Tag Archives: EU

EU divided over plant breeding

An expected European Court of Justice (ECJ) ruling on the use and classification of new plant breeding techniques (NPBT), which was widely expected this month, is now believed to have been delayed for at least another month.

A recent report on the Euractivwebsite says that the European Commission ‘has made clear it sees it as a pure case of interpreting the law; However, EU farmers expressed their fear last year about a “politicised” decision.’

The EU farmers’ union Copa-Cogeca has urged the EU to embrace new technology quicker. Its secretary-general Pekka Pesonen said: “It is crucial that breeders in the EU get access to all the necessary plant breeding technologies (NBT). EU farmers cannot wait for the normal time of 12-15 years that it takes to breed a new variety and with the huge uncertainty that results from conventional processing techniques.

“NBTs must be used immediately for mutation breeding as it is the plant’s own DNA being worked on and must therefore naturally be excluded from the GMO Directive. By doing this, a new variety where NBT is used for mutation, of course, must only undergo a normal variety testing by CPVR and, of course, can in no way contain any patents at all.”

However groups representing organic and small farmers believe that these new techniques have only been developed by big business as a way to overcome public hostility to genetic modification.

Photo Caption: Supporters argue that new plant breeding techniques can reduce pesticide use and improve yields.

Photo Credit: pxhere

The post EU divided over plant breeding appeared first on Hort News on 23 May 2018.

EU court upholds neonicotinoid ban

The European Court of Justice (ECJ) has upheld the EU’s almost total ban on the use of neonicotinoid insecticides after legal action was brought by agrochemical giants Bayer and Syngenta.

The ECJ ruling said the EU had correctly applied its “precautionary principle”, which allows restrictions on chemicals even when conclusive evidence of harm is lacking.

Both Bayer and Syngenta said they were disappointed by the decision, as did the UK’s Agricultural Industries Confederation (AIC). AIC said it supported the action brought by Bayer Crop Science and Syngenta as it ‘firmly believes in an approval system that is based on scientific evidence, independent review and an assessment of impacts, rather than politics’.

Hazel Doonan, head of AIC’s crop protection sector added: “Effective modern crop protection products are an essential part of meeting UK Government’s drive to raise productivity whilst enhancing the environment. If innovation is to take place, it relies on those involved in discovering and bringing new technology to the market, to have a clear regulatory framework within which to operate.”

In a separate ruling, the ECJ backed chemicals giant BASF in its complaint against restrictions on fipronil. The court said the European Commission had failed to do an impact assessment on fipronil, and that this “breached the precautionary principle.”

Photo Credit: Public domain pictures

The post EU court upholds neonicotinoid ban appeared first on Hort News on 23 May 2018.

EU launches consultation on ‘fairer food supply chain’

The European Commission is launching an EU-wide public consultation on how to make the EU food supply chain fairer.

Farmers, citizens and other interested parties are invited to share their views on the functioning of the food supply chain through an online consultation that runs until 17 November.

The EC says, “There are indications that the added value in the food supply chain is not adequately distributed across all levels of the chain due, for instance, to differences in bargaining power between smaller and thus more vulnerable operators including farmers and small businesses, and their economically stronger and highly concentrated commercial partners.”

It added that, the input received from the consultation will complement work on the simplification and modernisation of the CAP.


The post EU launches consultation on ‘fairer food supply chain’ appeared first on Hort News on 31 August.

British Summer Fruits comments on latest migration figures

British Summer Fruits has warned that the latest official net migration figures from the Office of National Statistics are evidence of the damage that Brexit is causing to the UK soft fruit sector.

The migration figures showed a fall in net migration of 81,000 to 246,000 in the 12 months to March 2017, with an additional 33,000 leaving the country during the period. Most of these were EU citizens, with EU net migration falling by 51,000 to 127,000 within the period.

“The new figures released today on net migration are worrying evidence of the impact Brexit will have on EU nationals working in Britain,” said Laurence Olins, chairman of British Summer Fruits. “For the soft fruit industry, this confirms our own recent data, which shows that in some areas up to 20 percent of seasonal workers are leaving our farms and returning home due to the uncertainly of Brexit and the fall of the pound against the euro.

