Comments for http://www.bbc.co.uk/blogs/thereporters/markmardell/2008/06/food_on_the_agenda.html http://www.bbc.co.uk/blogs/thereporters/markmardell/2008/06/food_on_the_agenda.html en-gb 30 Sat 04 Jul 2015 15:40:53 GMT+1 A feed of user comments from the page found at http://www.bbc.co.uk/blogs/thereporters/markmardell/2008/06/food_on_the_agenda.html dennisjunior1 http://www.bbc.co.uk/blogs/thereporters/markmardell/2008/06/food_on_the_agenda.html?page=97#comment43 Food is an important part of any agenda at any summits....--Dennis Junior Wed 24 Dec 2008 06:24:45 GMT+1 Grumpy-duggy http://www.bbc.co.uk/blogs/thereporters/markmardell/2008/06/food_on_the_agenda.html?page=95#comment42 Surely one of the fundamental reasons for EU subsidies is to ensure that we keep a decent food production industry within Europe and don't destroy our rural industries and way of life? With the massive shift now started from a buyer's market to a seller's market it is clear that the rationale for improving payments to primary producers is in place. What is required is the political will to ensure a much higher % of the receipts for farm produce goes to the producers and does not get hived off in huge profits for speculators, commodity traders, supermarkets and the like. This is as important for the non-European producers as for European farmers. If trade was indeed "fairer" all round then a lot of the economic inbalances might be addressed! Sun 29 Jun 2008 14:22:46 GMT+1 need4reality http://www.bbc.co.uk/blogs/thereporters/markmardell/2008/06/food_on_the_agenda.html?page=93#comment41 @41. At 00:59 am on 12 Jun 2008, dennisjunior1 wrote: "When is FOOD not on Agenda at a international meeting?"When they're too busy carving up countries.When is FOOD not on the MENU at an international meeting? Sat 14 Jun 2008 17:12:17 GMT+1 dennisjunior1 http://www.bbc.co.uk/blogs/thereporters/markmardell/2008/06/food_on_the_agenda.html?page=90#comment40 When is FOOD not on Agenda at a international meeting Wed 11 Jun 2008 23:59:24 GMT+1 powermeerkat http://www.bbc.co.uk/blogs/thereporters/markmardell/2008/06/food_on_the_agenda.html?page=88#comment39 "Corn hit a record price of $6.672 a bushel for July delivery on the Chicago Board of Trade after the government cut its forecasts for the 2008 yield by 3%." Obviously there'll be less fat people in the developed world while farmers from the developing one will earn more money for their exported corn. Particularly in EU. Wed 11 Jun 2008 10:39:17 GMT+1 Grrrlie http://www.bbc.co.uk/blogs/thereporters/markmardell/2008/06/food_on_the_agenda.html?page=86#comment38 Obesity skyrockets in the developed world - while children are starving in agony in the developing world. Reason? GREED - end of story. Tue 10 Jun 2008 02:33:33 GMT+1 hurrahforCommonSence http://www.bbc.co.uk/blogs/thereporters/markmardell/2008/06/food_on_the_agenda.html?page=84#comment37 Comment on post 9.It matters little what the EU does to its food production in regards to Africa. All the time it is easier to drive round in a pick-up waving guns at folks than farm the land then thats what will happen. If these actions are supported by western food aid there is no incentive what so ever to farm.The EU's stance of self blame does little to solve this basic problem. Sun 08 Jun 2008 08:21:37 GMT+1 Starbuck http://www.bbc.co.uk/blogs/thereporters/markmardell/2008/06/food_on_the_agenda.html?page=81#comment36 mcdv1975,start living in the real world instead of making fantasies :The EU is a net importer of food. The UK being a prime example of it ...As a % of food production, EU food exports to Africa are mostly canned/frozen food or humanitarian aid. But clearly not enough to drive off people from their livelihoods in any significant numbers more than free trade and industrialization do ... that's just a comfortable myth for CAP-haters and EU-bashers.Yes, European fleets have bought fisheries rights off african waters. Morocco, Mauritania and Senegal are good examples of it. So did Japan, China, South Korea and a host of other fish-loving countries ...As for biofuels, the EU is not pressuring Indonesia for palm oil, but it sure could end its own programs of subdizing inefficient farm production of biofuels. Better to look at improved transportation systems and energy efficiency than to use biofuels.Anyway, what's the point of trying to have a honest debate with someone who is so blind to realities as to twist any facts to convince himself he has any relevance ? Fri 06 Jun 2008 21:36:39 GMT+1 mcdv1975 http://www.bbc.co.uk/blogs/thereporters/markmardell/2008/06/food_on_the_agenda.html?page=79#comment35 The EU is one of the main reasons for the current food crises across the world.Through the common agricultural policy, it has erected barriers for non-European farmers to sell their products here. However, the EU does dump the surpluses from here on those very non-European markets whose products they themselves won't allow in.Because of this heavily subsidized dumping, the EU has effectively robbed millions of African farmers of their livelyhoods (and is the #1 cause of hunger in west-Africa these days). Also, through the common fisheries policy, it has 'bought' the 'right' to fish in African waters by paying off African politicians. However, the African fisheries communities suffer because they cannot compete with the French and Spanish fishing fleets.And to make matters worse, it isn't enough for the EU to rob African farmers and fishermen of their livelyhoods, now the EU also demands that Indonesia and others produce 'bio-fuels' for them effectively meaning those countries can produce less food.The EU is to blame here folks, and very clearly so. Only a blind man won't see it.