Green Party of England and Wales : Katharina Boettge
"Thanks for getting in touch with me. I must apologise for my late response. Unfortunately the Green Party has limited funds, so here in the East Midlands we do not have any paid support – unlike the other parties. I am working full time and I am a single parent, so responding to the thousands of emails from concerned individuals like yourself, takes its time.
1. Human rights: The Charter of Fundamental Rights of the European Union, Article 10 ‘Freedom of thought, conscience and religion’ gives the right to manifest our vegan philosophical beliefs, in teaching and practice, and Article 21 ‘Non-discrimination’ prohibits discrimination against vegans. How do your party’s policies develop practical protection of these rights - including vegans in institutional settings e.g. children in schools, patients in hospitals, people in justice systems, workers and others?
From GP Food & Agriculture policy: FA222 Healthy vegetarian and vegan options and options for people on restricted diets and religious diets will be provided in all public sector establishments.
FA223 Public sector caterers will be provided with guidance on adopting the Code for Sustainable Food and on providing food for specific dietary needs. There would be a budget to allow caterers to be trained in these areas.
From Education policy: ED190 It will be a minimum requirement that all children are provided free of charge with a balanced nutritious lunch including local and organic non-GM food, free from additives. Vegetarian, vegan, religious and other dietary requirements will be catered for. Vending machines will only supply healthy snacks and not crisps, carbonated drinks and sweets. Schools will be encouraged to involve children in growing, preparing and cooking food. Not only will this provide invaluable and essential education in the importance of a good diet, but evidence shows it will greatly improve behaviour, quality of life and learning.
2. Plant-centred diets - at least seven portions of vegetables and fruit daily - have great public health impact, cutting premature death by over 40% (Oyebode et. al 2014). What are your party’s policies on :
a. Promoting plant-centred diets for public health?
Health policy states: HE322 The Green Party believes a good diet is so important in the promotion of good health that all schools will be obliged to have their own kitchen so as to be able to provide for each child a freshly prepared lunch each day, using fresh, organic and local produce wherever possible. Food provided by schools must include both vegetarian and vegan options. We would continue the school Fruit and Vegetable Scheme, with a strong preference for organic and local produce. Such meals will be free to all children and will be paid for out of increased taxation: we believe that the consequent improvement in health will dramatically reduce the costs of illness and social care to the NHS and other public services. Junk foods and vending machines will become unavailable in state schools."
b. Monitoring and reporting on the public health effectiveness of Member State plant-centred nutrition strategies compared to EU and world best practice?
c. Research and support for the transition to sustainable plant-based protein production and human consumption, away from animal protein?
Food & Ag policy FA420(d) High rates of consumption of meat and other animal products in richer countries, and rising demand elsewhere, means that the increasing requirement for animal feed competes with food production for direct human consumption. We will encourage healthy and sustainable consumption patterns, including a shift towards more plant-based foods. Such a shift would enable an increased world population to be fed sustainably and would help to tackle climate change and biodiversity loss. (See FA211, FA222, FA237, FA662)
To enable tis shift we would want to monitor best practice and sponsor research on both supply and on changing public attitudes. On tnhis latter we take a strong line on targeting food advertising at young people, a cause taken up be Green MEP Keith Taylor.
3. Climate change and Stock-free farming Moving away from animal farming – to food, fuel and other crops for direct human use – can significantly cut EU greenhouse gas emissions. What are your party’s policies on supporting EU farmers who wish to move toward horticulture, arable farming, agro-forestry and other crop farming, away from the ‘livestock’ industry?
FA630 The Green Party will use subsidies, financial incentives, regulation, education, research and participation to support a transition towards more sustainable farming systems that foster long-term soil health, conserve water, reduce non-renewable inputs, minimise pollution and greenhouse gases, support habitats and greater biodiversity, enhance landscapes and cultural heritage and produce healthy and nutritious food. (See also CY523-7, FA521)
FA631 We will support a rapid increase in the proportion of land designated as organic, including stock-free organic, by giving financial help and advice to farmers making the transition to organic, increasing subsidies for organic farming and by funding the maintenance and promotion of organic standards.
4. Food security: What are your party’s policies on reaping the potential of accessible and nutritious plant-based food to ensure food security for European and global citizens?
