CHAPTER 3: Food and Nutrition Security


How the EU could ensure that Halima Ally from Tanzania, and others like her, benefit from EU investment in agriculture


How the EU is impacting people’s lives

Halima Ally, the mother of three children, lives in Kisarawe District, Tanzania.[1] She and her community have been affected by a European (UK) company that sought to produce biofuels for export to Europe.


In 2006, Sun Biofuels arrived in Halima’s area and acquired land with an area the size of 11,000 football pitches, to set up a jatropha plantation. Land was grabbed with little or no compensation, promises of investment in social services such as schools, clinics and wells were not kept, and people lost access to wells and to the graves of their ancestors. Residents of the eleven villages surrounding the plantation in Kisarawe are angry at how they have been treated. “All the promises are fake, the promises are air” is how Halima Ally sums it up.

The plantation came about in response to the EU’s biofuels policy – a policy that promises a secure market for biofuels and is driving many private companies like Sun Biofuels to look for land and invest in plantations. The EU renewable energy policy, with its incentives and supporting measures, is encouraging investment in biofuel production at the expense of the rights and food security of poor communities. The same policy is driving investment in biofuels production to unsustainable levels, without safeguarding the rights of the people affected in developing countries. Unfortunately, many of these private investors have little regard, if any, for the impact on local communities.


In August 2011 Sun Biofuels went into administration and was taken over by a new owner. The plantation was shut down and most of the workers were fired, which meant that even the promise of jobs was lost. Today the plantation is still shut, but its impacts have already been felt. In 2013, after four years of community mobilisation, some of the local people’s demands have still not been met (better wages, the social amenities promised by the company). There has been major progress on one of their key demands, however: compensation. In 2012 the government officially recognised the challenges that the eleven communities are facing. It ordered the investor to compensate them for communal land that was lost, and the investor has accepted the need to do this. With these successful moves, the communities are now in a much stronger position.

Sun Biofuels is just one example of a trend in land investment that has devastating impacts on the poorest and most marginalised communities, especially in terms of their food and nutrition security and their exercise of their right to food.

Despite some progress, and the fact that there is enough food for everyone, one of the biggest challenges that is crippling the economic and social potential of almost a billion people is food and nutrition insecurity. Every night, 870 million people go to bed hungry. In addition, malnutrition causes the death of 3.1 million children every year, accounting for 45% of all deaths among children under the age of five, while stunting causes permanent damage to the future potential of 165 million more children.[2]

Huge tracts of land are diverted from food to energy production; 30 to 50% of food is wasted globally while governments still fail to live up their commitment to agriculture.

Despite this, much of the current debate on food and nutrition security generated by the FAO, the EU and others focuses on the supply side. The argument runs that, to feed over nine billion people – the world’s projected population by 2050[3] – productivity has to increase. But would we have to increase it so much if we were challenging and changing our current unsustainable production and consumption patterns, and the resulting policies that create more demand for food products, such as the EU biofuels policy?

In this debate, special attention must be paid to the situation of – and the role played by – the half a billion smallholder farmers who cultivate 400 million farms of less than two hectares, and manage more than 80 per cent of farmland (and similar proportions of other natural resources) in Asia and Africa.[4] The majority of smallholders are women, who face particular challenges, including access to credit and extension services. It is estimated that if women had equal access to productive resources, yields on farms could increase by 20 to 30 per cent in low-income countries.[5]

Smallholders are recognised, including by the EU, as the single most efficient channel for increasing the availability of food while preserving the environment in developing countries.[6] They represent the largest group of investors in the agriculture sector, and the FAO estimates that on-farm investment by farmers themselves dwarfs foreign direct investment and official development assistance, and also significantly exceeds investment by governments.[7] Yet smallholders remain neglected by current public and investment policies.

Meanwhile, the food sector is increasingly dominated by large corporations, with five companies controlling 90% of the world’s grain trade and three controlling 85% of the tea market,[8] thanks notably to favourable government policies and benefits. Increased investment by big agri-food companies is depicted by some as the solution to the problem of hunger, with a hidden move to delegate to the private sector what governments are failing to do owing to a lack of political will.


Agricultural investment in small-scale farming has the potential either to exacerbate the above situation or to create a favourable environment in which smallholder farmers can play a more central and effective part in food and nutrition security.


Agricultural investment is high on the agenda of several international fora and processes in which the EU or groups of Member States are involved, including the G8 and the Committee on World Food Security (see focus box 1), with a special focus on biofuels, smallholder investment and the process of defining principles for responsible agricultural investment (rai). This presents an opportunity to make policies that impact on agricultural investment more coherent with food security and fighting hunger.


