CAP reform: Richard Barker on the continuing challenge of how to end hunger

THE European Commission, backed by the European Parliament and the majority of European Union member states, has proposed food security as a key policy issue for the post 2013 CAP.

Critics of the current reform proposals argue that has more to do with a continuation of the old style CAP than real concern for food security, because for over 50 years the EU has produced more than sufficient food for its citizens. While the EU continues to protect its own, does it really care about the chronically hungry fellow citizens who share this planet? Does the EU really seek solutions to solving one of the world’s greatest contradictions, namely that, as there is enough food, why do millions still starve?

Unless Governments, NGOs and the industry itself start working together, this global imbalance will continue, resulting in thousands dying from starvation. About a third of the food in the richer countries ends up as waste and a similar proportion in developing countries rots because of poor storage. Genetically modified food remains banned by many countries and the use of food crops as renewable fuels adds to the inability to solve what is a basis human right, namely not to go hungry.

The challenges of food security led the EU to be a prime mover behind G20 initiatives to inspire global action to meet this head on. Global population is expected to reach 9billion by 2050 with the demand for food likely to grow by at least 70%. It has been estimated that we shall need to produce the same amount of food in the next 40 years as in the past 8,000 years.

The challenges are enormous and can only be effectively resolved by a true partnership of countries worldwide, of trading groups of NGOs and of farmers themselves. A co-ordinated approach for example can lead to Unilever working with Greenpeace to incentivise companies to move to sustainable palm oil to end deforestation.

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Governments need to eliminate the use of unsustainable biofuels, to ensure increased investment actually improves support for small holder farmers in the developing world, strengthens weak food chains and promotes business ethics, both within the farming community and elsewhere.

Recently the European Commission sought to limit the use of crop-based biofuels and encourage member states to reach renewable energy targets, by using waste materials rather than food crops – a small step in the right direction.

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: : Richard Barker is a consultant with law firm Barker Gotelee, specialising in EU-related matters.

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