Wheat: Italian Protectionism Hurts Consumers

ForFreeChoice calls EU Commission and Institutions to stop the Italian discrimination of foreign wheat. It is a violation of free trade principle and fair competition.

Last August the Italian government passed a bill that introduced the obligation to indicate the origin of wheat on pasta labels. Minister Carlo Calenda (Economic Development) and Minister Maurizio Martina (Agriculture) promoted the bill with the support of the agriculture union Coldiretti. The aim is to benefit Italian wheat and to discriminate the import of foreign one – elections are approaching in early 2018.

The two Ministers want consumers to believe that this bill increases transparency. False. It fools Italian consumers by making them believe that pasta made with Italian wheat is better. It pressures pasta producers just to satisfy Coldiretti’s requests.

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FFC warns consumers and European institutions:

1) There is not enough Italian wheat production to fulfill the needs of the pasta market. The organoleptic qualities of the Italian wheat do not often match the quality/quantity of the foreign one. Furthermore, Italian farmers are often very fragmented. This can not match the commercial and organizational needs of the pasta makers;

2) The bill violates European trade policies. It represent a dangerous precedent that other member states might follow. Italy has already experienced wheat autarchy during fascism. Protectionist policies failed. Protectionist policies have no sense in a global market where Italian pasta makers are great exporters. While Italian farmers export very little production;

3) Consumers are explicitly misled: Italian wheat does not mean automatically high quality standard. Wheat quality, in fact, does not depend on the country of origin. The good quality of pasta depends on the pasta entrepreneurs who freely choose the wheat quality they think is best.

The current bill will impoverish the Italian agriculture, farmers, consumers and pasta makers.

ForFreeChoice will promote a European campaign to stop protectionism and promote free trade, competition and entrepreneurship.

For Free Choice aims to promote scientific information and method in public discourse. For Free Choice also defends consumers’ choice rights against the smear and demonizing campaigns which aim to confuse them and benefit specific interests.

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