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Sewage-dumping water companies face unlimited fines

Sewage-dumping water companies face unlimited fines

Science
Getty ImagesBy Leila Nathoo & James FitzGeraldBBC NewsWater companies could face unlimited fines for dumping sewage under government plans due to be unveiled in the coming days.Ministers want to lift a cap of £250,000 for penalties for firms that release sewage into rivers and the sea.Releases of untreated waste are legal in some cases, but they also pose risks to human health and to ecosystems. Official figures show an average of 825 sewage spills per day into England's waterways in the last year. Latest figures from the Environment Agency (EA) showed a total of 301,081 sewage spills in 2022. This represented a 19% decrease from 2021 - but the EA put the drop largely down to drier weather, rather than the actions of water companies.In the coming days, ministers are set to announce pla...
What is gene-edited food and is it safe to eat?

What is gene-edited food and is it safe to eat?

Science
BBC NewsBy Pallab GhoshScience correspondentThe law has changed to allow gene-edited food to be developed and sold in England.The government hopes the technology will boost jobs and improve food production, but safety and environmental worries mean it is not allowed in other parts of the UK.What is gene-edited food?For many years, farmers produced new varieties through traditional cross-breeding techniques. They might, for instance, combine a big but not very tasty cabbage with a small but delicious one to create the perfect vegetable.But this process can take years, because getting the hundreds of thousands of genes in cabbages to mix in just the right way to produce large but tasty offspring is a matter of trial and error. Genetic methods remove the random element. They let scientists id...
Commercial development of gene-edited food now legal in England

Commercial development of gene-edited food now legal in England

Science
BBC NewsBy Pallab GhoshScience correspondentGene-edited food can now be developed commercially in England following a change in the law. Supporters of the technology say it will speed up the development of hardier crops that will be needed because of climate change.Critics say that the change could bring ''disaster'' to our food production and the environment.Gene editing involves making precise changes to an organism's DNA to enhance certain characteristics.What is gene-edited food and is it safe to eat?The new law also opens the door to the development of gene-edited farm animals, but a further vote by MPs will be required before it is allowed, again only in England. The Scottish, Welsh and Northern Irish governments have not permitted the commercial use of gene editing.BBC NewsGene edit...
Have we found the ‘animal origin’ of Covid?

Have we found the ‘animal origin’ of Covid?

Science
ReutersBy Victoria Gill and Roland PeaseBBC News and BBC World ServiceWe now have "the best evidence" we are ever likely to find of how the virus that causes Covid-19 was first transmitted to a human, a team of scientists has claimed.It is the latest scientific twist in the troubled, highly politicised search for the cause of the worst pandemic in a century, one which has produced several competing theories which have neither been proved or disproved conclusively.The most recent analysis points to a particular species as the likely animal origin of the virus. That analysis is based on evidence that was gathered three years ago from the Huanan Wildlife Market in Wuhan, which has always been a focal point of the initial outbreak. During the early days of 2020, when Covid was still a mystery ...
Airlines sue Dutch government over flight cuts

Airlines sue Dutch government over flight cuts

Science
Getty ImagesBy Georgina RannardBBC climate and science reporterFive airlines are suing the Dutch government over plans to cut the number of flights operating from Europe's third-busiest airport.The government cited local concerns at Amsterdam Schiphol about the impact of flying on noise pollution and climate in its decision.Airlines KLM, Easyjet, Delta, Tui and Corenden say the plans are in breach of EU and international law.The cap would reduce the annual number of flights from 500,000 to 440,000.The government says it wants to strike a balance between the economic benefits of a large airport and a healthy living environment, prioritising tackling noise pollution.Global aviation is responsible for 2.4% of global greenhouse gas emissions. These gases warm the atmosphere, contributing to gl...