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

Sunday, October 31, 2010

European patents - the battle continue, 2010

  1. Top researchers fear 'radical shift' in EU policy
  2. Governments want research funding at heart of innovation plan
  3. EU unveils multi-billion research fund to boost economy
  4. EU unveils innovation blueprint
  5. Ministers still deadlocked on EU patent

Quote of the day: Maybe I have wrong understanding of what science is, but "innovation in cultural sector"??? What the fuck is this! Seriously, the guys in the EC are all gone crazy.

Top researchers fear 'radical shift' in EU policy

Published: 09 June 2010
Scientists at Europe's leading research universities have expressed concern over the growing trend towards linking EU funding with pre-defined outcomes. Researchers fear political priorities will curb their scope for creativity and free thinking.
EU Commissioner for Research, Innovation and Science Máire Geoghegan-Quinn has pledged to simplify European funding programmes and proposed asking scientists to meet certain goals in return for European support.
However, in a detailed analysis published this week (7 June), the League of European Research Universities (LERU) offered a mixed response to the European Commission's recent efforts to streamline the Framework Programme for science.
Stijn Delauré, EU policy advisor at the Catholic University of Leuven (KUL), cautioned against "a radical shift towards output-based research funding".
"We fear that the relevant administrative burden would just relocate from the institution's administration to the researchers themselves," he said.
Commissioner Geoghegan-Quinn suggested in an interview with EurActiv last month that some researchers could be given lump sums if they deliver results. However, she also noted that scientists could still be paid even if their research does not work as planned, provided that independent experts adjudge their research to be excellent (EurActiv 08/05/10).
She also suggested using prizes more frequently in order to get around the onerous accounting requirements that come with EU grants. This too met with some resistance from universities as it is not seen as a steady source of ongoing funding.
LERU said it strongly supports many of the proposals put forward in the EU's communication on simplification and called for additional resources to be given to the European Research Council (ERC).
The elite university group backs a "trust-based approach" to funding with less reporting back to Brussels. They urged the EU executive to scrap timesheets which currently require some scientists to account for every hour they spend on a particular project.
There was also concern that "directed, top-down research" linked to grand societal challenges could limit the scope for scientist-led initiatives which are "the key to tackling unknown challenges in the future".
Delauré also urged policymakers to maintain the current balance between academia and business, amid ongoing calls for closer university-industry links. He also stressed the need for scientists to be radical.
"There are serious drawbacks to output-based research, depending on how success is defined. What if a project fails because of the inherently risky nature of science? The absence of a result can be a result. Our fear is that this approach could discourage bold research, leading instead to low-risk research because it's more likely to succeed," Delauré said.
 sourceMy comment: As a scientist, I'm also against a firm goal-oriented funding. IT's hard to know what exactly the outcome of a research will be. It might be what you expect, but it also might not. Usually, people write projects when they have an idea for the first year and/or they know they can account for it. But what happens afterwards is kind of hard to predict. Of course, this doesn't mean lack of discipline, it means that funding a project is a bureaucratic endeavor, but working on such project is not. And those two sides should be well balanced in order for the machine to work well. Otherwise, you either get undisciplined scientists who cannot account for the money they spend, or you have too disciplined scientist who cannot do science because they spend all of their time writing reports. Balance is important. And also is stability. The ever-changing Brussels bureaucracy is not helping researchers. Because most of them don't go to annual courses on "how to report our project". They do their work and eventually report. And when the terms are changing from year to year, and also the requirements and the websites and so on, it gets very hard to keep up with them. And eventually, that leads to bad results. 
And yeah, as for science and business, here the balance is even more fragile. Because science means spending, business means profits, it's clear why everyone wants the business on the table. What is not clear, however, is that science cannot always lead to products. Sometimes you need to invest in fundamental science. Because without it, there won't be real innovations. The process is complicated and that should be remembered.

