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Greens and farmers: The new alliance

The Greens want to change the trajectory of the CAP to make European agriculture “greener” as this is the only way in which it will have a future. An urgent and long-term project against the conservative agribusiness model, and one which should be developed in cooperation with the first people affected: the farmers. Interview with José Bové, Greens/EFA MEP.

GEF volume 5 FoodGEF Green European Journal link

GEJ: In Europe there has, without a doubt, never been such a broad consensus on the need to transform agriculture and change our eating habits. However, there is very strong resistance to change from the agribusiness model. How do you explain this paradoxical situation?

Bové: There is a wide gap between European citizens and policy-makers. Even though the Commission, the Member States, and the vast majority of the Parliament are largely conservative when it comes to agriculture, all of the opinion polls suggest that consumers feel quite the opposite. More than 75% of people reject GMOs and the majority prefer local food supply chains, high-quality products, agriculture that is respectful of the environment, and support for small and medium-sized farms.

The majority of consumer and environmental organisations share this sentiment. In July 2009 a meeting organised by the European Agricultural Commissioner resulted in a broad consensus that the direction of agriculture should be changed. The Commissioner also used this meeting as an occasion to propose a transformation of the CAP. However, the conservatives committed to the agribusiness model continue to dominate the Commission. The agribusiness model is also defended by large retailers and organisations of industrial producers such as COPA-COGECA. And the Member States take the same stance also.

Their reasoning for this is solely based on market shares; not at all on land development, the preservation of farmers, or listening to consumers’ demands. They are completely out of step with public opinion. They neither understand how to act nor respond when faced with health or food crises. Today, for example, they are trying to get permission from the EU to introduce GMOs into the supply chain or allow the sale of cloned meat at a European level. This would be catastrophic.

GEJ: What are the most important points in the debate surrounding the future of the CAP?

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