From Brussels to Bra: Slow Food Europe Brings Hot European Topics to Cheese 2019

The 12th edition of Cheese, the international event dedicated to raw milk cheeses and artisanal dairy products, will bring topics widely discussed at the European level to the heart of Piedmont, in Bra, Italy, where the bi-annual event will take place from September 20 to 23. The Common Agricultural Policy (CAP) reform and its impact on bees and other pollinators, and the limitations of quality product certification will be among the main topics discussed with European Union officials, representatives of European non-governmental organizations and Slow Food producers. 

On September 20, a study carried out by Slow Food on the overlap between the European system of geographic indications, known as the PDO (Protected Designation of Origin) and PGI (Protected Geographical Indication) and Slow Food products, will be presented at the conference “Conserving Traditions or just Marketing? PDOs and PGIs in Europe”. The EU introduced this regulatory framework to protect and promote traditional local products more than 20 years ago. However, the research shows that PDOs and PGIs cannot always effectively safeguard the quality of food products. At the conference, speakers from the European Commission (DG AGRI), AREPO – Association of European Regions for Products of Origin, and  Slow Food producers will discuss if the European system of geographic indications helps or hampers traditional cheese and charcuterie production. 

On September 21, visitors will be invited to attend a conference which will focus on one of the hottest topics in the EU – the CAP reform and the protection of biodiversity. The recent FAO report on biodiversity has shown significant declines in the number of birds and insects, particularly bees and other pollinators, naming pesticides and intensive farming as the main drivers. Over 75% of cultivated food is dependent on pollination. The conference “Apiculture and Agriculture: the Role of Pollinators in the Common Agricultural Policy” will ask its speakers, representing the Commission (DG AGRI), and several European non-governmental organizations, to discuss how the CAP reform fits into the narrative around sustainable food systems, and whether it is addressing the decline of pollinators. 

“EU policies have a significant impact on our daily lives, and many of us do not realise it. It is essential that these complicated EU topics are brought closer to citizens because, without their support, we cannot push for the change that is urgently needed. At the same time, we want to show to EU officials how active our Slow Food communities are, and to present to them an example of successful and profitable small-scale farming, because natural is possible,” says Rachele Lodi, Slow Food’s International Councillor for Europe.  

During Cheese, EU officials will be invited to a field visit to a Slow Food’s Presidium in the Piedmont Region. This will be an occasion for the officials to meet small-scale farmers and producers who will show them ecological ways of farming and to discuss how the EU’s food and farming policies affect farmers’ livelihoods. 

Indre Anskaityte, Slow Food Europe

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