Thursday, 17 April 2014

.Caroline Lucas deserves a medal, not a criminal record, for opposing fracking

The Green MP is Britain's leading voice of reason on climate change, yet a stand against shale gas has put her in court

Green party MP Caroline Lucas who is being prosecuted for causing an obstruction outside the Balcombe gas fracking site. The possibility that one of the most sensible politicians in parliament could receive a criminal record, rather than the medal she deserves, for standing up against greedy energy bosses tells us everything we need to know about the topsy-turvy state of British politics on the environment.
In fact the past few weeks have been an object lesson in why Britain desperately needs more politicians like Lucas – that is, if we are to emerge from this recession with a chance of improving ordinary people's living standards rather than being locked into an outdated fossil-fuel economy and a desperate struggle to cope with increasingly dangerous climate change.
It started with George Osborne bragging about his desire to "extract every drop of oil we can from the North Sea". Presumably he had his ears covered when the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change published its latest damning assessment of the threat from human-made climate change, providing yet more evidence of the extraordinary risks our political leaders are taking by continuing to ignore scientific advice that we need to rapidly stop burning fossil fuels.
Then, soon after Lucas's court case began, David Cameron discarded the last vestiges of his hug-a-husky, fake-green disguise by caving in to Tory backbench nimbyism over onshore wind farms. This was effectively a declaration that a future Conservative government will abandon the most cost-effective method of producing clean energy in the British Isles (something that three-quarters of the public, but a much lower proportion of Tory voters, are in favour of).
While the Tories are withdrawing support for clean power they have instituted the world's most generous tax regime for shale gas – a dirty old fossil fuel that is "fracked" from deep under the countryside (although if Boris Johnson has his way fracking will come to London too). But even with massive subsidies shale gas won't bring down heating bills, because the price of gas is determined on the European market where British gas is sold at the highest price. If the government was serious about tackling fuel poverty it would follow Ed Miliband's lead and impose price freezes while massively increasing investment in renewable energy and energy efficiency. That's not just an environmental choice, but a cool headed economic judgment. It is also why there is such a frenzy of anti-renewable energy rhetoric at the moment.
It is easy to get lost in the numbers about climate change, but there are a couple that stick in my head. The first is that to have a 50/50 chance of avoiding tipping our eco-system into an irreversible pattern of rising temperatures we can only risk putting about 700 gigatonnes more carbon dioxide into the atmosphere. The second is that if we burned all the proven reserves of conventional oil, gas and coal – never mind exotic shale gas – we would release 2,800 gigatonnes of carbon dioxide. In short, we already have four times as much fossil fuel as we can ever afford to burn. Armed with just these two numbers, spending scarce resources on smashing up the beautiful English countryside to extract more of the stuff seems not only reckless but utterly perverse.
Indeed, in an interview with Decca Aitkenhead in the Guardian, Lucas was spot on in explaining why the coalition government has to be stopped in its reckless dash to frack. Even if it were possible to address the local environmental impacts associated with fracking, such as soil and water contamination, the bottom line is that "we are just about to put into place a whole new infrastructure for a whole new fossil fuel industry, at exactly the time when we need to be reducing our emissions."
To me, that sounds like simple common sense, and yet it is for having the bravery to stand up for these views that Lucas now finds herself in the dock. Last summer she joined thousands of other protestors at one of Britain's first fracking sites at Balcombe, not far from her Brighton constituency. A few minutes before the peaceful protest was about to disperse the police arbitrarily arrested some of the protestors for criminal obstruction. Lucas's defence, which I wholeheartedly support, is that "using peaceful means to try to stop a process that could cause enormous harm is not only reasonable but also morally necessary."
When future generations, struggling with the climate mess we have created, look back at the current period of British politics it will be with horror and incomprehension. The Tory-led coalition is systematically serving the interests of its fossil fuel friends at the expense of the UK's economy, national security and people's long-term living standards. And yet it is a backbencher who has become the country's leading voice of reason on the environment who is facing criminal charges.
At next year's general election Lucas and I will be campaigning for different parties, but I will be keeping my fingers crossed for her when the court delivers its verdict. Given my experience of court battles for the right to implement progressive policies, from cutting fares in the 1980s to trying to stop the privatisation of the London underground as mayor, I can't say I am optimistic. But I am confident that anyone interested in building a sustainable future wants to see people like Lucas standing up for us in the House of Commons and not languishing in prison.

