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EU lawmakers back plan for sustainable farming

The European Parliament backed Wednesday an ambitious EU push to make farming more sustainable, in a move hailed by environmental activists who also called for binding targets for slashing pesticides.

A majority of 452 legislators gave the thumbs up to a report on the EU executive’s “farm to fork” strategy in the face of intense lobbying from agricultural groups. There were 170 against with 76 abstentions.

“MEPs highlighted the need for enhanced sustainability at every step of the food supply chain and reiterated that everyone — from farmer to consumer — has a role to play in this,” a statement from the parliament said.

The World Wildlife Fund (WWF) called the vote “a hugely important sign of support” for the initiative that aims to cut pesticide use in half by 2030, reduce fertiliser use and commit 25 percent of farming land as organic.

“The agri-industry used the tried and tested tactics of scaremongering to delay action by focusing on partial and biased ‘evidence’. However, the science is solid and unquestionable,” said Jabier Ruiz, an agriculture expert at WWF.

“With their vote, MEPs showed that they are not ready to cave in.”

The legislators recommended the European Commission include “binding reduction targets for pesticide use” and mandatory nutritional labelling on food.

They also called for a non-binding vote on measures to reduce overconsumption of meat and end cage-rearing of animals.

In a bid to offset fears that the push could harm farmers, lawmakers called for steps including changes to competition rules.

The European Commission — which still has to put forward legislative proposals on the strategy — hailed the vote.

“The EU is ready to lead this positive change,” tweeted food safety commissioner Stella Kyriakides.

 

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