Green Party of England and Wales : Molly Scott Cato
Response for all Green Party of England and Wales candidates supplied by Caroline Allen (here)
Liberal Democrats : Graham Watson
"Dear Amanda Baker,
Thank you for your email of 6 May on behalf of the Vegan Society ahead of the European Elections.
I think human rights are incredibly important and know there is a tendency in some quarters to dismiss these fundamental rights. When citizens interact with the state, then of course the state should take into account the beliefs and conscience of individuals including their dietary requirements.
In the last 60 years we have seen especially in the developed world a huge increase in the consumption of meat. As you will be aware livestock requires cereal feed in many multiples to that of the final piece of meat we derive from the animal. This demand places an even greater burden on farming and in some parts of the world has driven unsustainable deforestation.
This past five years I have worked with colleagues and supported reforms to the Common Fisheries Policy and Common Agricultural Policy. I didn't get all the reforms I would have wanted, but Parliament as a whole has managed to go far further than they have in the past, or would have this time if left solely to national ministers in Council. For instance we wouldn't be seeing us phase out the disgraceful practice of fish discards if only the 28 national fisheries ministers had been left to agree alone - many continued arguing to the bitter end with MEPs that we didn't need to end this unnecessary and wasteful practice. Increased greening measures are now contained within CAP however, I am sure we could go further.
Whilst I wouldn't want to dictate what people should eat I think there is a need to reconnect people with where their food comes from and the impact in has on the environment. In addition we all need to look at our diets and healthy alternatives, and cutting consumption can be provide multiple benefits
On the topic of circuses I would add that I have been working with my Liberal Democrat colleague on the ending the use of wild animals for performances in circuses. I am certain that nobody would wish to attend a circus knowing that they are contributing to the further degradation and mistreatment of animals. But we certainly need tighter rules than we have now.
Finally with regard to neonicotinoids I was pleased that the EU supported the precautionary approach of having an initial 2 year ban on the use of these chemicals - although I was disappointed the UK didn't vote in favour of this approach. Three reports published by the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) on the toxicity risk to bees and other pollinator species of the neonicotinoid insecticides were clear that they did pose a threat, and, in light of this, I was one of 90 MEPs (from across five political groups within Parliament) who co-signed a letter to the Commission to express support for the ban (link to Letter).
I hope my comments are helpful.
Sir Graham Watson MEP
Liberal Democrat Member of the European Parliament for South West England and Gibraltar