Focus 1: Debate on responsible agricultural investment at the Committee on World Food Security


In June 2012 the Committee on World Food Security (CFS) began to develop principles for responsible agricultural investment (rai). A central part of this process is a multistakeholder consultation phase in 2013, during which civil society can gather statements, demands and proposals on agricultural investment. The principles drafted are to be discussed in regional multistakeholder consultations throughout 2013, and then negotiated at global level in 2014 in a process that will culminate with their endorsement by the CFS in its 41st session (CFS 41).

The CFS principles should guide all actors to promote investment in agriculture that contributes to food security and nutrition, and to support the gradual exercise of the right to adequate food in the context of national food security. Social movements, unions and CSOs, involved in the Civil Society Mechanism (CSM) of the CFS, aim to secure strong outcomes from the negotiating process. They want strong rai principles to become an international framework in which to push for policies to stop the various forms of land- and resource-grabbing, and to refocus national policies in support of small-scale food producers and providers.[9] These principles could also help to limit the scope of undemocratic agribusiness and corporate food industry initiatives, such as the G8 New Alliance. Weak rai principles, on the other hand, would result in the creation of a tool to support large-scale investment, false solutions to the food crisis designed by the agri-food industry, and the legitimisation of public policies and policy reforms that facilitate market concentration and resource-grabbing by large corporations.

CSOs have already clearly expressed their concern that the CFS principles developed may be aimed at mitigating the negative effects of private investment in agriculture: instead, they should promote responsible investment that focuses not just on economic returns but on contributing to food security, in particular by supporting and strengthening smallholders. UN Rapporteur on the Right to Food, Olivier De Schutter, emphasizes also the need to address adequately the gender-related aspects of rai [see interview].


The EU’s recent political prioritisation of food and nutrition security, as one of its international development objectives, is encouraging, and welcome. A positive aspect is that one of the four priorities of the EU’s 2010 Food Security Policy Framework[10] (FSPF) is to improve smallholders’ resilience and their livelihoods as a means of improving food security in developing countries. In the implementation plan adopted by the Council in May 2013 to translate the policy commitments into concrete actions, the EU has detailed the initiatives that will comply with the FSPF commitments. CONCORD has welcomed this. Moreover, the EU Communication on nutrition[11] adopted in March 2013 contains strong commitments both to ensuring coherence between EU policies that have an impact on food and nutrition security (by tackling nutrition through a multi-sectoral approach), and to supporting smallholder agriculture.


During the 2012 Hunger Summit in London, Commissioner Piebalgs announced the commitment to support partner countries in reducing in the number of stunted children under five by at least seven million by 2025.[12] A year later, at the Nutrition for Growth meeting in London in June 2013, the Commission’s pledge of €3.5 billion holds the immense promise of greater EU action in the fight against hunger and stunting.[13]


In contrast, many EU policies, commitments and agreements relating to investment in agriculture are not consistent with the declared food and nutrition security objectives. Their impacts undermine the development potential of many communities in developing countries, and have negative impacts on rights and food security as they promote investments that fail to protect these.

The EU has become the biggest exporter and importer of agricultural goods. Looking at where the EU is currently investing, it emerges that it is now using a total of approximately 36 million hectares of land in developing countries, including 20 million hectares for its own intensive livestock production,[14] with the acreage of transnational land acquisitions having risen from 15-20m hectares in 2009 to more than 70m in 2012.[15]


In CONCORD’s view, a coherent model of agricultural investment should be about:

  • healthy, nutritious and affordable food for all
  • access to and control over productive resources such as land, water, seeds and traditional knowledge by local smallholder farmers/producers
  • benefits for local producers, and sustainable livelihoods
  • a sustainable model of production and consumption

Such benefits will be achieved by implementing PCD consistently in key policy sectors, and notably by reforming the current biofuel policies, agreeing supportive, fair, trading instruments and following demand-led research agendas.

How the EU can make its policies coherent for people’s development

  1. 1.EU biofuels policy

It has been increasingly evident to CONCORD and its members that the EU’s biofuels policy is a serious driver of land grabs and food-price volatility, leading to further food insecurity in developing countries.[16]

In 2009 the EU adopted the Renewable Energy Directive, setting a 10% target for renewable energy use in transport by 2020, accompanied by financial subsidies to support biofuel consumption.[17] This was an attempt to move towards decarbonisation, where the transport sector poses a significant challenge for the EU. Even at the launch of the policy, however, scientists were already questioning the real contribution of conventional biofuels grown on land, often from food crops. It quickly became clear that Member States were planning to meet the 10% target almost entirely by using conventional biofuels (88% according to EU Member State plans). Moreover, given the competing uses for land, it was also clear that biofuels targets could not be met from within the EU. Altogethe
r, this has created a huge incentive for European companies to invest and acquire huge tracts of land in countries where it can be cheaply and easily obtained – i.e., mostly, developing countries.

