News

Friends of the Earth Malta today welcomes the announcement by government on its intentions to proceed with the process to introduce a climate change bill. We believe that this is the way forward to make sure that the current, and subsequent, governments are committed to act on the pressing issue of climate change.

FoE Malta hopes that this announcement will be the first step in the right direction, following the previous attempt by then opposition MP Leo Brincat who in 2008 tabled a private member bill which was eventually shot down by government. Friends of the Earth Malta is glad to note that, now in his position as minister responsible for Sustainable Development, the Environment and Climate change, Hon. Brincat is pushing forward for this law to finally become a reality.

Martin Galea De Giovanni from Friends of the Earth Malta continues: “We hope that this process will lead to strong climate change legislation, with clear targets and ambitions in order achieve a low-carbon Malta. The Maltese government will already be making history by being one of the few EU member states to enact such legislation, but our appeal is that this should be one of the strongest bills in the member states.”

Since 2007, Friends of the Earth groups in 16 European countries including Malta have been asking governments to commit to annual cuts in climate changing emissions as part of the European Big Ask. The European 'Big Ask' campaign brings together Friends of the Earth groups in countries across Europe all with the same big ask - that their governments commit to reduce carbon emissions, year on year, every year. The campaign calls for cuts in emissions equal to a reduction of EU-wide domestic emissions of at least 40 per cent, without offsetting, by 2020.

Friends of the Earth Malta today welcomes the support of Arnold Cassola (AD),  Carmel Cacopardo (AD),  David Casa (PN), Marlene Mizzi (PL),Miriam Dalli (PL) for its Politics for People campaign.

The Politics for People campaign asks candidates and political parties standing in the European elections on the 24th May to “stand-up for citizens and democracy against the excessive lobbying influence of banks and big business”.

Martin Galea De Giovanni from Friends of the Earth Malta says: “We are delighted that these five candidates decided to join our campaign and take the pledge. We hope that, if they are elected, we will be able to work with them to make Brussels a more democratic place and somewhere which is less reliant on the excessive power of corporate lobbyists.”

Campaigners have long been concerned with the power that corporate lobbyists in Brussels have over the policy-making process. There are estimated to be up to 25,000 lobbyists active in Brussels and big corporations, lobby consultancies and law firms spend hundreds of millions of euros every year to ensure that EU policy-making meets the needs of big business, rather than the needs of citizens.

In the past few years at the European level, the processed food industry has defeated proposals for health labels on packaging; the big banks have avoided effective regulation after the financial crisis; internet firms have watered-down data privacy laws; and EU trade deals have consistently put profits before people. The Politics for People campaign believes that this situation needs to urgently change.

Martin Galea De Giovanni from Friends of the Earth Malta continues: “We hope that this endorsement will encourage other candidates from all political parties to sign-up to our pledge. Any candidate or citizen wishing to find out more about this pledge and how they can get involved should visit our campaign website at: http://foemalta.org/actnow/politicsforpeople

Friends of the Earth Malta is happy to note that environmental consciousness and sustainability are targets for the V-18 programme following a statement made by chairman, Jason Micallef regarding plans to place a floral carpet in St. George’s square for the Valletta Foundation 2018 events. FoE Malta has however expressed doubt at the effectiveness of presenting a floral carpet using species which are not native to the Maltese islands, namely petunias and pansies.


JD Farrugia from Friends of the Earth Malta says: “Petunias are a genus of species which originate from South America and a Pansy is a hybrid plant which is derived from plants commonly found in the Northern Hemisphere. Placing a large amount of these flowers in Valletta and passing it off as a way to raise environmental consciousness and promote environmental sustainability is a contradiction.”


“The promotion of local flowers and plants sends out a stronger message about our environment and ties in a lot more with an event which is meant to promote the culture of the Maltese islands. The use of non-native species in such events as well as in public spaces like roundabouts also means that they require more maintenance such as irrigation, pesticides and the use of herbicide such as glyphosate.”


