In the thrust of the speech that has been leaked to the Independent, the Conservative minister is expected to say that Britain risks being “left behind” if it fails to adopt increasingly widespread GM crops. “What we want to do is start a dialogue within Europe on GM based upon the science,” a senior source told the newspaper. “The point about GM is not simply about food production. There are wider potential environmental and economic benefits to the technology both in the UK and internationally.” Specifically, Paterson will argue that bioengineering could be used to create disease-resistant wildlife and develop new pharmaceuticals. The speech appears to be part of a concerted government campaign to overturn the EU’s strict reluctance to issue commercial licenses for GM crops, following a similar statement made by Science Minister David Willetts on Tuesday. “We believe that GM crops can help make agriculture more efficient and also just as importantly more sustainable, by, for example, reducing the use of pesticides and the use of fossil fuels,” he said. “There are just too many 21st-Century technologies that Europe is just being very slow to adopt… one productive way forward is to have this discussion as part of a wider need for Europe to remain innovative rather than a museum of 20th century technology.” Currently, each genetically-modified crop has to be authorized by an EU commission. As of now, Monsanto’s MON810 maize and BASF’s Amflora potato are the only two plants permitted for commercial cultivation in the bloc. Despite a large Europe-wide scientific report in 2010 concluding that bioengineered food poses no special hazard, eight EU member states have also banned the cultivation of genetically-modified crops altogether, with Italy expected to become the ninth. Less than 0.2 per cent of all food grown in Europe is genetically-modified, while 12 percent of all arable land around the world is planted with GM seeds. While previously low demand from consumers and farmers were cited as reasons for avoiding scientifically-engineered varieties, ministers are likely to use a just-published poll of 600 British farmers, 61 percent of whom say they would like to plant GM seeds. “Farmers are becoming more and more aware that climate change doesn’t mean a gradual rise in temperatures but rather a stream of extreme weather events. GM technology is one possible way of mitigating this,” said Martin Haworth, director of policy at the National Farmers Union. But the public remains skeptical. A YouGov poll released Wednesday shows that only 21 per cent of Britons are in favor of growing GM crops, with 35 per cent explicitly opposed to the technology. An estimated two million people, many of them in Europe, turned out for global anti-GM protests last month. Producers of bioengineered foods, which are often made by manipulating the DNA of plants and introducing foreign organisms into it, say that they increase yields, better resist disease, and decrease the need for pesticides. Opponents claim that they pose health risks and contaminate the environment. They also believe that patents on prominent GM crops give excessive power to corporations that develop them, primarily market leader Monsanto. …
The cases passed through Kazbegi Verkhny Lars, the only official land checkpoint between Russia and Georgia, that has remained closed since 2006. Tibisi-based Kakheti Traditional Winemaking sent the first batch of goods, with wine and other agricultural products to follow. Georgia’s largest wine exporter, JSC Tbilvino and Borjomi, a mineral water distributor, are expected to re-launch their products in Russia by the end of the summer. The Russian Sanitation Service has issued more than 100 licenses to Georgian wine and beverage suppliers, but the goods still must face scrupulous inspection before being granted entrance into the Russian market. Russia’s Sanitary Service refused to register three wine labels and five brandy labels because they failed to meet inspection requirements. Interfax reported 245 applications were submitted for import licenses. The import of Georgian wine, mineral water, and agricultural products to Russia has been banned since the spring of 2006, after a spy scandal prompted Russia to impose an embargo on imports from the South Caucasian nation, citing consumer safety concerns over low quality. Russia had previously been the main consumer of Georgian wine, and its sudden break nearly crippled the Georgian wine industry. As a result of the ban wine production fell from 60 million bottles a year to 16 