It is a simple economic fact that removing food from the food consumption market and diverting it into energy markets affects food prices. At a time of rising hunger, sourcing this much energy with a clear impact on food prices, for a sector with increasing demand, is not tenable. Land grabs and food-price volatility are two clear impacts of the EU biofuels policy that are undermining the food and nutrition security of the poorest and most marginalised people in the world, and restricting their potential to develop.[18]

Yet when the directive was being drafted, no real safeguards were put in place to prevent biofuels from having a negative impact on food security. Only a reporting requirement to assess the social impacts on developing countries was included.

Encouragingly, in October 2012 the European Commission proposed to cap at 5% the use of biofuels from food crop sources that counts in reaching the EU Directive objectives.[19] Speaking on the decision, Commissioner for Climate Action Hedegaard said that “we must invest in biofuels that achieve real emission cuts and do not compete with food”.[20] Beyond the 5% food-for-fuel cap, the EC has proposed phasing out financial support to first-generation crop-grown biofuels from 2020, thereby sending a clear signal to the market.

The cap is an attempt to halt the production of biofuels at existing levels. Serious questions remain, however, about whether that is an adequate measure, and also whether the cap as proposed can actually do this, without being strengthened significantly.

Remarkably, the United Nations Special Rapporteur on the Right to Food, Olivier De Schutter, has also raised serious concerns about the impacts of the EU’s biofuel consumption on the right to food [see interview]. He recommends, as does CONCORD, that the binding targets – which are in effect biofuels targets – should be reduced and eventually removed.[21]

Throughout 2013, the proposal will be debated by the Council of Ministers and the European Parliament.

Meanwhile, in March 2013 the European Commission also produced its first report on social impacts in third countries.[22] This report contains significant flaws, however,[23] and is far from meeting minimum standards for a methodological approach appropriate for assessing impacts on development. As it stands, the report constitutes a breach of the obligation to ensure PCD, as it does not even ensure a thorough assessment on which suggestions for appropriate corrective action could be based.[24]

Furthermore, a High-Level Panel of Experts commissioned by the CFS has released in June 2013 a report on biofuel and food security, providing a science-based comparative analysis of the positive and negative effects of biofuels on food security, with a view to guiding governments on how to review their biofuel policies[25]. The report confirms that biofuels have played a key role in food-price increases and in transforming land use in many developing countries. The only disputed points have to do with the degree to which biofuels production has contributed to rises in food prices and has been a driver of large-scale domestic and foreign investment in land. The CFS recommendations are expected in October 2013. These recommendations should follow up on the thus far ignored calls by several civil society organisations,[26] and ten international organisations – mandated in 2011 by the G20 to report on food-price volatility – for a global end to mandates and subsidies for biofuels.[27]

In order to ensure PCD and safeguard against further negative impacts of the EU biofuels policy in developing countries, CONCORD recommends:

  1. othat the cap on biofuels use should cover all biofuels produced using land and from crops grown on land (edible or non-edible) competing with food
  2. othat the cap should be reduced to the level of biofuel consumption in the EU before the EU law was introduced
  3. othe introduction of a complete phase-out of policies supporting land-based biofuel production or consumption
  4. othat the cap should be also reflected in the public financial subsidies system and in all relevant directives driving the consumption of biofuels (the Renewable Energy Directive and the Fuel Quality Directive)
  5. othat the EC should produce a completely new report looking at the social impacts of the EU biofuels mandate in developing countries. This implies ensuring development expertise from the phase of preparing the report’s terms of reference to the analysis of its findings, as well as carrying out country visits and consultations with affected communities in developing countries
  6. othat the new EC report on social impacts should reflect the principle that biofuel production must not compromise food or nutrition security and therefore be managed so that food access and the resources necessary for the production of food – i.e., chiefly land, biodiversity, water and labour – are not put at risk.

Interview: Olivier De Schutter, United Nations Special Rapporteur on the Right to Food             


What do you think are the areas with the most severe potential clashes between the EU’s food and nutrition security policies and other EU policies and practices?

The Common Agricultural Policy (CAP), as a major policy framework with a considerable budget, has some of the biggest impacts on developing countries. Despite the current reform process, the CAP remains at odds with the EU’s stated development and food security goals, the requirements of the human right to food and PCD.

Specific measures that would help to ensure this coherence would be for the EU to commit to detailed monitoring of the impacts of EU farm exports and imports on developing countries, to consult developing world farmer organizations, and to conduct a proper assessment of the impacts on the right to food. These elements are notably absent from the latest CAP reform plans.

Meanwhile the EU biofuels policy, in its current form, also risks clashing with food security imperatives. The EU’s agriculture and energy policies have huge impacts – positive and negative – on developing countries whose markets are interlinked with those of the EU. The EU public biofuel mandates can trigger or exacerbate commercial pressures on land in developing countries and increase price volatility. By promoting large-scale industrial farming models that threaten the right to food, EU biofuel mandates clearly contradict PCD and the EU Food Security Policy Framework pledge to support smallholders.

