Snippets from the EGP Manifesto: (12) A food revolution

fresh food 

 

Our food chain is malfunctioning. Industrial agriculture, based on pesticides, monocultures and an overuse of antibiotics, is thriving at the expense of our health, the environment and increased animal suffering. Recurring food scandals have made consumers justifiably insecure about what we are eating and where it comes from.

The Greens want to promote sustainable, healthy, tasty, diverse and ethical food, not standardised, tasteless food designed simply to look good on supermarket shelves. This means encouraging local production chains, organic farming and fair trade products from developing countries. We have succeeded in fighting several misleading practices, and in improving country of origin and nanoingredients labelling. We will continue to demand improved transparency in food labelling. With Europe throwing away 90 million tons of food annually, we also want action to cut down on food waste. We have launched a food revolution, increasing public awareness, personal engagement and participative democracy in determining and improving food policies throughout Europe. (EGP 2014 Manifesto section entitled  : Better Food, Better Lives.)

Advertisements

A Green Vision – 50 years on

50 years ago Rachel Carson published her seminal book “Silent Spring”.

In 1962 Carson, a zoologist, argued that the use of pesticides had unintended consequences as whilst pesticides targeted pests they ended up affecting birds and their offspring. The result being a decrease in the bird population brought  about by intoxication as a consequence of the poisoning of the food chain.

Rachel Carson was the first person to give a popular voice to ecological concerns. In so doing she laid the foundations of environmentalism. It can be safely stated that her Silent Spring was the trigger of popular ecological awareness in the United States and Europe and to the consequential setting up of environmental NGOs as well as Green Political Parties.

Today’s generation is indebted to Rachel Carson for a powerful environmental movement in the four corners of the earth. We owe to her the popular awareness and understanding of nature’s fragility.

But obviously awareness and understanding is not sufficient. It must be our motivation to act. Planet Earth, fifty years after Silent Spring was published, is in a much worse state then ever. It has a temperature, it is warming up. Sea levels are rising. The climate is changing to one of less frequent but more intense storms which leave a trail of havoc in their path.

Water resources are declining.

Waste is not sufficiently understood as an underutilised resource.

The sea has also been heavily polluted and its resources plundered.

Consider the following observation made by Callum Roberts oceanographer at York University.

“The seas are the ultimate sinks. Chemicals get washed out of the soil and into streams and rivers. They should settle on the sea bed and stay there. However, fishing has become so intense, with boats dredging up scallops and bottom-welling  fish all the time, that we are constantly ploughing up these toxins, including DDT, and stirring them back into the water.”

The environment movement was born 50 years ago to make a difference. It was born out of a love for nature but is not restricted or limited to nature.  It has set out to implement  a green revolution : bettering our quality of life and as a result bequeathing a planet earth in a better state of health to future generations.

 

published on di-ve.com on 14 September 2012

Nuclear myth and Malta’s neighbours

 

 

 

published on Saturday March 26, 2011

 

April 26 marks the 25th anniversary of the Chernobyl nuc­lear disaster, which affected 40 per cent of European territory.

Sicilians (but not the Maltese) were then advised on precautions to be observed in order to avoid the effects of airborne radioactive contamination on agricultural produce. In the UK, until very recently, a number of farms were still under observation after having been contaminated through airborne radioactive caesium in 1986. Wild boar hunted in Germany’s forests cannot be consumed. Its food-chain is still contaminated with radioactive caesium, which was dispersed all over Europe as a result of the Chernobyl disaster.

The Fukushima disaster has occurred in efficient and safety-conscious Japan.

Nature has taken over, confirming its supremacy over the risk society; confirming that even the smallest risk is unacceptable in nuclear projects as this exposes nations, ecosystems, economies and whole regions to large-scale disasters.

The myth that nuclear technology is safe has been shattered once more at Fukushima.

In addition to the disasters at Three Mile Island (1979) and Chernobyl (1986), there were also a number of near misses such as that on June 4, 2008 in Krško on the Slovenia/Croatia border. In Krško, leaking coolant water was minutes away from causing a meltdown of the nuclear installation. The leakages of coolant water from nuclear plants in the Tricastin region in France in July 2008 are also of particular significance.

Malta is faced with plans by Italy, Libya, Tunisia and others to generate nuclear energy.

Libya has agreed with France to be provided with a nuclear plant along its coast to carry out seawater desalination. Fortunately, this agreement has so far not materialised. One shudders just thinking on the possibilities which access to nuclear technology in the civil war on Libyan soil could lead to.