@Grünebaum (24): you are more than welcome to start living 'spartanly' yourself. Please forego a car, forego flying, forego luxuries. Oh sorry, as a progressive elitist, you must mean that people like me should forego luxuries, not you yourself. Sorry I dared to suggest that. Fri 06 Jun 2008 18:24:51 GMT+1 need4reality http://www.bbc.co.uk/blogs/thereporters/markmardell/2008/06/food_on_the_agenda.html?page=77#comment34 Starbuck11: "Remember, that most environmental consequences of human farming are usually not paid by farmers but by society."I couldn't agree more. Maybe add "by society at large.""Ultimately, I agree it is best not to subsidize industry as it makes them more competitive, open to change..."Open to Monsanto and their vision for world food - change indeed.We don't want competition in food markets; but we do want food security and regulation for that precice reason."SK still ban US beef imports and Japan has been more than reluctant to let it be traded openly"Yes because they feel there is a public health issue. If the market was 100% 'free' they would have to rely on the consumer to make the right choice. Lets assume even a half of their citizens make an informed choice, that still leaves half the population that their government feels is being allowed to make the wrong one, therefore they legislate.Anyway, there will be loopholes no doubt. Fri 06 Jun 2008 13:23:48 GMT+1 Starbuck http://www.bbc.co.uk/blogs/thereporters/markmardell/2008/06/food_on_the_agenda.html?page=75#comment33 To #32 1) letting agricultural products not produced on your country be sold is not a real opening of markets. Would you consider that Japan is opening up to oil and other commodities be traded ?A real test would be for japanese rice not to be protected by administrative regulations of all sorts and direct/indirect subisidies.SK still ban US beef imports and Japan has been more than reluctant to let it be traded openly (bad mouthing is widespread and institutionally organized)2) EU countries are mostly opened to agricultural products from oversea, including those produced locally (think NZ or Aussie lamb, I'm sure you know :)). But they have to compete with subsidized local production and regulatory regimes that discriminate GM and supposedly unhealthy products (late controversy with chlorine washed chicken from the US or hormone growth beef before that).But how is this different from the various regulations you find in most countries ?For all pratical purposes, there aren't a single country that doesn't help its local industries, either through preferential taxations, subsidies or regulatory regime.3) What differentiate countries is the level of protectionism in that matter. The EU is sure well place in that league ... but don't mention Japan as being "open" if you want to stay factual.or the US for using no export/production subsidies (farm bills, export taxes) and support (USAID)Remember, that most environmental consequences of human farming are usually not paid by farmers but by society (poor water management, forest destructions, contaminated arable soils)4) farmers are a very resilient and astute kind, but you can't change a farmer practices overnight. And European countries have very different farming practices and competitivies from each others.What the EU is trying to do is to provide a level-playing field for all, both in terms of subsidies and regulatory regimes.Ultimately, I agree it is best not to subsidize industry as it makes them more competitive, open to change and more resilient to shocks, but it's a dreamer's world to believe that food is not an essential item to any country's security policy or that farming is not a subsidized industry anywhere in the world.In a Ricardo world, comparative advantages and 100% free trade should push countries and industries to excell at what they can do best. That's just neither the world as it is, nor necessarily a better world.best regards, Fri 06 Jun 2008 03:01:47 GMT+1 need4reality http://www.bbc.co.uk/blogs/thereporters/markmardell/2008/06/food_on_the_agenda.html?page=72#comment32 Handing the problem over to those who messed it all up in the first place, is not necessarily the best way to get results.The EU's track record of hiring disgraced National representatives and appointing them as unelected commissioners is one thing; but asking these oligarchs what they think should be done about hunger......he has been in office all this time while this man made famine has been encouraged.For example, the disdainful use of this man-made crisis (inc. population growth) 1)as a pitch to advertise the most unsustainable GM products,2)a means to extend the mass use of concentrated petrochemicals3)to further squeeze producers and consumers, and4)to promote further distance between the people and their food chain.We must look into, 1)only government funded GM research that is safe and not designed to enslave farmers,2)the planting of appropriate crops for the given climate,3)recognition that food supply is being used to control populations (in more ways than one).4)The efficient use of mixed crop and rotation methods for best fertility, pest control and yield, with minimum need for use of fertilizers and pesticides.Educated people are promoting unsustainable crops in the most impoverished nations; and they know full well the consequences...They stifle the attempts of those who would help