Quantcast

Why Is the European Commission Backtracking on a Full Ivory Ban?

Campaigners say that the EU's domestic ivory trade puts elephants like these at risk from poachers. Ikiwaner / GNU Free Documentation License, Version 1.2

From bee-killing pesticides to single-use plastics, we can usually rely on the European Union to ban substances and activities that harm wildlife. That's why it's shocking and saddening to learn that the European Commission is walking back a commitment to end its domestic ivory trade, as The Independent reported early Thursday.

The EU banned raw ivory exports in 2017, but many rightly argue that this is not enough to discourage poachers from targeting elephants and slipping illegal items into the EU's legal trade. The U.S., China and the UK have all moved forward with full bans, so the EU is uncharacteristically behind the times on this one.


But it looked like that was thankfully about to change. In 2017, the commission held a public consultation for a new report on efforts to curb EU wildlife trafficking. In a draft of that report leaked in July, the commission wrote that a "large majority" of the 90,000 comments it received at the consultation wanted stricter controls on the trade. In response, the commission wrote it "intends to further restrict ivory trade in and from the EU. The commission intends to discuss the content of such restrictions with their member states and stakeholders in the coming months."

Then, in a shocking reversal, in a final draft of that report released at the end of October, that language disappeared. It was replaced by a line saying that "other respondents opposed further limits on elephant ivory trade to and from the EU, especially for antiques".

Member of European Parliament (MEP) and chair of MEP's for Wildlife Catherine Bearder said on Twitter she had called for a meeting with the commission "to find out what happened."

"The European Parliament, the citizens of Europe and thirty-two African states want a complete ban on ivory sales. What's stopping the commission?" Bearder spoke for all of us when she asked The Independent.

The backtracking is especially egregious given the fact that in July, the activist group Avaaz presented clear proof that the EU's antique ivory trade was acting as a cover for illegal poaching.

The group bought 100 supposedly antique ivory items and had them radiocarbon dated at Oxford. Three-fourths of them turned out to be modern ivory. One came from an elephant killed as recently as 2010.

"It's sick," said Bert Wander, who bought the items for Avaaz, talking to BBC News. "I'm looking at the trinkets we bought on my desk, and to think that an elephant with all the things we are learning about them, about their cognition and their advanced societies, and to think that one of them has died for this bracelet I'm holding now, it makes you sick to your stomach."

The killing of elephants has decreased, but 55 are still being killed every day, enough to decimate the population in some areas if that pace continues. The European Commission needs to watch this video of a mama elephant looking out for her baby before telling us these amazing animals aren't worth protecting:

Mother Elephant Protects Calf From Tourists www.youtube.com

For everyone already convinced, Rainforest Rescue is circulating a petition calling for a EU ivory trade ban.

Show Comments ()

EcoWatch Daily Newsletter

Sriram Madhusoodanan of Corporate Accountability speaking on conflict of interest demand of the People's Demands at a defining action launching the Demands at COP24. Corporate Accountability

By Patti Lynn

2018 was a groundbreaking year in the public conversation about climate change. Last February, The New York Times reported that a record percentage of Americans now believe that climate change is caused by humans, and there was a 20 percentage point rise in "the number of Americans who say they worry 'a great deal' about climate change."

Read More Show Less
The head of England's Environment Agency has urged people to stop watering their lawns as a climate-induced water shortage looms. Pexels

England faces an "existential threat" if it does not change how it manages its water, the head of the country's Environment Agency warned Tuesday.

Read More Show Less
Sponsored
Pexels

By Jessica Corbett

A new analysis revealed Tuesday that over the past two decades heat records across the U.S. have been broken twice as often as cold ones—underscoring experts' warnings about the increasingly dangerous consequences of failing to dramatically curb planet-warming emissions.

Read More Show Less
A flock of parrots in Telegraph Hill, San Francisco. ~dgies / Flickr

By Madison Dapcevich

Ask any resident of San Francisco about the waterfront parrots, and they will surely tell you a story of red-faced conures squawking or dive-bombing between building peaks. Ask a team of researchers from the University of Georgia, however, and they will tell you of a mysterious string of neurological poisonings impacting the naturalized flock for decades.

