France wants autumn conference on European food sovereignty

PARIS, June 18 (Reuters) - France wants to organise a conference with other European countries this autumn on how to reinforce “food sovereignty” following the novel coronavirus outbreak, its agriculture minister said on Thursday.

French President Emmanuel Macron has underlined the need for greater European sovereignty, particularly in healthcare, after the coronavirus exposed the reliance of countries including France on imported medical supplies.

Agriculture Minister Didier Guillaume told political news channel Public Senat that while France could not be self-sufficient in all food products, it would look at being more autonomous in areas such as plant protein.

“That is why we are going to launch after the summer a major conference on food sovereignty, first of all to see exactly what that could mean,” he said.

“We want to work with our European neighbours because food sovereignty can’t just be done on a country by country basis.”

The government has also been preparing an initiative on plant protein, hoping to reduce France’s reliance on soybeans imported from North and South America to feed livestock.

Guillaume also reiterated France’s view that food and farming should be treated as special cases in trade negotiations, a position that has put the European Union at odds with the United States in trade talks.

Reporting by Gus Trompiz, Editing by Timothy Heritage