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EU agricultural policy and health: Some historical and contemporary issues

23-10-2020

This paper examines the links between agriculture and health in the EU. Following an explanation of the links between agriculture, nutrition and diet, a chronology of some of the key studies and developments in this field is provided. This begins with an examination of efforts in the early 1970s to address high rates of cardiovascular disease before moving onto more recent assessments of the role of the EU's common agricultural policy in relation to nutrition-related public health matters, and the ...

This paper examines the links between agriculture and health in the EU. Following an explanation of the links between agriculture, nutrition and diet, a chronology of some of the key studies and developments in this field is provided. This begins with an examination of efforts in the early 1970s to address high rates of cardiovascular disease before moving onto more recent assessments of the role of the EU's common agricultural policy in relation to nutrition-related public health matters, and the extent to which the policy has influenced current dietary patterns. A brief overview is provided of the health status of EU citizens, including some key features and trends in EU health, diets and nutrition. The paper also takes account of the impact of the coronavirus pandemic, including its implications for health considerations across all policies. Drawing on the range of studies and commentaries consulted, the paper concludes with a number of ways in which agriculture and agricultural policies can address or have an impact on the EU's public health challenges.

How the coronavirus pandemic shook up our relationship with food

24-09-2020

First there was panic-buying. There were concerns over safety: could one be infected by food? Realisation of the efforts of supermarket staff, truck drivers and warehouse staff to keep food coming to customers. Spring amidst closed borders awakened us to how much we depend on foreign farm workers to pick fruit and vegetables. There were campaigns for furloughed employees to go and work on farms. Then came news about the conditions endured by some foreign workers in the food-processing industry. The ...

First there was panic-buying. There were concerns over safety: could one be infected by food? Realisation of the efforts of supermarket staff, truck drivers and warehouse staff to keep food coming to customers. Spring amidst closed borders awakened us to how much we depend on foreign farm workers to pick fruit and vegetables. There were campaigns for furloughed employees to go and work on farms. Then came news about the conditions endured by some foreign workers in the food-processing industry. The rollercoaster of the coronavirus crisis has changed our relationship with food, but whether just temporarily or for good, remains to be seen.

EU-China geographical indications agreement

02-09-2020

On 6 November 2019, the EU and China concluded negotiations on a standalone agreement on cooperation on, and protection of, geographical indications (GIs), i.e. distinctive signs attached to (mainly) agricultural products that have a given quality, reputation or other characteristics that are attributable to their specific geographic origin. GIs are a type of intellectual property right (IPR) protected at multilateral level under the Agreement on Trade-related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights ...

On 6 November 2019, the EU and China concluded negotiations on a standalone agreement on cooperation on, and protection of, geographical indications (GIs), i.e. distinctive signs attached to (mainly) agricultural products that have a given quality, reputation or other characteristics that are attributable to their specific geographic origin. GIs are a type of intellectual property right (IPR) protected at multilateral level under the Agreement on Trade-related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights (TRIPS), and in the EU under a sui generis GI protection regime. The reciprocal EU-China agreement seeks to protect 100 EU GIs in China and 100 Chinese GIs in the EU against imitation and usurpation. On 20 July 2020, the Council endorsed its signature, and the European Parliament has now to give its consent for the agreement's conclusion. Once in force, the agreement could help boost EU exports of high-quality foodstuffs, wines and spirits to the EU's third-largest destination for agrifood exports, and foster rural development. It would also expand global recognition of the EU's sui generis GI protection regime, a key EU trade policy objective.

Nutrition labelling schemes used in Member States

27-07-2020

The controversial issue of ‘front-of-pack nutrition labelling’ (FOP labelling) has been high on the agenda of those following European food labelling issues for many years. With half of adults in the European Union being overweight and with many health problems related to unhealthy diets, making the healthy choice the easy choice for consumers has been advocated as one of the means that could help to solve problems. Front-of-pack nutrition labelling is simplified nutrition information provided on ...