Read More Show Less
Fire burns in the North Santiam State Recreational Area on March 19. Oregon Department of Forestry

An early-season wildfire near Lyons, Oregon burned 60 acres and forced dozens of homes to evacuate Tuesday evening, the Oregon Department of Forestry (ODF) said, as KTVZ reported.

The initial cause of the fire was not yet known, but it has been driven by the strong wind and jumped the North Santiam River, The Salem Statesman Journal reported. As of Tuesday night, it threatened around 35 homes and 30 buildings, and was 20 percent contained.

Read More Show Less
Sponsored
Edwin Hardeman is the plaintiff in the first U.S. federal trial claiming that Roundup causes cancer. NOAH BERGER / AFP / Getty Images

A second U.S. jury has ruled that Roundup causes cancer.

The unanimous verdict was announced Tuesday in San Francisco in the first federal case to be brought against Monsanto, now owned by Bayer, alleging that repeated use of the company's glyphosate-containing weedkiller caused the plaintiff's cancer. Seventy-year-old Edwin Hardeman of Santa Rosa, California said he used Roundup for almost 30 years on his properties before developing non-Hodgkin's lymphoma.

The decision comes less than a year after a jury awarded $289 million to Bay-area groundskeeper Dewayne Johnson over similar claims. The amount was later reduced to $78 million.

"Today's verdict reinforces what another jury found last year, and what scientists with the state of California and the World Health Organization have concluded: Glyphosate causes cancer in people," Environmental Working Group President Ken Cook said in a statement. "As similar lawsuits mount, the evidence will grow that Roundup is not safe, and that the company has tried to cover it up."

Judge Vince Chhabria has split Hardeman's trial into two phases. The first, decided Tuesday, focused exclusively on whether or not Roundup use caused the plaintiff's cancer. The second, to begin Wednesday, will assess if Bayer is liable for damages.

"We are disappointed with the jury's initial decision, but we continue to believe firmly that the science confirms glyphosate-based herbicides do not cause cancer," Bayer spokesman Dan Childs said in a statement reported by The Guardian. "We are confident the evidence in phase two will show that Monsanto's conduct has been appropriate and the company should not be liable for Mr. Hardeman's cancer."

Some legal experts said that Chhabria's decision to split the trial was beneficial to Bayer, Reuters reported. The company had complained that the jury in Johnson's case had been distracted by the lawyers' claims that Monsanto had sought to mislead scientists and the public about Roundup's safety.

However, a remark made by Chhabria during the trial and reported by The Guardian was blatantly critical of the company.

"Although the evidence that Roundup causes cancer is quite equivocal, there is strong evidence from which a jury could conclude that Monsanto does not particularly care whether its product is in fact giving people cancer, focusing instead on manipulating public opinion and undermining anyone who raises genuine and legitimate concerns about the issue," he said.

Many regulatory bodies, including the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, have ruled that glyphosate is safe for humans, but the World Health Organization's International Agency for Research on Cancer found it was "probably carcinogenic to humans" in 2015. A university study earlier this year found that glyphosate use increased cancer risk by as much as 41 percent.

Hardeman's lawyers Jennifer Moore and Aimee Wagstaff said they would now reveal Monsanto's efforts to mislead the public about the safety of its product.

"Now we can focus on the evidence that Monsanto has not taken a responsible, objective approach to the safety of Roundup," they wrote in a statement reported by The Guardian.

Hardeman's case is considered a "bellwether" trial for the more than 760 glyphosate cases Chhabria is hearing. In total, there are around 11,200 such lawsuits pending in the U.S., according to Reuters.

University of Richmond law professor Carl Tobias told Reuters that Tuesday's decision showed that the verdict in Johnson's case was not "an aberration," and could possibly predict how future juries in the thousands of pending cases would respond.


PxHere

Americans like wind turbines as neighbors, at least when compared with the alternatives.

Read More Show Less
Offutt Air Force Base after flooding on March 17. U.S. Air Force / TSgt. Rachelle Blake

The historic flooding that devastated Nebraska last week has also submerged one third of an Air Force base, offering a further illustration of the threat posed to national security by climate change.

Read More Show Less