On 20.5.20 the European Commission finally presented the communication on the strategy Farm to Fork (f2f), together with that for Biodiversity. (1) The two programs are part of the cd European Green Deal and should contribute, among other things, to the revival of the old continent's economy. Analysis and comments.
Farm to fork. Goals and contradictions
'To build a food chain that benefits consumers and producers, the climate and the environment ' (Communication, point 2).
The stated objectives in strategy Farm to Fork they are epochal. It refers to one of the leitmotif sustainable development, 'healthy people, healthy societies and a healthy planet'. Except then give in to the pressures of Big 4, pesticide and seed monopolists, most recently renewing the authorization for 15 years of an agrotoxic (metalaxyl-M) already a candidate for replacement as it is dangerous.
The horizons are wide, as the program considers the agri-food chains in their entirety. Like the new one Official Controls Regulation (EU regulation 2017/625), where attention is also expressed to plant health and animal welfare.
The holistic approach find evidence in the new index of the document. Where, in addition to the previous draft we have already analyzed a reference to resilience is added. In fact, the Covid-19 pandemic has shown how sustainability is also measured in the system's ability to resist adversity.
Resilience it belongs to a production system based on peasant agriculture and agroecology. A model that FAO itself indicates which way to guarantee biodiversity e food security. But the CAP (Common Agricultural Policy) still reserves just 3% of resources for eco-agriculture. (2)
The agroecological transition invoked in the new CAP it therefore remains a facade statement. The strategy Farm to Fork omits the reference to the UN declaration on the rights of farmers and workers in rural areas (2018).
The empire of the new GMOs instead it is celebrated as a possible solution to the problems of the planet. With that same rhetoric that the Big 4 have been proposing for a quarter of a century that genetic engineering would make it possible to increase yields and reduce the use of agrotoxins. Nothing more false, as science shows.
SUSTAINABILITY IN AGRICULTURE?
Pesticides and new GMOs
Within the 2030 the Commission aims to halve the use of chemical pesticides in European agriculture. With particular regard to the active substances, the agronomic antidotes and synergists referred to in reg. CE 1107/09. (2). In the wake of a positive trend that has recorded, in the last 5 years, a moderate reduction in the risks associated with the use of pesticides (-20% according to the indicators introduced by the directive on the sustainable use of pesticides, dir. 2009/218 / EC ).
It refers integrated pest management practices (Integrated Pest Management, IPM). Which encourage the recovery of traditional agronomic techniques, starting with crop rotation. Maybe even the mechanical weeding practices, which could be facilitated by robotics andprecision farming.
From words to deeds, the Commission 'hopes' that these measures will be included in the CAP and the related strategic plans. And it is evident that - in the absence of binding measures and adequate public controls - the objectives are unattainable. Like any commitment undertaken so far by the European Union in international contexts, starting with biodiversity and climate change.
And here tick the new GMOs, never mentioned in the previous drafts of the document, poorly concealed behind the acronym NBT (New Breeding Techniques). The monopoly on seeds - il Socialism, which can extend its tentacles up to endive - and farmers' dependence on Big 4, once again proposes itself.
The Commission it also declares its intention to reduce fertilizer consumption by 20% by 2030. In order to halve (minus 20 or minus 50%?) Their losses in the environment and consequently the pollution levels of soils, air and water. In addition to the impact on the climate that derives from the excessive quantity of substances used but not absorbed by crops.
They need to improve fertilization techniques, both through the use of nutrients contained in organic waste, and through the use of precision agriculture. (3) Without neglecting - we add, remembering the appropriate FAO report (2019) - the value of legumes as 'improving' crops of soil fertility.
Organic farming it is the only one actually able to protect biodiversity (on condition of cultivating and enhancing the autochthonous varieties). In addition to being able to create new jobs and attract young people to agriculture.
