Europe should become greener: species protection and good food

With plans for healthier food and comprehensive nature conservation, the EU commission has triggered fierce protests from farmers. The president of the german and european farmers’ association, joachim rukwied, spoke on wednesday of a "general attack on the entire european agricultural sector".

The eu commission, however, presented its strategies for more sustainable food and more species protection in the european union confidently. "This is the concrete translation of what we announced with the green deal," said vice president frans timmermans.

The "green deal" is a core project of the EU commission under ursula von der leyen – but has recently been overshadowed by the corona crisis. The EU is to become "climate neutral" by 2050, i.E. No more greenhouse gases are to be released into the atmosphere. What can’t be saved, must be saved. Agriculture contributes significant amounts of climate gases, especially in livestock production. On the other hand, reforestation can bind large quantities of carbon dioxide.

In its "from farm to fork" strategy, the eu commission is now looking at the entire food production chain. The EU should become a global role model for healthy, environmentally friendly and economically viable food. Among other things, the plans call for the use of hazardous or harmful pesticides to be halved within ten years.

In addition, at least 20 percent less manure should be used by 2030 and the sale of antimicrobial agents such as antibiotics for farm animals should be reduced by 50 percent. To drive digital innovation in agriculture, fast internet should be available in all rural areas by 2025.

A mandatory nutrition logo on the front of food products would have a direct impact on consumer behavior. It is not a question of telling people what to buy, said timmermans. But they should make their decision better informed. The authority will make a legislative proposal in this regard.

Germany plans to introduce a logo for finished products this year – but on a voluntary basis by manufacturers. The system is based on the france-based nutri-score system. In addition to sugar, fat and salt, this also includes recommended components such as fiber in the assessment and gives a value on a five-point scale.

To ensure that less food ends up in the trash in the EU in the future, the EU commission wants to present legislative proposals by 2023. Food waste from retailers and consumers to be halved by 2030 in line with existing UN targets.

Biodiversity strategy to save bees, birds and other animals from extinction. 30 percent of europe’s land and seashore to be protected by 2030. Currently, around 18 percent within the european natura 2000 network. Such land may be used, but with restrictions. One-third of the protected areas are to be specially protected and virtually left in their natural state.

Another goal of the 2030 biodiversity strategy is to establish binding rules for the conservation and restoration of degraded natural areas. At least 25.000 kilometers of rivers to be restored to their natural state. In addition, three billion trees are to be planted by 2030. In the future, farmers are to practice organic farming on at least 25 percent of the arable land in europe. The commission puts the investment needed to implement the strategy at 20 billion euros a year.

Rukwied of the farmers’ association made it clear that he had no objection to the plans: "we want to continue on the path toward environmentally friendly agriculture and develop it further. But this proposal is the wrong way to go."Instead of new requirements, more cooperation is needed.

The european consumer protection association beuc, however, buried the plans. Director general monique goyens spoke of a milestone on the way to sustainable food production. In particular, consumer users are in favor of a mandatory nutritional value logo on foods.

Greenpeace criticized the "farm-to-plate" strategy as not far-reaching enough. "Today, the EU commission has missed the chance to usher in the end of factory farming," said christiane huxdorff. Without binding measures to reduce meat consumption, the climate goals could not be achieved. The climate action network nevertheless spoke of an "important step forward".

Green MEP martin hausling said: "the EU commission’s move towards less pesticides in the fields is right, but high-risk pesticides must be phased out completely."Norbert lins of the CDU, on the other hand, complained that the commission was placing the responsibility mainly on farmers.

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