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From Farm to Fork to Farm to War, the appeal of science for a resilient food strategy

Da Farm to Fork Farm to War. The food strategy announced in Brussels on 20.5.20 - under the aegis of ecological transition (1) - must now be updated to the war economy. Energy is the very first of the problems, as we have seen, since it is clear that the plan REPowerEU it will not be able to supply the first source of primary resources (gas, coal, oil). (2)

Nitrogen fertilizers, feed materials, commodities food companies are trapped between speculation and bansexport. The agricultural confederations, in perfect harmony with the Big 4 (the global monopolists of pesticides and seeds), invoke the deregulation GMO and agrotoxic.

Increasing dependence on agrochemical supplies, however, does not bode well for farmers' budgets, nor for resilience and food sovereignty. Nor for the ecosystems where we all live. 408 scientists therefore ask for farsightedness and agroecology, in the management of a crisis that promises to be not temporary.

1) Potsdam Institute, the appeal of scientists

Il Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research (Germany) published a joint declaration on 18.3.22 which has so far received the support of 408 scientists, from Europe and other continents. A call to transform the production and consumption of food into a healthy, fair and ecological food system.

Russia and Ukraine they are large global producers of wheat, corn and oilseeds, as well as fertilizer and fuel. Exports are likely to be severely disrupted due to the war. The Middle East and Africa are highly dependent on imported wheat from the area and will be the hardest hit.

1.1) War and hunger

The price hike of wheat could push millions of people in these regions into poverty and hunger. As an immediate reaction, policy makers should ensure open agricultural trade flows, including those to and from Russia, with adequate financial support for international food aid programs (eg. World Food Program).

The trouble area of  food security it does not depend on the shortage of agricultural and food production but on severe inequalities economic, between countries and within countries, at any latitude. Global food production today 'it is more than enough to feed an even larger world population'explain the scientists. However, according to scientists, the system must be transformed in three directions.

1.2) Food security and biofuels

'Cereals are fed to animals, used as biofuels or wasted, rather than being supplied to those with limited financial means' (4,5).

He but exported from Russia and Ukraine, as shown by FAO 2019 data (see figure 1), is less than a third compared to the US maize destined for so-called biofuels.

Fig.1 Farm to War

The first question it is therefore necessary to put an end to subsidies and to the production of first generation so-called 'biofuels', that is, those that depend on raw materials (and crops) stolen from the agri-food chain.

1.3) Zootechnics

The food transition towards greater production and consumption of cereals, legumes and sustainable sources of proteins (including microalgae, microorganisms, insects) could substantially alleviate the pressure on global grain supplies.

One third of global calories it is currently used to feed animals and more than three quarters of agricultural land is used to produce food of animal origin. (6)

The reduction of production and consumption of food of animal origin can therefore lead to a more balanced and efficient agricultural food system, in line with the UNEP recommendations (United Nations Environment Program, 2020). (7)

1.4) Increase the production of legumes, strengthen the strategy Farm to Fork

European agriculture is highly dependent on energy-intensive nitrogen fertilizers. The strategy Farm to Fork, in pursuing the objectives of halving the nitrogen surplus and expanding organic farming to 25% of the Utilized Agricultural Area (UAA), can greatly reduce this dependence.

Increase diversity in crop rotations and include legumes that fix nitrogen can replace synthetic fertilizer with biological fixation (8,9).

The pressures to frustrate the goals of Farm to Fork vice versa they risk aggravating dependence on agrochemistry, in the short as well as in the long term.

1.5) Reduce food waste

Food waste they account for an average of 30% of the food produced. Halve the amount of food loss food waste, globally per capita, by 2030, is one of the indicators (12.3) of # SDG12, Responsible Consumption and Production.

Political measures adopted so far 'have not been able to adequately address this problem ' which is systemic, as already highlighted by ISPRA in 2019. (12) Nor has a harmonized system for the waste measurement at every stage of the supply chain from farm to fork.

