Tag Archive: European Commission


 

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Italy and Austria join growing list of countries banning GMO agriculture

 

 

EU

(NaturalNews) European nations are leading the world in rejecting genetically modified organisms in food and crops, with two more countries recently joining the list: Italy and Austria.

As reported by Nation of Change, Italian ministries have opted to utilize the newly created European Union rules that permit member countries to opt out of growing GM crops. Austrian officials joined in as well, with both nations making the decision to stop growing eight varieties of GM maize, which essentially amounted to a complete ban on GM crops.

The EU’s opt-out regulations were implemented earlier this year. They allow member states to decide on their own if they want to continue using GM crops or ban them altogether.

As reported by Sustainable Pulse, a number of other countries in the EU have also opted out of GM crops:

Wales: “These new rules proposed by the European Commission provide Wales with the necessary tools to maintain our cautionary approach by allowing us to control the future cultivation of GM crops in Wales,” said Welsh Deputy Minister for Farming and Food, Rebecca Evans. “It will allow us to protect the significant investment we have made in our organic sector and safeguard the agricultural land in Wales that is managed under voluntary agri-environment schemes.”

She added: “Farming and food processing businesses remain the driving force of our rural economy. Our emphasis is on competing on quality, strong branding and adding value through local processing. We, therefore, need to preserve consumer confidence and maintain our focus on a clean, green, natural environment. ”

Poland: In 2013, the Polish government actually adopted a regulation that banned GMO farming in the country, well ahead of the EU action. But once the EU approved its regulation giving member nations the right to ban if they chose, that was more than enough authority for the Polish government to act.

“Now we no longer have to explain the scientific aspects and we can already relate to social issues,” Polish Agriculture Minister Marek Sawicki said at the time of the country’s ban.

Germany: German government officials announced in late September that the country would no longer permit the cultivation of GM crops, as stated by German Agriculture Minister Christian Schmidt.

Slovenia: Slovenian Agriculture Minister Dejan Zidan said in announcing the country’s ban that “the government adopted the decision for a request for the exclusion of the entire geographical territory of Slovenia for GM maize to the EU, including the already registered variety MON 810 and seven other varieties which are in the process of registration with the European Commission. This allows me to formally send the request as the Ministry of Agriculture in accordance with the law for the exclusion of Slovenia with the regards to the cultivation of GM maize.”

Serbia: State Secretary in the Serbian Ministry of Agriculture and Environmental Protection Danilo Golubovic recently announced the country’s GMO ban. In making the announcement, Golubovic said the decision was based on a desire to improve public health and safety.

Bulgaria: This government has decided to burnish its clean and green image by banning GM crops. As noted by Sustainable Pulse‘s director, Henry Rowlands, “Bulgaria is home to a wide variety of unique flora and fauna and is also the base of many ancient civilizations, it is with this background that Bulgarians know what is at risk when it comes to using an untested and unnecessary technology.”

European nations that have opted out of growing GM crops thus far are Latvia, France, Austria, Cyprus, Lithuania, the Netherlands, Scotland, Northern Ireland, Poland, Germany, Greece, Croatia, Hungary, Slovenia and Italy, Sustainable Pulse reported.

Sources:


BullHorn.NationOfChange.org


SustainablePulse.com

Reuters.com

EcoWatch.com

Reuters.com

 

 

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by Christina Sarich
Posted on October 15, 2015
gmo_corn_syringe_735_250

EU Committee Wants to Demolish Existing Law Allowing Member States to Ban GMOs

As 19 EU nations plan GMO bans

Stating a concern that the proposed law would lead to the reintroduction of border controls between GM and non-GMO-growing countries, the European Parliament news service reported that Members of the Environment Committee shot down a draft EU law that would allow member states to restrict or prohibit sales of genetically modified crops.

This vote goes against numerous EU states that have made it clear in recent months that they plan to instate total bans on GM crops. A total of 19 EU countries have sent letters to the EP saying that they plan GM bans, citing concern over spoiling agricultural markets, and also the desire to provide their citizens with organic food.

Exclusive: EU executive sees personal savings used to plug long-term financing gap

LONDON Wed Feb 12, 2014 6:00pm EST

A picture illustration taken with the multiple exposure function of the camera shows a one Euro coin and a map of Europe, January 9, 2013. REUTERS/Kai Pfaffenbach

A picture illustration taken with the multiple exposure function of the camera shows a one Euro coin and a map of Europe, January 9, 2013.

