ARC Newsflash – May 2014

Dear friends and supporters,
As we shift into May, eyes are turning to  Brussels; the European Parliament elections will take place across EU member states from May 22-25, allowing Europeans to elect the 751 Members of the European Parliament (MEPs) that will represent them for the next five years. Stay up-to-date through our EU elections page, with links to the most useful websites, an overview of scheduled debates, and updates from our correspondents across Europe.The fifth round of TTIP negotiations will also take place in May, along with the second day of planting on the 2000m² field; see below for more on both.Back in January, we featured a guest post from Feeding the 5000. They have just won the BBC Radio 4 Food Programme Best Initiative award. Well done guys!

And, in case you missed them, here are a few highlights from the past month

Shirin Kiamanesh –
Communications Manager
Oliver Moore –

EU Correspondent

Requiem for a Green Dream
“If agri-food is anything to go by, we are still, it seems, quite far from a Europe by and for its citizens. Cast your mind back to the heady days of October 2011. Arc2020 was quite young then, fresh faced and optimistic, when when EU Agriculture Commissioner Dacian Ciolos proposed a new partnership between Europe and its farmers…”So what happened next? Did rural Europe turn into a veritable Cornucopia, flush with space for busy pollinators and plants carrying out vital functions? Did crops start to rotate? Did pesticides stay out of these ecologically focused areas? And what sort of a vision for the future has been glimpsed in imagined field margins, ponds and hedgerows? Find out at theclickDID YOU KNOW that our newsticker is clickable? 5 years of specially selected, super relevant agri-food news stories right there.

The latest buzz on bees
At the beginning of April, a series of conferences dealing with bees and pollination took place in Brussels. PAN Europe, the European Beekeeping Coordination, Corporate Europe Observators and Slow Food released a press release addressing the influence of the agro-chemical industry on the conferences, down-playing the impact of agricultural practices on bees. They urged ‘European authorities, parliamentarians and citizens to remain critical about the positions expressed through these conferences’.The Bee’s Burden, a new report from Greenpeace International, sheds light on chemical exposuressuffered by honeybees, wild bees and other pollinators. Our article Of Pollinators, Politics and Pesticides: be(e) vigilant! offers insight on two other studies, what’s been left out, and how politics can interfere with analysis.May 2nd was the deadline for the UK bee public consultation, launched by Defra for its national pollinator strategy (its plan for protecting the health of bees and other pollinators). The Soil Association collected  signatures on a letter to Defra asking them to protect the bees; Friends of the Earth collected 24,243 signatures on their ‘Bee Cause’ petition.See all ARC2020 articles on bees here

Update on TTIP

The Transatlanc Trade and Investment Partnership‘s fifth round of negotiations are scheduled for May 19-23. Since the last round, the EU Commission launched an online public consultation on investment protection, which provides some hope, but not too much: Peter Crosskey explains why. Oliver Moorediscussed what the TTIP might mean for organic farming an food, given the formal “equivalence” between organics standards in the US and EU in place since 2012.  Myrto Pispini looked at some new research on GMOs, also worth considering in the context of TTIP.

Upcoming Events and Policy Dates

May 5 – Policy Forum: EU Food Law: What’s on the Menu?, Brussels

May 9-11 – Slow Food Film Festival, Amsterdam

May 19-23 – Fifth round of TTIP negotiations, Virginia

May 22-25 – European Parliament Elections, European Union

May 25 – Planting day on the 2000m² field – Berlin

Find all events listed on ARC2020 here

Eco Ruralis Seed Swap

Eco Ruralis, a Romanian grassroots peasants association, just hosted a seed swap, having saved and multiplied tens of varieties of vegetables from last year’s harvest. They put together acatalogue of free seeds which got great response from peasant farmers, urban and rural gardners, and young agricultural activists across Romania. By the end of the distribution program, volunteers sent out more than 800 envelopes of seeds, more than double what they send out in 2013. In his post called‘Let there be biodiversity!’, Attila Szocs shares his views on what can be gained from freely distributing and sharing seeds.