La F2F Strategy indicates the goal to apply the biological system to at least 25% of the Utilized Agricultural Area (UAA) by 2030. The Commission therefore undertakes to draw up a 2021-2026 Action Plan aimed at promoting the supply and demand for organic products. With the idea of introducing suitable measures in the CAP and CFP (Common Fisheries Policy), thanks to the innovative ones eco-schemes.
Estimates on emissions of greenhouse gases are slightly revised, in the final document, compared to its previous version. Agriculture, according to the Commission, accounts for 10,3% (instead of 11%) of total emissions in Europe. And animal husbandry would represent almost 70% (instead of 60%).
The need is reaffirmed to encourage the use of sustainable raw materials in feed. By favoring the use of agricultural raw materials that do not derive from land subject to deforestation (eg GMO soybeans from Latin America. V. petition by Égalité and GIFT, Great Italian Food Trade). Enhancing the use of by-products from other agricultural supply chains (including waste from the fish supply chain) and innovative feeds (eg. seaweed, microalgae).
Means therefore, to promote research on innovative farming methods, capable of reducing the share of agricultural area currently absorbed by animal husbandry (which is estimated at around 68% of the UAA).
Antibiotic resistance and animal welfare
The sale of antibiotics for livestock use (including aquaculture) should also be halved by 2030. An ambitious target, 'curiously' not considered recently 'veterinary drug package'(EU regulations 2019/4, 5, 6). Once again it is therefore a question of evaluating the effectiveness of the tools. (4)
Animal welfare it is indicated as one of the guiding criteria to which European animal husbandry must be based. In view of the conservation of biodiversity, the reduced use of medicines and the improvement of safety and quality of food of animal origin. The Commission plans to propose the revision of the current regulations, in 2023, with attention also to the transport and slaughter phases. (5)
La food security - namely, the security of food supplies - is an issue very topical precisely in the Covid-19 era. The pandemic revealed the extreme fragility of the Western economic system, as already noted.
A paradigm shift it is necessary and urgent. First of all, it is necessary to ensure the autonomy of the populations in the production of primary goods, starting with food. Therefore, strengthen short supply chains, the value of which is strategic precisely to prevent sudden shortages of essential foods.
Again the European Commission recalls the loss of biodiversity andclimate emergency what imminent (or rather, current) and lasting (and potentially irreversible) threats to food security and livelihoods.
The rhetorical exercise includes a reminder of the crucial role of workers in the agri-food sector and the importance of mitigating social conditions (inequalities) that affect the availability of healthy and nutritious food. But the ultra-trillion-dollar investments (> 1 billion billion euros) announced in the European Green Deal do not refer to any policy to mitigate thesocial injustice dominant.
Poverty and social exclusion plague Europe now more than ever. The Commission plans to develop an Observatory and a Emergency Plan to ensure the food security in crisis situations, but refrains from considering the crisis of civilization that surrounds us. Still waiting, among other things, for a dutiful solidarity intervention towards the countries most afflicted by the new coronavirus.
FOOD INDUSTRY AND DISTRIBUTION
Sustainability in food industry and distribution should be promoted through one EU Code of Conduct for responsible business and marketing practice, which the Commission would like to draw up quickly.
The nutritional suitability of foods is a crucial element, in the face ofepidemic of obesity, overweight and related diseases (Non-Communicable Diseases, NCDs). The Commission, 11 years behind the deadline indicated for the adoption of nutritional profiles, finally undertakes to fulfill them.
Un Corporate Governance Framework should stimulate operators a rephrase foods, to improve their nutritional properties. And to adopt those responsible business practices that too UNICEF recommended, in early 2020.
It remains to ask as a tool of soft law will allow to achieve the expected results, after the shipwreck area of EU Platform for Action on Diet, Physical Activity and Health, in May 2019. This platform, established in 2005, aspired to improve the nutrition of European citizens through voluntary commitments which, however, proved unsuccessful.
