Category Archives: greenpeace

IARC bombshell: WHO’s cancer agency ‘edited out’ draft findings glyphosate non-carcinogenic

co5erk4w8aafvlnI need to buy some more round-up as the best and safest weedkiller going. I was recommended it over 30 years ago by conservation groups.

This article and Reuters shows how some groups are manipulating the science on Round-up aka Glysphosphate and throwing in all the Monsanto did this nonsense

 

The World Health Organization’s cancer agency dismissed and edited findings from a draft of its review of the weedkiller glyphosate that were at odds with

Source: IARC bombshell: WHO’s cancer agency ‘edited out’ draft findings glyphosate non-carcinogenic

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Why Christian Aid, Greenpeace, Friends of the Earth & other NGOs are wrong to oppose GMOs. They will help starvation

I am baffled why so many NGOs who claim to care about starvation and malnutrition in the world should be so opposed to GMOs. It is as if they give with one hand and take with the other.

goldenrice

Meme made by Peter Hess, author of Catholics and Science.

The official policy of Christian Aid is hostile to GMOs, though slightly muted from 15 years ago. They seem unwilling to accept that MOs, Modifed Organisms, have enabled greater productivity in farming for millenia. Of course, this was at the whole animal or plant level as with Lord Delamere in Kenya in the days of Happy Valley. The local cattle were not very productive so he did experiments crossing local cattle with British ones and produced more productive cattle. GMO is only a scientific extension of selective breeding.

Thus we have GM papaya in Hawaii saving a devastated industry, yet  attempts to introduce golden rice have been thwarted.

It seems odd that these groups accept the science of climate change and then want to adopt extreme measures which will do more harm than good, yet reject the science of GMOs and do their damnedest to thwart them.

This article about Uganda brought it home to me, having spent nearly a year there many moons ago. As I was an exploration geologist I lived in the back of beyond, miles from anything like electricity. I mostly ate local and soon learnt how to find the local butcher. You went into a village or town, looked up to see where vultures were circling and then driving to be right below them. Sure enough there was a shacked with cows being hacked up. The waste bits were thrown outside and the vultures did their duty. The meat was cheap, but as I asked for no bones I paid twice the going rate. It was a bargain. However my workers could not afford meat. I had no fridge and once my “cow” went off, so my cook stewed it for himself. To him it was wonderful, but I will never forget the smell. My workers were better fed than most and I went past some “shambas” (subsistence allotments) were the food available was minimal.

Clearly more food is needed and agricultural research and innovation is needed.

This article describes anti-GM groups including   Climate Action Network-Uganda (CAN-U). This is part of the international  Climate Action Network, and members of the the Europe section include Friends of the Earth , Greenpeace, Christian Aid, tear Fund, RSPB, Oxfam and CAFOD.

What GMOs have to do with Climate Change I do not know.

However this is a serious matter and I wonder how many supported of the development NGOs I listed above are aware that they oppose scientifically base agricultural improvements.

I find it shocking.

The food and famine crisis is finally bringing to a head the clash between anti-GMO activists, mostly European based, and the science and farming communities.

Source: Uganda: From scorching drought to ravaging worms, poor pay the price for missing out on a biotech solution

Uganda: From scorching drought to ravaging worms, poor pay the price for missing out on a biotech solution

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Over 1.3 Million Ugandans are experiencing some form of hunger as a result of prolonged drought that has caused massive crop failure leading to famine. Hardly had the sight of flourishing new crops brought hope to the subsistence hungry Ugandan households when the armyworms, a corn pest, struck. These worms are not the ordinary armyworms that come and go in a week. It is the fall armyworm, a type not seen before that causes extreme damage to a crop, more than the usual worms–attacking both the young shoots and the hardened leaves.

Billions of shillings from Uganda’s budget have been diverted to fighting hunger and now to controlling these worms. Government programs, for examples, elections of local leaders; and providing provisions of sanitary towels to poor girls to keep them at school have been suspended. Sections who feel aggrieved for the diversion of resources towards addressing hunger are pushing the government to the edge.

