EU must stop ignoring science in food policies

The EU has been urged to stop ignoring science by appointing a chief scientific advisor to help guide policies on food and climate change as a matter of urgency.

The NFU said the EU must increase its efforts to fill the role to give the European Commission advice and support when it develops policy.

European Commission president Jose Manuel Barrosso pledged to create the position 18 months ago to offer “proactive and scientific advice” to policy makers.

But while the UK and Ireland have employed a chief scientific advisor, the European-wide post remains unfilled.

Katy Lee, assistant director in the NFU’s Brussels office, said science was often ignored by EU policy makers and urged the president to fill the role as a matter of urgency.

“We welcomed the intention to appoint a chief scientific adviser back in 2009 but we are disappointed the post has still not been filled,” she said.

“We are faced with huge global challenges to feed a growing world population sustainably and it is clear the solutions from the EU must be underpinned by sound science and not destroyed by intransigent politics.”

The NFU’s demand comes after the government’s chief scientific advisor, Sir John Beddington, presented his Foresight Report on the future of food and farming to EU officials. During the visit he also called for the EU to appoint a chief scientist.

“Professor Beddington has been an instrumental voice in putting food security back on the political agenda and advising smart solutions based on science,” Ms Lee added.

“Research and development will be essential in our bid to tackle food security issues and it is vital the European Commission receives the very best scientific advice.”