From "Reports on Agriculture", Exercise number 1, May 2008

Statement on the Communication from the Commission to the European Parliament and the Council Preparing for the "Health Check" of the CAP reform

Scientific Advisory Board on Agricultural Policy at the BMELV1)

On 20 November 2007, the European Commission presented ideas on the further development of the Common Agricultural Policy (CAP) which have now been commented on by the German Advisory Board for Agricultural Policy at the Federal Ministry of Food, Agriculture and Consumer Protection. The comments refer to the development of the single payment scheme, market interventions and new challenges for agriculture and rural development. The Board agrees that the CAP reforms carried out over the last few years point in the right direction, away from protectionist market intervention towards a policy for rural areas. According to the Board, the Commission’s health check proposals represent a balancing act between necessary and possible adjustments. The important question is what the CAP will look like after 2013.

1) Members of the scientific advisory board: Prof. Prof. Dr. FOLKHARD ISERMEYER (Vorsitzender). Johann Heinrich von Thünen-Institut (vTI), Braunschweig; Prof. Dr. Dr. ANNETTE OTTE (Stellvertretende Vorsitzende), Universität Gießen; Prof. Dr. OLAF CHRISTEN, Martin-Luther-Universität Halle-Wittenberg, Prof. Dr. STEPHAN DABBERT, Universität Hohenheim; Prof. Dr. KLAUS FROHBERG, Universität Bonn; Prof. Dr. ULRIKE GRABSKI-KIERON, Westfälische Wilhelms-Universität Münster; Prof. Dr. JÖRG HARTUNG, Tierärztliche Hochschule Hannover; Prof. Dr. Dr. h.c. ALOIS HEIßENHUBER, Technische Universität München, Prof. Dr. JÜRGEN HEß, Universität Kassel, Prof. Dr. Dr. h.c. DIETER KIRSCHKE, Humboldt-Universität Berlin; Prof. Dr. PETER MICHAEL SCHMITZ, Universität Gießen; Prof. Dr. ACHIM SPILLER, Universität Göttingen; Prof. Dr. ALBERT SUNDRUM, Universität Kassel; Prof. Prof. Dr. CARSTEN THOROE, Johann Heinrich von Thünen-Institut (vTI), Braunschweig

Chances and limits of influencing the allergenic potential of crop plants by plant breeding

By Marc Zahn und Frank Ordon, Quedlinburg

Food allergies are frequently caused by crops. This report discusses how allergenic components in plants can be reduced by breeding and biotechnological methods. Allergens are in general proteins and are pre¬sent in many commercially important crop plants. Via sequence analyses it is possible to divide these proteins into a few main gene families. However, for breeding purposes it is meaningful to classify plant allergens according to their function. Based on this functional classification breeders can decide if a reduction of specific allergens will cause yield losses or reduce quality. Type I allergies to wheat flour, such as baker's asthma and other allergies to wheat proteins, are mainly caused by alpha amylase inhibitors. This paper proposes a breeding strategy for reducing the allergenic potential caused by the wheat alpha amylase inhibitors. To achieve this aim, the allelic diversity and expression level in different wheat genotypes has to be determined; this is then followed by immunological investigations and the develop¬ment of molecular markers.

Outcrossing studies on maize: Overview, assessment, need for research

By Maren Langhof und Gerhard Rühl, Braunschweig

This literature review takes all currently available studies on the outcrossing of maize into account. They are categorised and assessed in terms of suitability for deriving measures to ensure the co-existence of genetically modified (GM) maize and non-genetically modified (non-GM) conventional maize as well as organically produced maize. The key results from a total of 45 analysed studies are set out in a table. Sources consulted for this purpose include scientific journals, project reports and abridged versions in conference documentation as well as presentations from workshops or conferences that are available on the Internet.

The studies show that different measures are suitable to reduce outcrossing. These include e.g. (i) the observance of an isolation distance of 50-100 m between GM and non-GM maize, (ii) the use of a maize buffer zone, (iii) the separate harvesting of the first rows of the non-GM field facing on the GM parcel as well as (iv) additionally in Southern Europe, a shifting of the flowering period e.g. through staggered sowing dates of GM and non-GM maize. Existing deficits in the research on the outcrossing of maize are pointed out.

The statements made in the studies on the efficacy of different co-existence measures can only be generalised to a very limited degree. The reasons for this are frequently incomplete or lacking data on the parameters exerting a key influence on outcrossing, notably the wind direction and flowering period as well as not ideal experimental field trial designs in some cases and a lack of trial repetitions. Therefore, specific experimental approaches as the basis for creating legal requirements for co-existence, including the collection and consideration of all outcrossing-related parameters, are required to quantify the efficacy of individual measures. Finally, these results can be incorporated in forecasting models.

Competitiveness of sugar beet production in Austria after the reform of the EU sugar market

By Leopold Kirner, Wien

On November 24th, 2005 EU farm minister adopted a fundamental reform on the EU sugar market. The reference price for sugar will be reduced in two steps by 36 per cent and the minimum price for sugar beet will be reduced in four steps by 39.4 per cent. The present study analyses the competitiveness of sugar beet production under the new regulation and examines the consequences of this reform for sugar beet producers in Austria. As a result of the calculations, gross margin per ha is reduced on average by 50 per cent. Nevertheless, sugar beet cultivation in Austria will hardly decrease because sugar beet remains clearly more competitive than alternative cash crops despite the high price cut.