Friday, 14 February 2014

ten measures to improve uk's flood resilience

The Green Party – Ten measures to improve the UK’s flood resilience, and to address the underlying causes of flooding
  1. Reverse staff cuts at the Environment Agency (EA), increase its budget, and drop plans to impose a duty on it to consider economic growth, which could get in the way of providing independent expert advice
  1. Strengthen planning rules for urban and rural areas to prevent further development on flood plains and ensure developers prioritise flood resilience and prevention – including through incorporation of Sustainable Urban Drainage Systems (SUDS) in new developments as well as a programme of retrofitting SUDS to existing communities. Ensure better transparency of decisions so public can hold decision makers accountable
  1. Get rid of any cabinet Ministers or senior governmental advisors who refuse to accept the scientific consensus on climate change or who won’t take the risks to the UK seriously
  1. Increase spending on flood defences to a level in line with expert recommendations from the EA and the Climate Change Committee (CCC), change the cost benefit ratios required for projects to go ahead, and simplify the process for local authorities to apply
  1. Rethink land management policies to encourage the storage of water in upland areas, and make flood prevention is a non-negotiable condition of all farm subsidies
  1. Improve UK’s future resilience:  Adopt proposals[i] for the immediate creation of a new Cabinet-level committee on infrastructure and climate change resilience, and a Royal Commission to set out the long-term impacts of climate change on land[ii], making  detailed recommendations as to the necessary institutional, funding and policy responses
  1. Start paying attention to advice from the Met Office and the CCC that climate change will lead to even more such events in the future.  
  1. As called for by Platform London and other campaigners[iii], redirect the billions of UK fossil fuel subsidies and tax breaks into assisting the victims of flooding.  This would free up money to address the underspend and assist the victims of flooding, as well as putting a halt to public money exacerbating the problem of climate change that is making the floods so much worse.
  1. Tackle the undue influence of big business in Whitehall and Westminster – end the revolving door between the fossil fuel industry and government
  1. Step up the UK’s action on climate change, for example by committing to a binding EU-target on renewables


Thursday, 13 February 2014

Sustainable nuclear fusion breakthrough raises hopes for ultimate green energy

Such a diabolical and misleading headline. What's going on?
While Germany, Spain, Denmark combined installed enough capacity from renewables over the last 10 years producing in 2012 some 75% of uk electricity with less subsidies than fossil and nukes yet such science fiction :(... Gets headlines in the guardian....

Friday, 7 February 2014

Pope's autographed Harley-Davidson sells for $285,800


Written by AFP wire service   
Thursday, 06 February 2014 10:00
The Harley-Davidson Dyna Super Glide bears the autograph of Pope Francis. It sold at auction for $326,000 in Paris. Bonhams image.
PARIS (AFP) – A Harley-Davidson motorbike that briefly belonged to Pope Francis was sold to a mystery European buyer for 210,000 euros ($285,800) at a high-profile auction in Paris on Thursday.
"It's a record for a post-vintage motorbike, from the 21st century," noted Bonhams France, the auction house. Including fees, the unidentified buyer paid a total of 241,500 euros to obtain the bike.
The U.S. motorcycle maker gave the 1,585cc Dyna Super Glide to the pope in June to mark the brand's 110th anniversary, and while the 77-year-old never rode it, he signed it before donating it to Roman Catholic charity Caritas Roma.
The funds from the sale will go toward the restoration of the charity's hostel and soup kitchen at Rome's Termini railway station.
A jacket that was also given to the pope by Harley-Davidson was snapped up for 57,500 euros, including fees.
The bike is on show at the Grand Palais in Paris – where the auction took place – among hundreds of other iconic vehicles such as Rolls-Royces and Cadillacs.
According to Bonhams, Pope Francis has another Harley-Davidson, although the famously humble pontiff is more of a fan of buses.
He opted to ride one the day after his election last year instead of taking a limousine, and regularly used them in his homeland Argentina instead of taxis.

Monday, 20 January 2014


In days, the European Commission will debate a roadmap to confront climate change up to the year 2030! It’s one of the biggest decisions of our lifetimes, and it’s up to us to make sure they put forward a plan for our planet, not big polluters.