“In addition, recent data that we have collected reveals that nearly 80 percent of our growers have experienced early leavers and nearly 50 percent of growers put this down to Brexit. Brexit is already having a negative impact on our industry.” He called on the government to work faster to resolve the issue, for example by introducing a new Seasonal Workers Permit scheme.

Photo Caption: The soft fruit industry is concerned that a loss of EU migrants could lead to harvesting problems.

The post British Summer Fruits comments on latest migration figures appeared first on Hort News on 31 August.

Third of horticulture businesses ‘unviable’ without EU labour

A new landmark study from the UK food and drink supply chain suggests that up to a third of UK horticultural businesses would be ‘unviable’ without access to EU workers, while 17 per cent would consider locating overseas in their search for labour.

Produced by the Food and Drink Federation (FDF) and Fresh Produce Consortium (FPC), the report claims that 20 per cent of the two million EU nationals currently living in the UK are employed by the country’s £110 billion food and drink industry.

Nigel Jenny, FPC CEO, commented, “The fresh produce industry provides a diverse range of food & flowers all year round to our multicultural nation. The report highlights the sector’s major concerns regarding availability of labour and highlights the serious consequences of failure.

“Food security and the ongoing supply of safe, affordable food must be a critical element of UK Government’s Brexit delivery plan. As a sector we depend on our committed workforce, and we need government to provide clear assurances to our EU workers and UK businesses.  This is now time critical to safeguard future supply of fresh produce and flowers!”

The report also revealed that almost half (47 per cent) of businesses surveyed said EU nationals were considering leaving the UK due to uncertainty surrounding their future.

Ian Wright CBE, Director General of the Food & Drink Federation, added: “Food is a matter of national security, so the results of this report are of central concern to businesses across the ‘farm to fork’ industries. It is only a matter of time before the uncertainty reported by businesses results in an irreversible exit of EU workers from these shores. Without our dedicated and valued workforce we would be unable to feed the nation. This is why it is imperative that we receive assurances from Government about their future, and that of our wider workforce.”

Photo Caption: The new report highlights labour issues in the food chain

Photo Credit: FPC / FDF

The post Third of horticulture businesses ‘unviable’ without EU labour appeared first on Hort News on 31 August.

European produce industry publishes Brexit report

The European Fresh Produce Association, Freshfel, has published a position paper on the Impact of Brexit on the European fruit and vegetable industry.

It points out that the EU is a significant net exporter to the UK, with a trade flow of 3.1 million tonnes, worth €4 billion a year, with a high dependence of the UK on fresh produce supply from EU mainland. It also quotes recent research by Rabobank which suggests that, after animal protein, fresh produce will be the agricultural sector most affected by Brexit, a situation which will compound the recent loss of the €2 million tonne a year Russian market.

The top ten products supplied from Europe include tomatoes, onions, sweet peppers, cucumber, cauliflower, apples, pears, soft citrus, oranges and bananas, with the five largest suppliers being Spain, the Netherlands, France, Germany and Ireland. In contrasts, last year the UK exported just 310,000 tonnes of fresh produce, most of which went to Ireland, which is heavily depend on UK supply.

As with other industries, Freshfel also pointed to the effects of uncertainty, saying: ‘While acknowledging, that there might be a certain tariff & quota regime in place after the divorce, it is essential to define the new tariff regime at the earliest, to give operators calculation certainty after the 29th of March 2019 and to take potential cost increase into account.’

The full report can be found at http://freshfel.org/freshfel-position-paper-on-the-impact-of-brexit-on-the-eu-fruit-and-vegetable-industry/

Photo Credit: Freshfel

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Breeders association working to ensure smooth Brexit process

The International Association of Breeders of Asexually Reproduced Ornamental and Fruit Varieties (CIOPORA) has said that it is working with both the UK and European Union in order to ‘to ensure a smooth transition for the horticulture plant breeding industry throughout the Brexit process.’

Dr. Edgar Krieger, Secretary General of CIOPORA, said: “Nearly all commercially important ornamental and fruit varieties grown and consumed in the UK are currently protected by Community Plant Variety Rights (CPVR). As it stands, Brexit could pose a threat to the UK horticulture industry if the protection of this intellectual property is not endured past the Exit Day of March 30, 2019. CIOPORA is dedicated to representing the interests of plant breeders in regard to their IP Rights and assisting the governments in a proper transition of these rights.”

