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Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Climate absurds in EU, 03, 2010

Today:
  1. REACH list of dangerous chemicals doubled
  2. Supermarkets urged to lead debate on nanotech in foods
  3. EU rules out binding green criteria for biomass
  4. EU lawmakers call for stricter green rulebook
Quote of the day:But anyway, it's funny to expect from retailers to lead the fight for innovation. What do they mean by that? To happen like in the USA - all the products on the shelves to be GMO so that nobody has a choice. Is this what the EU wants? As we saw, Barroso didn't shy away from approving new GMOs on the moment he was properly elected. It is interesting how the new commissioner made the safety assessment so quickly.

REACH list of dangerous chemicals doubled

Fri, 2010-01-15 08:00

The European Chemicals Agency (ECHA) has added 14 substances to the list of "very high concern" chemicals to undergo special health and safety scrutiny under the bloc's chemical regulation REACH.

The addition brings the number of substances under scrutiny to 29.

The identification of a substance of very high concern and its inclusion on the list is the first step in the new EU authorisation procedure. The chemicals agency underlines that companies may have immediate legal obligations following the inclusion of the substances on the list.

These obligations are linked to the listed substances and products that contain them, and mainly concern the duty of suppliers, producers and importers to provide their customers and consumers with information, notify the ECHA or provide safety data.

The current list of 29 substances is still a long way away from the 270-odd substances identified for priority substitution on a 'REACH SIN List', drafted jointly by public interest groups and NGOs.

However, an industry representative told EurActiv that he expects the list to grow to some 150 substances by the end of 2010 as the authorities "seek to find a balance somewhere between the first official list and the list put forward by NGOs".

Further regulatory headaches may lie ahead for a number of chemical companies, as new Environment Commissioner-designate Janez Potočnik said during his hearing in the European Parliament this week (13 January) that "it is becoming obvious that REACH is not enough" to cover nanomaterials, suggesting that the EU would take action to remedy regulatory gaps on the matter. source

My comment: Yay! And now we're waiting and waiting, for REACH to include all the dangerous substances and finally someone manages to include nanomaterials into some regulation. Because there are more and more studies proving that commercially used nanoparticles are toxic to human body. It will be very unwise to continue to use them pretending everything is ok. It's not ok. Technology is advancing, that's cool and I love it. But with new technologies come new responsibilities. We cannot hide from that. Even if it's expensive. Human health and life should be above all.

Supermarkets urged to lead debate on nanotech in foods

Wed, 2010-01-20 08:45

Big-name retailers like Tesco and Carrefour should help prepare consumers for innovations in the food sector, according to the top civil servant in the EU executive's directorate for health and consumer protection.

Robert Madelin, director-general of the European Commission's DG Sanco, told a meeting of retailers that supermarkets needed to be upfront in explaining the risks and benefits of advances such as nanotechnology.

Pointing to the genetically-modified (GM) food fiasco of the 1990s, he said supermarkets had "followed" the crowd rather than taking the lead.

"On GM, they [retailers] followed their customers and took products off the shelves. On other technologies, they could lead and prepare the debate. They have a role in spurring innovation," he told a meeting of the European Retail Round Table in Brussels on Monday (18 January).

Madelin said powerful retailers should try to take a long-term view and ask themselves what their role is in the context of the EU 2020 strategy.

He said it would be futile to encourage innovation in Europe unless retailers were playing their part in engaging with the public. There would, he suggested, be no point in developing new products if the market is closed to selling them.

"If you look at the nano debate, after three years of encouraging retail to be more upfront, the industry is still keeping their secrets," he said.

The forthcoming Food Supply Chain Forum – which will begin work by Easter – could look at the role of retail in innovation, Madelin revealed.

However, senior retail industry figures were hesitant to commit themselves to any political agenda, preferring to adopt a neutral stance unless it affects their balance sheets.

Lars Olofsson, CEO of the Carrefour Group, said retailers would not promote any particular technology. He noted that with GM foods, customers were clearly unconvinced that the innovation in question was safe and necessary. Carrefour banned GM ingredients in its own-brand products and other produces followed.

Monique Goyens, director-general of BEUC, the EU consumer group, said it was important not to promote "innovation for the sake of innovation," adding that technological advances must be geared towards societal needs.

She said the public was not science-averse, as evidenced by the fact that consumers snap up new high-tech products every day. The question customers ask themselves with all innovations is what the risks and benefits of a new technology are. This, she said, is the problem with nanotechnology, as more work needs to be done in the area of risk assessment. source

My comment: I didn't know the products in Carrefour are GMO free. That is great. Too bad in Bulgaria we don't have such supermarket. I wish we had, because I would pay more to buy clean products. But anyway, it's funny to expect from retailers to lead the fight for innovation. What do they mean by that? To happen like in the USA - all the products on the shelves to be GMO so that nobody has a choice. Is this what the EU wants? As we saw, Barroso didn't shy away from approving new GMOs on the moment he was properly elected. It is interesting how the new commissioner made the safety assessment so quickly. But even if we believe in the loyalty of the EC , still, isn't it funny watching how the EC try to find accomplices in the crime they try commit against European citizens. I think that the CEO of Carrefour is right. Retailers should sell what people want. If people don't want GMO and want better regulations of nanotechnology then that's what thy have to get! That's it, market economy.

EU rules out binding green criteria for biomass

26 February 2010
The European Commission yesterday (25 February) ruled out binding EU-wide sustainability criteria for biomass, offering member states recommendations for national action instead.

