French truffles and American steaks

two cowsHistory of the agreement is that on the 1st of January 1990, the EU banned imports of hormone-treated beef from Canada and the United States(US). Both countries filed a complaint against the ban at the World Trade Organisation in 1996. In 1998 they won and imposed retaliatory duties on imported EU food products. The EU banned six hormones in 2003 under the precautionary principle. In 2009 the US amended the list of EU products, which fell under the retaliatory duties and this again started the negotiations between Canada, EU and the US.

On the 14thof March 2012 Members of the European Parliament voted with a vast majority of 650 votes in favour, eleven against and eleven abstentions for Canada and US to import high-quality beef that has not been treated with hormones. However, hormone-treated beef is still banned from import.

The new quota will be set into force in August 2012; up to 48,200 tonnes of duty free beef can be imported by Canada (3,200 tonnes) and the US(45,000 tonnes) into the EU. In return the two North American countries lifted import duties on luxury food products from European countries in the amount of nearly US$130 million. This particularly benefits Denmark, Germany, France and Italy exporting products such as chocolate, pork mustard, truffles and Rouquefort cheese and who are now able to sell their products at competitive prices.

vegan chocolate truffles

Beef lovers in the 27 member states can enjoy their hormone free imported steaks from Texas and in New York delicious brownie fudge made with German chocolate can be enjoyed.

European 112 Day

Today, is the European emergency number day.

The emergency number is the same throughout Europe and can be used in each country to reach the police, fire brigade or ambulance, 24/7. In Denmark, Finland, Malta, the Netherlands, Portugal, Romania, and Sweden the number even replaced the national emergency number. This becomes increasingly important in a time of mobility and increasing travels in Europe for business and leisure.

Still, 74% of Europeans don’t know what number to call in case of an emergency while being abroad. This clearly indicates the importance of the 112 Awareness Day.

In order to raise awareness for the number, Commissioners Siim Kallas (Transport) and Neelie Kroes (Digital Agenda) have addressed major transport companies in Europe. They agreed to publish the number on e-tickets and in on-board magazines, to inform their travelling costumers about 112.

Help yourself and others in emergency situations and dial 112, it can safe lives!

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Newly proposed Nutritional Claims banned

On 2nd of February 2012 the European Parliament voted with a strong majority against the new proposed nutritional claim: “now contains x% less”, with 393 votes against the new claim, 161 for and 21 abstentions.

The new health claim would have meant that nutritional products could have been labelled with “15 percent” of fat/salt/sugar have been removed from the product, compared to the current 30% claim. The European Parliament states that the “new nutritional claim” would have confused and misled consumers. Furthermore, enhancing chances of unhealthier products being placed on the market and leading to a negative health effect for the consumers.

Protecting the health interests of consumers and reducing diet- related health risks is essential in times with rising obesity rates.
WHO announced that in year 2000 the number of obese adults has increased to over 300 million worldwide. By rejecting the proposed nutritional claim, Members of Parliament, clearly sent a message of shared responsibility to the whole food producing industry to combat risk factors for chronic diseases, such as obesity, diabetes, cardiovascular – and other diet-related diseases in a combined effort.

Rejection of the revised food claim can be seen as a defeat for the food industry but a necessary support notion for healthier consumers.

Female Genital Mutilation- Zero tolerance!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

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Female Genital Mutaltion (FGM) is regarded as a public health issue in the EU, especially within those countries with large numbers of immigrants. The prevalence of FGM is based on estimations, for often only anecdotal evidence is available. The figures are generally considered to be underestimated, not least because victims are usually underage, the procedure generally takes place on private property and the subsequent effects of FGM are not evident and indeed may never be revealed outside the girls’ family or community.
Increasing migration to Europe and other developed countries has made FGM a global issue. According to a recent report of the EU, approximately 180,000 female migrants in the EU undergo, or are at risk of FGM annually and approximately 500,000 women have suffered FGM within European borders. The EU supports the prohibition in as far as it is banned in the criminal legislation of the Member States, and the illegality of FGM was also confirmed in the Charter of Fundamental Rights of the EU.

Some facts and figures about FGM:
FGM, is also referred to as Female Circumcision or Female Genital Cutting. According to the definition of the WHO: “Female genital mutilation comprises all procedures involving partial or total removal of the external female genitalia or other injury to the female genital organs for non-medical reasons.”. The procedure is mainly conducted in twenty-eight African countries, and in some Asian and Middle Eastern countries. There have been reports that the procedure can be found in certain ethnic groups in Central and South America. Worldwide the WHO estimates that 100 -140 million girls/women have been subjected to FGM.
The history of FGM dates back thousands of years. The first known documentation of male and female circumcision occurs in Egypt in 25 B.C. Although it has detrimental consequences for its female victims (and can even prove fatal), the practice remains a tradition and a seemingly normal custom for peoples who originate from certain African countries, Yemen and Asia. The reasons for FGM are multitudinous, but it is worth noting that it is not performed as a deliberately malevolent act. Rather it is presumed to have multiple advantages: it is said to protect and ensure girls’ future by ensuring their suitability for marriage and supposedly facilitate female hygiene (as female genitals are often considered as “dirty”). Furthermore its supporters argue that it enhances sexual pleasure for men, and preserves female chastity. Sometimes it is also claimed to be a religious ritual mentioned in the Koran, although there is a general agreement that FGM is not endorsed in any religious text on a global level.
FGM is carried out at different stages of a girl’s development, depending on the traditions of the country and culture concerned.

Stop FGM now!!!

World Aids Day 2011- HIV/AIDS a global epidemic

Yesterday was World Aids Day, as every year! Is it actually getting boring? Does anybody care about HIV/ AIDS anymore? I came to the conclusion, that it is still a very prominent day in Europe and around the world. It has established to be one of the most prominent awareness days we have regarding health and there are quite a few of them around.

My impression whilst reading tweets, blogs and news yesterday is that it isn’t boring or out of date at all, even after 30 years. This day still stands for raising money and awareness, fighting the still remaining prejudice and improving education.
But unfortunately there is still no cure against the virus and since 1981, more than 60 million people have become infected with HIV, and AIDS has claimed more than 25 million lives. People with HIV are still subject to restrictions on their travel or stay in numerous countries and discrimination is still very common. And this discrimination stops people from getting tested! Although there is no cure there is medication which suppresses the virus and people taking this can live to their golden years.

So I can say that every year I am, although working in the health arena every day, glad that I am updated on HIV/AIDS and it makes me aware over and over that it can happen to anybody. Obviously some are more at risk than others but that doesn’t make it less dangerous.
So education and prevention is something we should not take for granted but respect and listen to carefully. There are three ways HIV can be transmitted:
•    Sexual transmission
•    Transmission through blood
•    Mother-to-child transmission
And all these can be prevented or at least one can reduce the risk.

To find out more on HIV/AIDS please check out: http://www.who.int/topics/hiv_aids/en/

My quite straight forward message to you all is: Stay safe!!!

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