UK consumers call for end to EU agriculture policy
LONDON - A leading UK consumer watchdog called on the European Union yesterday to scrap its agriculture policy, saying it was costing British shoppers their money and their health while destroying the countryside.
The Consumers\' Association said Europe\'s Common Agricultural Policy was forcing British shoppers to spend dozens more pounds on beef, lamb, oil and rice than those in New Zealand with few guarantees of their health and safety.
\"The Common Agricultural Policy (CAP) is well past its sell-by date,\" Sheila McKechnie, director of the Consumers\' Association, said in a statement.
\"The policy has led to appalling levels of waste, inflated food prices, and a market that is rigged against consumers, and for the interests of producers...We
need a European food policy, not a European agriculture policy.\"
The future of farming is up for debate in Britain after the countryside was ravaged by a foot-and-mouth disease epidemic, which led to the slaughter of almost four million animals and cost the government hundreds of millions of pounds.
The government has launched inquiries into how to shape future agricultural policies while lobby, farming and environmental groups have queued up to outline their demands.
The Consumers\' Association said the CAP cost a family of four about 16 pounds ($22.96) a week in taxes and higher food prices, had encouraged environmentally destructive farming methods and had failed to encourage food safety.
Britain, and other European countries, have been hit by a raft of food scares, including mad cow disease, salmonella and campylobacter.
\"While the UK government is in favour of reform of the CAP, they are holding back from taking the only position that will really make a difference - abolition,\" McKechnie said.
\"This indefensible position is harming UK consumers, a large section of the agriculture industry, and many developing countries.\"
REUTERS NEWS SERVICE
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