October 15, 2021

How farm lobby waged war on EU food reform

The EU’s fundamental agricultural lobby group has waged a marketing campaign to water down the ambition of Europe’s so-called ‘Farm to Fork’ technique on sustainable food, in accordance with inside paperwork seen by EUobserver.

The lobbying marketing campaign, concentrating on MEPs specifically, has been slammed by civil society as a “massive disinformation campaign” aiming to undermine the continued legislative course of, which was beforehand delayed because of the pandemic.

Inside paperwork from the EU farmers’ affiliation Copa-Cogeca, leaked on Tuesday (12 October), revealed among the agribusiness’ “red lines” mentioned to have been crossed by the technique, in addition to the group’s lobbying techniques to affect public debate.

Copa-Cogeca has urged MEPs to postpone to November the parliamentary debate and plenary vote on the textual content, initially scheduled to happen on 21 October, so as to have extra time to affect public debate.

They argued that this two-week further interval can be “critical” for his or her communications, based mostly on the findings of a sequence of “impact studies”, a few of which had been funded by business gamers comparable to Belgian agency CropLife Europe.

For Célia Nyssens from the European Environmental Bureau, a Brussels-based NGO, the leaks confirmed how “the industrial agri-food lobby orchestrated a massive disinformation campaign to undermine the EU’s sustainable food goals”.

“They are shamelessly picking and choosing the studies, and within those studies the specific findings, which fit their agenda in order to convince MEPs to reject the EU Farm to Fork targets, which are direly needed to put agriculture on a sustainable path,” she mentioned.

MEPs are being requested to reject some compromise amendments, together with provisions setting limits of sugars, fat and salt in processed food.

They’re additionally being requested to discard labelling measures geared toward informing shoppers of the dietary qualities of food merchandise, their origin, the sustainability and manufacturing strategies used, and animal welfare implications.

Moreover, Copa-Cogeca needed the removing of any reference to the danger of rising zoonoses (animal-to-human illness transmission) ensuing from industrial farming, as presently said within the technique introduced by the European Fee final yr.

Nonetheless, the group’s most essential purpose is to steer MEPs to reject binding discount targets for using pesticides and antibiotics in livestock farming (50 p.c discount by 2030) and use of fertilisers (20 p.c discount by 2030).

MEPs lastly reached widespread floor over the greater than 2,200 amendments to the report final month.

They identified that “these targets are well within reach,” however they have to be legally-binding and included in member states’ nationwide farming strategic plans.

In the meantime, the leaked technique additionally revealed how Copa-Cogeca deliberate to make use of its partnership with on-line European information journal Euractiv to realize publicity within the Brussels Bubble.

It spoke of a “Euractiv package of articles to explain the common elements between the different impact studies”.

Euractiv couldn’t be reached for remark on Tuesday.

In 2019, Copa-Cogeca spent as much as €1.7m to affect EU decision-making, in accordance with the positioning lobbyfacts.eu.

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