Drought tolerant crops perhaps could not have addressed the issues of prolonged drought but insect resistant transgenic maize is seen flourishing beside ravaged local maize varieties. The problem is that these resistant varieties are still confined in guarded fields because the Catargena Protocol that Uganda ratified demands there must be a biosafety law in place before farmers can access the insect resistant varieties. The Anti GMO activists have fought a battle to keep the legislators from enacting the biosafety law so that farmers may not access these “evil crops” that could save farmers from famine. Will Uganda be able to resist the activists’ assault designed to prevent the adoption of a regulatory framework.

Ugandan anti GMO activists and scientists agree on key clauses of the Biosafety Bill

Uganda is one of the leading biotechnology research companies in Africa. Despite years of research work by scientists, there has not been a comprehensive Biosafety law that would enable commercialization of GM products. The anti GM activists believed enactment of the law would open doors for GM cultivation–something they wouldn’t want. Most members of the activists group believed the bill was meant to promote GMOs and needed to be overhauled.

The committee of science and technologies of the Uganda’s Parliament has been collecting views of various stakeholders on the Biosafety Bill. After meeting the stakeholders they convened a meeting of both pro and anti GM activists, scientists, legislators and policy makers. The meeting was meant to generate consensus on key clauses of the bill.

The anti GM civil society organizations represented were: Southern and Eastern African Trade Information and Negotiations Institute (SEATINI); Participatory Ecological Land Use Management (PELUM); Advocates Coalition for Development and Environment (ACODE); Pan-African Club; and Climate Action Network-Uganda (CAN-U).

The pro or neutral organizations included: National Agricultural Research Organization (NARO); Cotton Development Organization (CDO); National Environment Management Authority (NEMA); Makerere University; Pharmaceutical Society of Uganda (PSU); National Drug Authority (NDA); African Biosafety Network of Expertise (ABNE), Uganda National Council for Science and Technology Uganda Biotechnology (UNCST); and Uganda Biotechnology and Biosafety Consortium (UBBC).

Consensus

The major areas that the anti GM activists had issues with included; the title of the bill, which they wanted changed from the National Biotechnology and Biosafety Bill; The Competent Authority to be different from the current one proposed in the draft bill, which is the Uganda National Council of Science and Technology; and the content of the bill to cover other forms of biotechnology other than GMOs; and labeling. The two sides agreed to maintain the title of the bill but that where there is GMO in the Bill should be replaced with Modern Biotechnology or targeted Biotechnology; to have the newly created Ministry of Science and Technology become a competent authority on issues of biosafety to oversee the National Biosafety Committee; the national Focal Point which acts as link between the country and the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD) would remain the Ministry of Environment.

Status of Uganda’s Biosafety law process

Uganda passed a national Biotechnology and Biosafetyy Policy in 2008with a main objective of harnessing benefits of biotechnology in all the sectors. Uganda then went on to draft regulatory framework 10 year later (2012). Since 2012 up to now, Ugandan legislators have not yet enacted this law and farmers cannot access the transgenic crops that could help address the current issues of drounght and insect. There has been several consultations and counter consultations on why Uganda should and should not embrace biotechnology. The role of collecting views have been that of the parliamentary committee for science and technology. These committees have done lots of consultations that included benchmarking with countries like Brazil, India and South Africa that have grown GM crops for years. There last activity on consultations was bridging the gap between issues that were being raised by those who thought the Biosafety Bill was so bad and was meant to promote all sorts of GM products.

Prime Ministers suggestions to activism challenges

Speaking at a the same consensus building roundtable meeting, the Prime Minister pointed out at the two major obstacles that are responsible for the delay of GM crops adoption: the Innocent Ignorant farmers and “Some groups who want Uganda to remain backward and dependent”. He continued to say the latter category’s dominance in Africa is threatened and that they do not wish Africa well.

Uganda’s premier’s suggested two solutions to these challenges. The solution to those that do not wish Uganda and Africa well was that Africa must be ready for such people and must confront and stop them. He however did not delve into how the “stopping” would be carried out. The ignorant innocent farmers are to be senstized.

Whether the Prime Minister will confront the issues by mobilizing members of his party which are a majority in the house will soon be seen, since the committee is ready with its report. The President has also on several occasions publicly endorsed the need to make biotech crops availability to farmers. As we wait for this, Over a million subsistence farmers are becoming hopeless as they see their crops eaten away by the unique armyworm. Their plight will eventually result in the reallocation of finances from other key sector like health and education, and is likely to cause both social and  political unrest.

