Most of Europe says no to GM maize, but Commission still pushing ahead

Despite two-thirds of European Member States having voted against the cultivation of genetically modified (GM) Pioneer maize 1507, the EU Comission could still approve the controversial insect resistant, herbicide tolerant crop. Following an anulment of the EU Commissions authorisation to market BASF’s genetically modified potato (GM), Amflora in December 2013, Greenpeace warned that if authorisation was given for the maize by the Commission, despite political opposition and concerns about its environmental impacts, it would again be acting illegally. The European Parliament Greens/EPA group has threatened the European Commission with a motion of censure if they push ahead with authorisation. The decision is reported to have caused outrage from amongst the Greens, other MEPs and environmental organisations. Greens/EFA co-president Dany Cohn-Bendit said: "Pushing ahead with the authorisation of this GM maize variety, against the background of clear opposition in the Council and the European Parliament, would demonstrate a disdain for the democratic process by the European Commission".

Polish farmers being regulated out of existence

A protest will take place outside the Polish Embassy in London at 47 Portland Place, London W1B 1JH at 14.30 on 20th February 2014 to highlight the excessively harsh regulations imposed on small- to meduim-sized farmers in Poland. In recent years the Warsaw government has inflicted stringent regulations on local independent farmers making it near impossible for them to survive. The farmers are supported by the International Coalition to Protect the Polish Countryside (ICPPC) who believe the financial difficulties bought about by the costly hygiene and sanitary regulations are unfair to smaller farms and encouraging control of the market by only the very large producers. Poland is very proud of its countryside, traditions and generations of farmers who love their work — extra support can be given by sending an email to Prime Minister Tusk calling on him to rethink the regulations.

GMOs pushed in Africa at the taxpayers' expense

In an attempt to portray a European stamp of approval for genetically modified organisms (GMOs), a workshop has been organised by the European Academics Science and Advisory Council (EASAC) to take place in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia to promote GM in Africa. The line up of speakers includes staunch GMO supporters such as Anne Glover, Matin Qaim, Joachim Schiemann and, until he recently pulled out, UK Environment Secretary Owen Paterson. The only African keynote speaker, Calestous Juma, is a staunch advocate of GMOs and directs a project funded by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, who invest in Monsanto. Unsurprisingly, the GM industry is in retreat in Europe following sustained and widespread opposition. It would appear that the new game plan is to push GM on Africa and convince them to accept it.

UK medicines regulator reclassified Bach flower remedies as food supplements

Bach Original Flower Essences, developed in the 1930s by Dr Edward Bach, have recently been reclassified by the Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency (MHRA) as food supplements. Owned by Nelsons Natural World, the 38 remedies were previously issued with Product Licenses of Right (PRLs) under the UK Medicines Act (1971), but these have now been withdrawn. Not only did it become illegal for the products to refer to these PRLs after 28th January (apart from those selling through), but as food supplements, they are also now subject to EU Nutrition and Health Claims Regulation (NHCR). As highlighted by the UK advertising watchdog, this seems set to put an end to the remedy ’picture’ or description previously permitted on the packaging, and will surely result in extensive consumer confusion when choosing from among the 38 remedies. The Bach flower description booklets that have graced the shelves of health stores since the 1930’s are about to become collector’s items in the UK. But what of the other vibrational flower and gem essences on the market? Reclassification as food supplements effectively means a total information blackout for consumers and will likely spell the end of such products, which have to date relied on their remedy ‘pictures’ to allow appropriate selection.

Eating Foods rich in vitamin C may reduce risk of hemorrhagic stroke

A new French study suggests that eating foods rich in vitamin C could reduce the risk of hemorrhagic stroke — the most common form of stroke. The study, due to be presented at the American Academy of Neurology’s 66th Annual Meeting in Philadelphia at the end of April, involved 65 people who had experienced a blood vessel rupture inside the brain. These were then compared to 65 healthy people. It was found, on average, that vitamin C levels were depleted in those who suffered a stroke, whilst levels were normal in those who did not. The lead author, Dr Stéphane Vannier of Pontchaillou University Hospital in Rennes, said “Our results show that vitamin C deficiency should be considered a risk factor for this severe type of stroke, as were high blood pressure, drinking alcohol and being overweight in our study”. 


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