The European Commission said the wide variety of biomass feedstocks make it impossible to devise a harmonised scheme, which would require taking into account their varying potential to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.

It also said that the environmental risks related to domestic biomass production "are currently low" and do not require specific EU rules.

The question has divided the EU executive and member states alike. The Commission's environment department, backed by a group of member states including the UK and the Netherlands, favoured binding sustainability criteria in order to ensure the environmental integrity of biomass energy production.

But the Commission's energy and transport department prevailed, saying no additional environmental safeguards are necessary. This led to criticism that the EU executive was seeking to reduce the European Union's dependence on fossil fuels at any cost.

Nevertheless, the Commission said it would reassess the situation by the end of 2011 and consider introducing mandatory measures to address sustainability problems in the event that land-use change and deforestation issues are not dealt with at international level.

It set out a common methodology for calculating the greenhouse gas performance of different biomass feedstocks, to ensure that their use delivers at least 35% greenhouse gas savings, rising to 50% in 2017 and 60% in 2018 for new installations. However, member states should not impose greenhouse gas performance criteria on waste, which is covered by environmental rules laid down in waste legislation.

The report recommended that biomass should not be sourced from land converted from forest or other areas of high biodiversity or carbon stock. Member states were also urged to retain records of the origin of biomass and communicate these to the Commission for the purposes of monitoring potentially vulnerable areas. source

My comment: Recommended? Recommended!!! Forests are disappearing even now, they will continue to disappear in order to help our idiotic biofuel plan, but they only recommend! I don't understand, why most of the decisions the EC takes recently make me so utterly miserable. I used to be proud of the EU and what it represents and how it is different from other "unions". Not anymore. It seems like the corruption is all around us, it looks like nobody actually cares what the EC is doing and they use the moment to abuse us any way they can! I hope each and every reader of this blog will spend some time to consider how s/he feels about the work of the Commissions. Is this what we voted for? They vote money for CCS and gas interconnections, but the renewables are always last on their list. They vote to ban normal light bulbs, but they do not care for building efficiency. It's like a nightmare. The EU was the last place safe from GMO, and now, they are just letting them on the market. Not because anything changed, but because WTO requested it! That is shame. We have to change it one way or another. I still believe in the EU, but we have to change it! Please, consider it and then let's figure out what we can do about it. And in case you think the EU don't think about forests - oh, they do: EU targets action on forests. They do care about forests IN Europe. Just not for the forests outside it. How noble!

EU lawmakers call for stricter green rulebook

26 February 2010
The European Parliament's environment committee has called on the European Commission to distribute lists of member states that fail to properly implement EU legislation on waste, water and nature protection, arguing that the situation had become "absurd".

It is a "sobering fact" that member states are trying at all costs to avoid implementing the legislation they themselves adopt, she argued.

During an exchange of views with the Commission on the implementation of EU green laws, MEPs on the Parliament's environment committee said they have the right to know who is failing to transpose the various EU laws and suggested that the EU executive should hand out country lists on the matter. Some even suggested establishing an early-warning system to identify those who are not on track.

In a resolution adopted earlier this month, the Parliament called on the Commission to provide the House with more and quicker information on all infringement procedures if requested.

Pia Bucella, director of legal affairs at the Commission's environment directorate-general, said the EU executive is "bound by the existing rules on what we can say and transmit, what access-to-documents is allowing us [...] and we obey the rules".

She also said the Commission tries to issue press releases on the "big infringements" at every stage of the procedure, which gives its allegations in different cases "publicity".

Bucella also said various infringement scoreboards are found in the Commission's annual reports and that the environment department publishes every year its annual statistics on infringements. The latter show how quickly or slowly the EU executive is moving with different infringements.

MEPs also pointed out that late implementation in the member states does not seem to affect the Commission's agenda on reviewing legislation.

For example, while statistics show that a number of countries have done next to nothing to implement the EU's Waste Electrical and Electronic Equipment Directive (WEEE), the Commission has already tabled a recast version.

She said the EU executive had identified four priority areas on which it would improve enforcement. These include lack of transposition, non-respect of European Court of Justice rulings, systemic breaches of EU law, such as tolerating illegal landfills and multiple failures to treat urban waste water, and breaches of infrastructure, such as failure to conduct proper environmental impact assessments.

To bridge the gap between adoption of legislation and its implementation, the Commission has developed "implementation action plans," which should help member states "from day one when the legislation is adopted," Bucella said. The EU executive is also establishing transposition plans with member states to help check how far they have come and where there are gaps to be foreseen.

She acknowledged that the Commission has problems checking that the transposition measures are in line with EU legislation, as the measures are submitted by regions and checking them takes time. source

My comment: Anyone surprised? Not me. And Bulgaria is one of the countries with illegal (or unecological) landfills, so I'm not sure if I want really serious sanctions, but there must be another way. Meaning, there must be a way to make the country to change its attitude, without paying fines. Though fines are fine, so to say. When you make a promise (or sign something), you have to take responsibility to do what you promised. You can't just wave your hands and pretend everything is fine. So, I hope someone will do something, but I doubt. The "crisis" is so convenient for everyone. But out convenience won't change anything. Our life on Earth will still require some serious reconsidering and actions. The more we wait - the worst. And instead of working on the implementation of the directives they already signed, they prefer to think of a new directive! Check out here: "Commission tempers ambitions on EU biowaste law".


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