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December 16, 2008

Report finds organic farming fights climate change and develops comparable yields

Through scientific advances it has been made possible for organic farming to supply the world with a sustainable food source, according to a research paper released today by the Rodale Institute.

The paper reviewed about 60 research papers and found that natural systems that are sometimes hailed as being required for optimal production.

The paper cites a study that looked at the results from 286 farms in 57 countries. The study found that small farmers increased their crop yields by an average of 79 percent using techniques such as organic farming and crop rotation. This is because organically managed soils have more physical soil structure, which prevents erosion. They are also more permeable and have more accessible nutrients, which are vital for crop productivity, the paper says.

For further information, visit the WBCSD web site

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category : Topics

December 9, 2008

Greece and Portugal could face cash penalties over green law failures; other states given court warnings

Greece and Portugal could be handed EU fines if they continue to disobey EU environmental law despite European court orders to comply with it, the European commission has warned. The warning was made on Thursday as the commission issued its latest round of infringement proceedings against member states.

The standards set in the 1991 directive on urban wastewater has pressured Greece to comply with. Last year Athens was condemned for failing to meet the standards in 23 “agglomerations”. Twelve of them are still not in compliance, the commission says. Greece is also facing a trip to the EU court over an illegal landfill site in western Attica.

Portugal is being threatened with fines for failing to comply with a 2005 court ruling requiring it to meet EU drinking water standards. “It is unacceptable that after so much time Portugal has still not ensured that drinking is safe throughout the country”, EU environment commissioner Stavros Dimas said.

Spain is to receive a final warning before being taken to court for two breaches of EU urban wastewater law. Failures to meet standards in this area are among the most serious law implementation problems. Madrid has also been warned over mining activities inside a protected area. In 2006 the local authority imposed a large fine on a firm operating in the area.

Bulgaria is being sent a final warning for failing to fully implement the EU waste framework directive. Sofia is also being warned over several construction projects, including a wind farm, which the commission says are in infringement of EU environmental impact assessment rules.

Luxembourg has faced a trip to EU court for failing to transpose the 2002 energy performance of buildings directive. The member state recognises it has only partially written the directive into national law, according to the commission.

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category : Topics

December 9, 2008

USDA panel approves first rules for labeling farmed fish 'organic'

US federal advisory board has approved criteria that clear the way for farmed fish to be labelled “organic,” a move that pleased aquaculture producers even as it angered environmentalists and consumer advocates.

The question of whether farmed fish could be labelled organic ? especially carnivorous species such as salmon that live in open-ocean net pens and consume vast amounts of smaller fish ? has been in dispute between scientists and federal regulators for years. The standards approved yesterday by the national organic standards board would allow organic fish farmers to use wild fish as part of their feed mix provided it did not exceed 25 percent of the total and did not come from forage species, such as menhaden, that have declined sharply as the demand for farmed fish has skyrocketed.

“Finally, maybe there’s a light at the end of the tunnel in terms of defining what’s organic,” said Wally Stevens, executive director of the global aquaculture alliance. “The challenge is to figure out how we can produce a healthy protein product with a proper regard to where the feed comes from.”

For further information, visit the Washingtonpost web site

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category : Topics

December 9, 2008

European Commission calls for tax cuts for green goods and services

The European Commission calls for an overall value-added tax reduction as well as a lowering of rates on specific items such as environmentally friendly goods and services, along with reduced car registration and road taxes for low-emissions vehicles to boost the EU economy. The proposals are part of the European commission's $252 billion economic stimulus package
announced at November 26th.

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category : Topics

December 3, 2008

Achim Steiner, Executive Director of UNEP, writes "Challenge for The Global Green New Deal"

Mr Achim Steiner, Executive Director of UNEP, posts his regular article in the asahi.com web site.

"As governments wrestle with the current financial crisis, some familiar voices are being raised--ones that argue that combating climate is now too costly for an over-stretched over-stressed global economy.

Deal with the economic challenges of today and put climate change on the back burner for a better tomorrow--but that would be a fundamental mistake of enormous and perhaps inter-generational proportions.

While stock markets have been falling often at record rates, emissions of the principle greenhouse gas have also broken records. Figures release in November say CO2 rose 0.5 per cent between 2006 and 2007 and now close to 40 per cent higher than 25 years ago."

Visit the environment section of the asahi.com web site for further reading.

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category : Topics


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