Europe Reveals 'Farm to Fork' Strategy for Food Sustainability

The strategy aims to promote sustainable food and environmentally-friendly production practices. Critics say more must be done to reduce the production of industrial animal meat products.
Jun. 1, 2020
Costas Vasilopoulos

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The European Commission revealed its From Farm to Fork’ strat­egy, which aims to estab­lish food sus­tain­abil­ity and secu­rity among European pop­u­la­tions in the wider con­text of tack­ling cli­mate change and pro­tect­ing the envi­ron­ment as part of the European Green Deal initiative.

The COVID-19 pan­demic emerged as an accel­er­at­ing fac­tor for the E.C. to pre­pare and present the strat­egy in order to tackle such emer­gen­cies in the future and smoothen any reper­cus­sions on European citizens.

The coro­n­avirus cri­sis has shown how vul­ner­a­ble we all are, and how impor­tant it is to restore the bal­ance between human activ­ity and nature,” Frans Timmermans, the exec­u­tive vice-pres­i­dent for the European Green Deal, said.

The strat­egy sets con­crete tar­gets” to reduce the use of pes­ti­cides and fer­til­iz­ers in the Union by 50 per­cent and 20 per­cent respec­tively, halve the sales of antimi­cro­bials used for farmed ani­mals and aqua­cul­ture, and turn a quar­ter of the total farm­lands of the EU to organic cul­ti­va­tions — all to be achieved by 2030 at the latest.

Farm to Fork also focuses on reduc­ing food waste and loss of nutri­ents, and pro­motes the tran­si­tion to a sus­tain­able food sys­tem that safe­guards food secu­rity and ensures access to healthy diets from a healthy planet.”

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A shift of con­sumers to plant-based and reduced-meat eat­ing pat­terns is a main pylon of the strat­egy as a means to reduce the obe­sity rates in European pop­u­la­tions and increase the pre­ven­tion of dis­eases like can­cer, the strat­egy doc­u­ment said.

To facil­i­tate the tran­si­tion to plant-based diets, more EU funds are to be allo­cated to the research and pro­duc­tion of alter­na­tive plant pro­teins and meat substitutes.

The Farm to Fork Strategy will make a pos­i­tive dif­fer­ence across the board in how we pro­duce, buy and con­sume our food that will ben­e­fit the health of our cit­i­zens, soci­eties and the envi­ron­ment,” Stella Kyriakides, the com­mis­sioner for health and food safety, said.

Farm to Fork has also drawn wide­spread crit­i­cism, with envi­ron­men­tal orga­ni­za­tions and ani­mal wel­fare pro­po­nents argu­ing that it falls short of their expec­ta­tions to bet­ter pro­tect the envi­ron­ment and reduce indus­trial ani­mal products.

Animal farm­ing makes up roughly 70 per­cent of all EU green­house gas emis­sions from agri­cul­ture, and cli­mate sci­en­tists have long agreed that big reduc­tions in meat and dairy are vital if we are to have any hope of reach­ing our cli­mate change tar­gets,” said Joanna Swabe, senior direc­tor of pub­lic affairs for Humane Society International.

So within that con­text, it is deeply dis­ap­point­ing that the EU has chick­ened out of end­ing the prac­tice of pour­ing mil­lions of euros into pro­mot­ing inef­fi­cient and unsus­tain­able meat pro­duc­tion and meat consumption.”

The Friends of the Earth Europe NGO noted that more than 300,000 EU cit­i­zens had called on the Commission for an 80 per­cent reduc­tion in pes­ti­cide use and a total elim­i­na­tion of their use by 2035, com­pared to the declared goal of a 50 per­cent reduc­tion by 2030.

Mute Schimpf, a cam­paigner for the NGO, added, Industrial agri­cul­ture is caus­ing eco­log­i­cal col­lapse – and it’s made pos­si­ble by pes­ti­cide use, weak GMO safety laws and fac­tory farms being polit­i­cally accept­able. The Farm to Fork Strategy leaves the door open for weak­en­ing GMO safety laws, remains dan­ger­ously weak on pes­ti­cides and indus­trial ani­mal agri­cul­ture. Agribusiness exec­u­tives will sleep well tonight.”

The Farm to Fork’ strat­egy must pass muster with the European Parliament and the Council of Europe.


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