Wednesday, 15 June 2011

European Parliament: Food security high on the agenda

EP press service – A new report on food security in developing countries by the European Parliament was presented in the development committee on 25 May. MEPs used the opportunity to highlight the importance for the EU to focus on combating hunger effectively. To this end, policies should support the development of local food production and infrastructure for distribution and formulate measures to address food speculation and land grabbing, Rapporteur Gabriele Zimmer stressed. The report, An EU policy framework to assist developing countries in addressing food security challenges, comes at a time when the subject of food security and the right to food are growing in importance, according to Rapporteur Gabriele Zimmer. In light of the upcoming G20 meeting that is expected to address the problem of price volatility in commodity markets, Zimmer called upon the world’s leading economies to tackle the widespread problem of poor nutrition in developing countries, nutrition defined as “high quality food supply”, with increasing food prices further aggravating the problem.

In the wider context of food security, it was also stressed that the ever popular Washington Consensus, where trade deregulation, liberalization and tariff cuts are the order of the day, should be rethought. To this end, Zimmer stressed the EU has an important role in this shift. The draft report also refers to the ever controversial concept of food sovereignty. It is defined in the report as “the capacity of a country or a region to democratically, implement its own agricultural and food policies, priorities and strategies”.

The report was welcomed by MEPs in the development committee as an important contribution to the current discussions on food security and sovereignty. Thijs Berman (S&D) pointed to the report’s call to tackle food speculation and land grabbing as a means to foster the right to food for everyone and stressed the necessity for the EU to fundamentally reform its Common Agricultural Policy (CAP) with the aim to abolish export subsidies, even though it was recognized subsidies have been reduced by the EU over time.

The same week, the Committee for Agriculture and Rural Development (AGRI), adopted a report, entitled “the Common Agricultural Policy by 2020”, calling for a reformed CAP policy that provides for food security and environmental protection, focuses on renewable energy and fosters the creation of new jobs. The report sets out the committee’s priorities for the current debate on the reform of the CAP, which is running in parallel with the discussions on the EU’s next Multiannual Financial Framework (MFF). As a major step forward, the report explicitly refers to the principle of Policy coherence for development and long term food security in developing countries, a clause that was welcomed by the NGO Confederation for Relief and Development (CONCORD). According to the report, “the EU [must] ensure consistency between the CAP and its development and trade policies” and urges the EU to “not jeopardize food production capacity and long term food security in [developing] countries and the ability of those populations to feed themselves, while respecting the principle of Policy Coherence for Development (PCD)”.

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