According to Dutch Member of the European Parliament (MEP) Annie Schreijer-Pierik (CDA), billions of euros are untapped by the EU and the Dutch horticultural sector can benefit from those funds. She stated that in an exclusive interview with Goedemorgen.
The European Parliament has financial resources to help Dutch horticulture go forward. “There are still many ways to use those resources,” said Schreijer-Pierik. She does not directly refer to subsidies, but to funding that can be leveraged. “A lot of resources are now flowing to Eastern Europe and sometimes I wonder whether we have a good picture of all the possibilities in the Netherlands. I do not think it is our modest attitude, but a sort of stubborn self-sufficiency. ‘We can manage without it,’ people think. But everyone around us is going determined, so we have to stay with the Netherlands and keep our top position.”
Schreijer-Pierik likes to defend the top position of the Netherlands at the European Parliament. “We are innovative and we are ahead of the business. As a result, we must always explain what we are doing to other countries. But we also have to remain respectful to others, if they are not so advanced yet. It is with astonishment that we look at how sustainable and innovative the produce is grown in the Netherlands.”
Schreijer-Pierik organized a large exhibition about horticulture a year and a half ago, together with Dutch organization GroentenFruit Huis, to explain to her European colleagues what we are doing in the Netherlands. Each MEP may hold two of such exhibitions during the five-year term of office. Where most politicians use a simple photo wall, Schreijer-Pierik opted for two greenhouse frames filled with bell pepper plants, a vegetable artwork, a box with bumblebees and cherry tomatoes. “We explained how environmentally-friendly Dutch horticulture is, with less use of water and hardly any crop protection products. Colleagues were full of praise and came back again and again to taste the tomatoes. Some of them thought the tomatoes were made of plastic or perhaps genetically modified or heavily sprayed with pesticides because they looked so beautiful. But, of course, that was not true.”
Besides telling the good story of this moment, it is also necessary to arrange things well for the future. Like the issue with CRISPR-Cas. “We are at risk of losing our lead because we are not allowed to use the CRISPR-Cas breeding technique in Europe. For example, in the U.S. it is allowed. This is incomprehensible, because it is an almost natural way of breeding. It is not even possible to check afterwards whether it has been used, so how narrow-minded that can be,” Schreijer-Pierik asked herself.
Furthermore, the ban on crop protection products is something that concerns the agricultural and horticultural sector. “Some products are needed to produce healthy food; you can not wipe everything from the table,” said Schreijer-Pierik. Finally, she draws attention to the consequences of Brexit, which are not clear yet. “How will that be done with controls and permits? We work with fresh products, products with a present-day value. They cannot wait unnecessarily long periods for checks at the border.”
Photo caption: Annie Schreijer-Pierik (in red) with fellow MEPs at the opening of the horticultural display in the European Parliament.
Click here to read the original article (in Dutch) at Goedemorgen.
*Edited and translated by Daltry Gárate.