The controversial issue of ‘front-of-pack nutrition labelling’ (FOP labelling) has been high on the agenda of those following European food labelling issues for many years. With half of adults in the European Union being overweight and with many health problems related to unhealthy diets, making the healthy choice the easy choice for consumers has been advocated as one of the means that could help to solve problems. Front-of-pack nutrition labelling is simplified nutrition information provided on the front of food packaging, aiming to help consumers with their food choices. Under the current EU rules, the indication of nutrition information on the front of packaging is not mandatory but could be provided on a voluntary basis. Some Member States have already introduced voluntary schemes to help consumers to identify healthier products. The Commission announces in its new ‘Farm to Fork’ strategy, launched in May 2020, that it will propose a mandatory harmonised front-of‑pack nutrition labelling system by the end of 2022. Consumer and health associations broadly consider that FOP nutrition labelling plays a key role in helping consumers make more informed, healthier food choices. There is, however, also criticism of such schemes, arguing that they are over-simplified and can mislead consumers. In its resolution on the European Green Deal, adopted in January 2020, the European Parliament welcomes the plan for a sustainable food system strategy, as well as the Commission’s intention to explore new ways to give consumers better information, and calls on the Commission to consider improved food labelling.

'Farm to Fork' strategy: Striving for healthy and sustainable food

17-06-2020

Launched on 20 May 2020, the 'Farm to Fork' strategy put forward the EU’s ambition for making its food system a model of sustainability at all stages of the food value chain. Ahead of the desired engagement of institutions, stakeholders and citizens in a broad debate, the strategy is already high on the agri-food community’s agenda.

Launched on 20 May 2020, the 'Farm to Fork' strategy put forward the EU’s ambition for making its food system a model of sustainability at all stages of the food value chain. Ahead of the desired engagement of institutions, stakeholders and citizens in a broad debate, the strategy is already high on the agri-food community’s agenda.

Coronavirus and international sanctions: Should sanctions be eased during the pandemic?

20-05-2020

The coronavirus pandemic has raised concerns that international sanctions may be exacerbating the risk of a humanitarian crisis. In March 2020, United Nations Secretary-General António Guterres called on world leaders to waive restrictions on food and medicines that are affecting the world's most vulnerable countries. Especially since the suffering caused by the international trade embargo against Iraq in the 1990s, the European Union has sought to design its sanctions for maximum effect at the least ...

The coronavirus pandemic has raised concerns that international sanctions may be exacerbating the risk of a humanitarian crisis. In March 2020, United Nations Secretary-General António Guterres called on world leaders to waive restrictions on food and medicines that are affecting the world's most vulnerable countries. Especially since the suffering caused by the international trade embargo against Iraq in the 1990s, the European Union has sought to design its sanctions for maximum effect at the least possible humanitarian cost. Usually it does this by targeting restrictions at key individuals or organisations, and in some cases sectors, rather than a country's economy as a whole. Critics of sanctions claim that US-imposed trade restrictions have prevented Iran from purchasing essential medical supplies needed to fight the pandemic. They also argue that EU and US sanctions make desperately impoverished Zimbabwe and Sudan even more vulnerable than they would otherwise be. Both the European Union and the United States defend their policies, but acknowledge the importance of humanitarian exceptions. Although the European Union has not said that it will lift any of its restrictive measures, it has offered various forms of support to several sanctions-hit countries.

Dual quality of products – State of play

25-11-2019

In recent years, the concern that some branded products might be inferior in the Member States that have joined the European Union (EU) since 2004 has become ever more apparent. This concern has come to be known as the 'dual quality of products'. To address the issue, between 2018 and 2019, the European Commission's Joint Research Service (JRC) compared a set of branded food products sold under the same name and in the same or similar packaging across Member States – the first time a harmonised testing ...

In recent years, the concern that some branded products might be inferior in the Member States that have joined the European Union (EU) since 2004 has become ever more apparent. This concern has come to be known as the 'dual quality of products'. To address the issue, between 2018 and 2019, the European Commission's Joint Research Service (JRC) compared a set of branded food products sold under the same name and in the same or similar packaging across Member States – the first time a harmonised testing methodology has been used to compare products from the whole of the European Union. The analysis sought to determine whether, despite the identical or similar packaging, there were differences in product composition and, if so, whether those differences corresponded to any geographical pattern. Results showed that about one third of the branded food products analysed had a composition that differed from one Member State to another. However, the results did not point to any geographical pattern that might explain those differences. In 2017, the Commission had already sought to clarify the relevant legislation with a notice introducing a test that national consumer protection authorities could use to determine on a case by case basis whether the dual quality of food products was misleading. Later, in April 2018, in the framework of the 'new deal for consumers', its proposal for a new directive on modernisation of EU consumer protection rules sought to include the dual quality of products (not just of food products) in the Unfair Commercial Practices Directive. The European Parliament has long voiced its concerns about the dual quality of products and had called for it to be added to the 'blacklist' of practices that should always be considered as banned. However, the text of the new directive on modernisation of consumer protection rules as adopted by the co-legislators did not include dual quality as a practice that must be considered unfair in all cases, but rather as one that must be proven to be misleading on a case-by-case basis. The European Consumer Organisation (BEUC) has criticised this, while business organisations defend the right of companies to differentiate their products in different markets.