solve the problem...And they lie about the situation to their own ends.Do not let them (or indeed Mugabe) hijack the food summit.This is not blamed on white people or the West in general; but greedy genocidal cronies of all nationalities. Thu 05 Jun 2008 21:59:51 GMT+1 honestclearthinker http://www.bbc.co.uk/blogs/thereporters/markmardell/2008/06/food_on_the_agenda.html?page=70#comment31 Sure.One of the greatest problems the Japanese faced in WWII was securing adequate food supply - it partly fuelled their aggression. That Japan has even partly opened its markets at all (bar rice) reflects that fact. If it wasn't for the WWII experience it would be as locked tight as Europe's Ag Markets.And as Europe wrung its hands as the Balkans broke up, despite Tito's earlier focus on food security, farmers headed off to war or found their farms battle fields - Croatian, Bosnian etc camps were partly full of 'starving refugees'. When war breaks out farms simply quickly seize up - where is the food security in that? And if it is about security of key industries then the rest of the world should protect energy supplies (goodbye Shell, BP and Avera), financial structures (ciao ING, SocGen and Lloyds), transport (au revoir Volvo, BMW Mercedes and Airbus) and resources (no more subsidised Spanish fishing fleets hoovering African and Pacific fisheries) . The EU can't have it both ways.In fact one country does follow this idea of 'self reliance' - the system is 'Juche' and it is practiced by North Korea.That maybe some peoples idea of security - it is not mine. You can have 'standards' all countries do - I drive a Japanese car conforming to my country's safety standards. Limited quotas or high tarriffs don't help that. Set whatever standards you want, just make them equal for all not veiled protection of vested interests.The CAP to me is poor policy arising from narrow vested interests, a captured centralised bureaucracy, a broadly uninterested public and slick PR.These quibbles aside. The real point is if Europe really wants to be taken seriously by the rest of the world - and not be outshone by the growing powers of China, India and Brazil, it needs to become much less Eurocentric and project itself to the world.It can't say it leads on world issues like Climate Change then let EU countries trade internally (and btw thanks East Germany for collapsing your dirty industries after 1990, allowing countries like Portugal to increase emmissions by over 30%) but also say while Europe can trade amongst each other - other countries have to all take 'domestic action'.I think the world would really like to see an EU punch above, not below, its weight on the international stage. Part of that is having truly global not self centred policies - the CAP is just that and it would show leadership to let EU consumers, and developing food exporters win.And who knows your 'real' farmers may be smarter and more creative that you give them credit for - they may adapt, read market signals and flourish.It has happened before. Australian farmers when asked if they would like to go back to the days of central Government subsiding them and telling them what to grow regularly give an emphatic 'no'. Farmers are canny business people who like making their own decisions.And don't get me wrong I would love to see a confident, engaged, world leading EU - but with policies like the CAP it won't happen. Thu 05 Jun 2008 20:51:26 GMT+1 Starbuck http://www.bbc.co.uk/blogs/thereporters/markmardell/2008/06/food_on_the_agenda.html?page=68#comment30 Could you please elaborate on the Japanese agricultural sector ? is the food market in Japan free and open to foreign competition ?Does japanese rice producers operate without any supports from the State ? What about beef imports ?I fail to see your point with Yougoslavia, as this federation doesn't exist anymore ? Could you please be more specific about your comparisons. Thu 05 Jun 2008 14:54:20 GMT+1 honestclearthinker http://www.bbc.co.uk/blogs/thereporters/markmardell/2008/06/food_on_the_agenda.html?page=65#comment29 There are some elegant constructs in support of the CAP.My belief is they really don't stack up. History tells us the best way to ensure food security is to have diverse sources of supply (ask Japan, or more recently Yugoslavia). In a time of crisis farmers can't farm.As for safety it is precisely the perverse outcomes of the CAP that lead to things like BSE and Foot and Mouth - cows were not made to be feed sheep spine. I think too that the CAP helps farmers is also far from the truth - around 90% of the CAP goes to 10% of large industrialised farming conglomerates. Every EU cow gets enough subsidies to fly around the world business class twice. And food produced, in say, New Zealand and shipped to the UK has a lower carbon footprint than food produced in UK because it is less energy intensive.The logic of it aside what real scares me though is the CAP is so immoral - the West is denying a crucial economic development step we all enjoyed, exporting food by setting low quotas and high tariffs. If the French want to keep their countryside they rightly proud of - fine pay farmers to do that.But why that has to be at the cost of denying lush, arable countries like Kenya or Tanzania exporting to the EU and helping raise them out of poverty I don't understand.This generation will be condemned by others if we don't use the current 'crisis' to look beyond our own selfishness. Thu 05 Jun 2008 13:46:14 GMT+1 Starbuck http://www.bbc.co.uk/blogs/thereporters/markmardell/2008/06/food_on_the_agenda.html?page=63#comment28 