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The citizens DO NOT want GMOs (genetically modified organisms/food)[note: this is translated from the original Bulgarian - ed.]

Today we'll present some optimistic news from last month in Europe, showing an active citizenship which forced politicians to take decisions in the interest of citizens, not businesses, in three separate cases.

The first news was announced on Monday with a message that the environment ministers of 21 of the 27 EU member states have supported the decisions of Austria and Hungary to ban cultivation of genetically modified crops on their territory.  These decisions are taken by both countries with the support of the overwhelming majority of their citizens.

The European Commission had made a third attempt to repeal the ban on growing GMO crops in Austria, and a second attempt to repeal a siban in Hungary.  The Hungarian ban applies to corn variety MON 810 from the U.S. group Monsanto, which is only authorized for use for commercial purposes within the EU.  In Austria, the ban covers except one MON 810 maize variety-T25, a product of the German chemical and pharmaceutical giant Bayer.

Minister of Environment of Austria Nikolaus Berlakovich said the press conference on the occasion of the vote that "feels like Austria has won the European Football Championship" and determine the vote of Ministers of the EU as a "historic success".

For the second news, in mid-February were the highest court in the EU issued an opinion that the member states shall have no right to hide information about the location of the area planted with GMO crops, regardless of concerns that in this way may put them at risk to become subject to attack by opponents of GMOs.  Such information must not be kept secret from the citizenry of the EU.

"Fear of civil unrest should not under any circumstances be considered as reason for restricting access to such information" - is the final opinion of the European Court of Justice (ECJ).

The reason for this decision is a case where, in 2004, a French national Pierre Azelvandre requested information from local authorities in the province of Alsace on the location of the area planted with GMOs in the province. Then he made a complaint to the French judicial authorities, who could not rule on the case and asked the opinion of the ECJ.


The third story took place in Greece. There at the end of January Minister Kostis Hatzidakis announced development of the Government's decision to exclude from the Energy Strategy of the construction of nuclear power and new coal plants.

This is the end of a long saga in which multiple environmental and other non-governmental organizations led a determined campaign against government plans to add nuclear power to the energy system of the country.  This story also marks a success for the "no to coal" campaign there.

Plans for 2010 by our Greek neighbors to the South are to have wind farms with a capacity of 2000 MW.  Many plants are already operating on the Greek island of Crete, Evian, Andros, and Samos.

Expected in the coming years is generation of 1/3 of the energy needs of Greece through solar energy sources.  The country ranks second in Europe by number of solar installations, after Germany.  Over 20% of the households own solar installations for hot water.

See original news item: Bulgarian newspaper, Mar-6-2009  
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