Environmental and Agricultural Stories from Around the Web

January 12th, 2011 | Simcha Weinstein | Comments Off on Environmental and Agricultural Stories from Around the Web

– The only plastic bags that will be available in Italy will soon be biodegradable versions, since a ban on plastic bags went into place Jan. 1. Stores in Italy, which uses 20 billion bags a year (one-fifth of all European use), will be able to give out their remaining plastic bags, but once they’re gone, they can only offer paper, biodegradable plastic or cloth bags. In banning plastic bags, Italy joins the ranks of other countries and cities like Mexico City, San Francisco and other various cities in California, and elsewhere in the U.S. like Westport, CT and Edmonds, WA.

– According to a survey of consumers and businesses, 94% of Chinese consumers say they will pay more for products that are certified as green, meaning they have some sort of energy or health and safety benefit. In India, it’s 72%, as it is in Singapore as well. Three out of five Chinese businesses think their customers will pay more for green products, while in India and Singapore, that percentage is 35%. Among Chinese food and beverage companies, 67% claim they trade or produce green products, compared to 16% in India. Clothing and footwear makers and sellers, it’s 41% versus 30% in India. Whether Chinese companies and consumers are actually more environmentally sensitive in their daily lives is another topic. But it seems the Chinese are at least more aware of the subject. Some of that likely has to do with the aftermath of the food-contamination scandals in China, which have raised awareness around the issue of product sourcing and certification. The survey canvassed 2,600 consumers and 460 business in the three countries.

– With the new year, U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) rules kicked in requiring more environmentally friendly farm equipment. The EPA has targeted farm equipment, particularly tractors, construction vehicles and other non-road equipment as major sources of air pollution. To meet new requirements, manufacturers are producing new models of cleaner tractors using greener technology. To meet the new federal standards, the tractor has a system that captures and cools exhaust gas and then redirects it to the engine, where it can burn at a lower temperature and produce fewer emissions. Federal air standards require that diesel engines built in 2011 produce fewer nitrous oxides.

– (NaturalNews) Australian organic farmer Steve Marsh recently had his organic certification status pulled by the National Association for Sustainable Agriculture, Australia (NASAA) because his organic wheat field was contaminated by a nearby genetically-modified (GM) canola field. And after Marsh threatened to sue the GM farmer for the incident — which has cost Marsh his entire business, by the way — Monsanto, the owner of the GM canola, came out and said it would legally back the GM farmer “in any way it could.” A previous NaturalNews report on the issue explained that GM canola materials blew from a nearby GM field about a mile away and contaminated over 540 acres of Marsh’s organic wheat fields . As a result, Marsh’s fields can no longer be considered organic due to very high standards in the Australian organic industry that hold a “zero tolerance” policy concerning contamination with foreign genetic material. But rather than work towards prosecuting both the GM farmer and Monsanto for the environmental damage they caused, West Australia Minister for Agriculture and Food, Terry Redman, is instead going after the organic industry, urging it to modify its contamination standards to accommodate Monsanto. Redman has declared that perfect purity is “unrealistic” and that a maximum contamination threshold needs to be established for GM contamination of organics.