Governments want research funding at heart of innovation plan

28 May 2010
Research ministers from across Europe have urged Innovation Commissioner Máire Geoghegan-Quinn to make finance a top priority in the EU's forthcoming research and innovation plan.
Ministers gathered in Brussels this week (26 May) to shape the strategy agreed that the combined efforts of the European Investment Bank (EIB) and encouragement for private venture capital funds is fundamental to boosting innovation.
The Council of Ministers wants the research and innovation plan, which the Commission will publish in the autumn, to focus on five major areas: the financial sector, markets, governance, regional priorities and people.
Much of what is proposed is in line with what the Commission has already indicated will feature in the final draft of the plan. The Council and Commission also support refocusing public procurement to support innovative SMEs and developing the market for novel technologies.
In keeping with the Creativity and Innovation Manifesto produced last year as part of the European Year of Creativity and Innovation, the value of "non-technological innovation," including design and innovation in the cultural sector, is stressed.
Separately, the Competitiveness Council called on the Commission to prepare Joint Programming Initiatives (JPIs) on a range of new areas, including water, microbiology, marine science, climate knowledge, urban Europe and the demographic challenge. sourceMy comment: Well, strangely, but I don't get how "the financial sector, markets, governance, regional priorities and people" can be considered Research or Development or how exactly funding the financial sector or the market may lead to innovations and new technology. Maybe I have wrong understanding of what science is, but "innovation in cultural sector"??? What the fuck is this! Seriously, the guys in the EC are all gone crazy. It's very clear what science is and what innovation is - it's the process of accumulation of new knowledge about the Universe. It's something that can be measured. How exactly the culture can lead to new knowledge and/or new technologies for me is a mystery. And all this, while physics and other natural sciences are underfunded and generally ignored by the population. Should all scientists work for corporations? Is this the new ideal of the Commission? If it is, then it is wrong. We need fundamental science, because without it, nothing new will appear, but only variations of the old one. And you cannot compare fundamental science with culture. That's utterly wrong!

EU unveils multi-billion research fund to boost economy

20 July 2010
The EU commissioner for research and innovation, Ireland's Máire Geoghegan-Quinn, announced yesterday (19 July) nearly €6.4 billion of investment in research and development to be spent by the end of 2011.
The package, described as Europe's biggest ever investment drive in the sector, aims to increase European competitiveness and help tackle EU priorities such as climate change, energy, food security, health and the ageing population.
"Investment in research and innovation is the only smart and lasting way out of crisis and towards sustainable and socially equitable growth. This European package will contribute to new and better products and services, a more competitive and greener Europe, and a better society with a higher quality of life," Geoghegan-Quinn said, arguing that the package will create more than 165,000 jobs.
In May, more than 23 million or 9.6% of the working population in the EU were unemployed, according to Eurostat. In the first quarter of 2008, the unemployment rate in the EU was at 6.7%.
The commissioner said it would involve the work of 16,000 researchers, including employees of about 3,000 SMEs.
Covering a range of scientific disciplines, public policy areas and commercial sectors, the package earmarks more than €600 million for the health sector, while €1.2 billion will go towards boosting information and communication technology (ICT) research.More than €1.3 billion will be reserved for the best creative scientists selected by the European Research Council, and SMEs will receive close to €800 million.
Geoghean-Quinn outlined EU efforts to bring research discoveries into mainstream use more quickly. For example, a third of the health allocation would be spent on clinical trials to get new drugs on the market as soon as possible, she said.
As for nanotechnology, €270 million would be spent on research that could lead to patenting and commercialisation opportunities, the commissioner said.
The fund is seen as part of the EU's flagship 'Innovation Union', to be launched this autumn.
 sourceMy comment: Oh well, better with money, than without them, but still, I want to protest for the general use of the word "Research". Because what we're talking is more "Development". In the broad sense of the word. Of course, I don't mind money for health, as long as they go to universities and not to corporations. But I have some doubts about this. And also, I have my doubts about the whole scheme and how it reaches to the average guy in Europe. But then, the EC thinks about the great guys, the big bosses and not about average people.

