As I prepare for my second Brussels trip in a fortnight, I thought I would share the closing remarks from last week’s conference, ‘Averting Farmageddon: Sustainable food for all’.
The words of summary are by Sir David Madden, former UK Ambassador to Greece and trustee of Compassion in World Farming, who chaired the day-long conference hosted by the Greek Presidency of the EU, and display the breadth of speakers who took part:
“Today we have looked at the vital question of sustainable food from all angles: animal welfare, human health, environmental protection for the planet and its precious resources.
We have been given expert testimony on all these, and on some specific areas: antimicrobial resistance, Mediterranean diets, nitrogen, “slow foods”, soil health, “lab-burgers”, factory farming in the Ukraine funded by International finance institutions, and the world of consumer cooperatives.
There have been some constant themes: the waste involved in intensive farming methods, its outdated nature, inefficiencies, inequalities, poor health and poverty, hidden costs including environmental damage, insidious role of subsidies, the need for labelling and education.
We were briefed by European Commission officials on their policies, including on the forthcoming Sustainable Food Communication.
Importantly, we have looked at ways forward in all our sessions: eradication of waste, sustainable farming methods, reduced emissions of pollutants, humane treatment of animals, reduced consumption, above all the debunking of “sustainable intensification”. Importantly it was also agreed, on the basis of the consensus emerging during the meeting, to write to the Commission about the Sustainable Food Communication.
Our thanks are due to: all who contributed; all who spoke and moderated; all who helped with the arrangements; all who did the “heavy lifting”, literally Dil Peeling and those who brought the material from Godalming; all who honoured us with their presence; the Greek Presidency for co-convening and speaking; the Cyprus Minister of Agriculture for participating and speaking; Philip Lymbery for inspiring us and presenting “Farmageddon”; Dil and his team for putting everything together at the UK end; and above all, Olga Kikou, who had the idea for the event in the first place: and, being Olga, made it happen.”