Credit: Reuters/Kai Pfaffenbach

(Reuters) – The savings of the European Union’s 500 million citizens could be used to fund long-term investments to boost the economy and help plug the gap left by banks since the financial crisis, an EU document says.

The EU is looking for ways to wean the 28-country bloc from its heavy reliance on bank financing and find other means of funding small companies, infrastructure projects and other investment.

“The economic and financial crisis has impaired the ability of the financial sector to channel funds to the real economy, in particular long-term investment,” said the document, seen by Reuters.

The Commission will ask the bloc’s insurance watchdog in the second half of this year for advice on a possible draft law “to mobilize more personal pension savings for long-term financing”, the document said.

Banks have complained they are hindered from lending to the economy by post-crisis rules forcing them to hold much larger safety cushions of capital and liquidity.

Read More Here

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ZeroHedge

Europe Considers Wholesale Savings Confiscation, Enforced Redistribution

At first we thought Reuters had been punk’d in its article titled “EU executive sees personal savings used to plug long-term financing gap” which disclosed the latest leaked proposal by the European Commission, but after several hours without a retraction, we realized that the story is sadly true. Sadly, because everything that we warned about in “There May Be Only Painful Ways Out Of The Crisis” back in September of 2011, and everything that the depositors and citizens of Cyprus had to live through, seems on the verge of going continental. In a nutshell, and in Reuters’ own words, “the savings of the European Union’s 500 million citizens could be used to fund long-term investments to boost the economy and help plug the gap left by banks since the financial crisis, an EU document says.” What is left unsaid is that the “usage” will be on a purely involuntary basis, at the discretion of the “union”, and can thus best be described as confiscation.

The source of this stunner is a document seen be Reuters, which describes how the EU is looking for ways to “wean” the 28-country bloc from its heavy reliance on bank financing and find other means of funding small companies, infrastructure projects and other investment. So as Europe finally admits that the ECB has failed to unclog its broken monetary pipelines for the past five years – something we highlight every month (most recently in No Waking From Draghi’s Monetary Nightmare: Eurozone Credit Creation Tumbles To New All Time Low), the commissions report finally admits that “the economic and financial crisis has impaired the ability of the financial sector to channel funds to the real economy, in particular long-term investment.”

The solution? “The Commission will ask the bloc’s insurance watchdog in the second half of this year for advice on a possible draft law “to mobilize more personal pension savings for long-term financing“, the document said.”

Mobilize, once again, is a more palatable word than, say, confiscate.

And yet this is precisely what Europe is contemplating:

Read More Here

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Green Fade-Out:Europe to Ditch Climate Protection Goals

By Gregor Peter Schmitz in Brussels

Europe may be backing away from its ambitious climate protection goals. Zoom

DPA

Europe may be backing away from its ambitious climate protection goals.

The EU’s reputation as a model of environmental responsibility may soon be history. The European Commission wants to forgo ambitious climate protection goals and pave the way for fracking — jeopardizing Germany’s touted energy revolution in the process.

The climate between Brussels and Berlin is polluted, something European Commission officials attribute, among other things, to the “reckless” way German Chancellor Angela Merkel blocked stricter exhaust emissions during her re-election campaign to placate domestic automotive manufacturers like Daimler and BMW. This kind of blatant self-interest, officials complained at the time, is poisoning the climate.

ANZEIGE

But now it seems that the climate is no longer of much importance to the European Commission, the EU’s executive branch, either. Commission sources have long been hinting that the body intends to move away from ambitious climate protection goals. On Tuesday, the Süddeutsche Zeitung reported as much.

At the request of Commission President José Manuel Barroso, EU member states are no longer to receive specific guidelines for the development ofrenewable energy. The stated aim of increasing the share of green energy across the EU to up to 27 percent will hold. But how seriously countries tackle this project will no longer be regulated within the plan. As of 2020 at the latest — when the current commitment to further increase the share of green energy expires — climate protection in the EU will apparently be pursued on a voluntary basis.

Climate Leaders No More?

