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25 September 2009 08:55:07 |News

Europe facing food security challenges

Eastern Region MEP Robert Study joined a panel of leading crop experts in Barcelona to discuss concerns about global food security and the vital role of pesticides.
Mr Sturdy, who is a farmer and sits on the Agriculture and Environment Committees, joined scientific experts at the Agchem 2009 conference, including plant scientist Dr Ian Denholm, from Rothamsted Research, and Dominic Dyer, Chief Executive of the Crop Protection Association.
Mr Sturdy said: "The conference highlighted many real concerns about food security and how demand could outstrip increases in food production. It is very worrying that without effective crop protection, over 40% of crops grown in Europe could be lost at pre or post harvest.
"Europe is facing serious challenges to its food security, with rising demand coupled to increased fuel costs and the effects of climate change. It is now more vital than ever that European farmers have access to the crop protection tools they need to produce safe and healthy crops in the quantities required. There are also very real concerns about the impact that future population growth and a shortage of arable land will have on food security."
He outlined concerns about the Commission’s changes regarding how plant protection products were defined as harmful to health. This follows the introduction of a new hazard-based regulatory system which will ban products which have been used safely for many years.
Mr Sturdy highlighted two Commission shortfalls to the conference: inconsistencies which allows produce to be imported from outside the EU which have been grown with banned pesticides, and their refusal to carry out an impact assessment on a group of chemicals it has banned, endocrine disrupters, without being fully aware of all the facts.
Mr Sturdy added: "We all know that pesticides are already among some of the most heavily regulated chemicals in Europe. So what does the EU do? Drown farmers and industry with yet more red tape, the costs of which will be passed on to the consumer.
"We must also consider the effects for producers in the developing world and those already struggling to become better integrated into global markets. We need to have a level playing field for all, and at the moment we just don’t know what the impacts on cost will be.
"While this new legislation may be paved with good intentions, as it currently stands it could have a serious impact on European food security.
"If people can be educated as to their use, I do not see why many chemicals cannot be kept in use in European gardens, allotments, parks and fields."


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