If Europe flunks this, we won’t be able to get the climate deal we need to save our planet. Some member states and Commissioners have set their sights low after lobbying by dirty industries. But several major governments just wrote an open letter saying they want more ambition. It’s down to the wire, and if enough of us appeal to Commission President Barroso to step up, he can bring the decisive influence to strike a win for a our planet.

After 9 years at the top, President Barroso has only months left, and wants to leave office looking good. He’s given strong leadership on climate before, let’s remind him now that sealing an ambitious European climate plan is his chance to leave a lasting legacy! We only have 24 days till the meeting -- click below to send him an urgent message now:

Experts say a target of 50% is the key to unlocking tens of billions in investments for the low carbon economy, where cutting-edge innovation drives jobs and economic growth. It is also the minimum ambition required to bring other countries to the negotiating table for a global climate deal at the 2015 Paris climate summit.

So far only the UK has supported anything remotely close to what scientists prescribe. The result is that the Commission is not feeling any pressure to deliver an ambitious strategy -- they fear member states will simply gut it. But they’re not counting on us to save the day!

Once the Commission releases its target we’ll have 2 months of negotiation between individual governments, and Avaaz members will be there every step of the way to make sure Europe’s 2030 climate Roadmap is a race to the top, not bottom. Our ability to do that hinges on the Commission coming out with the strongest plan possible -- so let’s make sure the President leads.

President Barroso has the power and the imperative to make sure this doesn’t happen and we need to hold him personally accountable in front of the world’s media. We need to remind Barroso what’s at stake and show him that there’s strong support behind his quest to become a climate hero. We can’t afford to let him cave into pressure from the fossil fuel industry now. Click below to send your message:

We won’t avoid the worst impacts of climate change if we let our leaders get away with setting goals that simply aren’t good enough. Our community has played pivotal roles in shifting climate policy in countries like Brazil, Germany and Japan. We have a big battle to win in Europe now - so let’s get cracking!

With hope and determination,

Iain, Meredith, Julien, Bissan, Ricken, Lisa, Alice, and the entire Avaaz team


EU Commission split over 2030 climate targets (Responding to climate change)

Barrroso climate heroes (European Union Press Release)

Tuesday, 14 January 2014

Frakka Hakka!

Frakka Hakka!

From: Seize The Day Fracking song and video

Just a quick mail to tell you that our new song and video about Fracking, inspired by our visits to the Balcombe protest in Sussex, is now online for you to enjoy.

See the link below, and look out for us this year at a Fracking protest near YOU!


*Saturday 18th January:* 2.15pm-4pm (doors open at 2pm)

*What?**  Hustings*

The European Green Party (EGP) is organising an open Europe-wide Online Primary to select the two leading candidates for the 2014 European Elections. Anyone in the EU who is over the age of 16 and supports Green values can decide who will represent the Greens in our election campaign throughout Europe.

For information about the candidates and process go to European Green Party website .

Hustings are being held around Europe, where the voters can find out more about the candidates. These meetings are open to anyone, not just members of the Green Party.

*Where?*  ICO Conference Centre, 22 Berners Street, London W1T 3DD

More info: Registration Page

on the national Green Party site (advised in case of oversubscription).

Download a map
with directions to the venue

European Green Party website

The hustings will have a Question Time format, facilitated by Jean Lambert MEP and Rogier Elshout. The candidates are: Jose Bove, Monica Frassoni, Rebecca Harms and Ska Keller. Visit the Green Primary website
for information about the candidates and to cast your vote.

See also

Any questions e-mail John Street -

Monday, 13 January 2014

Homo sapiens under threat of extinction

Editorial  Lucha Indigena from Hugo Blanco

(Homo sapiens: The hominid species that will go to extinction the fastest)

