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December 2018
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Monday, 17 December 2018
The European Commission wants to know how genetically modified (GMO) crops might affect human and animal health in the longer term, eight years after the EU first allowed biotech crops, a document showed on Tuesday. In a tender published on its website, the Commission's environment unit has advertised for interested parties to study the "potential cumulative long-term effects" of individual groups of GMO crops, and say where more research is required. Only a handful of GMO crops may be grown commercially on EU territory, mostly maize types. These crop approvals were issued in 1997 and 1998, before the bloc began a six-year moratorium on new GMO authorisations that ended in May 2004. This task should be prioritised to take account of the types of GM plants released within the Community at the present time and those predicted in the near future, the notice said. Last week the Commission held its first debate on GMO policy in more than a year, vowing to press ahead with authorising more gene-altered crops and foods even if EU governments could not break years of deadlock over the issue. While new approvals are trickling in, they have so far related to imported GMOs for use in food, animal feed and industrial processing. No GMO crop has been won EU approval for planting since 1998.
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Freedom of movement is one of the most basic rights for citizens of the EU, but the Member States have so far failed to reach a real common policy on migration and managing EU borders. Parliament's Civil Liberties Committee held a public hearing on Wednesday to discuss proposals for a common Code of rules to control both external and internal EU borders. The measures come under the co-decision procedure, with a first reading debate due at the June plenary.The EP rapporteur Michael CASHMAN (PES, UK) said he supported the creation of a common policy on managing external borders, but stressed the need to develop a more human approach to third country nationals: "Freedom of movement is an essential human right," he said. "Third country nationals should have the right to enter the EU if all the entry conditions are met... First and second line checks should be done in a respectful and dignified manner by the border guards." He said national authorities should inform those rejected of the reasons for refusal, where possible in their own language. In 2003, the Commission proposed the creation of a European Agency for External Borders to encourage cooperation between national border surveillance agencies. This was to have started work in January 2005, but the representative of the Council presidency, Raoul UEBERECKEN, said this had been delayed as the Council could not agree on where the agency should be established - Budapest, Warsaw, Ljubljana, Valetta or Tallinn. A common visa system
Integrated management of external borders is only possible if Europe sets up a common visa system. Sarah Ludford (ALDE, UK) is the rapporteur on a proposal to establish a common EU database with information on all issued visas, known as the Visa Information System (VIS). She supported the Commission's objective of consular cooperation and exchange of information between Member States to achieve a common visa policy. But any new regulation should strictly respect the principle of personal data protection. "The security threat has to be the top priority", she said, "but this doesn't justify the use of data for purposes other than the verification of visas." She asked whether such identification should be done by introducing a chip with biometric elements, such as fingerprint information, in passports or rather by using the new VIS database. For the Commission, Mr De Ceuster said that the creation of such chips was posing many technical difficulties and the Commission might abandon the idea of using them in passports.
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Friday, 01 April 2005
The basis of Parliament’s negotiations on the 2007-2013 Financial Perspective became clear on Wednesday afternoon, when, after detailed consideration of the Commission’s proposal for the next Financial Perspective, the Temporary Committee on Policy Challenges and Budgetary Means of the Enlarged Union 2007-2013, set up in October 2004, made its first examination of the draft report by Reimer BÖGE (EPP-ED, DE).

