The Parliament is seeking to put rural development and sustainable agriculture at the centre of the EU’s agriculture research efforts in order to fully exploit the innovative potential of this sector in Europe.
The sustainability of agriculture, rather than its
intensification and industrialisation, should be a focus of the
Sixth and Seventh Research Framework Programmes. This is the
message of an own-initiative report drafted by Friedrich-Wilhelm
Graefe zu Baringdorf (Greens/EFA, Germany), which the Parliament
adopted on 11 February 2004.
Following the mid-term CAP (Common Agricultural Policy) reform
decisions, MEPs are calling for a redistribution of research funds
to benefit studies on rural development, consumer protection, the
environmental and social aspects of agriculture and animal welfare
standards. "Increased research funding and appropriately targeted
research can boost innovation in the field of ecologically
compatible farming and sustainable rural development," reads the
The 16 billion euro Sixth Framework Programme (FP6) allocates a
maximum of two per cent to agriculture and rural development. MEPs
maintain that this level is too low, given that agriculture today
has a function which goes beyond the mere production of food.
The report criticises the Commission's current agriculture
research priorities, which is considered to focus too much on the
development of new technologies for rationalising food production,
processing and packaging, rather than on the sustainable use of
natural resources. MEPs estimate that a large amount of innovative
potential which lies in sustainable agriculture and organic farming
is wasted because of a lack of research into the field.
With this in mind, the report also calls on governments to
promote the development of ecologically compatible farming to
ensure that a 'healthy nature', a 'healthy landscape' and a
'healthy environment' can be secured on a solid economic basis, in
addition to the commodity 'healthy food'.