Hungary has declared the European Commission’s plan to phase out funding for the promotion of red meats and wine throughout the bloc as “unacceptable,” joining a number of other member states who have taken issue with Brussels’ adoption of a crusade by health campaigners against items they claim can cause cancer.
Zsolt Feldman, the Hungarian secretary of state for agriculture and rural development, slammed proposals by the EU executive on Monday at a press briefing following a meeting between member states’ agriculture ministers in Brussels, claiming that the Commission “is not seeking solutions” and that restrictions on red meat and wine “will not promote healthy lifestyles or sustainability.”
The European Commission’s cancer strategy published last year included proposals such as introducing health warnings on wine bottles and excluded red and processed meats from the bloc’s agricultural promotion programs.
Feldman, however, believes such measures will disproportionately target farmers who rely on the bloc’s promotional funding to sell their products and would ultimately result in “food production being shifted to third countries, jeopardizing the security of supplies to the EU.”
“European agriculture has sent a strong political message to the committee that this is the wrong direction,” Feldman told reporters on Monday. “It does not help sustainability, but it relocates food production to countries outside the EU.”
Feldman held the view that consumers should ultimately have the freedom to choose how they wish to live their lives and “shape their own dietary habits without artificial methods invented by bureaucrats in Brussels,” accusing the Commission of implementing “more and more initiatives based on ideologies rather than supported by impact studies.”
As many as 19 member states now oppose the move, with countries such as Ireland and France, for whom agriculture is a fundamental aspect of their economy, and Italy, which possesses vast vineyards for wine production, firmly rejecting the proposals.
Last year, Brussels approved mealworm as a food source fit for human consumption, which was a move also criticized by Hungary as a part of the EU’s anti-meat agenda.