What is the most hopeful sign of policy coherence in EU policies since the adoption of this framework?

Conversely, it is on biofuels policy that the EU is showing some positive signs in terms of taking policy coherence into account. The European Commission’s proposed five per cent cap is a step in the right direction, and is an encouraging sign that development impacts are sometimes being taken into account.

A more comprehensive, rights-based approach to development impacts is wholly necessary, for what is most problematic about EU biofuels incentives is the general signal they send: namely that speculation on farmland is bound to continue and that investments in energy crops are worth pursuing.


Within the process of consultation and negotiation on the principles for responsible agricultural investment (rai) in the CFS, what should EU governments call for?

States should ensure that the rai principles are adequately grounded in human rights so as to clearly set out the human rights obligations of both investor and recipient States, and the human rights responsibilities of non-State actors. Grounding the principles in human rights is an element of the CFS terms of references for the rai.

The principles should include a clear indication of the roles and responsibilities of the various actors concerned for each of the principles, and, where appropriate, references to relevant existing instruments.

The proposed principles would be weakened and less coherent if they failed to explicitly address, as the right to food requires, the need to identify and target marginalized and vulnerable groups, the need to ensure that investment has no discriminatory impacts, the need to put in place accountability and monitoring mechanisms, and the need to transition to sustainable and resilient agri-food systems.

States shou
ld also ensure that the proposed principles address the gender-related aspects of responsible agricultural investment, and the particular obstacles faced by women and girls. The importance of ensuring that investment benefits women is underlined in the International Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women (CEDAW), which guarantees the rights of women to equal treatment, in particular, in access to productive resources such as land and agrarian reform as well as in land resettlement schemes.

Given the gendered nature of the agrarian transition, and considering the large number of women who depend on agriculture, it is both vital and urgent to improve their opportunities to thrive as producers. We must design explicitly gender-sensitive agricultural policies.

How do you assess the participation of EU Member States and the European Commission in the G8 New Alliance for Food Security and Nutrition, and what do you think about the leading role envisaged for foreign direct investment by corporations?


There is a strong tendency to rely increasingly upon (large) private investments to strengthen agri-food chains in food-insecure countries, given that these States have scarce resources for national food security strategies, and that a large number of donors have slashed their development aid budgets since the 2008 financial crisis. The role of States is vital in order to ensure that investment is channelled towards the right goals, and contributes to the reduction of poverty. Investors can and should be incentivized to invest where needed, yet States must ensure that living wages are paid, that taxes are collected, that land users’ rights are respected, that farmers receive a fair price for the food they produce, etc. This requires autonomy, and distance, from globalized agri-food companies. It is therefore crucial that the commitments made in the national cooperation frameworks signed by the various countries reflect national priorities, after a consultation with the relevant affected communities; that they are grounded in the normative framework of the right to food; and that civil society is consulted at all stages of the process, including implementation monitoring. It is also important to ensure full coherence between the CFS recommendations and the orientations developed within the New Alliance.                           



  1. 2.EU trade and investment policies

The EU can also influence its agricultural investment with impacts in developing countries through trade policies and agreements. The link between trade liberalisation and poverty reduction (trickle-down effect) is not automatic, and market opening can drive economic and human development growth only if and when the right conditions – specific to the unique context of the countries concerned – are in place.[28] EU trade policies, agreements and instruments have a differentiated impact on the food security and livelihoods of poor people and farmers in developing countries.[29] Current EU trade policies towards developing countries lack clearly defined development objectives, and are therefore liable to destroy local production and increase an unhealthy dependence on commodity exports.

The EU depends on cheap, stable imports of primary agricultural commodities for its high value-added processing industry. Through free trade agreements (FTAs), the EU aims to secure agricultural market access, and to affirm the roles of the EU as a standard setter and developing countries as standard takers. To achieve this, reduced technical barriers to trade and reduced export restrictions are pushed forward while investment chapters are included in FTAs in order to protect investors’ rights. The EU’s FTAs also provide for various export competition tools (e.g. export subsidies, export credits, export promotion and marketing services) that remain unregulated under the WTO. On the other hand, no public interest clause is included in these agreements. This leaves gross imbalances and flaws in the global agricultural trade regime at the expense of developing countries. The practice of agro-dumping thus continues unchallenged, ruining small-scale farmers faced with cut-throat competition and surges in the imports of cheap agricultural products.


Existing specific trade tools or rules that could potentially help to reconcile trade and development objectives are either not sufficiently applied (e.g. human rights clause, sustainability impact assessment, human rights impact assessment, monitoring and surveillance mechanism), or are limited in scope and flexibility (e.g. safeguards, standstill clause, community levy, asymmetry in market access, interpretation of WTO compatibility), or are designed to benefit the EU directly and unilaterally (e.g. prohibition of export taxes on raw materials and primary agricultural or forestry commodities, such as timber).

