The use of genetically modified organisms (GMOs) in livestock and crops, as well as trade and consumption of GMOs are highly controversial topics.
Proponents of genetic engineering argue that GMOs represent the only viable solution to food shortages in an ever-growing global population. They claim that the use of GMOs in agriculture and their consumption have caused no harm to livestock or humans so far. Heated debate also persists over GMO food labelling, with food manufacturers in the USA arguing that mandatory GMO labelling hinders the development of agricultural biotechnology, and may also “exacerbate the misconception” that GMOs endanger human health. Continue reading
A ban on imports of mangoes from India to the EU is likely to cause dramatic losses to Indian growers and has produced an outcry amongst growers in India and retailers in the UK.
The ban on importing mangoes from India came into effect today 1 May and will continue until 31 December 2015 – possibly subject to revision before then. The ban is a consequence of significant shortcomings in phytosanitary certification systems and is considered essential to protect the European produce industry. The decision was taken due to the high number of consignments of mangoes and other produce from India being intercepted at arrival in the EU with quarantine pests, mainly insects, and of findings made during audits in India. According to Fera (The Food and Environment Research Agency, UK), pests were found in 207 consignments of fruits and vegetables from India imported into the EU in 2013.
The numbers are high enough to raise concerns over the potential introduction of new pests which could pose a threat to EU horticulture. Some of the intercepted pests attack salad crops such as tomatoes and cucumbers, and some carry viruses which can devastate these crops.
India is the largest single producer of mangoes, with over 70% of exports destined for the Middle East and about 12% for the UK. The most common methods for protecting consignments of mangoes from quarantine pests involve hot water treatment, irradiation (permitted by some countries) and vapour heat treatment. One of the problems, however, is the lack of facilities in India, with only a handful of approved irradiation and vapour heat treatment facilities in the country.
The ban also applies to aubergines, taro leaves and two types of gourd (bitter gourd – Momordica sp., and snake gourd – Trichosanthes sp.) imported from India.
A free text search of CAB Abstracts using the terms ‘mangoes quarantine pests’ results in over 200 records, which include studies on the effects of hot water treatment, irradiation and vapour heat treatment on fruit quality as well as effects on the quarantine pests.
In the largest COST Action to date, 34 EU countries have banned together to find
a solution to stop Ragweed's spread on the continent. This invasive weed from
North America, now one of the most common air-borne allergens in the EU, causes
half of all asthma attacks in its regions, and costs the EU economy an estimated
€4.5B a year. CABI will join a consortium of over 120 biologists,
ecologists, economists, and medical
experts to explore sustainable solutions. Top on the agenda, biological control,
or using ragweed’s natural enemies to help stop its spread.
How EU economists are ‘killing Europeans through CHD’
Surprisingly, it’s not the acronyms that are at the root of the World Health Organization’s damning accusation, it’s our old friends, saturated fats.
The common agricultural policy (CAP) was put in place by the powers that be in Europe, not just to confuse any non-economist who has tried to understand it, but, according to the World Health Organisation, it is ‘a system designed to kill Europeans through CHD’ (or, for the acronym-intolerant, coronary heart disease).
The Common Agricultural Policy was dreamed up in the days when Europe was emerging from war, rationing and widespread starvation. Many deficiency diseases that we no longer see today were rife. But agriculture had just caught the wave of plenty – industrialisation was leading to what was essentially a farming revolution. The future was bright. Applying subsidies to farmers to grow food and grow it in abundance and create a common market for all this produce was going to solve all of Europe’s problems, prevent another war and buffer the continent from the pressures of world free market capitalism. No-one said anything about heart disease.