News review

IT APPEARS THAT all 19 government requests for bans of GM crop cultivation are expected to go unchallenged by biotech companies, paving the way for two thirds of the EU’s farmland and population to remain GM-free.

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According to information it obtained from the European Commission, Greenpeace believes that biotech companies have so far accepted all requests for opt-out bans (except for Denmark, Luxembourg and Malta, for which the deadline expired yesterday). The NGO has also published a report highlighting what it sees as “20 years of failure” for the controversial technology.

 

GREEN PARTY leader Natalie Bennett has suggested the National Living Wage, set at £7.20 and due to come in to force in April next year, is “pitiful” in comparison to the “real” living wage.

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Her comments come during Living Wage Week, at the start of which the Living Wage Foundation raised its figures to £8.25 and £9.40 per hour outside and inside London respectively. “The people who earn the minimum wage are the key drivers of our economy, creating company profits and maintaining our public services,” Bennett said. Research by the Resolution Foundation shows that lifting the legal minimum wage to £7.20 for workers over 25 will add 3.6% to the wage bill of the foodservice industry as it increases steadily to £9 an hour by 2020.

 

A HEADY PLACING in the recent “Out to Lunch” league table seems to have gone to the heads of press officers at Harvester.

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The pub chain has undoubtedly improved the food available to children: it jumped from fifth in 2013 (scoring 34 out of 80) to second this year (with 45 out of 80). But the Soil Association, which compiles the table, is a bit miffed at a press release issued this half term. Chicken is, apparently, the problem: the organic campaigners were reluctant to offer a quote for the release because it included dubious claims that the restaurant uses Red Tractor Farm Assured chicken. It doesn’t, or at least the press office couldn’t confirm one way or the other when Footprint asked.

 

DOCTORS IN SCOTLAND want the next government to offer all primary school children a free portion of fruit or vegetables every day.

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The British Medical Association Scotland, which represents 16,000 doctors, has also called for a 20% tax on sugary drinks and new mandatory national standards for food served in hospitals and care homes. The proposals are part of the group’s 2016 manifesto for the Holyrood elections next year. A poll of 878 GPs by Pulse magazine earlier this week showed that 67% are in favour of a sugar tax; up from 52% last year. A quarter of doctors are opposed to the idea. Earlier this week ITV News reported that 90% of hospital chiefs also supported a levy on sugar-sweetened food and drinks.

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