A learning curve

Published in Forum items

A post on the Eco Hvar Facebook page led to an unexpected response. Eco Hvar learned a lot!

Novi list- 2013, 2017! Novi list- 2013, 2017!

On April 25th 2017, I came across an article on a Croatian news website, Novi list, stating that the European Commission was about to issue a directive proposing drastic seed control measures, which would mean that only standardized 'approved' seeds could be sown, not only for commercial agriculture, but even in private gardens. Shocked, I posted the link on the Eco Hvar Facebook page.

The post evoked some interesting reactions.

One comment declared that it was 'fake news', and that such 'semi-information, which is very dangerous and tendentious, is being spread around Croatia by extreme right-wing circles who opposed Croatia's entry into the EU.'

As it turned out, the news was not fake, but old. It did actually happen. I hadn't noticed that the article was published in May 2013. The EC did indeed present the seed control proposal at that time. It was withdrawn in 2015. You can read the EC proposal here, and a description of the proposal in English here. An account of organised opposition to the proposal is accessible here.

The news was old, but still served a purpose, as the issue lies at the heart of the differences between so-called conventional agriculture (using chemical pesticides and fertilizers) and organic practices.

WHAT I LEARNED

1. Legislation for the control of seeds is proposed for a variety of different reasons. Some, such as protection of indigenous flora and fauna, are worthwhile, others, especially protecting the commercial interests of the big agrochemical companies, are not.

2  Seed control is an issue which is being debated worldwide. For instance, it is a major cause for concern among environmentalists in the United States, New Zealand, Romania, India and Brazil. It is an issue also strongly linked to the development of GMO crops for which related seeds have been patented. Food production is a major economic activity, which is controlled by relatively few (huge) international companies.

3. Denmark has shown that EU seed protection laws can be interpreted by member nations to the satisfaction of environmental groups: 'Denmark has just become the European Union role model for biodiversity friendly seed marketing laws, putting pressure on every other country in the EU currently embracing the push to corporatize our seed heritage to follow suit.'  (Seed Freedom, March 2017)

4. This particular EC proposal did not progress, although it took two years for it to be abandoned. The subject may come up again. Seed control means control of the food supply. The major agrochemical companies would be likely to support any initiative to extend that control at national government level, if they felt it would increase their influence.

5. Environmentalists have to be on permanent guard against any proposed legislation which threatens the free practice of organic agriculture. The individual's right to choose organic plant and crop cultivation, and the consumer's right to buy organic products must never be undermined.

© Vivian Grisogono MA(Oxon) 2017

 

 

 

 

You are here: Home forum items A learning curve

Eco Environment News feeds

  • Report looks at 16 conflict areas and calls for military to stop targeting water resources

    Diarrhoea and other diseases related to poor sanitation are bigger killers of children in areas of conflict than violence and war itself, a report has found, highlighting the need for improved infrastructure as a way of helping civilian populations afflicted by warfare.

    Children under five are more than 20 times more likely to die from diarrhoeal diseases than from direct violence, according to Unicef. Henrietta Fore, the organisation’s executive director, said: “The reality is there are more children who die from lack of access to safe water than by bullets.”

    Continue reading...

  • Failure to protect wildlife, cut pollution and increase funding have left nature in ‘deep crisis’

    The UK will miss almost all the 2020 nature targets it signed up to a decade ago, according to a report by the government’s official advisers.

    The nation is failing to protect threatened species; end the degradation of land; reduce agricultural pollution; and increase funding for green schemes, the assessment concludes. It also says the UK is not ending unsustainable fishing; stopping the arrival of invasive alien species; nor raising public awareness of the importance of biodiversity.

    Continue reading...

  • The ‘Dieselgate’ scandal was suppressed for years – while we should have been driving electric cars. By Beth Gardiner

    John German had not been looking to make a splash when he commissioned an examination of pollution from diesel cars back in 2013. The exam compared what came out of their exhaust pipes, during the lab tests that were required by law, with emissions on the road under real driving conditions. German and his colleagues at the International Council on Clean Transportation (ICCT) in the US just wanted to tie up the last loose ends in a big report, and thought the research would give them something positive to say about diesel. They might even be able to offer tips to Europe from the US’s experience in getting the dirty fuel to run a little cleaner.

    But that was not how it turned out. They chose a Volkswagen Jetta as their first test subject, and a VW Passat next. Regulators in California agreed to do the routine certification test for them, and the council hired researchers from West Virginia University to then drive the same cars through cities, along highways and into the mountains, using equipment that tests emissions straight from the cars’ exhausts.

    Continue reading...

  • Rob Stewart’s followup to his 2006 feature shines a light on human cruelty – and gains power from the fate of its maker

    In the 2006 eco-doc Sharkwater, Canadian activist film-maker Rob Stewart gave us a heartfelt plea to save the planet’s sharks. He was on a mission to reduce overfishing and rehabilitate the creatures’ reputation as stone-cold killers – if only we could love sharks as much as we love cuddly pandas we’d do more to protect them. Back then, you couldn’t help feeling that Stewart wanted us to love him too, with all the shots of himself in tiny Speedos. Watching the sequel, I experienced a sharp stab of self-reproach. Stewart died in a diving accident while shooting this film – he was 37. Sharkwater: Extinction has been scrappily put together from footage he’d already shot.

