Mick Wallace How bad that the #EU of the so called 'European Values' has supported this Terrorism against the people of #Syriahttps://t.co/wRXMSubfYi
Mick Wallace Western Colonialism never really stopped, it just got a make over - It's now called 'Financial Imperialism'. Are we… https://t.co/KoMpQ69bBw
Mick Wallace RT @wallacemick: Would mean something for Irish people and the notion of 'Irish Neutrality' if Irish Minister for Foreign Affairs @simoncov
Mick Wallace It would do something for #EU credibility if it were to acknowledge the amazing selfless role that #Cuba has played… https://t.co/I8G0EcxRxz

Agriculture

Still no proper explanation as to why a request for new oyster sites at Bannow Bay has taken so long, Mick.   (click on link below) http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bJcSb53WJwE  

beesOn April 17th 2013, Mick's submitted a topical issue regarding the use of Neonicotinoids; pesticides which are having a major influence on the falling bee population. In his contribution, Mick points to scientific research which shows that these pesticides have adverse effects on insects such as bees. You can watch the discussing with Minister Coveney here while the full dialogue is below.

Seán Kenny:

The next topical issue was raised by Deputy Wallace and concerns the decision to vote against a European Commission proposal to ban neonicotinoids, the pesticide blamed for the decline of the bee population. I hope I pronounced that correctly.

Mick Wallace:

I would say the Acting Chairman's pronunciation is as good as mine. A series of high-profile scientific studies in the past year has increasingly linked a pesticide group known as neonicotinoids to harmful effects in bees, including huge losses in the numbers of queens produced, as well as large increases in disappeared bees, that is, those that failed to return from foraging trips. If ever there was an issue in which the precautionary principle ought to guide one's actions, the use of neonicotinoids certainly is one in which precaution should be one's guiding principle. Bees are far too important to crops to continue to take this risk. Beekeepers and environmental scientists have become increasingly concerned by the mass die-off of bees seen in recent years, including the phenomenon known as colony collapse disorder. Increasingly, the finger has been pointed at these pesticides manufactured by the giant agribusiness companies Bayer, which I believe sponsors the football club, and Syngenta.

More than 300 separate scientific studies in the past three years have shown adverse effects on insects such as bees from these chemicals, which attack insects' nervous systems and are systemic, meaning they are taken up in every part of the plants in which they are applied. This means they are not simply present on the leaves and seeds that pest insects might eat but also are to be found in the pollen and nectar gathered by bees in the process of pollination. The European Commission has made proposals to ban the use of three of these neonicotinoid insecticides used in maize, rapeseed, sunflower and cotton cultivation from July 2013. The pesticides concerned were highlighted as a risk to bees in a recent scientific survey by the European Food Safety Authority, EFSA. All three pesticides are used widely in Ireland and environmental campaigners believe the pesticides should be banned before bee numbers fall further. Bumblebee and honeybee numbers have declined recently in both Ireland and Europe, prompting fears for food security, as the insects pollinate both fruit and vegetables. Some countries are opposed to this ban and are preparing their own scientific studies to challenge recent European Union research conducted by the European Food Safety Authority, which found the pesticides posed a risk to the declining bee populations. Naturally, Bayer is opposed to the ban and it was hardly surprising to hear the company state that disproportionate action would jeopardise the competitiveness of European agriculture, would lead finally to higher costs for food, feed, fibre and renewable raw materials and would have an enormous economic impact throughout the entire food chain.

However, in recent years there has already been a steep and disturbing global decline in bee populations. Some already have become extinct and some species in America are running at only 4% of their previous numbers. Italy has banned these pesticides and has already seen its bee population recover, which is a sure indication that Ireland should be doing the same. The Minister voted against the proposal but I believe he will have another opportunity to think again about the issue. I acknowledge those who will lobby the Minister to keep the chemicals on the market have more power than those who are trying to save the poor bees. I am sure the Irish Wildlife Trust has been in contact with the Minister and I note that Billy Flynn, who was one of the people who were very disappointed, has stated there is strong scientific evidence that these insecticides are not good news for key pollinators. He also has pointed out that Ireland has 101 different bee species, of which half are in decline, with six having been assessed as being critically endangered. Neonicotinoids are implicated in colony collapse disorder and in bees' ability to navigate. As I already have noted, the European Food Safety Authority has labelled them as posing an unacceptable danger to bees. Likewise, campaigner Pádraic Fogarty has asked what particular groups lobbied the Minister and has asked who managed to sway the Minister in the direction of standing by the chemical firms at the expense of the poor bees. The Minister probably will recall that a few years ago, Einstein said that were the bees to ever disappear from the planet, we would probably only last approximately six years.

