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British Members of Parliament Launch Petition Campaign to Redirect Farm Subsidies to Help Africans Living With HIV/AIDS

January 3, 2005

Members of Great Britain's two main political parties in a letter to the editor of the Daily Telegraph on Dec. 24 launched a petition campaign that would force the European Union to redirect about $5.75 billion annually in farm subsidies to help people in Africa who are living with HIV/AIDS, Reuters reports. The 22 members of Parliament who signed the letter hope to utilize a "little-known" clause in the new E.U. Constitution -- which has not yet been ratified by member states -- that would force the European Commission to take action if one million signatures are collected, Reuters reports. "We believe that tackling the devastation caused by AIDS in sub-Saharan Africa is one of the most urgent moral challenges facing the world today," the letter says, according to Reuters (Lovell, Reuters, 12/24/04). According to the letter, "An annual sum of three billion pounds will help provide the antiretroviral drugs and health care systems to keep HIV-positive Africans alive." The money "could be most easily found by cutting the taxpayers' subsidies given to Europe's richest farmers ... [by h]alving state handouts to large and competitive agri-businesses," according to the letter. The letter adds that "98% of E.U. farmers -- many of whom do not need support -- will not have any subsidy removed under such an initiative" (Battle et al., Daily Telegraph, 12/24/04). The petition is available online at (Reuters, 12/24/04).

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