A particular concern is the EU’s reluctance to make use of the human rights clauses in its trade agreements. The case of EU sugar imports under the Everything But Arms (EBA) trade preference given to Cambodia is an example. Despite ongoing widespread and serious human rights violations in this country, including land evictions, the Commission has declined to activate the human rights clause that allows and “triggers” a formal investigation into human rights abuses.[30]

Economic Partnership Ag
reements (EPAs) are free trade agreements that the EU negotiates with countries from Africa, the Caribbean and the Pacific (ACP). They are presented as development instruments – but this is clearly a case of power imbalances. For example, ACP countries entering into an EPA are completely unable to challenge the EU on its subsidies regime under the Common Agricultural Policy. They find themselves with increased liberalisation commitments, including the fixing of low tariffs on agricultural products, following their earlier commitments to a common external tariff in their own custom unions without recourse to a special safeguard mechanism. Export taxes are prohibited, which is a “behind the border measure” imposed by the EU and seen by the ACP countries as an intrusion into their domestic policies, limiting their space to incentivise economic diversification, to add value to (agricultural) raw materials and to create jobs in their country.

A list of contentious issues is still on the negotiating table.[31] The newly imposed EU deadline for signing the EPAs – now set for 1 October 2014, with the consent of the EP but against the advice of its Development Committee – puts African parties under pressure without indicating how the current deadlock could be resolved or how ill-defined liberalisation schedules could be reviewed to ensure that they foster development objectives. What is needed are detailed cost-benefit analyses of the liberalisation schedules (as done, for example, by Nigeria in 2009),[32] which should be replicated for all ECOWAS countries and should become the basis for broad-based consultations with domestic and regional stakeholders.

In terms of EU aid for food security, while some funding measures – such as the EU Thematic Programme on Food Security – focus on improving small-scale farming, other provisions, such as aid for trade and technical assistance, tend to support export-oriented agricultural development and often fail to empower poor producers, small business owners and women farmers to benefit from trading in local and regional markets.[33]

It is worrying to observe that a persistent trend in new investment, involving EU public money, aims to support agribusiness at the expense of smallholders. A proliferation of agricultural funds and public-private partnerships (PPPs) makes it difficult to track and monitor money flows in the agricultural sector. Increasingly, also, European Development Finance Institutions invest in agribusiness projects without any safeguards against the risk of land grabbing.[34] PPPs often fail to clarify conflicts of interest, and they become an entry point for strategic business interests, ending up substituting for local SMEs and microbusiness rather than strengthening them.[35] In response, African farmers’ movements and civil society organisations are calling for trust and investment in poor people first.[36]

A telling example of PPPs is the Alliance for a Green Revolution – Africa (AGRA), which is primarily funded by the Gates and Rockefeller Foundations and the UK Department for Foreign International Development (DFID), with contributions from – amongst others – the Danish International Development Agency (DANIDA) and the Swedish Foreign Ministry. AGRA is embedded in the G8’s New Alliance on Food Security and Nutrition announced in 2012, which is a partnership of the G8, the African Union and 45 multinational companies[37] and aims to invest over US$ 3 billion in some countries in Africa.[38] The EU has agreed to take the lead on G8 pilot country Malawi.

Of particular concern is the push by AGRA and the G8 New Alliance to harmonise plant breeders’ rights with a view to facilitating the trading and importing of hybrid (and genetically modified) seed.[39] This could jeopardise the right of smallholder farmers to continue to save, use and exchange their own seeds freely.

It remains to be seen whether, in these international instances in particular, the EU will continue to support its food security objectives as outlined in the 2010 EU Food Security Policy Framework, including smallholder empowerment – or whether the expansion of agribusiness and the commercialisation and incorporation of smallholder famers into formal markets will become the driving force.[40]

CONCORD recommends that the EU should:

  1. osystematically refer to and use the EU Food Securit
    y Policy Framework and Implementation Plan, and the future Action Plan on Nutrition, as the overarching guidelines for all EU investment in agriculture, with a view to prioritising the empowerment of smallholders and their access to and control of productive resources;
  2. oinsert public interest clauses in EU investment deals;
  3. oactivate and use product-specific investigations into HR violations under the EU trade regime;
  4. orefocus on development in the EPA negotiations, on the basis of the ACP proposal for a liberalisation schedule and outstanding contentious issues;
  5. oaddress conflicts of interest publicly and systematically in public-private partnerships;
  6. opromote a bottom-up approach to improving regional market integration, starting with investing in infrastructure-building at local level and prioritising support for women farmers, domestic micro-business and SMEs, as economic actors;
  7. owork towards making the Voluntary Guidelines on Land Tenure a binding EU Directive to prevent EU investment from resulting in land grabs.