In support to Old-Man-Mike From the FAO report on European food security :"25. The sub-region has traditionally been a net importer of food. For cereals, a major food item imported by developing countries, the sub-region has been a net exporter since the mid-1980s, with net exports of 19.8 million tonnes in 1994. The longer term net contribution of the sub-region to global food availability is a confluence of three major trends: population dynamics, income growth, and trends in agricultural production and productivity in the region. From the point of view of developing countries and especially LIFDCs, the sub-region's net export position on basic food items (mainly cereals) is of importance as is the sub-region's role as an importer of food from the developing countries.""27. On the supply side, reforms in the policies of the European Union (EU) will have a major impact. Such reforms are the result of both internal pressures to control agricultural expenditures as well as of obligations undertaken under the Uruguay Round Agreement. In 1992, substantial reforms in the Common Agricultural Policy were initiated towards a support policy decoupled from production. The agreed reduction in the volume of EU subsidised exports is also an important factor arising from the Uruguay Round Agreement. "http://www.fao.org/wfs/resource/english/erc96-4e.htm#CAP2 Thu 05 Jun 2008 04:57:11 GMT+1 Old-Man-Mike http://www.bbc.co.uk/blogs/thereporters/markmardell/2008/06/food_on_the_agenda.html?page=61#comment27 Mr Woollcombe is conplently wrong.Firstly: Every Western country except France and many Central European countries are net importers of agricultural products.Secondly: local industries have been wiped out by decades of corruption, violence and wars plus good old fastoned neglect. This has not only destroyed industries but also most of the infrastructure necessary to allow them to function.It is very fortunate for the world that North America does, in most years, produce large surplusses. Even a 5-10% increase in North American product would have a noticable impact. Western Europe could product 10-20% more now that Set-Aside has been abolished. Easter Europe could increase prouduction even more oas the infrastructure continues to be improved, not least by reducing looses in distribution and storage. The last main area to look to is South America, where the scope for exspantion must be very large. Wed 04 Jun 2008 21:35:21 GMT+1 Maria Ashot http://www.bbc.co.uk/blogs/thereporters/markmardell/2008/06/food_on_the_agenda.html?page=59#comment26 With respect, and with respect to the comments about "the American way of life." Having lived in the US for 40+ years, I can assure you that the "European" way of life is considerably less wasteful, from any perspective. Consider the evidence: public transportation is more widely used; travel around the EU and in certain countries you will find massive use of bicycles that ought to bring tears to the eyes of those who believe no one cares enough to stop polluting. Another massive, system-wide difference: have a look at the textbooks used all across the US in any school. They are anywhere from 5 to as much as 10 times bigger, heavier and more costly to print than the EU counterparts. Not only that, but in many school districts in California (for example), these mammoth books are not allowed out of the classroom... Believe me, the US has a great deal of catching up to do, in terms of the food crisis, consumption, lifestyle changes. The EU and Japan are good places to start learning. Most Americans are only just beginning to wake up to the facts, because they finally feel them pinching their wallets. Wed 04 Jun 2008 19:33:39 GMT+1 ScepticMax http://www.bbc.co.uk/blogs/thereporters/markmardell/2008/06/food_on_the_agenda.html?page=56#comment25 As I am usually opposed to most of whatever he/she writes (about the EU), I am dismayed to find myself agreeing with Gruenebaum1 @24' s post. (Except para 4 - I'm happy for people to be aspirational, and the 'American way of life' is better than most alternatives).Gruenbaum1: If my support is an embarrassment to you, I'll withdraw it ;-) Wed 04 Jun 2008 18:57:47 GMT+1 Starbuck http://www.bbc.co.uk/blogs/thereporters/markmardell/2008/06/food_on_the_agenda.html?page=54#comment24 Grunenbaum, the European way of life is as much wasteful/plentiful as the North American one when compared from a developping country's perspective ... no need to be discriminatory/smug in that instance :) Wed 04 Jun 2008 16:35:23 GMT+1 Gruenebaum1 http://www.bbc.co.uk/blogs/thereporters/markmardell/2008/06/food_on_the_agenda.html?page=52#comment23 Maybe people would like to take note of the following facts:All developing countries, except China, have failed to control population growth.Almost none of the developing countries has any meaningful environmental, social or economic governance.Some developing countries now have a sizeable middle class which is shamelessly copying the wasteful "American way of life".The "West" may have a significant "blame industry" (aka NGOs: Who elected them?), but this doesn't mean that we are responsible for every bit of misery in this world.As they say: regime change starts at home. Wed 04 Jun 2008 16:08:17 GMT+1 Buzet23 http://www.bbc.co.uk/blogs/thereporters/markmardell/2008/06/food_on_the_agenda.html?page=50#comment22 Well said maria-ashot #21, especially your last paragraph which is all too true.To jordanbasset #18,people like me have views across the spectrum but one thing