Europe against GMO crops! Please, sign the Avaaz petition! I already did.
It's us who decide, not Monsanto!!!

Monday, January 21, 2008

(Not so) green Europe-the smell of money

EU member states call for increased industrial use of biomass

Germany, Austria, Belgium, Finland, France and Luxembourg are calling for a new EU action plan to promote the use of biomass for the chemicals, construction and packaging industries, which are concerned that excessive biofuels production may undermine their raw materials base.

In a memorandum presented to agriculture ministers on 17 December, the group of member states calls for a new EU action plan to "promote the material and industrial recovery of renewable resources in the EU".

Manufacturers of chemicals as well as paper and packaging products in particular have expressed concerns that the EU's drive to increase the use of bio-energy for heating and transport may lead to a shortage of 'renewable' raw materials commonly used by these industries.

While natural fats and vegetable oils, for example, are burnt for energy, they are also used to make soaps, paints, cosmetics and pharmaceuticals. "As such, we are unable to compete for these limited raw materials due to the massive distortion in competition created by legislation", argued the European oleochemical industry in February 2005 press statement.

In their memorandum, the group of member states propose that threats to these industries from increased use of biofuels should be corrected "by setting development targets.

The new plan should supplement existing EU action plans on biomass and biofuels for energy use, according to the memorandum

Specific measures proposed in the memorandum include a change in state aid rules and tax breaks to encourage and reward the use of raw materials that have a "positive link with climate policy". Additional "guidance and support measures" for farmers who produce "non-food crops" are also proposed, as well as new standards and eco-labels.

"In the agricultural sector, this European action plan will of course have to be based on the principle that the cultivation of crops for the purpose of producing materials and industrial raw materials must comply with agricultural good practices that protect the soil, water, air and biodiversity", the memorandum notes.

Sustainability issues and the use of genetically modified organsims (GMOs) during agricultural production of industry raw materials were highlighted in July, when the Commission approved the cultivation by chemical giant BASF of a special inedible potato used for industrial starch production.

Meanwhile, the climate change benefits of biomass were put into question by a recent EU-funded studyexternal , which showed that "between 50% and 70% of carbon pollution in winter comes from sources such as wood fires in homes and buildings and the burning of agricultural and garden waste". source

My comment: As much as I hate to say it, this plan smells of money. It's great, of course, to involve the industry into the use of bio-mass and quite correct. When they see there is profit in eco-friendly materials, they'll research for them also.

But I don't like one of the trends. We can't get into the mass-production of bio-mass on the place of new, better technology, nor to produce GMo crops on our soil. Edible or not, if the potato is used to feed the cattle, it gets into our food chain and we eat it. Thus, it's not SAFE!

EU eyes common energy market with Mediterranean

Ministers from Europe, North Africa and the Middle East agreed, on 17 December, to a six-year Action Plan which ultimately aims to create "a common Euro-Mediterranean energy market" based on free competition and reciprocal access to energy markets.

Meeting for the 5th Euro-Mediterranean Ministerial Conference on Energy in Cyprus, the 37 countries pledged to gradually harmonise their energy legislation and policies, and improve gas and electricity interconnections among themselves. The joint declaration also foresees the integration, in the longer term, of other countries, including Libya and sub-Saharan nations, into the Euro-Mediterranean energy market.

Ministers further agreed to work together to diversify energy sources, including through the development of low-carbon sources and renewables, and support the deployment of energy-efficient technologies.

As part of the Action Plan, the EU has said it will spend more than €3.2 billion on infrastructure projects of common interest over the next four years. Some notable projects include the establishment of a Maghreb-Europe pipeline and of a trans-Saharan pipeline that would allow Europe to import Nigerian gas via Algeria. Setting up electricity interconnections between Algeria, Tunisia, Morocco, Turkey and their EU neighbours Spain, Italy and Greece will also be a key focus.source

My comment: Again, the smell of money! We want to be eco-nation and still make contracts for more oil and gas with Africa. Hmmm, is this a controversy or we can phrase Ayn Rand sentence for EU-In EU there are no controversies if you see one-check the flow of the money! Oh, wait, that goes for the whole world!

Agriculture ministers keep pesticides deal under wraps

The Agriculture Council has reached a political agreement on controversial new EU rules governing pesticide use. But the content of the agreement is being kept from the public until January, fuelling speculation that the Portuguese EU Presidency is trying to 'bury' the file before the holidays.

Under the agreement reached on 17 December, EU agriculture ministers agreed that national authorities should be allowed to designate 'appropriately-sized' buffer zones around bodies of water where pesticide use is prohibited./yeah, 30 cm is very appropriate distance, don't you think?/

Ministers also voted in favour of a ban on aerial pesticide spraying, with certain derogations for Bulgaria and Romania, where geological and climatic conditions apparently leave few alternatives to aerial spraying. /uh, whaaat? what conditions?/

But the Council did not take on board a number of stricter measures to restrict pesticide use as advocated by the Parliament during its first reading vote on 23 October, ENDS Europe reported.

In particular, ministers rejected EP calls for national reduction targets to halve the use of high risk and highly toxic pesticide by 2013, according to one stakeholder group close to the discussions. source

My comment: Well, yeah, no problems. Words are BIG enough, no need of actions...What a shame to my beloved EU! Of course we have to take into account all the details, but I fail to see what fundamental difference that new legislation does. It's simply useless!

EU car emissions plan faces difficulties

Just a day before the Commission is due to adopt proposals to regulate CO2 emissions from cars, key figures are still missing on how cuts should be divided among manufacturers of small and large vehicles and on the levels of penalty that should be imposed.

The timing of the proposals was intended to confirm the EU's leading role in the fight against climate change, following a two-week UN climate conference in Bali (EurActiv 17/12/07), but severe divisions between member states as well as between Commissioners Günter Verheugen, in charge of enterprise and industry, and Stavros Dimas, responsible for the environment, mean the plan could be put off until the new year.

According to Chris Davies, the British Liberal MEP, an internal draft of the Commission's proposal still states only that the size of the reductions to be achieved by each manufacturer should be calculated using a formula "based on the equation AxB+C, where B is the mass of each car, while A and C have 'still to be determined'". /yeah!/

Nevertheless, in an attempt to ensure that individual carmakers are not singled out, the Commission intends to allow manufacturers to team up in order to share out the burden of meeting their goals. This would mean, for example, that BMW, whose average fleet emissions in 2006 still stood at over 180g/km, could team up with France's Peugeot-Citroën, whose fleet emits just 142g/km, in order to submit an average figure for the complete range of vehicles they produce. However, it would be up to manufacturers to negotiate such "pool" arrangements.

The Commission is also expected to propose a system where fines for failing to meet the emission targets are phased in over three years.

But the size of these penalties is also proving to be a source of controversy, with fees yet undecided.

The Portuguese Presidency is expected to propose postponing the inclusion of aviation in the EU's emissions trading scheme until 2012 for intra-EU flights, while intercontinental flights would stay out of the scheme until as late as 2013. "Given the warnings from scientists, this is completely unacceptable since we should start earlier in order to really limit greenhouse gas emissions by 2015," said Liese (see LinksDossier on aviation and ETS). source

My comment: Simply no comment! I know Germany is big power in the EU, but that can't justify what they're doing on this issue! They are ruining everything. You can comply with the companies, you must set the conditions and let them work out the rest. Especially when you're not asking for the impossible. The way they act now, they're setting very bad example for future tough decisions.

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