A new WWF briefing shows that one of the biggest threats to the food security of European citizens is the EU food system itself. Currently, Europe heavily relies on costly external agricultural inputs to sustain intensive farming and fosters unhealthy consumption. Some stakeholders claim that sustainable food policies will undermine Europe's food security, but scientific evidence suggests quite the opposite.
Giulia Riedo, Agriculture & Sustainable Food Policy Officer at the WWF European Policy Office said: “Unsustainable food production will only bring us more droughts and extreme temperatures that will make our produce fail. And let’s not forget that food prices will go through the roof every time that we face external shocks, leaving many families in a dire situation. The European Commission must think ahead and forestall food insecurity through a strong EU Sustainable Food Systems Law.”
Over the last year, Europe witnessed how rising food prices have squeezed the incomes of many families. Today, around 38 million people in the EU cannot access enough (healthy) food, a trend that has steadily grown since 2015 and which could significantly increase if the EU food system continues down this route.
Since the publication of the Farm to Fork Strategy, scare-mongering campaigns have relentlessly pushed back against sustainable food policies leveraging unfounded claims that increasing sustainability standards will undermine Europe’s food security. However, scientific research suggests quite the opposite.
Entitled “Farm to Fork: Systemic Change is Key to European Food Security and Resilience”, this briefing argues that if arable crops were prioritised for human nutrition and livestock numbers were reduced accordingly, an area the size of France and the United Kingdom combined could potentially be saved. This would reduce imports of animal feed and the use of fertilizers by 23.4%, and would ultimately make healthy food more accessible by reducing costs, massively benefiting all citizens. .
“Some stakeholders are trying to discredit the Farm to Fork and Biodiversity Strategies under the pretext that we risk not having enough land for food production. However, data shows that the problem is not the lack of resources, but what and how we produce. The EU food system is fueling biodiversity loss and climate change, while making it really difficult for many citizens to access healthy and sustainable food, ” added Giulia Riedo.
The European Commission is set to present its proposal for an EU Legislative Framework for Food Systems in September, as part of its Farm to Fork Strategy. In a world that will inevitably face additional shocks in the form of environmental crises, this is a unique opportunity to integrate sustainability into all food policies and ensure Europe’s food security in the medium and long terms.
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