Daily Media Briefing 28th August

Daily Media Briefing

 

Posted in: Consumers, Daily Media Briefing, Environment, Supply Chain, Technology & Innovation

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August 28, 2013

Environment

Chemicals firm launches legal case against EU ban on bee harming pesticides

Syngenta, a Swiss agrochemicals company, is legally challenging the European Commission (EC) over its decision to suspend the use of a group of pesticides called neonicotinoids, after research showed that it was harmful to bees.  Syngenta said that the EC took the decision on the basis of an inaccurate and incomplete assessment by the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA), and that the suspension “breached EU pesticide legislation and incorrectly applied the precautionary principle.”  The company’s chief operating officer, John Atkin, said that Syngenta had “no other choice” but to take legal action as the EC had “wrongly linked” the pesticide to the decline in bee health.  Prior to the EU vote in April this year, the campaign group Corporate Europe Observatory claimed that Syngenta, and other firms including the German chemical producer Bayer, had engaged in “furious lobbying” to pressure the EC and the EFSA to oppose the ban. (Blue & Green Tomorrow)

Supply Chain

150 US organisations urge GMO crop trial action

The US food producers Amy’s Kitchen, Clif Bar & Company, and the US Center for Food Safety are among more than 150 food manufacturers and retailers that are urging the US Department of Agriculture (USDA) to improve its oversight of experimental trials of genetically engineered crops.  In a joint letter to the USDA Secretary Tom Vilsack, the organisations expressed their concerns following the recent discovery of unapproved genetically engineered wheat in Oregon, and said that the incident shows the inadequacy of US regulation of genetically engineered crop field trials. The signatories said that the economic impacts of the discovery were immediate as shipments from Oregon wheat farmers were temporarily put on hold after the unapproved wheat was found.  The introduction of genetically engineered wheat in the US was stopped ten years ago after markets abroad rejected the product. (Environmental Leader)

Consumers

Simplified UK energy tariffs by 2014

The UK energy regulator Ofgem has announced that all UK households will receive simplified gas and electricity tariffs by the end of the year and that consumers must be told the cheapest deal available from their supplier by the end of March 2014.  The chief executive of Ofgem, Andrew Wright, said that the reforms aim to “tackle the lack of trust which has blighted the market” following revelations of large scale mis-selling.  The reforms include new standards of conduct for energy companies, which Ofgem said would force suppliers “to go through a cultural change in the way they treat consumers.”  The executive director of the UK consumer group Which?, Richard Lloyd, said that while the reforms are a step forward, “the Government must step in to ensure trust in suppliers is rebuilt and prices are kept in check.” (The Guardian)

Innovation and Technology

Smart cities hub to open in New York

In a bid to create a hub for smart cities technology companies, the SUNY College of Nanoscale Science and Engineering (CNSE) has acquired the Kiernan Plaza in the city of Albany in New York. The new Smart Cities Technology Innovation Centre (SCiTI) will house research, education and workforce training for emerging technologies. According to a report published in July 2013 by Navigant Research, the global smart city technology market is expected to grow from $6.1 billion in annual revenue in 2012 to $20.2 billion by 2020.  To develop the $30 million initiative, CNSE is working in partnership with the US clean energy engineering firm CHA, which will locate its headquarters and leadership team at the new SCiTI.  Additionally, CNSE will collaborate with Trinity Alliance and Girls Inc. to develop and deliver joint nanotechnology education and workforce training programs. (Environmental Leader)

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