Tuesday July 16, 2019
Home World GM crops: Ger...

GM crops: Germany follows Scotland’s lead, opts out of EU approvals

0
//

gm

By NewsGram Staff Writer

Following Scotland’s footsteps, Germany has decided to ban use of all kinds of genetically modified (GM) crops.

With the passage of the new rules, individual member states would now be allowed to block farmers from using GM organisms, even if the variety has been accepted on an EU-wide basis.

In a letter seen by the Reuters news agency, Christian Schmidt, Germany’s agriculture minister, said that the country will persist with its previously announced ban on all GM crops.

The EU countries have until 3 October 2015 to inform if they wish to opt out of the bloc-wide approvals.

Scotland’s SNP hailed Germany’s company in the move. “Like Scotland, the German Government recognises the importance of protecting its food and drink sector and keeping its environment clean and green,” said SNP’s Rob Gibson.

In government, the SNP has ensured that Scotland is at the forefront of environmental protection – legislating for world-leading climate change targets, significantly increasing renewable generation and placing a moratorium on fracking. The German decision shows that Scotland is now also leading Europe on GM crops,” the SNP leader further added.

The move by Germany comes despite overwhelming scientific evidence that improving crops by molecular biotechnology techniques is safe, and the practice is widespread across the Americas and Asia.

Scotland became the first country to opt out of bloc-wide GM licence, a move it said was needed to preserve the country’s “clean and green brand”.

The move by Germany and Scotland to ban GM crops brings out the rift caused by divided opinions on their efficacy in Europe.

Next Story

Schools in Germany Ban Use of Microsoft Office 365 Over Data Privacy

The authority said what is true for Microsoft is also true for the Google and Apple cloud solutions

0
Microsoft, Taiwan AI
A man walks past a Microsoft sign set up for the Microsoft BUILD conference at Moscone Center in San Francisco, April 28, 2015. VOA

In a first such case globally, schools in Germany have banned the use of Microsoft Office 365, after a data privacy authority for the state of Hesse ruled that using the popular software exposes personal information of students and teachers “to potential access by US authorities”.

“The use of Microsoft Office 365 in schools is illegal under data protection law, as far as schools store personal data in the European cloud,” said the ruling by Michael Ronellenfitsch, the Hesse Commissioner for Data Protection and Freedom of Information (HBDI).

In declaring that Windows 10 and Office 365 is not compliant with EU General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) for use in schools, this development ends years of debate over whether “schools can use Microsoft’s Office 365 software in compliance with data protection regulations”.

The Hesse Commissioner has suggested schools to switch to similar applications with on-premise licenses on local systems.

Microsoft said it looks forward to working with the Hesse Commissioner to better understand their concerns.

“When Office 365 is connected to a work or school account, administrators have a range of options to limit features that are enabled by sending data to Microsoft. We recently announced based on customer feedback, new steps towards even greater transparency and control for these organizations when it comes to sharing this data,” a Microsoft spokesperson told Arstechnica in a statement.

microsoft, xbox
FILE – A sign for Microsoft is seen on a building in Cambridge, Massachusetts, March 18, 2017. VOA

For years, there has been a discussion in Germany about whether schools can use Microsoft’s Office 365 software in compliance with data protection regulations.

In August 2018, Microsoft announced to the public that for the Germany cloud contracts are no longer offered and the distribution of this product is discontinued.

Since then, the data protection authority asked a large number of teachers and school administrators, as well as school authorities, to use Office 365 in the European cloud.

“With the use of the Windows 10 operating system, a wealth of telemetry data is transmitted to Microsoft, whose content has not been finally clarified despite repeated inquiries at Microsoft. Such data is also transmitted when using Office 365. Also, the digital sovereignty of state data processing must be guaranteed,” said HBDI.

Also Read: Facebook Not to Launch Libra Until Regulators are Fully Satisfied

The authority said what is true for Microsoft is also true for the Google and Apple cloud solutions.

“The cloud solutions of these providers have so far not been transparent and comprehensible set out. Therefore, it is also true that for schools the privacy-compliant use is currently not possible,” said HBDI. (IANS)