Food is at the centre of our lives and an integral part of the European culture. However, the food we eat, the ways we produce it and the amounts wasted have major impacts on human health, natural resources and society as a whole:
- Citizens –and children in particular– are increasingly suffering from overweight and obesity due to unhealthy diets.
- Farmers and workers do not get a fair price for their produce.
- One third of food is lost or wasted across the food chain.
- The environment is paying the bill with the dramatic effects of food production and consumption on climate change, loss of biodiversity, air and water pollution, soil degradation, etc.
The COVID-19 crisis is a wake-up call for change. It has demonstrated that getting food "from farm to fork" cannot be taken for granted and has shown the interconnectedness of actors and activities throughout the food system. Fair, resource efficient, inclusive and sustainable supply chains in the whole agriculture and food sector are needed more than ever to deliver equally for citizens, farmers, workers and business.
The EESC has been for years at the forefront of calling for a sustainable and comprehensive food policy. Such an integrated and systemic approach is essential to tackle the multiple and interconnected challenges affecting food systems; to deliver economic, environmental and socio-cultural sustainability; to ensure integration and coherence across policy areas (such as agriculture, environment, health, education, trade, economy, technology, etc.); and to promote cooperation across levels of governance.
In December 2010 the Committee adopted an opinion on the cultivation of GMO's in the EU, CESE 1623/2010 (NAT/480). The opinion was of a predominantly legal character. Nevertheless, it concerns an issue which is extremely complex in nature, and on which many different opinions exist between Member States. A long series of amendments were tabled on the draft opinion both in the Section and the Plenary. Furthermore, given the fact that the file is currently at the centre of discussion between EU institutions and that a total review of the EU legislative framework for GMO's is foreseen in 2012, the Committee may have to take a position again next year.
Therefore, the requesting body is of the opinion that the issue of GMO's merits a supplementary opinion to explore the state of affairs in biotechnology and shed some light on the more technical questions of its application.
The EESC is strongly of the view that agriculture is an extremely important sector for the economic, social and regional development of the partnership countries. Meeting the objectives set will require favourable agricultural development. Investing in agriculture and developing the sector are also key conditions for reducing poverty in rural areas.