Cordoba, 7 September 2023 (TDI): On September 6, EU agriculture ministers convened an informal meeting in Córdoba to discuss the utilization of innovative technologies to bolster food security, combat climate change, and enhance the profitability of the agricultural sector.

Moreover, the meeting was a part of the Spanish presidency of the Council of the EU and took place at the Palacio de Congresos in the city of Córdoba.

It was chaired by Spain’s acting Minister for Agriculture and Fisheries, Luis Planas, and attended by the European Commissioner, Janusz Wojciechowski.

Food Security and Climate Change

Central to the discussions was the imperative to address the escalating global demand for food security.

With the world’s population expected to reach 9.7 billion by 2050, the provision of safe, nutritious, and abundant food is a global priority.

The EU, as the world’s largest food producer, has a critical role in meeting the “zero hunger” challenge outlined in the UN’s 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development.

Luis Planas emphasized that the global challenge of securing an abundant supply of high-quality and nutritious food affects the entire planet.

Climate change, particularly adverse impacts like rising temperatures and frequent droughts, took centre stage.

European leaders discussed strategies to confront these challenges, with a primary focus on adopting new technologies to optimize water resources, mitigate the effects of reduced rainfall, and promote sustainable food production in the face of climatic uncertainties.

Planas expressed his aspiration that by adopting this global perspective, we can harmonize food production with environmental and biodiversity conservation.

Additionally, he underscored the primary objective of ensuring fair compensation for the labour of the farmers and livestock breeders while safeguarding the future of rural communities.

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Genomic Techniques in Agriculture

A key topic during the meeting was the application of new genomic techniques (NTG) in agriculture.

NTG enables rapid and precise breeding of resilient and resistant plant varieties, offering promise for enhancing food production sustainability and addressing climate change while reducing the use of plant protection products and fertilizers.

The European Commission had earlier presented a proposal for regulations governing NTG, leading to transparent debates among decision-makers.

The objective is to ensure sufficient seed and plant production for food without causing harm to the environment, along with providing transparency and information to consumers.

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Janusz Wojciechowski highlights the support for new genome editing techniques, underlining the importance of adopting a responsible approach in their application.

While the Spanish Minister focused on the potential of new genomic techniques in developing novel plant varieties to address the sustainability of food production.

The goal of the Spanish presidency is to achieve preliminary political agreements on New Technologies of Genetic Modification (NTGs) before the six-month term concludes.

Sustainable Agriculture and Profitability

The third pivotal area of discussion was the welfare of rural workers. Ministers recognized that agricultural sustainability hinges on farm profitability.

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To achieve this, discussions centred on increasing agricultural productivity, offering financial mechanisms for farmers to invest in new technologies, and facilitating training in their utilization.

EU funds from the Horizon Europe program and the strategies outlined in the Common Agricultural Policy (CAP) strategic plans will play a pivotal role in supporting innovative projects aimed at digitally and innovatively transforming agriculture.

The informal ministerial meeting in Córdoba reaffirmed the EU’s commitment to harnessing new technologies and strategies to address the pressing challenges of food security, climate change, and agricultural sustainability.