Origin labeling, sustainability, food waste
new standard marketing they should then be elaborated, with the idea of addressing the three themes of:
- origin labeling of food products and their primary ingredients. The possible extension of the labeling of origin on meat and milk used as ingredients of other products and other commodities, not better defined, is foreseen for 2022. However, without referring to the lucid initiative of European citizens #EatORIGINal! Unmask your food!
- food waste. Yet waiting to receive homogeneous data on the extent of waste at each stage of the supply chain, by the 27 Member States, Brussels intends to propose shared objectives for their reduction by 2023. However, without mentioning the need to address this issue with a systemic approach, such as research suggests instead,
- sustainable labeling framework. By 2024, the European executive should propose a voluntary labeling scheme that makes it possible to enhance the sustainability of food products. With the desirable goal of making it fully operational a plethora of indications which too often turn out to be mere operations of greenwashing, since they report data of relative value with respect to the socio-environmental criticalities of the individual supply chains.
Short supply chain, green procurement
The short supply chain receives brief consideration, in relation to the need to reduce dependence on long-distance food transport and support the resilience of local food systems. According to a 2019 estimate, around 1,3 billion tonnes of primary agricultural, seafood and forestry products are transported by road to the European Union each year. (6)
A promotion program of foods that express 'sustainable' production and consumption - in line with the SDG (Sustainable Development Goal) 12 - should be submitted within the current year. Minimum requirements for the supply of sustainable and organic food in schools and public institutions should also be defined in 2021, as an evolution of the Green Public Procurement (GPP, or 'green procurement').
The diets of European citizens they cannot be considered healthy and balanced, notes the European Commission. However, as mentioned above, it limits itself to hypothesizing non-binding measures. Voluntary application guidelines whose absolute uselessness is amply demonstrated by the 15 years of total bankruptcy of the EU Platform for Diet, Physical Activity and Health.
Ultraprocessed foods - as the FAO recently pointed out (2019) - are the real problem to face. The same Joint Research Center (JRC) of the European Commission he noted more than 68% of the best-selling products in the EU to children and minors are junk food.
Excessive contributions sugar, salt and fat are therefore indicated by Brussels as the first problem to be addressed. We agree and it is therefore necessary to introduce bans on the promotion of junk food, also on social networks. But the empires of Ferrero e Coca-Cola they would never allow the adoption of such an effective public health measure, which the executive does not even overshadow.
Consumption of meat, the new war on commission
Red meats and sausages they suddenly appear, in the latest version of the f2f strategy alone, in the list of negative nutrients. Placing a commodity category in a nutrient list is not just a blunder, but a declaration of war.
It is a war on commission, indeed on commission. While the European executive plays alongside BEUC (the confederation of consumer associations in the EU) and other NGOs - which are still (shamefully) exempt from the burden of making public the names of their 'patrons', with all due respect to governance - which contractor at the service of the financial plutocracy.
Big finance, as has already been shared, has in fact invested billions of dollars in the globalized business of lab meat. Laboratory meat, made with enzymes and genetic engineering by the very few capable of making colossal investments in the abomination of nature.
After that the Extinction rebellion or European Commissioners on duty will have abhorred traditional protein sources, Bill Gates and Google Ventures will thus be able to market the Impossible Burger and to govern the planetary market, in a monopoly regime that belongs to the history of both.
The consumer, in the opinion of the Commission, it is aware of its choices and a protagonist of change. Certainly not thanks to Brussels, which with the regulation 'Origin Planet Earth' (reg. EU 2018/775) obscenely concealed the origin of the primary ingredients on the food label.
Nutritional information summary on the Front-of-Pack it will in any case be prepared according to a common scheme that should apply throughout Europe. In biblical times, with 8 years of delay with respect to the terms indicated in the Food Information Regulation (FIR, EU reg. 1169/11). The solution Nutriscore is already available and she showed herself able to stimulate consumers to choose more balanced foods from a nutritional point of view, but its proposal is on the 2022 agenda.
Date of expiry and minimum storage term they will be subject to a possible review, in 2021, with the aim of reducing food waste. Still waiting, among other things, for the Commission to follow up on the our complaint against the anticipated deadline 'by law' that Italy illegally introduced, for fresh pasteurized milk, back in 2004.