With such a policy, the European Union is seriously jeopardizing its global climate leadership role. Back in 2007, when Germany held the European Council presidency, the body decided on a climate and energy legislation package known as the “20-20-20” targets, to be fulfilled by the year 2020. They included:

  • a 20 percent reduction in EU greenhouse gas emissions;
  • raising the share of EU energy consumption produced from renewable resources to 20 percent;

Read More Here

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Italy to Ban Monsanto GMO Corn with 80% Public Support

Christina Sarich

by
Natural Society
July 20th, 2013

corn in hand 263x164 Italy to Ban Monsanto GMO Corn with 80% Public SupportFirst India gives Monsanto a run for their ill-gotten money by refusing their patent applications, and now Italy, with the help of three Italian ministries, will try to undo Monsanto. A decree has been signed which will ban Monsanto’s MON810 maize, one of the two genetically modified crops currently legally grown in Europe and sold commercially. The decree is not yet binding as it has to be published in the official gazette, but the public stands behind the three Italian ministers who put forth the document with a resounding 80% against GMO and Monsanto, as evidenced in a public survey.

The agricultural ministry rightfully addressed one of many problems with Monsanto’s GMO crops, stating that they have a ‘negative impact on biodiversity.’ The ban was also signed by the health and environment ministries. That makes three. The ministries stated:

“Our agriculture is based on biodiversity, on quality, and those we must continue to aim for, without games that even from an economic point of view would not make us competitive.”

The three ministries have also notified the European Commission and other states in the EU about this important precedent-setting move to oust Monsanto from the world food supply monopoly that the company is currently trying to browbeat the world with. The ministries have also requested a scientific basis for the final decision from the European Food and Safety Authority – Europe’s version of the FDA, the country’s food safety watch dog.

 

Read More Here

 

 

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FARM NEWS


by Staff Writers
Nottingham, UK (SPX) Jul 03, 2013


File image.

 

New research by academics at The University of Nottingham has shown that exposure to a neonicotinoid insecticide causes changes to the genes of the honeybee.

The study, published in the scientific journal PLOS ONE, supports the recent decision taken by the European Commission to temporarily ban three neonicotinoids amid concerns that they could be linked to bee deaths.

There is growing evidence connecting the decline in the honeybee population that pollinates one-third of the food that we eat, and insecticides, but this is the first comprehensive study to look at changes in the activity of honeybee genes linked to one of the recently banned neonicotinoids, imidacloprid.

The study, led by Dr Reinhard Stoger, Associate Professor in Epigenetics in the University’s School of Biosciences, was conducted under field realistic conditions and showed that a very low exposure of just two parts per billion has an impact on the activity of some of the honeybee genes.

The researchers identified that cells of honeybee larvae had to work harder and increase the activity of genes involved in breaking down toxins, most likely to cope with the insecticide. Genes involved in regulating energy to run cells were also affected. Such changes are known to reduce the lifespan of the most widely studied insect, the common fruit fly, and lower a larva’s probability of surviving to adulthood.

 

Read More  Here

 

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Earth Watch Report  –  Flooding

Flooded streeets in Dresden’s Gohlis district
Getty Images
Getty Images
The old town is flooded by the river Elbe in Meissen, eastern Germany
Getty Images
Residents transport sand bags to build a flood protection in a street flooded by the river Elbe in Dresden, eastern Germany
Getty Images

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06.06.2013 Flood Czech Republic Capital City, Prague Damage level Details

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Flood in Czech Republic on Monday, 03 June, 2013 at 03:06 (03:06 AM) UTC.

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Updated: Tuesday, 04 June, 2013 at 04:09 UTC
Description
Czech officials have said the waters of the Vltava river could reach critical levels in the capital city Prague as torrential rain continued to cause chaos and claim lives across central Europe. At least eight people have died and at least two are missing after heavy rain caused landslides and swelled river waters to dangerously high levels in three countries. Czech officials said the waters of the Vltava river could reach critical levels in Prague and that special metal walls were being erected to prevent flooding. Interim Mayor Tomas Hudecek said they were shutting down eight stations of the capital’s subway network and urging people not to travel to the city. Anticipating traffic problems, the mayor said all nursery, elementary and high schools in the Czech capital will be closed today. In the nearby town of Trebenice where a woman was found dead in the rubble after a summer cottage collapsed due to the raging water, authorities discovered the dead body of a man, Czech public television reported. Separately, at least three other people were reportedly missing.

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Flood in Czech Republic on Monday, 03 June, 2013 at 03:06 (03:06 AM) UTC.