million. In the absence of its largest export partner, Georgia looked to Belarus, Ukraine, and Kazakhstan to sell wine. According to customs statistics, in 2012 Russia’s foreign net trade was $837.2 billion worldwide, and $117.7 billion in CIS countries. Georgian wine exports increased to $54.1 million in 2011, the most recent data on Georgia’s National Statistics Office website. Exports rose 37.7 percent to reach 16.9 million liters. In 2012, Georgia produced 150,000 to 200,000 tons of grapes, 30,000 to 40,000 of which are used to produce wine for both local and foreign markets, according to Georgia’s Export Market Development Action Plan. Because of Georgia’s geographical location in the south caucuses, the fruit harvest occurs 2-4 weeks earlier than much of Eastern Europe, offering the industry a unique competitive advantage. In 2012, Russia imported $3.1 billion dollars of alcoholic and non-alcoholic beverages. The two countries re-engaged in trade talks after Bidzina Ivanishvili upset incumbent Mikhail Saaksahvili in the October prime minister election. …
Lost luggage could soon be a thing of the past. Well, let me take that back – finding your luggage that the airline lost could soon become much easier if a prototype smart luggage reaches production status. Airbus’ Bag2Go luggage is equipped with numerous sensors that can be used to… …
European Commission To Ban Heirloom Seeds and Criminalize Plants & Seeds Not Registered With Government
A new law proposed by the European Commission would make it illegal to “grow, reproduce or trade” any vegetable seeds that have not been “tested, approved and accepted” by a new EU bureaucracy named the “EU Plant Variety Agency.” …
“The huge overuse of these antibiotics on our farms, in meat production, is an important—and unaddressed—contributor to the problem.” …
‘Syria is in free-fall’, say UN human rights experts 04/06/2013 18:11 CET
Major diplomatic push underway over Syria 22/05/2013 02:24 CET
Russia plays down significance of Syria arms sales 17/05/2013 20:04 CET
UN condemns Syrian regime forces 16/05/2013 00:54 CET
Syria ready for UN to investigate chemical arms 10/05/2013 01:05 CET
Now in the third year of their country’s civil war, Syrians are being exposed to chemical weapons, according to outside experts and sources on the ground.
The rebels say the Assad regime has used them, even though it said last year it would only do so in the case of a foreign attack.
At the same time, the government in Damascus accuses the rebels of having used chemical weapons. State television showed video of what it said were victims in Aleppo, being treated in hospital.
Yesterday, France laid a blunt accusation at Assad’s door, Paris saying it had scientific proof based on samples brought back from Syria. French Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius went on national television with this.
Fabius said: “The conclusion of the laboratory is clear: there is sarin gas. The other question is whether we can trace who originally used it. There is absolutely no doubt that it is the regime and its accomplices. A line has been crossed, unquestionably.”
Eleven months ago, US President Barack Obama warned Assad against going too far, after his Syrian counterpart had confirmed having the stuff in reserve.
Obama said: “Given the regime’s stockpiles of chemical weapons, we will continue to make clear to Assad and those around him that the world is watching, and that they will be held accountable by the international community and the United States should they make the tragic mistake of using those weapons.”
But yesterday the White House reiterated its cautious approach to making good on its warning; the US is still considering how it might respond.
White House spokesman Jay Carney said: “We need to expand the evidence we have. We need to make it reviewable. We need to have it corroborated before we make any decisions based on the clear violation that use of chemical weapons by the Syrian regime would represent.”
Yesterday as well, the International Inquiry Commission tabled its latest report.
Its Chairman Paulo Pinheiro said: “There are reasonable grounds to believe that limited quantities of toxic chemicals were used. It has not been possible on the evidence available to determine the precise chemical agents used, the delivery systems, or the perpetrators.”
Syria is one of seven countries that have not signed up to the Convention (which came into force in 1997) on the Prohibition of the Development, Production, Stockpiling and Use of Chemical Weapons and on their Destruction.