New information tools the consumer is told will be taken into consideration. There is no lack of regulatory requirements, as seen, and technology today offers the possibility to share useful and reliable information through QR-queues. We await confidently, remembering the needs of people with visual impairments who could thus obtain useful information for shopping.
Farm to Fork
Il Draft Action Plan Annex to the Communication of the f2f strategy indicates a total of 27 reforms of EU regulations that affect the various aspects linked to the agri-food chain. In addition to the above, the following should be noted:
- MOCA (materials and objects intended to come into contact with food (or food contact materials, FCM). The proposal for a harmonized framework for the MOCA discipline, awaited since 2004, is scheduled for 2022 (sic!),
- food fraud. In 2021-2022, better late than never, the executive aims to strengthen the coordination of the national authorities in charge of law enforcement food fraud, under the coordination of OLAF.
'It is clear that the transition must be supported by a CAP that focuses on the Green Deal '. (Communication f2f, point 2.1)
The CAP and its National Strategic Plans are indicated as essential tools to implement the strategy Farm to Fork. (7) By 2020, the Commission intends to draw up recommendations addressed to Member States, highlighting the interconnections and complementarity between the 9 CAP objectives and the Green Deal.
FINANCE, RESEARCH AND INNOVATION
Lo InvestEU Fund 2021-2027 should then offer guarantees on further investments for approximately € 650 billion.
Research and innovation they are indicated as the key to change. The agro-ecological change (hopefully) should also be supported thanks to European Innovation Partnership - Agricultural Productivity and Sustainability (EIP-AGRI).
An internet connection effective and widespread is considered essential to improve agricultural techniques (not just precision) and the quality of life, especially in rural areas. In addition to encouraging and new business and economic opportunities. By 2025, the goal of covering 100% of these areas with high-speed broadband connections should be achieved. Perhaps also in compliance with the needs of safety and health - so far neglected in relation to 5G - and the freedom of self-determination of populations in this regard, we add.
Support for farmers and SMEs should be guaranteed through specific network and suitable services. The Agricultural Knowledge and Innovation Systems - akis it could prove useful in connecting all the operators in the supply chain, promoting innovation. And why not, we add, bringing transparency in real time on the value chain.
A GLOBAL TRANSITION?
The EU remains the first area of exchange of agri-food and fish products on a planetary level. The Commission led by Ursula von der Leyen declares that it wants to promote the transition towards sustainable food systems also with partner commercial non-EU, by negotiating specific Green Alliances.
In practice, we are waiting to see if and what positions will be adopted towards the supply chains responsible for ecocides and abuses of fundamental human rights:
- Palm oil, GMO soy e Latin American meats, leading causes of land robberies (land grabbing) and deforestation,
- cacao, Turkish hazelnuts, Southeast Asian tuna, Palm oil, primary causes of slavery, including minors.
In international contexts, the Commission also declares its intention to support its own standard of safety and sustainability to encourage change. It will therefore be appropriate to promote one Constitution for the Earth, whose initiative comes from the country where the European alliance began, Italy in fact.
The precariousness of working conditions in some sectors along the supply chain it re-emerged on the occasion of the Covid-19 pandemic. In F2F Strategy, the Commission undertakes to impose the principles of European Pillar of Social Rights, in order to guarantee a dignified life and social protection especially to seasonal and irregular workers.
Corporal and exploitation they are plagues rooted in the old continent. In Italy like in Spain and other countries, abuses on laborers are associated with the uncoordinated management of migrating peoples also due to the wars in which various EU member states have participated in recent years.
It continues to overlook these crucial aspects where it would be enough to affirm the responsibility of the operators downstream of the supply chain (import, industry, distribution) - prescribing traceability upstream of the working conditions (contracts, hourly wages, trade union rights) to guarantee effective compliance with fundamental human rights. The affirmation of these rules and effective control methods at European level would also put an end to unfair competition based on the exploitation of workers.