The oldest known hominid species, Homo habilis, lived from about 1.9 to 1.6 million years ago.  Homo ergaster appeared 1.75 million years ago and disappeared one million years ago.  Homo erectus lived from 1.8 million to 300,000 years ago.
          Our species, Homo sapiens, has existed for hardly 200,000 years and yet is already on the point of disappearing.  This short time-span is due to the fact that we are the only "civilized" hominid and are using this civilization to drive ourselves to extinction, killing off many other plant and animal species in the process.
          "Civilization", in its drive toward "progress" and "development", is making a furious assault on the environment of which -- even if neoliberalism refuses to acknowledge it -- it is a part.  This destruction, termed "man-made" is just that, but those who claim that humanity as a whole is at fault are quite mistaken.  The responsibility lies with the insatiable appetite for profit of the big transnational corporations that rule the world through subservient governments such as those headed by Humala and Obama.  In various ways, these governments are attacking those who seek to defend nature and life.
          The forms of aggression are becoming ever stronger and more varied.  They make use of scientific and technical experts, as seen in the modern us of fracking.  We will mention here some of the assaults: open-pit mining, deforestation, hydroelectric plants, extraction of hydrocarbons, agroindustry, atomic power, and perforation of the ozone layer (which exposes us to harmful ultraviolet radiation).
          Native peoples are in the front line of defense of the environment.  They are the cultural remnants of a collectivist social organization in solidarity with and respect for nature in existence since the origin of our species.  They were already there and living in this natural way before the rise of individualist "civilization".
          This defense is coming to embrace more and more sectors of humanity as it finds itself face to face with the real danger of extinction.  These sectors include scientists, who are coming to see that the only effective way to defend our environment is through collective mobilization.  In actively joining the struggle, some scientists have already suffered repression by governments in the service of predatory capital.
          Big capital's most dangerous attack and one linked most closely to the looming extinction of humanity is global warming of the atmosphere, fostered by massive emissions of greenhouse gases: carbon dioxide (CO2), methane (CH4), nitrous oxide (N2O) and others.
          Part of the sun's heat that strikes the planet's surface is absorbed, while the rest is reflected back into space.  Greenhouse gases cause more of this heat to be retained in the atmosphere, which in turn alters the natural climatic cycles.  This gives rise to droughts, flooding, hurricanes, colder winters and hotter summers, melting of the polar ice caps and mountain glaciers, drying up of streams and ponds, narrowing of rivers, rising sea levels, death of the marine plankton that feeds fishes and other animals, vegetations loss, etc.
          Lately a great danger has become apparent.  The loss of arctic ice due to global warming is leading to yet greater warming.  This occurs because the decreased reflection of the sun's rays by the white ice allows more heat to be absorbed at the Earth's surface.
          And it can have even graver consequences.  Massive quantities of methane are now trapped below the arctic ice.  This gas causes much greater greenhouse effects than any other, so that its release into the atmosphere will accelerate the warming trend.
          As if to aggravate the danger, the petroleum companies that are the main culprits in this situation have expressed satisfaction at the melting of the Arctic, as it makes it easier to drill for oil.  This will in turn give rise to even greater methane emissions into the atmosphere and thus increased warming.  This destructive effect is of no concern to the companies, whose sole interest is their profits, not the survival of the human race.
          This criminal voracity is evident not only in the corporations, themselves.  We see it also in meetings on climate change organized by the United Nations and dominated by governments in the service of the big global warmers.  In these meetings there is no agreement to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.  Rather, they discuss how to profit from climate change.  We had a demonstration of this recently in the Warsaw meeting, in which we saw the imposition of big capital's will even more clearly than in previous meetings.  We also see how this extremely grave topic is played down by the mass news media, which serve as big capital's mouthpiece.
          This year, 2014, the international meeting on global warming will take place in Lima, Peru.  Does anyone believe that Ollanta Humala, the parliament, the mass media or the "political class" will speak truth on this occasion?  To their shame, they would all prefer to kneel submissively before their masters' drive for profits.  We call on the people to demonstrate their respect for the environment and their repudiation of the genocidal criminals and their servants.
          We hope that humanity will be able to wrest power from the hands of big capital, so that we can govern ourselves collectively, taking loving care of Mother Nature, while of course preserving and furthering all positive advances of civilization in a way that does no harm to the planet.
          This is the only alternative to the approaching extinction of the human species, Homo sapiens.

Tuesday, 31 December 2013

Police helicopter used to support hunt.