Simon Coveney:

Following that profound statement, may I first agree with the Deputy on a couple of points, mainly on the importance of bees and the maintenance of bee populations? However, it is important to have some accuracy in this regard. The neonicotinoid pesticides that it is proposed by the Commission to be banned or restricted in their use are not widely used in Ireland and only 0.7% of insecticides used in Ireland are neonicotinoids. One should be clear in this regard. In addition, there is no evidence of a collapse of bee populations in Ireland, although bee populations are under pressure in some areas in Ireland. However, there is no suggestion that Ireland is experiencing the kind of collapse in numbers that has occurred in other countries in Europe. It is important to be accurate in this regard.

Neonicotinoid insecticides were discovered in the 1980s but not commercialised until the 1990s. They are synthetic chemicals related to the naturally-occurring nicotine. There are five different active substances within the neonicotinoid family and three of the five are subject of the Commission's proposed restriction of use. The Commission proposed an implementing regulation to amend the conditions of approval of these three substances and prohibit the use and sale of seeds treated with plant protection products containing those active substances. An attempt has been made by certain parties to attribute the phenomenon of colony collapse disorder in bees to the use of pesticides and more particularly the use of neonicotinoid insecticides. Anecdotal evidence suggested a link between the increased use of neonicotinoids and the rise in the frequency of colony collapse disorder and sub-lethal effects. The Commission proposal was discussed at the European Union's standing committee on the food chain and animal health on 14 and 15 March 2013 and the resulting vote was inconclusive, with 14 member states refusing to support the measures proposed by the Commission, including Germany and the United Kingdom. Accordingly, the matter will now be tabled at an appeals committee meeting in late April.

I opposed the proposal on the basis that, procedurally, the European Commission proposal should be based on the EFSA conclusions and the current proposal seeks to go far beyond that. The procedure to date has been for the Commission to approve or not approve an active substance, in consultation with the member states. Thereafter, each member state approves or does not approve products containing these approved substances and specifies risk mitigation measures, where appropriate. In this instance, the proposal is taking the decision making process away from member states and thus ignores the principle of subsidiarity, whereby approval of an individual product at member state level has heretofore been a matter of member state competence. I am concerned that a precedent is being set here. I also had some technical concerns with the proposal, including the proposed prohibition for use on some crops that are not attractive to bees and the proposed prohibition for use on crops based on the time of year in which they would be sown. For example, the proposal continued to approve use on winter cereals, while prohibiting its use on spring cereals. I also believe there has been insufficient consultation with experts who understand the precise context of actual use of these substances.

I have not been lobbied by anybody on this. I have received some e-mails but I have not been lobbied heavily. If I have been lobbied, it has been far more on behalf of bees than on behalf of any industry interests. My only interest here is in making a decision that is based on science and fact.

The UK is now finalising a very substantial field study on the use of neonicotinoids, which does not draw the same conclusions as the Commission has drawn. We must listen to that. I have no problem voting for restrictive use or a ban, if necessary, of certain substances if there is a direct scientific link which shows that the use of those substances is causing significant damage to bee populations. However, we must be sure that we make decisions based on science. Yes, we need a precautionary principle but there are conflicting views and science on this, which I believe are not driven by the industry but by Ministers and their teams in the Council of Ministers who want to make decisions based on science, trials and fact. In time, we will be able to make decisions on the basis of fact, but there is probably more consultation required before we do that.

