NEWS ON SOIL AND EUROPEAN INSTITUTIONS: Estonian Presidency at the EU

The Estonian Presidency at the EU has been making efforts in drawing people’s attention to soil and its use as a component in European life and politics.

On 28 September, it launched a debate on soil with an interesting document which casts light to the problem with the following title: ‘Three square kilometres soil destroyed every day in Europe .

On 4-6 October, a High Level Conference as part of the EU Council Presidency entitled ‘Soil for sustainable food production and ecosystem services’ took place in Tallinn.

The main conclusions of the conference focused on 4 main themes:

  • Policy measures: the need for a strategy at EU level to indicate priorities and measures each EU Member State must implement;
  • Climate Change: the Paris Agreements did not recognize the role of soil in carbon accumulation – even though the 4 per 1000 Initiative was mentioned – therefore specific actions are demanded in and by all Member States, which must however take national and regional differences into consideration;
  • Soil data: it is important to increase the use of soil data in the entire EU, and at the same time harmonize soil measures in order to have a limited number of indicators denoting changes in soil quality, especially for farmers;
  • Communication and awareness raising: each Member State must encourage and create more awareness on the importance of soil for life among the entire European population.

These conclusions point to a specific direction to be followed. However they are not binding and are purely based on the good will of EU Member States.

Will the following presidencies act on what was said in Tallinn?

Annunci

Meeting the Farmers’ Category – Group III of the EESC

One of the main objectives of the SIP Forum is to collect recommendations from various stakeholders, in order to adopt a new strategy to protect EU soil. We are currently following two pathways: a) reinforcing communication and contacts throughout Europe with associations and civil society organizations which are not dealing with soil as a priority; b) establishing a dialogue with other stakeholders who are interested in soil (builders, farmers, planners, administrators …).

With regard to the second objective, the Forum has been invited to present its work on 26 September 2017 at the Farmers Category from Group III of the EESC. This is the second meeting taking place there – the previous one, with the Consumers and Environment Category took place on 21 June. Continua a leggere “Meeting the Farmers’ Category – Group III of the EESC”

Pesticide Action Network (PAN) – Europe

In the European Union there are many organisations fighting for a better society, a future in which our children and grandchildren will not be able to blame us for passivity and incompetence. They are vital for the European Institutions themselves and to make democracy persist. At times, a local perspective on certain issues can make us forget the many organisations which deal with the same issues in other European countries.

Here we will introduce you to Pesticide Action Network (PAN), an organisation which strives to minimise the negative effects of hazardous pesticides and to replace their use with ecologically sound and socially just alternatives. The network was founded in 1982 and has over the years included up to over 600 non-governmental organisations, institutions and individuals in over 60 countries worldwide, which are co-ordinated by 5 autonomous regional centres, one of which in Europe (since 1987). The European centre has its headquarters in Brussels: in this way they are able to more closely follow policy developments at the EU institutions regarding agriculture, environment and health, and their involvement with the use of synthetic pesticides or other toxic chemicals. PAN represents consumer interests and aims at influencing these policies, by making claims in favour of the well-being of citizens, consumers and farmers. PAN – Europe network includes 38 associations, two of which are Italian : PAN- Italia and the Accademia delle Erbe Spontanee, in English ‘Wild Herbs Academy’ which both have headquarters in Ancona. Continua a leggere “Pesticide Action Network (PAN) – Europe”

People4Soil: We’re ready: let’s go on!

We have reached the deadline for gathering signatures for the European Citizens Initiative (ECI) people4soil! In a few days, we will know if the quorum of 1 million signatures has been reached. Regardless of the result, the real work begins now. The European institutions and their decision-making processes are the main but not the only objective of this ECI.

Efforts made to gather these signatures were important; people who took action represent the human capital to be used to trigger radical changes in mentality and sensitivity of all European citizens. Without this change, any directive or legislation will always be partial and powerless before increasing soil consumption. In some Member States, certain laws already in force have already shown their limits, and also their failure in carrying out acts. Continua a leggere “People4Soil: We’re ready: let’s go on!”

