CAP reform vital for health, claims group

By Anthony Fletcher

- Last updated on GMT

Related tags: Common agricultural policy, European union

A UK health pressure group has called on Europe to reform the CAP -
for health reasons.

"The Common Agricultural Policy was introduced after the experience of the war to stop starvation in Europe,"​ said the faculty in a statement. "It has more than succeeded, we are now too fat and fed on the wrong things."​ In a bid to pressure MEPs ahead of the CAP reform discussions in 2008, the Faculty has released a new report, A CAP on Health,​ which calls for public health to be put at the heart of reforms of the Common Agricultural Policy (CAP), and reduce health inequalities. The report claims to show that CAP not only damages Europe's health, but also increases health inequalities, by subsidising foods which are a major factor in such public health crises as obesity, diabetes and heart disease. Decisions made on the CAP therefore have profound implications for the quality of nutrition in Europe and the health of its people, according to the faculty. "It could be argued that CAP had dominated public health for the last 40 years through its subsidies to food production,"​ said Faculty of Public Health president Rod Griffiths. "Almost half of the EU budget is spent on CAP. This money needs to be better spent - reducing the subsidies to beef and dairy production, and increasing the availability of fruit and vegetables. If we get it wrong we condemn many people to diabetes, heart disease, cancers and early death." ​ The principal author of the FPH report, Christopher Birt, said that although the food people eat makes a big difference to their health, food choice is largely determined by price and availability - particularly for people on low incomes. "CAP is a major influence on price,"​ he said. "It has subsidised massively the production of fat-rich foods such as dairy and meat products making them cheaper, whilst allowing the systematic destruction of large quantities of fruit and vegetables."​ The EC is certainly aware of the situation, and has taken action. EC agriculture minister told the agricultural committee at the European parliament earlier this year that the Commission College has approved the proposal for a reform of the European Union's fruit and vegetable sector. "The fruit and vegetable sector cannot afford to be the dunce of the class,"​ she said. "It can benefit from many of the reforms that we have applied to the rest of the CAP​ - though with adjustments here and there."

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