FA420 The Green Party has diverse policies on Food and Agriculture and in other areas that are aimed at increasing future food security both locally and globally. They are summarised and cross-referenced below:
(a) The Green Party supports the right to food as recognised by the Universal Declaration on Human Rights. Our policies on the economy, food supply and international trade aim to support this universal right. (See FA260-265, FA500-502)
(b) We will support sustainable agriculture and farming practices to help conserve and enhance land and other agricultural resources for future generations. Sustainable agriculture must be used to prevent loss of soil structure and nutrients and the soil erosion, desertification and salinisation that currently threaten the availability of agricultural land and future food security. (See FA630-641)
(c) To reduce fossil fuel use and the vulnerability of global food supply to climate change and rises in the price of fossil fuel, we will support localisation, self-reliance and a shortening of the food chain, together with more equitable trade and distribution of food globally. (See CC022, EN106, FA440-448, FA500-502)
(d) High rates of consumption of meat and other animal products in richer countries, and rising demand elsewhere, means that the increasing requirement for animal feed competes with food production for direct human consumption. We will encourage healthy and sustainable consumption patterns, including a shift towards more plant-based foods. Such a shift would enable an increased world population to be fed sustainably and would help to tackle climate change and biodiversity loss. (See FA211, FA222, FA237, FA662)
(e) World population is expected to reach about 9 billion by 2050, which means that more food will need to be produced from limited resources. Policies elsewhere, for instance those that foster greater equality and universal provision of health services and education, will contribute to stabilisation of world population levels and assist in achieving future food security. (See policies on Education, Health, Population and Workers’ Rights and Employment).
(f) High levels of food waste, especially in richer countries, waste scarce agricultural resources and reduce the ability to feed populations sustainably. We will use public information and education campaigns, and legislation on food labelling and marketing to reduce food waste. We will encourage appropriate recycling of food waste. (See FA290-6, FA632)
(g) We will support agricultural employment and thriving rural communities, helping to reverse the trend towards increased urbanisation which makes larger populations dependent on intensive food production. (See FA463-465, FA501, CY511)
(h) Our policies on the Common Agricultural Policy will foster food security in preference to global competitiveness. (See FA521)
(i) We will restrict the growth of biofuel production to reduce competition with food crops. (See FA741, CC250-CC253)
(j) Our policies to protect wildlife and biodiversity will help to conserve genetic resources, on which future agricultural diversity may depend. (See FA680-684, CY500-505)
(k) We support a moratorium on the use of genetically modified organisms in agricultural systems. The introduction of such novel technologies tends to move control of food production to a minority of mainly corporate interests. (See FA720-723)
(l) We will support research and development on small-scale and appropriate technologies and innovation to increase efficiency and to conserve resources. (See FA640)
(m) We will encourage greater agricultural diversity and aim to reduce reliance on intensification and globalised trade. This will increase resilience to climate change and market fluctuations and will reduce susceptibility to pandemics and pest and disease outbreaks. (See FA501-502, FA521, FA636, FA660-1, FA700)
(n) We will support stringent restrictions on commodity speculation and foreign ownership of land, which can destabilise markets and threaten food security. (See FA501-502)
(o) We will encourage the maintenance of adequate food reserves at local and regional level to offset ‘shocks’ and scarcity in food supply.
5. Non-human animals in testing, science and education Research on non-human animals frequently fails to predict the actual effects on humans. What are your party’s policies to improve the quality of testing, science and education by replacing the use of non-human animals with the wide range of proven effective alternatives?
AR413 In the UK, millions of animals are used each year in experiments which can cause great pain and suffering. There are significant differences between the physiology of animals and that of humans and the reliance on animal testing and experimentation increases the risks of adverse reactions and hampers progress. A large proportion of animals are used for non-medical testing and for duplicate research which could be avoided. There are now many techniques available for testing of chemicals, drugs and medical procedures and for researching disease that do not use animals. However, these alternatives are often not used and are not adequately funded or supported.
AR414 The Green Party would ban all experimentation and research which harms animals, including harmful procedures used to obtain animal-derived materials. 'Harmful' is defined in this context as 'having the potential to cause pain, suffering, distress, lasting harm or death in animals, except where it is designed to benefit the individual animals concerned
AR415 Government research funds will be transferred from animal tests to non-animal technologies, including epidemiology, computer models, micro-dosing, imaging, DNA chips, microfluidics chips and the use of human tissue. Much greater use will be made of epidemiological evidence and clinical data. Greens would also fund more research into prevention of disease, looking at diet, environment, family history and lifestyle.
AR416 The Green Party is opposed to the harmful use in education of animals and of animal-derived materials where the animals have been killed specifically for this purpose. The Party supports the replacement of the use of animals and animal material with methods such as models, mannequins, mechanical and computer-based simulators, films and interactive videos, plant experiments and observational and field studies, and human studies including self-experimentation. The Party supports the educational use of animal cadavers and animal-derived materials where these have been ethically sourced, such as animals who have died naturally and animals who have been euthanased for humane reasons.
6. Non-human animals in entertainment Animals suffer needlessly even in so-called ‘good’ zoos, circuses, race-tracks and other entertainment venues. What are your party’s policies to end the use of non-human animals in entertainment?
