Bee Harming Pesticides, Will the UK become an Environmental Blackhole after Brexit?

Tories aim to block full EU ban on bee harming pesticides

Conservative politicians are trying to stop a complete EU ban on bee harming pesticides, despite the new environment secretary Michael Gove’s statement earlier this week, in which he said “I absolutely don’t want to water down” EU environmental protections.

Bee Harming PesticidesNeonicotinoids are the world’s most widely used insecticides but have been banned on flowering crops in the EU since 2013. However, the European Food Safety Authority (Efsa) found in 2016 that use of the pesticides on all crops poses a high risk to bees. As a result, the European commission has proposed a ban on all uses outside greenhouses, first revealed by the Guardian in March.

On Thursday, an attempt by the Conservative MEP Julie Girling to block the full ban will be voted on by the European parliament’s environment committee. Most of the UK’s environmental protections derive from the EU and since the Brexit result many green groups have been concerned that these could be weakened after Britain leaves the EU.

Gove gave reassurances on Monday, telling BBC Farming Today: “We need to maintain, and where possible enhance, environmental and animal welfare standards. We have a strong position and good track record in both of those areas and I do not for a moment want to see either of them diluted or eroded.”

The Guardian asked the Department of Environment, Food and Rural Affairs if Gove backed Girling’s attempt to block the pesticide ban. A spokeswoman did not answer directly but said: “The government has fully applied restrictions on the use of neonicotinoids introduced by the EU. We make all decisions on pesticides based on the science.”

Matt Shardlow, at the conservation charity Buglife, said: “Conservative politicians have repeatedly led the charge to face down measures to restrict harmful pesticides. Buglife would like to see a clear commitment from the Conservatives that after Brexit our environment and health will be in safe hands. It is time to start listening to the people and respecting the experts.”

Martin Dermine, from Pesticide Action Network Europe, said Girling’s arguments against the full ban were no different to those put forward by the pesticide manufacturers: “Such a similarity between an MEP’s work and the industry’s arguments is shocking. Bee-killing neonicotinoids should never have been authorised and it is more than time to ban them.”

Girling said there was no link between her and the pesticide industry: “I just happen to agree with them on this issue. I believe that the sustainable use of pesticides is a vital part of providing safe and affordable food production.”

The MEP said she agreed with Gove’s reassurances: “His statements do not support policy which seeks to ban all pesticides indiscriminately.”

Graeme Taylor, from the European Crop Protection Association, said: “The size of the toolbox available to farmers to allow them to produce is being constantly depleted by decisions that are based on fear and misinformation rather than fact, and without consideration of the consequences for European agriculture.”

In a debate in the European parliament environment committee on Wednesday, Girling was challenged by a commission official Klaus Berend. He said arguments over whether widespread harm to bees had been proven or not missed the point of the EU regulations: “The principle of the regulation is that safe use must be demonstrated, not the other way around.” With Efsa finding high risks to bees, Berend said: “There is no other choice for the commission than to act.”

The idea that pesticides are essential to feed a fast-growing global population was declared a “myth” in March, in a report by UN food and pollution experts. It severely criticised the global corporations that manufacture pesticides, accusing them of the “systematic denial of harms”, “aggressive, unethical marketing tactics” and heavy lobbying of governments which has “obstructed reforms and paralysed global pesticide restrictions”.

In April, a major study found virtually all farms could significantly cut their pesticide use while still producing as much food, and that chemical treatments could be cut without affecting farm profits on more than three-quarters of farms.

Damian Carrington, the Guardian

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See  Bees: To Bee or not to Bee and the Survival of Mankind from Brendan Palmer’s  personal Blog

Posted in: Business, Environment, News

MEPs vote to boost recycling, cut landfill targets and curb food waste.

EU Landfill TargetsOn March 14th 2017, MEPs at the European Parliament approved the Simona Bonafè MEP led EU Environment Committee report.

In a clear signal to both the Commission and the Council, the European Parliament has confirmed the increased ambition of the Environment Committee on four legislative proposals on waste, deciding to restore the ambitious recycling and landfill targets in line with what the Commission had originally proposed in 2014 and confirming their proposals from January this year

The share of waste to be recycled should be raised to 70% by 2030, from 44% today, while landfill targets, which have a big environmental impact, should be limited to 5%, said Environment Committee MEPs on Tuesday, as they amended the draft EU “waste package” legislation. They also advocate a 50% reduction in food waste by 2030.

Statistics from 2014 suggest that 44% of all municipal waste in the EU is recycled or composted. This compares to just 31% in 2004, and by 2020 EU member states should be recycling or composting over 50% of waste.

Commenting Simona Bonafè MEP said,  “The ENVI committee has showed that it believes in the transition towards a circular economy. “There will no longer be the possibility for Member States with the lowest recycling rates to have a ‘blanket’ derogation. They will be able to request a derogation, but it will be subject to specific conditions”

Waste and packaging waste By 2030, at least 70% by weight of so-called municipal waste (from households and businesses) should be recycled or prepared for re-use, (i.e. checked, cleaned or repaired), say MEPs. The European Commission proposed 65%.

For packaging materials, such as paper and cardboard, plastics, glass, metal and wood, MEPs propose an 80% target for 2030, with interim 2025 targets for each material.

Landfill Targets The draft law limits the share of municipal waste to be landfilled to 10% by 2030. MEPs propose tightening this to 5%, albeit with a possible five-year extension, under certain conditions, for member states which landfilled more than 65% of their municipal waste in 2013. EU countries such as Cyprus, Croatia, Greece, Latvia, Malta and Romania still landfill more than three quarters of their municipal waste.

Food waste Food waste in the EU is estimated at some 89 million tonnes, or 180 kg per capita per year. MEPs advocate an EU food waste reduction target of 30% by 2025 and 50% by 2030, compared to 2014. They also propose a similar target for marine litter.

Some background numbers In 2014, Austria, Belgium, Denmark, Germany, the Netherlands and Sweden sent virtually no municipal waste to landfill, whereas Cyprus, Croatia, Greece, Latvia and Malta still landfill more than three quarters of their municipal waste.

Although waste management in the EU has improved considerably in recent decades, almost a third of municipal waste is still landfilled and less than half is recycled or composted, with wide variations between member states.

Improving waste management could deliver benefits for the environment, climate, human health and the economy. As part of a shift in EU policy towards a circular economy, the European Commission made four legislative proposals introducing new waste-management targets regarding reuse, recycling and landfilling.

The proposals also strengthen EU provisions on waste prevention and extended producer responsibility, and streamline definitions, reporting obligations and calculation methods for targets.

Source: European Parliament News

Posted in: Environment, News