is certain, there comes a point with all of us when enough is enough. You mention "My view it should be up to the nationals of each country through their National Government as to who they give aid to.", I'm sorry but I don't trust either a government or the EU to decide who merits charity paid from my taxes, that's my personal prerogative and I have always decided for myself which charities benefit from the ever decreasing after-tax revenue that I am left with. For instance, in the UK the air ambulances are scandalously under funded by Nu-Labour (maybe Tories before that as well), who better deserves help. a tribal conflict ridden African nation or air ambulances, I know which I choose. Likewise a prime consideration is how much aid (food or otherwise) actually reaches the intended people, often the majority is creamed off by either the 'charity' or the regime of the country.The only exception to what I've said is in event of natural disasters, such as floods, Tsunamis, earthquakes etc, then I'm happy for the State (EU or otherwise) to help, but problems self created due to despotic regimes who prefer to spend on munitions, no way.Last point, I've never understood why we talk about surpluses as this only exists because we have a false market due to the CAP. The basic economic laws of supply and demand are very appropriate for food and should, in theory, control profiteering etc. Should one of these struggling poor countries people say we should send excess food to suddenly discover oil, then will they send their excess oil to us at a cheap price as thanks, any guesses? Wed 04 Jun 2008 16:07:37 GMT+1 powermeerkat http://www.bbc.co.uk/blogs/thereporters/markmardell/2008/06/food_on_the_agenda.html?page=47#comment21 "Shops in Germany say they are starting to run out of milk after days of protests by dairy farmers against what they say are unsustainably low prices. " [BBC World]to paraphrase Marie Antoinette:Let Germans drink Scotch.[or bourbone] Wed 04 Jun 2008 15:46:38 GMT+1 Maria Ashot http://www.bbc.co.uk/blogs/thereporters/markmardell/2008/06/food_on_the_agenda.html?page=45#comment20 Unfortunately, not much can be done to mitigate the food crisis, or its impact. Actually, our best bet is education: making sure the public is informed, in a calm way, and that classes (yes, in school) instill a culture of careful planning (maths, economics, sociology), consideration for others and an aversion to wastefulness.In light of the current protests, it would be reasonable to enact laws making it criminal to dump (i.e. throw away) usable nutrients simply to make a political or economic point. Foods being withheld by producers needn't be discarded, as milk has been in Japan or Germany: they ought to be stored, and can be processed first to extend their usefulness.Purveyors of foods should be required to pass along products with nutritive value to charities or service groups that can distribute them to those in extreme need. That is only sensible. As for using policy to determine who gets fed in the world: that is extremely difficult to accomplish. You may decide to redirect resources abroad, to serve one community, and find that you are essentially importing destitution, social decay and ruin into your own. Maybe someone thinks that is more "fair" but the net result is more problems, not fewer -- more stretched resources down the line. A government's first obligation is to the people who pay its wages, through taxes; who sustain the economic life of the communities within its own borders; and who serve in its own military to defend it from threats.It is not unreasonable to remind all the adults of this world that at least some of their sorrows originate in their own decisions. The leadership of every country, even the most afflicted one, is quite immune at a personal level to the stresses of our time -- and they know it. While it can be tempting to look far and wide for "people to help," the leadership needs to remember that right across the street from their offices live people who, while they appear to be doing rather well, are in fact holding on by a thread under the weight of debt, ill–health, low wages, diminishing economic choices. In the time it takes to blink, while efforts are being made to bail out those whose problems are far more visually compelling, those people across the way from you may find themselves plunged into a terrible situation, by a single weather event, or systemic failure (such as the banking crisis). Don't be too quick to extrapolate your own immunity onto your fellow citizens. We need to help the afflicted learn how to better their lives for the future: we cannot simply wave a magic wand and make things get instantly better for them by tweaking a couple of laws... The trouble with trouble is that when it goes on over a period of generations, of centuries, it becomes very, very difficult to deliver profound changes to large populations. Wed 04 Jun 2008 14:07:06 GMT+1 AnonymousCalifornian http://www.bbc.co.uk/blogs/thereporters/markmardell/2008/06/food_on_the_agenda.html?page=43#comment19 Mandelson seems to have a decent compromise (for this). Rich countries can subsidize to grow food for themselves, *but* should stop dumping their surpluses onto poor, foreign markets. If countries can support themselves in the basics (such as growing their own food), they should be. Otherwise, they are at the mercy of the food-producing (or other basics producing) country(s). However, the current situation has the United States, the EU, Australia, Canada, etc. hampering