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Saturday, 23 June, 2001, 04:59 GMT 05:59 UK
Green activists demand farming overhaul
Foot-and-mouth sheep cull
Foot-and-mouth: A timely backdrop to the campaign
British farming needs a complete overhaul to shift it away from environmentally damaging methods that have triggered repeated food crises, a green pressure group says.

Prime Minister Tony Blair is being targeted with the stark message in a new campaign being launched by Friends of the Earth.

FoE charter
Halt GM crop planting until safety and need proven
End pesticide residues in food
Make third of land organic by 2010
Support local food producers
Give fair deal to farmers who safeguard the future
Save farming from unfair global trade rules
It wants a major review of the UK's agricultural practices resulting in pesticide and GM-free food, a wildlife-rich countryside and a thriving rural economy.

Members of the public are being asked to sign a card urging the prime minister to "put his foot down for real food and farming".

A charter has been launched setting out Friends of the Earth's demands covering GM trials, organic food, local produce and global trade.

Sandra Bell, real food campaigner at the organisation, said: "It is time for a fundamental review of the way our food is produced.

"Tony Blair pledged a long-term plan for sustainable farming.

"It's time to make him stick to his promise. We all need to put our foot down for real food and farming - for the sake of our countryside, our farmers, our health and our rural economy."

New strategy

The campaign launch on Saturday comes days after Lord Whitty, the new minister for farming and the food industry, suggested there could be movement on the issue soon.

He said an announcement on a policy commission to establish a medium-term strategy for the future of the farming industry would be made within weeks.

Lord Whitty
Lord Whitty suggested an inquiry would be held into foot-and-mouth
And Lord Whitty added that farmers knew returning to normal did not mean a return to what they were doing four years ago.

"There will be changes in marketing, and in what we produce and the way we produce it," he said.

His comments follow a pledge in Labour's election manifesto to create an "independent commission to advise on how we create a sustainable, competitive and diverse farming and food sector within a thriving rural economy which advances environmental, health and animal welfare goals".

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21 Jun 01 | UK
Inquiry into 'cruel' cull
22 Jun 01 | UK Politics
Further farm restrictions lifted
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