The EU Commission ordered the study on the co-existence of GE and non-GE crops in May 2000 from the Institute for Prospective Te

24th May, 2002



Progressive EU-critical parties do well in Irish general election

The big news of the Irish general election was that the most Europhile of the Irish political parties, Fine Gael, saw a dramatic fall in its vote and suffered the loss of nearly half its parliamentary seats, including those of several former Ministers. Fine Gael is the Irish element of the People's Party (Christian Democrats) in the European Parliament. Mr Alan Dukes, another former leader of Fine Gael and perhaps Ireland's best-known Europhile after former Prime

Minister(Taoiseach) Dr Garret FitzGerald, lost his parliamentary seat. Mr Dukes was the principal spokesman of the European Movement (Ireland) in the Republic's Nice 1 referendum last June. He is expected to be a foremost campaigner for the Yes-side in the Nice 2 referendum in October in which the Irish Government and main political parties will be seeking to overthrow the result of Nice 1, but he will now lack the advantage of a parliamentary seat.



The two small EU-critical political parties in the Dail, the Irish Parliament - the Green Party and  Sinn Fein - made a big breakthrough in the election. The Greens went from two MPs to six in the 166 member parliament and the Sinn Fein Party went from one to five. Several EU-critical Independent members were also elected, so there will now be a bloc of fifteen or more vigorous opponents of the Nice Treaty in the Dail, as compared with five or so in last parliament.



The Irish Labour Party, the third party in the Republic, which had campaigned alongside Fine Gael and the government party (Fianna Fail) for a Yes vote to Nice in last June's referendum, did not make the electoral breakthrough it had expected, although it was on the opposition benches. The party's former leader Mr Dick Spring, who had been Irish Foreign Minister some years ago, lost his seat. Labour's current party leader, Mr Ruairi Quinn, survived by a handful of votes. It seems clear that those Irish voters looking for a policy alternative to the mainstream Irish parties, not least on EU-related issues, voted for the Green Party, Sinn Fein or the Independents rather than for Labour. These latter elements all highlighted their opposition to the Nice Treaty in the election campaign, and their vote was significantly up across the State.



The outgoing Irish Government Party, Fianna Fail, increased its parliamentary seats on the basis of a virtually unchanged level of voting support because of vagaries in Ireland's form of proportional representation. Mr Bertie Ahern will again become Prime Minister(Taoiseach). Mr Ahern is committed to re-running the Nice Treaty referendum in the autumn, probably in October, but commentators interpret the increase in support for the smaller No-to-Nice parties as making a reversal of last year's result - which was 54% No to 46% Yes - problematic. An opinion poll in the Irish Times last week showed No-to-Nice sentiment strengthening. Some of Mr Ahern's backbenchers are opposed to the Treaty. One of his junior Ministers, Mr Eamon O Cuiv, grandson of Eamon de Valera, founder of the Fianna Fail party, caused a political scandal when he announced that he had voted No to Nice in lastyear's referendum, although his party urged a Yes. There is much disquiet in Fianna Fail ranks at Mr Ahern's failure to tell the other EU governments that Ireland could not ratify the Nice Treaty as it stood, following its rejection by the people last year. Instead Prime Minister Ahern in effect urged the other States to go ahead with ratifying the Treaty, implying that he would use that fact to put pressure on voters to reverse the No result in a second referendum. A former Irish Attorney General, Mr John Rogers SC, said recently that this course could be unconstitutional.



It is obvious that large numbers of Irish voters were looking for an alternative to the mainstream Irish political parties, not least on the EU. Public opinion has grown more EU-critical in recent years, as shown by the near 40% No vote to the 1998 Amsterdam Treaty and last summer's 54% No to Nice. The general election campaign had been dominated by the two traditional Irish big parties, Fianna Fail and Fine Gael, who have very similar policy programmes, are strongly europhile and are both committed to re-running Nice. They agree on fundamentals while arguing fiercely about trivia. These general election shows that popular dissatisfaction with the mainstream parties of the europhile centre-right and centre-left, which has manifested itself lately in several European countries, is now growing in Ireland too.



Thanks to Anthony Coughlan of the Irish National Platform for supplying this report. The original text has been very slightly shortened. See elsewhere on this website for Coughlan’s account of EU Commission propagandising in Ireland.










