An experimental form of gene therapy for Parkinson’s disease has been shown to produce promising results. Continue reading
Scientists at the University of Oxford are trying to harness the energy released when bubbles burst as a way of killing off cancer cells. Continue reading
As well as continuing TV, radio, web and cinema advertising across member states, the campaign will also involve more than 100 national events for Europeans to be tested for carbon monoxide in an awareness-raising drive. It is expected that more than 50,000 tests will take place up until November.
High levels of carbon monoxide can attribute to serious heart problems, blood clots and disrupted development of unborn babies in pregnant women.
?I quit smoking over fifteen years ago, and luckily the carbon monoxide levels in my breath are back down to normal levels. But many young people are starting the habit every day, and this campaign is designed to raise awareness of the health risks linked to the carbon monoxide in cigarette smoke,? said Commissioner Kyprianou.
?Health-care costs caused by smoking top ?100 billion per year in Europe and smoking has become the main preventable killer of our time. The HELP campaign has been very successful so far in getting the message across that smokers can get help to quit, and warning young people of the risks of passive smoking and addiction. With this carbon monoxide campaign, the ?HELP? campaign is stepping up a gear to promote a life without tobacco.?
REC coordinator for Azerbaijan Ilkin Kengerli noted that the main documents to be submitted to consideration of ministers are Ministerial Declaration and European action plan? Environment and Children’s Health?. Ministry of Health representative Fuad Mardanli spoke of such important things as access to quality of drinking water, elementary toilet conditions, safety of children?s food etc. Continue reading
"The authorisation means that this maize type will now be allowed to be marketed in the EU as food, food ingredients or derived products, such as oil and starch," Commission spokesman for health and consumer protection Philip Tod told a briefing.
"In line with EU labelling and traceability rules, any product containing it will have to clearly indicate its genetically modified nature," he said.
The executive Commission was forced to make the decision after European Union member states failed to reach agreement on the issue in December.
The maize is jointly made by Pioneer Hi-Bred International, a subsidiary of DuPont Co, and Dow AgroSciences unit Mycogen Seeds.
The 1507 maize is modified to resist certain insects and herbicides and would not be for cultivation, although Pioneer/Mycogen have also requested this use under a separate application still pending in the EU authorisation process.
In March 2005, the European Food Safety Authority said it was safe to grow the maize, while in November it was given the green light to be used in animal feed.
GMOs have become a thorny issue for the EU with the World Trade Organization ruling last month that the 25- member bloc and specifically six member states had broken trade rules by barring entry to genetically modified crops and foods.
The countries named in the report were France, Germany, Austria, Italy, Luxembourg and Greece.
Countries bristled at the ruling that touches on national sovereignty with some saying they would do their level best to kee? farming GMO-free.
European environment ministers will hold a public hearing on the subject when they meet in Brussels on Thursday next week. Top of the agenda will be the way in which the EU’s 25 countries make decisions on GMOs.
Ministers currently must decide by qualified majority. However, next week’s hearing will discuss the possibility of reaching a decision by simple majority.
A pilot study, to be conducted next week, will expose a small area of skin on volunteers’ arms to cellphone radiation for the duration of a long phone call, or for one hour, research professor Dariusz Leszczynski said on Friday.
Researchers will then take a skin sample to study and compare with one taken before the radiation exposure, he told Reuters.
Cell samples used in previous laboratory tests by the Radiation and Nuclear Safety Authority were all from women, and to keep consistency in the data, 10 female volunteers will be used in the new study — all of them employees at the watchdog.
In previous tests, Leszczynski’s group found evidence of mobile phone radiation causing cell-level changes such as shrinkage, but he said it was still impossible to say if that had significant health effects.
"Cells function in a different way when they are in the body than in laboratory surroundings. Now we want to confirm whether radiation causes cell level changes in humans as well," he said.
The results of the study are due by the end of the year, and Leszczynski’s team hopes to show if radiation has any impact on the body’s natural barrier that prevents toxins and other dangerous proteins that might be in the bloodstream from reaching brain cells.
Some researchers suspect brain cancer has become more common as a result of cellphone use, but there is no clear evi?ence to support that, Leszczynski said.