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Updated: Tuesday, 04 June, 2013 at 04:43 UTC
Description
The government of Czech Republic declared a state of emergency across much of the country on Monday. In Prague, the fire brigade erected flood barriers to try to protect the Old Town from the swollen Vltava River, which flows through the Czech capital. Meteorologists said the flooding in Prague and other areas of the country probably had not yet reached their peak. Heavy rainfall has also caused heavy flooding in low-lying regions of Austria – as well as landslides on some mountains. The number of deaths attributed to the flooding rose to two on Monday after the body of a man missing since Saturday evening was recovered. There has been at least one flood-related death in Germany and six in the Czech Republic since the floods hit. The European Commission noted that help would be available to the victims of the current flooding through the European Solidarity Fund, which it set up after the last major floods to hit the region in 2002. “I want to assure those affected and the politicians, too, that the European family will lend support to its member states and help where it’s needed the most,” said Johannes Hahn, a spokesperson for EU Regional Policy Commissioner.

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Flood in Czech Republic on Monday, 03 June, 2013 at 03:06 (03:06 AM) UTC.

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Updated: Tuesday, 04 June, 2013 at 08:32 UTC
Description
On Tuesday, at least e10 pople wre confirmeed dead in Czech Republic. About nine others are reportedly missing. Czech Prime Minister Petr Necas declared a state of emergency on June 2 and promised relief aid. The Czech Republic capital, Prague, is preparing for more flooding as the Vltava river is continuing to rise.

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Flood in Czech Republic on Monday, 03 June, 2013 at 03:06 (03:06 AM) UTC.

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Updated: Thursday, 06 June, 2013 at 14:04 UTC
Description
In the Czech Republic, firefighters said some 700 Czech villages, towns and cities have been hit by flooding in the last few days and some 20,500 people had to be evacuated. In the country’s north, the water in the Elbe reached its highest level overnight and began to recede Thursday.

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The Telegraph

Aerial footage shows extent of flooding across Europe

Flooding in the German city of Dresden and Czech capital Prague is een from the air, as the death toll due to the floods in Europe rises to at least 10.

9:28PM BST 04 Jun 2013

 photo AerialfootageshowsextentoffloodingacrossEurope-PragueV01-19_zpsc5569f49.jpg

Aerial footage shows extent of flooding across Europe – Prague V01:19

Another nine people have been reported missing in the floods that have also swept through Austria and Switzerland.

Peak floodwaters coursing out of the Czech Republic were expected to hit Dresden, capital of the German province of Saxony, along the Elbe in three to four days.

Many areas of Dresden were already badly flooded on Tuesday, including some parts of the historic city centre.

Cities and towns in the German states of Saxony Anhalt, Thuringia and Brandenburg were also hit with flooding.

Seven of those killed in the floods were in the Czech Republic, where a man was found dead in the water in eastern Bohemia on Tuesday.

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The Telegraph

Woman wakeboards along street in flood-hit Czech Republic

Video of a woman wakeboarding through the flooded streets of a Czech town has provided a rare moment of levity for the Czech Republic as it continues to battle the worst flooding in over decade.

Woman wakeboards along street in flood-hit Czech Republic  V00-34 photo Womanwakeboardsalongstreetinflood-hitCzechRepublicV00-34_zps1496d2be.jpg

Woman wakeboards along street in flood-hit Czech Republic V00:34

View  Video Here

The video, which has become an internet hit in the Czech Republic, shows the 26-year old, known only as Mila, being towed by a car and skimming along the water-filled streets of the town of Pisek in southern Bohemia.

“We were going round the town taking pictures and then we saw children splashing in the water and that gave us the idea,” Radek, the man who made the video, told the Czech press. “We thought we could go boarding.”

The wakeboarding video came as vast flood waters caused by days of torrential rain continued to leave a trail of death and destruction across the Czech Republic, Germany, Switzerland and Austria.

Read Full Article and  Watch Additional Videos Here

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Residents transport sand bags to build a flood protection in
a street flooded by the river Elbe in Dresden, eastern Germany
Getty Images

See Additional Photos Here

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06.06.2013 Flood Germany Saxony, Dresden Damage level Details

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Flood in Germany on Thursday, 06 June, 2013 at 14:02 (02:02 PM) UTC.

