Gene editing, CAP reform bickering, hospitality sector

Your weekly update on all things Agriculture & Food in the EU.

Welcome to EURACTIV’s AgriFood Brief, your weekly update on all things Agriculture & Food in the EU. You can subscribe here if you haven’t done so yet.

German Green faction pushes for gene editing, overhaul of regulation

In an unprecedented move, a group of German Green MPs, including one EU lawmaker, have backed the use of gene editing technologies in a new paper, diverging from the party’s general position and saying genetic engineering could play a key role in improving sustainability. Read more here.

Agrifood news this week

Lack of skilled workers ‘serious concern’ for pig welfare at slaughter
The European food safety authority (EFSA) has published its latest scientific opinion on the welfare of pigs at slaughter, which found that the majority of hazards identified were due in large part to staff failings. Natasha Foote has the story.

MEPs call for ad hoc panel to restore trust between lawmakers and wine sector
The European Parliament’s agriculture committee (COMAGRI) has made the creation of a high-level group to discuss the post-COVID-19 wine sector one of the conditions for lifting its veto on the Commission’s aid package for fruit and vegetable producers. Gerardo Fortuna has the story.

EU lawmakers bicker over CAP reform
Lawmakers on the European Parliament’s Agriculture Committee (AGRI) reacted angrily as their colleagues on the Environment Committee (ENVI) decided to halt cooperation on the post-2020 Common Agricultural Policy (CAP) file. Learn more about this here.

The octopus that kills bees in Bulgaria
EURACTIV Bulgaria’s Valia Ahchieva’s latest investigation looks into mass bee poisoning in Bulgaria which continues to be unpunished, despite evidence of the use of substances banned by EU legislation. Learn more here.

Hospitality sector: Re-connecting EU citizens after the pandemic
Bars, cafes and restaurants are going to be vital to the process of “re-connecting” European citizens socially after the coronavirus pandemic. Learn more about this role of hospitality post-COVID-19 in this Special Report. 

Quote of the Week

“Animal welfare is an essential element of the [Farm to Fork] Strategy. It is a vision that can lead us to sustainable livestock production and to a much-needed change of our current farming system. I believe that proper reform of animal welfare legislation will support this goal. It will bring about positive change both in accordance to our ethical values as well as in respecting our citizens’ calls.”

EU Health and Food Safety Commissioner Stella Kyriakides during a meeting of the EU Animal Welfare Platform

Agrifood news from around Europe

More than 50 million bees have been found poisoned in the northern county of Međimurje, which borders Hungary. As a result, County Prefect Matija Posavec declared a natural disaster for a part of Međimurje county on Monday (15 June). Veterinary inspectors and forensic scientists are looking into what caused all these deaths. EURACTIV Croatia’s Karla Junicic has the full story. (Karla Junicic |

Farming organisations from across the EU have joined the UK National Farmers Union (NFU) in its call for an urgent breakthrough in trade talks in order to establish a UK/EU free trade agreement. Read more here. (Natasha Foote |

The German Ethics Council has criticised Agriculture Minister Julia Klöckner over animal welfare. In early June, Klöckner attempted to pass a draft bill that would have allowed farmers to continue keeping pigs in small metal cages for the foreseeable future, despite rulings that mandate improving animal treatment in agriculture and slaughterhouses. However, the bill did not pass, after states with Greens in their government refused to agree to the compromise. (Sarah Lawton |

The recently announced stimulus plan includes significant relief for Austrian farmers. “With €400 million in tax relief for agriculture and investments in sustainable and climate-friendly forestry, we are launching one of the largest packages of measures in recent years for this sector,” said Agriculture Minister Elisabeth Köstinger at a cabinet meeting on Tuesday (16 June). These measures will be implemented retroactively to begin as of 1 January 2020. (Sarah Lawton |

The proposals of the French EESC, which has been working on the issue of generational renewal in the agricultural sector, have been the subject of debate within the agricultural unions, with opinions differing on how best to promote the farming profession. FNSEA and the Young Farmers question the idea of extending the “Young Farmers” allocation to 50 years of age, which they say would risk diluting the amount of aid for young farmers. But the Confédération Paysanne supports the idea of extending the help to include those that are older and want to enter the profession. (

The Irish Farmers’ Association’s grain chairperson, Mark Browne released a statement on Tuesday (June 16), describing the effect of drought on crops. Browne commented that recent rains have been too little too late for many crops and how many growers will have significant yield reductions while in other situations, entire crops are a write-off. He said that “the situation is particularly critical right up through the midlands and into the east and north-east where growers, in some cases, have practically closed the gates on crops which may not be worth harvesting.” (Natasha Foote |

Despite rainfall in recent days, agricultural drought in Poland continues in 9 out of 16 regions. This affects food prices, which in May were 6.5% higher than in the corresponding period of 2019 according to the Central Statistical Office data. Fruits are up to 27% more expensive. The Ministry of Agriculture plans to retain 30% of rainwater in the coming years, but currently, it only retains around 6%. (Mateusz Kucharczyk|

Meat production slumped in Italy in the midst of the COVID-crisis, the latest data from the bloc’s statistic office Eurostat showed. In March, Italian slaughterhouses decreased their production volume by 41.5% for beef, by 24% for pork meat and by 10.9% for veal compared to the same period in the previous year (Gerardo Fortuna |


On our radar this week

Sandra Gallina has been appointed as the European Commission’s new deputy director-general for health at DG Sante, replacing Martin Seychell.


18 June – The  FAO will hold an online event on mainstreaming biodiversity and sustainable use of natural resources across the agricultural sector and linkages with the European Green Deal and the COVID-19 response. The webinar is part of the FAO’s  ‘Brussels Dialogues’, designed to share the FAO’s expertise with relevant EU stakeholders.  You can find more information about the event here. 

22 June – There is a COMAGRI Committee meeting of the European Parliament concerning the Biodiversity Strategy for 2030. This will include a debate with EU Commissioner for Environment, Ocean and Sea, Virginijus Sinkevicius, and will give the opportunity to receive more information about how the future CAP could counteract declining biodiversity on farmland. Learn more here.

23 June – EURACTIV is holding a virtual conference focused on the role of nutrients in the Farm to Fork strategy, exploring what measures can be taken in upstream farming in order to address food security and taking a look at the innovative tools to increase production and ensure maximum efficiency from the land.

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