Biotech at the center of farmers’ priorities for the new EU

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The electoral campaign for the European elections in June has begun and agriculture is among the playing fields on which the challengers will hunt for votes. From budget funds to the reduction of pesticides, from the enlargement of the Union to Ukraine to fruit and vegetables imported from non-EU countries, there are many hot topics that interest both farmers and consumers.

What do the main Italian agricultural associations think? One of the themes that will be at the center of the debate is undoubtedly the introduction of new biotechnologies – the so-called Tea – which will make it possible to overcome GMOs and obtain plants capable of resisting parasites and climate changes, saying goodbye (or almost ) to chemistry in the field. «Among the priorities for the next electoral campaign there is certainly the definition of a regulatory framework on Tea – claims the president of the Agri-food Cooperative Alliance, Carlo Piccinini – to reduce chemistry we need to invest with determination in new technologies».

The pesticide dossier

Directly linked to this theme, according to Piccinini, is also the issue of reducing pesticides in the fields: «The text of the EU Commission on reducing the use of pesticides was rejected last November with the plenary vote of the Strasbourg assembly, but this dossier will re-present itself in all its centrality in the electoral campaign. Our hope is that there will be increasingly greater awareness of the need to rethink the premises of the initial proposal, which would have inevitably led to a drastic decline in agri-food production. We expect the new Commission to prepare a new text, with a draft that takes into account the impact assessments that have taken place over the years”.

Non-EU competition

Also for the president of Coldiretti, Ettore Prandini, in the next five years the European Union will have to encourage innovation in the countryside, as well as with agriculture 4.0, also through the new green genetics allowed by Tea. Alongside this, however, according to Prandini the time has come to seriously put on the table the principle of reciprocity between food grown in the Union and products imported from non-EU countries. «We must guarantee safe food for our citizens – claims the president of Coldiretti – we must say enough to unfair competition from third countries and decisively introduce the principle of reciprocity, to ensure that all products entering the Union respect the same standards from an environmental and health point of view and compliance with labor standards envisaged in the internal market. We also ask future EU institutions to immediately start reflecting on how to adapt the future CAP to the renewed needs for profitability and competitiveness of agricultural businesses in the new international scenario. The current and future challenges, also in view of future enlargements of the EU, require ambitious choices in budgetary terms.”

The budget allocation

And precisely the budget allocation, according to Confagricoltura, will be the most thorny but also the most necessary issue to address. «With the current size of the common budget, just over 1% of the GDP of the member states, the EU is losing in the challenge for the competitiveness of economic systems based increasingly on technological innovations – claims its president, Massimiliano Giansanti – . We are already lagging behind the United States and China. The budget allocation should be at least doubled to guarantee an adequate flow of investments in favor of research and businesses.”

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