Diolch yn fawr iawn am y gwahoddiad i siarad yn y gynhadledd bwysig hon. Mae’n digwydd ar amser pwysig hefyd, gyda diogelwch bwyd ar feddwl pobl unwaith eto. A heddiw fe wnaeth Ffederatiwn Rhyngwladol Symudiadau Organic Amaethyddol (yr IFOAM) gyhoeddi eu papur ar ddiwygio Rheoliad Organic yr Undeb Ewropeaidd, sydd o bwys mawr i dwf y sector organic. Mae grwp Ewropeaidd yr IFOAM yn croesawu cynnig y Comisiwn i ddiwygio'r rheoliad a sicrhau fod y safonnau yn adlewyrchu newidiadau amrywiol y gorffennol yn well, ac yn gallu ymdopi gyda her a newidiadau'r dyfodol.
Mae bwyd da yn angenrheidiol. Mae ei angen arnom ar gyfer ein bywydau yn wir, ar gyfer ein iechyd a lles. Ac mae polisi bwyd da yn fater gwleidyddol iawn. Dylai polisi bwyd effeithiol, er enghraifft, gwmpasu hawl y tlawd i fwyd eu hunain, cynaladwyedd amaeth, prisiau teg a masnach deg. Dylai amcanu i wella diogelwch bwyd a hybu deiet iach, i greu gwir ddewis i ddefnyddwyr a cynhyrchwyr a'n galluogi i gyd i fwynhau amrywiaeth diwylliannau bwyd Ewropeaidd.
Dyma'r egwyddorion sydd yn graidd i'r ymgyrch yr ydyn ni Plaid Cymru yn Grwp y Gwyrddiaid/EFA wedi ei lawnsio yn Ewrop: ymgyrch i chwyldroi polisi bwyd - i edrych ar agweddau positif a negyddol o fwyd yn cael ei gynhyrchu, prosesi, gwerthu a bwyta yn Ewrop a trio codi ymwybyddiaeth y cyhoedd o'r materion yma a'u cynnwys yn y drafodaeth. Heddiw hoffwn amlinelli rhai o brif negeseuon ein hymgyrch.
Mae'r newidiadau sydd eu hangen i fabwysiadu polisi bwyd saff a iach yn chwyldroadol fel ydych chi'n gwybod yn iawn. Mae angen sylweddoli beth yw'r problemau sydd yn ein gwynebu a pha mor eang yw'r ymgyrch fwyd. Ac fe fydd newid yn dibynnu i raddau helaeth ar mobileiddio'r grwp mwyaf effeithiol a dylanwadol - y defnyddwyr. Dyna pam y fforc yn y llaw yw prif symbol ein hymgyrch. Pan mae bwyd yn cyrraedd y plat - pan mae pobl wir yn meddwl am beth mae nhw'n bwyta y gallwn ni drosglwyddo'n neges yn fwyaf effeithiol.
Yn y blynyddoedd diweddar rydyn ni wedi cael nifer o fygythiadau bwyd - BSE, Diocsin, Salmonella - ac yn fwyaf diweddar, gyda chanlyniadau trasig, E-coli. Mae'r rhain wedi tanseilio hyder y cwsmer mewn bwyd, yn enwedig cig a bwyd wedi ei brosesu. Ac yn Ewrop, mae 90% o fwyd yn cael ei brosesi cyn cael ei werthu a'i fwyta. Mae ymddiriedaeth mewn gwleidyddion i sicrhau bwyd diogel hefyd wedi ei danseilio - a hynny'n deg i raddau helaeth.
Mae'r gynhadledd yma am ddyfodol ffermio organic yng Nghymru. Mae'n ddiddorol i nodi y safonnau a ofynir am gan rheoliad yr Uneb Ewropeaidd ar ffermio organic: safonnau verifiable yn gwaranti cynnyrch bwyd iachus i gael ei weithredu yr holl ffordd trwy'r broses cynhyrchu, o amaethu'r cnydau i'r prosesi terfynnol. Nid yw'r un safonnau yn cael eu gweithredu i gynhyrchu bwyd confensiynnol. Un o'n gofynion canolig yw y dylid gweithredu'r egwyddor rhagofal (the precautionary principle) nid yn unig wrth reoli'r cynnyrch terfynnol ond trwy'r broses cyfan.
Mae gan defnyddwyr a chwsmeriaid rôl mewn gweithredu'r egwyddor rhagofal trwy gymryd sylw, er enghraifft, o fan cychwyn cynnyrch, modd cynhyrchu neu safon gofalu am yr anifeiliaid wrth brynu cynnyrch. Er mwyn i gwsmer wneud dewis cyflawn pan yn prynu bwyd ac i adeiladu marchnadoedd ar gyfer cynnyrch safonol, dylai labeli ddarparu yr holl wybodaeth perthnasol am y proses cynhyrchu. Yn ogystal a ffeithiau ar gynhwysion, mae'n rhaid i labeli nawr ddangos os yw cynnyrch yn cynnwys deunydd a addaswyd yn enetig ac hefyd os defnyddiwyd GMOs yn y broses cynhyrchu. Nid ydyn ni wedi llwyddo eto i gael labeli i gynnyrch wedi dod o anifeiliad a fagwyd ar fwyd GM ond mae hyn yn ymgyrch sydd yn parhau ac mae gweithredu uniongyrchol wedi bod yn ddiweddar yn erbyn archfarchnadoedd sydd yn gwerthu llaeth o wartheg wedi eu magu ar fwyd GM.