Focus 2: Reform of the EU’s Common Agricultural Policy: a missed opportunity


The agreement on the future EU Common Agricultural Policy (CAP) on 26 June 2013 has strongly disappointed CONCORD’s members as it fails to deliver on policy coherence for development[41] (also confirmed by Olivier De Schutter [see interview][BB4] ). In fact, it even betrays the European Commission’s original ambitions of greener European agriculture, and now leaves it to Member States to opt for more social and environmental measures when they design their national implementation plans.

Despite visible divisions between Members of the European Parliament (MEPs) on the future of agriculture, at the time of voting the reform ended up being mainly about supporting the competitiveness of the EU’s agribusiness sector, to the detriment of food security, environmental protection and respect for the rights of the poor in developing countries.

Key sources of incoherence remain:

– The reformed CAP will continue the practice of substantive direct payments that the EU will notify under the rules for WTO “green box” subsidies, which allow for unlimited spending. This remains unchallenged in most of the EU’s bilateral free-trade agreements, including the Economic Partnership Agreements with the ACP countries.

– Moreover, the EU’s promise to abolish all export refunds by the end of 2013 (made in the 2005 Hong Kong Ministerial Declaration) has been put on hold. Export refunds remain a tool ready to be used under the new CAP. A G20 non-paper that recalled the deadline in May 2013 was rejected jointly by the EU and the US, which argued that they will oppose any move to abolish export refunds before the successful conclusion of the WTO’s Doha Development Round.

– It is left up to Member States to work at reducing the strong dependence on protein imports for feedstuffs by promoting leguminous crop production in the EU. Mass soy production has negative environmental and social impacts in exporting developing countries such as Brazil, Argentina, Bolivia, Paraguay and Uruguay.

– Finally, there has been little explicit reference to the obligation to ensure coherence between the CAP and development objectives, and the proposal by some MEPs, backed up by CSOs, to set up a system to monitor the CAP’s impact on developing countries was rejected. Here, CONCORD has been advocating for the setting up of an effective ex-post monitoring system and a formal complaints mechanism, which would allow small-scale farmers and other groups to challenge the EU formally when their rights or livelihoods are negatively impacted by the CAP.

The positive aspect of the CAP reform, however, is the mobilisation of the public and CSOs it generated. Like never before, the public rallied en masse across several EU countries, calling for fundamental changes in the way we deal with the environment, food and people in developing countries. On the European level, for example, the Good Food Good Farming campaign[42] was formed by hundreds of organisations of farmers, consumers, and development and environmental organisations. The ARC 2020 (Agricultural and Rural Convention) network organised a Good Food March across 15 countries with more than 50 events.[43] Go M.A.D – Go Meet A Deputy! called on citizens to interact directly with their local MEPs and ask them how they would vote on the CAP reform in plenary in March 2013. These public appeals to policymakers should not be forgotten by national governments when the time comes to decide on national implementation plans

  1. 3.EU research policy


The focus of research processes reveals a good deal about a funding institution’s interests and priorities for the future. Boosting research and innovation is part of the EU’s plan for being more competitive, as set out in the Lisbon Agenda and the Europe 2020 Strategy.[44]


In terms of research on food and agriculture, the EU’s efforts have intensified, including in the areas of life sciences,[45] “sustainable intensification approaches”,[46] nutrition,[47] cloning and genetically modified animals for human food.[48] Initiatives have also been taken to strengthen intellectual property regulations and related legal systems, for example through the proposed Unified Patent Court[49] and the consolidation of laws and regulations relating to seeds.[50]


The new European Innovation Programme, administered by the Commission’s Directorate-General for Research and Innovation (DG Research), has 4.5 billion euros for research into agriculture and the bioeconomy as part of the proposed 80 billion euros for the Horizon 2020 research programmes. Part of this money will be administrated by DG Agriculture with the explicit aim of extending the programme to developing countries for research on food security and sustainable agriculture issues.[51] On the other hand, DG DEVCO has a small budget (<€10m) to invest in programmes designed to improve links between European and African researchers, e.g. the Platform for African-European Partnership on Agricultural Research for Development (PAEPARD), and to support an NGO project, Including Smallholders in Agricultural Research for Development (INSARD).