poor countries, especially in Africa from developing their agricultural sectors because the American/European/etc. food is cheaper and of higher quality. Poor African farmers are being outcompeted in their own markets. As for the question of whether or not cheap food is good for the poor, is that actually the question? That is, would those nations be (so) poor--in terms of feeding themselves--if the West didn't have subsidies? The supply might be marginally decreased initially, but the wages of many people in the developing world would increase. So, cheap food and low pay, or slightly more expensive food and higher pay? Wed 04 Jun 2008 13:11:06 GMT+1 Starbuck http://www.bbc.co.uk/blogs/thereporters/markmardell/2008/06/food_on_the_agenda.html?page=40#comment18 To Jordanbasset, same old argument.UK citizens have to keep pushing their government and MPs on consulting the public as to whether the UK should :a) break all links with the EUb) engage in an EFTA partnership (free trade only)c) pursue European integrationPerso, I don't believe that any country (not even the US, Powermeerkat :)) can honestly say they control their national interests by themselves only.You have to engage internationally to do that, but traditional diplomacy/policies (19th century realpolitik) with nation-states is just bound to repeat the conflicts of the past. That is, when they truly achieve anything ...As a footnote, nordic banks are seeing that national sovereignty doesn't prevent from global infection, and that size matters. Wed 04 Jun 2008 12:39:24 GMT+1 one step beyond http://www.bbc.co.uk/blogs/thereporters/markmardell/2008/06/food_on_the_agenda.html?page=38#comment17 Re post 15 and 16 I am not sure if I am argueing against a anti and pro Euro view point at the same time. If so I may have achieved a goal of mine.My view is simple, yes there are countries I would not want to give aid to, Zimbabwe would be one of them. I am sorry for the people but any aid is likely to result in propping up this corrupt regime. However there are many democratic countires in the developing world who should get our support.My view it should be up to the nationals of each country through their National Government as to who they give aid to. If the majority in my country agree with my view point, fine. If they do not and prefer it be given in subsidies to other European nations, so be it, that is the decision of the Nation.What I object to is this decsion making process being given to what is in effect a Eurpoean quango. Yes I know the commisioners are appointed by National Governments, but the link to the nationals of each country is too thin to make this democratic. I am against such quangos within countries and have similar feelings as respect the E.U.I belive each country should make it's own decision in respect of food security, as they do in respect of National security. The E.U. should have no role in this area. Wed 04 Jun 2008 12:09:20 GMT+1 Starbuck http://www.bbc.co.uk/blogs/thereporters/markmardell/2008/06/food_on_the_agenda.html?page=36#comment16 to #15 "Especially since the EU is not yet a fanatic communist dictatorship dedicated to the redistribution of their subjects wealth."whether you include the "yet" or not, do you really believe this, in all intellectual honesty ? Wed 04 Jun 2008 11:18:11 GMT+1 Starbuck http://www.bbc.co.uk/blogs/thereporters/markmardell/2008/06/food_on_the_agenda.html?page=34#comment15 There are several issue about the CAP :1) In the context of globalized trade and integrating european markets, does a country like the UK whose main trade and security partners are fellow european countries is better at managing food security and farming policy on its own or through a EU policy ?2) the same question should be asked for every EU country individually.Why ? Simply because, the CAP is about ensuring and promoting european food security and self-sustenance through production subsidy incentives.There are other aspects to CAP, such as helping developping EU countries (think Spain, Greece, Portugal, Ireland in the 80', eastern Europe in 00') transform their farming and fishing communities to a more modern environment, in conjunction with regional aid development. The objective being to improve labour intensity while at the same increasing food quality.Finally, there is also the support to a sound environmently-friendly landscape and preservation of European cultural heritages. This is a late aspect of the CAP.Whatever your positions about sovereignism or federalism, subsidizing or providing financial incentives or full-market jungle, this is the context into which the CAP usefulness need to be evaluated to answer question 1) and 2).Now, if you think that food production is not a question of national security in the same vein as defense, energy or law-enforcement, then I guess you can treat it as a simpkle case of a distorted market.Similarly, if you think that industries should not be regulated at all (pollution, labour laws, production quality), then again I guess, using the CAP as a benchmark for best practice or EU land management is useless. Finally, how can food be produced, labelled and traded with high consummer's awareness and confidence without EU wide harmonising policies.Eurosceptics like to take to take on the CAP, because it is on the very few truly EU programs. Unlike in other developping countries, you haven't seen EU member countries starting to close borders or start food export/import limitations because of higher market prices for a very reason. And that's not because of