Federal Minister Schmidt garners support for the cultivation of GM-free soy during trip to South America

On 20 August 2015, Federal Agriculture Minister Christian Schmidt took part in the first German-Brazilian intergovernmental consultations in Brasília, headed by Federal Chancellor Dr Angela Merkel. Further stops on his South America visit were made in Uruguay and Argentina.

Collaboration in the area of research and the bioeconomy, sustainable agricultural production, the cultivation and export of GM-free soy, food security and trade issues were the main focal points of the trip.

Federal Minister Schmidt was accompanied on his visits to Uruguay and Argentina by Prof. Andreas Hensel, President of the Federal Institute for Risk Assessment (BfR), Prof. Georg F. Backhaus, President of the Julius Kühn Institute (JKI), as well as the environmental representative of the German Farmers' Association (DBV), Dr Heinrich Graf von Bassewitz (Uruguay).


As part of the German-Brazilian intergovernmental consultations, Federal Agriculture Minister Schmidt and Brazil's Minister of Agrarian Development Patrus Ananias signed a memorandum of understanding on the implementation of the human right to food.

Group photo Federal Agriculture Minister Schmidt in discussion with his counterpart Abreu, Source: Naiara Costa

During talks with Ananias and Agriculture Minister Katia Abreu, Schmidt underlined Brazil's important role as a strategic partner for Germany in agricultural policy and in ensuring global food security. Besides voicing support for smallholder farmers, he also advocated close cooperation in the area of the bioeconomy and in agricultural research.

As was the case with the political discussions held in Uruguay and Argentina, trade issues were another key topic – most notably the dismantling of non-tariff barriers to trade and negotiations on the free trade agreement between the EU and Mercosur ¬– together with the cultivation and export of non-genetically modified soy.

Among Germany's partners in South America, Brazil is currently the only large-scale producer of GM-free soy. One of the objectives of Federal Agriculture Minister Schmidt's trip was therefore to convince all three countries to increase their levels of cultivation. Against this background, he pointed to Germany's considerable and steadily growing demand for this crop and the export opportunities that this can bring for South American farmers.


During the talks in Uruguay, which brought together the Federal Minister, President Tabaré Vázquez and Agriculture Minister Tabaré Aguerre, Schmidt stressed: "Consumers in Germany reject genetically modified food for the most part. For me, it is important that there are sufficient GM-free soy products available in Germany for our farmers and producers since it is an ideal animal feed for livestock farmers." Uruguay too could serve this market in future, he added, stating that it represents a future opportunity for soy producers who decide not to employ genetic engineering in soy cultivation.

Minister Schmidt awarding a certificate to a scientist Federal Minister Schmidt awarding Uruguayan visiting scientists certificates to carry out three-month fellowships for the BfR programme entitled 'Promoting talents and scientific careers', Source: BMEL/Sergio Tarter

Schmidt welcomed the positive relations between Germany and Uruguay in the area of agriculture. These have expanded dynamically over recent years and continue a long tradition of cooperation in agricultural research.
The BMEL, BfR and JKI are working together closely with their Uruguayan partners in this area and Federal Minister Schmidt awarded certificates to three Uruguayan visiting scientists who have been granted a three-month fellowship for the BfR programme entitled 'Promoting talents and scientific careers'.


Bilateral relations with Argentina have also developed positively in recent years, reflected not least in the signing of a memorandum of understanding between Germany and Argentina in 2013 on cooperation in the areas of agriculture and food. As part of the bilateral cooperation programme, Argentina has also been involved since 2014 in an ongoing cooperative project with Brazil aimed at strengthening cooperatives working in the agricultural sector.

Talks between Federal Minister Schmidt and his Argentine counterpart Carlos Horcia Casamiquela focused primarily on issues of sustainability in agricultural production, organic farming and Argentina's role in the global food situation. The country has a population of 40 million people and plays an instrumental role in fighting hunger: it already produces enough food to feed 400 million people.

However, the availability of these agricultural raw materials and the trade therein should not be hindered by export taxes and quotas, underlined Federal Minister Schmidt, urging for a swift conclusion of the EU-Mercosur free-trade agreement.

Both parties agreed to strengthen cooperation in agricultural research in order to be able to respond better to the challenges of climate change and food security in agricultural production.

Global Forum for Food and Agriculture 2016

The agriculture ministers of all three countries were invited by Federal Minister Schmidt to attend the Agriculture Ministers' Summit 2016. The Summit is the political highlight of the Global Forum for Food and Agriculture (GFFA) and will be held on 16 January in Berlin. He thanked Uruguay, Brazil and Argentina for their regular attendance and important contributions in recent years and also introduced the theme of the GFFA 2016. Under the title "How to feed our cities? – Agriculture and rural areas in an era of urbanisation", next year's edition of the event will address the issue of how sustainable agriculture, vibrant rural areas and providing food for urban areas can coexist successfully.

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© Federal Ministry of Food and Agriculture