Innovation is far more than technology and, as highlighted by African farmers’ organisations, it includes traditional and indigenous knowledge.[52] This is confirmed in the EU Policy Framework on Food Security, which also emphasises the need for research to suit the needs of farmers and to benefit smallholders.[53]


Despite this, DG Research, advised by Technology Platforms,[54] is prioritising research on biotechnology. The chosen approach favours the delivery of technology products that are not grounded in local knowledge. This has the potential to undermine the food systems that feed most people, particularly in developing countries, through the promotion of proprietary technologies designed for industrial commodity production. Moreover, the support for the G8’s New Alliance for Food Security and Nutrition by the Development Commissioner and several Member States, together with the emphasis of many of the largest allied agribusinesses on promoting genetically modified commodity crops and foods, will also preclude equitable participatory research from developing resilient local varieties of food crops for local nutrition security. In reaction to this, an Opinion by the European Parliament’s development committee on HORIZON 2020 argues for a more inclusive approach to research in response to societal challenges in other regions.[55]


Many initiatives by CSOs in recent years have focused on the impacts in Europe, and internationally (especially in Africa), of research and legal policy. CONCORD members[56] and farmers’ organisations in Africa[57] argue that another approach is both possible and desirable – one that implies a radical shift away from the existing top-down and increasingly corporate-controlled agricultural research system, towards an approach which devolves more responsibility and decision-making power to
farmers, indigenous peoples, food workers, consumers and citizens, for the production of social and ecological knowledge. It is argued that the research process should facilitate the democratisation of research, diverse forms of co-inquiry based on specialist and non-specialist knowledge, and an expansion of horizontal networks for autonomous learning and action. To work effectively, the research system requires more transparency throughout.

Those who provide most food – small-scale food providers – need to be able to decide which innovations and technologies are needed, when, where and under what conditions. This involves both opening up the decision-making bodies and governance structures of the current research establishment, and strengthening the spaces and institutions of farmers’ organisations, and wider communities, to debate and agree priorities for research and to develop their own knowledge. This is a counter-position to that of the formal R&D sector, the dominant paradigm funded by the EC, Member States and corporate food and agribusinesses in Europe.

Small-scale farmers are innovative, are constantly using their knowledge and skills to produce appropriate technologies, and are keen to adopt and adapt other innovations that benefit them.[58] Support from more formally trained scientists should assist them.[59]


CONCORD, in support of Africa’s family farmers,[60] calls for research in food, nutrition and agriculture to be:

  1. coherent with the goals of the EU’s Food Security Policy Framework which promotes, inter alia, more ecological and multifunctional approaches to food provision;
  2. guided by the findings of IAASTD;
  3. favourable to researching issues identified by and in support of small-scale food providers;
  4. genuinely participatory, valuing the existing knowledge, skills and innovations of small-scale food providers;
  5. integrated into publicly-funded national research strategies in which small-scale food providers have decisive involvement;
  6. accountable to the organisations of small-scale food providers and not subject to corporations’ control of research agendas;
  7. shared through farmer-to-farmer extension and other knowledge- and skill-sharing programmes between small-scale food providers;
  8. the basis of training for young farmers, fishers and pastoralists in developing resilient food-production systems.



In a world with almost one billion people suffering hunger, the EU’s own or induced agriculture-related investment sometimes results in negative impacts on food and nutrition security in developing countries, as for Halima Ally, her family and other poor and vulnerable communities in Tanzania. For agricultural investment to have positive effects in terms of food and nutrition security, the EU must implement PCD consistently in key policy sectors and, notably, must adapt its renewable energy policy, research policy and trade and investment policies accordingly.


[2] FAO (2012): The State of Food Insecurity in the World 2012; Lancet Series on maternal and child nutrition, 6 June 2013

[3] UN/FAO estimates

[4] FAO (2011): Save and Grow, A policymaker’s guide to the sustainable intensification of smallholder crop production; IFAD (2011): Rural poverty Report 2011

[5] FAO (2011): The State of Food Insecurity in the World 2011

[6] European Commission Communication on an EU policy framework to assist developing countries in addressing food security challenges, COM(2010)127 final, 31.03.2010; IAASTD (2009): Agriculture at a Crossroads. Global Report

[7] See note 2

[8] Irish President Michael D. Higgins in its Official Opening Remarks at the Hunger-Nutrition-Climate Justice Conference, Dublin Castle, 15 April 2013 (

[9] See more on the consultation process and CSM contributions on

[10] European Commission Communication on an EU policy framework to assist developing countries in addressing food security challenges, COM(2010)127 final, 31.03.2010

[11] European Commission Communication on enhancing maternal and child nutrition in external assistance, COM(2013) 141 final, 12.03.2013

[14] Harald Witzke and Steffen Noleppa (2010): EU agricultural production and trade: Can more production efficiency prevent increasing ‘land-grabbing’ outside of Europe?, Humboldt University Berlin, p. 14

[15] UN (2012): World Water Development Report 4, Volume 1: Managing Water under Uncertainty and Risk

[16] See CONCORD Spotlight Reports on Policy Coherence for Development 2009 and 2011

[17] Directive 2009/28/EC of the European Parliament and the Council of 23 April 2009 on the promotion of the use of energy from renewable sources

[19] Proposal for a Directive amending Directive 98/70/EC relating to the quality of petrol and diesel fuels and amending Directive 2009/28/EC on the promotion of the use of energy from renewable sources, COM(2012) 595 final, 17.10.2012

