Local view for "http://purl.org/linkedpolitics/eu/plenary/1999-07-22-Speech-4-020"

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"(FR) Mr President, ladies and gentlemen, Europe has had, over the last few years, a succession of food-related scandals. We have had mad cow disease, we are questioning GMOs and their labelling; we are now aware of the problem of the dioxin content in animal bone meal; we are seeing well-known soft drinks withdrawn from sale because they have been causing problems...we are all wondering what the next scandal will be: which one will be uncovered tomorrow. We must certainly not give in to a mood of panic, but it is quite reasonable for us to be asking ourselves about the quality of the products which we consume. Concern about food safety is unfortunately far too recent a development in Europe, emerging as it did at the time of the BSE crisis. This concerns all of us, consumers, small producers, industrial-scale producers and farmers. We are all concerned because we care about public health, and this drives us. But at the same time, we also feel very worried for farmers who are directly involved and who have been singled out for blame, and for the whole food-processing industry. All parties are still suffering. These scandals have done them an injustice because there are some producers and farmers, very honest people, who do their best to ensure that their processes are faultless. We should not punish the whole profession because of a few people within its ranks who are less than honest. What can be done? We must recreate the right conditions for winning back consumer confidence in Europe. We must therefore strengthen Europe-wide rapid alert mechanisms. Member States must be willing to accept health inspections. Member States must not be made to feel that they are being singled out for blame if we ask them to make these inspections. We must all play the game. It is in everyone"s interest as we have this huge single market. This condition must be met if the market is to work successfully. If it is not, consumers will boycott products and we will find ourselves once again in an economic situation which most people will find extremely difficult. Member States and the Council must therefore both show greater transparency. Quality producers who respect the environment must be offered support. We must, in effect, be brave enough to bring about a fundamental reform of agricultural policy if our consumers are going to want to consume our products again. We must guarantee vigilance and consistency in traceability and labelling. We must be especially resolute in discussions with the WTO. We must, quite simply, put an end to unacceptable practices."@en1

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