MEPs quiz food safety commissioner on fertiliser and pesticide reduction plans in EU
May. 13, 2020
Environmental sustainability of farming must go hand in hand with the economic one so that food security continues to be guaranteed, the European Parliament Agriculture Committee heard on Monday, May 11.
This was the message several MEPs told European Commissioner for Health and Food Safety Stella Kyriakides during a meeting of the committee, which included a debate on farming after Covid-19 – and touched on topics such as fertiliser and pesticide reduction plans, and nutritional labelling.
A number of MEPs expressed the view that the Farm to Fork strategy, due to be unveiled on Wednesday, May 20, “must not undermine farmers’ ability to produce quality yet affordable food for all in the EU”.
They urged the commission to come up with a “realistic strategy to promote agricultural production that is sustainable but also viable” and to “motivate farmers with right incentives rather than imposing new requirements that would be hard to implement on the ground”.
In response to the concerns raised, the commissioner said: “We are…not going to trade off food sustainability against food security. This has never been the intention.
“Farm to fork is not here to penalise, it is not here to punish; it is here to help us move towards more sustainable food systems,” Commissioner Kyriakides insisted, adding that “it can help the economy to bounce back in the sustainable manner.”
Pesticide And Fertiliser Reduction
In particular, many MEPs quizzed Commissioner Kyriakides about the foreseen pace of reduction of the use of chemical pesticides and fertilisers.
They warned of potential negative effects on EU food production unless “efficient alternatives are given to farmers” and insisted on making a distinction between higher and lower-risk products.
Commissioner Kyriakides addressed this by stating that her plan “is to put forward concrete and ambitious targets” but “any legally binding targets would be set in a legislation” that would be “preceded by an impact assessment”.
Several MEPs commented also on the possibility to improve current nutritional labelling.
Some of them said such a move would increase consumer awareness, while others gave the view that the “labels must inform, not mislead consumers”.
Commissioner Kyriakides said: “Farm to fork will be promoting harmonised labelling but will not be mandating the type of labelling.”
The debate also focused on the ongoing reform of the Common Agriculture Policy, on the future EU’s long-term budget and issues related to animal health and welfare.
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