Food: EU defends its strategy against agricultural lobby

Brussels fiercely defends its strategy for food security, which aims specifically to cut pesticide use, facing hostility from the powerful agricultural organization Copa-Kogeca, which, like Paris, fears declining yields.

The “farm to fork” strategy unveiled by the European Commission in May 2020 should be widely validated by MEPs in Strasbourg on Tuesday.

With several goals for 2030: halve the use of pesticides and reduce fertilizer use by 20%, reduce the sale of antimicrobials to farm animals by 50%, or even a quarter of those farmed Dedicating the land to ‘organic farming’ (compared to 8.5% in 2019).

These proposals, which must still be the subject of legislative resolutions to become binding, are in the majority condemned by the Federation of European Agricultural Associations (COPA-KOGECA).

The organization, in conjunction with the French government, refers forecasts from the US Department of Agriculture, but above all to a study published in mid-August by the JRC, the commission’s scientific service.

The report cuts yields for cereals, oilseeds, beef and pork by 10% to 15%, according to a variety of scenarios including “from farm to fork” … specifying that only “indicative” estimates on incomplete models. are provided.

“I hope that those who are unhappy or who do not want to open their eyes will certainly do so”, responded French Agriculture Minister Julien Denormande in late September, referring to “nonsense in the matter of sovereignty and the environment”. Emphasis on risk. .

For Kopa-Kogeka, “the effect will be an unprecedented reduction in EU production capacity and farmers’ incomes, while the reduction in carbon emissions achieved will be wiped out” by the import needs of less “green” countries.

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According to several lawmakers, the federation is leading an “intensive” campaign with MEPs in opposition to any binding pesticide reduction targets.

– “Deliberately hidden study”? –

The organization was also angered by press reports indicating that the report was ready in January: the commission justified the delay in publication by difficulties in integrating variations such as consumption growth.

The European executive “deliberately concealed its internal study”, accusing Anne Sander, EPP MEP (right), of being concerned over “the weakening of our food sovereignty and the volatility of the markets”.

In its response, Brussels on Monday detailed the parameters of its strategy ignored by the JRC: funding for organic, development of biopesticides, better selection of varieties, stricter standards for imports, expected changes in consumption…

“We will conduct an impact study” before any legislative proposal, because “current models are unable to integrate changes in demand, nor production losses due to climate change and poor biodiversity” if we do not act, the European Commissioner Stella Kyriakides insisted on Monday.

Branded assessments by Kopa-Kogeka are based on “traditional agriculture, in monoculture, (…)bitou.

“And if we no longer use pesticides and synthetic fertilizers, we reduce the cost of production, which weighs on farmers’ incomes,” he says.

-practicality-

Target, CropLife, a large organization representing agrochemicals (including giants Bayer, DuPont, Syngenta, etc.), ensures that its members invest heavily in biopesticides and if its production falls, a Europe dependent on food imports Increases the audience.

“What a gull! Low production is creating hunger”, concluded Christian Lambert, the president of the FNSEA and the leader of the Copa, recently.

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“Green deal will not cause famine! Responds to socialist MEP Erik Andreu, recalling that “a self-sufficient Europe in terms of food is a myth, it is already a net importer in quantity”.

For that, food security requires a “diversification” of supplies from countries with production standards similar to Europe.

However, the recent agreement between MEPs and states on a future Common Agricultural Policy (CAP), which will be voted on in the European Parliament in November, does not integrate the objectives of “Farm to Fork”.

“It will be a challenge to harmonize the two” and to monitor the CAP envelope “to prevent critical lobbying from trying to dismantle, or even bury the food security strategy”, Mr Biteau warned.

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