May 23. 2024. 7:46

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Security is big


Some words are bigger than others. When accompanied by “food”, the term “security” is one of them.

As we reported last week, in the very preliminary stages of the EU leaders’ work on the strategic agenda for 2024-29, “food security” appears to have replaced “food sustainability,” which was considered a priority in 2019.

The two-page text from which our story started is just the beginning of a work of word filings that will be long and painstaking, as is the EU tradition.

The text will only find a final set-up at the end of June. But tying “food” with “security” instead of “sustainability” has caused reactions – NGOs called it “deeply troubling” while the leading figures in the farming community hailed it.

For decades now, especially in the last five years, the debate at the EU level has placed security and sustainability in opposite camps.

In one of them, the term has been hailed as a synonym for high production and competitiveness. In the other, the same term has been mainly intended as a depletion of natural resources.

The introduction in the debate of the slippery concept of “food sovereignty” has complicated things further.

The internationally recognised concept of food security covers four dimensions: physical availability of food, economic access to it, utilisation (the food must be sufficient and nutritious), and stability of the three other dimensions over time.

In 2020, the FAO’s high-level group of experts proposed to add two new dimensions.

In a document also mentioned in the latest European Commission exercise on “the drivers of food security”, the FAO experts urged decision-makers to update their policy tools, considering “Sustainability” and “Agency” as “key aspects” of food security.

Sustainability is the long-term ability to ensure food and nutrition security without compromising the economic, social, and environmental conditions that will enable food security for future generations.

The agency refers to the ability of individuals or groups to make their own decisions about the food they produce and consume and how it is produced, processed, and distributed within food systems.

It could be translated into sovereignty if the whole political spectrum did not nonchalantly wield that concept as a club.

So, regarding food, security is a concept larger than others.

It is so big that it can reconcile the ambition to produce sufficient food, actions to mitigate and adapt to the climate crisis, and the call from farmers to be more recognised for their role in the food chain.

NIBBLES OF THE WEEK

EU Parliament and Council seal last-minute deal to extend Ukraine’s trade benefits. EU lawmakers reached on Monday a hard-fought deal on the renewal of trade liberalisation measures with Kyiv, after member states agreed to reinforce some safeguards against market distortions.

Kyiv’s Trade Minister Taras Kachka told Euractiv that “any form” of trade liberalisation was a relief for the Ukrainian economy, but regretted the additional limitations.

NGOs warn of ‘poisoned gift’ for farmers as MEPs vote to fast-track easing green rules. As the Parliament voted on Thursday to fast-track the easing of some environmental requirements in the Common Agricultural Policy (CAP), NGOs and consumer organisations have slammed the measures and accused the EU institutions of disregarding democratic principles.

Parliament weakens EU countries’ obligations under EU soil legislation. MEPs approved on Wednesday (10 April) their position on the EU’s first soil law. The Parliament endorsed the Commission’s ambition to achieve healthy EU soils by 2050 and backed provisions forcing member states to monitor the state of all their soils.

On the same day, MEPs voted to improve consumer information on certain ‘breakfast’ foods. The Parliament approved marketing standards to curb fraud in honey, promote higher fruit content in jams, and set new categories for reduced-sugar fruit juices.

Food retail sector shows early signs of recovery after years of tight spending. After challenging market conditions in 2023 led to a drop in grocery sales, an analysis published by McKinsey on Wednesday shows that consumer confidence is returning.

The Commission starts setting up the EU agri-food chain observatory. As part of the pledge to strengthen farmers’ position in the food chain, the EU executive is setting up an observatory that will look at production costs, margins and trading practices.

EU executive shields the proposal on gene-edited plants from French food safety agency criticism. The Commission vindicated the scientific robustness of its proposal on plants’ gene editing at a hearing before the Parliament’s environment committee on Tuesday, countering the critical remarks of French food agency Anses.

French Council of State again suspends national ban on meat names for plant products. The French top administrative court on Wednesday stopped a government decree banning the names of meat for plant-based products, such as ‘veggie sausage’ or ‘burger’, pending the decision by the European Court of Justice (ECJ).

Portugal becomes the eighth European country to adopt food traffic-light labelling system Nutriscore. Lisbon adopted on April 5 the front-of-pack labelling Nutriscore after the European Commission failed to unveil a proposal for an EU-wide model.

The Canary Islands government questions sustainability of EU’s first octopus farm project. The regional government requested an in-depth impact study from the company behind the project to build Europe’s first-ever octopus farm, due to uncertainties over environmental consequences.

Read more with Euractiv

The French Council of State again suspends national ban on meat names for plant products

The French Council of State again suspends national ban on meat names for plant products

For the second time in two years, the Council of State has suspended a government decree banning the naming of meat for plant products, pending the decision of the European Court of Justice (ECJ)