Keywords: Sugar beet, competitiveness, European Union, gross margin, income from agriculture and forestry.

An indicator-based approach for assessing sustainability of intensively managed grassland

By Katharina Treyse, Michael Kelm, Hela Mehrtens und Friedhelm Taube, Kiel

The conservation of permanent grassland is a major target in the European environmental policy of cross compliance. Therefore the sustainable management of grassland is important to prevent degradation processes and resowing. Aim of the study was an implementation of indicators to evaluate sustainability of intensively managed grassland. The selection criterias of indicators were easy data collection for minimising costs, easy handling for users and repeatability.

The methodology of the presented indicator-based approach considers parameters already used in other studies (yield, species composition, forage quality) and is extended by parameters like content of legumes, crude protein content and soil nutrient status.

Three datasets from Schleswig-Holstein, Lower Saxony and Austria were displayed by a weighting function, offering the possibility for finding chinks. A complete evaluation was performed to compare the sustainability of grassland systems. Our findings clearly showed, that for intensive conventional and organic managed grassland evaluated indicators are of great evidence but this approach has to be extended for extensively used grassland.

Vertical cooperation’s in the agri-food business – management challenges

By Jon H. Hanf, Halle (Saale) und Kirsti Dautzenberg, Potsdam

In the recent years, it could be observed in practice that the coordination mechanisms along the value-added chain have changed in such way, that the exchange over spot markets have both been substituted and supplemented by the creation of chain systems. This article aims at investigating the resulting chain systems and at outlining the subsequent consequences for the agri-food business.

Keywords: Co-operations, Strategic Management, Networks, Verticalisation

Organic agriculture as a driving force for rural development – The example of Brandenburg and Mecklenburg-Vorpommern in Germany

By Martina Schäfer, Benjamin Nölting, Berlin und Astrid Engel, München

Since their poor economic perspectives lead to migration and gradual reduction of infrastructure, rural areas in East Germany are confronted with enormous challenges. In contrast to these general trends in rural areas, organic agriculture has spread very dynamically in East Germany after reunification. The article shows the potential of organic agriculture for supporting a sustainable development of rural areas based on the results of two research projects. The project "Regional wealth reconsidered" has analysed the ecological, social and cultural impacts of organic production, processing and trading enterprises. The project "The turn-around in German agrarian policy: New forms of food consumption?" has dealt with the motivation and the strategies of organic farmers and developed a typology of organic farms. Referring to these results, conclusions are drawn concerning (a) the role organic agriculture can play in the development of remote rural areas and (b) how existing potentials can be realized more effectively, both with the support of politics and administration and through efforts of the organic sector itself.

Economic and Environmental Potentials of Production and Use of Polylactic Acid from Renewable Feedstocks as Substitute for Petrochemical Plastics

By Andreas Meyer-Aurich, Joachim Venus, Potsdam und Olivier Jolliet, Ann Arbor

The utilization of renewable feedstocks to produce polylactic acid as a substitute for petrochemical feedstocks provides great environmental potentials regarding fossil fuel savings and mitigation of greenhouse gas emissions. However, this study shows from a literature review study that products produced from PLA to-date cannot provide significant advantages in these categories in every case. The advantage to be gained via reduced emissions and fossile energy consumption has to be proved for every specific case. Life cycle assessment is a valuable methodology to communicate environmental effects. A range of studies have been published regarding the production of PLA-based products. However, many of the assumptions which determine the evaluations are not transparent enough to enable a critical scientific discussion to be conducted.

Plastics based on PLA are still much more expensive than petrochemical materials. However, expectations for market growth are high. This is due to the specific properties of the new materials and expectations about the environmental effects. A transparent description of the environmental effects of bioplastic use is a prerequisite for making policies efficient and enabling resources to be used efficiently.

How the changes in the German agri-food industry are affecting co-operatives

By Jon Hanf, Halle (Saale), und Rainer Kühl, Gießen

Traditionally co-operatives have been an important and essential part of the German agri-food industry. On account of this, changes in and of the agri-food industry will have consequences for the German co-operative sector in general and for each individual co-operative. In the context of structural changes in the agri-food business an important role is played by to the formation of organizations which cooperate vertically and which can be characterized as strategic networks. Within this particular type of network a focal company coordinates the actions of the firms involved. Moreover, because the focal company is regarded as the guarantor for the quality of food products of all the companies involved it is the duty of the focal company to monitor food quality throughout the chain. Therefore, if necessary the focal company has to be able to enforce changes in the production processes at the collaborating firms.

Generally we have ascertained that the majority of the German co-operatives will face difficulties in meeting the requirements of a focal company. However, we think that the roles that the different co-operatives will hold in supply chain networks will vary widely. Whereas retail co-operatives have to accept and fulfill the function as a focal company for their own (retailer) brands the role of the majority of Raiffeisen co-operatives will be that of a supplier.

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