European Union officials and politicians are playing fast and loose with farmers' livelihoods and food security in their deliberations over a widely-used weedkiller, a leading MEP said today.
Anthea McIntyre MEP spoke out over the use of glyphosate, which farmers and gardeners are anxious to continue using, following two setbacks in the space of 24 hours.
Today the EU Commission's Standing Committee on Plants, Animals, Food and Feed, comprising representatives of the 28 member states, failed to reach a consensus on renewing glyphosate's licence for use across the bloc.
Yesterday the European Parliament voted to object to the Commission's proposal for a ten-year licence extension for glyphosate, the active agent in the branded weedkiller Roundup.
Miss McIntyre said: "The EU's own public health agency has said there is no evidence to link glyphosate to cancer in humans. The national agencies in 27 member states take the same view.
"We have to base decisions such as this on science and clear evidence, not scaremongering and guesswork."
"I gather the next step will be for the Commission to hold another vote in November, but that is just weeks before glyphosate’s licence in Europe expires on December 15.
"The delay is playing fast and loose with farmers' livelihoods and with food security. It leaves farmers staring over a cliff edge as they face losing their most effective means of eradicating weeds and protecting crops and productivity.
"If we end up with a ban because of this political paralysis it will deal a heavy blow to the countryside economy and to the cost of food - but it won't do a thing for public health."
The co-founder of the West Midlands Together campaign believes new Home Office figures on hate crime should be taken as a danger warning to society.
Anthea McIntyre, Conservative MEP for the West Midlands, was responding to Home Office statistics published today and showing a significant increase in hate crimes in the year 2016-2017.
The biggest rise was in disability and transgender hate crimes.
The report also noted spikes in hate crime around the time of the EU referendum and after the Westminster Bridge attack in March this year.
Miss McIntyre launched the cross-party West Midlands Together campaign, together with her Labour colleague Neena Gill MEP, in the aftermath of the referendum to promote unity and challenge hate crime.
"These figures show a direct link between prominent events and sudden increases in these incidents and attacks.
"We have also seen an increase in people's readiness to report disability and transgender hate crime - and that is good news. There has anecdotally been a significant problem with under-reporting in all sectors.
"We want to make the West Midlands a beacon for tolerance and understanding, where these insidious crimes have no place.
"No event - be it a referendum, a terrorist attack or someone simply walking down the street - can ever provide justification for racism, religious discrimination, homophobia or any other kind of prejudice and hatred."
Anthea McIntyre MEP is continuing to push forward the farming technology agenda with two high-profile events in the European Parliament.
She has co-hosted a forum on The Future of Farming which brought together a range of experts in Brussels to explore the sector's great challenges and opportunities.
And she took part in a panel yesterday (Weds) examining The Impact of Regulation on Agricultural Innovation.
Contributors at the Future of Farming event included Professor Simon Blackmore of Harper Adams University, Shropshire, and Edwin Hecker of the Internet of Food and Farm 2020. They spoke on the benefits of precision agriculture, while further panels and round-tables covered new plant-breeding techniques, societal challenges, and how new technology could improve farming systems.
Miss McIntyre, Conservative MEP for the West Midlands, was uniquely well-placed to contribute to both events. She has produced a report on Technological Solutions for Sustainable Agriculture, which was adopted by the European Parliament last year, and she chairs a Better Regulation Task Force set up by the European Conservatives and Reformists Group in the parliament.
She said: 'These events highlighted a range of areas where effective harnessing of innovation will boost productivity while protecting the environment and biodiversity.
"But I also had to warn that badly thought-out regulation could be the enemy of progress. I stressed the innovation principle - that regulation must always allow research and enterprise to drive innovation by using genuine science-based evidence in evaluating risk and benefit.
"This is where precision farming and information technology come in - improving soil-health and water management, precision livestock farming, precision breeding and even precision entomology.
"While the use of standard equipment with precision-farming techniques can prove beneficial, it is only with the development of what are called 'disruptive' technologies that real gains can be made.
"These are developments such as laser weed-killing systems and second-generation drones, capable of undertaking field tasks rather than simply capturing images.
"Farmers are the major stewards of our environment. They need continued access to innovation, new technology and research in order to produce food in a sustainable way and protect the environment for future generations.
"In that, they need help not hindrance from the regulatory framework."
Britain's ceramics industry will need close care and attention during Brexit to prevent a flood of cheap crockery being dumped by China, a leading MEP is warning.
Anthea McIntyre made the rallying call for British ceramics following a fringe meeting at the Conservative Party Conference in Manchester, which examined threats facing the industry.
Miss McIntyre, Conservative MEP for the West Midlands region which includes Stoke on Trent and The Potteries, said: "My region is standard-bearer for quality in crockery, tableware and industrial ceramics. In a fair marketplace we can compete on a global scale - but unless we have protection against dumping from the Far East, we will be hard hit and jobs will be lost.
"We have had protection from dumping because of World Trade Organisation rules and European Union anti-dumping legislation, but those things are all in flux."
She backed calls by the British Ceramics Confederation for a programme of measures including adoption of all anti-subsidy, anti-dumping and safeguarding measures allowed under WTO rules, and promotion of a genuine global free trade environment.
Miss McIntyre said: "China would be very happy selling us cheap dinner services for less than they cost to make. They are not operating in a free market.
"Britain and the West Midlands are synonymous with excellence in ceramics. We must not let Brexit give our competitors the opportunity to undermine us unfairly."
West Midlands MEP Anthea McIntyre has welcomed Government backing for Birmingham's bid to host the Commonwealth Games in 2022.
She spoke of her "pride and joy" after Culture Secretary Karen Bradley announced that Birmingham would be the UK's official candidate city.
Miss McIntyre said: "As a Conservative I am delighted our Government has thrown its full weight behind the Birmingham bid. It fills me with pride in our region and joy at the prospect of bringing this huge event to our own back yard.
"This would be the most spectacular sports gathering the country has seen since London 2012. Not only would it be a great sporting party but it can have a transformational effect on large parts of the conurbation.
"Now we must pull out all the stops to make sure we have the best bid of all the candidate cities."
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