Intensive farming, French court ruling and sugar tax

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.

Intensive farming and the Green Deal

In a recent tweet, Agriculture Commissioner Janusz Wojciechowski said that it will be necessary to address the problem of intensive farming in some EU countries in the EU flagship environmental policy, the Green Deal, if agriculture is to be sustainable.  This has garnered mixed reactions. Read more here.

Agrifood news this week

Mutagenesis techniques must be subject to GMO regulation, says French court
The French government has been ordered to adapt its policy on plants developed using certain new plant breeding techniques (NPBTs), namely gene editing and in-vitro mutagenesis, in order to adhere to stricter rules for genetically modified organisms (GMOs), a French court ruled on Friday (7 February). Read more here.

US packaged foods juggernaut under EU antitrust probe
US consumer goods group Mondelez International is being investigated for suspected anti-competitive practices covering EU several member states, a European Commission spokesperson confirmed to EURACTIV. Gerardo Fortuna has the story.

New study provides ‘robust evidence’ that sugar tax is an effective health measure
Soft drinks manufacturers in the UK have lowered the sugar levels in their drinks after the government introduced the Soft Drinks Industry Levy (SDIL) in April 2018 to help combat childhood obesity and related conditions such as diabetes and heart disease, researchers have found. Read more here.

Italian minister: Unlike gene editing, GMOs belong to the past
Italy’s agricultural minister Teresa Bellanova has expressed an interest in developing sustainable biotechnology, in the light of a milestone agreement on next-gen biotech between farmers’ organisation Coldiretti and the Italian Society of Agricultural Genetics (SIGA). EURACTIV’s media partner Ansa reports.

Europe aims to make its food a global green standard, despite trade concerns
Ahead of a much-anticipated ‘Farm to Fork’ strategy, to be included in the Green Deal, there are concerns that the EU is preparing to lower its food standards and put European farmers in a precarious position, as a result of free trade deals with Canada and Japan and those being considered with Brazil and the United States. Read more here.

Quote of the week:

“Genetically modified organisms are the past and their cultivation is and will remain banned in Italy. We are more interested in focusing on sustainable biotechnologies such as cisgenesis and genome editing”

Teresa Bellanova, Italy’s agricultural minister

Agrifood news from around Europe


An outbreak of African Swine Fever, an infectious disease which is usually deadly for pigs but harmless to humans, in the north-east of Greece, has added another headache to EU policymakers in Brussels. Sarantis Michalopoulos has the story. (Sarantis Michalopoulos |
Cooperatives and farmer’s associations in Spain will continue their nationwide protests this week to demand fair prices for agrifood products and for urgent Government measures to boost the sector’s profitability.  EURACTIV’s partner EFE reports.
A commission led by former Minister for Agriculture Jochen Borchert issued its proposals for reshaping animal husbandry in Germany, which includes support for a tax on animal products, expected to generate €3.60 billion per year. Read more here. (Sarah Lawton |
Agricultural unions have met French president before the annual Salon de l’agriculture, to discuss a new ban on the spraying of pesticides within 5 or 10 meters of homes. The organisations oppose the ban, saying it has been especially problematic in the wine sector. Read more here. (
The European Commission has decided to withdraw its draft measure which was designed to introduce quotas for small pelagic fish in the Adriatic Sea. The introduction of the quotas as proposed by the EC would have been seriously detrimental to the fishing industry in Croatia, according to MEP Ruza Tomasic. See here for more details. (Karla Juničić |
According to farmers organisation Coldiretti, the recent drop in extra virgin oil prices might result in protests by farmers in Calabria region. As prices are in free fall, there is a risk of a repeat of what happened with Sardinian farmers last year, who poured their milk on the floor rather than selling it at such a low price. (Gerardo Fortuna |

The states of Salzburg and Lower Austria will hold elections for the Chamber of Agriculture, a large interest group representing farmers, on 16 February and 1 March. (Sarah Lawton |

The government has been urged by animal welfare charity, the RSPCA, to enforce a restriction on any lower standard food imports into regulation after the transition period. The charity said that such a restriction would help British farmers reach higher standards. (Natasha Foote |

As of February 18, farmers in Poland will again be able to slaughter animals on-site rather than in professional slaughterhouses. Agriculture Minister Jan Krzysztof Ardanowski said that requirements will be relaxed and that meat produced in this way will be able to be sold in shops and restaurants. However, veterinarians have expressed concerns about the decision,  saying that quality cannot be guaranteed in this way. (Łukasz Gadzała |

More Bulgarians prefer to buy expensive but quality food products, Vladimir Ivanov, the chairman of the State Committee on Commodity Exchanges and Markets, said on Monday (10 February). He said that the price of pork has risen by 30% in the past six months, because of the spread of African swine fever. “The pork meat market is extremely volatile,” he said, adding that the sector is beginning to recover due to measures taken by Bulgarian producers. (Krassen Nikolov |

On our radar this week

Agricultural company Corteva has made the decision last week to terminate the production of the pesticide Chlorpyrifos, shortly after the pesticide was banned from the EU. Corteva was the largest manufacturer of chlorpyrifos in the world.

The EU Parliament has approved the EU-Vietnam trade and investment agreements. The agreement contains specific provisions to provide protection for 169 traditional European food and drink products, known as Geographical Indications, such as Rioja wine or Roquefort cheese.

Upcoming events

17 February – The Agri-Food Chain Coalition is hosting a networking reception to encourage a dialogue among policymakers and key business actors with the aim of addressing the challenges of food systems.
18 February – “Food supplements: For healthier citizens and a stronger economy in the EU,” an event organised by the European Federation of Associations of Health Product Manufacturers. More information here.
19 February  – Third meeting of ENRD Thematic group on Bioeconomy and climate action in rural areas. More information here.

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