Serious doubts they raise about the reliability of the target that the Commission aims to achieve by 2030. In particular as regards:
- reduction in the use of pesticides (-50%), whose systematic abuse has already significantly poisoned ecosystems, (8)
- extension of organic production up to 25% of the UAA.
An official of the Commission replied that these targets should be understood as'aspirational targets', as they are part of a strategy that represents a sort of vision for the future. (9) Not enough. Medium-term objectives and precise responsibilities must be defined on the various levels of policy and administration.
The cd eco-schemes, presented as tools to finance sustainable practices in agriculture, are equally generic and indefinite. And the national experiences on the NAPs (National Action Plans on Pesticides) have already proved instrumental in obtaining funding for agricultural systems that have only the name of 'sustainable'. In the face of levels of consumption of agrotoxicants that in Italy, beyond the chatter, they are incompatible with the needs of protecting public health and the environment.
Dario Dongo and Marina De Nobili
1) Communication from the Commission to the European Parliament, the Council, the European Economic and Social Committee and the Committee of the Regions, A Farm to Fork Strategy for a fair, healthy and environmentally friendly food system, Brussels, 20.05.2020, COMM (2020) 381 final
2) Joseph Vinci. Free seeds in a free state. The poster. 5.4.20, https://ilmanifesto.it/liberi-semi-in-libero-stato/?fbclid=IwAR357w3k8wxe4A4I5hs-8MzjNwm-3TQSuWYLIo0_uksaa0TIp0SB63dP64A
3) 'As indicated in the Proposal for a Regulation of the European Parliament and of the Council establishing rules on the support for strategic plans that Member States must draw up under the common agricultural policy (CAP strategic plans) and which are financed by the European Agricultural Guarantee Fund ( EAGF) and the European Agricultural Fund for Rural Development (EAFRD) and repealing Regulation (EU) no. 1305/2013 of the European Parliament and of the Council and Regulation (EU) no. 1307/2013 of the European Parliament and of the Council, COM (2018) 392, 2018/0216 (COD), in full compliance with the Communication from the Commission to the European Parliament, the Council, the European Economic and Social Committee and the Committee of the Regions - Framework European Interoperability Strategy - Implementation Strategy, COM (2017) 134.'Strategy, note 17
4) The Commission bases its data on the study: Cassini et al. (2019). Attributable deaths and disability-adjusted life-years caused by infections with antibiotic-resistant bacteria in the EU and the European Economic Area in 2015: a population-level modeling analysis. Lancet Infect Dis. Vol. 19, issue 1, pp. 55-56
5) We recall the ruling of the EU Court of Justice which - in denying the possibility of affixing the organic farming logo on hamburgers from cattle subjected to halal ritual slaughter - affirmed how slaughtering practices without stunning are not suitable for 'completely alleviate the pain, fear or suffering of animals as effectively as slaughter preceded by stunning'. ECJ, judgment 29.2.19, Œuvre d'assistance aux bêtes d'abattoirs (OABA) v Ministre de l'Agriculture et de l'Alimentation, Bionoor SARL, Ecocert France SAS, Institut national de l'igine et de la qualité (INAO), C-497/2017
6) Agriculture, forestry and fisheries statistics (2019) Statistical Books, Eurostat
7) European Commission staff working document. Analysis of links between CAP Reform and Green Deal. 20.5.20, SDW (2020) 93 final
8) Stehle S, Schulz R. Agricultural insecticides threaten surface waters at the global scale. Proc Natl Acad Sci US A. 2015; 112 (18): 5750-5755. doi: 10.1073 / pnas.1500232112
9) https://www.euractiv.com/section/agriculture-food/news/commission-upholds-highly-ambitious-targets-to-transform-eu-food-system/, https://www.euractiv.com/section/agriculture-food/news/new-food-policy-to-triple-amount-of-agricultural-land-farmed-organically-by-2030/