Slow Food: the EU’s Farm to Fork Strategy Needs to Move Beyond the “Feeding the World” Narrative

Slow Food, in its feedback to the European Commission’s consultation on the Farm to Fork Strategy, asserts that the strategy needs to fundamentally shift the narrative, away from one of needing to “feed the world” and towards ensuring everyone has access to good, clean and fair food. The strategy is a key component of the European Green Deal and is expected to be officially launched at the end of March.* 

Slow Food believes the “feeding the world” narrative focused on productivity growth is outdated; instead we need to be looking at how to achieve healthy, diverse diets for all, and ecological farming in order to reach the Sustainable Development Goals.  

In its response to the public consultation, Slow Food notes that the growth in productivity achieved by the industrial food system has not translated in global food security by any measure, and urges the Commission to phase out pesticides, ditch GMOs and focus its efforts on supporting a real transition towards agroecology which can provide  good, clean and fair food – the principles at the core of Slow Food’s mission 

Slow Food asks the Commission to concentrate on three essential areas for sustainable food systems: agrobiodiversity, agroecology, and fair supply chains.  

Agrobiodiveristy 

Biodiversity loss is one of the greatest environmental threats, which has affected not only wildlife and nature but also agriculture.  It is estimated that 75% of agricultural crop varieties have disappeared and 20% of animal breeds reared for food, meat or milk, face extinction. 

Among its suggestions to the Farm to Fork Strategy, Slow Food asserts the importance of rewarding producers who cultivate and farm agrobiodiversity as well as registering seed varieties in public registers to safeguard endangered crops 

In light of the ongoing debate on new GMOs and their regulation, Slow Food also urges the Commission to ensure that “gene-edited varieties go through usual risk assessment procedure, are traceable and are labeled” just like other GMOs, as ordered by the European Court of Justice in 2018. 

Agroecology 

Slow Food sees agroecology as the way to fix the broken food and farming system which has been shaped by the Common Agricultural Policy (CAP) for decades.  There is growing evidence of the success of agroecological practices such as those carried out by Slow Food producers, proving that agroecology generates significantly less CO2 emissions than industrial farming on top of benefits to rural communities, animal welfare, and nutrition among others. 

In its feedback, Slow Food urges the Commission to strongly support farmers in their transition to agroecology and to make agroecological food accessible to all Europeans.  

Among its concrete suggestions, Slow Food asks: 

  • to have at least 50% of the land being managed under agroecology and organic agriculture by 2050, with a focus on small and medium farms; 
  • to reduce synthetic pesticide use by 80% by 2030; 
  • to have at least 50% of local, seasonal products in public procurement by 2025. 

Fair Supply Chains 

The current EU’s food system is based on highly unequal power relations. Slow Food encourages the Commission to establish fair supply chains and fair working conditions for all farmers, farmworkers, food artisans and in particular for migrant farmworkers, youth, and women. 

If the Farm to Fork Strategy aims to build a sustainable future for the EU’s food and farming systems, it has to support the integration of youth, women, and migrants, by providing training, helping to set up businesses, improving working conditions and ending the exploitation of the migrant labor force 

Civil society organizations from all angles of the food sector have replied to this public consultation providing their input on the Farm to Fork Strategy. The European Commission regularly seeks the views of citizens and stakeholders when it develops policy and legislation.  

The full feedback to the Commission is available here 

*the launch might be postponed to April 

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