Blog Posts: February 2012

February 10th, 2012

Europe Has Every Right to Be Emotional About Fracking

Ban Fracking!By Anna Witowska

As if he were employing the pop psychology Mars-versus-Venus framework on the issue, Shell Chief Executive Peter Voser called for a less “emotional” response to fracking in Europe. He stated that the European discussion on shale gas exploration is not factual but fuelled by emotions. So, can we thus infer that Mars — embodied by oil and gas corporations — must be focused on profits and is ready to drill? No matter who gets hurt in the process?

European opponents of fracking, including Food & Water Europe, are somewhat surprised by such a facile characterization as they have always based their case against fracking on facts— such as the water intensity of fracking operations. In the United States, the Environmental Protection Agency estimated that 70 to 140 billion gallons of water are pumped into 35 thousand of fracking wells annually. What the gas industry is not admitting is that hydraulic fracturing uses water to an extent that ought to strike fear in countries that are counting on a shale gas boom, particularly as water becomes an increasingly scarce resource. Well contamination is also an issue to be considered. In January 2012, a Calgary-based company injected fluids at such a high pressure into a 1,800-metre-deep oil formation that they travelled more than 1.4 kilometres underground and ruptured an oil well near Innisfail, Alberta. There are also the documented facts of roads being destroyed through heavy machinery use and real estate prices dropping to ridiculous levels.  Read the full article…

February 8th, 2012

BASF and Monsanto European Retreat

By Eve Mitchell

The new year has brought two significant developments for GM crops in the EU. BASF has pulled all R&D aimed at European markets and moved their operations to the U.S., and Monsanto has pulled sales of their GM MON810 maize from France.

BASF’s GM crop prospects in Europe suffered a serious blow in 2010 when the first ever planting of its flagship Amflora GM potato, designed to produce industrial starch, had to be destroyed when it emerged the seed stock was contaminated with an unauthorised GM potato. Caching up with what Europeans have known all along, a BASF spokesperson was reported to say, “It does not make business sense to continue investing in products exclusively for cultivation in this market.” The company clearly thinks it will have better luck selling its GM food in the U.S. — where there are no labels to tell consumers what they are buying.

Monsanto’s withdrawal of MON810 was more of a surprise. After all, the company had recently won a case at the EU Court of Justice against the ongoing French ban on cultivation. The French Government vowed to correct its administrative oversights and reinstate the ban, and Monsanto must have felt it wasn’t worth the fight – or perhaps didn’t want the renewed scrutiny of the crop the French would ignite so decided on a tactical retreat.

Either way Europeans are a step or two closer to the GM-free food and farming we want. Now all we have to do is clean up the problems the limited GM crops we’ve already grown and still causing for people like beekeepers.

Learn more about GMOs in Europe.

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