Janez Potočnik, former European Environment Commissioner and new FFA chairman, talks about the future challenges facing the global agricultural sector.
Janez Potočnik, the newly appointed chairman of the Forum for the Future of Agriculture, gives his view to serious global transition, in which everybody will need to contribute and bear a fair share; also farmers and other owners of land, who need to rethink the way how they produce, general public the way we consume, the way we live; 1/3 of food is thrown away - this is not only immoral but also economically illogical: also 1/3 of water is wasted, 1/3 of land, 1/3 of energy, chemicals.. we need to change the policy of food production and distribution.
The European Commission wants to gather views and additional information on the possible introduction of EU wide measures related to Sustainable Consumption and Production.
In a period from 11.01.2012 to 03.04.2012 the consultation also looks at Green Public Procurement (GPP), the Environmental Footprint of Products (PEF) and the Environmental Footprint of Organisations (OEF). The consultation offers an opportunity to all interested parties to express their views, to give their opinion on the proposed policy options.
Claire Robinson asks this question based on report published by Earth Open Source in April 2011:
"The European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) is charged with giving scientific advice to the regulators of pesticides, genetically modified (GM) foods, and food contaminants and additives, in the interests of protecting public health. But some prominent EFSA experts and officials have conflicts of interest, holding positions in organisations funded by the same companies whose products they help regulate."
EFSA has its own policy on declaration of interests for experts, giving their independent scientific advice at the level of risk assessment, done in Parma (Italy). Their reports and opinions are indeed used as a technical basis in regulatory procedures of the European Commission and its sanding committees in Brussels (Belgium). But risk assessors in Parma are far from regulators in Brussels and are not involved in legislation drafting. Procedures in both institutions are so complex (EU citizens even think that they are too complicated) that an individual opinion of single expert has very little influence.
Opening conference for the European Year for Active Ageing and Solidarity between Generations 2012.
The Danish Presidency of the Council of the European Union in 2012 is holding a high level Conference on Active Ageing and Solidarity between Generations on 18th and 19th January. The conference will inaugurate the European Year 2012. The event is organised by the Danish Ministry of Employment, the Ministry of Social Affairs and Integration and the Ministry of Health in close cooperation with the European Commission.
The main theme is innovation and how innovation can bring new solutions to the pending challenges of an ageing society in Europe within the fields of employment, social affairs and health.
The European Economic and Social Committee gives a message to European citizens between the ages of 18 and 30. They are invited to participate in the 2012 Video Challenge and follow the hashtag #EESC_video.
The European Commission has adopted on Monday 6 May 2013 a package of measures to strengthen the enforcement of health and safety standards for the whole agri-food chain.
The package of measures provide a modernised and simplified, more risked-based approach to the protection of health and more efficient control tools to ensure the effective application of the rules guiding the operation of the food chain. Five draft regulations are put into adoption procedure with other EU institutions, including the European Parliament and the Council. The main four are foreseen to be adopted in next 2 years:
- Official controls,
- Animal health,
- Plant health,
- Plant reproductive material (including seeds)
The current body of EU legislation covering the food chain consists of almost 70 pieces of legislation. The package of reform will cut this down to 5 pieces of legislation and will also reduce the red-tape on processes and procedures for farmers, breeders and food business operators (producers, processors and distributors) to make it easier for them to carry out their profession.
The package is particularly relevant in the wake of the horsemeat scandal.
"Restoring the trust and confidence of our citizens and trading partners is key given that the agri-food industry is the second largest economic sector in the EU, employing over 48 million people and is worth some €750 billion a year," he said.
"Let me highlight three issues that will be dealt with in the context of the proposal with respect to this issue as proposed in the control regulation :
Firstly: sanctions for operators who commit fraud will be commensurate to the economic gain as a result of fraud
Secondly: the legislation now enables the Commission to require testing and controls in areas such as food fraud and not only to recommend as has currently been the case
Thirdly: the legislation now requires that official controls should also be unannounced in order to strengthen our tools to fight fraud."
The legislation requires that official controls should also be unannounced in order to strengthen the tools to fight fraud.
EU steps up assistance to help fight dangerous organisms. In November 2011 the European Union earmarked 19 million euros to co-finance programmes in seven Member States aiming to combat organisms harmful to plants and to prevent them from spreading further in the Union and thus from having sever consequences on the internal market and environment.
Most of the funds (€6 million) will be devoted to the control of the outbreaks in Portugal of pinewood nematode (Bursaphelenchus xylophilus), which is a microscopic nematode attacking coniferous trees. European coniferous species are highly susceptible and the pest could devastate the European pine forests. An additional €4 million financing of the actions will assist to contain pinewood nematode within the existing demarcated zone. This, in turn, will help to safeguard the territory of the other Member States and protect Union trade interests in relation to third countries.
€1.1 million will be made available to Spainto control the island apple snail (Pomacea insularum), one of the largest freshwater snails, which attacks rice plots and can also have devastating effects on natural wetlands. The size of the potentially endangered rice area in the EU is 420.000 hectares. Up to now, there is only one known outbreak in the EU, in the Ebro Delta (Catalonia).
Money will also be allocated to control two types of beetles in Germany, Italy and the Netherlands – the Asian longhorn beetle (Anoplophora glabripennis) and the Chinese longhorn beetle (Anoplophora chinensis). Both insects attack a wide range of harwood plant species and were introduced from Asia. Moreover, funds will be made available to control the red palm weevil (Rynchophorus ferrugineus) in Cyprus and Malta, which attacks palm trees.
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