Dutch elections: spectacular success for Socialists while Labour collapses  and Green Left flounder

Last week’s elections in the Netherlands, which came just too late to be reported in Spectre’s weekly news update, saw the Socialist Party, Spectre’s main sponsors, enjoy a near-doubling of its vote, winning the support of over half a million Dutch citizens for a radical left programme. The Blairite Labour Party saw its support almost halved, on the other hand, while the other governmental parties, the Thatcherite VVD and the centre-left D66, also lost support, with D66 continuing its Cheshire Cat-like disappearing act, though there were few grins to be spotted at the Democrats’ HQ when the results came in. Other losers including the small religious parties and the pro-EU, pro-NATO, misnamed “Green Left”, who fell from 11 to 10. (Dutch election rules are strictly proportional, so with 150 MPs percentages are roughly two-thirds of these figures.)  The big winners were the murdered Pim Fortuyn’s right-wing populists, who went from no seats to 29, and the centre-right Christian Democrats, who are now by far the biggest party. Latest reports suggests that these two, together with the VVD, will now form a government.

After the elections, the SP issued the following statement:

  A t the parliamentary elections of 15th May the SP won the support of 559,000 voters, representing 5.9% of the total poll and a near-doubling of the level of support at the last elections in 1998. The SP now has nine MPs (1998: five)  in the Tweede Kamer (Second Chamber), the directly elected and more significant house of the Dutch parliament. In addition to more voters, the SP's election campaign attracted more new members, growing from 27,000 in January to a current total of around 30,000.

The parliamentary group of the SP in the Tweede Kamer now consists of five men and four women, of whom four were members before the election and five are new to parliament: Jan Marijnissen, Agnes Kant, Harry van Bommel, Jan de Wit, Krista van Velzen, Piet de Ruiter, Ali Lazrak, Fenna Vergeer en Arda Gerkens. Remi Poppe, MP left the Tweede Kamer at his own request after eight years as a member, but his extra-parliamentary activities around environmental and food issues will continue.

The election campaign of 2002 vividly demonstrated the existence of mass anger with the governing coalition and growing support, on the right, for the new list Pim Fortuyn and, in recent weeks, the Christian Democrats of the CDA; on the left, support grew (initially) for the Green Left, and the SP. The cowardly murder on the 6th May of the right-wing populist Pim Fortuyn led to a huge outburst of disgust with the governing parties.

The election result represented a political earthquake of unprecedented scale. The ruling coalition of social democrats (PvdA), right- and left-wing liberals (VVD, D66) lost in the end half of its support (PvdA from 45 to 23, VVD from 38 to 24, D66 from 14 to 7). Gains went to the opposition Christian Democrats (CDA, from 29 to 43), the new right-populist LPF (from 0 to 26!), and, on the left, the SP (from 5 to 9). The opposition party Green Left, which was originally riding high in the opinion polls, lost one seat and now has 10 seats.

During the campaign the SP, and above all its leader and Number 1 on its list, Jan Marijnissen, who was the SP's first MP in 1994,won more and more support. The combination of vigorous opposition, both inside and outside parliament, to the "purple" neoliberal governing coalition, with a point-by-point critique of the solutions offered by the right-populist Fortuyn for rebuilding the "purple ruins", seems to have been appreciated by numerous voters.

The SP advocated massive investment in the public sector. The party had its election programme, Eerste Weg Links (First Way Left), assessed by the Central Planning Bureau, which also passed judgement on the manifestos of the other parties. The Planning Bureau considered (to the astonishment of the other parties) that the SP's proposals were achievable and affordable, and that they would not lead to a budget shortfall or an increase in the national debt.

Central to this election programme was the reconstruction of the public sector, a redistribution of knowledge, income and power and the prioritisation of ecology over economy. The SP put forward proposals for a moratorium on plans to privatise, amongst other things, the energy sector; for the introduction of a national sickness insurance scheme; for far-reaching investment at all levels of education; for the furthering of the integration of people of foreign origin through a better spread of immigrants and non-immigrants in residential areas, schools and jobs; and for the maintenance of the social security law. The SP also proposed that the Netherlands leave NATO and that no new powers be handed over from national authorities to the European Union. Finally, the contribution to development co-operation should, according to the SP, be raised from 0.7% to 1% of GDP.

