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New EU farm to fork strategy to make our food healthier and more sustainable

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MEPs present plans revamping the EU’s food systems, to produce healthier food, ensure food security, a fair income for farmers and reduce agriculture’s environmental footprint, PLENARY SESSION AGRIENVI.

Parliament welcomes the Farm to Fork strategy and underlines the importance of producing sustainable and healthy food to achieve the goals of the European Green Deal, including on climate, biodiversity, zero pollution and public health.

MEPs highlighted the need for enhanced sustainability at every step of the food supply chain and reiterated that everyone - from farmer to consumer - has a role to play in this. To ensure that farmers can earn a fair share of the profit made from sustainably produced food, MEPs want the Commission to reinforce efforts - including through the adaptation of competition rules - to strengthen the position of farmers in the supply chain.

Other recommendations include:

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Healthier food

  • EU science-based recommendations for healthy diets, including a mandatory EU front-of-pack nutritional label
  • Overconsumption of meat and highly processed foods with high salt, sugar and fat content must be addressed, including by setting maximum intake levels.

Pesticides and protection of pollinators

  • Improvement of the pesticides approval process and better monitoring of implementation to protect pollinators and biodiversity.
  • Binding reduction targets for pesticide use. Member states should implement targets through their CAP Strategic Plans.

Greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions

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  • “Fit for 55 in 2030 package” must regulate and set ambitious targets for emissions from agriculture and related land use, including strict criteria for biomass-based renewable energy.
  • Natural carbon sinks must be restored and enhanced.

Animal welfare

  • Need for common, science-based animal welfare indicators for stronger pan-EU harmonization.
  • Current EU legislation must be evaluated to see if changes are needed.
  • Gradual end to the use of cages in EU animal farming.
  • Non-EU animal products should be allowed only if their standards are EU-aligned.

Organic farming

  • EU’s organic land should be increased by 2030
  • Need for initiatives - promotion, public procurement and fiscal - to stimulate demand

Next steps

The resolution was adopted with 452 votes in favour, 170 against and 76 abstentions. The vote took place on Tuesday with results announced on Wednesday. You can watch the debate here.

The Commission is planning a number of legislative proposals under the Farm to Fork Strategy. MEPs emphasizes the need for scientific ex-ante impact assessments of any such proposals (AM1) and during the plenary debate many regretted the late publication by the Commission of the Joint research Centre’s report on the impact of Farm to Fork.

Following the vote, Herbert Dorfmann (EPP, IT), rapporteur for the Committee on Agriculture and Rural Development, said: “Responsibility for a more sustainable agriculture must be a joint effort by famers and consumers. Our farmers are already doing a great job, so when we rightly ask them to further reduce their use of pesticides, fertilisers and antibiotics, we need to support them so production does not just move outside the EU. Ensuring the availability of food at reasonable prices must continue to be a priority.”

Anja Hazekamp (The Left, NL), rapporteur for the Committee on Environment, Public Health and Food Safety, said: “Current EU policies are driving environmentally harmful farming models and paving the way for imports of unsustainable products. We propose concrete measures to bring our food system back within planetary boundaries by stimulating local food production and by moving away from intensive livestock farming and crop monocultures with high pesticide use. A sustainable food system is also crucial for the future of farmers.”

Further information

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European Commission

Novel foods: Commission authorizes a second insect as food ingredient for the EU market

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The Commission has authorized the placing on the market of a second insect, Locusta migratoria (migratory locust) (pictured), as a novel food. It will be available in the form of frozen, dried and powder and is intended to be marketed as a snack or a food ingredient, in a number of food products. This authorisation comes after a stringent scientific assessment by EFSA which concluded that migratory locust is safe under the uses submitted by the applicant company. Products containing this novel food will be labelled to inform about potential allergic reactions. This authorisation by the Commission follows a positive vote, last September, from the member states to which the application was submitted.

The first authorization of an insect as novel food, for dried yellow mealworms, was adopted last July.  In various studies, the Food Agriculture Organisation has identified insects as a highly nutritious and healthy food source with high fat, protein, vitamin, fibre and mineral content. Insects, which are consumed daily by millions of people on the planet, were identified under the Farm to Fork Strategy as an alternative protein source that could facilitate the shift towards a more sustainable food system. You can find more information in this Q&A.

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European Commission

Farm to Fork Strategy: Commissioner Kyriakides starts her member states' tour in Cyprus

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On 29 October, Health and Food Safety Commissioner Stella Kyriakides (pictured) will be in Nicosia, Cyprus, where she will meet with Agriculture, Rural Development and the Environment Minister Costas Kadis. Discussions will focus on the Farm to Fork Strategy, and the state of play of its implementation in Cyprus with regard to the use of pesticides, animal welfare, antimicrobial resistance, and the latest developments relating to Halloumi/Hellim. The meeting will be followed by a meeting with the Cyprus Chamber of Commerce, a visit of the Riverland bio farm and a dog care shelter in Kokkinotrimithia.

Ahead of the visit, Commissioner Kyriakides said: “The Farm to Fork Strategy is our transformative vision on the way food is produced and consumed in the EU. The way we produce, distribute and consume food needs to change. Our health is a continuum, across the human, animal, plant and planetary dimensions. I am looking forward to discussing how the EU can further support Cyprus' shift to a food system which is fairer, greener and more sustainable for everyone.” 

These actions are part of the Commission's on-going efforts and Commissioner Kyriakides'scommitment to support the implementation of the Farm to Fork Strategy across the member states.

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Education

EU announces €25 million for education in crisis contexts and €140 million to support research in sustainable food systems

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Speaking at the Global Citizen Live event, President of the European Commission, Ursula von der Leyen, announced that the European Union is pledging €140 million to support research in sustainable food systems and tackle food hunger via CGIAR, and a further €25m for Education Cannot Wait.  

European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen said: “We must join forces to beat the coronavirus and rebuild the world better. Europe is doing its share. From the beginning, Europeans have shipped 800 million doses of vaccines with the world, even when we did not have enough for ourselves. Now, we need to step up, to help end this pandemic globally, end hunger, give children all over the world equal chances. Team Europe has already committed to donate 500 million doses of vaccines to vulnerable countries by next summer. On top, the European Commission today commits €140m to improve global food security and reduce extreme poverty, and €25m to Education Cannot Wait, supporting education for children around the world living through conflict and crisis.”

International Partnerships Commissioner Jutta Urpilainen said: "We must unite to put the SDGs back on track. As we continue to witness, we can never take access to education for granted. Team Europe has to date contributed to more than 40% of the funding of Education Cannot Wait, and the new €25m contribution from the EU will further support it to reach the most vulnerable children and bring them back to education. Additionally, thanks to our substantial support of €140m to CGIAR, we will be creating opportunities for youth and women, while tackling a key challenge of today, to promote sustainable food systems. Coordinated global actions will be decisive for achieving an environmentally, socially and economically sustainable transformation of food systems.” 

Read the full press release, the statement by President von der Leyen and the factsheet on the Team Europe COVID-19 global response.

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