The new European Union Commission must support innovation in biotech and gene editing if it is to achieve its ambitions for creating clean technology and high-value jobs, a leading MEP warned today.
The warning came from Anthea McIntyre, UK Conservative spokesman on both agriculture and environment, at a symposium on gene editing held in the European Parliament as part of European Biotech Week.
She cited population increase, climate change and pressures from alternative land use as pressures on food production and said: "Our ambition as Europe is to be world leaders in clean tech, innovation, high value jobs, an inclusive society and good access to healthcare for all.
"This has been reflected recently in the new Commission President Ursula von der Leyen’s mission letters to the commissioners designate. But we simply cannot deliver on this ambition without supporting innovative sectors such as biotech.
"We have seen most recently the impact of the European Court ruling, just over a year ago, on the plant based innovation sector. Wide-spread alarm has been raised by EU researchers and academics on the likely negative impacts on this world-leading sector and on the possible consequences for food waste and food security.
"The current legislation is not fit for purpose and urgently needs review to ensure risk-based, proportionate and science-based policy. I hope that the new commission will commit to working on this over the coming five years and I know industry stands ready to support this process
"We must provide the most fertile ground for EU innovation and we need to keep doing what we do best, which is collaborating and working across nationalities and disciplines.
"The EU and particularly this Parliament has to decide whether we accept science or not in our decision making. I hope we do!"
India must end its persecution in Kashmir if it is ever to be genuinely regarded as one of the great democracies, or considered a candidate for the United Nations Security Council.
That was the message from Anthea McIntyre MEP in a speech to the European Parliament.
The Conservative MEP for the West Midlands said: "Forty-three days ago the Indian Government revoked Articles 370 and 35a of the Indian constitution and thus removed, at stroke, the guarantee of Jammu and Kashmir’s autonomy.
"We have seen a huge surge in the number of troops deployed there, a total communications blackout, curfews, house arrests and the unlawful detention of local people."
Miss McIntyre, co-chairman of the European Parliament's Friends of Kashmir Group, cited violations of human rights, including the use of shotguns against peaceful protesters.
She said: "Just look at the case of Asrar Ahmad Khan. Despite the denials of the Indian Government, medical records and scans released by the hospital present irrefutable evidence that he died as the result of a shotgun pellet to the head.
"I visited Azad Kashmir last year and heard heartbreaking accounts of civilians, including infants, being fired at with shotguns.
"Whatever justification may be claimed - and in these cases there really is none - there can never be any excuse for killing and maiming and blinding small children.
"I really cannot understand why a great nation like India, which prides itself on the strength of its democracy, behaves in this way.
"India aspires to be a permanent member of the UN Security Council. Events of the past month are not the actions of a credible candidate."
"Britain's employment revolution continues to transform the jobs and wages landscape, senior MEP Anthea McIntyre said today.
Miss McIntyre, Conservative employment spokesman in the European Parliament, spoke out after new figures showed average wages rising by four per cent on last year.
The latest statistics also showed a record number of people in full-time work and unemployment down 64,000 in a year.
Miss McIntyre, MEP for the West Midlands, said: "This transformation is reaching all corners of the UK - changing people's prospects, boosting pay-packets, spreading prosperity and delivering the dignity of work to thousands more people.
"It means real jobs, realistic salaries and real people contributing to our economic success and their own well-being.
"I continue to tell MEPs from other EU nations how Britain is a prime example of what can be achieved when governments create the right climate for jobs and growth."
The EU's protection for smaller farmers against unfair treatment from big retailers is one of the EU's major achievements, Agriculture Commissioner Phil Hogan was told.
Anthea McIntyre MEP, Conservative agriculture spokesman in the European Parliament, praised the EU's Directive on Unfair Trading Practices when Mr Hogan made his final appearance to take questions from the parliament's Agriculture Committee before the new College of Commissioners is formed.
She said she championed small farmers and small business, and noted: "Most farmers are small businesses and minimising the administrative burden on these SMEs is vital.
"Margins in the agricultural sector are small and extra costs threaten the survival of some small farming operations.
"Technological advances in agriculture can make farming more productive and more sustainable. I believe Europe should be the world leader in agricultural technology, in innovation and sustainability.
"It is so important that agri-tech solutions work for small growers as well as large-scale producers. We have to ensure that the benefits of new technology and innovation are available to all our farmers, large and small, conventional, organic or otherwise. "
Smaller businesses in the farming and food sector must be nurtured not overlooked in policy towards small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs).
That was the warning from Anthea McIntyre, Conservative spokesman on agriculture and rural affairs, at a conference in the European Parliament on SME policy and regulation.
The MEP for the West Midlands told fellow MEPs and industry experts from a range of sectors that she was a director herself of three SMEs - including a smallholding at her home in Herefordshire.
She was addressing SME Europe - a policy group instigated by the Centre Right European People's Party - at a forum in Strasbourg, and was the only non-EPP member to give a presentation.
She stressed that agriculture as a whole needed politicians to focus on evidence and science-based lawmaking, on regulation and licensing regimes that did not stifle innovation, and on a balanced approach that considered the impact and burden of new rules, especially on smaller enterprises.
She said: "One policy area I have pursued vigorously is the potential of new technologies to make agriculture more sustainable and more productive.
"It is vital that the benefits of these new ways of working - from robotics to precision spraying to new breeding techniques - are available to small growers and not just the big industrial-scale farms.
"We have to make sure we support these innovations here in Europe - otherwise we will see their development exported to more supportive countries while we are left to import the results."
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