The European Commission published its Farm to Fork Strategy for a fair, healthy and environmentally-friendly food system, one of the Green Deal’s 11 components. In its general principles, the strategy sets an ambitious course for the transformation of the entire sector, in line with recent scientific findings modelling sustainable food systems. It apprehends head-on and jointly the issues of reducing consumption of animal products, loss and waste, and the use of synthetic inputs. Achieving the drafted objectives will, however, require going a step further by making this strategy the reference framework for the implementation of the Common Agricultural Policy (CAP), the deployment of industrial strategies in the food sector (particularly in the context of the negotiations of the post-Covid-19 crisis recovery plans) and the (re)negotiation of international trade agreements.
If, like any policy, some will judge this strategy to be too spineless on one point or another, while others will find it too ambitious, no one will deny it at least one strong point: that of integrating in a systemic way, and as rarely seen before, the main conclusions of recent modelling exercises that identify the conditions to reach sustainability for our food systems. In this respect, the goal of reducing meat consumption is unambiguously expressed for the first time in a document of this nature (without, however, being quantified); similarly, the reduction in the use of synthetic inputs (pesticides, fertilisers and antibiotics) is clearly stated, even if the indicators used remain vague; the challenge of reducing food waste and losses throughout food chains is again highlighted. The whole strategy, closely linked to the Biodiversity Strategy also published today, is to be the subject of a legislative proposal on sustainable food systems by 2023 put in place in a collaborative effort between the Directorates-General for Health, Agriculture, Environment, Maritime Affairs and Fisheries. While it would probably be too much to talk about a revolution, we can only welcome the ambition and coherence, at least in its overall outlook, of a text considered important by the Brussels executive. Its ambitious objectives align with needed changes at the level of the entire food system, involving action on the production side (which is what the CAP does) as well as in downstream sectors and in consumption. The question remains, then, how can we ensure that it lives up to its promises? What should be the next step to make this framework a real lever for change?
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This blog first appeared on the IDDRI site.
Author: Pierre-Marie Aubert, IDDRI.
Image courtesy of Steve Long via Flickr.
The views are those of the author and not necessarily those of ETTG.