CAP Payments Clear as Mud

Back in November 2010 the European Court of Justice (ECJ) passed a landmark ruling to provide anonymity to individuals receiving Common Agricultural Policy (CAP) payments. The ruling states that the existing law is invalid in its obligation “to publish personal data relating to each beneficiary without drawing a distinction based on relevant criteria.” The criteria being the amount of each payment, the number of payments made and the period over which they were received.

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University of East Anglia All in a Spin

In February the University of East Anglia (UEA) announced the introduction of an M.sc in Sustainable Agriculture and Food Security. Under a press release titled “New postgraduate degree will help dispel ‘Frankenfood’ myth” the university set out how a “groundbreaking new course will explore the cutting edge agricultural techniques needed to feed a rocketing global population.”

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Spelman’s Spoutings

Caroline Spelman gave a rabble-rousing performance at this years’ Oxford Farming Conference in which she condemned any country wishing to prioritize national food security and urged British farmers to increase competitiveness and embrace “sustainable intensification”.

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Reclaim the Fields Host First UK Gathering

The middle of March saw the first Reclaim the Fields UK gathering take place at Grow Heathrow, a squatted market garden on the outskirts of London. Reclaim the Fields (RTF) is an upcoming youth movement with the objective of getting young people back onto the land. Since its conception in 2008 RTF has swept across mainland Europe giving rise to land occupations, direct actions, international camps and a network of skill-sharing farms.

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Leaked G20 Report Cautions Against Liberalisation

A confidential draft report advising G20 leaders to curb the negative impacts of agricultural liberalisation was leaked at the end of March as finance ministers of the world’s 20 most industrialised countries met in Paris. French President Nicholas Sarkozy has already stated that action on food security will be a priority under his leadership of the G20 throughout 2011.The reports’ recommendations will be discussed at a proposed summit of G20 farm ministers from 22-23 June.

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Bristol Rejects Biofuel Plant – but Pickles allows it

Last year a seemingly routine planning application to Bristol City Council resulted in an unexpected decision, with consequences stretching half-way around the world. An initial application was submitted by Bristol-based renewable energy firm W4B in December 2009 for a 50MW biofuel power station to be built on a brown-field site at Avonmouth docks. It was proposed that the plant would use palm-oil imported from Indonesian producers to supply 25,000 homes in the city with “green” energy.

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Who Wants to be a Millionaire Farmer?

The number of UK farmers and agri-businesses receiving in excess of one million pounds in CAP subsidies doubled from 16 to 29 between 2009 – 2010. CAP payment figures were published simultaneously in all EU countries, with the exception of the UK, on 30 April. In defiance of an EU directive Defra refused release UK figures until after the general election on 12 May.
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First GM Potato licensed by the EU

The European Commission recently approved a license for the first GM-crop to be passed for commercial production in 12 years. The Amflora GM potato developed by the world’s largest chemical company BASF Europe is designed to produce starch for industrial uses including paper and glue and has also been cleared for use in animal feed. The potato has already been planted extensively in Germany, the Czech Republic and Sweden.
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