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Bundesparteitag der Grünen
Image: picture-alliance/dpa

Greens target mass farming

November 22, 2014

Germany's opposition Greens have set their sights on nutrition that avoids mass livestock farming. They have accused Chancellor Angela Merkel's government of giving agriculturalized industry an unrestrained free run.


Seven hundred delegates at the Greens' annual conference in Hamburg voted by a large majority on Saturday to make food and farming reform a key campaign issue, despite their electoral bruising last year.

Part of the Green's two-percent decline in voter support to 8.4 percent in Germany's September 2013 poll was widely attributed to their campaign call for a "Veggie Day," a suggestion that each consumer pick a weekday without meat.

The German farmers' federation (DVB) responded at the time by accusing the Greens of trying to impose eating habits on citizens.

60 kilograms meat

Germans each consume annually about 60 kilograms (130 pounds) of meat, including poultry, pork and beef. An additional 4.3 kilograms ends up in the waste bin, according to a recent study by the Heinrich-Böll Foundation.

At Saturday's Hamburg conference , the party adopted a resolution, saying "what I eat and don't eat is for me to decide according to my tastes. But politicians must ensure safe food products and transparent information."

"It's about many things: feeding all persons with good food products and global justice, climate protection and species diversity," the resolution added.

Agricultural transformation sought

Anton Hofreiter, the opposition Green's caucus leader in the Bundestag said the "agricultural industry with its monoculture is responsible for species extinction worldwide."

Hofreiter also said the party's decision to push further for an agricultural transformation or "Agrawende" had ecological ramifications similar to the "Energiewende."

That was the centerpiece energy transformation adopted by Merkel, taking Germany toward renewables and away from fossil fuels and nuclear power, especially after Japan's 2011 Fukushima disaster.

Hofreiter on Saturday also demanded an end to the massive use of antibiotics in intensive farming of animals. His call for a ban on imported, genetically-engineered soya bean produce drew loud applause from delegates.

Simone Peter Parteivorsitzende Bündnis 90 Die Grünen
Simone Peter accuses Merkel of giving industry a free runImage: AFP/Getty Images

Greens co-chairperson Simone Peter accused Merkel's coalition comprising her conservatives and Social Democrats of backing policies against the interests of consumers.

"The Grand Coalition gives the mass livestock industry a free run and hinders the ecological farming sector," Peter said.

Tough fight, warns Künast

Renate Künast, who was agriculture minister in Germany's center-left coalition government between 2001 and 2005, warned delegates on Saturday that their policy drive would elicit strong opposition from what she called the "agricultural lobby."

"That will be rock hard," Künast said.

The Indian environmental activist Vandana Shiva told the Greens: "Agricultural factories must be stopped."

The European Commission estimates that nearly two-thirds of EU cereal production is used as animal fodder, making meat an inefficient way to deliver nutritional value to human consumers.

In 2010, the Commission published a report on climate-damaging greenhouse gas emissions from farming. The report concluded that intensification of agriculture had "contributed to biodiversity decline and loss throughout Europe."

ipj/kms(dpa, AFP, epd)

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