Isaac Ongu is an agriculturist, science writer and an advocate for science based interventions in solving agricultural challenges in Africa. Follow Isaac on twitter @onguisaac

GMOS and science, money, and fake news

 

Some Greens have several shibboleths; usually  pro-organic, anti certain pesticides and glyphosphate and most certainly anti-GMO. (I forgot renewables and fracking)

To focus on GMOs many Green GMOs , like Greenpeace and Friends of the Earth oppose them. As do the Green Party.

As a Christian I am concerned that they also are a shibboleth for Christian Greens and groups like Christian Aid. Eco-congregation encourage you to oppose, and as I don’t like people starving to death I don’t do Eco-congregation

GMO EU action

Typical Greenpeace fake news

GMOdeaths

Black humour on the lack of danger of GMOs

NonGMO salt

This sums it all up. But I take non-GMO salt with a pinch of salt.

 

Well, here is a good article on the subject, based on the film Food Evolution

Source: Food Evolution documentary looks at science, money, and fake news around GMOs | PLOS Synthetic Biology Community

Food Evolution aims to take a look at the science underlying the heated rhetoric of the GMO debate. Filmmaker Scott Hamilton Kennedy, narrator Neil deGrasse Tyson and on-camera experts walk through the major claims and key players. While the documentary tries to communicate the science, it also realizes that the GMO debate isn’t just about the science. It’s about financial interests, fear, and fake news.

Follow the money

The financial interests in GMOs, and GM foods in particular, are enormous. We’re talking about the food supply of billions of people and some of the biggest brand names in the world. On the GMO side sits one of the most hated brands in the world, Monsanto. Food Evolution talks about their history producing harmful pesticides like DDT and the infamous herbicide Agent Orange. Crowds of people rally against the company and at one point even singing “Monsanto is the devil” in a church choir style.

When the documentary looks beyond the United States, we see countries dealing with the fear of GMOs against the real threat of crop shortages. In Uganda, farmers watch as fields of banana trees are lost to the “Ebola of the banana” called banana wilt. We meet the scientist who has to explain how the new GM banana gets its banana wilt resistance from sweet pepper genes and how the government has to act to let the technology move forward. Then one of the farmers has to explain to her that others “think your work is against humanity”. This is the result of anti-GMO messaging being pushed across the globe.

There’s big money to be made from both sides of the GMO debate. Obviously companies like Monsanto have been derided for their profits while selling GM crops. but Food Evolution also gets into the financial incentives of the anti-GMO side. Companies like Whole Foods and Chipotle can build their brand as a healthy and all natural by demonizing the GMO products. Millions are spent on ad campaigns to make things sound healthier, even if there are no studies to back it up. Making GMO foods sound scary gives an advantage to the products with the no GMO sticker on them and more profits to places like Whole Foods.

Fear still wins a lot of arguments

The biggest tool that anti-GMO activists use is fear. Genetically modifying sounds like something from a poorly written supervillain. Inserting more uncertainty into the discussion helps bolster the argument for sticking with traditional agriculture. While scientists want to see multiple studies supporting a claim, activists interviewed in the film were more than willing to stake claims based on one study even if it’s later refuted. The argument goes that any chance that the study is right puts a risk on us. One speaker even instill the fear in parents of giving their children diseases by having fed them GMO or non-organic foods. No parent wants to feel that there’s any chance they may have given their child cancer.

Environmental activist Mark Lynas knows from experience that fear is a more effective tool than facts. He used to be an anti-GMO activist and is still active in raising awareness about threats from climate change. Upon researching the science he found the anti-GMO position on shaky ground and the climate change position with the scientific consensus. However, his tools for convincing people and motivating change remained largely the same.

“It’s much easier to scare people that it is to reassure them” ~Mark Lynas in Food Evolution

Arguments based on fear can sound convincing regardless of how sound the underlying facts are. Food Evolution pokes holes in many anti-GMO arguments but does find partial truths in some of their arguments. The trick is to take partial truths and uncertainty and dress them up as science. On the consumer end, it’s difficult to discern the validity of sources and scientific claims.