Description
The surging Elbe River crested Thursday in the eastern German city of Dresden, sparing the historic city center but engulfing wide areas of the Saxony capital. Residents and emergency crews had worked through the night to fight the floods in Dresden. The German military and the national disaster team sent more support in a frantic effort to sandbag levees and riverbanks as floodwaters that have claimed 16 lives since last week surged north. “Everybody’s afraid but the people are simply fantastic and sticking together,” said Dresden resident Silvia Fuhrmann, who had brought food and drinks to those building sandbag barriers. The Elbe hit 8.76 meters (28 feet, 9 inches) around midday – well above its regular level of two meters (6 1/2 feet). Still, that was not high enough to damage city’s famous opera, cathedral and other buildings in its historic city center, which was devastated in a flood in 2002. Germany has 60,000 local emergency personnel and aid workers, as well as 25,000 federal disaster responders and 16,000 soldiers now fighting the floods. Farther downstream, the town of Lauenburg – just southwest of Hamburg – evacuated 150 houses along the Elbe, n-tv news reported, as the floodwaters roared toward the North Sea.

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Thousands blockade European Central Bank in Frankfurt (VIDEO, PHOTOS)

  RT

Published time: May 31, 2013 08:12
Edited time: May 31, 2013 13:50

The entrance of the ECB is blocked by over 3,000 ‘Blockupy’ protesters in a march against austerity. ‘Blockupy’ has announced the coalition has “reached its first goal” of the day.

Anti-capitalist protesters have taken to the streets of the financial heart of Frankfurt a day ahead of Europe-wide gatherings planned for June 1 to protest leaders handling of the three-year euro debt crisis.

“We call up everyone to join our protests.”

 

 

German riot police scuffle with protestors in front of the European Central Bank (ECB) head quarters during a anti-capitalism "Blockupy" demonstration in Frankfurt, May 31, 2013. (Reuters / Kai Pfaffenbach)

German riot police scuffle with protestors in front of the European Central Bank (ECB) head quarters during a anti-capitalism “Blockupy” demonstration in Frankfurt, May 31, 2013. (Reuters / Kai Pfaffenbach)

The ECB spokesman told The Guardian that the Blockupy protests have not disturbed day to day operations at the bank, but would not specify how many bankers managed to come to work.

Apart from those who amassed outside the ECB, a smaller demonstration took place at the nearby Deutsche Bank AG (DBK) headquarters, where around 50 police vehicles had been deployed. The protesters set off by midday.

The crowd, estimated at 2,500 by local authorities, clutched signs demanding ‘humanity before profit’.

Rain-soaked and dressed in ponchos, the crowd is equipped with a wide array of protest props- vuvuzelas, yellow wigs, pots and pans, and mattresses with the spray-painted slogan ‘War Starts Here’.

 

Image from twitter user@Migs_Bru

Image from twitter user@Migs_Bru

Blockupy’ has become a top-ten Twitter trend in Frankfurt, and at 10:09am (08:09 GMT), user Enough14 tweeted, “Strong Powerful blockade at Kaiserstr. Not one banker will come through here,” in reference to the ECB headquarters.

 

Read Full Article  and Watch Video Here

ransomware

Ransomware is a computer virus that locks up victims’ computers

 

 

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CNET Editor

Michelle Starr is the tiger force at the core of all things. She also writes about cool stuff and apps as CNET Australia’s Crave editor. But mostly the tiger force thing.

The Commission on the Theft of American Intellectual Property has submitted a report to the US Congress proposing anti-piracy measures and is considering the government-sanctioned use of ransomware.

(Pirate flag image by Oren neu dag, CC BY-SA 3.0)

According to studios and publishers, piracy constitutes a massive threat to both jobs and economies. yet, there is no good way to combat the practice — at least, not within the current scope of US law.

The use of malware is therefore what the commission, a committee formed to investigate, document and come up with ideas for fighting piracy, is considering, as spotted by Lauren Weinstein. In an 89-page report submitted to US Congress, it has detailed how “IP theft” worth “hundreds of billions of dollars per year” hurts the US economy, and proposed measures for fighting it — including the covert installation of spyware:

While not currently permitted under US law, there are increasing calls for creating a more permissive environment for active network defence that allows companies not only to stabilise a situation, but to take further steps, including actively retrieving stolen information, altering it within the intruder’s networks or even destroying the information within an unauthorised network. Additional measures go further, including photographing the hacker using his own system’s camera, implanting malware in the hacker’s network, or even physically disabling or destroying the hacker’s own computer or network.

