Greenpeace activists protest against GE in front of EU-parliament.

© Greenpeace / Eric de Mildt

In Bulgaria the parliament has voted to ban GE crop cultivation. The decision comes as opposition grows to the EU Commission's "quiet" introduction of GE potato (Amflora), while debate in the European Parliament was blocked. Many countries have now taken national measures to prevent what was the first GE-approved crop in the EU for 12 years. In India, controversy continues over the proposed regulatory bill that would remove State-level powers to control GE, placing sole jurisdiction in a centralized authority. The Hindu reported a Congressional Committee of the State of Andhra Pradesh has said states should be allowed to decide on commercial release of GE crops and that State Agricultural Universities should be empowered to evaluate and assess scientific aspects of GE crops and accordingly decide whether to permit them or not. They have also called on the government to fix the price of Bt-cotton seed, and prevent any further increases which have hurt farmers.

The Hindu also reported an Indian Government report suggests Monsanto's "admission" that Bt-cotton had failed (see also, Bt-cotton in Colombia) was actually a business strategy. An internal analysis of the statement from the Ministry of Environment and Forests says it “appears that this could be a business strategy to phase out single gene events [that is, the first generation Bollgard I product] and promote double genes [the second generation Bollgard II] which would fetch a higher price.” In the US, the Justice Department has launched an anti-trust investigation against Monsanto, (which controls over 90 percent of the global market for GE crops). The Supreme Court also ordered Monsanto to sell first generation Bt-cotton seeds at a reduced price until the issue of royalty is resolved.

Meanwhile Canadian farmers have been urging the US Department of Agriculture (USDA) not to permit the introduction of GE alfalfa in the US, saying it could lead to an irreversible negative impact on the future of organic farming in Canada. If the USDA decides in favor of the herbicide tolerant alfalfa, the current court injunction on plantings in the United States will be lifted. A hearing is scheduled for April 27.

European companies' carbon trading scam

The Guardian has revealed hundreds of companies across Europe are hoarding permits to produce greenhouse gas emissions worth hundred of millions of pounds. The surplus credits have been amassed from over-allocation of permits to pollute from the European emissions trading scheme, and by buying cheap credits from carbon-cutting projects in developing countries and holding on to their more expensive official EU allowances. The saved permits can be used to meet future targets to cut the greenhouse gas emissions blamed for global warming and climate change without actually reducing pollution, or sold for a profit in the future.

Sarkozy support for UN climate panel: "climate change a reality"

Yesterday, Sarkozy called for "a new method of working on global warming" - at the day-long conference on deforestation hosted in Paris, French news reported. "What is at stake is simply the survival of humanity and that of the planet. We will not abandon this goal because Copenhagen was an example of bad organization!" he said. He also reaffirmed his support for the IPCC saying we should not lose sight of the fundamentals and that "global warming is a reality." The meeting on deforestation "boosted morale" according to AP, in which more that 60 nations added US$1 billion to the cause. (Also see The Sandiego Union-Tribune).

US public still skeptical, despite continuing evidence

Also, a new Gallup poll has found the number of Americans believing in climate change to have dropped again (see also Time Magazine and The Guardian). A piece in the Boston Globe entitled "After errors, global warming gets a cold shoulder" explains the "series of highly publicized errors in a landmark report about man-made global warming - and lingering controversy over hacked e-mails between climate scientists - is eroding public confidence in the research and could further stall efforts in Congress to pass climate legislation. In the US, Texas, Virginia, and Alabama officials filed challenges to the Environmental Protection Agency's finding that man-made greenhouse gases threaten public health, and Senator Jay Rockefeller, a Democrat from the coal state of West Virginia, introduced a bill to postpone for two years EPA rules stemming from that determination.

Yet, AFP US Interior Secretary Ken Salazar has warned climate change is pushing some bird species to extinction in North America. Birds that depend upon the ocean for survival "are among the most vulnerable birds on earth to climate change," warned a report put together by the US Fish and Wildlife Service in co-ordination with several environmental groups. All 67 oceanic bird species, including albatrosses, petrels and puffins, are at particular risk because they produce few offspring each year and their habitats are most susceptible to climate change phenomena. Salazar said the Department of the Interior was working to develop practical strategies to manage the effects of climate change in eight regions and has set up Climate Science Centers in each region to coordinate and lead those efforts.

Brazil plans to increase oil production

BP has bought into the Brazilian oil rush (The Guardian) with a $7bn (£4.65bn) deal that will boost the group's potential reserves by about 2 billion barrels of oil. The deal, with Devon Energy of the US, will also create a joint venture to develop BP's controversial tar sands in Canada. By 2020, Brazil hopes to produce almost 6 million barrels of oil a day – triple the country's current output.