GERMANY - Germany's agriculture minister has travelled to South America for talks on enhancing food security, with expansion of non-GM (genetically modified) soy production high on the agenda.
Between 16 and 23 August 2015, Christian Schmidt is travelling around South America for political talks.
The main focal points of the trip to Uruguay, Brazil and Argentina are research collaborations, GM-free soybean cultivation, trade issues, food safety and certification in organic farming. Also on the agenda are collaboratively dealing with the challenges of climate change and ways of ensuring global food security.
Mr Schmidt is accompanied on his trip by the presidents of two research institutions Professor Hensel (BfR) and Professor Backhaus (JKI) and the environmental representative of the German Farmers' Association (DBV), Dr Heinrich Graf von Bassewitz. The trip started in Uruguay.
Mr Schmidt stressed: "Consumers in Germany reject most genetically modified food. Soy is an export hit for Uruguay and is an ideal animal feed for our livestock farmers. The demand for GM-free animal feed in Germany is growing. For me it is important that sufficient GMO-free soy products are available in Germany for our farmers and producers. In South America, there are the main producing regions in the world."
This market is a future opportunity for soybean producers from Uruguay who renounce genetic engineering in soybean cultivation, but the discussions are taking place in the context of the currently exclusive cultivation of herbicide-tolerant genetically modified soy in Uruguay.
"Our country, our agriculture and our food industry benefit equally from a close collaboration," said Mr Schmidt.
At the invitation of his counterpart, Tabaré Aguerre, Mr Schmidt visited the oldest research institution La Estanzuela in Colonia (Uruguay). The research facility is known worldwide for pioneering work in the field of plant genetics by the German scientist Albrecht Boerger. Mr Schmidt and Mr Aguerre agreed to collaborate more closely on research.
"In the research, we have laid a good foundation in the past, now it is time for implementation," said Mr Schmidt.
The focus of projects agreed in recent years include research in the areas of forests and forestry, seed certification, food safety and risk analysis and plant breeding.
As part of the German-Brazilian intergovernmental consultations Mr Schmidt is in Brasilia, to deepen further the strategic partnership with Brazil.
Central to the bilateral talks with Agriculture Minister Katia Abreu, other politicians and representatives of important agricultural organisations is the role of agriculture in feeding the world and the challenges of climate change on agriculture and forestry.
The last stop of the trip is Argentina. At the planned meeting with the Argentinean Minister of Agriculture Carlos Horcia Casamiquela, discussions will be all about trade issues, sustainability, organic farming and the role of Argentina in the global food supply.
The country can feed 400 million people already and has been active in the fight against hunger. The availability of agricultural commodities and trade should not be hampered by restrictions such as export taxes and quotas.
"In Argentina I will place emphasis on the profitable conclusion of the free trade agreement between Mercosur and the EU," said Mr Schmidt.
The European Commission aims to include third countries in trade agreements on the basis of recipocrity, especially in organic products. In 1996 Argentina became one of the first countries whose production and control standards were recognised as equivalent to those of the EU.
"High quality organic products from third countries should be able to be imported freely into Germany. For this, we wish to commit ourselves with all our strength to a review of the EU Regulation on Organic Farming," said Mr Schmidt.ThePoultrySite News Desk