Read Full Article Here

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Hack the hacker: US Congress urged to legalize cyber-attacks to fight cybercrimes

Published time: May 27, 2013 23:07

Reuters / Kacper Pempel

Reuters / Kacper Pempel

Tags

Crime, Internet, Law, USA

US Congress should legalize attacking hacker’s computers with malware, physically destroy networks and take photos of data thieves and copyright violators with their own cameras in order to punish IP thieves, the IP Commission recommends.

The commissioners – former US government officials and military men – say that the “scale of international theft of American intellectual property (IP) is unprecedented”. However, the US government response has been “utterly inadequate to deal with the problem.”

Almost all the advantages are on the side of the hacker; the current situation is not sustainable,the commissions’s report says.

“New options need to be considered,” the authors call, then adding that current laws are limited and “have not kept pace with the technology of hacking.”

Thus, the commission suggests allowing active network retrieving stolen information, “altering it within the intruder’s networks, or even destroying the information within an unauthorized network.”

For example, locking down the computer of unauthorized users and forcing them to come out to police could be one of the options.

The file could be rendered inaccessible and the unauthorized user’s computer could be locked down, with instructions on how to contact law enforcement to get the password needed to unlock the account,” the commission recommended.

 

Read Full Article Here

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Oil Companies Worldwide photo oilcompaniesworldwide_zps43156338.jpg

Everything Is Rigged, Continued: European Commission Raids Oil Companies in Price-Fixing Probe

 

POSTED:

 

 

e’re going to get into this more at a later date, but there was some interesting late-breaking news yesterday.

 

According to numerous reports, the European Commission regulators yesterday raided the offices of oil companies in London, the Netherlands and Norway as part of an investigation into possible price-rigging in the oil markets. The targeted companies include BP, Shell and the Norweigan company Statoil. The Guardian explains that officials believe that oil companies colluded to manipulate pricing data:

 

The commission said the alleged price collusion, which may have been going on since 2002, could have had a “huge impact” on the price of petrol at the pumps “potentially harming final consumers”.

Lord Oakeshott, former Liberal Democrat Treasury spokesman, said the alleged rigging of oil prices was “as serious as rigging Libor” – which led to banks being fined hundreds of millions of pounds.

 

The inquiry also involves Platts, the world’s largest oil price reporting agency. The concept here is very similar to both the LIBOR scandal, which involved banks manipulating the benchmark rates for interest rates, and to the possible rigging of interest rate swap prices through the manipulation of ISDAfix, the benchmark rate for those instruments, which is also the subject of a regulatory probe.

 

We wrote about both of those scandals in last month’s Rolling Stone article, “Everything is Rigged.” In that piece, finance professionals talked about the potential for manipulation in other markets that involve voluntary price reporting:

What other markets out there carry the same potential for manipulation? The answer to that question is far from reassuring, because the potential is almost everywhere. From gold to gas to swaps to interest rates, prices all over the world are dependent upon little private cabals of cigar-chomping insiders we’re forced to trust.

 

Read Full Article Here

Last-ditch lobbying to sway vote in Brussels to halt use of killer nerve agents

Beekeepers report higher loss rates In bee population

Bees are vital for pollination, and scientific studies have linked pesticides to huge losses in their numbers. Photograph: Sean Gallup/Getty

Europe is on the brink of a landmark ban on the world’s most widely used insecticides, which have increasingly been linked to serious declines in bee numbers. Despite intense secret lobbying by British ministers and chemical companies against the ban, revealed in documents obtained by the Observer, a vote in Brussels on Monday is expected to lead to the suspension of the nerve agents.

Bees and other insects are vital for global food production as they pollinate three-quarters of all crops. The plummeting numbers of pollinators in recent years has been blamed on disease, loss of habitat and, increasingly, the near ubiquitous use of neonicotinoid pesticides.

The prospect of a ban has prompted a fierce behind-the-scenes campaign. In a letter released to the Observer under freedom of information rules, the environment secretary, Owen Paterson, told the chemicals company Syngenta last week that he was “extremely disappointed” by the European commission‘s proposed ban. He said that “the UK has been very active” in opposing it and “our efforts will continue and intensify in the coming days”.

Publicly, ministers have expressed concern for bees, with David Cameron saying: “If we do not look after our bee populations, very serious consequences will follow.”