According to the organisation, at end of 2016, a total of 25,150 varieties were protected in the EU by Community Plant Variety Right titles, of which 14,000 varieties were ornamental and fruit species. It estimates the total figure will rise to around 27,000 varieties by March 2019.

CIOPORA is also concerned about the DUS examinations for new varieties. ‘The Examination Offices in the UK play a crucial role in DUS examinations for plant varieties applying for CPVR,’ said CIOPORA. ‘They are entrusted by the Community Plant Variety Office (CPVO) for more than 850 species. For more than 650 out of these species (mostly ornamentals), so far there is no alternative entrusted Examination Office in the EU.’

Photo Caption: The board of CIOPORA

Photo Credit: CIOPORA

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EU to simplify rules of Producer Organisations

New European legislation governing fruit and vegetable Producer Organisations (POs) has come into force, promising ‘simpler rules, a reduced administrative burden and greater financial support in times of crisis.’

One of the aims of the new rules is to make POs more attractive to non-members, something which could worry current UK organisations which currently face an uncertain future after Brexit and which are worried about potential unfair levels of support compared to their European neighbours.

According to the latest available figures, there were around 1 500 POs covering 50% of the EU fruit and vegetables production. Since the Russian embargo in August 2014, the EU provided fruit and vegetable growers with €442 million in extra funding. The European Commission also provides additional funding for POs of about €700 million every year. Under the new rules, so-called withdrawal prices will increase from 30% to 40% of the average EU market price over the last five years for free distribution (so-called charity withdrawals) and from 20% to 30% for withdrawals destined for other purposes (such as compost, animal feed, distillation, etc.).

Another new rule sets the maximum percentage of produce that can be marketed outside the organisation directly by each grower at 25%, replacing the former system of a minimum threshold set at EU level and a variety of different maximum thresholds set at national level.

Photo Credit: Flickr

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Over 200 proposals for EU agri-food promotion received

EU agri-food promotion programmes have received more than 200 proposals following a call for interest in January.

The programmes fall into two categories: simple programmes from one or more organisations from the same country or multi programmes which are backed by at least two organisations from at least two countries or one or more European-wide organisation.

For 2017, some 189 proposals were received for simple programmes, with 35 proposals for multi programmes. These will now be analysed and successful applicants are expected to be notified in October. The selected campaigns will receive European Commission financing for 70-85% of the total budget and have to use the ‘Enjoy! It’s From Europe,’ branding in their campaigns, which normally last for 3 years.

Some €133m from the EU budget is allocated for these promotional programmes in 2017, with €63 million aimed at simple programmes in non-EU countries and regions, including China, the Middle East, North America, South-East Asia and Japan. The programmes will focus primarily on fruit and vegetables, meat and dairy products, as well as quality on the EU’s quality schemes and on raising awareness of sustainable agriculture and the role of agriculture in climate action.

Photo Credit: Flickr

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Use of true potato seed gets EU boost

The Standing Committee on Plants, Animals, Food and Feed (Seeds and Propagation section) of the European Commission has approved a so-called ‘temporary experiment’ with derogatory rules on the marketing of True Potato Seed.

Potatoes are currently exclusively propagated by tubers, however, innovative technologies now allow propagation by seeds and this has a number of significant benefits, including speeding up the multiplication of varieties which are currently reliant on tuber production.

The new technology for the production of true seed relies on the crossing of uniform, inbred lines, allowing quicker introduction of one, or even several beneficial new traits as F1 hybrids, and the use of True Potato Seed for faster propagation; one potato plant can easily produce 1000 seeds.

The total value of seed potatoes produced in the EU is estimated at €1 billion per year. New technologies will potentially have a large impact on trade; a small bag of 30 grams of True Potato Seed corresponds to 2,500 kilograms of seed tubers, which are also prone to losing quality during long transport. Current legislation in the EU does not regulate the marketing of true seed of Solanum tuberosum. The temporary experiment, which will last seven years, will help in establishing the requirements for this material so that both producers and users can maximally benefit from this innovative technology.

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