which comes with an award of $150,000, is the world's largest prize for grass-roots environmental activists. It was established 21 years ago by San Francisco philanthropist Richard N. Goldman and his late wife, Rhoda.

One recipient is chosen from each of six continental regions: North America, Central and South America, Africa, Europe, Asia, and islands and island nations.

Tom Dusenbery, Goldman Environmental Foundation/AP

Lynn Henning, a Michigan farmer, samples water in December. Henning was due to receive the prestigious Goldman Environmental Prize Monday in San Francisco.

"Goldman Prize recipients are proof that ordinary people are capable of doing truly extraordinary things," Goldman said in a statement issued by the Goldman Environmental Foundation. "Although the prize winners represent a wide variety of nations and work on very different issues, they have much in common. All have shown conviction, commitment and courage."

Lynn Henning will represent North America at the gala ceremony. For a decade, the 52-year-old family farmer has battled with large factory livestock farms over the pollution caused by their operations in rural Michigan.

The farms are known as "concentrated animal feeding operations." The largest raise millions of animals in enclosed spaces and produce as much waste as medium-sized cities. Unlike cities, however, they are not required to treat the waste, which includes feces, urine, pesticides, hormones, carcass parts and E. coli bacteria.

The waste is collected in large vats or open pits and then periodically sprayed on fields as "fertilizer," polluting groundwater and creating toxic fumes. Some farmers are paid to spray the waste on their own farms.

These livestock farms have recently been identified as among the largest contributors to greenhouse gas emissions, the Goldman Environmental Foundation said.

Henning and her husband farm 300 acres of corn and soybeans in Lenawee County within 10 miles of a dozen concentrated animal-feeding operations. Henning's parents-in-law, who live close to one factory livestock farm, have both been diagnosed with poisoning from hydrogen sulfide, one of the chemicals produced by these farming methods.

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