Slow Food, along with more than 80 civil society organizations in a joint letter to the European Commission, asks to phase out synthetic pesticides by 2035, restore biodiversity, and support farmers in their transition towards agroecology. The letter has been sent to the Commission’s directorate-generals, responsible for the implementation of the Farm to Fork and Biodiversity Strategies and to Executive Vice President Frans Timmermans.
Signatory organizations in the name of the European Citizens’ Initiative “Save Bees and Farmers” call on the Commission to embed the demands of the Europe-wide initiative, which has been already supported by more than a quarter of million of EU citizens, in the forthcoming strategies Farm to Fork, and Biodiversity strategies, the publication of which has been delayed to end of April 2020.
The significant decline of bees and pollinators in Europe and worldwide, together with the wider collapse of biodiversity, has rightly raised alarm among the scientific community and general public. It is widely recognized now that the European food production model is a major driver of this ecological collapse, primarily because of the extensive use of synthetic pesticides it relies upon.
In the letter, organizations urge the Commission “to transform our model of chemical-intensive agriculture to a model that is based on working with nature rather than against it,” saying that it is only a question of “a political choice.”
Amid the new coronavirus crisis, ever more discussions arise about a possible further delay of the launch of the EU Farm to Fork Strategy along with the Biodiversity Strategy beyond the end of April, some groups have been calling for. Slow Food Europe has been among organizations vocalizing their dismay towards the idea to push back the implementation of important policies that are set to shape the sustainable future of Europe.
“One thing this current crisis is highlighting is the great vulnerability of our food systems; its heavy reliance on cheap migrant labor, on extremely long just-in-time supply chains, on an at-risk aging farming population, and on the unhealthy consumption of cheap staple and processed foods,” said Madeleine Coste, policy officer of Slow Food Europe in a comment to Euractiv.
Last Friday, the biggest European Parliament’s European People’s Party group (EPP) called for further postponement of the publication of the Farm to Fork Strategy, suggesting to push back the date until at least after the summer. In a statement released on March 27, EPP argued that the strategy would “impose new rules and restrictions on farmers across Europe, who are currently coping with the effects of the coronavirus pandemic and have to ensure food production in Europe at the same time.”
Slow Food Europe believes that on the contrary, this crisis is giving the opportunity to rethink our food system, and it has never been so obvious that we need a true long-term rethinking of our food policies.
“To reduce the Farm to Fork strategy to “imposing stricter rules on farmers” is missing an opportunity to get on track towards greater sustainability without further delay,” said Coste.
The initial launch day of both the Farm to Fork and the Biodiversity strategies was set to March 25 this year. Both strategies are part of the European Green Deal.