Forum calls for integrated approach to food and environmental security in Europe
As the world faces its worst food crisis for decades, a new Forum has called for a re-evaluation of policies affecting agriculture, food and the environment in Europe. The Forum, an initiative of the European Landowners’ Organization (ELO) and Syngenta, brought together a diverse range of stakeholders to catalyze thinking on the way European agriculture needs to respond to the major challenges that it faces in delivering food and environmental security.
The Forum has been created in response to a belief that many EU policies impacting on agriculture are focused on solving yesterday’s problems, such as overproduction, and do not deal with the new challenges and market opportunities. Challenges include feeding a growing world population, demand for a higher quality diet, increased demand for renewable sources of energy and changing weather patterns. With limited arable land available, there is a need to sustainably maximize production from that already under cultivation.
“We need a policy change. We cannot tackle tomorrow’s challenges with yesterday’s policy toolkit”, said Franz Fischler, Chairman of the Forum, the RISE Foundation and former EU Agriculture Commissioner. “We need a modern policy framework which enables our farmers to meet world food demand in an environmentally sustainable way. We must first identify the most important tools to meet these challenges, and then reassess the budgetary means required.”
The Forum believes there is a case for an integrated European food and environmental security policy which is based on the principles of the Single Market, the harmonization of evolving EU food and environmental policies, the Göteborg declaration, the Lisbon process and the recognition of the essential role that agricultural technologies play in delivering economic, social and environmental benefits.
“Such a policy should be seen as a global responsibility of the European Union”, said Corrado Pirzio-Biroli of ELO. “Its objectives are to stimulate the production of high-quality, affordable food, whilst at the same time enhancing biodiversity, landscape and heritage, and protecting natural resources such as soil, water and air.”
In adopting this new approach, the Forum believes in the pursuit of agricultural and environmental objectives that are mutually reinforcing. Clear goals for European agriculture should be set and the man in the field should be empowered.
“Modern technology is essential to equip farmers to meet the challenge of growing more food on limited land in a sustainable way”, said John Atkin, Syngenta’s Chief Operating Officer for Crop Protection Products. “But some proposed regulations risk limiting the technological tools available to farmers, which could reduce their productivity. Lower productivity means more land under production, threatening forests and other natural habitats.”
The Forum intends to take forward the conclusions of today’s debate and to work with stakeholders in shaping the development of European agricultural and environmental policy.
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