GMO science has its own fake news problem

Fake news knows more than most that fear is one of our most motivating factors. Fear sells because it drives ratings on TV and clicks online. Like fake news in other areas, the stories are driven by viral content regardless of its accuracy.

In the GMO debate there’s a narrative that genetically engineering crops brings threats that are totally non-existent in traditional breeding and farming. As anti-GMO activist Zen Honyecutt puts it, “Organic food is the way God made it”. These scenes with Honeycutt and other activists aren’t flattering when juxtaposed with the scientific evidence that humans have been changing crops since the dawn of agriculture. That doesn’t mean they’re not effective in clickbait headlines.

Some information can avoid being completely false while still being misleading. A major chunk of the film is devoted to the back and forth over the use of the herbicide glyphosate, commonly called Roundup. Plants engineered to be resistant to glyphosate–Roundup Ready crops–have lead to the increased use of  glyphosate since it now only kills weeds without harming the crop. This has lead to the increase in glyphosate in our food supply and environment. However, it’s significantly less toxic than the pesticide DDT or other herbicides. In fact, by some standards it’s rated less toxic than caffeine. The argument over GMOs and glyphosate usage hinges on what our alternative is. Are we willing or able to drastically reduce yields without an herbicide? Or do we go back to the more toxic versions? We rarely get to these questions as it’s much harder to settle a common understanding of the facts.

So what do we do now?

The film acknowledges that science and facts aren’t enough to change people’s minds. There are no clear answers here on how to convince the skeptical public. The scene at an Intelligence Squareddebate in which the GMO side wins shows that it may be possible to convince an audience of people with open minds, but it certainly doesn’t show you how to change the mind of those who have already dug in with a position. It might however give you some science-based answers to your GMO questions.

Food Evolution’s distribution is now being handled by Abramorama with a planned New York release of June 23 and select cities after that. See the trailer and more movie info at www.foodevolutionmovie.com.

Aaron Dy is PhD student in Biological Engineering at MIT.

Backlash to flawed ‘landmark’ European neonicotinoid study: Inconclusive data suggest both health benefits and harm

Over recent years we have heard much on the decline of bees and that the main cause is neonicotinoid pesticides.  Green groups like Friends of the Earth have turn it into A money-making campaign,  sorry, I mean a matter of serious concern. As I don’t trust Fiends of the Earth on other matters I suspected that this claim was wrong. My observations in my garden indicate that bees of all sorts are thriving.

(However, we need to increase all insect loving plants as a matter of course, and I’ve done my bit in my garden.)

I follow Genetic Literacy and find their arguments convincing – but I am not a biologist. When this came out I was concerned as it was by biologists form good British universities, so I checked out and found that it is a weak paper.

What worries me is that some environmentally concerned scientists are not critical enough in their studies and produce weak papers with unsupported conclusions. This happens frequently over aspects of fracking e.g. health, methane emissions, pollution etc. Several papers have been retracted.

So here is a worrying read, but please go and plant a hebe or buddleia after you have read it

I hope Genetic Literacy don’t mind me re-blogging it, but their stuff is worth following

 

Upside down news: A backlash by independent scientists has begun to emerge, challenging sensational accounts of a ‘landmark’ European field study of bees and neonics that the study authors claim ‘proves’ neonics are a key driver of bee health problems.

Source: Backlash to flawed ‘landmark’ European neonicotinoid study: Inconclusive data suggest both health benefits and harm

Why not to buy organic foods

The problem with organic foods. For reasons like this I avoid organic food. I get fed up with the virtue signalling about organic

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Many consumers opt for organic food thinking it is healthier and is grown more sustainably. One plant scientist challenges the conventional wisdom…and raises additional questions about foodie activists.

Source: Why one scientist refuses to buy organic foods

Varroa mites—‘leading culprit’ of honey bee losses—

Are bees really in decline?

If groups like Friends of the Earth and Greenpeace , then they are in desperate decline. They have a simple narrative;

The decline is due to neonicotinoid pesticides which kill all insects, especially bees, indiscriminately.