AR423 In view of the fact that animal acts in circuses are cruel and degrading to performer and observer alike, we will immediately prohibit the import of, and sale from other sources of, all animals to circuses. We will immediately prohibit the use of animals in circuses and will encourage the re-homing of all existing circus animals to sanctuaries or other suitable establishments with relocation to the wild wherever possible.
AR424 To abolish zoos and private collections of animals except where they are for the benefit of the animal concerned. Licences will only be granted to establishments involved in either captive breeding of endangered species for eventual return to the wild or else those offering genuine sanctuary to animals unable, through injury and other cause, to be returned to the wild and where their living conditions are as close as possible to the animal's natural habitat.
7. Common Agricultural Policy FA512 The current CAP structure does not adequately address the above challenges and the Green Party believes that it must be replaced. However, while the CAP exists, there are opportunities at a Europe-wide level to encourage a transition towards more sustainable agricultural practices and rural development, and to support farmers more equitably.
1. How can Pillar 1 Basic Payments be used to reward environmentally sustainable practices which also benefit non-human animals?
FA521 The Green Party will work towards replacing the Common Agricultural Policy. While it still exists, we support a progressive reorientation of the CAP to:
(d) protect soil and water resources;
(e) promote agricultural systems that sequester carbon in soils and have a low greenhouse gas footprint;
(f) support habitats and biodiversity throughout farmland, and particularly in woods, orchards, hedges, ponds, headlands and designated areas of farms;
(g) respect animal welfare;
2. How can Pillar 1 Green Direct Payments be used to support farmers who wish to move away from unsustainable ‘livestock’ farming?
FA520 (c) support a restructuring of subsidies [ie make direct payments available] to encourage all farmers to make a transition towards sustainable practices and ‘best practice’, and to establish sustainability as the rule rather than the exception;
3. How can Pillar 1 Payments be used to move away from imported non-EU animal feed, to significantly reduce GHG emissions?
(k) support the ‘Qualified Market Access’ principle of restricting imports based on environmental and ethical criteria applied to domestic agricultural production (See also FA502(c));
4. Pillars 1 & 2 An estimated over €129.6 million in EU subsidies has been used to support bull cattle ‘fiestas’ and the ‘Toros’ industry in Spain. What steps will your party take to end this support?
Green MEPS will work towards removing EU subsidies from bullfighting and will campaign against any attempt to have bullfighting recognised by UNESCO as Intangible Cultural Heritage;
5. Pillar 2: Rural Development. For each such programme, 30% of the budget is reserved for voluntary measures beneficial to the environment. How can Pillar 2 Rural Development Payments be used to help farmers who wish to move away from the ‘livestock’ industry?
(b) support [through CAP payments] sustainable agricultural practices, farming livelihoods and the rural economy, and phase out subsidies which encourage highly intensified farming, pesticides, artificial fertilisers, pollution, large land holdings and habitat damage;
8. What are your party’s policies on neonicotinoids and restoring EU bee populations?
With honey bee populations in decline across the world Greens have fought hard to protect these vital pollinators from the use of toxic pesticides. In the European Parliament, and in the face of fierce opposition from the pesticide industry – and the UK Government, Jean Lambert, MEP, London helped push through a suspension of the use of toxic bee killing pesticides neonicotinoids.
9. Common Fisheries Policy: What are your party’s policies on protecting both endangered and other fish in European waters?
Greens were at the centre of creating a new Common Fisheries Policy that will help address the dangerous state of our seas. Jean Lambert MEP worked with fellow Greens in rallying a majority of MEPs behind a demand for sustainable fish stocks. Green amendments on avoiding bycatch and reducing discards of bycatch was also carried by a majority in Parliament. Thanks to Greens, future fishing rights will be allocated according to best performance indicators, no longer based on historical fishing quotas.
10. If elected as an MEP for 2014-2019, which key policy issues do you intend to address related to:
1. Reducing the use of non-human animals for human purposes?
2. Increasing environmental sustainable plant agriculture?
3. Using crop farming to increase global human food security?
There will be a new round of negotiations on the CAP in the new Parliament and Green MEP's, including those from the UL will be closely involved to ensure tjhat tjhese priority areas are properly addressed. Greens will also be opposing the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership that we believe will lead to the further intensification of agriculture with the introduction on more US style mega-farms. Greens will also be working to get the EU to take up serious programmes to combat climate change, not only through renewable energy but also through agricultural and forestry policy. Greens will be highly critical of any drive to increase bio-fuel production at the expense of human food production or using soil damaging and unsustainable fuel crops.
Thank you for taking the time to share your views and your party’s policies with our supporters. Finally, if you’d like to share, would you describe yourself as:
2. Other, please describe:
I am not a vegan, although I do admire people who are. I do try to eat very little animal products, and if so only from locally, organic farmers who I know personally and who treat the animals well. Most meals I consume are vegan.