Thomas Backhaus: ”One of the really nasty pesticides”

Thomas Backhaus Professor for Ecotoxicology and Environmental Sciences the University of Gothenburg, Sweden. ”You can say the compound is very good at doing its job – killing insects. Farmers don’t spray if it doesn’t work. Thus, the problem is how to develop a non-toxic poison; a challenge for any pesticide.”

”The fundamental discussion is that those who want to market a product have to prove it’s safe and academic research is not a good counterpart. There is no independent entity that runs or re-runs the experiments on  which all the conclusions are based. Continue Reading →

Ketil Hylland: “Chlorpyrifos is a nerve poison”

Professor Ketil Hylland at the Department of Biosciences at the University of Oslo (private photo):

“Chlorpyrifos is a nerve poison that affects the transmission of signals between nerve cells. Previously, the common belief was that the substance disappeared quickly from the environment and affected people to a small extent, but gradually one has understood how harmful it is.” Hylland has been working on pollutants and pollution in water for decades. He led the Environmental Toxication Committee, which produced a report to environmental minister Erik Solheim in 2010, and in the past year he has led experiments with chlorpyrifos on cod, a fish living in Norway’s salt water fjords.”We wanted to see how the drug affects both general health and behavior. We saw that chlorpyrifos clearly affected the nervous system of the cod. Continue Reading →

Leonardo Trasande: ”Damage the brain of young children”

Leonardo Trasande, pediatrician, associate professor, director of the division of Environmental Pediatrics New York University School of Medicine, author of ”Sicker, Fatter, Poorer” (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt 2019):

”One of the worst consequences is that the pesticides causes the loss of IQ points for our children. When you look at studies run by Columbia University, they show that the exposure to chemicals are linked to the decrease in IQ, tremors, and loss of cognitive potential. Chlorpyrifos is one of those chemicals affecting those measurable decreases.”

”The main argument to keep the massive use of pesticides is that it would be the only way to sustain the agricultural supply. However, this is not true. First of all, there are alternatives that seem to me much safer, and, in addition, there are studies now show that organic agriculture could not diminish the production values of food.”

”There is a place for regulation as regulators should work on avoiding the contact of chemicals and the population. Continue Reading →

The non-accountable MEPs

Out of 748 MEPs at the time of our investigation in 2017, only 53 were prepared to show documentation for actual spending (Photo: European Parliament)

A case lost by a group of journalists representing the 28 EU-member countries in the European Court of Justice last September will cast a shadow over upcoming European Parliament elections. In our view, we actually were among close to 500 million people who lost when the court decided that no EU citizen has a right to access documents about expenditures claimed by the members of the European parliament (MEPs). This is remarkable in light of the fact that many countries, or member states, already allow access to the expenses of their national parliamentarians. The documents we had asked for were proof of expenses held by MEPs in their role as legislators. In 2019, all members receive €4,513 each month for keeping offices in their home countries while not on duty in Brussels and Strasbourg. Continue Reading →

Does your MEP run a ghost office?

Is your member of the European Parliament a rent payer or a subsidy player? Last week the journalists of The MEPs Project revealed that one out of three MEPs across the EU does not maintain a national office or has declined to disclose its location. Citizens are now asking:

What is the address of my MEP’s national office, if any? How much of the tax-free 4342 Euro allowance per month does he or she pay in office rent? Did my MEP vote to hide or disclose how this money is spent? Continue Reading →

European Parliament under pressure

For the 750 members of the European Parliament, last Wednesday was not just another day at the office, as media outlets from Italy to Sweden put out the results of an unprecedented investigation.  

In a coordinated effort journalists from all member states had unearthed cases where MEPs used taxpayers’ money to pay rent to themselves or to their political party. They reported how MEPs from member states as different as the Netherlands or Bulgaria flatly denied disclosing what they spend in expenses. These reports put the EU institutions under pressure. The EU anti-fraud office OLAF immediately announced it would look into cases where MEPs pay rent to themselves. Continue Reading →

Citizens pay for EU ghost offices –  not used and not on the map

Each member of the European Parliament gets 4 342 euros every month, mainly to fund an office in their own country. But offices for 249 MEPs do not exist or seem nowhere to be found. So far 133 out of the 748 current parliamentarians told what they pay in office rent, an investigation shows. Each MEP receives a so-called General Expenditure Allowance (GEA), costing the EU around €40 million annually. It is intended to provide for national offices, but following research by journalists at ‘The MEPs Project,’ it seems the funds are potentially being misused. Continue Reading →

EU-commissioner says MEPs should open up

Competition commissioner Margrethe Vestager says the Parliament ought to disclose the working conditions and salaries for assistants hired by MEPs, as she comments on an on-going transparency case. In the case brought to the European Court of Justice in 2015, 29 journalists have challenged the European Parliaments refusal to disclose reimbursements paid to its 751 elected members. The Parliament’s administration, backed by its legal service, claims a disclosure of how the money is used would infringe the MEP’s privacy.  The journalists argue that elected politicians’ use of taxpayer’s money cannot be shielded behind privacy rules. On top of salaries, reimbursements for travel costs, and daily allowances for attending meetings, each MEP receives up to 21 379 euros for hiring staff, and 4 320 euro in ”general allowances” per month. Each MEPs thus disposes over all in all some 36 000 euros on a monthly basis. Continue Reading →

US blocks antibiotic measures in TTIP

EU attempts to regulate against antimicrobial resistance are opposed by the US in the TTIP-negotiations. American and interests and ”stakeholders” threaten proposed EU-legislation

 

The EU wants to reduce farmer’s use of antibiotics in animal feed. The US does not want any such measures written into a TTIP- agreement. »That’s how we understand it, although we haven’t been told right out and we haven’t got access to any negotiating texts to prove it,« says Zoltán Massay-Kosubek from European Public Health Alliance (EPHA), an umbrella organisation for health related interest groups in Brussels. EPHA takes regularly part in TTIP Advisory Group, a forum set up by the Commission to promote the understanding of TTIP among interest groups. Continue Reading →

Drug resistance: How superbug-infected pigs from Denmark get into Britain unchecked

Pigs infected with the superbug MRSA can be freely imported into the UK due to regulatory loopholes, the Bureau of Investigative Journalism reveal. An investigation has established that there is no mandatory screening for live breeding pigs leaving Denmark – where MRSA is rife throughout the country’s herd – and entering the UK. Experts are warning that if no action is taken, the UK’s pig herd could rapidly become infected. Such an epidemic could have a serious impact on human health, according to leading Danish microbiologist and MRSA expert, Professor Hans Jørn Kolmos. Thousands of people have contracted the livestock-associated strain of MRSA in Denmark and six have died from it in the last five years. Continue Reading →