    And there are some striking images here. Since the first film, many countries have banned “finning” ­– the practice of hacking off the fins then tossing the shark’s body back into the sea. But it still happens. In Costa Rica, Stewart uses a drone to film a warehouse packed with them. Shark fin soup is a delicacy in China, which drives the illegal market. And it’s not just finning that’s the problem. In California, he captures upsetting footage of a graceful thresher shark tangled up in a mile-long net intended for swordfish.

    Continue reading...

  • World Water Day study highlights lethal nature of unsafe sanitation and hygiene for children, especially under-fives

    Children under five who live in conflict zones are 20 times more likely to die from diarrhoeal diseases linked to unsafe water than from direct violence as a result of war, Unicef has found.

    Analysing mortality data from 16 countries beset by long-term conflict – including Afghanistan, Iraq, Syria and Yemen – the UN children’s agency also found that unsafe water, sanitation and hygiene kills nearly three times more children under 15 than war.

    Continue reading...

  • Science agency says scourge of wandering trad could be slowed by fungus, which they have called its ‘natural pathogen’

    Australia’s national science agency will release a Brazilian leaf smut fungus to target and kill an invasive weed that covers large parts of the continent’s east coast.

    Researchers from the CSIRO say the scourge of wandering trad could be slowed by the introduction of the Kordyana brasiliensis fungus, which they have called its “natural pathogen”.

    Continue reading...

  • While the ultimate goal is to stop plastics from entering the water in the first place, cleanup projects play an important role

    Somewhere in Hilo, on Hawaii’s Big Island, a team of scientists and engineers are tending to The Ocean Cleanup’s 600-metre-long rubbish-herding device, after its maiden voyage to the Great Pacific garbage patch was cut short in December 2018, because it fractured into two pieces.

    The project has had its fair share of problems since it was unveiled in May 2017 and has been criticised by marine scientists and environmental groups for its potential negative environmental impact. However, some still herald The Ocean Cleanup for having a positive effect on plastic pollution.

    Continue reading...

  • The latest study warning us to eat less meat has brought angry sceptics out in droves. But who should we believe?

    Sometimes, particularly when looking at the weekend newspapers, it can seem that our obsession with food and health has reached a pitch of pure hysteria. “Eat!” screams one headline. “Diet!” shouts another. Cut out carbohydrates, suggests one report. Carbs are good for you, says a different one. Lower your fat intake. No, fat’s healthy, sugar’s the problem. Coffee raises the risk of heart disease. But it lowers the risk of diabetes. And so on, until you just want to ditch the papers and watch The Great British Bake Off or MasterChef.

    Food, how to cook it, what it does to you and what growing or rearing it does to the planet are issues that crowd the media. And yet, as the clamour grows, clarity recedes. An estimated 820 million people went hungry last year, according to the UN Food and Agriculture Organisation. A third of all people were vitamin-deficient. Two billion were classified as overweight and 600 million as obese. It’s also estimated that 1bn tonnes of food are wasted every year – a third of the total produced. A plethora of academic reports concerning food consumption and production have been published in recent years. The latest and arguably the most far-reaching is Food in the Anthropocene:the Eat-Lancet Commission on healthy diets from sustainable food systems, which was conducted over three years by 37 senior scientists from around the world and published earlier this year.

    Continue reading...

  • Scientists say a drastic cut in meat consumption is needed, but this requires political will

    It has been known for a while that the amount of animal products being eaten is bad for both the welfare of animals and the environment. People cannot consume 12.9bn eggs in the UK each year without breaking a few.

    But the extent of the damage, and the amount by which people need to cut back, is now becoming clearer. On Wednesday, the Lancet medical journal published a study that calls for dramatic changes to food production and the human diet, in order to avoid “catastrophic damage to the planet”.

    Continue reading...

  • The continent’s largest land mammal plays crucial role in spiritual lives of the tribes

    On 5,000 hectares of unploughed prairie in north-eastern Montana, hundreds of wild bison roam once again. But this herd is not in a national park or a protected sanctuary – they are on tribal lands. Belonging to the Assiniboine and Sioux tribes of Fort Peck Reservation, the 340 bison is the largest conservation herd in the ongoing bison restoration efforts by North America’s Indigenous people.

    The bison – or as Native Americans call them, buffalo – are not just “sustenance,” according to Leroy Little Bear, a professor at the University of Lethbridge and a leader in the bison restoration efforts with the Blood Tribe. The continent’s largest land mammal plays a major role in the spiritual and cultural lives of numerous Native American tribes, an “integrated relationship,” he said.

    Continue reading...

Eco Health News feeds

Eco Nature News feeds