EU unveils innovation blueprint

Published: 06 October 2010 | Updated: 21 October 2010
Patent reform and new sources of finance are at the heart of the EU's new innovation strategy, published today (6 October) by the European Commission. The EU has also announced the first 'Innovation Partnership', which will begin next year and is dedicated to healthy ageing.
Brussels says too few of Europe's ideas make the journey from "research to retail" and global competition, particularly from Asia, means the EU must up its game or risk falling into unchecked decline.
The EU has now committed to steering structural funds and public procurement towards innovation, as well as removing bottlenecks that make it difficult for Europeans to turn knowledge into marketable products.
A new cross-border venture capital regime and an expansion of the European Investment Bank's Risk-Sharing Finance Facility will be part of a concerted effort to match innovative firms with investors, according to Máire Geoghegan-Quinn, EU commissioner for research, innovation and science, and Commission Vice- President Antonio Tajani, responsible for industry and entrepreneurship.
The long-awaited plan proposes that governments set aside dedicated budgets for buying innovative products and services, a move that could create a procurement market worth at least €10 billion a year.
The Commission will now review structural funding and state aid frameworks while helping member states to tap into the €86 billion of structural funds earmarked for research and innovation.
One million new researchers needed
In line with the Lisbon Treaty and previous commitments made by the EU executive, the new plan pledges to make it easier for scientists to move within Europe by allowing them to bring their pensions with them when they move jobs.Brussels also wants member states to pool resources to provide Europe with world-class infrastructure, pledging to have "completed or launched the construction of 60% of the priority European research infrastructures currently identified by the European Strategy Forum for Research Infrastructures (ESFRI).
Brussels is also committing to support the development of an independent ranking system for universities. sourceMy comment:Wow, the idea for the mobility of pensions is quite good. Because many scientists I know spend years in different countries and when they finally come back home, it's difficult to get everything in order. So this is definitely a good thing. But I didn't see anything else that is very innovative or clear. For example the procurement market sounds more like a Xmas wish than something real - how do the EC imagine countries like Bulgaria or Romania to invest millions for something like this? They cannot invest those money even in their own science, what's left for some abstract market which I find hard to understand. So this blueprint is not very surprising actually.

Ministers still deadlocked on EU patent

Published: 12 October 2010 | Updated: 15 October 2010
A final deal on the EU patent was still being held hostage by divergent national interests yesterday (11 October) at a Competitiveness Council held in Luxembourg.

EU ministers remain split between a group of countries led by France and Germany which support a trilingual system for the EU patent as proposed by the European Commission, and another group of states that oppose this solution and alternatively back a monolingual or multilingual regime.
The language used to file, contend and spread information about a patent is a crucial detail for countries' competitiveness. Researchers and small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) capable of using their mother tongue for patents will have an advantage over competitors that speak different languages.
On the other hand, the current system, which protects all EU languages, has produced legal uncertainty and soaring costs, making patents more difficult and expensive to file in Europe than in other industrialised regions of the world.
At yesterday's Competitiveness Council, Belgium, which currently holds the rotating presidency of the EU, pointed out that under the existing system, a company willing to commercialise the same patent in all 27 countries must pay something like 25,000 EUR in legal and administrative costs.
Some critics argue that this is in fact rather unlikely since most companies only register their patents in specific markets. Only a few multinationals are interested in taking on all the cost of operating their patents in every EU member state. SMEs, on the other hand, tend to use their patents only in bigger EU markets.
The negative consequences of this situation are two-fold, analysts have found. Firstly, the concept of the internal market is undermined at its roots as fragmentation between national markets remains the rule. Secondly, countries where a patent is not registered often become hubs for counterfeit goods, which are then exported to all of Europe.
The language which is "customary in the field of international technological research and publications" is English, but using French and German too increases costs and lays the ground for potential legal uncertainty.Italy is the most vocal country against a trilingual regime.
Spain is also very critical and has proposed a system based on English and a second language, to be chosen at will by applicants.
Slovakia, the Czech Republic and Cyprus are also sceptical about the three-language proposal made by the Commission last July..sourceMy comment: I also agree with the two-language principle - English as official and one other language chosen by applicants. This is fair. Everything else gives advantage to some countries in front of others. So what, everyone in Europe learns English, but some countries cannot do that? I don't see why we should agree. If I am to file a patent, I'll want to do it in English and in Bulgarian. That's fair. Everyone else who's interested will find a way to translate the content or to learn the appropriate language. I'm sick of this favoritism of France or Germany. They might be bigger, they might be better, but they cannot be more important than the rest 25 countries! I hope Spain and Italy hold their position to the end. It's about time Europe becomes Europe for everyone, not just for the ones with the money and the power.

EU countries top world 'green patent' rankings - According to a comprehensive new study by the European Patent Office (EPO), Germany, France and the UK join Japan, the US and South Korea in leading the emerging green tech revolution, filing 80% of all patent applications in the field.

