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Europe - July 7

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Britain declares war on food waste

Andrew Grice, The Independent

The Government is to launch a campaign to stamp out Britain's waste food mountains as part of a global effort to curb spiralling food prices.

Supermarkets will be urged to drop "three for two" deals on food that encourage shoppers into bulk-buying more than they need, often leading to the surpluses being thrown away. The scandal of the vast mountains of food that are thrown away in Britain while other parts of the world starve is revealed in a Cabinet Office report today. It calls for a reduction in food waste: up to 40 per cent of groceries can be lost before they are consumed due to poor processing, storage and transport...

...Gordon Brown said he would make action to tackle the soaring cost of food a priority at the G8 summit starting today in Japan. "If we are to get food prices down, we must do more to deal with unnecessary demand, such as by all of us doing more to cut our food waste which is costing the average household in Britain around £8 per week," he told journalists on board the plane to the summit.

(7 July 2008)

EU's Barroso Adds Fuel to German Nuclear Power Debate

Deutsche Welle

European Commission President Barroso praised the value of nuclear energy in a German newspaper interview on Sunday, firing up the ongoing debate in the country -- and the cabinet -- already split over the issue.

Jose Manuel Barroso said that nuclear power could provide at least a temporary solution to the ongoing energy crisis.

"We know that nuclear energy is a delicate issue in Germany," Barroso told Bild am Sonntag newspaper, in an interview published on Sunday, July 6.

"On the other hand, more and more countries see in nuclear energy an -- at least temporary -- solution to stop climate change and to reduce our dependency on oil and gas," he added.

The German government -- consisting of Chancellor Angela Merkel's Christian Democrats (CDU) and their coalition partners, the Social Democrats (SPD) -- is itself deeply divided on the issue.

While conservatives near Merkel have repeatedly demanded that Germany slash a scheduled nuclear energy phase-out, the SPD has remained in favor of the plan to shut down Germany's 17 nuclear reactors by 2021.

The gradual phase-out of all Germany's nuclear power plants was agreed upon in 2000 by the government of former Social Democratic Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder and his coalition partners at the time, the Greens.

Earthlog - Farming: the beginning of the affair

Charles Clover, The Daily Telegraph

Changed times at the festival of food and farming known as the Royal Show.

Last year’s event set the mood for a summer of flooded crops and foot and mouth. My car had to be pulled out by a tractor and the last day was cancelled because of the rain. This year the farmers have a spring in their step.

Talk is of the money that will flood into farming from sky-high grain prices and whose margins will get squeezed - the middlemen, the supermarkets’ or the farmers - now a price war has broken out...

...But while last year’s show felt like the end of England’s affair with farming, this year the cycle is starting all over again. Even the show’s organizers have a new sense of purpose, moving the show to the end of the week to bring in the weekend public, a sensible outward-facing move.

The question aptly posed by Peter Kendall, president of the National Farmers’ Union, was whether everyone had actually caught up with the renewed importance of productive agriculture.

He thinks the Department for the Environment, Food and Rural Affairs has not and is only interested in climate change and biodiversity, not enabling farmers to grow food.

(3 July 2008)

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