SP support, which was previously concentrated in a limited number of districts, can now be found throughout the country. In the capital, Amsterdam, almost 11% voted SP. In Oss, the home of Jan Marijnissen, the figure was 19%.

Support amongst low- and middle-income voters was respectively 9% and 7%, average (5.9%) amongst high income groups and 3% amongst those on the highest incomes. Above average support also came from the youngest voters (7%), whilst it was average amongst 25-44-year-olds, 8% in the overlapping category of 35-64 year-olds, and 3% amongst the oldest voters, those over 65.

New SP voters had previously supported the PvdA (social democrats), Green Left, D66 (left-leaning liberals) and support also came from people who had not voted last time.

During the campaign potential voters were continually informed of the possibility of becoming members, and with success: total membership grew from 27,000 in January to a current total of more than 30,000. In comparison, the PvdA now has 58,000 members and the Green Left 17,000.

European Parliament calls for speedy ratification of GMO trade protocol

Jonas Sjöstedt, Swedish member of the United Left Group (GUE-NGL) in the European Parliament, welcomed this week's Environment Committee decision to approve without amendment the Commission's proposal to conclude the Cartagena Protocol on Biosafety.

Although the Parliament can only approve or reject the biosafety rules negotiated internationally, Mr. Sjöstedt, charged with leading the approval of the proposal through the European Parliament, believes that speedy ratification by the EU sends the correct political message to Member States and other countries. EU ratification in advance of the next World Summit on Sustainable Development in Johannesburg, which starts at end of August, should boost the ratification process internationally, according to Mr Sjöstedt.

The Protocol provides a framework for international trade in genetically modified organisms and was agreed in Montreal in January 2000. As the Protocol imposes obligations on the both the Community and the Member States, each has to ratify separately.

All EU Member States have signed the Protocol; however, it will not enter into force until fifty countries have ratified it. The total as of 13 May 2002, stood at nineteen. Of the EU Member States, only Spain and the Netherlands have ratified, with the Czech Republic and Bulgaria being the only applicant countries as yet to have done so. Mr. Sjöstedt urged the other Member States to ratify the Protocol as speedily as possible and requests the European Commission to raise the matter during accession negotiations.

The Parliament is expected to approve the Commission's proposal without debate at its next plenary session. The Council intends to complete the process of approval at the next meeting of EU Environment Ministers on 24-25 June 2002.

While the Environment Committee's decision today was non-contentious, Mr. Sjöstedt warned that the next phase of the process will not be so straightforward. The Commission has proposed another piece of legislation to adapt Community law to the demands of the Protocol. Mr. Sjöstedt said that he was disappointed with the Commission's proposal and intends to propose toughening up its proposal.

  Greenpeace: EU Commission suppressed damaging GMO report

A secret EU study leaked to Greenpeace states that all farmers would face high additional, in some cases unsustainable costs of production if genetically engineered (GE) crops were commercially grown on a large scale in Europe. The study predicts that the situation would become particularly critical for organic farming of oilseed rape (canola) as well as for intensive production of conventional maize.

Denmark: Echoes of colonial past in new right-wing government policies

Danish Left Member of the European Parliament, Ms Pernille Frahm of the Socialist People's Party (Socialistisk Folkeparti) has accused Defence Minister Mr Svend Aage Jensby of “blatantly breaking his promises to the peopleof Greenland” in welcoming an American initiative on a missile defence shield and supporting the use of the Thule radar station in its construction. Danish governments have always stated that Greenlanders would be part of any discussion on the future use of the Thule Radar.

“Mr Jensby also breaks the line that Danish governments have followed previously, that no comment on the use of Thule Radar would be made until the US made a specific proposal,” Ms Frahm said. “This was already a cowardly way of treating the future of the aboriginal people in Greenland, but it has been accepted until now. However, welcoming American plans before they are actually put on the table for discussion is absolutely unacceptable.

“The Conservative-Liberal government has, in a little more than 100 days, managed to raise the international profile of Denmark quite significantly. Sadly, this has not been to the benefit of the reputation of the Danish people, in fact, quite the reverse.

“First came a new line in aid to the Third World with a massive reduction, then a disastrous new environment policy which is hardly worthy of that title. Later came the shock that Denmark will make rules on refugees and immigration significantly tougher. And now we hear the echoes of a colonial past in the treatment of Greenlanders on the question of the Thule Radar.