Bulgaria to ask for derogation from R&D target ( 04 June 2010) -  Bulgaria will try to reduce the target of investing 3% of GDP in research and development (R&D) established by the 'Europe 2020' strategy – or at least the impoverished country will aim to sharply reduce its national share, writes Dnevnik, EurActiv's partner publication in Bulgaria. 
At present, just 0.15% of GDP in Bulgaria is spent on R&D.
- I think that happily put us on the bottom of the chart. Oh well.

Romania calls on private sector to help boost R&D (04 June 2010) - Romania has decided that its national target for boosting research and development will be 2% by 2020, but to reach this goal, the private sector would have to increase its financial effort six or seven-fold compared to current levels. EurActiv Romania reports.Predescu also said that in 2008, the resources allocated to R&D in the EU were at the level of 1.9% of GDP, while in 2009 this increased to 2.06%.-

Czechs ready to spend 3% of GDP on R&D (09 June 2010) - Applying the EU's target of raising investment in R&D to 3% of GDP by 2020 is seen in the Czech Republic as attainable, even at national level. Surprisingly, the caretaker government proposed a 2.7% national target, higher than the more modest 2.3% proposed by the European Commission.

Poland questions merits of EU ‘research target’ (04 June 2010) - Polish politicians are questioning the merits of the EU's aim to increase investment in research and development (R&D) to 3% of GDP in the EU as a whole by 2020, but the issue could at least raise awareness of the fact that the country is lagging behind in innovation. EurActiv Poland reports. The country only spent 0.56% of its GDP on R&D in 2006 – a fraction of the EU's 3% goal.

Hungary faces uphill battle to reach EU's 3% R&D target (04 June 2010) - Hungary's expenditure on investing in research and development (R&D) barely amounts to 1% of GDP today. While Brussels sees boosting research and innovation as a way out of the current crisis, it is the economic downturn itself that is making the target seem over-ambitious. -

Slovakia calls for its own R&D target ( 04 June 2010) - The Slovak government has set itself the goal of investing 1.8% of its budget for GDP in research and development (R&D) by 2015. This target, smaller than 3% target for the EU as a whole by 2020, is still to be negotiated.

Research in bad shape in France (01 June 2010) - Investing 3% of GDP in research and development (R&D) – one of the targets of the EU’s 'Europe 2020' strategy – is badly needed in France but there is little chance of this goal being met in the next decade, especially at a time of crisis. EurActiv France reports. French investment was 2.2% in 2001 and has decreased ever since. In 2007, it was 2.08%, around half of which came from the private sector.

China, US 'moving faster than EU' on innovation (27 May 2010 ) - Martin Schuurmans, chairman of the newly-formed European Institute of Innovation and Technology (EIT), says he is "not pessimistic" about Europe's ability to lead on research and innovation. But it needs to speed up if it wants to keep up with global competitors, the EIT chairman told EurActiv in an interview. 

Commission gives €1.4bn to ITER nuclear fusion project - With EU governments unwilling to fill the funding gaps in the multi-billion international nuclear fusion research project ITER, the European Commission is proposing to put an extra 1.4 billion euro on the table to honour the bloc's international commitment.

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Climate in Europe, summer, 2010

This is a first of the series dedicated to the climate that I will publish in the next weeks. I have quite a lot of material, so be patient with the dates.
  1. Europe's scientists call for more effort in tackling rising ocean acidity
  2. Germany, Norway give $1.5B to fight deforestation
  3. Hedegaard backtracks on EU climate goals
  4. Retailers adopt green code of conduct
Quote of the day: And I actually wonder what kind of disaster should happen, so that we can make normal safety regulations and to strictly obey them. 