And so Friends of the Earth, who came such croppers over fracking

https://www.foe.co.uk/page/bee-cause

and they give out packets of seeds of bee-loving plants (an excellent idea anyway, and I tend only to plant insect- and bee-loving plants – and have done for decades.)

And Greenpeace who are similarly duplicitous over many issues

http://bees-decline.org/

Recently they have been successful in stopping B &Q selling plants treated with these neonicotinoids, and the Guardian waxes lyrical about this “success” , though one may wonder what damage it would do to the bees

https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2017/may/09/bq-to-stop-selling-plants-grown-with-bee-harming-pesticides

It is difficult not to see this as usual green scaremongering and a desire to over-simplify rather than admit to a variety of causes. Little of the serious evidence is conclusive but it is open to a partisan horror story

This latest paper stresses that the main issue is for bee colonies infested by the Varroa mite.

Meanwhile I will continue to plant bee-loving plants and use as few pesticides as possible and then with care. (My staple one is washing-up liquid.)

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As the managed honey bee industry continues to grapple with significant annual colony losses, the Varroa destructor mite is emerging as the leading culprit

Source: Varroa mites—‘leading culprit’ of honey bee losses—hitchhike to nearby hives to spread disease

Varroa mites—‘leading culprit’ of honey bee losses—hitchhike to nearby hives to spread disease

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As the managed honey bee industry continues to grapple with significant annual colony losses, the Varroa destructor mite is emerging as the leading culprit. And, it turns out, the very nature of modern beekeeping may be giving the parasite the exact conditions it needs to spread nearly beyond control.

In an article published yesterday in Environmental Entomology, researchers argue that the Varroa mite has “co-opted” several honey bee behaviors to its own benefit, allowing it to disperse widely even though the mite itself is not a highly mobile insect. The mite’s ability to hitchhike on wandering bees, the infections it transmits to bees, and the density of colonies in managed beekeeping settings make for a deadly combination.

“Beekeepers need to rethink Varroa control and treat Varroa as a migratory pest,” says Gloria DeGrandi-Hoffman, Ph.D., research leader and location coordinator at the U.S. Department of Agriculture-Agricultural Research Service’s Carl Hayden Bee Research Center in Tucson, Arizona, and lead author of the research.

In the wild, bee colonies tend to survive despite Varroa infestations, and colonies are usually located far enough apart to prevent mites from hitching rides to other colonies on foraging bees. … In managed honey bee settings, though, these dynamics are disrupted, DeGrandi-Hoffman says.

The GLP aggregated and excerpted this blog/article to reflect the diversity of news, opinion, and analysis. Read full, original post: How the Varroa Mite Co-Opts Honey Bee Behaviors to Its Own Advantage

Labour MP Natascha Engel’s Views on Fracking

With the Labour Party being anti-fracking  ( and by implication in favour of importing higher GHG emission fracked gas from the USA) , here are some wise comments on fracking from a Labour MP in Derbyshire.There is little to disagree with her apart from quibbles.

Congratulations to her and a pity that more aren’t as rigorous.

Image may contain: 4 people, people standing and outdoor

Source: Natascha Engel’s Views on Fracking

 

Natascha Engel’s Views on Fracking

With the calling of the snap General Election, I wanted to try and set out in detail my position on fracking as a whole and the INEOS application for an exploratory well at Bramleymoor Farm in Marsh Lane in particular.

These are my own personal views which I have arrived at after a great deal of research. These views are not shared by the Labour Party nor local Labour councillors.

There has been a lot of pressure with the general election on June 8 for me to campaign to ban fracking. It would have been an easy campaign to justify and may well be a vote-winner. But those of you who know me also know that I stand by my principles and would never campaign for something I don’t believe in. I have always put my constituents’ well-being above all else and would never support anything that I thought was unsafe.

Since hearing of the possibility of fracking in North East Derbyshire, like many of you, I have immersed myself in the subject. I have read reports and talked to campaigners against fracking, the industry, experts, and academics on shale, geology and energy.

I have had several meetings with the Energy Minister who is responsible for shale to discuss my concerns and spent much of Easter travelling around North Yorkshire, Lancashire and Cheshire looking at the sites where fracking is due to take place as well as some of the existing oil and gas wells that are dotted around the country.

