Commission urged to support organic food research

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Stakeholders called on the European Commission to provide “adequate support” for organic food and farming research at the launch of a new technology platform, TP Organics, on 2 December.

Industry, civil society and academic representatives were keen to highlight the benefits of organic food research. The stakeholder platform argued that investment in organic farming would help to improve food quality and help to meet environmental and social standards.

“The EU should not waste any time and use the tool of the 7th EU Research Framework programme to boost organic research,” said Marco Schlüter, director of the EU branch of the International Federation of Organic Agriculture Movements (IFOAM). 

Research in the field must “foster innovations and economic development in line with the need of society for sustainable solutions,” Schlüter said. 

Meanwhile Rosita Zilli, a policy adviser at the European Community of Consumer Cooperatives (Euro Coop), described foods that satisfy high quality, environmental and social standards as “part of the food ethics and praxis,” something which “EU consumers widely recognise”. 

A desire to make farming more sustainable was also apparent. “Europe’s young farmers are ready for new approaches to agriculture and only waiting for clear signals from the research and development sector to invest,” claimed Giacomo Ballari, president of European Council of Young Farmers (ECYF). 

Targeted investment would also “empower rural economies in a regional and global context,” said Nic Lampkin, a senior lecturer at the University of Wales, Aberyswyth. 

According to a Eurostat report published in 2005, organic farmers represent a tiny share (2%) of the total number of EU-15 farmers (EURACTIV 01/08/05).

The increased pressure for further organic research to be carried out comes after farmers called on the EU to adopt organic farming as the future model of the Common Agricultural Policy (CAP) (EURACTIV 22/09/08).

“We should not ask, but demand” that the Commission provides more funding for organic research, declared Friedrich-Wilhelm Graefe MEP, vice-chair of the European Parliament’s agriculture and rural development committee. 

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