Europe's scientists call for more effort in tackling rising ocean acidity

May 19, 2010
Ten years ago, ocean acidification was a phenomenon only known to small group of ocean scientists. It's now recognised as the hidden partner of climate change, prompting calls for an urgent, substantial reduction in carbon emissions to reduce future impacts.
The 'Impacts of Ocean Acidification' science policy briefing presented by the European Science Foundation on 20 May for European Maritime Day 2010 gives a comprehensive view of current research. Prepared by leading scientists from Europe and the USA, it highlights the need for a concerted, integrated effort internationally to research and monitor the effects of ocean acidification on marine environments and human communities.
The seas and oceans, which absorb almost a third of the in the atmosphere, are rapidly becoming more acidic due to increases in carbon dioxide in the atmosphere from burning fossil fuels. Carbon dioxide produces carbonic acid when it dissolves in seawater and up to now, the oceans have buffered the effects of global warming by absorbing almost a third of the carbon dioxide emitted from human fossil fuel use. Today the oceans are more acidic than they have ever been for at least 20 million years. This chemical change could cause significant consequences to marine ecosystems and the goods and services that they provide.
"Ocean acidification is already occurring and will get worse." said Professor Jelle Bijma, lead author of the report and a biogeochemist at the Alfred Wegener Institute in Germany. "Under a business-as-usual scenario, predictions for the end of the century are that the surface oceans will become 150 per cent more acidic - and this is a hell of a lot."Integrated research on the impacts of ocean acidification is still a very new field - the full implications of these changes are unclear for and fisheries resources, including fish stocks, shellfish and coral reefs. Economic research on systems for managing marine resources is essential to understand the impacts on fisheries and the human communities that rely on them. source
My comment: I wonder how the so called climate skeptics will deny this one. Though, they are quite creative I must admit. For me, it looks quite logical - more CO2 in the atmosphere, more CO2 and carbonic acid in the water. And acid in the water is rarely a good thing. Now, even if we're not the cause of the CO2 in the atmosphere (which I'm sure we are, but if we imagine we're not), we still have to do something about the water. Because so many people feed and survive on the oceans, it's very bad idea to kill the water creatures. And I think we're way past the observation stage. We have to do something and decreasing our own CO2 emissions is a very good start. And then, we'll think what else we could do.

Germany, Norway give $1.5B to fight deforestation

May 26, 2010 By IAN MACDOUGALL , Associated Press Writer
(AP) -- Germany and Norway will pledge $1.5 billion to fight deforestation, blamed for releasing some of the carbon dioxide contributing to global warming, Norway's prime minister said Wednesday on the eve of a conference in Oslo.
The contributions give a boost to talks starting Thursday on creating a single international agency for monitoring and financing efforts to help poor nations protect their forests and .
The program - called REDD Plus, for Reducing Emissions from and Degradation - was one of the few plans agreed on during the disappointing climate talks in December in Copenhagen, Denmark.
Germany's pledge of $500 million brings REDD Plus funding so far to $4 billion, with France, Norway and four other countries having previously committed $3.5 billion, Prime Minister Jens Stoltenberg said. Thursday's conference is meant to work out the final details of the program.
Norway also said it would give an additional $1 billion to help Indonesia fight deforestation there. Due to deforestation from logging, crop-growing and grazing, Indonesia and Brazil have become the world's third- and fourth-largest carbon emitters, after China and the U.S.
Deforestation - the burning of woodlands or the rotting of felled trees - is thought to account for up to 20 percent of released into the atmosphere - as much as that emitted by all the world's cars, trucks, trains, planes and ships combined.Stoltenberg said Norway's agreement with Indonesia will help finance an independent system of monitoring and quantifying greenhouse gas emissions tied to deforestation.The system will allow Norway to pay Indonesia a fixed sum per ton of CO2 emissions reduced due to rain preservation, he said, adding that the pay-per-result system encourages accountability.
Norway has had a similar agreement with Brazil since the mid-1990s, and said it planned to work with Mexico also to protect forests in developing countries.
 sourceMy comment: What I find amazing is that when I was a kid, I watched in children shows about burning trees in the jungle and I found that so upsetting. And yet, almost 20 years later, we still fight the same devil, trees are still burned or cut or so on! Just like as persons, we're supposed to grow up as a society as well. And obviously, we don't. And behind all those words, we find nothing in substance. Nothing that will bring change. Some countries will pay another countries to preserve their own forests. However this effort will be just a little drop in the ocean of murdering trees. Because trees are everywhere and they are equally endangered. I have often written about the massive cutting of trees home, about the absolute impossibility of our government to handle the problem, about how those trees are burned for heating or exported to other countries. And I'm sure this happens in all the poorer countries, no matter where they are. Without global agreement on the question and global actions to stop that, we're doing nothing. Even if some countries pay huge amounts of money to other countries.

