e-news 16th January 2015

Welcome to the first edition of e-news for 2015! What a busy couple of weeks it has been. Not only has there been huge publicity surrounding the leader’s debates, with Cameron refusing to take part unless the Greens are invited, but Green Party membership has surged. We now have more members nationally than UKIP and in the South West membership since our last e-news has grown from around 4,500 to 6,700!
As you may have noticed, Europe has been very prominent in the news too, with the tragic terrorist attacks in France. But there have also been other dramatic developments; some of which may have escaped you, so please read on…
Opening the floodgates on GM crops in England?
A new system of regulation for genetically modified organisms (GMOs) was voted for by a majority of MEPs this week. The new rules replace a Europe wide ban on GM crops with an in-out option. This allows countries to ban GM crops, but also to opt in and grow crops that have passed the EU’s GMO authorisation process. Given the strong support for GM from both Conservatives and Labour, GM crops that have been authorised by the EU could be grown in England by 2017. Molly, who is a member of the Agricultural Committee and spoke during the debate in the European Parliament, says:

“We weren’t voting on an end to the GM moratorium because of lobbying from our constituents. We have arrived here because of relentless high-powered well-funded lobbying by the corporations who have no interest in our welfare, but instead want to control our food supply and to swell their own profits. Greens will continue to stand with the many small farmers and consumers in the South West who don’t want this dangerous technology.” 
See Molly’s speech to the European Parliament
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Greens succeed in forcing LuxLeaks inquiry
The Greens-EFA Group in the European Parliament have finally succeeded in collecting the necessary 188 signatures to trigger an inquiry following the LuxLeaks tax avoidance scandal. Molly has been one of the MEPs working hardest to make sure this happened. The Parliamentary inquiry will investigate allegations of tax competition between member states. Molly says:

“Our ability to gain the support of 25% of the whole parliament makes it clear how seriously our colleagues take this issue. Our call is for tax justice: that the costs of funding the infrastructure of our societies should fall most heavily on those most able to contribute. As a result of decades of tax corruption and tax dumping the reverse has come to be the case.” 
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Green MEPs standing up for free speech

Molly joined 20,000 people marching in Brussels following the tragic Charlie Hebdo murders. Her letter responding to the events and its aftermath was published in the Guardian:
‘The killing of journalists and police officers in Paris is utterly deplorable. The atmosphere in Brussels is one of deep sadness along with heartfelt sympathy for the families and friends affected. However, it is deeply regrettable that some groups and individuals, including some in the European parliament, are using the tragic events opportunistically to forward their own personal and political agendas. Fanning the flames of division in Europe at such a time is completely unacceptable. Now is the moment to promote, celebrate and unite around Europe’s great qualities of free speech and tolerance.’
The fate of the Cornish pasty
There has been much coverage in both the national and regional press about the potential threat to the Cornish pasty from the TTIP trade deal. Greens have been at the forefront in campaigning against TTIP and Molly added her thoughts to this debate:

“The Cornish pasty is one of many iconic British food products that currently enjoy special regional protection, but could be threatened by a flood of American imitations under TTIP. However, we should be far more worried about what might lurk inside our pasty if TTIP is agreed. Beef from intensively reared livestock, treated with growth hormones and genetically modified potatoes could find their way under the crust, not to mention the lower animal welfare and environmental standards so prevalent in the US.”
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Link: http://www.westernmorningnews.co.uk/Fears-allayed-trade-deal-leave-Cornish-pasty-open/story-25812140-detail/story.html

TTIP consultation – strong opposition
The European Commission has revealed the outcomes of a public consultation on including the Investor-State Dispute Settlement Mechanism (ISDS) in the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP). The results show 97% of participants either reject TTIP altogether or oppose ISDS in TTIP. ISDS is an integral part of the trade deal and would enable corporations to sue national governments for introducing legislation that could be shown to harm their profits. The consultation report says:

“The collective submissions reflect a wide-spread opposition to ISDS in TTIP… There is also quite a majority of replies opposing TTIP in general. In these submissions, the ISDS mechanism is perceived as a threat to democracy and public finance or to public policies”.