GUE/NGL debate: urgent to reclaim food sovereignty from large agribusinesses
The current state of the world’s food production system is leading to the destruction of our planet and radical changes must happen to protect our environment, biodiversity and humanity at large from irreversible damage, argued GUE/NGL MEPs Stefan Eck and Lidia Senra during a debate at the European Parliament today.
MEP Stefan Eck delivered an impassioned appeal for a shift away from a destructive industrial model of food production fuelled by greed and without regard to sustainability. The German MEP presented hard-hitting facts to demonstrate the damage the current mode of production is having on our planet:
“In 1950 the world had a population of 2.52 billion people and 44 million tons of meat were being produced. In 2015 the world’s population grew to 7.35 billion and meat production rose to 320 million tons. These figures show a disproportionate increase in meat production reflective of our changing eating habits. This unsustainable path, instigated by agribusinesses, has put unbearable pressure on ground water reserves, food prices, rainforests and biodiversity.”
“To produce one kilo of meat 7-16 kilos of cereals or soybean are needed as feed. Arable land is being used for livestock feed production and forests are being destroyed to sustain the growing demand for meat. A third of farmland is already being used for livestock farming. This alarming process is not only threatening traditional farming, more sustainable by definition, but the finite resources of our planet. A new course must be found.”
Growing meat production, to feed the appetite of industrialised countries, is also having consequences on food security worldwide:
“Hunger is linked to spiralling meat consumption. The meat industry is monopolising farmland that should be used to feed humans. Precious water reserves are being used to sustain feed production and this can be the cause for future wars over water. Cows produce large amounts of methane that contribute to global warming and desertification. All in all it’s a disaster,” Eck said.
Galician MEP Lídia Senra provided an analysis of the changes taking place in the food production system controlled by large corporations:
“The proposed merger between Monsanto and Bayer demonstrates the evident marriage between the agribusiness sector and the chemical and pharmaceutical companies. The results are being felt by small farmers losing their jobs and rural communities being emptied out. The food chain is increasingly dominated by the powerful few. These businesses are making the decision for us on what we should eat.”
Senra pointed out that farmers are already fighting back:
“Farmers are working on alternatives to the threat from agribusinesses and chemical businesses to protect food sovereignty. The alternative is agro-ecology, favouring local production for the local market, promoting production of basic food stocks by farmers in each country; this is a more sustainable model.”
MEPs Senra and Eck pointed out that GUE/NGL has a role to play in this struggle by leading opposition to the free trade agreements the EU is signing with other countries designed to fuel profits and greed of large corporations at the expense of farmers and by pushing for the reform of the flawed Common Agricultural Policy.