More on this:
Parliament vote seals ban on illegal timber - The European Parliament yesterday (7 July) backed a compromise to close EU markets to illegal timber.
MEPs voted to approve a political inter-institutional agreement on a new regulation that sets obligations on operators that place timber or related products on the EU market.
The new legislation issues a ban on illegally-harvested timber. Covering the whole timber supply chain from logging sites to European consumers, the law aims to guarantee legally-sourced products access to EU markets while halting deforestation in third countries.
When the legislation enters into force in late 2012, the operator who first places timber or a timber product on the EU market will have to trace its origins or face sanctions. All subsequent sellers will then have to declare who they bought the timber from and who they sold it to in order to ensure that the legality of the wood can be traced at any point in the supply chain.
- Finally something good for everyone in Europe. However, I'm not sure what percentage of that timber ever hit the European market legally. And how much go for heating or for third counties, like Turkey. Let's see how this will work out.

Hedegaard backtracks on EU climate goals 

02 June 2010
EU Climate Action Commissioner Connie Hedegaard yesterday (26 May) presented a paper making the case for moving towards a unilateral 30% cut in EU greenhouse gas emissions by 2020. But she failed to stand behind it, bowing to pressure from France and Germany.
The EU's climate chief unveiled a new communication arguing that increasing the EU's 2020 climate goal to a 30% emission reduction from 1990 levels would be both affordable and technically feasible.
The European Commission estimates that as a result of the economic downturn, the cost of meeting the current 20% target has dropped to €48bn per year until 2020, down from an initial estimate of €70 billion when the package was agreed.
Consequently, making the extra effort to reach 30% would now cost just€11bn more than what EU governments signed up to two years ago, it argued (EurActiv 03/05/10).
But despite making the case for moving to 30%, the commissioner did not lend her support to unilateral EU action, saying that the shift would remain conditional on progress towards a new international climate treaty. 
Hedegaard said the next step would be to analyse the impact of raising the targets for individual member states so that they can revise their positions. The Spanish EU Presidency is planning to hold preliminary discussions on the issue at a June meeting of environment ministers, she added.
On Tuesday, French and German industry ministers told journalists that Paris and Berlin would only back a move to -30% if other nations were to make comparable efforts (EurActiv 26/05/10).
The extra effort required to move to a 30% target would only result in extra production losses of 1% for energy-intensive industries, with the chemicals industry worst hit, it added.Hedegaard said that current measures to combat carbon leakage in the form of free allocations of emission allowances and the option to use offset credits thus "remain justified and should remain in place".
The Commission is continuing to look into border tariffs as an option, she said, before warning that it would be "extremely difficult" to create a system without placing a huge bureaucratic burden on industries.
A flux of recent studies have argued that the risk of carbon leakage has been hugely over-estimated and in fact only a few sectors are affected.
My comment: Ah, how nice! Nothing new, it's just intriguing to follow the game in the EC. So the EC propose something, France and Germany say "No" and the EC propose something else. It's so good to enjoy the European democracy, where all the member-states have equal saying into the policies of the EU. Oh, wait, they don't. It's funny, how France and Germany require other countries to make the effort too, somehow ignoring the fact, that the worst polluting and emitting industries are their own! Very convenient and very very wrong. Luckily for them, all the other countries are on their knees right now, otherwise, the situation might get very ugly.

EU waters down industrial pollution law ( 22 June 2010)- The EU has struck an agreement on a planned Industrial Emissions Directive, imposing stricter limits on air, soil and water pollution but allowing coal-fired plants (UK, Poland, Italy) derogations until mid-2020.
It obliges industrial operators to obtain permits from national authorities based on best available techniques, which are considered the most cost-effective means of achieving a high level of environmental protection. The permits include precise limit values for atmospheric pollutants that cause acid rain and smog, such as sulphur dioxide (SO2), nitrogen oxides (NOx), volatile organic compounds (VOCs) and dust.
- What I find most unbelievable is that in the beginning of 21st century, we still use coal for heating and electricity! I mean seriously! We can use nuclear energy, solar, wind, ocean energy and yet, we rely on COAL! It's ridiculous. If I was a citizen of the above mentioned countries, I would be very VERY ashamed.

