ARC NEWSFLASH February 2014

Dear friends and supporters,
To say 2014 has been exciting and busy so far would be putting it lightly. We started January off with one of the biggest demonstrations in Germany in years!  30,000 of us – thousands of farmers, 70 tractors, concerned citizens of all ages in all sorts of costumes, and a clatter of marching bands – protested under the slogan ‘We are fed up!’ (or ‘Wir haben es satt!’ in German), demanding better food and agriculture and clearly stating that the industrialized food system is not the system we want. Seeing such a big turnout for this cause – up on last year – was extremely energizing and inspiring. We will need all this energy in the next few weeks, as we have just launched a campaign to save the Ecological Focus Areas – one of the last hopes of a greener CAP – from toxic pesticides.  More on the demo and this new campaign below.Its also a big time at EU level for seeds: 11th February sees the Committee for Agriculture vote on the European Commission’s controversial proposal. Indications are that this could be good news for those of us campaigning for a fairer, more citizen-friendly seed regulation. However, there are timing and procedural issues that might also set progress back ,even if the vote goes our way on the 11th. we need to be vigilant as always. Read all about it at our briefing note on seeds.

Yesterday (February 5th), ARC2020 joined  citizens in front of the German Chancellery to demand that the controversial GM maize 1507 be kept of European fields. The action was planned to coincide with the last meeting of the German cabinet ahead of the vote by EU member states on February 11th to authorize the cultivation of Pioneer’s ‘1507’ Maize variety. On Monday, CampactSave Our SeedsBÖLW and other environmental NGOs put out an ‘emergency’ online petition – within the 48 hours leading up to today’s action, over 175,000 people had signed.

2014 could also be the year the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP) negotiations, for a free trade agreement between the EU and U.S., are completed.  News on the negotiations below.
Shirin Kiamanesh –
Communications Manager
Oliver Moore –
EU Correspondent

EFA pesticides letter23 agricultural ministers are trying to destroy the last of the greening in the CAP by pushing for pesticides to be allowed in Ecological Focus Areas (EFAs).   ARC2020 is taking action. Join us with a simple but effective action at the link, and spread the word  – and the link! – far and wide.As a condition for receiving 30% of direct payments, Europe’s farmers will be obliged to dedicate a minimum of 5% of their arable land to EFAs.  The idea is to leave these areas free from intensive farming so vital processes such as pollination, soil formation and improved water regulation, as well as nutrient cycles, can occur. These in turn would all  improve biodiversity, which is begin decimated across Europe.

It is important to note, this is not a battle between production and conservation.  EFAs are about both production and conservation. Pollinators are vital for food production, yet pollinator populations are being decimated by the conventional agri-food system.  EFAs give pollinators and other beneficial insects somewhere to survive and thrive.  Read more on EFAs, which countries are pushing to allow pesticides in, and why the timing is significant, here.  

A final decision is expected March 2014, so now is the time to influence your ministers. Whether or not your country is amongst the 23 signatories, it is important to inform your minister that pesticides don’t belong in Ecological Focus Areas!  Find template letters to send your ministers and more information about what you can do here

30,000 people marched in Berlin to show how Fed Up they are

On January 18th, 2014 30,000 people from many backgrounds and different corners of Europe marched in the ‘We are fed up!’ demonstration.  The annual event targets the industrial food system and is organised by ARC2020 member Meine Landwirtschaft, marching through the center of Berlin and ending in front of the German Chancellery.
The weekend was full of activities, including a lively disco soup to feed the masses while fighting food waste, a farmer’s breakfast before the demo, and a Suppen Talk afterwards, where different citizens initatives presented their projects, soup was eaten and shared, and everybody relaxed and celebrated the success of the demonstration.  Perhaps most importantly, the event generated an impressive amount of press, bringing the issue to a wider audience.ARC2020 invited a group of international speakers – farmers and activists from different corners of Europe – to speak on stage in front of the demonstrators, energizing the crowd reminding us all why it is worth fighting for better food and better farming.  You can watch a video of the speakers on stage here.
More photos and stories from the demonstration and the rest of the events that weekend here.

Update on TTIP

2013 saw the begginings of negotiations for a Free Trade agreement between the EU and U.S.  We’ve put together ‘briefing notes’ for anyone looking to learn about, or brush up on, the key concerns.In January, EU Trade Commissioner Karel de Gucht announced a public consultation on the investor-state dispute settlement (ISDS) part of the agreement. As we explain here, ISDS would allow companies to challenge democratically agreed decisions, and as such are not in the public interest and should be excluded from the mandate.The next round of negotiations will take place in Brussels on the 10th of March.  Find regulat updates on the negotiations as well as opinions and analyses (such as what the TTIP could mean for Romania) under the TTIP tagon our website.

Upcoming Public and Policy Events

11 February – Smarter Rules for Safer Food (COMAGRI vote on  EU Commission’s Seeds proposal) Brussels

11 February – Webinar : China’s Meat Revolution and its Need for Feed, Online

12 February – BioFACH – into Organic, Nürnberg

17 February – EU Trade Commissioner and US Trade Representative take stock of TTIP Negotiations to date, Washington

18 February – Averting Farmageddon: Sustainable Food for All, Brussels

Find all events listed on ARC2020 here

Updates to 2000m² project 
If the global surface of arable land were divided evenly, each person on the planet would get 2000m².  So how far can you drive with the yield of 600kg of rapeseed that can be grown on your ‘2000m²’? And is it climate friendly to convert the biomass grown on fields into biodiesel?We’ve added 2 new ‘fields of experimentation’ to the website : one looking at biodiesel, and one comparing energy input between organic and conventional farming.   We put together facts and figures, but the conclusions are up to you to draw – we are curious what you think.
The website is now also available in FrenchPolish and Romanian. More languages coming soon!