EU dropped pesticide laws due to US pressure over TTIP, documents reveal

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Chief EU negotiator Ignacio Garcia-Bercero (R) and chief US negotiator Dan Mullaney hold a press conference in Washington, DC after a new round of talks on creating a transatlantic free trade zone, 19 May. Photograph: Nicholas Kamm/AFP/Getty Images

Courtesy of Arthur Neslen @ The Guardian:

EU moves to regulate hormone-damaging chemicals linked to cancer and male infertility were shelved following pressure from US trade officials over the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP) free trade deal, newly released documents show.

Draft EU criteria could have banned 31 pesticides containing endocrine disrupting chemicals (EDCs). But these were dumped amid fears of a trade backlash stoked by an aggressive US lobby push, access to information documents obtained by Pesticides Action Network (PAN) Europe show.

On 26 June 2013, a high-level delegation from the American Chambers of Commerce (AmCham) visited EU trade officials to insist that the bloc drop its planned criteria for identifying EDCs in favour of a new impact study.

Minutes of the meeting show commission officials pleading that “although they want the TTIP to be successful, they would not like to be seen as lowering the EU standards”.

The TTIP is a trade deal being agreed by the EU and US to remove barriers to commerce and promote free trade.

Responding to the EU officials, AmCham representatives “complained about the uselessness of creating categories and thus, lists” of prohibited substances, the minutes show.

The US trade representatives insisted that a risk-based approach be taken to regulation, and “emphasised the need for an impact assessment” instead.

On 2 July 2013, officials from the US Mission to Europe visited the EU to reinforce the message. Later that day, the secretary-general of the commission, Catherine Day, sent a letter to the environment department’s director Karl Falkenberg, telling him to stand down the draft criteria.

“We suggest that as other DGs [directorate-generals] have done, you consider making a joint single impact assessment to cover all the proposals,” Day wrote. “We do not think it is necessary to prepare a commission recommendation on the criteria to identify endocrine disrupting substances.” Continue reading

TTIP: Why the EU-US Trade Deal Matters

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Courtesy of Andrew Walker @ BBC:

There’s one big issue for the new UK government that stayed below the radar during the election campaign – trade negotiations between the European Union and the United States, known as TTIP, the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership.

The big political parties didn’t make much of it during the campaign. Both the Conservatives and Labour are broadly in favour, though the Greens are very critical. TTIP was however addressed in the manifestos. War on Want (who oppose the plans) have compiled the parties’ positions on the issue.

Outside the political arena there are some very strong opinions. Many business voices are enthusiastic, but there is also very vocal opposition.

What is TTIP and what is it for?

The Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership, or it will be if the negotiations are completed. The aim is to boost the economies of the EU and the US by removing or reducing barriers to trade and foreign investment.

President Obama said, when the talks were launched, that TTIP would promote “new growth and jobs on both sides of the Atlantic”. Critics reject that claim – more of that below. Continue reading

TTIP: Transatlantic Trade Deal Text Leaked to BBC

Which ever ist or ism you want to apply, it solidifies the power of a few. Courtesy of Glenn Campbell @ BBC Scotland:

A leaked draft of what the European Union wants excluded from a new trade deal with the United States has been obtained by the BBC.

The document describes itself as the EU’s “initial offer” in negotiations over the transatlantic trade and investment partnership (TTIP).

It includes the wording that UK ministers have said will protect the NHS from privatisation.

Anti-TTIP campaigners say a specific exemption for the NHS is still needed.
The 103-page document is headed “trade in services and investment: schedule of specific commitments and reservations”.

It was produced before the most recent round of TTIP negotiations in Brussels were held at the beginning of this month.

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On health, the document states: “The EU reserves the right to adopt or maintain any measure with regard to the provision of all health services which receive public funding or State support in any form”.

The wording is the same as that used in a similar free trade agreement between the EU and Canada (CETA).

The UK trade minister, Lord Livingston, said last week that this text ensured “publicly funded health services are excluded”.

The European Commission has also previously said TTIP would not affect how NHS services are provided, whether in Scotland or the rest of the UK.

But Scotland’s first minister, Nicola Sturgeon, has called for the NHS to be specifically excluded from the deal. Continue reading

Cold fusion reactor verified by third-party researchers, seems to have 1 million times the energy density of gasoline

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Courtesy of Sebastian Anthony @ ExtremeTech:

Andrea Rossi’s E-Cat — the device that purports to use cold fusion to generate massive amounts of cheap, green energy – has been verified by third-party researchers, according to a new 54-page report. The researchers observed a small E-Cat over 32 days, where it produced net energy of 1.5 megawatt-hours, or “far more than can be obtained from any known chemical sources in the small reactor volume.” The researchers were also allowed to analyze the fuel before and after the 32-day run, noting that the isotopes in the spent fuel could only have been obtained by “nuclear reactions” — a conclusion that boggles the researchers: “… It is of course very hard to comprehend how these fusion processes can take place in the fuel compound at low energies.”

