The Common Agricultural Policy (CAP) is not only important for European agriculture it is also probably the most significant piece of environmental policy affecting Europe, as well as influencing rural development and climate change policy.

With 27 member states, each with its own particular agricultural needs, it will be difficult if not impossible to reform the CAP in a way that meets the objectives of farmers, consumers, politicians, environmental groups and all the other many stakeholders. But with €60 billion at stake every year, as well as European food security and the environment, it is essential that we should all encourage our politicians to focus on this big issue.

The Society of Biology convened a task force on CAP reform under the chairmanship of Council member Tim Brigstocke. This expert group has produced a position statement on CAP reform, which we have sent to politicians and civil servants in UK and European Parliaments, and to the European commission.

As biologists, we recognise the need for a proper balance between the economic, social and environmental aspects of this policy, but we also stress the vital importance of research, knowledge and trained people to define, develop and deliver sustainable agriculture and effective agricultural policy. We also emphasise that natural capital and ecosystem services must be properly valued so that their protection and management can be supported by the new policy.