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Food & Ag Policy Briefing: France confirms glyphosate ban, UN calls agriculture major climate threat, demands for Common Food Policy grow

Also, hemp products giving US and EU policymakers a headache, global alcohol consumption is increasing and Europe is being warned to be cautious with lab-grown meat.

Has a distant death knell been finally rung for the controversial but hugely popular herbicide glyphosate with France – a major agricultural nation – confirming last week that it would end its use in just over 18 months time?

This article provides a review of the most significant talking points in the food and agriculture policy sphere for the past seven days.

The announcement, by French Agriculture Minister Didier Guillaume, was accompanied by a call to farmers to return to more traditional methods of farming. Ecologists will no doubt be eagerly waiting to see if a French ban on glyphosate – set for January 1 2021 - will help reverse Europe’s so-called “insectageddon”.

An unfavourable light was shed on organic farmers in the Netherlands last week when an investigation by a Dutch news organisation found that hundreds of products sold in stores with an organic label actually come from farms which do not fully comply with the EU’s organic rules on animal welfare and the use of chemicals.

Broadcaster RTL Nieuws trawled through 1,500 inspection reports from the national control authority Skal to find violations on around 200 farms – about 10% of all organic farmers in the country - during inspections carried out in 2017 and 2018.

Aligning disparate food policies

Demands for an integrated “Common Food Policy” for Europe continues to be voiced as frustration over inaction towards climate change, among other issues, bubbles over.

The aim here is to align the many policies that affect food systems, which “have developed in an ad-hoc fashion over many years” and whose “objectives and policy tools have multiplied in confusing and inefficient ways”.

Pressure for changing the agri-food system is coming from all quarters and consistently from the UN which last week issued a report saying that agriculture is one of the biggest threats to the planet.

Around 75% of global land and 66% of ocean areas have been “significantly altered” by people, and in a large part driven by food production, with crops and livestock occupying more than 33% of the Earth’s land surface and 75% of its freshwater resources, the report noted. This has led to a loss of biodiversity unprecedented in the last ten million years.

Harnessing hemp

Hemp has been offered as one of the solutions to agricultural woes but the regulation of its processed products is proving to be a tricky affair in both the US and Europe.

In the US, regulatory authority the USDA is working on a final rule for hemp production but that regulation will not address a range of issues that this emerging industry is facing.

In Europe, the categorisation of hemp products as “novel foods” has triggered a storm of protest from the industry which says it is facing senseless restrictions based on the advisory measure.

Being cautious on lab grown meat

The innovative lab-grown meat technology, which seeks to relieve the environmental pressures of live animal farming, has come under fire from a leading policy expert.

It an interview by IEG Policy’s Sara Lewis on a range of food policy issues, Professor Chris Elliot says that regulators should take a cautious approach to lab-grown meat and look rather at how animal farming can be made more sustainable.

Finally, the alcohol industry was greeted with an unfavourable report last week when researchers called for tax hikes and marketing restrictions on alcohol.

A study published in the medical journal The Lancet found that global alcohol consumption was increasing and action is needed to otherwise a target to reduce harmful alcohol use 10% by 2025 is likely to be missed.

In case you missed it…

Other notable articles published on IEG Policy last week:

USTR posts notice on tariff increase for $200 billion in Chinese goods

California moves to ban chlorpyrifos

Kenya is considering overturning GMO import ban

Commission urged to release report on CAP’s climate impact

Commissioner Hogan on high-level mission to Japan

Solutions on WTO Appellate Body reform still elusive

EU ombudsman criticises Commission for blocking access to GMO info

Norway’s dramatic drop in palm oil biodiesel use welcomed by NGO


Week ahead & updates

EU agriculture policy diary (May 13 – 17)



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