‘If we continue like this …we’ll regret it’. Nanni Moretti’s catch phrase comes to mind when we think about the appeal presented to the European Union by the Italian Federation of Food Industry against Italian Law 204, which requires labeling to indicate the origin of Italian food products. This law—as we have already mentioned, but it is worth remembering—was passed by the Italian Parliament in August 2004 following a popular initiative organized by the Italian Federation of Farmers, Coldiretti. It is a good law, which defends the quality of products, the work of producers and the right of consumers to transparency and information.
But the Italian Federation of Food Industry has found a problem: the law might harm, in terms of free competition, the food industries of other European countries. How come? Are Italian food industry interests concerned to protect their competitors in foreign countries rather than products made in Italy? Not understanding the logic of this move and worried that—while we await explanations—the request will be taken seriously and some essential sections might be repealed, Coldiretti and Slow Food have launched a campaign to collect signatures in defense of Law 204. The initiative is directed at the Italian Parliament, to ensure parliamentarians do not lower their guard and should rather work towards the full application of this law, which partly still awaits conversion into specific regulations.
The public are invited to provide their signatures to support their rights and those of farmers who have made ‘Made in Italy’ a symbol of quality for their products. Some encouraging signs are already evident: ex-minister Gianni Alemanno, together with the leader of the Ulivo parliamentary group Dario Franceschini, agreed that there are grounds for a bipartisan approach while speaking at a press conference presenting the initiative in Rome on March 28. Many parliamentarians have given their support in recent days.
We now need a more systematic examination of food policies and the food system in general. This is urgent not only for the specific Italian situation but also for food and agriculture systems in other countries, particularly poorer countries. Signing the petition will also help in this regard. Click at the bottom of this web page to sign: http://associazione.slowfood.it/associazione_ita/ita/difendiamoletichetta.lasso
Roberto Burdese is president of the Slow Food Italian National Association
First printed in La Stampa on April 1, 2007
Adapted by Ronnie Richards