EU policy on genetically-modified organisms (GMOs) for use in food and agriculture has been deadlocked for a number of years as member states, industry stakeholders and non-governmental organisations remain conflicted about the use of agricultural biotechnology. Three examples of the policy differences and contradictions that characterise this dossier include the following.
Tomás García Azcárate, who maintains a very useful blog on the CAP with links to his university course notes and a series of CAP capsules, recently paid me the compliment of discussing a comment I made in an article on CAP greening on the function of cross-compliance. My comment was that “… the strong political support for the view that direct payments are, in part, recognition of the costs that the society asks farmers to bear through cross compliance implicitly undermines the “polluter pays principle. If farmers who do not receive direct payments are not expected to observe cross compliance standards, then these do not form the environmental baseline”.
Strengthening the role of producers was one of the objectives of the recently-revised single Common Market Organisation Regulation (EU) No 1308/2013. Producer organisations, associations and interbranch organisation can now be recognised for all agricultural sectors and not just in fruit and vegetable production.
In the United States, where the incidence of food insecurity is monitored on a regular basis, rates of food insecurity have soared since 2007.
Two sets of food price data are of use in this regard. Eurostat has developed a food prices monitoring tool which provides data on the monthly evolution of prices at different levels of the food value chain (commodity, processor and consumer) for EU countries.
Of the 27 countries which planted biotech crops in 2013, 19 were developing and 8 were industrialised countries.
The report also provides comparative information with the financial year 2005 (payment year 2004) which is the first year in which farmers in the 10 new member states received direct payments; for Bulgaria and Romania, comparisons are made with the financial year 2008 (payment year 2007) which corresponds to the first year in which their farmers received payments following their accession.
The TTIP talks also encompass food and agricultural products. The goal is to eliminate all tariffs on both agricultural and non-agricultural trade between the two counties.
Since 1 January, EU legislation is also very clear: export refunds have ceased to exist as a means of systematically supporting a sector.