More and more voices are rising across Europe to demand the EU for sustainable, healthy and affordable food. The EU Sustainable Food Systems Law (SFS Law) provides a unique opportunity to achieve this goal, but lobby pressure threatens to derail it. The EU Food Policy Coalition and the Good Food Good Farming movement have been working hard in the past months to make sure the law sees the light of day.
On June 14, EU Food Policy Coalition‘s member organizations, Slow Food included, gathered in front of the European Commission in Brussels, to show support for the EU Sustainable Food Systems Law, and present their demands for a transformation of the European food system that is beneficial for people, animals, and the planet.
Watch the video to hear our demands.
What is the EU Sustainable Food Systems Law?
As part of the EU Farm to Fork Strategy, the European Commission is expected to publish a proposal for a framework Law for Sustainable Food Systems in September 2023 (SFS Law). This is a once-in-a-lifetime chance to change our food system for the better.
Not only will it create legally binding obligations to help the transition towards sustainable food systems, but it will also address the multiple dimensions and challenges of our food system. If written correctly, the SFS Law could mainstream sustainability in all food-related policy areas such as health, environment, trade and agriculture, while addressing systemic issues like unequal access to healthy and affordable food, unsustainable agricultural practices, and concentration of power and wealth in the food industry.
However, since the publication of the Farm to Fork and Biodiversity Strategies, actors with a vested interest in maintaining the status quo have relentlessly pushed back against sustainable food policies. Such resistance is most evident in widespread scare-mongering campaigns leveraging unfounded claims that increasing sustainability standards will undermine Europe’s food security.
What’s the Problem with our Current Food System?
Over the past year, Europeans have struggled with unprecedented spikes in food prices, while at the same time production costs for food producers have soared. Today, around 38 million people in the EU face at least some degree of food insecurity – a trend that has steadily risen since 2015 and has been further accelerated by global events.
Aside from these existing and growing economic and social vulnerabilities, our current food systems are causing untold damage to the natural world we inhabit. Ever-more intense agricultural production, including the sustained and even increased use of harmful synthetic inputs, has left European soils badly degraded and biodiversity in freefall.
The existing models upon which our food production is founded are immensely unequal, with major players in the agri-food industry as well as large food retailers making record profits at a time when most people are feeling the squeeze, and small-scale farmers are forced out of business. And yet, in Europe today there exists no forum to address this imbalance and to make our food systems more representative and democratic.
The reality is clear: people are aware of the crises we face and want to be part of the solution through leveraging the power we have as consumers. But that power is being undermined, as the food environments we exist within heavily influence our food choices, overwhelmingly encouraging the purchase of food that is unsustainable and unhealthy.
The EU sits at a fork in the road. One path is marked with real danger, while the other presents great opportunity. That opportunity lies in an EU-wide transition to sustainable food systems in which all citizens have access to food that is both healthy and sustainable, and where, from production to consumption, we work with our natural environment, rather than acting against it. An ambitious EU SFS Law can, and must, initiate and guide that transition.
People across Europe Demand Better Food Systems
The Good Food Good Farming (GFGF) movement, of which Slow Food is an active member, has launched a campaign earlier this year to defend and promote the urgent need for Europe to transition towards sustainable food systems.
Last May, 11 different member organizations across Europe, Slow Food included, held “Food for Talk” visits, to start the discussion on sustainable food systems with various actors from the food chain. From farms (Serbia) and food markets (Latvia) to fisheries (Denmark) and hospital canteens (Germany), many sectors were included to the debate, during which they exchanged their views on good food and farming.
Together, they co-created their political demands for EU decision-makers. Their message is clear: they want a future where good food is a right, not a privilege.
The visits and demands are on video, find out what farmers, producers, activists and citizens have to say.
What are We Calling for ?
Slow Food, the Good Food Good Farming movement and the EU Food Policy Coalition are calling for a robust EU Sustainable Food Systems Law that promotes social equity, protects people’s health, preserves our natural world, and safeguards the future of our food.
For more information, read:
- Slow Food’s Approach to Good, Clean and Fair Food Systems in the EU.
- The EU Food Policy Coalition’s “Policy Recommendations for a Meaningful Transition“