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Public health and sustainable family farming are more important than “free” trade

20 January 2009

We do not want beef hormones on our plates today nor tomorrow on our farms. It is for the EU and not the WTO to determine which kinds of agricultural production are allowed in Europe.

Brussels, January 20th, 2009 Beef growth hormones, WTO, and US retaliation’s measures: Public health and sustainable family farming are more important than “free” trade. We do not want beef hormones on our plates today nor tomorrow on our farms. It is for the EU and not the WTO to determine which kinds of agricultural production are allowed in Europe. Right before leaving office, President GW Bush decided to make an additional “gift” to Europeans by reinforcing America’s retaliatory tariff measures with the EU, which rightly refuses the importation of beef derived from animals injected with growth hormone. European producers will pay the price. The European Coordination Via Campesina[1] calls for the EU not to modify its legislation concerning hormone derived beef and not to yield to the pressure of the US government. This is not a matter of American and European farmers being in opposition. US farmers organizations like the NFFC[2] are also opposed to the use of hormones in breeding. It is a issue of contrasting an industrialized model of production, often in the hands of large companies, with multifunctional, sustainable family farming. One finds both types of agriculture in the USA and in Europe[3]. However on the issue of hormones, as on the issue of chlorine in poultry products, the EU thankfully did not follow the American model, and we ask the EU to retain a very firm position in these two areas. It is unacceptable that the WTO attempts to define the model of production around the world, prioritising profit for agro-industries. International trade must not dictate our models of agricultural production. The current financial, food and environmental crises show that the WTO agreement of 1994, which amplified these crises, must be completely re-examined. It is necessary to go further than simply burying the Doha Round: the rules of international trade need to be recast based on other values and principles: the doctrine of “free” trade is incapable of solving the current crises because it was responsible for their creation. We propose a food sovereignty framework for redefining these rules and for developing farmer-based, culturally adapt and diversified agricultural models which are more than capable of feeding the planet and of contributing to the cooling of the earth. [1] CPE (today ECVC) in the Nineties coordinated with many European associations a campaign against the bovine growth hormone, which contributed to the EU decision to prohibit it [2] National Family Farm Coalition, member of Via Campesina [3] The so called “European model of agriculture” does not exist: here one finds factories which produce milk, pig, eggs, chicken, vegetables, fruits,…. and also subsistence farms, with all the intermediaries. And the current CAP lets the first develop while it destroys the second.

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