Hunt saboteurs from the Northants and West Midlands groups visited the Oakley hunt on Saturday 28/12/2013. On their arrival the hunt were clearly hunting foxes and the sabs had to intervene to enable an animal to escape.
Shortly after this a police helicopter arrived, which it later transpired was called in from Leicestershire expressly for this incident. The helicopter repeatedly flew very low over the sabs heads and purposely placed itself between the sabs and the hunt to enable the hunt to get away. The helicopter continued to follow the sabs in this way for some time, always trying to stop them from following the hunt and then they decided to land.
Once on the ground the police from the helicopter tried to detain people, but when challenged had no answer as to why they were doing this.  The sabs continued to follow the hunt and eventually the police helicopter left about
45 minutes later.  Simultaneously 6 police cars were also surrounding the sab vehicle and members of the public were stopping to see what incident had led to such a high police presence.  Lee Moon, spokesperson for the Hunt Saboteurs Association, stated:  "It beggars belief that in times of austerity the Police are willing to waste so much public money protecting illegal hunting.  We can only assume that members of the Oakley Hunt have friends high up in Northamptonshire police and we wonder how local residents feel about their council tax being misused in this way."

Friday, 27 December 2013

Back blogging!

I am back blogging after being off for the last year.

It has been quite hectic year with all the organization needed for the Euro & Local elections in May 2014. Membership of the London Green Party is at its highest ever and we have been boosted by an upsurge in very able members of the Young Greens group. Also, I helped organise the founding of Green Seniors. The run up to Christmas has been particularly hectic as I like to get to as many local party meetings as possible. I had twenty three nights with events on every night.
I am still Co-Coordinator of the London Federation of Green Parties; Co-Chair of Green Seniors and Co-Convener of the Green Party trade Union Group.

I am also on Twitter and you can find me at

THE GREEN ROOM - "London's Most interesting Charity Shop"  is still going strong. We open seven days per week, usually from 11am to 6pm but usually later. Here are a few items for sale:

Unusual gifts: Fossil shark teeth £1. Meteorites £3. Ammonite £3.

Loads of JEWELLERY . Necklaces  & Bracelets £3. 

Unusual presents: George Bush farting doll. Maggie Thatcher cursing kit etc.

Tons of books.
Autographed 1st editions and tons of other books. Ideal seasonal gifts.
SPECIAL OFFER: 40 paperbacks £10. Pick your own.
“Books on London”. Good selection now in.

Phrenology heads, palmistry hands & acupuncture figures etc

RECORDS + CD's. Loads in stock.

 ‘My Last Rollo’ in solid silver. Ideal romantic gift!

Original prop bullet casings ex Bond film ‘Quantum of Solace’ £1 each. Tudor Nails £1.Tons of unusual items.

 Phrenology heads, palmistry hands & acupuncture figures etc 

Open today, Saturday & Sunday until 7pm.
 The Green Room 192 Archway Rd, N6 “London’s most unusual shop” Just downhill from Highgate Tube

Thursday, 27 September 2012

'Best of Luck' Horace.

It is with deep sadness that I have just heard of the demise of Horace, one of the great characters of Finchley and North London. He spent over thirty years wishing people ‘The best of Luck’ at all hours of the day and night, while usually dragging a large suitcase around with him.
 He was usually in great humour except when kids tried to rile him by calling him Stanley.
He regularly bought records when I had a shop in East Finchley and always greeted me on the street with a shout of ‘Hello Geezer’ and ‘The Best of Luck’ as we departed.
Someone told me recently that he was also quite a good artist.
He will be missed.

Here is a report from the Richard Osley blog:

BEST of luck, best of luck and the best of luck again… Poor old Horace. Or poor old Stanley, it wasn’t ever quite clear what his real name actually was. I just know that calling him Stanley would always trouble Horace, sometimes triggering angry shouting, which was sad because he spent most of his life wishing people good things, wishing people ‘the best of luck’.
As news of his sudden death filters through north London – it is reported that Horace collapsed close to the Whittington Hospital on his way to an appointment on Monday - some people will know him as the guy who did just that. He wished them the ‘best of luck’. Always the best of luck. Everybody and anybody would get wished the best of luck. He must have been wishing the people of Finchley, Barnet, Muswell Hill and Camden Town the best of luck going on for 30 years. No wonder a north London legend grew around him.
He was one of the characters of the streets who help thread together what is really London’s collective patchwork of a story, people who, without ever planning to, become better known than our local politicians and breed warmer familiarity than some of our celebrity neighbours. I might not know you, you might not know me, but chances are we’ve both been wished the best of luck by Horace at some point, whether you remember it or not.

