The current discussion on food sovereignty in the European Parliament, which was started by conservative forces, seems surreal and means a rollback of the hard-won agricultural and environmental measures that protect the climate and biodiversity. The return to turbo production saws at the branch we are sitting on!" This is the comment of Martin Häusling, agricultural policy spokesperson of the Greens in the European Parliament and member of the Environment Committee. There are solutions: A statement of 300 scientists clearly calls for a transformation of the food system: less meat and food waste, more legumes and a greener agricultural policy.
The European Parliament in Brussels, Stock Photo Wix
Wheat, maize, soya, sunflower seeds and other oilseeds - many of them also in organic quality - come from Ukraine. The war-induced shortage of goods is severely affecting current agricultural and food models. A report by the sustainable transformation think tank IDDRI (www.iddri.org) assesses the impact as "colossal": according to IDDRI, European livestock farms consume 60% of the cereals consumed in Europe and almost 70% of oilseeds in the form of concentrated feed, much of which is imported from world markets. However, the consequences, especially outside Europe, affected the direct food supply even more. The countries of North Africa and the Middle East are highly dependent on imports (about 10 % of their domestic grain needs are imported - 1/5 of it from Ukraine).
From a fact sheet by Martin Häusling / Renate Künast
Profiteers of the agro-industrial model or their lobbyists
But the calls for a review of the farm-to-fork strategy and, if necessary, its adaptation, which have been voiced in recent weeks, all come from supporters and profiteers of the agro-industrial model or their lobbyists (IVA, Copa/Cogeca, Grain Club, feed industry, meat industry). Conservatives (EPP) and liberals (Renew) are also trying to push through the rollback by means of a backward-looking resolution with the majority of socialists (S&D) and extreme right in the European Parliament.
If we follow this, we will not even come close to meeting the climate or biodiversity targets.
Häusling explains and he is very concerned. He continues: "I consider the current attempts to use the war in Ukraine to question the goals of the Farm-to-Fork and Biodiversity Strategies with the rhetorical slogan of 'food security' to be completely short-sighted and not in line with scientific recommendations." The climate and biodiversity crises are not taking a break, even in the current situation.".
Benoit Biteau, his colleague in the European Parliament, adds:
It is unacceptable that the Ukraine war is being instrumentalised to put the Green Deal and the farm-to-fork strategy into question.
Scientists call for a reduction in meat production and consumption
Long-term food security only possible with an agricultural transformation
Not only would it be a historic mistake for the EU to now slow down or even bury its sustainability plans altogether, it would also be another case of stubborn science denial, similar to climate change. Countless scientific studies, expert opinions and statements by European institutions, such as the European Court of Auditors, prove that sustainable, long-term food sovereignty and security is only possible with a greening of the agricultural model, said the Green EU politicians.
The press information of Martin Häusling´s office explains: Three renowned agricultural researchers from the UFZ - Helmholtz Centre for Environmental Research, the University of Rostock and the University of Wageningen wrote an open letter to the EU Commission in which they address the connection between the Ukraine war and the biodiversity and climate crisis, and a few days later another 300 scientists*, among others from the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research, published a statement for an ecological transformation of the food system. They also called for a reduction in meat production and a change of direction in agrofuel production: Less production for the tank and trough, more for the plate. Last but not least, the closing statement of the G7 special session agreed, among other things, to 'pursue climate and environmental commitments and the Sustainable Development Goals in this crisis'."
From a fact sheet by Martin Häusling / Renate Künast
Climate crisis and hunger remain
In an earlier expert panel, Dr. Christine Chemnitz, agricultural expert at the Böll Foundation in Berlin, expressed surprise at how quickly a shift in agriculture to meet the needs of climate change was described as a "luxury debate" in the debate about a lack of grain on the world market. This underestimates the fact that the restructuring of agriculture is absolutely necessary, even with and after the war, because "the climate crisis remains". The world's hunger could also not be fought by reducing the set-aside of agricultural land in the European Union by two percent as part of the agricultural reform. This discussion is leading in the wrong direction. The hunger of ten percent of the people is a structural problem: poverty, no access to land, lack of advice, no resilient food systems, these are the reasons, but not whether land is lying fallow in Europe because of the need to protect biodiversity.
Hunger and Dependence from Russia and Ukraine. Source: fact sheet by Martin Häusling / Renate Künast
Term 'food sovereignty' does not mean producing to the hilt. The term goes back to the "right to food" enshrined as a human right under international law in the UN Social Covenant, which was signed by all FAO members in 2004. It includes the right to food as well as the self-determined choice of a sustainable food system and protection against ecological, economic or social forms of dumping.