Retailers adopt green code of conduct

 25 June 2010
Major EU retailers, including Carrefour and Tesco, have signed up to a voluntary code of conduct seeking to reduce their environmental footprint on issues ranging from energy use to sustainable sourcing of fish and timber.
With the 'code for environmentally sustainable business', launched yesterday (24 June), the signatories commit to a set of principles and measures aimed at reducing their environmental footprint in six areas.
These include more sustainable sourcing of specific products, such as timber or fish, improving resource efficiency in stores and "optimising" transport and distribution. Others focus on better waste management practices and improving communication to consumers.
Forum members include international retailers like Carrefour, C&A, Delhaize, Ikea, Marks and Spencer and Tesco, as well as federations like EuroCommerce and the European Retail Round Table (ERRT).
sourceMy comment: Hm, I wonder would that include GMO, because we know that Carrefour banned GMO products from their shelves. I hope that won't change. Even if I question that ban, since there is GM soy in almost any sweet product on the market. But still, I think this initiative is quite good and I wish them luck.


Carbon offset auditors get poor grade - Reviewers of carbon-offsetting projects in developing countries under the UN's Clean Development Mechanism (CDM) were given poor grades for the second year in a row by green group WWF. - Yeah, imagine how well is functioning the carbon offset then! Absolute nonsense.

EU struggles to find voice on environment issues - The European Union is bogged down in a power struggle over who speaks for the bloc at international meetings, threatening action on environmental issues from mercury pollution to whaling, EU officials say.- ROFL :) Everyone wants to rule the world...

Regions build climate alliances with business ( 08 June 2010) - Regional governments will work together with businesses to deploy low-carbon technologies even in the absence of a global pact on cutting greenhouse gas emissions, regional leaders told world governments on the sidelines of two-week climate talks in Bonn.

EU urged to regulate deep-sea drilling after BP spill (09 June 2010) - "In the aftermath of the BP oil slick in the Gulf of Mexico, Food & Water Watch, an environmental consumer organisation, has called on EU authorities to tighten inspections of oil production facilities to avoid similar disasters in European waters. The European Commission has already held preliminary talks on the issue with industry representatives.
The European Parliament held a debate on security and prevention measures on offshore oil platforms in the EU on 18 May. But the House failed to adopt a resolution calling for tighter inspection methods, stronger safety rules and strengthening of international rules for off-shore exploration and drilling.
The resolution was drafted by Polish MEP Bogusław Sonik (European People's Party), vice-chairman of the House's environment committee.
Sonik told journalists yesterday (8 June) that his attempt to launch a proper debate on the matter in the House was watered down by EU Energy Commissioner Günther Oettinger, who had met BP officials "behind closed doors" on the matter and was not planning to move quickly." - Disgusting. And not very surprising. What is surprising is that it is not the Polish representative who held the secret meeting but the Energy Commissioner. That I didn't expect. And I actually wonder what kind of disaster should happen, so that we can make normal safety regulations and to strictly obey them. 

Ministers give go-ahead to electric vehicle standardisation (26 May 2010) - EU ministers have called for the rapid development of a European standard for electric vehicles to speed up their uptake, with France and Germany leading requests for EU finance to fund pilot projects.

EU cuts chemicals fees for SMEs (25 May 2010) -  Small firms will pay smaller fees to the European Chemicals Agency (ECHA) following a decision by the European Commission to slash levies by up to 90%. 

Saturday, October 2, 2010

Woah, mission accomplished!

You remember the anti-GMO petition I so urged you to sign?! The goal was to reach 1 000 000 signatures, so that it can be presented to the EC. Well, we made it! Today I just checked to see how the petition is going and hey, we had 1 000 000 people! Avaaz rock! Seriously, they are the best in gathering signatures, I only hope they manage to present the petition the best way they can and that soon, we'll finally see results. So if you haven't signed yet, please do. It's worthy.
I didn't plan this to be my first post after the vacation, but as we know, life is what happens while we're busy making plans. And anyway, this is one of the greatest way to start a new season. Though it can be always better (or worst). And we badly need this action. Recently I read about new GM potato types made by BASF that are yet to be approved and still they found them contaminating Swiss potatoes. Monsanto explained that it's normal to have such contamination. Well, it's not, actually. An unapproved products is not supposed to be in any contact with market released one! What would happen if cosmetic companies allow such contamination - that could harm or even kill so many people. No, this is not normal!
Not to mention the potatoes we in Bulgaria eat, which for some unknown reason to me, need hours to boil. You cannot convince me those are not GM potatoes, normal potatoes just don't do that. I remember a soup we made that took something like 2 or 3 hours to get done. It's unbelievable, but it happened.
So, good news on this front. Let's hope this is just the happy beginning. But if not, we'll continue to fight, because that's left for us. Fight for our right to live the life we want, not the one they want to sell us.

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