Farmers, of course, have a responsibility to ensure the quality of the food they produce and supply to markets. But farmers must be properly and fairly recompensed for that food. While farm gate prices are decreasing continuously and not even covering costs for many small farmers in Europe, consumers are paying more than ever for their food. Despite the claimed support for traditional farming and small farmers, in practise policies are still geared towards supporting large scale production. The costs of intensive agriculture are externalised, which benefits the very large producers. The tax payer foots the bill for, for example, environmental costs and the public money spent because of food scandals or animal epidemics.
We need real support for the promotion of rural development measures which in turn support regional quality products. Organic farming should be promoted with public funding for conversion and for marketing in for example, baby food, schools, hospitals and public canteens as you have been doing so actively here in Wales.
But it is not just food intended for our own consumption which needs to be addressed when looking at food safety. The animal feed industry has been at the centre of almost all food scares, whether BSE or dioxins in chicken or fish. The rules have been tightened, and feed has to be labelled not only for nutritional details but all ingredients in the final mixture have to be listed. But while controls have been strengthened, there is not full traceability and controls and sanctions are not severe enough to effectively prevent fraud.
Research and education should be focused on sustainable production and not biotechnological intensification. Special emphasis should be put on modernising organic and low input farming through targeted research; again much work is being done in Wales by OCW and IGER. The Parliament, Commission and Council are currently discussing the 7th Research Framework Programme for 2007 - 2012. The programme earmarks over 2 billion euros for "Biotech, Food, Agriculture". On the initiative of the GM companies and leading GMO scientists and after two years intensive lobbying, a vision paper was produced and a network set up called "Plants for the Future". This is about to be established as the key technology platform to spend this money on GM research. It claims to include all types of stakeholders and supports sustainable agriculture and biodiversity, but the details clearly show that the funds will be pumped into genomic and genetic engineering research only. No funds are earmarked for organic research under plant breeding and plant research.
And as our postcard on genetically modified food shows, GMs are bananas. From the test tube to the dinner plate GM produce will be controlled by a handful of hugely powerful companies which also control the major share of the world market for pesticides. Over 70% of consumers have said in various polls that they don't want GM food and many governments in the EU are opposed to GMs too. Throughout Europe there are now about 2000 regions and local authorities which have declared themselves GM free and we are campaigning with them for the right to enshrine that in law. The National Assembly for Wales voted for a GM free Wales in 1999 and although the present government in the Assembly is not calling for that, it is certainly what people in Wales want and we should have the right to make that decision.
And in a scandalous example of the lack of democracy in Europe, the European Commission has been approving GM products for use in animal feed in Europe because the governments in the Council of Ministers have been unable to agree. At the same time the Commission has delayed once again their report on co-existence of GM and non-GM crops until they see how guidelines in some countries work in practise. In the meantime more expert research is showing what we already know: that co-existence is a political concept which in reality is impossible to implement. This year it was shown that GM oilseed rape seeds can survive in the soil for nine years and 1% can still germinate fifteen years after harvesting.
So there is still a lot of lobbying and campaigning to do on the production and processing of food. Another aspect of our campaign is how is food sold to the consumer? Largely, of course, through advertising. And that advertising should be honest and informative. This is not the case today and there are some shocking examples of how misleading adverts on food packaging can be. For example, a well known cereal claimed to provide calcium which was good for childrens teeth and bones. In tiny print on the back of the box it stated that the calcium would be provided if milk was added to the cereal! How often have you seen products labelled as “95% fat free”, giving the distinct impression that it is healthy. In fact, low fat products have less than 3% fat so 5% is actually a high fat content. Lots of products claim to improve our general wellbeing and even improve childrens’ performance in school.
We have had a major debate in the European Parliament in recent months on how to regulate this kind of advertising. Unfortunately the big food lobby was very successful in preventing strict rules being adopted – and as you will know the big food companies are a powerful and formidable force.
At the same time, obesity and diabetes are becoming more and more widespread in our society. Less time is spent on preparing meals, and with an ever increasing number of people living alone, the social event of eating together at home has become much less important. Fewer children learn how to cook - some 40 % of children in Europe do not know how to cook potatoes.
That’s one of the reasons why we’ve tried to appeal to people in a simple and striking way. For example, we've asked the question "Do you know where your dinner was last night?" Food is transported over long distances just because some ingredients are a bit cheaper elsewhere. And the extent to which food travels is astonishing. In 1998 the UK imported over 60,000 tonnes of poultry meat from the Netherlands. In the same year it exported over 33,000 tonnes back to the Netherlands!
In 1997, 126 million litres of milk was imported into the UK, At the same time 270 million litres of milk was exported!
As I said earlier, the aims of the campaign are to improve the safety of food without sacrificing quality and taste; to prevent the agriculture and environment from being contaminated with GMOs; to create more choice for consumers and producers through sustainable production and consumption of food; to make food trade fair; to reduce food transport; to promote a healthy diet; to improve animal welfare; and enjoy the diversity of European food cultures. It is a very ambitious and massive campaign and we do not pretend to be able to do it all ourselves - it must be part of a wider network.
So we have been taking our exhibition around the country, publicising our website, distributing our postcards which illustrate these messages and asking people to sign up in support of the campaign. Within the Parliament of course we work as MEPs to influence legislation but we need the support of a big lobby outside. The response that I have had so far in Wales has been very encouraging. People are more and more interested and they do want change. A survey by OCW showed that 80% of consumers preferred organic food produced in Wales. The price of food is very important, but despite the abundance of different foods available in supermarkets our taste buds don’t lie. We don’t want the single European tomato. We want to preserve food diversity because it is not something that can be warmed up again from one day to the next in a microwave. We have to take action now and I would welcome your support.
Diolch yn fawr.
Jill Evans ASE