 MY CONCERNS

Lorry movements: My chief concern about the Bramleymoor Farm application is lorry movements. The route through Coal Aston will need to be looked at again both for residential parking, safety for people on pavements, traffic blackspots like at Snowdon Lane, HGVs managing the little roundabout towards the petrol station and garden centres. I am also worried about the number of lorries and the times of day they will be passing through.

Proximity to housing: I have also been talking to INEOS about how close the site is to the nearest residential houses and how noise and light pollution can best be reduced and kept to a minimum to make sure that those people who are worst affected are best compensated.

 PLANNING PROCESS

The government regards shale as an important potential industry and they are keen to see if there is enough of the right sort of shale in the UK to make it viable. If it comes off in the amounts that they hope, then this would lead to a huge tax take for them – in fact the government hopes that it will go some way to funding health and social care.

This means that the government has gone a long way to make sure that shale exploration will take place. They have done two things. They have made the planning framework for a shale application far more rigorous than any other conventional oil and gas application, but, once those planning requirements have been met, then if a council rejects an application it is called in by the Secretary of State who will almost certainly overturn the decision.

 DISRUPTION, SAFETY, HEALTH AND HOUSE PRICES

I know how upset and worried some people are about fracking especially about health, safety, house prices and security. From visiting sites, speaking to engineers and public health experts, I have not heard, seen or read anything that convinces me that shale exploration is any more or less safe than conventional oil and gas drilling.

Hydraulic fracturing (fracking) is a technique that has been used since the late 1940s to extract conventional oil and gas. We have had thousands of onshore oil and gas wells drilled over the decades (some of which have been fracked) and currently have over 200 wells around the country pumping quietly away with little or no concern to local residents.

There will, without a doubt, be significant disruption during the building phase of a shale site during the clearing, rig building and initial fracking phases, and there will be more than usual heavy lorry movements carrying water and aggregate. This is the part of the development that I have most concerns about and is the subject that I am in close communication with INEOS on.

But the disruption caused by the building and drilling phase is the same as with any large build project, whether it’s industrial, a new school or a new supermarket – and in the case of a supermarket, the increased lorry movements will continue throughout the life-time of the supermarket and there will be no compensation paid to locally-affected residents.

 THE WATER TABLE AND OLD MINESHAFTS

The other real concern that people have raised is over the water table, drinking water and the potential risk to disused pits and mineshafts. Again, this is something that we have to keep a close eye on but the regulations covering fracking are extremely tight and the planning conditions have been strengthened over the years.

It means that 3D seismic testing has to take place to find fault-lines or disused mineshafts before anyone can frack, and baseline testing has to have been carried out a year before fracking happens so that any changes in the soil, water or air are immediately noticed and drilling is stopped. These conditions are far more rigorous than any conditions the construction industry has to meet.

From what I have seen, the independent engineers I have spoken to at the Royal Society for Civil Engineers and the British Geological Survey, the casing of a shale pipe through the water table has to be three steel tubes, each injected with a layer of cement. The chance of any contamination of the water table from shale extraction in this country is almost impossible.

 RELIABLE INFORMATION

One of the biggest problems about shale exploration that I came across was that no-one knows where to get trustworthy advice or facts about fracking – what it actually entails and what the risks are. There is a lot of information on the internet and much of it is either not relevant to the UK or just plain scaremongering.

There is the industry on the one side which people don’t trust because they have a vested financial interest in downplaying any risks, and on the other side are the green campaign groups for whom anti-fracking campaigns have seen an enormous boost in donations and membership. They have a different agenda which is to see the country de-industrialise.

 PROTECTING THE ENVIRONMENT

I totally agree with the green campaigners who make the case for more investment in renewables and winding down our reliance on fossil fuels. We should be doing far more to encourage wind, solar and water energy generation as well as putting more money into researching carbon capture and storage.

But spreading scare stories for which there is no reliable evidence about increases in cancer rates and low-birth-weight babies is unforgiveable. I have not seen credible evidence to support this and it should have no place in the debate about energy, climate change and shale.

While I agree that we should do all we can to reduce our greenhouse gas emissions, I do not believe in de-industrialisation. Most people (including me) want to come home after work, switch on the lights, turn on the heating, run a hot bath and cook meals on their hobs.