Commitments made at the hearing of Janusz WOJCIECHOWSKI, Commissioner-designate - Agriculture

22-11-2019

The Commissioner-designate, Janusz Wojciechowski, appeared before the European Parliament on 1 and 8 October 2019 to answer questions put by MEPs from the Committee on Agriculture and Rural Development. During the hearings, he made a number of commitments which are highlighted in this document. These commitments refer to his portfolio, as described in the mission letter sent to him by Ursula von der Leyen, President-elect of the European Commission. His future task will be focused on building a modern ...

The Commissioner-designate, Janusz Wojciechowski, appeared before the European Parliament on 1 and 8 October 2019 to answer questions put by MEPs from the Committee on Agriculture and Rural Development. During the hearings, he made a number of commitments which are highlighted in this document. These commitments refer to his portfolio, as described in the mission letter sent to him by Ursula von der Leyen, President-elect of the European Commission. His future task will be focused on building a modern and sustainable agriculture, including: - Concluding negotiations on a simplifed Common Agricultural Policy post 2020 and ensuring that its future Strategic Plans strike a balance between EU-wide objectives and national priorities; - Contributing to the EU “Farm to Fork strategy” looking at how the agri-food sector can improve the sustainability accross the agri-food supply chain, including through organic production; - Ensuring that agri-food production contributes to EU climate, environmental and biodiversity goals; - Strengthening the system of geographical indications and developing a new long-term vision for rural areas under the Strategic Plans post 2020; - Promoting Europe’s high-quality food standards worlwide.

Reconsidering the General Food Law

30-09-2019

On 11 April 2018, the European Commission published a proposal to review the General Food Law Regulation and amend eight legislative acts dealing with specific food chain sectors. The proposal follows up on the European Citizens' Initiative on glyphosate; and especially on concerns regarding the transparency of the scientific studies used in the evaluation of pesticides. The proposal also responds to a fitness check of the General Food Law, completed in January 2018. The proposal's objective is to ...

On 11 April 2018, the European Commission published a proposal to review the General Food Law Regulation and amend eight legislative acts dealing with specific food chain sectors. The proposal follows up on the European Citizens' Initiative on glyphosate; and especially on concerns regarding the transparency of the scientific studies used in the evaluation of pesticides. The proposal also responds to a fitness check of the General Food Law, completed in January 2018. The proposal's objective is to increase the transparency and sustainability of the EU scientific assessment model, and other aspects such as governance of the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA). In the European Parliament, the Committee on the Environment, Public Health and Food Safety (ENVI) adopted its report on 27 November 2018. A vote in plenary to finalise Parliament's position took place on 11 December and the Council adopted its position on 12 December 2018. A provisional agreement was reached in trilogue on 11 February 2019 and endorsed in the ENVI committee on 20 February. The European Parliament adopted the text at first reading on 17 April; the Council adopted it on 13 June. The final act, signed on 20 June, was published in the Official Journal on 6 September 2019 and is applicable, for the most part, from 27 March 2021.

Megatrends in the agri-food sector: global overview and possible policy response from an EU perspective

16-09-2019

This study provides an analysis of the megatrends that influence the way the world produces, distributes and consumes food. It provides an outlook of the global production needed to sustain human populations until 2050, gives a state of play of the global forces affecting the future of the food chain, suggests possible scenarios and presents policy and recommendation options.

This study provides an analysis of the megatrends that influence the way the world produces, distributes and consumes food. It provides an outlook of the global production needed to sustain human populations until 2050, gives a state of play of the global forces affecting the future of the food chain, suggests possible scenarios and presents policy and recommendation options.

Външен автор

Ines Ferreira, Maria Kirova, Francesco Montanari, Consuelo Montfort, Juan Moroni, Rik Neirynck, Monica Pesce

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