The Debate at UK Level on Innovation in EU Agriculture Continues

The UK government published their response on 2 February 2012 to the findings published by the UK House of Lords Select Committee inquiry into innovation in EU agriculture last July. A few key points to flag are:

  • The Government supports the Select Committee’s call to promote ‘sustainable intensification’ and ‘climate smart food systems’. It stresses the need for improved efficiency of resource use and for ‘sustainable consumption’ to address healthier diets as well as to minimise waste.

  • The Government supports the Select Committee’s emphasis on using the CAP to facilitate innovation in the agricultural sector, referring in particular to knowledge transfer. They also stress the need for more transparency in sharing research outcomes across sectors throughout the EU.

  • Lastly, the Government recognises the need to act with caution to ensure the provision of environmentally beneficial and safe agricultural production, but stresses that this must not hinder the implementation of new technologies in the sector, such as the use of genetically modified crops.

The government response was followed by a debate on the topic in the House of Lords on 6 February. Lord Carter of Coles (Labour), Chair of the Committee, urged more funds to be made available for innovation, arguing that these funds could be made available by shifting resources from direct payments to innovation. He claimed that ‘Europe is increasingly becoming the granny of the world’, further claiming that the potential consequences of no action would be disastrous for the EU agricultural sector.

There has been very little said to date on innovation in the agricultural sector during debates on the CAP reform proposals in the European Agriculture Council and Parliament, with the focus tending to be more on the greening Pillar 1 proposals and the redistribution of payments, although a number of informal debates have been held. It will be interesting to see how these discussions will take shape in the coming months under the Danish EU Presidency, who have outlined innovation and knowledge transfer and key areas to address during their Presidency.


15 Feb 2012