free trade. that's because of EU policies, CAP included.But putting aside politics, what level is best to secure food security in each and everyone EU member country ? European or national ? Wed 04 Jun 2008 11:15:06 GMT+1 Buzet23 http://www.bbc.co.uk/blogs/thereporters/markmardell/2008/06/food_on_the_agenda.html?page=31#comment14 #14 jordanbasset,Likewise jordanbasset I also don't like the ongoing direction, aid to struggling countries can only be afforded from strength and if our economies are struggling or in recession and if we are in danger of not being able to feed ourselves then, sorry, charity begins at home above all else. Especially since the EU is not yet a fanatic communist dictatorship dedicated to the redistribution of their subjects wealth. The answer, if you really wanted to help others, is to make our economies strong enough to be able to afford giving aid, rather than send money etc we can ill afford to recipients who in the large are ungrateful corrupt despots. If you don't think that is the case then I suggest you look at Yesterdays speech by the despot Mugabe that was warmly welcomed by other African leaders and condemned by most others in the world. Do you honestly support giving people like him food aid considering that it is he that's responsible for destroying one of Africa's true breadbaskets. Wed 04 Jun 2008 10:22:04 GMT+1 one step beyond http://www.bbc.co.uk/blogs/thereporters/markmardell/2008/06/food_on_the_agenda.html?page=29#comment13 Re post 13, your views are one reason I dislike the E.U. and where it is going. While I agree the first inerest of any national government is to ensure the well being of it's citizens, that does not have to be at the expense of others. Given a choice I would much rather give aid to struggling countries where people are dying of starvation than pay for a French farmer to live on his football pitch sized farm because he always has done. Wed 04 Jun 2008 09:35:58 GMT+1 Buzet23 http://www.bbc.co.uk/blogs/thereporters/markmardell/2008/06/food_on_the_agenda.html?page=27#comment12 Quite so #12, the EU countries are blessed with a range of fertile soils that enable us to be self sufficient and maybe have enough left over to sell outside the EU. Why oh why then do this breed of politicians prattle on about the third world rather than ensuring their own area is looked after first and foremost. If the EU is reliant on African produce it is a time bomb waiting to happen, just as with oil, and if the current EU problems become major then giving aid to anyone outside the EU is just plain stupidity. Likewise saying that we should encourage Africans to grow more in order to stop immigration is a lie, they will still try to arrive for simple economic and political reasons, and there is no substitute to a really firm and enforced EU immigration policy.My recommendation for the EU and member Governments : concentrate on ensuring the EU is successful and self sufficient in as much as possible and stop trying to redistribute our rapidly diminishing wealth to third world corrupt despots because of your crazy social ideals. Wed 04 Jun 2008 09:09:54 GMT+1 anotherjames http://www.bbc.co.uk/blogs/thereporters/markmardell/2008/06/food_on_the_agenda.html?page=25#comment11 I think it is sensible and advisable for nations to subsidise food production. I think the French are right to stand up for food subsidies in EU, but subsidies should be paid by national governments, not from a common fund. It does not make sense to rely on food imported from 3rd world countries. Haven't we learned enough from oil.Go to France, there is always a wonderful selection of fresh produce available in markets and shops. All at sensible prices. Compare to UK, quality, selection and price, there is no comparison. OK we have food from all over the world, mostly half ripe and although it is not publicised, full of insecticides and fertiliser.Give me European food anytime, even if it is not PC. Wed 04 Jun 2008 08:36:52 GMT+1 BernardVC http://www.bbc.co.uk/blogs/thereporters/markmardell/2008/06/food_on_the_agenda.html?page=22#comment10 It's funny how EU subsidies are blamed for not allowing African farmers to earn a living... handily ignoring the fact that most African farmers are, and have been for centuries, subsistence farmers.They don't grow for export as they barely manage to grow for themselves. Wed 04 Jun 2008 08:15:40 GMT+1 one step beyond http://www.bbc.co.uk/blogs/thereporters/markmardell/2008/06/food_on_the_agenda.html?page=20#comment9 Re post 9, I do agree with one of your points that National Governments should serve the interests of its peoples. So I assume you do not think they should allow those interests to become secondary to the needs of a wider supranational area such as the E.U. , for example.Certainly serving their national interests is what many European countries, such as France, has done at the expense of the E.U. and well done to them. The U.K. now needs to start playing this game more seriously Wed 04 Jun 2008 06:43:01 GMT+1 michaelbaez http://www.bbc.co.uk/blogs/thereporters/markmardell/2008/06/food_on_the_agenda.html?page=18#comment8 Freeborn-John: Your first point that claims Eu subsidies drive food prices up in local supermarkets and, your second point, about how it does not allow African farmers to "earn a living", contradict each other. Neoliberal trade thinkers say EU agricultural subsidies drive food prices downward, which may very well be the case, however, claiming that as a result EU subsidies make it harder for African farmers to