Last year, Friends of the Earth Malta found traces of glyphosate in the urine of 90% of a sample of Maltese people during a study carried out by Friends of the Earth Europe. The same herbicide is commonly sprayed on such non-native species on local roundabouts and public spaces by the ELC itself, who is organising the infiorata which is set to happen in Valletta.

Brussels is the lobbying capital of Europe. And with so many of our national laws starting life at the EU level, it is not difficult to see why. Big corporations, lobby consultancies and law firms spend hundreds of millions of euros every year to ensure that EU policy-making meets the needs of big business – and it works. In the past few years we have seen the processed food industry defeat proposals for health labels on packaging; the big banks avoid effective regulation after the financial crisis; internet firms water-down data privacy laws; and EU trade deals consistently put profits before people.

Whenever the European Commission proposes a new regulation or the European parliament votes on a new law, corporate lobbyists are there, outnumbering and outspending public interest groups. And too often, these lobbyists receive a warm welcome from officials, commissioners, and members of the European parliament (MEPs). Large corporations have easy access to commissioners and high-level officials, as do those firms that refuse to sign up to the EU's voluntary lobby transparency register. Some MEPs have even been caught red-handed tabling large numbers of amendments drafted by industry lobbyists.

The EU Commission consults more often with big business than with NGOs, unions and independent experts. For example, when the Commission prepared for the ongoing negotiations on a sweeping trade deal with the US (the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership, TTIP), almost 95 per cent of its meetings with stakeholders were with big business. This means that the secretive TTIP talks could end up undermining a wide range of public interest regulations. And without full transparency, lobbyists will be free to continue to peddle influence in secret and without restriction.

As a result of this situation, it is not difficult to see why many European citizens feel they are alienated from the decisions made in Brussels and that European decision-makers do not listen to them. The European parliament needs MEPs who will be independent from corporate interests and who will fight on behalf of the public interest. The European parliament also needs MEPs who will ambitiously promote ethics and transparency in the EU's decision-making processes.

That is why NGOs from across Europe are inviting European candidates to pledge to "stand-up for citizens and democracy against the excessive lobbying influence of banks and big business". They hope to attract the support of hundreds of candidates (and ultimately MEPs) across the EU as the election campaign progresses.

Hopefully the candidates taking the pledge will work with civil society in the next Parliament to demand the introduction of a mandatory transparency register at the EU level; to tackle the dominance of the financial industry and other big business lobbies during all steps of the EU legislative process; to support citizens' 'right to know' and participatory democracy; and to work to ensure the eradication of conflicts of interest in all EU institutions.

It's been a tough few years for Europe's citizens with spiralling unemployment and punishing austerity measures. It's time for a change; it's time we had MEPs who will stand-up for citizens and democracy against the excessive lobbying influence of banks and big business.

To find out more about this campaign visit http://foemalta.org/actnow/politicsforpeople

 

This article appeared on the Sunday Times of Malta (28th April 2014) - http://www.timesofmalta.com/articles/view/20140428/opinion/Will-our-six-stand-up-for-us-.516748

 

20140425-SpringWatch

This afternoon the Coalition for the Abolition of Spring Hunting* thanked the Maltese people for their courage and resolve in standing up for wildlife against the illegal and unsustainable killing of migrating bird in spring.

"Every Maltese person who signed the petition to call for a referendum to stop spring hunting should take pride in their part in protecting our wildlife and defending the rights of all of us to enjoy our countryside in spring," said Coalition spokesperson Rodolfo Ragonesi.

Standing on top of the Victoria Lines near Mosta with a view looking out over the valley towards Burmarrad, representatives of the 13 organisations in the Coalition had joined one of BirdLife Malta's Spring Watch teams for the afternoon in the countryside.

Maltese and overseas volunteers enjoyed an afternoon mostly free of shooting, after the 2pm hunting curfew, seeing migrating Barn Swallows, (Huttafa in Maltese), Swifts (Rundun), Kestrels (Spanjulett) and Harriers (Baghadan).