Most people would rather pay less for utility bills and many people are also concerned for the environment and would rather have less pollution and lower greenhouse gas emissions.

But the fact is that at the moment only 7% of the energy we use comes from renewables such as wind and solar. The rest comes from gas and oil. A decreasing amount comes from our domestic wells in the North Sea, but increasingly we are importing shale gas from America and Liquid Natural Gas (LNG) from Qatar. As we become more reliant on imports, we can expect our energy bills to rise even higher.

And if our concern is reducing global greenhouse gas emissions then we ought to start calculating the real carbon footprint of importing oil and gas. We know working conditions are bordering on slavery in Qatar and health and safety regulations are almost non-existent with spillages, accidents and gas escaping into the atmosphere commonplace.

Once the gas is captured, it has to be frozen to liquefy it and put onto hugelypolluting diesel ships to transport to the UK where it is re-gassified and pumped into our domestic network. Each of those steps has a very large carbon footprint which would be avoided if we took shale out of the ground here.

From a green perspective, investment in renewables is essential. But gas will still have a role to play for the foreseeable future and we might as well make it as low-carbon as we can, controlling it better, and getting our domestic energy prices down. This will be especially important after Brexit.

 JOBS AND INDUSTRY

Energy is something which Derbyshire is expert in with its proud coal mining history and mineral richness. It seems that beneath our feet could be another large-scale manufacturing industry that is nowhere near as dangerous as sending people down deep mines. If the shale industry develops in the UK, it would use some of the most advanced civil and petro-chemical engineering technologies in the world and could create a whole new generation of jobs for our children and grandchildren.

In Danesmoor near Clay Cross, we already have the country’s best rig-building company being used by the industry all over the country. They are struggling at the moment with protesters chaining themselves to the factory gates. But if this industry comes off, we could see a massive expansion creating many more jobs in Danesmoor alone.

If, on the other hand, we allow the protesters to stop the company from supplying rigs, the opposite will happen. The jobs that exist in Danesmoor today will not be there tomorrow.

As a former trade union organiser, I am proud that the UK has the strictest Health and Safety regulations in the world. It means that the kind of gung-ho drilling and spillages that have happened in America are simply not allowed to happen here.

Our planning regime is extremely rigorous and our environmental laws so tight that the industry is constantly complaining about the hoops through which they have to jump. Quite right too. This, of course, does not mean that accidents can’t happen. It just means that the risk is minimal and the penalties great.

 MINIMISING RISKS

I appreciate that people ask why they have to put up with the disruption. We should look carefully at every application to make sure that drilling and fracking happens away from homes and in the remotest places with the least disruption possible. We should certainly not have wells covering every inch of our beautiful countryside.

Many people say that even a small risk is a risk too far. If this is how we lived our lives, we would have no development of any kind. It is about making sure any development is safe. We need an army of inspectors and environmental protection officers to keep a careful and constant eye on the industry to keep it safe.

I am not against fracking as long as the industry stays highly regulated and controlled. If taking shale out of the ground in the UK means that we have fewer greenhouse gas emissions, that we can control our own energy and get prices down because we are not importing it, if it creates a whole new industry with good jobs, if it is good for Derbyshire, then I support it.

Our next step has to be setting up a strong Community Liaison Group to negotiate with INEOS on lorry routes and times, on making sure that noise and light pollution are kept to a minimum and that individuals and the community are properly compensated.

Marsh Lane and Apperknowle need a bus service to Sheffield and Chesterfield. Let’s see if we can get a shale bus from the industry. And if fracking does actually happen, let’s ask for free energy for all homes within a certain radius. That would increase house prices and certainly reduce bills. Let’s see if INEOS can work with Eckington School (which has an engineering specialism), or pay for local people to train as lorry drivers.

If shale exploration is going to happen, let’s make sure that we get the most out of it.

I hope this will start a proper debate on shale exploration in which everyone can raise their issues and concerns. It has been very one-sided until now so I am looking forward to hearing your views on this and everything else!

All good wishes as always

NATASCHA ENGEL

Labour Party Parliamentary candidate

tel: 01246 439121 twitter: @nengel2017 email:natascha_engel@labour.org.uk