The chemical companies, which make billions from the products, have also lobbied hard, with Syngenta even threatening to sue individual European Union officials involved in publishing a report that found the pesticides posed an unacceptable risk to bees, according to documents seen by the Observer. The report, from the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA), led the commission to propose a two-year ban on three neonicotinoids. “EFSA has provided a strong, substantive and scientific case for the suspension,” a commission spokesman said.

A series of high-profile scientific studies has linked neonicotinoids to huge losses in the number of queens produced and big increases in “disappeared” bees – those that fail to return from foraging trips. Pesticide manufacturers and UK ministers have argued that the science is inconclusive and that a ban would harm food production, but conservationists say harm stemming from dying pollinators is even greater.

“It’s a landmark vote,” said Joan Walley MP, chairwoman of parliament’s green watchdog, the environmental audit committee, whose recent report on pollinators condemned the government’s “extraordinary complacency”. Walley said: “You have to have scientific evidence, but you also have to have the precautionary principle – that’s the heart of this debate.”

A ban has been supported by petitions signed by millions of people and Paterson has received 80,000 emails, an influx that he described as a “cyber-attack“. “The impact of neonicotinoids on the massive demise of our bees is clear, yet Paterson seems unable to escape the haze of sloppy science and lobbying by powerful pesticide giants,” said Iain Keith of the campaign group Avaaz. “Seventy per cent of British people want these poisons banned. Paterson must reconsider or send the bees to chemical Armageddon.” Andrew Pendleton of Friends of the Earth said a ban would be “a historic moment in the fight to save our bees”.

A spokeswoman for the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs said: “As the proposal currently stands we could not support an outright ban. We have always been clear that a healthy bee population is our top priority, that’s why decisions need to be taken using the best possible scientific evidence and we want to work with the commission to achieve this. Any action taken must be proportionate and not have any unforeseen knock-on effects.”

“This plan is motivated by a quite understandable desire to save the beleaguered bee and concern about a serious decline in other important pollinator species,” said the government’s chief scientific adviser, Sir Mark Walport, “but it is based on a misreading of the currently available evidence.” He said the EC plan was a serious “mistake”.

Julian Little, a spokesman for Bayer Cropscience, said: “Call me an optimist, but I still believe the commission will see sense. There is so much field evidence to demonstrate safe use [and] an increasing number of member states who reject the apparent drive towards museum agriculture in the European Union.” However, Bulgaria is the only nation known to have changed its voting intention and it will reverse its opposition.

Read Full Article Here

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Bee-harming pesticides banned in Europe

EU member states vote ushers in continent-wide suspension of neonicotinoid pesticides

A bee collects pollen from a sunflower in Utrecht

A bee collects pollen from a sunflower in Utrecht, the Netherlands. EU states have voted in favour of a proposal to restrict the use of pesticides linked to serious harm in bees. Photograph: Michael Kooren/Reuters

Europe will enforce the world’s first continent-wide ban on widely used insecticides alleged to cause serious harm to bees, after a European commission vote on Monday.

The suspension is a landmark victory for millions of environmental campaigners, backed by the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA), concerned about a dramatic decline in the bee population. The vote also represents a serious setback for the chemical producers who make billions each year from the products and also UK ministers, who voted against the ban. Both had argued the ban would harm food production.

Although the vote by the 27 EU member states on whether to suspend the insect nerve agents was supported by 15 nations, but did not reach the required majority under voting rules. The hung vote hands the final decision to the European commission, which will implement the ban.

Tonio Borg, health and consumer commissioner, said: “Our proposal is based on a number of risks to bee health identified by the EFSA, [so] the European commission will go ahead with its plan in coming weeks.”

Friends of the Earth‘s head of campaigns, Andrew Pendleton, said: “This decision is a significant victory for common sense and our beleaguered bee populations. Restricting the use of these pesticides could be an historic milestone on the road to recovery for these crucial pollinators.”

The UK, which abstained in a previous vote, was heavily criticised for switching to a “no” vote on Monday.

Joan Walley MP, chair of parliament’s green watchdog, the environmental audit committee, whose investigation had backed a ban and accused ministers of “extraordinary complacency”, said the vote was a real step in the right direction, but added: “A full Commons debate where ministers can be held to account is more pressing than ever.”

Greenpeace‘s chief scientist, Doug Parr, said: “By not supporting the ban, environment secretary, Owen Paterson, has exposed the UK government as being in the pocket of big chemical companies and the industrial farming lobby.”

On Sunday, the Observer revealed the intense secret lobbying by Paterson and Syngenta.

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