Blog Posts: December 2012

December 14th, 2012

Reports From the UN Climate Negotiations in Doha, Qatar

Image by Victor Korniyenko. Used by permission according to the rules of the Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 Unported license.

By Daniel Weinshenker, Former FWW Intern

Last summer I was an intern for the New Brunswick, New Jersey office of Food and Water Watch, where I got to see state-level politics and environmental negotiations at work. So when The University Centre for Development Cooperation (Universitair Centrum voor Ontwikkelingssamenwerking – UCOS) in Belgium gave me the opportunity to attend the United Nations Climate Change Conference, informally referred to as Doha 2012 or COP 18, I knew I would get to see similar work on an international level.

In the wake of Hurricane Sandy and increasingly erratic weather patterns, more Americans are accepting that global warming is real, and that we must take action both in the United States and in global agreements. Unfortunately, the U.S. did not sign the Kyoto Protocol to lower global green house gas emissions, and U.S. negotiators are widely considered to be playing a spoiler role.

At every passing round of climate negotiations, I hope that the United States will join this fold of the international community. As a global power, we should lead on this issue and set a good example. Instead we are receiving tongue-in-cheek awards like Fossil of the Day.

Read the full article…

December 13th, 2012

Are the GM Industry and Failed Bankers Controlling UK Agriculture Policy?

By Eve Mitchell

Eve Mitchell is EU Food Policy Advisor for Food & Water Europe.

Scientific Testing Is To Learn This week The Telegraph splashed a story that the UK Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, Owen Paterson, had announced the UK should grow and sell more genetically modified (GM) foods. The story was then picked up by other outlets, and a public outcry followed, including many strong comments on those papers’ websites against any such move.

Much of the media coverage was nearly identical, suggesting precious few sources were consulted, especially since some pieces repeated the same factual errors. Here are some of them:

  • Paterson based his stand on his belief that GM crops have “real environmental benefits” saying, “I’m very clear it would be a good thing.” The UK ran Farm Scale Trials of GM crops to determine their safety. The results, published in 2004, showed damage to farmland wildlife, so GM cultivation was shelved – a fact conveniently forgotten by the UK government. The report also found that even if GM crops did ever manage to provide better environmental outcomes than conventional farming at some point in the future, what we do to our fields and streams now is extremely damaging and cannot be used as a comparison for anything called “sustainable”. In addition, countries growing GM crops like the U.S. are now suffering serious direct complications including the development of pests and weeds the technology cannot control and dramatically increased chemical applications by farmers trying to cope. The results for food production and toxic residues in food remain to be seen.
  • There is a “block” or “ban” on GM cultivation in the EU. This is simply untrue. GM crops are grown in Spain and to a limited degree in a few other EU countries. The fact that more GM crops are not available for cultivation in the UK is due to the normal operation of the authorisation process and democracy. Even the pro-GM European Commission defended Europe’s right to operate it’s own approvals of GMOs when the U.S. complained to the WTO. The UK and the Commission now find the results of the democratic process inconvenient, so the Commission presses unwanted GMOs into the market, and the UK blames the EU for lack of “progress”. Read the full article…

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