Copyright © 2013 euronews
Lest you don’t spend your waking hours studying industrial production statistics, you may have missed some rather worrying data. According to surveys which tend to pre-empt the overall state of the economy, China is now in a manufacturing recession. What’s worse, Europe’s uber-dynamo powerhouse Teutonic industrial heartland, Germany, has been looking sickly too… True, the latest data suggests a pick-up in the Eurozone. The Mediterranean patient looks to have awoken from their coma. However intensive economic palliative care will still be required before a return to growth. Germany too has just had its best manufacturing numbers for months but the statistics still presage contraction as opposed to growth… Meanwhile, Mrs Merkel’s government has been making noises behind the scenes: perhaps it might be time for a little economic stimulus? In other words, austerity is the rule for the dissolute south with stimulus for the thrifty Teutonic north. Doubtless it will be dressed up as EU solidarity to conceal a subsidised electoral campaign export drive for German industry. Of course we have been here before. During the last decade Germany flagrantly ignored Eurozone budget deficit rules when it suited Berlin. Subsequently Germany has been shocked when other nations such as Greece did the same thing, ultimately plunging the entire Eurozone into crisis. However, a spirit of hypocrisy has never obstructed the political classes from self-perpetuation in most parts, and Germany is not immune in this regard. Having insisted that the Mediterranean has its feet held to the fire, Germany now appears to be relenting in a move fuelled by pure undiluted self-interest. While Finance Minister Schauble may be decrying tabloid tales of largesse, it is feasible that a nervous Mrs Merkel will launch economic stimulus ahead of the hustings as she doubles down to stay in office. Eurozone unemployment now totals a staggering 19.2 million citizens (equivalent to the combined population of Austria and Belgium). Meanwhile in Frankfurt, anti-capitalists have been protesting outside the ECB. Given how West Germany fared compared with East Germany during the period 1945-1989, this rather beggars belief. Nevertheless, the prospect of recession in Germany is acute: growth has been anaemic for some time. However, with unemployment unchanged for more than half a year at 6.9%, things still look rosy compared to the catastrophic 12.2% Eurozone average. Therefore Mrs Merkel may well rush to demonstrate her credentials as a provider of Euro-solidarity while appearing keen to avoid domestic recession when securing re-election is her core focus. Of all the issues facing the EU right now, the abysmally designed Euro remains pivotal to the bloc’s economic woes. Vast exporter Germany is in a pact whereby it gets a currency held artificially lower than the Mark would have been, thanks to the fiscal inconsistencies of the Mediterranean. Meanwhile, Mrs Merkel has been politicking with France proposing a new post of President of the Euro Currency Group. Clearly what an ongoing currency / debt / unemployment crisis really needs is another tax-free salaried bureaucrat – particularly another President to add to the already burgeoning ranks of Presidents within the EU. Germany remains under pressure to provide bounteous transfer payments to its poorer EU neighbours. However, the nation has been there once before in recent times and that raised the hackles of many voters even when the transfers were to fellow members of the Volk. Despite all the massive transfer payments that subsidized the “Ossis” after the fall of the Berlin Wall, the eastern Land has remained stubbornly less productive. Post reunification, the adoption of parity between the Deutsch- and Ost-Mark ensured Eastern savings retained value albeit at the dreadful cost of making Eastern German industry wretchedly uncompetitive. Ironically, billions of Marks/Euros later and the border lands of Germany now find themselves enjoying an influx of investment… from Polish families. Polish thrift and tenacious entrepreneurial spirit has driven their property prices above those of German houses just west of the Oder. Poles have been working tenaciously towards prosperity helped only by relative paucity of transfer payments from the EU, compared to vast German Federal largesse to its east. When German citizens baulk at providing another generation of subsidies to the Mediterranean Eurozone, it is easy to understand why. Transfer payments didn’t work within a unified Deutschland, why will it work across borders? Will exasperated voters rally to Mrs Merkel’s defence of the Euro or will she resort to that remarkably Mediterranean electoral technique of intervening to stimulate the economy and thus retain power? …