I don’t know much about his life story, his tale is largely rooted in Barnet. I hope he got help where he needed it. I guess everybody liked the idea of somebody devoting their time to wishing complete strangers the best of luck, an upbeat message sometimes whispered, often bellowed. It made us smile, without thinking too deeply about the troubles that a man who stood outside a fast food shop or the post office shouting the best of luck repeatedly could be facing. The saddest thing is that some people didn’t just smile, nor did they stop for a chat. They taunted him. Some people actively tried to trigger his angrier side, calling him Stanley despite his distress. Others tried to goad his catchphrase out of him, behind adolescent cackles. Search his name on YouTube and the footage doesn’t really tell his story.

It’s a curious thing, hard to explain, but it’s only after you read that somebody like Horace has died that you realise how they play, albeit inadvertently, such binding roles in our communities. Somebody on Facebook compared Horace’s ever presence to the ravens at the Tower of London. Here was a man who never seemed to age, never changed his greeting and always seemed to be there as the shops, people and technology around us changed. There is a quality in that which is difficult to define.
There are other people like this, sort of living their lives in public, sometimes without choice due to their housing needs, but becoming part of all of our worlds. We look on, but rarely intervene. The fondness for Horace reminds me of the affection felt for Ushi Bahler, the woman who lived on the doorstep of the home she had been evicted from in West Hampstead for many years, despite her advancing age. The door locked, she lived among her saved possessions in the front yard. You see similar affection too for the shaven haired Big Issue seller who pushes a trolley around Camden Town selling bits and bobs. Unplanned, these people enter our minds and memories in a way that the man in the office suit who gets the same bus as you at the same time every day, sitting in a seat nearby, can’t.
Another example: the Big Issue seller outside Angel who got on with his work with a cat curled up around his shoulders. Every crook of London has people we all recognise collectively without ever really knowing. The Lion of South End Green is another example.
Given this curious neighbourhood fame – Horace has 4,000 6,000 ‘likes on Facebook’ and a petition for a bench marking his memory – maybe we should stop for a chat more often. Maybe at least we should make sure the YouTube footage is kinder.
The best of luck, Horace, the best of luck.


The real weather report.

The real weather report - what it would look like if they were honest

Monday, 24 September 2012

Revealed: Monsanto GM corn caused tumors in rats

French scientists have revealed that rats fed on GMO corn sold by American firm Monsanto, suffered tumors and other complications including kidney and liver damage. When testing the firm’s top brand weed killer the rats showed similar symptoms.
The French government has asked its health and safety agency to assess the study and had also sent it to the European Union's food safety agency, Reuters reports.
"Based on the conclusion…, the government will ask the European authorities to take all necessary measures to protect human and animal health, measures that could go as far as an emergency suspension of imports of NK603 maize in the European Union," the French health, environment and farm ministries said in a joint statement.
Researchers from the University of Caen found that rats fed on a diet containing NK603 – a seed variety made tolerant to amounts of Monsanto's Roundup weedkiller – or given water mixed with the product, at levels permitted in the United States – died earlier than those on a standard diet.
The research conducted by Gilles-Eric Seralini and his colleagues, said the rats suffered mammary tumors, as well as severe liver and kidney damage. The study was published in the journal of Food and Chemical Toxicology and presented at a news conference in London.
Fifty percent of male and 70 percent of female rats died prematurely, compared with only 30 percent and 20 percent in the control group, said the researchers.
Monsanto spokesman, Thomas Helscher, said the company would review the study thoroughly but stated that other scientific studies had proved the biotech crops’ safety.
Some scientists however criticized the French researchers’ statistical methods and the use of a particular type of rat, saying the albino Sprague-Dawley strain of animal had a tendency to develop cancers.
But despite skepticism, the study draws attention to controversy surrounding genetically modified crops and the US biotech giant Monsanto.
Michael Antoniou, a molecular biologist at King’s College London – who acted as an adviser to Seralini's team – told reporters that the study stresses the “need to test all GMO crops in two-year lifelong studies”.
“I feel this data is strong enough to withdraw the marketing approval for this variety of GMO maize temporarily, until this study is followed up and repeated with larger number of animals to get the full statistical power that we want,” he said as quoted by Reuters.
Last Friday France said it will uphold a ban on genetically modified crops produced by the Monsanto. The move came as President Francois Hollande pushed his plan to put the environment back at the top of the international agenda.
In the wake of the publication, Jose Bove, vice-chairman of the European Parliament’s commission for agriculture, called for an immediate suspension of all EU cultivation and import authorizations of genetically modified crops.
This study finally shows we are right and that it is urgent to quickly review all GMO evaluation processes,” he said following the announcement of the research.
While being widely used in the United States, GMO crops have been less popular among European consumers, due to concerns about its impact on people’s health and the environment.
In California, opponents of genetically engineered food are fighting to have it removed from the food supply. They are also pushing to pass Proposition 37, a law that would legally require genetically modified foods to be labeled as such. Monsanto stands opposed to such a proposal and has donated over $4.2 million to lobby against it.
Agriculturalists across America have previously tried to take the biotech giant to court over charges stemming from their lab-made corn GMOs. Over 2,000 farmers have petitioned the US government to more thoroughly investigate the impact that genetically modified corn crop from Monsanto will have on the country.
As RT reported before, Monsanto wants to plant a corn variant across America’s Midwest that will be resistant to a powerful pesticide produced with 2,4-D, the same compound crucial to the make-up of the notorious Vietnam War-era killer Agent Orange. If approved, the new corn will be able to thrive as farmers douse their fields in the chemical, killing off unwanted weeds in the process, while at the same time subjecting Americans to a pesticide linked to cancer risks.

