European Citizens' Seminars

(Executive Summary of the conclusions of the European Citizens’ Seminar held in Erfurt, Germany, 28-31 March 2009).

This policy is intended to allow the development of socio-economic & environmentally sustainable agricultural systems. This will allow the present generation to meet its needs without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their needs. Labelling could be one effective means of communication providing assurance on the sustainability of quality, safety and reliability of the product. Implementation will ensure respect for natural resources, enhance social and human capital and be economically viable.

We recognise five principles that describe environmental sustainability:

1. Minimise the impact on climate change
2. Respect the integrity of environmental media
3. Conserve biological diversity
4. Ensure access to sufficient natural resources for this and future generations
5. Optimise land use

The following six principles define social sustainability:

1. Respect human rights
2. Respect workers’ rights
3. Respect property rights
4. Maintain human capital in the labour force
5. Secure access rights for producers to the means of production
6. Treat animals well

Economic sustainability is defined as follows:

1. Farmers should be rewarded for the positive externalities of sustainable agriculture
2. Profitability of the farm
3. Farmers that pursue sustainable agriculture should be insured against the inherent risks

The labelling of such a sustainable agriculture should cover the whole food processing chain: farming, food processing and packaging. It should be consistent with existing schemes and be completed by promotion actions.

Sustainable Agriculture is much more than environmental protection and adherence to the principles. It is not just cross compliance with existing directives and initiatives. It is an overarching policy that can encompass and harmonise many of the current initiatives. Many existing labelling practices already have elements of sustainability but this policy is to be both comprehensive yet implementable through measurable indicators. Although the primary impact will be agricultural production it is also intended to encompass rural development, food processing and packaging.

The full text of the Public Policy Proposal may be found here.

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