According to one local volunteer, "In the morning, it's very different. There are hunters everywhere, hundreds of gunshots all around and every bird you see you are worried that it might be killed."

The number of Maltese volunteers joining Spring Watch has gone up over the years, as people's awareness of the devastating impact of spring hunting on birds and frustration at the continuing killing of protected birds and lack of access to the countryside in spring has increased.

"The fact that 44,000 Maltese people have exercised their constitutional right to demand a referendum on the issue of spring hunting shows that the current situation- with hunters in Malta occupying the countryside for three weeks in spring, depriving others of their right to enjoy public areas and killing threatened birds before they breed - is not acceptable." Said Dr Ragonesi

"Our understanding and appreciation of wildlife and nature has come a long way since the days when these things were seen only as an infinite resource there to be exploited to our fullest ability. We now know that we can't just take and take from nature without restraint if we are to avoid causing irreparable damage and destroying that which we should be protecting."

"It may be that our birds will take many years to recover from the damage already done by spring hunting, but that is all the more reason to stop it sooner rather than later. We cannot wait until there are no birds left. By then it will be too late."

"We expect the referendum to be called in time to make this the last spring hunting season the Maltese people and migrating birds have to endure."

*The Coalition is made up of the following organisations: Alternattiva Demokratika, Birdlife Malta, Coalition for Animal Rights, Din l-Art Helwa, Flimkien ghal Ambjent Ahjar, Friends of the Earth Malta, Gaia Foundation, Greenhouse Malta, International Animal Rescue Malta, Moviment Graffiti, Nature Trust and Ramblers Association of Malta.

takeactionAlterEU2014Today, Friends of the Earth Malta is launching a major, pan-European campaign which urges candidates in the European elections to “stand-up for citizens and democracy against the excessive lobbying influence of banks and big business”.

Martin Galea De Giovanni from Friends of the Earth Malta says: “Right now there is a major problem with lobbying in the European institutions. Too many of the policies and laws which come from Brussels to Malta have the finger prints of big business lobbyists all over them. Instead, we need MEPs who will make laws which support citizens and the public interest.”

“It is essential that we tackle the problem of corporate lobbying in Brussels. In the past few years we have seen the processed food industry defeat proposals for health labels on packaging; the big banks avoid effective regulation after the financial crisis; internet firms water-down data privacy laws; and EU trade deals (like the current EU-US deal) consistently put profits before people. It is vital that we have MEPs who will stand-up against this excessive lobbying influence of banks and big business.”

“We hope that candidates from many different political parties will join our campaign, sign our pledge and agree to take strong action, if they are elected, to tackle the power of lobbyists in European decision-making. Voters could then use this information to help them to decide how to vote in May.”

“Since the launch of this campaign we are looking for local candidates to join MEPs from other EU countries who have already pledged their support. We also encourage all Maltese citizens to visit our website and email their Euro candidates to ask them to take the pledge.”

The Politics for People campaign is being co-organised with the Alliance for Lobbying Transparency and Ethics Regulation (ALTER-EU) [1] and already involves organisations from over half of EU member states.

Notes for editors:

[1] ALTER-EU is a coalition of about 200 civil society groups, trade unions, academics and public affairs firms campaigning against the increasing influence exerted by corporate lobbyists on the political agenda in Europe.

How it will affect our daily life and why everybody should know about it

A simple and innocuous sounding acronym – TTIP or Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership is enough to make one’s eyes glaze over. Yet this trade deal between the European Union and the United States will eventually affect our daily lives, the food that we eat, our environment and ultimately our democratic processes and sovereignty as a nation. It’s the biggest trade deal ever, and yet most of the European public is not aware of it.

Negotiations between the EU and the United States on a transatlantic trade started way back in July 2013. Regulatory convergence has since been the main focus of decision-makers on both sides of the Atlantic with an understanding that tackling regulatory obstacles to trade will resolve the current economic and financial crises, based on the assumption that it will boost growth and create jobs.