2) Farm to Fork, Farm to War. Conclusions

'Effective action in the long term, however, it must address the inequalities of the current food system, in which hunger, waste and resource-intensive consumption patterns coexist. 
The Russian invasion of Ukraine and the ongoing war have sent shockwaves through the food system. How the current crisis is managed politically has far-reaching implications for each of us. (...)

Focus now on short-term solutions without considering long-term consequences or integrating the bigger picture exacerbates future risks, including the threat of overcoming tipping points in our planet's natural systems. Investing in a transition to healthy and sustainable food systems is now essential to increase our resilience against future crises and ensure a safe and livable planet for generations to come.. ' (Pörtner et al. 2022. See note 3).

#Equality

Dario Dongo

Notes

(1) Dario Dongo. Farm to Fork, resolution in Strasbourg. Focus on pesticides and fertilizers. GIFTS (Great Italian Food Trade). 23.10.21/XNUMX/XNUMX, https://www.greatitalianfoodtrade.it/progresso/farm-to-fork-risoluzione-a-strasburgo-focus-su-pesticidi-e-fertilizzanti

(2) Dario Dongo. Gas and electricity, an announced crisis. GIFTS (Great Italian Food Trade). 20.3.22/XNUMX/XNUMX, https://www.greatitalianfoodtrade.it/mercati/gas-ed-energia-elettrica-una-crisi-annunciata

(3) Lisa M. Pörtner, Nathalie Lambrecht, Marco Springmann, Benjamin Leon Bodirsky, Franziska Gaupp, Florian Freund, Hermann Lotze-Campen, Sabine Gabrysch. (2022). We need a food system transformation - in the face of the Ukraine war, now more than ever. https://doi.org/10.5281/zenodo.6366131

(4) Berners-Lee et al. (2018). Current global food production is sufficient to meet human nutritional needs in 2050 provided there is radical societal adaptation. Elementa: Science of the Anthropocene, 6, 52. https://doi.org/10.1525/elementa.310

(5) Cassidy et al. (2013). Redefining agricultural yields: from tonnes to people nourished per hectare. Environmental Research Letters, 8 (3), 034015. https://doi.org/10.1088/1748-9326/8/3/034015

(6) Poore et al. (2018). Reducing food's environmental impacts through producers and consumers. Science, 360 (6392), 987–992. https://doi.org/10.1126/science.aaq0216

(7) Marta Strinati, Dario Dongo. Industrial agriculture, the 10 critical points to be addressed. UNEP report. GIFTS (Great Italian Food Trade). 24.7.20/XNUMX/XNUMX, https://www.greatitalianfoodtrade.it/mercati/agricoltura-industriale-i-10-punti-critici-da-affrontare-rapporto-unep

(8) Springmann et al. (2018a). Options for keeping the food system within environmental limits. Nature, 562 (7728), 519-525. https://doi.org/10.1038/s41586-018-0594-0

(9) Soergel et al. (2021). A sustainable development pathway for climate action within the UN 2030 Agenda. Nature Climate Change, 11 (8), 656–664. https://doi.org/10.1038/s41558-021-01098-3

(10) Dario Dongo, Camilla Fincardi. The value of legumes to feed the planet, FAO report. GIFTS (Great Italian Food Trade). 11.1.20/XNUMX/XNUMX, https://www.greatitalianfoodtrade.it/progresso/il-valore-dei-legumi-per-nutrire-il-pianeta-rapporto-fao

(11) IPCC, 2022: Climate Change 2022: Impacts, Adaptation, and Vulnerability. Contribution of Working Group II to the Sixth Assessment Report of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change [Pörtner et al. (eds.)]. Cambridge University Press

(12) Giulio Vulcano, Dario Dongo. Food waste, a systemic approach to tackle the ecological and social crisis. GIFTS (Great Italian Food Trade). 17.3.19/XNUMX/XNUMX, https://www.greatitalianfoodtrade.it/idee/sprechi-alimentari-un-approccio-sistemico-per-affrontare-la-crisi-ecologica-e-sociale

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Dario Dongo, lawyer and journalist, PhD in international food law, founder of WIISE (FARE - GIFT - Food Times) and Égalité.

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