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Issue n°4 September 2014


GREEN INSIGHT INTO EU FOOD POLICY

  • Start of school year for food issues in the EP
  • Food and the Italian Presidency: A serious priority? 

FOOD FOR THOUGHT

  • Rosa Chicken and Labelling Matters campaign
  • Chef Jamie Oliver embarks on campaign against TTIP 

JOIN THE FOOD REVOLUTION: THE STORY OF THE MONTH

  • Every month food actors who joined the 'Join the Food Revolution' network share their story, showing the way to take back control over your plate – 

WHAT'S ON THE PLATE?

  • Upcoming Events

  

GREEN INSIGHT INTO EU FOOD POLICY

Start of school year for food issues in the EP

The European Parliament started back up after the summer break on 1 September. From the start food issues are high on the agenda. Last week’s committee meetings saw discussion on some crucial issues for our Food campaign. In the Agriculture committee, the European Commission made three major legislative proposals. Cloning and food from cloned animals: Two long-awaited proposals, one on cloning of animals and the other on food from cloned animals and their offspring were presented to the European Parliament. The first will be dealt with by the Agriculture committee and the second will have the Environment committee as lead committee. Until now, food from cloned animals has been covered by the Novel Food Regulation. The proposal to move to a specific legislative framework is aimed at better defining the limits of cloned food practices. However, although the European Parliament called for a specific regulation on food from cloned animals it will only be asked for consent on this new proposal and will not have co-decision powers. This will clearly prevent the Parliament from enforcing its strong position against cloning. The Greens stand against cloning because of its highly negative impact on animal welfare and biodiversity. It does not offer any advantage to consumers, nor does it have any beneficial effect on food security and food safety or in terms of breed improvement. Success rates - defined as cloned animals born alive- are very low (<1-20% depending on the species). And even animals born alive are likely to fall ill soon and die early. Cloned animals also have much higher rates of morbidity and genetic abnormalities than sexually reproduced animals (1). It is in fact very rare for an animal to survive for some years. An animal clone is a genetic copy (2) of a donor animal. The clone is not produced in order to serve for meat or milk production, but for research and breeding purposes. The clones are considered as elite breeding animals rather than food. It is their sexually reproduced offspring and their descendants that become the food-producing animals. However, the proposal of the European Commission does not prohibit food from descendants of cloned animals from entering the market. It ignores the fact that the whole aim of cloning in food production is to produce food from the descendants of cloned animals. On the other hand, creating a livestock population that is genetically identical due to cloning reduces genetic diversity, putting the entire livestock population at a higher risk for disease, and potentially wiping out entire herds. Currently, animal breeding of different species is already based on only a few genetic lines. Cloning would narrow these lines even more and restrict the possibilities for adaptation to a changing environment. Throughout the legislative process the Greens will campaign against the entry into the market of foods from cloned animals and their offspring. There is just no need for it in food production. There are successful traditional breeding methods that do not involve cruelty to animals and which do not harm biodiversity. These methods should be applied instead of cloning. Organic farming: consumer confidence in a landscape saturated with pesticides In the Agriculture committee, the European Commission presented a new proposal on a regulation on Organic products and labelling of organic products. Greens firmly believe that organic agriculture is and should continue to be the flagship of best practice in farming. In a landscape saturated by the use of pesticides, organic farmers still run the risk of contamination through no fault of their own and then lose out because they are not able to sell on the organic market and are forced to sell their produce as conventional. It is extremely unfair that organic farmers who have been contaminated must bear the resulting loss of earnings as well as the costs of repeated testing for pesticides in their products. The Greens/EFA Group advocates the polluter pays principle: costs should be covered by those generating the contamination and agro-chemical companies must shoulder their responsibility for such situations. The draft regulation seems to go in the right direction, but certain aspects must be fine-tuned to meet the needs of organic producers so that growing organic markets are not detrimentally affected. Read More

Food and the Italian Presidency: A serious priority?

