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Two more European countries are rejecting genetically modified organisms (GMOs). Lativia and Greece have specifically said no to growing Monsanto's genetically modified maize, or MON810, that's widely grown in America and Asia but is the only variety grown in Europe.
— food_democracy (@food_democracy) September 2, 2015
Lativia and Greece have chosen the "opt-out" clause of a European Union rule passed in March that allows member countries to abstain from growing GM crops, even if they are authorized by the EU. Scotland and Germany also made headlines in recent weeks for seeking a similar ban on GMOs.
According to Reuters, in many European countries, there is widespread criticism against the agribusiness giant's pest-resistant crops, claiming that GM-cultivation threatens biodiversity.
Monsanto said it would abide by Latvia's and Greece's request to not grow the crops. The company, however, accused the two countries of ignoring science and refusing GMOs out of "arbitrary political grounds."
In a statement, Monsanto said that the move from the two countries "contradicts and undermines the scientific consensus on the safety of MON810."
Monsanto also told Reuters that since the growth of GM-crops in Europe is so small, the opt-outs will not affect their business.
"Nevertheless," the company continued, "we regret that some countries are deviating from a science-based approach to innovation in agriculture and have elected to prohibit the cultivation of a successful GM product on arbitrary political grounds."
According to NewsWire, the EU's opt-out clause "directly confronts U.S. free trade deal supported by EU, under which the Union should open its doors widely for the US GM industry."
In a statement on Thursday, the European Commission confirmed its zero-tolerance policy against non-authorized GM products. The commission said that it's also consulting with the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) in order to answer "a scientific question" on GMO crops that's unrelated to trade negotiations with the U.S. The EFSA announced that it would release a scientific opinion on the question by the end of 2017.
The environmental group, Friends of the Earth Europe, however, has accused the European Commission of "bowing to pressure from large biotech companies to minimize the level of health and safety checks on imports" of GM crops.
"The Commission is working behind closed doors to undermine rules that guarantee Europe's food is GM-free," said Mute Schimpf, a Friends of the Earth Europe food campaigner, said in a statement. "They're bowing to pressure from big biotech companies who want to bring GM-crops through the backdoor as part of the EU-U.S. trade deal."
The group cites a leaked letter suggesting that the European Commission has asked the EFSA to explore bypassing food safety checks in the case of GM-imports.
"Undermining current food safety laws would mean the food on our plates could be contaminated with GMOs and we'd never know," Schimpf continued. "It would have severe consequences for the food sector—low-level contamination could not be traced and products could never be guaranteed GM-free."
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If people in three European countries want to fight the climate crisis, they need to chill out more.
"The rapid pace of labour-saving technology brings into focus the possibility of a shorter working week for all, if deployed properly," Autonomy Director Will Stronge said, The Guardian reported. "However, while automation shows that less work is technically possible, the urgent pressures on the environment and on our available carbon budget show that reducing the working week is in fact necessary."
The report found that if the economies of Germany, Sweden and the UK maintain their current levels of carbon intensity and productivity, they would need to switch to a six, 12 and nine hour work week respectively if they wanted keep the rise in global temperatures to the below two degrees Celsius promised by the Paris agreement, The Independent reported.
The study based its conclusions on data from the UN and the OECD (Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development) on greenhouse gas emissions per industry in all three countries.
The report comes as the group Momentum called on the UK's Labour Party to endorse a four-day work week.
"We welcome this attempt by Autonomy to grapple with the very real changes society will need to make in order to live within the limits of the planet," Emma Williams of the Four Day Week campaign said in a statement reported by The Independent. "In addition to improved well-being, enhanced gender equality and increased productivity, addressing climate change is another compelling reason we should all be working less."
Supporters of the idea linked it to calls in the U.S. and Europe for a Green New Deal that would decarbonize the economy while promoting equality and well-being.
"This new paper from Autonomy is a thought experiment that should give policymakers, activists and campaigners more ballast to make the case that a Green New Deal is absolutely necessary," Common Wealth think tank Director Mat Lawrence told The Independent. "The link between working time and GHG (greenhouse gas) emissions has been proved by a number of studies. Using OECD data and relating it to our carbon budget, Autonomy have taken the step to show what that link means in terms of our working weeks."
Stronge also linked his report to calls for a Green New Deal.
"Becoming a green, sustainable society will require a number of strategies – a shorter working week being just one of them," he said, according to The Guardian. "This paper and the other nascent research in the field should give us plenty of food for thought when we consider how urgent a Green New Deal is and what it should look like."
- Reduced Work Hours as a Means of Slowing Climate Change ›
- How working less could solve all our problems. Really. | ›
- Needed: A shorter work week – People's World ›