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Not so sweet for birds?

EU sugar reform plans slammed by environment and development groups

BirdLife International, WWF and Oxfam have joined forces to demand that the EU reforms its sugar regime in a way that benefits poor farmers and the environment.

The non-governmental organisations are lobbying the UK Environment Secretary, Margaret Beckett, ahead of an EU meeting next month when sugar reform will be discussed. Oxfam, RSPB and WWF reject current reform proposals because they favour the biggest, richest producers at the expense of poor farmers at home and abroad, and the environment.

The trio is calling for an end to subsidies that cause overproduction, export dumping and damage to the environment. They want a reform package that encourages environmental stewardship and offers improved market access for developing countries. Poor country growers affected by price cuts must be adequately compensated and more help must be offered to the world’s poorest developing countries to strengthen their sugar industries.Ariel Brunner, BirdLife International's Agricultural Policy Officer said: "Where and how we grow sugar has a massive impact on wildlife and the environment. We should be paying farmers to manage the countryside in a way that gives value for money to the taxpayer. Encouraging wildlife is amongst those benefits and farmers should be rewarded for doing so." Penny Fowler, Oxfam Policy Advisor, said: "The EU has dragged its feet on sugar reform for years. Now the UK Government, as president of the EU, has an historic opportunity to push its European colleagues to agree changes to sugar rules that help the poorest. This in turn would increase international pressure for wider pro-poor trade reform ahead of the crucial WTO Ministerial in December."

Adam Harrison, WWF’s Food and Agriculture Policy Officer said: "For too long, the EU’s scandalous system of sugar subsidies and trade barriers has prevented farmers in many developing countries from working their way out of poverty and raising environmental standards. Ministers must seize this opportunity to help developing countries realise a better future for themselves."

BirdLife is inviting supporters to join a special online action and email Margaret Beckett ahead of next month's EU Agriculture Council meeting (September 19-20), and ask her to champion pro-poor, environmentally friendly sugar reform.

The e-action is available on the BirdLife CAP Campaign web site (www.birdlifecapcampaign.org) along with more information about BirdLife's views on sugar reform.

4th July 2014