"If harmful proteins get through to the brain, it could have an indirect link with cancer, but this is pure speculation," he added.
Finland, home to top global mobile maker Nokia, has one of the most mature telecom markets in the world, with almost everyone having a mobile handset.
Representatives of green groups, in interviews this week, said a ban on GMO?s should have come into force well before Romania joins the European Union either next year or in 2008.
An earlier ban would have given farmers enough time to switch to conventional crops and authorities more time to develop a monitoring system for biotech produce, they said.
"We welcome the government’s decision (to ban GMO?s) but I don’t see how it is possible to have totally clean fields and crops next year," Ana Maria Bogdan of Greenpeace told Reuters.
Earlier this month, the Black Sea state’s government passed legislation banning cultivation of gene-spliced soy starting Jan. 1, 2007 to bring it in line with EU norms, as debate heats up worldwide on safety of such crops to health and environment.
"The ban should have been imposed this year. Time is too short to stop uncontrolled seeding… that will end up in contaminating traditional crops beyond entry date," Bogdan said.
Europe’s biggest soy grower until 1989, Romania brought GMO seeds a decade ago from US biotech giants Monsanto Co and Pioneer, who say their technology helps fight hunger and poverty.
Europe’s shoppers are known for their wariness towards GMO?s, often dubbed as "Frankenstein foods", but Romania’s 22 million population seems to have no problem with them.
GMO soy is the only genetically modified crop grown locally on 88,000 ha (217,500 acres), or 0.6 percent of Romania’s farml?nd. It accounts for two thirds of overall soy output.
Environmentalists say there is no way to stop GMO crops from spreading because of crossbreeding, cross-pollination and illegal trade.
"God only knows when we’ll be free of (genetically) modified soy. It’s chaos…farmers sell seeds without documents and this might create consumer suspicion in the (European) Union," Ion Scurteli, chief of the grain wholesalers association, said.
Uncontrolled seed trading is common in Romania whose farmland has been a patchwork of plots whose ownership is contested since Stalinist collectivisation was scrapped after the 1989 fall of communism.
In a bid to prepare farmers for the shift, the government said it was drafting additional norms to ban sowing of GMO seeds from the previous years’ crops in 2006.
However, it has yet to establish how it will destroy stocks of GMO seeds to prevent blending with conventional crops in the future or if any compensation would be granted to farmers.
"If there is any need for financial compensation the ministry might consider discussing the matter," Agriculture Ministry spokesman Adrian Tibu said.
The ministry said it was eager to explain to farmers the benefits of shifting to organic crops including getting badly needed Brussels aid and teach them how to tap the EU’s market.
Farmers, who shifted to GMO crops a decade ago in a bid to give up using costly herbicides, see it differently. They said the shift would inevitably imply production losses.
Constantin Necsulescu, 63, who grows GMO soy on his 500 ha farm near the Danube Rriver on the border with Bulgaria, accepts the changes but fears possible damages.
"What should I do? I must comply with the ban," he told Reuters.
"I ordered 1,000 tonnes of (conventional) seeds to build up new stocks. But there’s no secret, I expect to harvest two tonnes of soybeans instead of four… and my costs will rise…I’m not sure if subsidies will cover costs," he added.
Monsanto said the government’s ban was disappointing.
"Monsanto is naturally disappointed by the declaration … The people most affected are the farmers who have managed to double their profits through choosing Roundup Ready soya and transforming the Romanian soya production," Jonathan Ramsay of Monsanto in Brussels told Reuters.
"The cancer risk and the risk of other long-term health effects is quite significant according to (federal) standards," said Gina Solomon, the physician who is leading the research and analysis for NRDC.
Meanwhile, officials at the Louisiana Department of Environmental Quality (LDEQ) and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) dispute the charges, saying they were surprised that the pollution left behind by Katrina wasn’t worse. "We are all becoming more comfortable with what we are seeing as the data come in," said Tom Harris of the LDEQ. He added that while a few spots around town tested high in contaminants, most of the city remained safe for people.
Wherein the truth lies is anybody’s guess. But environmentalists would rather be safe than sorry. "This isn’t an isolated problem," Solomon added. "It spans the entire city, every area where the floodwaters touched?. These all will require action in order to protect health, especially as families contemplate moving back into these areas. We want to make sure they’re safe."