“The new Danish government – the incoming president of the EU – has set a worrying trend. This does not bode well for upcoming international negotiations on sustainable development. Denmark will lead the EU at a very important UN World Summit on Sustainable Development in Johannesburg at end of August.”

Liberalisation of the electricity sector is on the increase on a global scale. Corporate driven reforms are portrayed by international financial institutions and multilateral development banks as means of improving efficiency and attracting foreign investment for national economic growth. Most countries across the world are taking steps towards privatisation and deregulation of the electricity sector, often to meet the conditions imposed by international donors to comply with regional or global trade agreements. 

If the aim were really to improve the living conditions of ordinary people by lowering the cost or increasing the quality of power provision, privatisation and deregulation would have evidently failed. During the past five years, from New Zealand to California and from India to Brazil, the world has witnessed a series of catastrophic blackouts, skyrocketing tariffs, growing corruption, environmental disasters and the collapse of the Enron Corporation, a veritable icon of liberalisation.  As the real aim of energy liberalisation is to enrich the corporate backers of Bush, Blair and their rich friends, it can probably be counted a huge success.

This first issue of Power and Society attempts to look beyond the promised benefits of liberalisation and debunk some myths about power deregulation and privatisation worldwide.  Lights off! Debunking the Myths of Power Liberalisation (TNI Briefing Series No. 5)  is available in pdf at this website



Chorus of demands for enquiry into S11 grows uncomfortably loud for Bush junta

The Green Party of the USA and other radical groups are pushing hard for an independent enquiry into the terrible events of last September 11. At the same time, the idea that the Bush regime’s account of events leading up to and accompanying the terrorist attack stretches credibility to breaking point has, in the space of a few months, moved from the outer left of US politics, through the left of its mainstream and on into the very heart of the establishment.

"While the White House tries to downplay the news, it's becoming clear that this is even more gravely serious than the Enron debacle,” said Green Party New Jersey candidate (and occasional contributor to this website) Ted Glick. “An investigation needs to be directed by those whose only interest is in finding the truth, and who have the courage and resolve to seek the truth regardless of political or criminal implications. Relatives of the victims should play a major role in the committee overseeing the investigation."

Not only Greens and other activist groups and individuals, but an increasing number of Americans who do not think of themselves as in any way radical, have  called for an independent investigation. Even elements in the Land of the Free’s notoriously lapdog-like media have begun to take an interest in questions such as why the Bush junta, possibly with the compliance of leading Congressmen and –women from both major parties, failed for nine months after September 11th to disclose its knowledge of intelligence warnings from as early as May, 2001.  Why did Bush and “Vice President” Cheney, the latter repeatedly, contact Senate Majority Leader Tom Daschle to urge the Senate not to conduct a full investigation into September 11?

If suspicions of an attack came in part from intelligence warnings about questionable enrolments in flight training schools (August 6, 2001 secret memo to the President, "Bin Laden Determined to Strike in U.S."), why does the White House say it expected a conventional hijacking? Since when are years of pilot training part of the preparation for what Press Secretary Ari Fleischer called a "traditional" hijacking? Did insider trading occur on Wall Street based on knowledge of an impending attack? Did U.S. intelligence, which tracks trading patterns, detect the jump in United Airlines put options (90 times above normal) between September 6 and 10, 2001, and 285 times higher than average on September 7; or the jump in American Airlines put options (60 times above normal) on September 10? (Put options are leveraged bets that a stock's price will fall.) This was reported on CBS News on September 26, 2001; no similar trading patterns occurred for other airlines. "The Attorney General John Ashcroft stopped using ordinary commercial jets in early summer after an internal security warning." (The Independent, May 17, 2001) Why did the FBI advise Ashcroft, as later reported by CBS News on July 26, 2001, to avoid commercial flights for the remainder of his term? Did it occur to Ashcroft (and Bush) to ask what the threat was? Should other Americans have been warned? Did plans for the trans-Afghanistan pipeline to transport oil from Turkmenistan motivate Bush to block intelligence gathering on al Qaeda in early and mid 2001? According to CNN, this obstruction drove FBI Deputy Director John O'Neill to resign two weeks before September 11. (After leaving the FBI, O'Neill became security director at the World Trade Center, where he died on September 11.) The revival of pipeline plans after September 11 was denied by the White House in late 2001, but confirmed in a February 8, 2002 joint declaration by Afghan interim Prime Minister Hamid Karzai and Pakistani President Gen. Pervez Musharraf, and more recently by World Bank chief James Wolfensohn. What kind of influence did oil interests have over Bush intelligence policy before and after September 11? What elementary precautions could airlines, the FAA, and the U.S. military have taken to improve security on commercial flights and at major landmarks known to be vulnerable? Why didn't U.S. intelligence agencies compile, compare, and analyse numerous intelligence reports, such as the e-mail from a Minneapolis FBI agent suggesting that Zaccarias Moussaoui might fly a jumbo jet into the World Trade Center? Could the attacks have been prevented?