During a recent seminar organised by Friends of the Earth Europe in Brussels, NGOs from different sectors shared their concerns about such a convergence, since it is likely to challenge long-established environmental, health and consumer rights and regulations protecting citizens on both sides of the Atlantic as if they were burdens. The suggestion is that these should be sacrificed for, yet unproven and contested, economic benefits.

These concerns should not be taken lightly since the proposed deal could pose a serious threat to environmental and social protection in Europe. Sectors of industry have long claimed that European standards designed to protect human health, the environment and social wellbeing are barriers to trade. Their demands for the harmonisation of standards will reduce protection for the environment and expose individuals to greater health, safety and other risks. This will happen since for example the EU would have to accept US imports regardless of their compliance with EU regulations, and vice-versa.

This is not merely speculation. The US has previously challenged European restrictions on imports of hormone-treated beef and poultry washed in chlorine. Oil companies are lobbying against EU plans to protect the climate by limiting access to the EU for oil from dirty tar sands. Food labelling requirements, providing consumer information about what is in food (including genetically modified ingredients) and where it comes from, are seen as an extra cost and criticised as a barrier to trade. Similarly, the already weak sustainability criteria applied by the European Union on biofuels could be threatened as US corn and soy producers push for a share of the European market. Local and national bans on shale gas will be at risk due to TTIP.

Introducing lower standards to meet the demands of industry effectively undermines the precautionary approach, which requires companies to ensure new technologies are safe and which provides a key legal cornerstone of European environmental protection. Reducing requirements for traceability and accountability will also threaten the fundamental principle that the polluter pays. Changes to standards imposed through a binding trade deal undermine the ability of states to act democratically in response to national public concerns.

Furthermore, if food, consumer rights and the environment are not enough reason for concern, one of the biggest threats looming over states sovereign right to regulate could well come from the obscure investor-to-state dispute settlement mechanism – also known, even more innocuously, as ISDS.

The impact that ISDS provisions can have on environmental and citizens safeguards relates partly to the broad definition of investment used. An investment can include regulatory permits and licences, procurement contracts, or concessions to use natural resources. Therefore states that restrict use of Genetically Modified Organisms (GMOs), impose pollution controls or technology bans, or plan to close polluting power plants could be subject to investors claims.

Malta’s sovereign right to regulate in favour of protecting citizens’ rights and wellbeing will be overshadowed by ISDS. The cases are not heard in Maltese or European courts but by a special tribunal made up of appointed arbitrators from the world of corporate law.  Such litigations will be lengthy and prohibitively costly, offering even the most environmentally conscious of governments a justification to claim that the country cannot afford such expenses when so many odds are stacked against it. Such mechanisms do already exist in other treaties and are currently being used by corporations to sue governments around the world. In Quebec for instance, DOW Chemicals has legally challenged the government after banning the use of harmful pesticides. Other high profile examples include tobacco giant Philip Morris suing Uruguay for putting a health warning on cigarette packages and Swedish energy company Vattenfall suing the German government for phasing out nuclear energy.

But it doesn’t stop here either. So far, nobody has seen any of the text and the European Commission has argued that secrecy in this process is inevitable because this is a matter of international relations. If these negotiations are intended to affect domestic regulations, standards and safeguards on each side, then citizens have the right to know what is being put on the table, and how this is being negotiated.

An EU-US trade deal will only be acceptable if it builds a better future for people and the environment. This deal must definitely not lead to a weaker protection for the environment and citizens. It must not give corporations more rights than citizens. If it does, it should be swiftly rejected by the European Commission and our national governments. And finally, is our government and both current and prospective MEPs aware of these threats to our national sovereignty and quality of life?

