The informal meeting of European agriculture ministers in Córdoba focused on using new technologies to advance food security, combat climate change and ensure the profitability of the agricultural sector.
The meeting, which took place within the framework of the Spanish Presidency of the Council of the EU at the Palace of Congresses in the Andalusian city, was chaired by the Spanish Acting Minister of Agriculture and Fisheries, Luis Planas , and in the presence of the European Commissioner, Janusz Wojciechowski. .
European industry leaders presented their ideas and proposals on the techniques and solutions they consider to be the most effective and preferential in the fight against climate change and for better food production.
“We will certainly consider the Córdoba debate as a turning point,” Planas said after the meeting.
He stressed that “the supply of safe, nutritious, quality and sufficient food constitutes a global challenge for the entire planet” because, according to UN forecasts, the world population will reach 9.7 billion people by 2050.
The challenge of food security
One of the main themes of the meeting was the response to a growing need: the challenge of food security, which is one of the priorities set by the Spanish presidency for its semester.
Spanish Acting Minister of Agriculture and Fisheries
The EU is the world’s largest producer of food and therefore has the responsibility to meet the so-called “zero hunger” challenge set out in the Goals of the UN 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development.
The Russian invasion of Ukraine distorted the supply chain and strained global food production and the supply system.
The objective is to find a balance between producing more and better quality food, both in quantity and quality, while preserving the environment and biodiversity.
Climate change, an urgent challenge
Another issue discussed during the informal meeting was the fight against climate change and its effects on the agri-food sector in the EU and worldwide. Rising temperatures and extreme events, particularly droughts, are increasingly common and European policymakers have been considering how to manage these situations.
Finding solutions to challenges as these involve the search for new technologies that, for example, allow better and more efficient use of water resources, with innovative techniques to cope with the decrease in precipitation.
“I hope and wish that through this global vision, we can reconcile food production and protection of the environment and biodiversity, without forgetting our main objective, which is obviously to remunerate the work of our farmers and breeders with dignity, and thus ensuring the future of our rural world,” said Planas.
Developments in new genomic techniques
However, the key topic discussed in this regard during the informal ministerial meeting was new genomic techniques (NTG)which make it possible to produce more resilient and resistant plant varieties quickly and with greater precision.
“During the debate, the potential of new genomic techniques applied to the selection of new plant varieties to meet the challenge of sustainability of food production, and in particular to meet the challenge of climate change and the need to reduce the use of phytosanitary products, was highlighted during the debate. products and fertilizers,” added the Spanish minister.
European Commissioner for Agriculture
On July 5, the European Commission presented a proposal for a regulation on this issue.
European decision-makers now have the opportunity to express their concerns, doubts and concerns in a transparent debate aimed at ensuring sufficient quantities of seeds and plants for food production are produced. All this without harming the environment and without guaranteeing the future of the sector.
Ministers also underlined their interest in ensuring transparency and consumer information in order to achieve more sustainable technological solutions.
Commissioner Wojciechowski said he was “very satisfied” with the debate on this issue. “New genome editing techniques are supported, but with a responsible approach,” said the European official, who stressed the importance of “avoiding negative consequences” that could affect, for example, farmers using organic production methods.
The objective of the Spanish Presidency is to reach some initial political conclusions on NTG before the end of the semester. In this regard, she pledged to work intensively on the Commission’s proposal for plants obtained using these techniques.
Agricultural sustainability and profitability
The third subject discussed was the situation of rural workers because, according to Minister Planas, agricultural sustainability cannot be understood without considering the profitability of farms.
Part of the session was therefore dedicated to discussing the options available and the need to increase agricultural productivity, so that the situation and livelihoods of farmers and herders are not only maintained but improved.
With this in mind, during the working sessions, the ministers also agreed on the need to provide farmers with financial mechanisms to invest in new technologies and to train in their use.
In particular, the role of European funds from the Horizon Europe program and the measures detailed in the CAP strategic plans were discussed. This will triple the number of innovative projects during this period to contribute to digital and innovative transformation.