EU a model to follow?

As noted recently on ARC2020 the European Voice Newspaper is hosting elements of the ongoing debate at the Forum For Agriculture 2013.

The event’s theme is “Meeting the Food & Environmental Challenge: Sustainable intensification of food production”, while the European Voice’s debate is “European Agriculture is a good model for the rest of the world to follow”.

A wide range of perspectives have been presented, and, as the debate has unfolded, some very interesting information has been put forward.

Staffan Nilsson (making the case for the European model) said “that the philosophy underlying the CAP when it was created, i.e, to boost production and ensure a reliable food supply, should inspire other parts of the world.

This is hard to disagree with, but vacuous in its generality: everyone wants that, but are the resources there to provide for what we currently (over)eat? And what are the consequences of supply food in the European (or more specifically, CAP) way?

As Alan Matthews (arguing against the motion) pointed to the fact that the European model was of its time, where there seemed to be “plentiful supplies of cheap energy, chemical inputs and other material resources.” He also pointed to trade distortions and their impact on price volatility, “thus undermining food security in more vulnerable parts of the world”.

Some points immediately stood out: Nigerian minister Akinwumi A. Adesina seem to have one key take home message from Europe: farmers need to be better organised to lobby for what they want, as they are in Europe.

If the mainstream European farm lobby machine is a model to transfer to elsewhere, then truncated and stymied change in the face of incontrovertible facts and objective impending climate catastrophe may be the order of the day globally.

European Voice

Some of these objective facts were put by Ariel Brunner of Birdlife International. He pointed out that half of Europe’s farmland birds have disappeared in just 25 years, and even more of the Continent’s butterflies. He also added: “half the land in Europe now has less than 1% organic matter, which means that it is essentially being desertified (aside from the climate impact of all that carbon ending up in the atmosphere)”.

There were global trade issues pointed to also: “Currently, 80 per cent of protein animal feed for European livestock is imported which grabs 16 million hectares of land from local farming communities in South America, promoting GMO monocultures with devastating impacts on the environment.” Olivier Consolo (Director of CONCORD, the European confederation of relief and development NGOs).

While one commentator wryly remarked that the main lesson the EU can give to Africa is to become a trade barrier itself.

Interestingly, most of the comments and 3/4 of voters on the site so far have voted against the motion, though the latter gap is narrowing.

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About Oliver Moore 197 Articles

Dr. Oliver Moore is the communications director and editor-in-chief with ARC2020. He has a PhD in the sociology of farming and food, where he specialised in organics and direct sales. He is published in the International Journal of Consumer Studies, International Journal of Agricultural Resources, Governance and Ecology and the Journal of Agriculture, Food Systems, and Community Development. A weekly columnist and contributor with Irish Examiner, he is a regular on Countrywide (Irish farm radio show on the national broadcaster RTE 1) and engages in other communications work around agri-food and rural issues, such as with the soil, permaculture, climate change adaptation and citizen science initiative Grow Observatory . He lectures part time in the Centre for Co-operative Studies UCC.

A propos d'Oliver Moore
Oliver voyage beaucoup moins qu’auparavant, pour ce qui concerne son activité professionnelle. Il peut néanmoins admirer par la fenêtre de son bureau les mésanges charbonnières et les corbeaux perchés au sommet du saule dans le jardin de sa maison au cœur de l’écovillage de Cloughjordan, en Irlande. L’écovillage est un site de 67 acres dans le nord du Tipperary. Il comprend d’espaces boisés, des paysages comestibles, des lieux de vie, d’habitation et de travail, ainsi qu’une ferme appartenant à la communauté. Les jours où il travaille dans le bureau du centre d’entreprise communautaire, il profite d’une vue sur les chevaux, les panneaux solaires, les toilettes sèches et les jardins familiaux. 

Ce bureau au sein de l’écovillage constitue en effet un tiers-lieu de travail accueillant également des collaborateurs des associations Cultivate et Ecolise, ainsi qu’un laboratoire de fabrication (« fab lab »). 

Oliver est membre du conseil d’administration de la ferme communautaire (pour la seconde fois !) et donne également des cours sur le Master en coopératives, agroalimentaire et développement durable à l’University College Cork. Il a une formation en sociologie rurale : son doctorat et les articles qu’il publie dans des journaux scientifiques portent sur ce domaine au sens large.

Il consacre la majorité de son temps de travail à l’ARC 2020. Il collabore avec ARC depuis 2013, date à laquelle l’Irlande a assuré la présidence de l’UE pendant six mois. C’est là qu’il a pu constater l’importance de la politique agroalimentaire et rurale grâce à sa chronique hebdomadaire sur le site d’ARC. Après six mois, il est nommé rédacteur en chef et responsable de la communication, poste qu’il occupe toujours aujourd’hui. Oliver supervise le contenu du site web et des médias sociaux, aide à définir l’orientation de l’organisation et parfois même rédige un article pour le site web. 

À l’époque où on voyageait davantage, il a eu la chance de passer du temps sous les tropiques, où il a aidé des ONG irlandaises de commerce équitable – au Ghana, au Kenya, au Mali, en Inde et au Salvador – à raconter leur histoire.

Il se peut que ces jours-là reviennent. Pour son compte Oliver continuera de préférer naviguer en Europe par bateau, puis en train. Après tout, la France n’est qu’à une nuit de navigation. En attendant, il y a toujours de nombreuses possibilités de bénévolat dans la communauté dans les campagnes du centre de l’Irlande.