Thanks to the Green Party of the United States for much of the information in this report. Go to http://gpus.org or http://www.greenpartyus.org for more on the party, and to http://www.greens.org/elections for a list of its candidates in elections to be held this year.

“When people first raised questions about President Bush's scared-chicken behavior on September 11, they were buried in patriotic abuse. But think about it. Consider the bare facts: The attacks happened on George Bush's watch. He was in charge. And he now admits to having known in general what was going to happen. Terrorists were slipping into the country. They were studying at American flight schools. They intended to hijack planes. They were financed by Osama bin Laden. Knowing all of this, Bush still left us totally undefended. And for this performance, his approval ratings soared......Bush protected himself and his friends. What he left uncovered was the rest of us.” Go to this website to read the rest.

“Some months ago, a book was published in France entitled 'Osama bin Laden: The Forbidden Truth.'  The authors, Jean-Charles Brisard and Guillaume Dasique, described a connection between the September 11th terrorist attacks and a stalled plan to build a pipeline to exploit the vast natural gas fields along the Caspian Sea in Turkmenistan. Their story pointed damning fingers at American petroleum companies and the Bush administration, citing instances where U.S. anti-terrorism efforts were thwarted in order to smooth the way for the pipeline deal.

Brisard and Dasique were paid little mind by the American news media. Many of their allegations were based upon conjecture, circumstantial evidence, and the words of a dead man named John O'Neill. Their argument seemed plausible enough - the interests of the Bush administration and the energy industry are, in essence, one and the same - but without proper corroboration, there was nowhere for the story to go. In the last 100 hours, however, the substance behind Brisard and Dasique's accusations has been amply augmented.” More at this website

In Brief

EU/Turkey…far left Turkish group the DHKC-P, as well as the Kurdish PKK have now been added to the EU’s list “terrorist” organisations. Given that they are operating in a terrorist state, this is ironic but not surprising. The Turkish army is able to operate with impunity, given the country’s status as loyal, reliable, strategically located and armed-to-the-teeth NATO member and top customer of western arms traders. 

"Is Britain ready for the Euro?"…is the question posed by on BBC Newsnight Click here to vote.

All products with bar code beginning with 729 are Israeli goods. So please don’t buy ‘em, okay?

Know your enemy…papers and presentations from the WTO Public Symposium on the Doha Development Agenda (29th April - 1st May 2002) are now available on the WTO website here

More than half of Britons believe they live in a racist society, a major survey commissioned by BBC News Online suggests. Presumably the rest find the tooth fairy a convincing explanation of the appearance of money under the pillows of those recently having undergone dental treatment.

War Times…the new US paper, hasn’t gone anywhere. They just had some technical problems, so their website, www.war-times.org was down for a few days. Anyone experiencing difficulties getting through to it in the future is advised to write to wartimes@attbi.com The paper’s new issue is set to come out on June 1 with articles on Oil and War, an interview with United Farm Workers leader Dolores Huerta; Who is John Ashcroft?; the U.S. South and War; Palestine; and a commentary on Women and the War on Terrorism. Write to info@war-times.org to find out how to receive copies, including multiple copies for distribution.

Clones ‘R’ Us…The International Center for Technology Assessment's Patent Watch project has discovered that a U.S. university holds a patent on human reproductive cloning and, potentially, clones. Granted on April 3, 2001, the patent appears to give the University of Missouri intellectual property rights not only to cloning technology, but on any product -- potentially a human being -- created by cloning. Read Kristen Philipkoski’s account here

 

Green Left Weekly, Australia's socialist newspaper provides news, information, opinion and debate from an environmental and left perspective. This week GLW focuses on how the right to protest is under threat from new “anti-terror” laws. Go to http://www.greenleft.org.au