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Thursday, February 14, 2008

A battle won for Europe-France to ban GM maize and more

France suspends GM maize, citing new scientific evidence

14 January 2008

French President Nicolas Sarkozy announced on 11 January 2008 that his country would invoke an EU safeguard clause enabling it to suspend the marketing and growth on its territory of a GM crop that has EU-wide authorisation.

The crop in question is a variety of maize, MON 810, produced by the US biotech giant Monsanto. The strain contains a gene allowing the maize to defend itself against the European corn borerexternal which regularly destroys maize harvests all over Europe. MON 810 has so far been the only genetically modified crop to have market authorisation in France, one of Europe's largest maize growers.

The decision came after France's 'Provisional High Authority on GM Organisms' presented, on 9 January 2008, the conclusions of its study on the effect of the MON 810 crop on health and the environment. The committee, composed of 15 scientific experts, announced that it had found "new scientific facts relating to a negative impact on flora and fauna". However, not all its members signed the final declaration, arguing that they did not have enough time to conduct the study.

These "new scientific facts" include cross-pollination of GM and non-GM fields at local level and negative effects on insects, a species of earthworm and micro-organisms.

Under EU law, the Commission has 60 days to decide on the validity of the new scientific evidence discovered by the French committee on GMOs. If the Commission does not consider the evidence produced to be valid, it can force France to lift its ban, unless a qualified majority against such a decision is reached in the Council of Ministers.

Austria, Germany and Poland have previously invoked the safeguard clause without success, as the Commission has never substantiated their applications. Moreover, EU environment ministers have repeatedly failed to reach a qualified majority for or against the Commission's proposals to lift the national bans.

All the commissioners are set to debate GMOs in early February 2008 to clarify the EU executive's policy stance on the issue. source

My comment: Well, Monsanto, sorry :) Seriously, that's lovely, especially if the evidences are sound. Which I hope, of course. Though, it's kind of hypocritical of me to want to see the science down, but what I really want is food and crops that are safe for everyone and everything. On US soil, Monsanto can do whatever it wants, but on EU soil, it should behave.

The cost of reducing US greenhouse gas emissions

16 January 2008

The US needs "strong, coordinated, economy-wide action" in the form of a comprehensive abatement programme to prevent a sharp increase in greenhouse gas emissions (GHGs), a recent study by McKinsey suggests.

Annual GHG emissions in the US are projected to rise from 7.2 gigatons in 2005 to 9.7 gigatons in 2030 – an increase of 35% - according to a US government analysis cited by McKinsey. Moreover, growth in emissions would be accompanied by a gradual decrease in the absorption of carbon by US forests and agricultural land.

Continued expansion of the US economy, rapid growth in the buildings-and-appliances and transportation sectors and increased use of carbon-based power for electricity generation are seen as the main drivers of projected emissions growth, according to McKinsey.

In 2030, this would lead to a situation whereby the US exceeds the GHG emissions reduction targets contained in the economy-wide climate change bills currently before Congress by up to 5.2 gigatons, the study predicts.

The US could reduce CO2 emissions by up to 4.5 gigatons by 2030 by using a comprehensive abatement programme and high-potential emerging technologies, at a marginal cost of less than €50 per ton, while maintaining comparable levels of consumer utility, the study points out. source

My comment: The reason why I post this here is that I realise I have many US readers. I hope this will stimulate them to find a way they could contribute to the decreasing of the emissions. There are so many ways, just find the best fitting you. You can find more on this in the article.

Six areas selected for 'lead market' initiative

Published: Thursday 10 January 2008

eHealth, protective textiles, sustainable construction, recycling, bio-based products and renewable energy: These are the six areas with high growth and innovation potential identified by the Commission for its lead market initiative.

Lead marketsexternal are high-growth potential markets for research and innovation-rich goods and services. The concept was introduced into EU terminology by the 'Aho report' on Creating an innovative EuropePdf external (January 2006).

The report was the outcome of a small expert group chaired by the former Finnish prime minister, Esko Aho, and appointed by the October 2005 Hampton Court European Council to consider what new efforts are needed in the field of research and innovation to achieve the Lisbon goals.

Lead market initiatives will focus on areas where public authorities can facilitate industry-led innovation by creating favourable legal and regulatory frameworks, setting standards, improving access to risk capital, providing support for research and acting as a launch customer. source

My comment: No comment, really! I think the areas are well chosen. But I must admit I'm very upset by this article (not the same as the one above-this one is again on GM food) which I will comment separately probably. The point is, EC tries incessantly to please US on GM and cloned food and that breaks my heart. Why? Why can't we follow our own path? Ok, more one that later, when my sadness has abated and I'm able to argument myself.

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