This article appeared on the Sunday Times of Malta (23rd March 2014) - http://www.timesofmalta.com/articles/view/20140323/opinion/The-biggest-trade-deal-in-the-world.511763

Martin Galea De Giovanni is Chairperson of Friends of the Earth Malta – a member of Friends of the Earth International, with national groups in more than 75 countries campaigning for solutions to environmental problems - www.foemalta.org

Today, Friends of the Earth Malta as part of a broad coalition consisting of 34 NGOs, farmers’ and breeders’ organisations from 27 European countries filed an opposition to a pepper-patent from Syngenta. The company patented an insect resistance, which they copied from a wild pepper. Such patents are ethically questionable, increase the seed market concentration, hinder innovation, and consequently pose a threat to global food security. While filing the opposition in Munich, a hot pepper soup was served to the employees of the European patent office

On May 8, 2013, the European Patent Organisation (EPO) granted a patent (EP 2140023 B1) to Syngenta for insect resistant pepper plants. A wild pepper plant from Jamaica was crossed with commercial pepper plants. Since the wild plant is resistant to various pests, the patented resistance already existed in nature. However, Syngenta claims the ownership to insect-resistant pepper plants, their seeds, and their fruits, although the patented plants are products of conventional breeding. Such plants should definitely not be patentable under European patent law.

The opposition to the patent demands that it should be revoked. It is the first time in EPO’s history that such a widely supported opposition, featuring co-opponents from 27 member countries of the European Patent Convention, has been filed, echoing the broad disagreement with the current EPO practice. In May 2012 a resolution has been adopted by the European Parliament which “calls on the EPO to exclude from patenting products derived from conventional breeding and all conventional breeding methods.” An upcoming decision by the enlarged board of the EPO may lead to a change of the practice to grant patents on conventional plants. The revocation of the pepper-patent would be an important first step. But to bring about a much-needed and lasting change, a political decision by the administrative council of the EPO is needed.

If plants can be patented, this aggravates the already existing concentration process of the global seed market with a few multinational corporations controlling the future of our food. Supposedly, patents on seeds should create an incentive for breeding new plant varieties, but they cause the opposite: Breeders cannot access freely the very base material of plant breeding, such as plant varieties and wild plants. This leads to a decreasing agro-biodiversity and food sovereignty and thus to a smaller choice for consumers.

Environment Groups are extremely concerned by the Authorities' lack of protection of the environment. The first eight months of this administration have been marked by the introduction of several new policies in favour of more construction, relaxation of existing building regulations, condoning of illegalities and scant enforcement. 

 All this clearly reveals that the administration's commitment is to the development lobby and not to the residents of Malta's towns and villages or to the protection of our fragile environment. 

Proposals are being made to facilitate construction in our town and village cores by demolishing traditional architecture and destroying urban gardens – essential urban lungs. The permit granted to build 744 apartments at Mistra is a precedent that will allow tall buildings on hills and ridges to change our landscapes for ever, while land reclamation will lead to our coasts becoming even more built up. 

New regulations encouraging agri-tourism are full of loopholes to bring more building into our countryside, while businesses are to be allowed to encroach into residential areas.  Hotels are to rise without limit, reducing the light, air and solar rights of neighbouring homes. Both MEPA and the Lands Department are failing to curb rampant abuse, while trees continue to be damaged and destroyed. This all erodes residents’ rights and contributes to undermining our health and our quality of life. No studies have been carried out to establish why  our towns or countryside need more building  when these islands have tens of thousands of vacant residential properties  Without an overall strategic plan in place it is just short-term profit over long term benefit that is driving this government to encourage development.

Environment and residents’ groups cannot, and will not sit idly by while these laws are introduced that will further undermine our health and surroundings by the very authorities whose duty it is to safeguard the environment. 

Therefore, the environment groups Flimkien g?al Ambjent A?jar, Din l-Art ?elwa, Ramblers Association, Friends of the Earth, NatureTrust Malta, MOAM, Graffitti, Greenhouse Malta, Birdlife Malta  call the public to join them on Saturday 30th November at 10.30am in protest against government’s intention to continue selling off Malta to speculators.

