1.MEPs call on the Commission to ban the introduction of GMOs
2.Cypriot Parliament downs GM biofuels law amendment
3.Greece: Rice recall due to contamination
4.New Swiss study questions benefits of biofuels
EXTRACT: MEPs voiced their "profound concern at the continuing loss of biodiversity", in an own-initiative Report adopted on 22 May... MEPs call on the Commission to ban the introduction of genetically modified organisms and evaluate the potential threat to biodiversity posed by their introduction. (item 1)
1.Biodiversity conservation plan 'insufficient', say MEPs
EUrActive.com, 23 May 2007 [shortened]
Halting the decline in biodiversity will require "unprecedented efforts", according to [the European] Parliament...
Halting biodiversity loss by 2010 - an EU action plan
With just three years to go until the 2010 target date for halting the decline in biodiversity set by European heads of state in 2001, MEPs voiced their "profound concern at the continuing loss of biodiversity", in an own-initiative Report adopted on 22 May.
Parliament considers the Commission's 2006 Action Plan to be "insufficient to conserve biodiversity and sustain ecosystem services in the longer term".
Rapporteur Adamos Adamou's report demands that the Natura 2000 programme be strengthened in order to restore species, as well as safeguard them.
It also calls for a Community response to the threat posed by the introduction of "invasive alien species and alien genotypes", suggesting that immuno-contraception could have a decisive role to play. MEPs call on the Commission to ban the introduction of genetically modified organisms and evaluate the potential threat to biodiversity posed by their introduction.
The Commission welcomed the report, sharing Parliament's strong concern at financial constraints to implementation and at the continuing loss of biodiversity and the related decline of ecosystems. It supports Parliament's position that the maintenance of ecosystems should become a fundamental goal of all EU horizontal and sectoral policies.
2.Plenum downs bio-fuels law amendment
Cyprus Mail, 18 May 2007
THE PLENUM yesterday rejected an amendment by President Papadopoulos on the law regarding the use of bio-fuels that contain genetically modified substances.
The amendment called for an alteration in the law that currently did not allow the import or use of bio-fuels that had been produced using GM substances, something that goes against a recent EU Directive.
During the hotly contested vote, 24 deputies voted in favour while 25 deputies voted against.
AKEL deputy and Chairman of the House Environment Committee, Yiannos Lamaris, said his party voted against the amendment because "we have our reservations over the issue of the growth of genetically modified organisms for the production of bio-fuels. The issue of GM organisms is still in the balance, both in the EU and worldwide".
AKEL, EDEK, the Green Party and the European Party voted against the change, while opposition party DISY and government partner DIKO were the only two parties that voted in favour.
According to Green Party leader George Perdikis, nothing had changed since the previous vote on bio fuels, and that the House had been "fully aware that the law was opposed to European guidelines".
Kathimerini (English edition), May 23 2007 http://www.ekathimerini.com/4dcgi/_w_articles_politics_100022_23/05/2007_83720
Supermarket chain AB Vassilopoulos announced yesterday that it was pulling off its shelves rice imported from Italy found to have been genetically modified. The Risotto Tex-Mex AB rice, with a November 13 2007, expiry date, failed to meet EU and local food standards, the company added.
4.Study questions benefits of biofuels
SwissInfo, May 22 2007 [shortened]
Biofuels may not be the panacea for the world's fossil-fuel woes, according to a study commissioned by the Swiss authorities
Such fuels, touted as an ecologically friendly source of energy, may be more harmful for the environment than their fossil counterparts.
The study into the environmental impacts of biofuels was commissioned by the Federal Environment Office, the Federal Energy Office and the Federal Agriculture Office.
The research team tested the following alternative fuels: bioethanol, biomethanol, biodiesel and biomethane. It then considered the entire production cycle.
According to the authors, while it was true that biofuels might emit less greenhouse gases than fossil fuels when consumed, producing them was generally more stressful on the environment.
The report confirmed that biofuels emit up to a third less carbon dioxide than petrol and diesel. However, this in itself was not enough to give them the eco-friendly stamp of approval.
"The energetic efficiency and the resulting reduced emissions of greenhouse gases cannot be the sole criteria for assessing the environmental friendliness of biofuels," said Rainer Zah, one of the authors.
"The prefix 'bio' doesn't necessarily mean environment friendly," Zah added.
Growing and processing crops for energy purposes or feedstocks can have the heaviest environmental impact, as soil quality can be affected adversely, such as through fertiliser overuse.
In tropical countries slash and burning - used to clear land for crop production resulted in copious amounts of carbon dioxide being released into the air.