[21] Olivier de Schutter (2013): Note on the impacts of the EU biofuels policy on the right to food, 23 April 2013

[22] European Commission DG Development and Coopera
tion (2013): Assessing the impact of biofuels production on developing countries from the point of view of Policy Coherence for Development, February 2013

[25] High-Level Panel of Experts on Food Security and Nutrition (2013): Biofuels and Food Security, Report 5, June 2013

[28] This is confirmed by the European Parliament resolution of 16 April 2013 on Advancing Development through Trade (2012/2224 (INI))

[29] Unfortunately, this is not thoroughly analysed in the European Communication on Trade and Development COM (2012) 22 final, 27.1.2012

[31] African Trade Network (2011): Key areas of divergence between the EU and Africa EPA regions, 8 July 2011

[32] Federal Ministry of Commerce and Industry of Nigeria (2009): Impact of EPA Market Access Offer on Nigeria: An updated analysis, co-published by the University of Ibadan, Ahmadu Bello University and the Manufacturers Association of Nigeria.

[33] CAFOD (2011): Thinking Small: Why poor producers and small business owners may hold the key to a sustainable recovery

[34] APRODEV (2013): Policy Brief: The role of DFIs in Land Grabs, May 2013

[35] See UK Hunger Alliance (2013): Small Scale, Big Impact. Smallholder agriculture’s contribution to better nutrition. Briefing Paper, which makes the case for investing in farmer-centred empowerment schemes that improve “homegrown nutritious food” rather than in substitution by fortified imported foodstuffs

[36] Statement by African civil society (2013): Modernising African Agriculture: Who Benefits?, May 2013 (

[37] Including Monsanto, Syngenta, Du Pont, Cargill, Unilever, Yara International, United Phosphorous, Vodafone, SABMiller and others, see

[38] Current focus countries for investment are Ethiopia, Tanzania, Ghana, Ivory Coast, Burkina Faso, Mozambique, and possibly Rwanda, Nigeria, Kenya and Malawi.

[40] African Centre for Biosafety (2012): AGRA – Laying the groundwork for the commercialisation of agriculture in Africa; Ecumenical Advocacy Alliance and CIDSE (2013): Whose Alliance? The G8 and the Emergence of a Global Corporate Regime for Agriculture. Recommendations

[41] See CONCORD’s positions on EU food security policy framework

[44] European Commission Communication on Europe 2020. A strategy for smart, sustainable and inclusive growth, COM(2010) 2020 final, 03.03.2010. The target is for 3% of the EU’s GDP to be invested in research & development. See more on:

[45] Geoff Tansey, “Challenges for food security: creating just, healthy, sustainable food systems globally in a changing world”, speech at a conference on Food and Nutrition in the 21st century, Warsaw, 8-9 September 2011

[47] Reports from the London Nutrition for Growth Summit and priorities of the New Alliance for Food Security and Nutrition / WEF agriculture forum, 2013. The EU pledged 410 million euro to nutrition-specific, and a further 3.1 billion euro to nutrition-sensitive intervention

[48] European Commission Standing Committee on Agriculture Research (SCAR) (2011): Sustainable food consumption and production in a resource-constrained world. The 3rd SCAR foresight exercise

[51] APRODEV (2012): Policy Brief: EU HORIZON 2020. Agricultural research for sustainable agiculture and global food security, October

[52]ROPPA, PROPAC, EAFF (2013): Family Farmers for Sustainable Food Systems. A synthesis of reports by African farmers’ regional networks on models of food production, consumption and markets  

[53] European Commission Communication on an EU policy framework to assist developing countries in addressing food security challenges, COM(2010)127 final, 31.03.2010

[54] European Technology Platforms (ETPs) are industry-led stakeholder fora charged with defining research priorities in a broad range of technological areas.

[55] European Parliament Development Committee Opinion on Horizon 2020 – Framework Programme for Research and Innovation 2014-2020: rules for participation and dissemination, 5 September 2012

[56] APRODEV and PELUM Association (2012): Agricultural Research in Africa: Why CAADP should follow IAASTD, May

[57] See note 52. Also quoting Michel Pimbert (2007): Transforming knowledge and ways of knowing for food sovereignty, International Institute for Environment and Development

[58] See, for example, Ecumenical Advocacy Alliance (2012): Nourishing the World: scaling up agroecology

[59] IAASTD (2009): Agriculture at a Crossroads. Global Report : Authors call for increased recognition of multifunctionality: “The concept of multifunctionality recognizes agriculture as a multi-output activity producing not only commodities (food, feed, fibres, agrofuels, medicinal products and ornamentals), but also non-commodity outputs such as environmental services, landscape amenities and cultural heritages”, p.4; and “An increase and strengthening of agricultural knowledge, science and technology towards agroecological sciences will contribute to addressing environmental issues while maintaining and increasing productivity.”, finding 7

[60] See note 52