Several dozen people joined in a March for Science through the centre of Prague on Saturday. The Prague event was a protest against the trend of politicizing scientific research such as in the case of global warming or genetic engineering. The march from Prague’s Wenceslas Square to Narodní trída, where the Czech Academy of Sciences is located, was followed by a lecture on the challenges and problems faced by scientists in the present day. Marches for science took place in a number of European capitals on Saturday.
Farmland used for growing genetically modified crops in the Czech Republic was down by a quarter in 2010 from 6480 to 4680 hectares, according to statistics published by ISAAA, a global knowledge centre on crop biotechnology. The report says that last year´s fall in the Czech Republic was one of the biggest ever. A fall was also registered in the whole of the EU, where the area for genetically modified crops decreased by 13 percent on average in 2010.
The largest industrial companies in the region of Moravia-Silesia are asking the state for billions of crowns worth of subsidies for eco-projects to improve the region’s environment. A meeting on the issue at the town hall in Ostrava on Friday agreed that the environmental conditions in the region could be improved within two years through four billion crowns earmarked for the purpose from the State Environmental Fund. Representatives of the Environmental Ministry believe major polluters like the metallurgical company ArcelorMittal Ostrava have good chances of receiving the financing. The ecological situation in and around the city of Ostrava is said to be one of the worst in Europe.
A week before a key vote by EU environment ministers on tightening GMO cultivation rules, leading Czech scientists have called on European politicians to start a rational debate on the future of genetically modified plants. Claiming that GMOs are safe both for consumers and the environment, Czech experts would like to see the European Union embrace a more liberal attitude towards biotech crops.
In Business News: Prague is set to get its second international airport within three years; after years of letting people go, Czech banks are now hiring again; the famous Czech piano-maker Petrof has avoided bankruptcy after a legal challenge from an American distributor; the Environment Ministry has given the green light for the cultivation of genetically modified flax; total Czech fuel consumption had grown by almost 40 percent since the year 2000; and the consumption of meat has fallen by 17 percent since 1989.
Tony Blair's exoneration by the Hutton inquiry makes front pages on all the Czech dailies today - "Blair triumphs" reads the headline in Mlada Fronta Dnes. Also making headlines: proposals by the opposition Civic Democrats for a "TV tax" to replace the existing licence system, and news that the American company Monsanto has been given the go-ahead to test a new type of genetically-modified corn in the Czech Republic.
On Thursday, the Environment Minister, Milos Kuzvart, introduced a new project, which is expected to enhance recycling of used packages. Also this week a new regulation was introduced which makes it obligatory for retailers to buy back seven types of returnable glass bottles. All that is stipulated by a new law on packaging according to which producers and distributors of packages are responsible for the fate of the containers even after the consumption of their content. More from Pavla Horakova.
On Monday activists from the environmental group Greenpeace staged a dramatic protest at the Spolana chemical works in Neratovice on the river Labe or Elbe, north of Prague. Greenpeace say the plant has contaminated the river's flood plain, and that there would be a disaster if a flood occurred. Two dozen activists from six countries took part in the protest.