Assembly calls for end to plastic bag giveaway

Assembly calls for end to plastic bag giveaway The London Assembly has called on the Government to introduce a mandatory charge on all single-use plastic bags in light of supermarkets’ failure to cut the number they give out to shoppers.

The motion, agreed[1] unanimously by Assembly Members, urges the Secretary of State for the Environment to enact reserve legislation, part of the Climate Change Act 2008, that would force retailers to introduce a levy on all single-use plastic bags.

According to figures from the waste reduction body Wrap, supermarket customers used almost eight billion carrier bags in 2011, a 5.4 per cent rise on the 7.6 billion in 2010, with each person using an average of almost 11 a month[2].

Jenny Jones AM, who proposed the motion, said:
"Free supermarket plastic bags are a myth; they cost us a lot money to deal with as damaging rubbish. Almost 1.5bn are given out in London every year, most destined to be used for no more than 20 minutes before being thrown away.

"The shame is that discarded bags are one of the easiest environmental problems to solve a simple levy introduced in Ireland cut their number by 90 per cent yet in England, the number being given out by the big supermarkets is actually rising.

"Supermarkets have failed cut plastic bag use voluntarily. We now need decisive action."

Murad Qureshi AM, who seconded the motion, said:

"You just have to go down the foreshore of the Thames to see the damage discarded plastic bags can do to our environment. Single-use plastic bags take decades to break down and are a hazard to plants and animals as well as being an eye sore for visitors and residents alike.

"England is clearly falling behind the rest of the UK on this issue. Wales has already introduced a charge, with Scotland and Northern Ireland due to follow suit. The Mayor pledged to introduce a levy on single-use plastic bags in the run up to the Olympics, I hope he hasn’t forgotten about it."

Andrew Boff AM, who successfully amended the motion, said:

"We recognize that these are difficult times for small business so it is essential that any levy on single-use bags does not put an unnecessary burden on them. However, there is no excuse for the incredible waste we witness everyday from the big supermarket chains.

"As it does not look like they the supermarkets are about to change their ways, its time for the Government to intervene. A small charge, introduced in the right way, could make a big difference."

The full text of the amended motion agreed at today’s meeting reads as follows:

"This Assembly notes the failure of supermarkets to prevent an increase in the number of single use plastic bags issued by them, through voluntary measures, over the past two years. It also notes the London Assembly's 2007 report[3], 'Bag to Basics', which supported the introduction of a national levy on single use carrier bags.

This Assembly calls on the Mayor to request that the Secretary of State for the Environment enacts the reserve legislation in place under the Climate Change Act 2008, and introduces a mandatory charge on all single use carrier bags, ensuring that small businesses are protected from any additional administrative burden."

The motion was agreed unanimously at a meeting of the full Assembly. As well as investigating issues that matter to Londoners, the London Assembly acts as a check and a balance on the Mayor.

For more details, please contact Alastair Cowan in the Assembly Media Office on 020 7983 4504/4283. For out of hours media enquiries please call 020 7983 4000 and ask for the Assembly duty press officer. Non-media enquiries should be directed to the Public Liaison Unit, Greater London Authority, on 020 7983 4100.