Assessments of the effects on organisms likely to come into contact with genetically modified (GM) plants have been reviewed in a recent study. The researchers say such assessments help to understand the potential ecological impacts within the environment and are an important part of the risk assessments for GM plants.
Microbes and biocatalytic enzymes could offer useful tools for cleaning soils polluted with polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs), suggests a new review of remediation approaches. However, risk assessments and further work are needed before their use can be extended beyond the lab to realworld situations. This comprehensive overview of available and novel methods indicates their constraints and potential for future development and research.
Chinese supply of critical raw materials could pose long-term risks to European wind- and solar-energy industries
A recent study has analysed risks to European renewable industries from the Chinese supply of critical raw materials. The offshore wind sector was found to be the most vulnerable of the renewable industries to supply risks. EU and industry strategies should be able to deal with these supply risks in the short term, but there are potential long-term risks to solar and wind sectors. The development of alternative technologies less reliant on these raw materials, and methods to recycle these materials is, therefore, a priority.
As the sources and severity of noise pollution continue to grow, there is a need for new approaches to reduce exposure. This Future Brief looks at the complex and pervasive problem of noise pollution: a problem with no single solution, requiring a combination of short-, medium- and long-term approaches and careful consideration of the nature of the noise source.
A common anti-parasitic drug used to control gastrointestinal worms in livestock has been shown to inhibit seed germination of three common grassland species. This recent study is the first to show that anthelmintics may negatively affect plant regeneration. The researchers say that treatments should be carefully timed in order to avoid the strongest impact of the drugs on germination and the consequential negative affect on grassland regeneration.
Responding to floods in Europe: new framework assesses effectiveness of Flood Emergency Management Systems
A new framework has been developed to assess how effective Flood Emergency Management Systems (FEMS) are in Europe. Examining FEMS in five European countries, this study highlights the strengths and weaknesses of existing systems and makes recommendations for improving their effectiveness, particularly in relation to institutional learning, community preparedness and recovery.
Fishing in most of Norway’s counties is at ‘moderate’ to ‘high’ risk from ocean acidification, concludes a new study. The researchers reached this conclusion with the use of an integrated risk-assessment method that accounts for environmental, economic and social factors within the 19 counties. They call for immediate action to protect the fishing industry against the effects of ocean acidification.
The world could experience the highest ever global sea-level rise in the history of human civilisation if global temperature rises exceed 2 °C, predicts a new study. Under current carbon-emission rates, this temperature rise will occur around the middle of this century, with damaging effects on coastal businesses and ecosystems, while also triggering major human migration from low-lying areas. Global sea-level rise will not be uniform, and will differ for different points of the globe.
European Commission - Upcoming events The news: On Wednesday 13 September 2017, the President of the European Commission, Jean-Claude Juncker, will deliver his State of the Union address at the European Parliament. After a broad debate across our continent on the #FutureofEurope, with citizens, with the European Parliament, national Parliaments,...
- Statement European Commission Brussels, 2 August 2017 In the wake of Donald Trump signing off on stricter US sanctions against Russia, the Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker expressed his satisfaction, in principle, over the softening of the bill after the EU had expressed its concerns.
The measures available to reduce the noise and vibration produced by trains have been outlined in a recent study. The researchers say the most appropriate mitigation should be determined on a case-by-case basis and life-cycle assessments can help analyse the economic costs and carbon footprint of different methods.
European policy permits the application of nutrient-rich sewage sludge on agricultural land as a means of recycling1. However, contamination of sludge with microplastics may pose a risk to ecosystems. This study looked at the characteristics of microplastics in sewage sludge after three types of waste-water treatment, finding that anaerobic digestion should be explored as a method of microplastic reduction.
Separate waste-water treatment of urine could have lower environmental impact than centralised, combined waste-water treatment
Municipal wastewater is a major source of pharmaceuticals in the aquatic environment. Results from a recent study suggest that collecting and treating urine separately from other forms of sewage could be a cost-effective way to reduce the harmful effects of pharmaceuticals on the environment, while also providing a source of nutrients for fertilising agricultural crops.
Researchers have developed a straightforward approach to help small to medium enterprises (SMEs) analyse their energy use and increase efficiency. They tested the methodology on 280 businesses in Europe, which, as a result, invested more than €10m in energy-saving measures. The measures reduced energy use by 6 500 toe (tonnes of oil equivalent) per year and avoided 13 500 tonnes of CO2 emissions.
Traces of animals’ DNA in the environment, known as environmental DNA (eDNA), can be monitored to paint a picture of biodiversity, new research shows. This study used eDNA to assess biodiversity in an entire river catchment in Switzerland. Importantly, the eDNA technique allowed the researchers to detect both aquatic and land-based species in river water, making it possible to assess biodiversity over a broad scale.
Combinations of antibiotics used in veterinary medicine could harm the growth of algal communities when they pass into water bodies from treated livestock, according to recent European research. Algae play vital roles in ecosystems by cycling nutrients and producing energy from photosynthesis; veterinary use of antibiotics should, therefore, be monitored in the environment, including for any biological impacts on algal species, the study recommends.
Recycled waste material could play a major role in the construction of roads in Europe, bringing both environmental and economic benefits. A new study proposes a scenario where 50% of the asphalt for Europe’s roads consists of recycled materials, leading to significant reductions in costs, energy use and greenhouse gas emissions.
Oilseed rape genes transfer from inside to outside of crop fields: study could aid GM risk assessment
This study is one of few to assess the genetic diversity of crops in an agroecosystem over several years. Researchers analysed the genetic makeup of oilseed rape plants within and outside crop fields over four years. They found similarity between cultivars of field plants in one year and those of feral plants (unplanted) in the following year. They also found persistence of the cultivars within the feral plants, which suggests that feral populations with genetically modified (GM) traits might result from persistent GM traits within field seed banks. The researchers say their findings could aid impact assessments of GM crops.
European - Press release Commission Brussels, 20 July 2017 Today the European Commission launches a public consultation on how Europe should promote digital innovation in health and care, for the benefits of citizens and health systems in Europe.
Speech by President Juncker at the Award of Honorary Doctorate at the Law School of the Aristotle University of Thessaloniki
European Commission - Speech - [Check Against Delivery] Speech Thessaloniki, 13 July 2017 [As pronounced] Prime Minister, dear friend Alexis, Commissioner, dear friend Dimitris, Friends from today and from former times, Distinguished guests, Dear friends, I have to start by thanking the Rector and the Vice-Rector for their...