Car Free Day to be organised on September 22nd

 

Click here to submit your pictures !

 

carfreeday2013

Car free day isn't just about one day without any cars or motor traffic on our roads. It's a day when we're all given the chance to consider how the negative aspects of too much traffic weigh down all our lives. More than that, it's an opportunity to think of better, smarter ways for individual traffic to be organised in the future.

 

There are few places in the world where it's more obvious how badly new ideas for different concepts of individual traffic are needed. A quick walk in a traffic-heavy area is enough for us to experience the quality of the air ourselves when there are too many cars on the road.

What alternatives do we actually have?

This is what the PHOTO/graphic Competition "Car free Experience" is about.

Friends of the Earth Malta would like to invite you to share your individual experience with alternative means of transport in Malta. Maybe you'll be using the services of Arriva, or perhaps your own bicycle. For shorter distances you might try walking or maybe even using some exotic vehicle like a donkey cart. Whatever mode of transportation you decide to use, let us know about your own picturesque experience with car freeness.

The submitted pictures – or alternatively pieces of graphic designs like posters – should be story-telling, contain a visual message and make your personal point about a desirable development of public spaces and mobility. You can expand on this pictorial story with a short caption of up to 30 words and with a relevant image title.

The competition is open for your submissions until September 22nd. Late submissions will not be considered.

The best pictures will be presented in a public exhibition later this year. Also Friends of the Earth Malta will be awarding prizes for the best three pictures and stories. Details will be published in the next days.

Entries should be made via email to This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. or submitted through the online form and will be published on the Friends of the Earth Malta Facebook page. Entries MUST include participant's name, contact number and home address.

Each participant can submit up to FOUR photos / graphic designs of their car free experience each, under one title and with a short caption (30 words max) describing their car free journey.

This event is being made possible with support provided by MEPA.

Terms and Conditions
1. By entering the contest, you give Friends of the Earth Malta the right to publish the submitted photo(s) in FoE Malta publications as well as on the FoE Malta site and Facebook page.
2. We reserve the right to crop the images as we see fit. No manipulation or colour adjustment will be performed on submitted works.
3. Entries must be your own work.
4. Entries should not have won previous competitions, and should not have been published elsewhere.
5. No responsibility is accepted for ineligible entries or entries made fraudulently.
6. By entering this competition, you are accepting these rules and agree to be bound by them.

 

Click here to submit your pictures !

carfreeday2013

 

* indicates required field{rsform 4}

Please only click the Submit button once and wait for the confirmation message to be displayed on the webpage. It may take a while depending on the size of the photos being uploaded.

 

Thank you for taking part in the "Car free Adventures" Photo Competition 2013!

In a statement made this morning, Friends of the Earth Malta showed its support to Alternattiva Demokratika's initiative asking for a referendum to prohibit derogations permitting spring hunting. Friends of the Earth also confirmed that it will join the Coalition Against Spring Hunting.
For too long, the country has been held to ransom by a large minority when most Maltese abhor the hunting and trapping of birds. Friends of the Earth Malta encourages other NGOs to join the coalition since this the only correct democratic path which would ultimately give government a legal mandate on how to proceed on this contentious issue.

In a statement issued today, Friends of the Earth Malta showed its support to Alternattiva Demokratika's initiative asking for a referendum to prohibit derogations permitting spring hunting. Friends of the Earth also confirmed that it will join the Coalition Against Spring Hunting.

 

For too long, the country has been held to ransom by a large minority when most Maltese abhor the hunting and trapping of birds. Friends of the Earth Malta encourages other NGOs to join the coalition since this the only correct democratic path which would ultimately give government a legal mandate on how to proceed on this contentious issue.

Friends of the Earth Malta joined the Coalition in favour of the abolition of spring hunting which has been established today [1].

Its objectives are to ensure that spring hunting is brought to an end in Malta as soon as possible.  The Coalition will do this through lobbying both in Malta and at a European level.