earn a living is a dubious assumption. There are a number of factors that prohibit African farmers to compete in the global market, not just EU and American agricultural subsidies, and even suggesting the EU should drop a very controversial and pivotal domestic policy and substitute it as a (ineffective) foreign aid policy is ludicrous. National governments should serve the interest of its people, therefore if liberalizing certain industries and protecting fragile pivotal industries maximizes the interest of the country, then it should be done. Neoliberal trade theory is too sweeping, and lazily used as a one size fit all remedy, when in reality, only bits and pieces of it seem useful. In any case, i commend Mardell for posting yesterday's piece as a counter to what was posted this time. Wed 04 Jun 2008 05:45:30 GMT+1 lordBeddGelert http://www.bbc.co.uk/blogs/thereporters/markmardell/2008/06/food_on_the_agenda.html?page=15#comment7 But isn't the 'killer point' here that the WTO, IMF, World Bank and other global governance organisations, are clearly influenced more by the wealthy US and EU than they could ever be by the numerous, but poor, other countries forming part of the family of nations. Who is going to speak for them ? Even at the UN, where in theory there is more democracy, the 'Big Guns' who have a Security Council seat call all the shots - any other decisions where the wider constituency of nations could have a bit of sway are bogged down by 'consensus' and management by committee. I can't see that changing soon, can you ?? Tue 03 Jun 2008 19:42:32 GMT+1 betuli http://www.bbc.co.uk/blogs/thereporters/markmardell/2008/06/food_on_the_agenda.html?page=13#comment6 We live in permanent contradiction over food: we are urged to consume local food in order to reduce our carbon footprint. On the other hand, we should import from developing countries to boost their economies, dissuading also massive immigration.There's no easy solution. A salomonic way out would be to increase agricultural imports from neighbouring countries in the South and East of Europe, avoiding food from wide Tchernobil area :-(This iniciative would leave out the less developped Subsaharan Africa. Something else should be thought about it. China is already playing a major role there, building infrastructure in exchange of commodities. Tue 03 Jun 2008 19:19:17 GMT+1 powermeerkat http://www.bbc.co.uk/blogs/thereporters/markmardell/2008/06/food_on_the_agenda.html?page=11#comment5 "you can use payments to farmers which are not tied to production"- says Mr. Mandelson.And he's right. ""New improved" subsidies are tied to NON-production. ..."irrational ban on GM foods." [#5]A the rate Brussels' going EU it may yet impose a ban on GM cars as well. Tue 03 Jun 2008 18:29:07 GMT+1 ScepticMax http://www.bbc.co.uk/blogs/thereporters/markmardell/2008/06/food_on_the_agenda.html?page=9#comment4 Another sensible measure that would increase food production worldwide would be to remove the EU's irrational (i.e. based on sentiment and superstition rather than science) ban on GM foods. Tue 03 Jun 2008 18:05:14 GMT+1 G-in-Belgium http://www.bbc.co.uk/blogs/thereporters/markmardell/2008/06/food_on_the_agenda.html?page=6#comment3 ... and if "stripping away the trade-distorting impact of the subsidy we give to farmers" results in us no longer being self sufficient it won't help either. Especially if we become a (bigger?) drain on the third world's resources.Would they then do an OPEP on us once our farming industry has collapsed? More than probably.Oh, and to pre-emp the Propoganda-meister: "The EU should be banned because they have the wrong coloured underwear!" Tue 03 Jun 2008 13:44:09 GMT+1 Buzet23 http://www.bbc.co.uk/blogs/thereporters/markmardell/2008/06/food_on_the_agenda.html?page=4#comment2 Mark,One of your sentences "The EU is asking poorer countries to open their markets, but because of health and safety policy and because of tariffs there are all sorts of policies that stop them exporting their goods to Europe." is very key but it also affects the viability of our farmers to produce anything at a fair price. Surely it is time to deregulate in order to stimulate the farming sector, continuing to impose new controls and regulations won't make food any safer for us, it just satisfies the control freaks drawing them up. Tue 03 Jun 2008 13:03:35 GMT+1 one step beyond http://www.bbc.co.uk/blogs/thereporters/markmardell/2008/06/food_on_the_agenda.html?page=2#comment1 Mark, a good, informative and well balanced report.I agree with post 1, this needs to be done before it's too late. It was mentioned on other posts about the environmental damage of shipping food to Europe from the rest of the world. I assume those posters would also agree the reverse is true. Subsidies distort markets and cause problems else where. Both for those in Europe who are on minimum wage and hurting financially and the even more damaging consequences for the develioping world. - Tue 03 Jun 2008 12:31:02 GMT+1 Freeborn John http://www.bbc.co.uk/blogs/thereporters/markmardell/2008/06/food_on_the_agenda.html?page=0#comment0 The highest priority should be to cut EU agricultural tariffs. This would have multiple benefits, such as reducing the price we pay for food at the supermarket checkout, making it easier for African and other farmers to earn a livelihood by selling into European markets, and freeing up the Doha WTO trade round which would lead to reduced tariff barriers to our exported manufactured goods and services. Tue 03 Jun 2008 12:05:44 GMT+1