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Posts Tagged ‘European Union’

6060%

Bee populations are so low in the US that it now takes 60% of the country’s surviving colonies just to pollinate one California crop, almonds. And that’s not just a west coast problem—California supplies 80% of the world’s almonds, a market worth $4 billion.

The well-publicized problems in the US where the battle seems as good as lost can tend to overshadow the fact that potentially this is a worldwide catastrophe waiting to happen. Fortunately the picture in Europe is less clear cut.

Meanwhile those nice people at Bayer and Syngenta, aided and supported by British environment minister Owen Patterson are suing the European Commission in an effort to overturn the temporary ban on a small part of the arsenal of death-dealing chemicals that saturate European farmland.

Corporate lobbyists and other interested parties use a familiar line in obfuscation when explaining away the obvious connection between wholesale chemical application and the decimation of the pollinators our food supply depends on. But despite what they would have us believe there is no “mystery” as to why bee colonies around the world appear to be in a state of terminal decline.

Independent scientific research, that is research not funded by chemical companies, appropriated by agribusiness, or under the thumb of the British government has consistently found that the exposure of pollinators to cocktails of chemicals, (in some cases traces of as many as 35 different pesticides have been found in toxic pollen) is a crucial contributing factor in their decline.

Such independent research is also opening up a huge can of worms by exposing the relationship between the chemicals without which mainstream agriculture can barely function, and the looming calamity of pollinator decline. Neonicotinoids, those notorious pesticides now banned by the European Commission are just the tip of the iceberg it seems.

See also:

Treehugger:  Scientists discover another cause of bee deaths, and it’s really bad news 

Guardian article April 2013:  Insecticide firms in secret bid to stop ban that could save bees

European Food Safety Authority report published 21 November 2013: EFSA’s 18th Scientific Colloquium on Towards holistic approaches to the risk assessment of multiple stressors in bees

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10000000000001900000010C8B6EFA71On the 14th of May the European Council for Agriculture & Fisheries adopted a set of conclusions pertaining to organic farming and the organic sector in general within the EU.

This is a set of Conclusions that presents a political view of how the current organic production regulatory framework is functioning; how it could be made more effective and how it should evolve in the European Union. The conclusions also provide a focus for policy development in the future.

The document lists 25 points of application of the regulatory framework and development of the organic sector. I’ve listed a number of the conclusions that immediately stand out below, but you can read the complete document and download a copy of the PDF here

A Few Highlights

1. Organic production and the organic foodstuffs sector in the European Union is established as a sustainable farming and production system which fulfils a dual societal role by responding to an increasing consumer demand for organic products while also delivering public goods which contribute to the protection of the environment, animal welfare and rural development.

5. The Council in its Conclusions on the future of agricultural promotion policy encouraged the Commission to provide consumers with better access to information on the European production model and increase their level of familiarity with quality systems such as organic farming.

7. The use of GMOs is strictly prohibited in organic production.

THE COUNCIL OF THE EUROPEAN UNION
CALLS ON THE MEMBER STATES AND THE EUROPEAN COMMISSION,
in accordance with their respective competences, to:

13. Develop the organic farming sector at an ambitious level by reviewing the current legal framework, with a view to improving its usability while providing for a period of stability and certainty, and aiming at :
– further clarification and simplification;
– addressing the current outstanding issues requiring further development;
– clarifying the situation regarding protection of the use of the term ‘organic’ for non Annex I products;
– providing guidance on the organic claims associated with the preparation of organic products in mass catering operations.

16. Take specific measures aimed at protecting the reputation of the organic sector and meeting consumer expectations. Explore proposals for the adoption of a rigorous, proportionate, cost-efficient control regime which should include the unambiguous allocation of responsibilities between the relevant control stakeholders and a harmonised sanction regime agreed at European level.

22. Encourage the promotion of the organic sector and increased consumption of organic produce.
Take action to harmonise and guarantee application of the EU logo as a very positive measure to increase the recognition and differentiation of organic products in the market; raise public awareness and promote its use through on-line information and specific campaigns.

25. Continue to recognise and encourage the innovative dynamism and potential of the organic sector and support relevant research and innovation, in particular within the framework of the European Innovation Partnerships (EIPs).”

Standouts

While there are several notable points here two in particular really stand out as helpful: in point 13 the sentence “clarifying the situation regarding protection of the use of the term ‘organic’ for non Annex I products”; and point 16:  “Take specific measures aimed at protecting the reputation of the organic sector and meeting consumer expectations”, show evidence of an awareness among politicians that the consumer-driven success of the organic sector hasn’t gone unnoticed in the boardrooms of the corporate food industries.  Type the sentence “corporate takeover of the organic foods market” into a search engine for example, and you’ll see why this level of awareness is so important.

To understand more about this relatively new aspect of the situation in the US and the seek and destroy mentality of the agribusiness and biotechnology giants follow this link: http://www.organicconsumers.org/Organic/

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Jack Angelo

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