Inês Sousa Real at the recent COP26 conference

PAN in spotlight as spokesperson exposed for allegedly intensive farming practices

In the run-up to Portugal’s legislative elections in January, minority party PAN (Peoples Animals Nature) is suddenly in the spotlight for all the wrong reasons.

Official spokesperson Inês Sousa Real has been exposed for her connections to agricultural ventures that use the kind of intensive practices PAN itself condemns.

Berry Dream, Red Fields and Doce Baga appear also to have received thousands in EU funding. This however is perhaps only a side issue. Most mentioned are the “tunnels” and “greenhouses” allegedly used to produce berry fruits, as well as the plastic used in their packaging.

SOL online describes what it calls “the dance” of Ms Sousa Real “between tunnels and greenhouses”.

PAN’s spokesperson insists that “the tunnels, being open, allow the entry of air, circulation of animals, respiration of the soil and circulation of rainwater. We can say that in both locations (meaning both sites where the berry fruits are grown) animals like moles, snakes and other reptiles, as well as rabbits, different bird species – some of which nest inside the tunnels – and insects cohabit harmoniously. This level of biodiversity would not happen in a closed greenhouse…”

But there is also the difficult “accusation” of pesticide-use, says SOL.

The paper has interviewed Luís Mira, the secretary general of CAP (Portugal’s Confederation of Agriculture), who doesn’t see things quite the way Ms Sousa Real does.

In Mr Mira’s opinion, there is “no relevant difference between greenhouses and tunnels”.

“It’s obvious she should resign” he told the online – adding that it is “unacceptable that people criticise from an ideological and political point of view what they then execute from a private point of view. This is deceiving people…”

For the time being, Ms Sousa Real is unrepentant, saying she has done nothing illegal.

Observador however suggests she has failed to declare earnings from an estate agency, established in 2020 in Oeiras, “at the same address as one of the agricultural companies” she owns with her husband.

Ms Sousa Real now has 30 days to rectify this lapse, says Observador, or she may well indeed be forced to tender her resignation.

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