The programme of the Italian Presidency of the Council was published last June. Food, which will also be the subject of the Universal Exhibition Milano 2015, appears to be a priority topic for this presidency. Under this Italian Presidency, there should be some progress on food policy, in particular food labelling and origin labelling, as well as control of the food chain and nutrition. The new legislation on cloning (see article above) the Organic agriculture regulation (details in article above) and the soon to be published Veterinary Medicines  and Medicated Feed legislation are part of the programme and this will be a chance to highlight and set targets for cutting the amount of antibiotics used in livestock rearing. However, we may regret the silence about the controversial Seed production and marketing regulation. The latter has not yet been officially withdrawn – the Commission has repeatedly stated that it will not revise the original proposal which the Parliament rejected almost unanimously last March, and may come back with the same proposal without changes. On GMOs, both the regulation on nationalisation of authorisation and the authorisation of individual varieties is out of the scope of the Italian priorities. Finally, on Food Waste, the current presidency of the Council does not mention any possible initiative to further improve the EU policy initiatives in this field. The Greens call on the Italian presidency to strongly defend food safety and the environment and resilient, low-input and diverse food production systems.
With this as background, we hope Milano 2015 will feature a high turnout of NGOs and civil society and will not be dominated by the agro-lobby corporations which claim there is a need for more intensification of food production to feed a growing population. The Italian government should defend a small and diverse farming model and quality healthy food, rather than aiding and abetting the big agrochemical corporations' lobby, which seek to increase farmer dependency on their seed, fertiliser and pesticide inputs, capitalise on the destruction of the environment and speed the bankruptcy of farmers as input prices increase.

FOOD FOR THOUGHT

Rosa Chicken and Labelling Matters campaign

For 39 days, from August 1st, Tamsin French, a broiler farmer’s daughter from Devon, UK, has been touring the European Union dressed as a chicken called ‘Rosa’. She has visited 21 Member States, creating headlines in every nation, calling for honest labelling of poultry. On Monday September 8th, at 5pm, ‘Rosa’ arrived at Place du Luxembourg, Brussels. During a special finale event, she presented a letter, signed by 80,000 EU citizens. Several Greens/EFA MEPs took part in the action in Brussels to show their support for fair labelling policy that is respectful of farmers, consumers and animal welfare. This action is part of a broader campaign by Labelling Matters, a coordination of NGOs (Compassion in World Farming, RSPCA, Soil Association, and World Animal Protection) which will be parallel to many labelling and animal welfare related issues on the agenda of the European Parliament and the Commission the next months. Read More about Labelling Matters campaign

Jamie Oliver embarks on campaign against TTIP

According to a recent interview in The Times of London, UK Chef Jamie Oliver wishes to launch a campaign against the EU-US trade agreement currently under negotiation. Jamie Oliver agrees with the fact that liberalising trade between the US and EU (he is mentioning in particular the case of his country the UK) without addressing the issue of regulatory differences would result in the TTIP aligning common standards with the lower ones. It will be a race to the bottom. The famous Chef told the Times: 'We don't have hormones in our meat, that's banned. But not over there. We don't have hundreds of poisons and pesticides that have been proven to be carcinogenic. They do. Their laws, their set-up, their safety regulations are nowhere near ours'. More on our TTIP Campaign Watch our video TTIP: a race to the bottom

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JOIN THE FOOD REVOLUTION: THE STORY OF THE MONTH

Roots of Food is an informal initiative working on food education. It is getting together the most active NGOs and active citizens working on food education in Lithuania. All together they elaborate activities to raise awareness and actively promote the benefits of sustainable food. Get to know more about Roots of Food and Join the Food Revolution yourself!

WHAT'S ON THE PLATE?

10/09: Possible announcement of members and portfolios of the next Commission by EC President Jean-Claude Juncker, among which a possible 'Food and Health' position. 10-12/09: European Organic Congress, Bari, Italy 12/09: Book Night, 10 issues for ten years, Warsaw, Poland. In the Framework of the Congress, Green Visions for Local Governance organised by the Henrich Böll Foundation Warsaw a new publication by the Greens/EFA will be presented. This project aimed for a Polish speaking audience kicks out preconceived ideas of Europe to give a new impetus for a more democratic and environment-friendly Europe. The book includes a part on Food issues, agriculture and our role as consumers. 11-12/10: Great Seed Festival (UK, Belgium)


(1) confirmed by EFSA opinion: http://www.efsa.europa.eu/EFSA/efsa_locale-1178620753812_1211902019540.htm and FDA opinion: http://www.fda.gov/AnimalVeterinary/SafetyHealth/AnimalCloning/ucm055489.htm (2) Cloned animals are not genetically modified animals (which genotype has deliberately been changed, e.g by the insertion of new gene sequences or exchange of gene sequences). But genetically modified animals can of course also be cloned.


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