The rapporteur explained that Parliament must give thought to the policies that the European Union has to finance, and not just to gross figures’. He went on to list a series of priorities: Cohesion policy is fundamental and must be allocated 0.41% of the EU’s gross national income (GNI) and 4% of the new Member States’ GNIfor the next Financial Perspective period. Also 3% of the EU’s GNI must be allocated to R&D funding by 2010. EUR 21 billion must be earmarked for the Natura 2000 programme and there should be more ambitious financing of rural development. There was also a need to increase the level of funding for external actions, to enable the EU to become ‘a real global partner’.
There appeared to be consensus that the next Financial Perspective should cover five years (2006-2010 inclusive), so it would run parallel with the next parliamentary term and the next Commission. Likewise, the debate on the Financial Perspective must be linked to the question of own resources.
The vote on the Böge report will be held at the June part-session in Strasbourg.
The hearing of the Committee on Development of the European Parliament on 17th of March posed the problem of child labour in developing countries.
The majority of child labour is found in agriculture,whether in subsistence farming or commercial agriculture. Children often undertake what is termed hazardous child labour, that is work that could result in them being killed, injured or made ill. For example child labour in cocoa production agriculture is one of the three most dangerous sectors in which to work along with construction and mining. However, there are no figures for work-related child fatalities, accidents or ill health in agriculture. The International Labour Organisation (ILO) estimates, though, that some 22,000 children are killed every year at work. Furthermore, every year there are 270 million work-related accidents and 160 million cases of ill health due to work, it is clear that child labourers figure amongst these statistics. Agricultural child labourers work on all types of undertakings ranging from small- and medium-sized family farms, to large farms, plantations, and agro-industrial complexes. Historically, child labour, either as part of family teams or as individual workers, has played a significant part in employment in plantations and commercial agriculture around the world. It is now widely acknowledged that the problem of child labour cannot be tackled in isolation from that of rural poverty,particularly that of waged agricultural workers and small farmers. Basically, children work as cheap labour because their parents don’t earn enough to support the family or to send their children to school.

Cocoa is the main ingredient in chocolate, and cocoa growing is one of the many agriculture sectors where children work. The awareness of this was increased in 2000 due to media reports on child labour, slave labour and rafficking in cocoa production in West Africa.
IPEC has played an important role in supporting the International Cocoa Initiative with advice, resources and statistical surveys. The programme, known as WACAP, (West Africa Cocoa and Commercial Agriculture Project to Combat Hazardous and Exploitative Child Labour),includes awareness-raising across families and communities; capacity enhancement of farmers, producers, inspectors and workers; pilot interventions to remove children from work and get them into education or training; projects to boost the income-generating capacities of families; child labour monitoring systems.
Read more on the International Programme on the Elimination of Child Labour (IPEC).
Thursday, 31 March 2005
With over two million tonnes of pesticides produced annually worldwide containing 900 active ingredients, keeping check on the potential risks to human health and the environment is a monumental task. But one European project, called GIMMI, is helping risk assessors by improving accessibility to data on the many products and applications of these chemicals.
Pesticides – chemical products used to control pests and other harmful organisms – play an important economic role in agiculture, but they also raise concern about human health and environmental risks. The problem is finding a uniform way to assess the risk is not easy because of incompatible databases, varying types and quality of data, and the fact that different bodies maintain the data across Europe.

Partners in the EU’s GIMMI (Geographical Information and Mathematical Model Interoperability) project, funded this project under the Informaiton Society Technologies (IST) programme, aimed to find ways to overcome such data inconsistencies and to develop a way of making it more widely available. Carrying out pesticide impact assessment involves several actors, including data collectors in different fields (i.e. soil testing, meteorology, agronomy); scientists who analyse the data; and government bodies, public administrations and the pesticide manufacturing industry which use the data.
According to IST Results, the project has developed a web and WAP-interfaced geographical information system (GIS) which makes agronomic data available to users – other than data sources – across Europe. By using the GIMMI website, a public administration in the UK, for example, can gain access to soil sample data maintained by one of the regional governments in Italy.

CTA is co-financing an international conference on Participatory Spatial Information Management and Communication
PGIS '05 - KCCT, which will be held in Nairobi, Kenya, 7-10 Sept 2005.The focus of the event will be on sharing experiences and defining good practices for making geographic information technologies and systems available to less-favoured groups in society in order to enhance their capacity in managing and communicating spatial information in the contexts of:
- asserting ancestral land and resource rights and entitlements;
- supporting collaborative planning and management of lands and natural resources;
- promoting equity in terms of ethnicity, culture, gender, environmental justice, hazard mitigation, etc;
- managing and ameliorating conflicts amongst and between local community groups, and between communities and higher-level authorities or economic forces; and
- supporting cultural heritage preservation and identity building among indigenous peoples and rural communities.
The conference's objectives are to develop and share a knowledge base on PGIS practice. The event will lay the foundations for the development of regional networks and resource centres.
Extensive inetresting material is available in the website http://pgis2005.cta.int