The Berlusconi government, ignoring the result of a 1987 Italian referendum, has embarked on a nuclear programme that could lead to the construction and operation of a number of nuclear installations on Italian soil. One of these will be sited in Sicily.

The locality of Palma di Montechiaro has been mentioned as the preferred site although an area near Ragusa is also under consideration. Both Palma di Montechiaro and Ragusa are situated along Sicily’s southern coast and are too close to Malta for comfort. A serious accident there could have an immediate effect on Malta. Moreover, this is the area which was most affected by a 1693 earthquake that caused considerable damage in both Ragusa and Malta.

This contrasts with the declaration last week by Abdelkater Zitouni, leader of Tunisie Verte, the Tunisian Green party, who has called on Tunisia’s transitional government to abandon the 2020 project of a nuclear plant in Tunisia.

What is the Maltese government doing on the matter?

There is no information in the public domain except an article published in Il Sole 24 Ore on July 26, 2008 authored by Federico Rendina and entitled Il Governo Rilancia Sull’Atomo. In a kite-flying exercise during an official visit to Rome by a Maltese delegation, Mr Rendina speculated on the possibilities of placing nuclear reactors for Italy’s use on territories just outside Italian jurisdiction. Malta, Montenegro and Albania were mentioned in this respect. It was unfortunate that the Maltese government only spoke up after being prodded by the Greens in Malta. It had then stated that no discussions on the matter had taken place with the Italian government.

On behalf of the Greens in Malta, since 2008 I have repeatedly insisted on the need to make use of the provisions of the Espoo Convention, which deals with consultation procedures to be followed between countries in Europe whenever issues of transboundary impacts arise. On March 3, 2010 Parliament in Malta approved a resolution to ratify this convention.

The Espoo Convention, the EU Directive on Environmental Impact Assessment and the EU Strategic Environment Assessment Directive establish the right of the Maltese public to be consulted by Italy in the procedures leading to the construction of a nuclear power station, both on the Italian mainland as well as in Sicily. This is definitely not enough.

Various countries are reconsidering their position on nuclear energy as a result of the Fukushima disaster. Italy’s government has started to feel the pressure ahead of a June anti-nuclear referendum championed by Antonio di Pietro and earlier this week temporarily suspended its nuclear programme.

Italy is a region which is seismically active. The devastation caused by the 2009 earthquake in L’Aquila is still imprinted in our memories. The 1908 earthquake at Messina/Reggio Calabria was much worse, the worst ever in Europe. It produced an estimated 13-metre tsunami wave in the central Mediterranean. In Messina alone, over 120,000 lost their lives.

Faced with government silence, I think the matter should be taken up by Maltese environmental NGOs in partnership with their Italian counterparts. Public opinion needs to be sensitised on the dangers that lie ahead as Fukushima is a warning we cannot afford to ignore. 

other posts on Nuclear Issues on this blog

Merkurju fl-ikel ?

  

Nhar t-Tnejn li għaddew f’Nairobi l-Kenya kulħadd baqa’ ssummat meta waqt laqgħa tal-Kunsill tal-UNEP (United Nations Environment Programme) ir-Rapprezentant tal-Gvern tal-Istati Uniti tal-Amerika ħabbar appoġġ tal-Gvern ta’ Barack Obama għall-inizzjattiva tal-UNEP dwar trattat internazzjonali li jikkontrolla t-tniġġiż mill-merkurju fuq livell dinji.

 

Il-Gvern ta’ Bush qatt ma ta’ widen, imma Obama f’inqas minn xahar dawwar ir-rotta !

 

Dan il-merkurju joriġina prinċipalment mill-faħam li jintuża f’xi power stations għall-ġenerazzjoni tal-elettriku. Jintuża ukoll fil-batteriji u f’xi proċessi industrijali.

 

L-merkurju meta bħala riżultat ta’ ħruq ta’ faħam jew għal xi raġuni oħra jsib ruħu fl-atmosfera ma jirrispettax il-funtieri fil-mixja tiegħu. Fost oħrajn jakkumula f’affarijiet li nieklu bħall-ħut. (ara per eżempju r rapport intitolat Mercury in Fish. A Global Health Hazard. Ippubblikat dan ix-xahar : Frar 2009)

 

Dan imbagħad jakkumula fina u f’uliedna b’konsegwenzi kbar għas-saħħa tagħna lkoll. Għalhekk huwa importanti li l-merkurju jkun ikkontrollat aħjar.

 

L-inizzjattiva tal-Gvern ta’Obama hi pass kbir il-quddiem u tawgura tajjeb għall-kooperazjoni internazzjonali fil-qasam tal-ambjent.