Nestle said the chemical substance was not harmful, but announced it was recalling the infant food in four European countries, including Italy, because of the problem, which related to Tetra Pak cartons.
Italian Agriculture Minister Gianni Alemanno demanded tests to see if babies given the contaminated milk over a prolonged period faced health risks.
?It is incredible that such defenceless beings as babies should face such serious risks in a product as widely used as milk," Alemanno said in a statement.
Italian officials said they had already seized about 2 million litres of Nestle baby milk earlier this month after finding traces of isopropylthioxanthone (ITX), an ink component used in the offset printing process of the Tetra Pak cartons.
They broadened their net on Tuesday, sweeping hundreds of packets of milk off supermarket shelves and out of depots around Italy. Police said they also searched lorries in their effort to root out the four Nestle products under investigation.
Nestle, the world’s biggest food company, said it had decided to recall all liquid infant formula milks packed in offset printed cartons in Italy, France, Spain and Portugal.
"This decision was taken as an extreme precautionary measure to reassure consumers," the company said in a statement. "Nestle believes that the level of ITX measured in the tested products does not represent a health risk."
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A spokesman at Nestle’s corporate headquarters in Switzerland said a new packaging process had been put in place to prevent the contamination and that the recall would not have a significant impact on the company’s results at a group level.
Nestle shares were down 0.5 percent at 1615 GMT in a slightly higher overall Swiss market.
Tetra Pak spokeswoman Patricia O’Hayer said ITX was not recognised as a toxic substance on any official list and was not on the World Health Organisation lists of toxic substances that should not come into contact with food.
"We have studied the toxicological data available, and that confirms that it is not toxic," she told Reuters.
O’Hayer said Tetra Pak removed the printing technology in question in October to prevent any printing compound, even if not dangerous, from seeping into a product.
"We had no indication that this was in any way a cause for concern," she said.
This is the second time Nestle has run foul of Italian authorities this year.
In October, Italy’s antitrust authority fined seven producers of baby formula including Nestle a total of 9.743 million euros for running a cartel in Italy to keep prices much higher than in many European countries.
The referendum, if approved, would impose a five-year moratorium on the cultivation of any plant or import of any animal whose genes have been altered in the laboratory.
The measure would tighten controls already put in place in 2004 and give independent Switzerland one of the most rigid regimes governing the use of GMOs in Europe, including the 25-nation European Union that surrounds it.
Within the bloc, restrictions are specific to types of crops and temporary in nature, in contrast to Switzerland’s proposal for a five-year blanket ban.
The moratorium specifically bans Swiss agricultural production using GMOs. The use of imported livestock feed containing GMO material would still be permi?ted and research on GMOs, including for the pharmaceutical branch, would be allowed to continue under the measure.
The debate pits those who say that GMOs offer more productive, disease-resistant crops and livestock against those who fear possible environmental fallout or unintended consequences of manipulating genetic codes.
Switzerland’s legislative system allows for regular referendums giving voters a direct say in lawmaking.
Although not a part of the EU, Switzerland has not escaped Europe’s deep-seated and often bitter divisions over GMOs.
The bloc started an effective moratorium on authorising new gene crops and products in 1998. This ended in May 2004, when the European Commission, the EU’s executive arm, issued an approval for imports of a GMO maize type.
A move by a province of Austria to apply a similar moratorium by becoming a GMO-free zone was rebuffed by the EU’s highest court, the European Court of Justice, in October. The court ruled that a regional GMO ban ran counter to EU law.
The EU has several laws to govern the import, use and cultivation of GMOs. If a particular GMO product is approved under one of those laws, that approval applies across the EU.
Swiss-based agro-technology firm Syngenta, the world’s third-largest producer of GMO seeds, said the measure – if approved – would have little economic effect on the company but would send the wrong signals about Switzerland.
"This has no impact on us today because we do all of our research in the United States," said spokesman Guy Wolff. "But it is damaging for research in Switzerland and especially in gene technology."
Switzerland accounts for roughly 1 percent of the firm’s trade in GMO seeds, which in turn comprises only a fraction of the group’s $7 billion annual turnover, Wolff said.