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EU parliament doffs cap to big ag

News Section Icon Published 15/03/2013

The European Parliament has rejected the opportunity to embark on the fundamental reforms to the Common Agricultural Policy (CAP) that are needed in the interest of food security, the environment and animal welfare.

The Parliament's latest vote on CAP reforms does almost nothing to relieve the pressures placed on resources and the environment by our current industrial agriculture.

Much of the damage caused by agriculture stems from factory farming which is dependent on feeding substantial quantities of cereals to animals. 60% of EU cereal production is used as animal feed.

This is inefficient as much of cereals' food value is lost during conversion from plant to animal matter. For every 100 calories that we feed to animals in the form of crops, we receive on average just 30 calories in the form of meat and milk. This is a wasteful use not just of these crops but of the land, water and energy used to grow them.

Factory farming's voracious appetite for cereals has led to the intensification of crop production.

This - and the excessive volumes of manure emanating from industrial farms - lead to degradation of soil, water and air and erosion of biodiversity and ecosystems. But without fertile soil and unpolluted water we will be unable to produce the food needed by the growing world population.

Peter Stevenson, Compassion's Chief Policy Advisor, says: "The Parliament should have insisted on a new paradigm for Europe's agriculture. The CAP should help farmers move to much higher standards of animal welfare.

"It should no longer subsidise cereals grown for animal feed. Animals should instead be reared on pasture or in mixed crop/livestock systems in which they are fed on crop residues and their manure, instead of being a pollutant, fertilises the land."

"We need a new agriculture that is based on nature, not industry. Instead the Parliament has opted for more of the same with just the merest hint of a tint of green."


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