The Coalition has begun the collection of signatures for an abrogative referendum relative to spring hunting legislation [2].

The Coalition is focusing on the abolition of spring hunting because it is the time of year when birds are most vulnerable.  They are migrating through Malta on their way to breed.  A bird saved in spring has the chance to breed and increase the bird population.

 

The secretariat of the Coalition can be contacted at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

 

----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

[1] The Coalition is made up of eleven organisations: Alternattiva Demokratika, Birdlife Malta, Coalition for Animal Rights, Din l-Art Helwa, Flimkien ghal Ambjent Ahjar, Friends of the Earth Malta, Gaia Foundation, Moviment Graffiti, Greenhouse Malta, Nature Trust (Malta) and the Ramblers Association of Malta.

 

[2] The legislation the coalition is seeking to abolish is the “Framework for Allowing a Derogation Opening a Spring Hunting Season for Turtledove and Quail Regulations”(Subsidiary Legislation 504.94 – Legal Notice 221 of 2010)

REACTION to: “Glyphosate does not present unacceptable dangers to environment, humans – government”
In a reaction to the statement issued by the Maltese Government, FoE Malta would like to invite government to issue the studies which test for glyphosate contamination on food samples and their residues in humans.
The truth is that very little testing has been done for glyphosate so far in Europe, with just five countries testing any cereals in 2009, and 15 countries in 2010. A new testing programme was introduced in 2012, which will test for glyphosate in oats and rye in 2013, wheat flour in 2014 and wheat in 2015. No tests at all are carried out on GM soybeans used in animal feed in any European country.
As for the claim that Glyphosate has a “low” toxicity, Glyphosate was approved for EU-wide use in 2002 but the European regulatory agencies did not carry out their own safety testing, relying instead on data provided by the manufacturers and industry studies, not from peer-reviewed science, and is not available for independent scrutiny. Friends of the Earth is concerned that the regulatory authorities have not properly considered independent science on glyphosate. It is important that the public should have confidence in the approvals process – but how can we trust a regulatory system when it relies on studies that have been funded by industry and which are classed as confidential?
Independent studies have shown that low levels of glyphosate may affect the human hormone system and that it may also affect the ability of cells to reproduce – causing possible genetic mutations and an increased risk of cancer. In parts of South America where glyphosate-tolerant GM soy is grown extensively, there have been reports of increases in rates of cancer and birth defects. One study in Paraguay found that the babies of women living within one kilometre of fields sprayed with glyphosate were more than twice as likely to have birth defects. In the soy-growing Chaco district of Argentina, cancer rates have increased fourfold in the last decade. (references below)
Friends of the Earth Malta can confirm that the test followed a standard scientific methodology and samples were sent to a reputable lab in Germany together with other samples from 17 other European countries. The technical report is readily available and in fact was distributed to Maltese journalists who requested a copy of it.
As already pointed out in the original statement issued by Friends of the Earth, the main aim of this investigation was to test whether this herbicide has made it into our bodies. The result is a yes; what's even more worrying is that the Maltese sample of positives was higher than anywhere else. We're not in a position to speculate about the source; but it sure does raise questions. In fact Friends of the Earth Malta would like to ask government the following questions:
• Why do people have glyphosate in their urine? Where does it come from?
• Why haven´t public authorities ever published the results they claim to have done when it comes to testing on glyphosate residues in humans, in food, animal feeds (such as imported soy) and drinking water, if any?
• What are the health impacts of glyphosate in our bodies? Is it guaranteed that glyphosate residues are completely excreted? If not, what happens to the remaining residues?
• Why haven´t there been any long-term health studies on on-going glyphosate uptake in humans?
• Why have the maximum residue levels (MRLs) for glyphosate in food and feed been steadily increased?
• Who is profiting from increasing glyphosate use?
• Why are there no recent figures on herbicide / pesticide use in Malta since 2007?
• What is government’s position concerning applications to grow glyphosate-resistant genetically modified crops in Europe? Will government vote against cultivation of these crops?
Benítez-Leite S, Macchi ML & Acosta M (2009) Malformaciones congénitas asociadas a agrotóxicos [Congenital malformations associated with toxic agricultural chemicals]. Archivos de Pediatría del Uruguay Vol 80 pp237-247.
2  López SL et al (2012) Pesticides Used in South American GMO-Based Agriculture: A Review of Their Effects on Humans and Animal Models.  Advances in Molecular Toxicology Vol. 6 pp. 41-75glyphosate2en

