On the day of Syngenta’s forum on the future of agriculture, Food & Water Europe today said the influence of the GM lobby in European policy making was clearly out of order, condemning last week’s report on home grown proteins as “deplorable”. 
“The report is so bad that the author had to remove his name from it,” said Food & Water Europe Executive Director Wenonah Hauter. “Industry influence turned a badly needed set of recommendations to help European farmers grow the crops European consumers want into a farce. We’ll be watching to see what they cook up at today’s forum.”
The report, drafted by MEP Martin Häusling, originally explained why Europe’s overdependence on imported protein crops, like soy, is harmful and what should be done about it. Recommendations included detailed analysis of the real impacts of trade agreements on EU farming followed by moves to improve Europe’s food sovereignty using home-grown animal feeds to build stable agricultural productivity for the long term. Such moves would benefit consumers and the environment, not to mention European farmers, who would have more control over their businesses, and farmers in the developing world, who could go back to growing food for people rather than industrial export crops for factory farms and biofuels.
By introducing the unrelated issue of low-level presence of GMOs in imports, an issue already addressed by other Parliamentary processes and regulations, the biotech industry ensured that no anti-GM MEP could support the report. The resulting report passed by MEPs was so dramatically altered that Mr. Hausling withdrew his name from it.
“The original intentions of this report were welcome, and action in this area is overdue,” said Hauter. “It is high-time the damaging impacts of trade agreements like the Blair House agreement were dealt with so European farmers can get back to farming without one hand tied behind their backs.  It is deplorable that vested interests were able to step in and bully MEPs into undermining the best intentions with half-truths. Hopefully something can be salvaged from all their hard work.”
The Blair House Agreement forced the EU to end support for oilseed crops as part of the launch of the WTO Agreement on Agriculture in order to curb steadily growing EU soy production. Since then, EU soybean production has collapsed (by 50% in 2008 alone), and soy imports are up 57.1% to account for some 80% of the EU’s protein animal feeds. This not only rigs the market in favour of U.S. soy, but presses EU livestock farmers into a dependence that is fuelling factory farms, lowering animal welfare standards and driving down food quality.
As Hauter says, “It’s just not healthy for the livestock industries in 27 countries to be so reliant on imports when there is no need. The change will take time, but few are putting effort into research on alternative breeds and feeds because the EU is shackled by trade agreements at the behest of U.S. biotech industry, so as it stands improvements couldn’t be implemented.”
“The fact that 90% of U.S. soy is GM, and turned into animal feed that goes unlabelled into the market against the wishes of consumers, only makes it worse.”
 See report – http://www.europarl.europa.eu/sides/getDoc.do?type=REPORT&reference=A7-2011-0026&language=EN
 See our report – http://www.foodandwatereurope.org/reports/the-perils-of-the-global-soy-trade/
Food & Water Europe is a program of Food & Water Watch, Inc., a non-profit consumer NGO based in Washington, D.C., working to ensure clean water and safe food in Europe and around the world. We challenge the corporate control and abuse of our food and water resources by empowering people to take action and transforming the public consciousness about what we eat and drink.
Eve Mitchell, +44 (0) 7962 437 128, [email protected]
Gabriella Zanzanaini, +32 488 409 662, [email protected]