With the EU Farm to Fork and Biodiversity strategies finally out, Slow Food Europe organized an online roundtable discussion on how these strategies can drive the transition towards sustainable and agrobiodiverse farming. Slow Food wishes to contribute to reaching the goals outlined in the strategies and believes this can only be done by engaging in multi-stakeholder dialogues and by bringing voices of farmers to the table. Representatives of EU institutions, civil society, and Slow Food farmers participated in an off-the-record discussion, which aimed to create a space to openly share thoughts and constructive ideas.
Despite the chaos caused by the Covid-19 pandemic, the negotiations of the Common Agricultural Policy (CAP) are ongoing. The final vote on the new CAP is expected to be held in Autumn, and it will determine the EU’s agricultural policies for the upcoming seven years. The uncertainty posed by the global pandemic has already affected agricultural markets, food supply chains, and farm incomes. It might have an impact on the CAP negotiations and the final legislation. Slow Food, along with other partner organizations, finds it particularly important to retain sustainable farming principles and to focus on building the resilience of our food systems.
In a joint statement addressed to the key institutions of the European Union, 28 organizations working on human rights, migration, agriculture, environment, and public health assert: “our food supply is at risk, as it greatly depends on unrecognised workers living in uncertain and unsafe conditions.”
The joint statement, co-signed by Slow Food Europe, highlights that the labor shortages that we are experiencing today due to the new coronavirus and the closure of borders demonstrate how European agriculture depends to a large extent on migrant (and largely undocumented) workers. In fact, migrant workers represent a significant proportion of workers picking our fruits and vegetables as well as packing and processing our food. Beyond issues of food supply, light must be shed on the dramatic labor conditions in the agri-food sector which have been ignored for far too long, and which represent a potential risk for the spread of the pandemic among workers.
Slow Food Europe, along with 39 other European civil society organizations, in a letter to the European Commission, asks not to further postpone the launch of the Farm to Fork and Biodiversity Strategies. The letter addressed to Executive Vice President Frans Timmermans and to the Commissioners responsible for the implementation of the strategies, comes just days ahead of the expected launch date of both strategies. However, amid the COVID-19 crisis, ever more speculation is arising about possible further delays.
Temperatures are rising and so are the oceans. Fires are decimating forests and lakes are drying up. The intensity, as well as frequency, of droughts and hurricanes, are predicted to escalate. And as if this weren’t enough, the climate crisis is claiming the lives of the world’s most efficient pollinators – bumblebees. Research from the University of Ottawa, which focused on 66 bumblebee species across North America and Europe, revealed that extreme temperatures and changes in precipitation are risking their survival. One is half as likely to spot a bumblebee in places where they were once a ubiquitous sight – and this has happened within one human generation.
Despite many events having been canceled due to Coronavirus, the Pesticide Action Week is back once again celebrating its fifteenth year online. The upcoming ten days from March 20 to 30 are dedicated to raising awareness around chemical pesticides and the dangers of their use both for human health and the environment.
For over 20 years, the French organization “Generations Futures” has been working on the issue of chemical pesticides and the harm they cause. Every year, at the beginning of spring, it calls farmers, organizations and institutional actors together, grouping of over 50 international partners, including Slow Food.
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.*
In a joint letter to the European Commission, Slow Food Europe, along with other 20+ civil society organizations, calls for less meat, dairy, and eggs in the Farm to Fork Strategy. The strategy has neither addressed the inherent unsustainability of current animal farming in Europe nor included clear consumption reduction strategies to tackle the public health emergency.
As the European Commission is expected to launch the EU 2030 Biodiversity Strategy this March, Slow Food Europe urges the Commission to take the necessary measures to drastically reduce the use of pesticides and industrial farming to ensure the protection of pollinators. In its recent feedback on the new strategy, Slow Food Europe also draws attention to agricultural land, which should become “part of the solution to address the biodiversity crisis” and demands that the EU provides support to farmers to transition toward agroecology.