Europe has moral responsibility to produce food

European farmers vital to food security in the future within a market orientated Common Agricultural policy

Brussels, 15th April 2008 — Amid growing concern about the rise of global food prices and calls from the French Agriculture Minister to reverse recent agricultural reforms, Conservative MEP Sir Robert Atkins has called for the EU to continue its agricultural reforms, stating that Europe has a “moral responsibility” to provide food for the rest of the world.

His comments come after the French Agriculture Minister, Michel Barnier had told French radio that public funds should be redirected towards its original aim of subsidising food production and after the UN Special Rapporteur on the Right to Food, Jean Zeigler, had called the cultivation of biofuels “A crime against humanity.”

Sir Robert said:

“We need to target agricultural money in a way that can help support food production but we can’t go back to where we were. Agricultural subsidies that attempt to manage the market lead to butter mountains and wine lakes, to overproduction and dumping on the developing world and to a colossal waste of taxpayers’ money. The reforms we have made to the Common Agricultural policy have been a step in the right direction, but now we must reform further and truly allow farmers to take advantage of the market.

“Biofuels have been blamed for the high price of food, but biofuels are just one, relatively small factor. The poor recent harvests in Australia and Ukraine and the huge increase in demand from China and India are the main causes of food price rises. We shouldn’t abandon biofuels, but we should look towards the second generation which will not interfere with our future ability to produce food.

“Europe needs to produce her fair share of food. There is a morality in food production now. Europe won’t starve if high prices remain but other parts of the world may do. Europe can only address this through a market led agricultural policy.

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