glyphosate2enIn a reaction to the statement issued by the Maltese Government, FoE Malta would like to invite government to issue the studies which test for glyphosate contamination on food samples and their residues in humans.

The truth is that very little testing has been done for glyphosate so far in Europe, with just five countries testing any cereals in 2009, and 15 countries in 2010. A new testing programme was introduced in 2012, which will test for glyphosate in oats and rye in 2013, wheat flour in 2014 and wheat in 2015. No tests at all are carried out on GM soybeans used in animal feed in any European country. 

 

As for the claim that Glyphosate has a “low” toxicity, Glyphosate was approved for EU-wide use in 2002 but the European regulatory agencies did not carry out their own safety testing, relying instead on data provided by the manufacturers and industry studies, not from peer-reviewed science, and is not available for independent scrutiny. Friends of the Earth is concerned that the regulatory authorities have not properly considered independent science on glyphosate. It is important that the public should have confidence in the approvals process – but how can we trust a regulatory system when it relies on studies that have been funded by industry and which are classed as confidential?


Independent studies have shown that low levels of glyphosate may affect the human hormone system and that it may also affect the ability of cells to reproduce – causing possible genetic mutations and an increased risk of cancer. In parts of South America where glyphosate-tolerant GM soy is grown extensively, there have been reports of increases in rates of cancer and birth defects. One study in Paraguay found that the babies of women living within one kilometre of fields sprayed with glyphosate were more than twice as likely to have birth defects. In the soy-growing Chaco district of Argentina, cancer rates have increased fourfold in the last decade. (references below)


Friends of the Earth Malta can confirm that the test followed a standard scientific methodology and samples were sent to a reputable lab in Germany together with other samples from 17 other European countries. The technical report is readily available and in fact was distributed to Maltese journalists who requested a copy of it.


As already pointed out in the original statement issued by Friends of the Earth, the main aim of this investigation was to test whether this herbicide has made it into our bodies. The result is a yes; what's even more worrying is that the Maltese sample of positives was higher than anywhere else. We're not in a position to speculate about the source; but it sure does raise questions. In fact Friends of the Earth Malta would like to ask government the following questions:


• Why do people have glyphosate in their urine? Where does it come from?

• Why haven´t public authorities ever published the results they claim to have done when it comes to testing on glyphosate residues in humans, in food, animal feeds (such as imported soy) and drinking water, if any?

• What are the health impacts of glyphosate in our bodies? Is it guaranteed that glyphosate residues are completely excreted? If not, what happens to the remaining residues?

• Why haven´t there been any long-term health studies on on-going glyphosate uptake in humans?

• Why have the maximum residue levels (MRLs) for glyphosate in food and feed been steadily increased?

• Who is profiting from increasing glyphosate use? 

• Why are there no recent figures on herbicide / pesticide use in Malta since 2007?

• What is government’s position concerning applications to grow glyphosate-resistant genetically modified crops in Europe? Will government vote against cultivation of these crops? 

[1] Benítez-Leite S, Macchi ML & Acosta M (2009) Malformaciones congénitas asociadas a agrotóxicos [Congenital malformations associated with toxic agricultural chemicals]. Archivos de Pediatría del Uruguay Vol 80 pp237-247.


[2] López SL et al (2012) Pesticides Used in South American GMO-Based Agriculture: A Review of Their Effects on Humans and Animal Models.  Advances in Molecular Toxicology Vol. 6 pp. 41-75

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