Mick Wallace:

The Minister says these are used very little in Ireland. If they are so little used that is probably all the more reason that we should not use them at all. Perhaps Irish farmers can survive without them. The British have carried out a great deal of research into it, but I note they did not vote against a ban. They have abstained, as have the Germans. However, the Germans have their own ban. Given that Bayer is from Germany and is a huge company in that country, it is interesting that Germany has a ban in place. It is happy for Bayer to make money on its exports, which is a very German thing anyway. It is happy to protect its bees through its internal ban.

With regard to the bees and how much they are under threat in Ireland, traditionally a great deal of honey is produced in Wexford. Some bee producers have mentioned to me that they are concerned. The Minister might say they are reading too much international news, but they say there could be a problem coming down the tracks. They are worried about their bee stocks. Very often in these cases the strong chemical firm has a great deal of power. The Minister is querying the wisdom of the Commission, but one could express surprise that the Commission has been so strong against the chemical industry in this case as it is a very powerful lobby. If we do not have the courage, it will be too late to find out five or six years hence that further damage has been done. The Minister says he is relying on science, but there is science and arguments on both sides. Given the importance of bees' activity and what it means to the planet, we should err on the side of caution and in their favour, if possible.

Simon Coveney:

I agree with the last statement. If I am convinced that, in all likelihood, the use of a certain product has the potential to do significant damage to the bee population in Ireland, we will act on it. I wish to be clear about that. This is a small but important industry in Ireland, and bee populations are also hugely important for non-honey production reasons in terms of pollination and so forth. Other countries have concerns in this regard. Hungary, for example, has the largest honey industry in the European Union and it also voted against it. A total of 14 countries either voted against it or abstained. I understand that the UK might well vote against it on the next occasion, but we must wait and see. My job is to articulate the Irish position and why we have taken it. I have an open mind on this, and I am not being lobbied heavily by any industry representatives. My view is that we must look at the evidence and the different studies that have been carried out and try to make the right judgment call. Also, we must ensure we follow procedure. There are some decisions that are appropriate to be taken within member states under the principle of subsidiarity and other decisions are appropriate for the Commission to take as a collective

In the context of those two issues as I have outlined them, I will take the most responsible approach I can to protect bee populations, but I will do it on the basis of science.

Mick Wallace:

Will the Minister take on board the fact that the countries that voted against the ban are all small countries and have less power? Many of the big countries in Europe have not voted against the ban. Also, pollination in Ireland is worth over €50 million, according to Government sources.

Simon Coveney:

That is not true. I must correct the record.

Seán Kenny:

The Deputy has used his time. The debate is concluded.

Simon Coveney:

For the record, it is not a question of big and small countries. There are big and small countries on both sides. It is a split between 13 on one side and 14 on the other. There have been two debates on neonicotinoids in the Council of Ministers with the Commissioner. I chaired the debates. There is division in terms of the opinion and the state of scientific evidence on this issue. We have to resolve that so we can come to a conclusion. There is a great deal of scientific research taking place on this issue. More field trials are taking place in a number of countries, including in the UK, and when we see the results of those we can make more informed decisions.

 

 

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faA Private Members Motion on Agriculture was moved in the Dail on October 9th by Deputy Éamón O'Cuív.  In his address Deputy Wallace highlighted the inequalities of the single farm payment scheme which favours larger farmers. The payment is based on farm production in '99 and '01 which makes it outdated and unrepresentative of farmers' situations at present. You can watch Deputy Wallace's speech here.