European Network of Cities for Agroecology

What brings Spanish, English, German, Belgian and French cities together?

The will to achieve environmental recovery in suburban areas by supporting ecosystems and organic agriculture. Under this light, around 15 cities including Bristol, Bruges, Freiburg, Grenoble and Madrid created the European Network of Cities for Agroecology. This idea came from a European Commission Life Project, and was launched last December in Zaragoza, at a convention entitled Huertas Life Km 0 (Vegetable Gardens, Life Km 0).

This laid the ground for the European network shortly joined by 15 cities. Continua a leggere “European Network of Cities for Agroecology”

EuropaCity – property speculation (France)

An old joke on city pollution ends with the following sentence: “Cities should be built in the countryside, because the air is cleaner”. This alone sums up the entire soil consumption issue!

Few people know (and those who do know, do not stress this enough) that Italy is the “leader” in Europe in terms of highest soil consumption. Italy alone accounts for 24,13% of the total loss of agricultural soil at EU level. This does not however mean that other States are much better off. Next in line is Spain with 19,61% and France with 11,85% , and there are other areas worse off than the Italian average. Continua a leggere “EuropaCity – property speculation (France)”

“Stop Glyphosate” Campaign

Good news: The European Citizens Initiative (ECI) to ban the use of glyphosate and other toxic pesticides has reached 1 million signatures! It is the 4th ECI to have been fully successful. The organizers decided to close the petition early in order to start the analysis procedure the EU institutions are obliged to respond to.

Why the urgency? Because (and this is the bad news) the European Commission sent in a proposal which will re-authorize glyphosate for another ten years. EU Member States ministers met in Brussels on 19 July, surrounded by protests organized by the Stop Glyphosate team near the European institutions

The glyphosate license which was given an 18-month long renewal in 2016, is about to expire again. The first vote is expected to take place in autumn. If we want the precaution to take place, civil society should keep fighting and persuade the institutions not to give in to chemical industry associations.

Stop Glyphosate! ECI

With the Stop Glyphosate! European Citizens’ Initiative (ECI), the Commission is asked to introduce a ban on the use of glyphosates in Member States, to reform the procedure on pesticide approval, and set goals on compulsory use of pesticide reduction at EU level.

In the case of Italy, we would like to remind you that the Ministry of Health’s ban on the use of phytosanitary containing glyphosate is not enough (Gazzetta Ufficiale Italiana, August 2016). If the ban is not put in place at European level, products containing glyphosate may still be exported from other Member States.

An IARC report (International Agency for Research on Cancer) of the World Health Organisation defined glyphosate as potentially carcinogenic for human beings. Test results from urine samples carried out – at the Bremen University Medical Centre (Germany) – over 18 Member States confirm that at least 44% of those tested carry traces of glyphosate. Proportions naturally vary from country to country with Malta, Germany, Great Britain and Poland high up in the ranking, with Macedonia and Switzerland among the last,

We would like to remind those who believe the danger is still not scientifically confirmed, that as the precautionary principle regulates – or simply common sense – we are not asking them to cease consuming products containing glyphosate (they are free to keep doing as they wish), but simply not to absurdly force others to do so. Moreover we insist that the danger of pesticides should be evaluated and verified in a transparent manner and not in labs of manufacturing industries or in those financed by these industries.

In February the SIP Forum Newsletter had alerted readers and SIP Forum members on the crucial importance of definitely banning glyphosate, and launching the ECI. The campaign is still ongoing, and over 700.000 signatures collected from January until now, over all Member States.

Unfortunately, the pace is weaker in Italy, and there is the risk not to reach the minimum number of signatures required according to ECI rules.

We would therefore like to ask our readers who have not yet accessed the website, to sign the petition: https://stopglyphosate.org/  .

If you have not already done so please spread this petition to your partners, friends and acquaintances… It is extremely important!