Food safety: MEPs oppose authorising new GM maize
The genetically modified maize “Pioneer 1507” should not be placed on the market for cultivation, because its insect-resistant pollen might harm non-target butterflies and moths, says the European Parliament in a resolution passed on Thursday 16th January 2014. MEPs call on the EU Council of Ministers to reject its proposed authorisation, and urge the European Commission not to propose or renew authorisations of any GMO variety until risk assessment methods have been improved. The resolution was passed by 385 votes to 201 with 30 abstentions.
European Parliament News (16 January 2014)
Dr Vandana Shiva: Golden Rice – myth, not miracle
Dr Vandana Shiva is an environmental activist and anti-globalization author, she writes about the problems that golden rice can cause: The real solution to malnutrition and nutrient deficiencies is the growing and eating of biodiversity. Biodiversity intensification increases “Health per Acre”, and makes diverse nutrients available where they are needed most. “Gardens of Hope” everywhere, in villages and cities, in backyards and rooftops, in schools and communities are the answer to vitamin A and other nutrient deficiencies. By blocking these alternatives that increase nutrition and promote seed freedom and food democracy, Golden Rice will worsen the crisis of malnutrition.
GM Watch (12 January 2014)
UK gout epidemic is no laughing matter
More than a million people in Britain have gout after a “frightening” rise in cases over the past decade, blamed on alcohol, red meat, junk food and obesity. Gout is a form of arthritis caused by excess uric acid in the blood, which crystallises in joints and around organs. Foods such as beef, pork, lamb, seafood and sugary drinks, beer and spirits increase the amount of uric acid. Diuretics, sometimes used to treat high blood pressure, increase the risk of gout, as does the anti-cholesterol drug niacin. Some people also have a genetic predisposition to the condition.
The Times (16 January 2014)
Gout cases explode as doctors warn that the condition affects one in 40 Britons The Independent (15 January 2014)
Find out more about the Food for Life Partnership a network of schools and communities across England committed to transforming food culture. Together they are revolutionising school meals, reconnecting children and young people with where their food comes from, and inspiring families to grow and cook food.
Prime Minister David Cameron backs Action on Sugar campaign by giving up sugar
David Cameron has promised to give up sweet treats for a day, with the support of his wife, to back the Action on Sugar campaign against obesity. Enlisted by senior MP Keith Vaz during Prime Minister’s Questions, PM David Cameron commended the Leicester East MP for highlighting the issue. “Can I commend you for… speaking out on the issues of diabetes and obesity with such consistency, because they are major health concerns for our country. We are taking them very seriously. We are rolling out the NHS health check programme to identify all those between 40 and 74 at risk of diabetes,” said PM David Cameron.
The Daily Mail (17 January 2014)
Eat me! This is your brain on sugar
A new video shows how sugar effects the brain like alcohol, nicotine and heroin. In her new book, “Why Diets Fail,” Columbia University neuroscientist and research psychologist Nicole Avena reveals that sugar is addictive; which may not come as a surprise to anyone who has suffered the unrelenting whine of a stubborn sweet tooth. In experiments with rats, she found that overeating foods like sugar can actually result in changes in the brain that resemble addiction. Avena explains how sugar gives us a hit of dopamine – one of the key ingredients in the brain’s reward system. Dopamine is the reason that alcohol, tobacco, and heroine can be so irresistible to many.
Mother Nature Network (16 January 2014)
UN climate report urges quicker switch to low-carbon global economy
Delaying action on global warming will only increase the costs and reduce the options for dealing with its worst effects, according to a draft report by UN experts. The final draft of the report by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change says global warming will continue to increase unless countries shift quickly to clean energy and cut emissions. A leaked version circulating with media outlets and news agencies says that despite national policies and international efforts emissions of carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases that are warming the planet grew 2.2% per year on average between 2000 and 2010, compared with 1.3% per year from 1970 to 2000.
The Guardian (17 January 2014)
Vivienne Westwood backs ecocide law
The fashion designer Vivienne Westwood has urged people to sign up to a petition that could bring in a new European law to hold businesses and individuals responsible for environmental destruction, such as oil spills and industrial pollution. There are only a few days left to gather a total of one million signatures needed to trigger a formal EU debate on “ecocide”, as Westwood terms the crime that would be created as a result of such a law, as the online petition will close on 21 January 2014. The draft directive that the campaign has drawn up includes a broad definition of ecocide, as the “extensive damage to, destruction of or loss of ecosystems of a given territory, whether by human agency or other causes, to such an extent that peaceful enjoyment by the inhabitants has been severely diminished; and or peaceful enjoyment by the inhabitants of another territory has been severely diminished.” This could be held to encompass climate change, making companies with high emissions liable, and Westwood suggested that it could even apply to activities such as fracking, which she is strongly against.
The Guardian (16 January 2014)
Allocation of CAP Pillar One payments ‘not taken lightly’
Alun Davies, the Welsh Government’s Natural Resources and Food Minister says his decisions on the allocation of CAP Pillar One payments have not been take lightly. “They followed an extensive consultation exercise and a series of public meetings with Welsh farmers, landowners and representative bodies and are decisions I believe are right for the long-term, rather than the short-term success of Welsh agriculture. My decisions followed a tough budget settlement from Europe and driven by my ambition to develop Wales’ agriculture industry and put it on the strongest possible footing for the future,” says Alun Davies.
Farmers Guardian (17 January 2014)
China cloning on an ‘industrial scale’
David Shukman, BBC science editor, reports on China’s cloning of pigs on an industrial scale. He writes: Feeding time produces a frenzy as the animals strain against the railings around their pens. But this is no ordinary farm. Run by a fast-growing company called Beijing Genomics Institute (BGI), this facility has become the world’s largest centre for the cloning of pigs. The technology involved is not particularly novel – but what is new is the application of mass production.
BBC News (14 January 2014)
The mild weather we are having seems to be confusing plants and animals. With snowdrops already appearing, some shrubs coming into leaf, and even insects out and about in January, is there a danger that early wildlife may be knocked back by frosts over the coming weeks? Charlotte Smith talks to the Woodland Trust, whose nature records go back 300 years, about the changing patterns of spring.
BBC Radio 4 (17 January 2014)
And finally… 12 close-up photos of animal faces
Mother Nature Network (16 January 2014)