The agricultural sector is very important to Ireland. I come from an agricultural background and was born on a 36 acre farm. I have been close to farming all my life. A couple of weeks ago I met members of the United Farmers Association, an organisation which represents smaller farmers. The association has raised valid points in respect of the single payment. Agriculture is in a good state at present but I fear that small farmers will be in a difficult position in the future. A considerable number of small farms have disappeared and if we do not make the system fairer, many more will go. I have nothing against big farmers doing well but we have an obligation to help the most vulnerable and to provide fairness, equity and balance. The United Farmers Association was at pains to point out that the CAP aim of ensuring a fairer standard of living for those who engage in agriculture has failed thus far to provide a floor on incomes that could stop the exodus of farming families from the land. The current system lacks equity and fairness and this must be remedied if the CAP's policy objectives are to be realised in a meaningful way. The association recommended a ceiling of 80 ha on the number of hectares qualifying for payment. That is not an unreasonable ceiling. In response to a parliamentary question I submitted regarding the association's recommendation of a flat rate of payment per hectare, the Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine indicated that he was open to working towards this objective. We should endeavour to achieve it to provide greater fairness. The Minister admitted that 76,000 Irish farmers would gain an average of 86% on their current payments if they received a flat rate per hectare, whereas 57,000 farmers would lose an average of 33%. That does not sound unfair to me. I am sure Members have seen the article by Fintan O'Toole in The Irish Times of yesterday which argued that the current system locks in historical privilege because it is based on stock owned in 1999 and 2001. This skews the benefits towards farmers who are better off and essentially means that the more money a farmer has, the more the EU will give him or her. In 2008, which was one of the few years in which the figures were released, 37% of single farm payments went to the top 10% of farmers. Larry Goodman's company received more than €500,000, Kepak farms received €346,000 and eight other farmers received more than €200,000 each that year. This needs to be challenged. Putting a ceiling on the number of hectares qualifying for payment must be a good and fair proposal. Currently some farmers receive €1,200 per hectare, while others receive as little as €25. The Friends of the Irish Environment argue that 80% of funds go to 25% of the best-off farmers and the society describes the proposed new flat rate as a salvation for farmers on disadvantaged lands in rural Ireland. Given that much of rural Ireland is under serious threat from what I regard as a worldwide neoliberal agenda, I believe that if the system was made more fair for smaller farmers, it would do much for rural Ireland.

Good soundness is a result of proper food and hygiene. How can medicaments hels up? Circumstances that can influence your choice when you are buying medications are various. Below are basic reasons about cialis vs levitra vs viagra which one is better. Surely there are also other momentous questions. Choosing the perfect treatment variant for a racy disease can get really confusing considering the advantages and disadvantages of the existing treatment methodologies. When you buy remedies like Cialis you have to mind about levitra vs cialis vs viagra. The most significant thing you must look for is which works better viagra or cialis or levitra. A long list of prescription drugs can lead to erectile malfunction, including many blood stress medicines, pain remedies, and most of antidepressants. Sometimes the treatment options may switch on erectile disfunction remedies or hormone treatments.

wallMick spoke in the Dáil on Wednesday, November 25th on the fishing industry. Minister for Agriculture Simon Coveney was in the chamber to debate the issue with the House. The fishing industry is an area which Mick is interested in learning more about as he sees it as an opportunity for all coastal areas including Wexford. It is obvious that it was a massive mistake forfeiting most of our fishing rights when we joined the EU. Mick's speech can be read below or watched here.

I am amazed by the discarding of fish and that there is no better way of dealing with this issue, especially for smaller boats fishing off our coast. Could some accommodation not be found? It is being said the landing of cod will not be allowed and that boats will either have to throw it back into the sea or pay a penalty for bringing it ashore. No one will land cod if a penalty awaits them onshore. Surely a scheme could be organised, whereby a fisherman would not receive the full value for cod and it would go to a depot where local people could buy it at a reduced rate. This would be better than throwing it back into the sea. Seemingly, cod do not survive very long out of water. There is a way around every problem. Forcing fishermen to discard fish is a simple way to regulate catches. However, it would make much more sense to devise a scheme in order that fish, of which we are short, would not be wasted.

Good soundness is a result of proper food and hygiene. How can medicaments hels up? Circumstances that can influence your choice when you are buying medications are different. Below are basic reasons about cialis vs levitra vs viagra which one is better. Surely there are also other momentous questions. Choosing the perfect treatment option for a racy disease can get really confusing considering the advantages and disadvantages of the existing treatment methodologies. When you buy remedies like Cialis you have to keep in mind about levitra vs cialis vs viagra. The most significant thing you must look for is which works better viagra or cialis or levitra. A long list of prescription drugs can lead to erectile dysfunction, including many blood tension medicines, pain remedies, and most of antidepressants. Sometimes the treatment options may include erectile dysfunction remedies or hormone treatments.

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