This new report [PDF] on the E-Cat was carried out by six (reputable) researchers from Italy and Sweden. While the new E-Cat looks very different from previous iterations, the researchers say that it uses the same “hydrogen-loaded nickel” and additives (most notably lithium) as a fuel. The device’s inventor, Andrea Rossi, claims that the E-Cat uses cold fusion — low-energy nuclear reactions, LENR — to fuse nickel and hydrogen atoms into copper, releasing oodles of energy. The researchers, analyzing the fuel before and after the 32-day burn, note that there is an isotope shift from a “natural” mix of Nickel-58/Nickel-60 to almost entirely Nickel-62 — a reaction that, the researchers say, cannot occur without nuclear reactions (i.e. fusion). The researchers say there is just 1 gram of fuel inside the E-Cat. For more info about the science/chemistry behind LENR, read our previous story about Rossi’s E-Cat. Continue reading

Patents for Cannabinoids

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Courtesy of Hemp Solutions:

#1 – “Cannabinoids as Antioxidants and Neuroprotectants”

DESCRIPTION: “Cannabinoids have been found to have antioxidant properties, unrelated to NMDA receptor antagonism. This new found property makes cannabinoids useful in the treatment and prophylaxis of wide variety of oxidation associated diseases, such as ischemic, age-related, inflammatory and autoimmune diseases. The cannabinoids are found to have particular application as neuroprotectants, for example in limiting neurological damage following ischemic insults, such as stroke and trauma, or in the treatment of neurodegenerative diseases, such as Alzheimer’s disease, Parkinson’s disease and HIV dementia. Nonpsychoactive cannabinoids, such as cannabidoil, are particularly advantageous to use because they avoid toxicity that is encountered with psychoactive cannabinoids at high doses useful in the method of the present invention.”

PUBLICATION NUMBER: US 6630507 B1

FILED BY: The United States Of America As Represented By The Department Of Health And Human Services

LINK: http://www.google.com/patents/US6630507

#2 – “Phytocannabinoids in the treatment of cancer”

DESCRIPTION: “This invention relates to the use of phytocannabinoids, either in an isolated form or in the form of a botanical drug substance (BDS) in the treatment of cancer. Preferably the cancer to be treated is cancer of the prostate, cancer of the breast or cancer of the colon.”

“Botanical Drug Substance (BDS)” is Cannabis

PUBLICATION NUMBER: US 20130059018 A1

FILED BY: Otsuka Pharmaceutical Co., Limited, Gw Pharma Limited

LINK: http://www.google.com/patents/US20130059018

#3 – “Treating or preventing diabetes with Cannabidiol (CBD)“

DESCRIPTION: “Use of a cannabidiol for the manufacture of a medicament identified for the treatment or prevention of diabetes and/or insulitis.”

Cannabidiol (CBD) can easily be extracted from high CBD strains of Cannabis such as Hemp varieties grown for Fiber and Food. See Patent #6 – “Cannabinoid Extraction Method” for details on extraction of CBD from Cannabis.

PUBLICATION NUMBER: US 8071641 B2

FILED BY: Yissum Research Development Company Of The Hebrew University Of Jerusalem, Hadsit Hadasit Medical Research Services and Development Ltd.

LINK: https://www.google.com/patents/US8071641?dq=patent+8071641&hl=en&sa=X&ei=GhvsU_fQIY6KyASyzYDICQ&ved=0CB4Q6AEwAA Continue reading

What is TTIP and why should we fight it?

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Courtesy of Young Greens:

The Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP) currently being negotiated in the US and EU between governments and corporations presents an unprecedented threat not only to food, labour and environmental standards but to democracy itself.

TTIP is a proposed ‘free trade’ agreement between the US and the EU. The negotiations around it are shrouded in secrecy, but the information that has been forced out shows that if successful, the agreement would lead to deregulation of what we eat, how we work, and increase the power that large corporations hold over national governments. TTIP is designed to benefit these corporations: the removal of tariffs and regulatory ‘barriers’ to trade and labour would allow them to maximise their profits, at the cost of workers and consumers. All reasons why Greens in both the UK and across Europe oppose this bosses’ charter.

The Center for Food Safety has already raised concerns about the potential for TTIP to establish a Regulatory Cooperation Council, which could result in ‘harmonisation’ of safety standards, meaning that food not meeting EU standards could be sold here anyway. Such products include chemically washed poultry, livestock treated with growth hormones, and genetically modified crops. These are allowed in the US, which adopts a ‘cost-benefit’ approach to food safety, balancing the interests of corporations against the safety of consumers, as opposed to the ‘precautionary principle’ used in the EU. A lobbyist for the US Council for International Business has admitted that ‘getting rid of the precautionary principle’ is a key aim of TTIP negotiations. Furthermore, such deregulation would apply not only to goods but to labour, allowing business to relocate to places – such as the US – where working standards are lower. This would result in huge job losses in Europe. Continue reading

A Maryland inventor’s big energy ideas have promise and big ifs

Courtesy of G G McClathy @ Pittsburgh Post Gazette:

WASHINGTON — While scientists are engaged in an all-out, worldwide scramble to avert the energy and climate change crises, the biggest discoveries could come from a surprising quarter: a modest redwood home on a wooded, 5-acre tract in rural Maryland, where a lone inventor toils day and night.

Ronald Ace lacks hefty academic credentials or any of the billions of dollars that have flowed to other researchers. That hasn’t diminished his zeal in a years-long crusade to accomplish what many scientists deem unattainable.

If the 73-year-old inventor is right, he is on the brink of two historic breakthroughs.

If his novel ideas are validated and take hold, they could change the world.

Those are big ifs.

Ace has applied for patents for two inventions that he believes could speed a dramatic transition to cheap and abundant clean energy, shrink oil consumption to a gurgle and reduce greenhouse gas emissions to a smidgen of today’s levels.

His “Solar Trap,” first reported by McClatchy in May 2013, has gained some credence from a former solar engineer at the Sandia National Laboratories in Albuquerque, N.M., who did a confidential review and found “no apparent deficiencies.”

Ace calls his flat-panel trap “a fundamental scientific and environmental discovery” and contends that it could collect sunlight at high enough temperatures to shatter the barriers to a solar age. The device can capture more than 90 percent of the rays that hit it, as much as 10 times more than sun-tracking photovoltaic panels being installed around the globe, he said.

More recently, Ace filed a second patent application, for an invention that he touts as likely able to transform heat into electricity with nearly 100 percent efficiency, 20-fold that of comparable devices in the clean-as-you-can-get field of thermoelectrics. Continue reading