Brussels, 18 May 2022 – Compassion in World Farming today urged EU agriculture ministers to speed up implementation of the EU’s sustainable food strategy and fend off attempts by the industrial agriculture lobby to use the Ukraine war to undermine it.
In a letter to ministers, the animal welfare NGO called for the crucial ‘Farm to Fork’ strategy for a fair, healthy and environmentally-friendly food system to be put on the agenda of the next AGRIFISH Council meeting on 13 June to give ministers an opportunity to acknowledge that Europe’s food system needs to be changed now to help combat the climate crisis.
The Climate Crisis and our diets
The UN’s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) recently warned that urgent action must be taken to limit global warming to 1.5°C. Achieving this target will not be possible without immediate and deep emission cuts, including by reducing the consumption of meat and dairy products. Animal agriculture causes more greenhouse gas emissions than the exhausts of all the world’s planes, trains and cars put together.
Olga Kikou, Head of Compassion in World Farming EU, said:
"The IPCC report shows how totally misguided it would be to weaken the Farm to Fork strategy — and how crucial it is to accelerate the policies needed to make the strategy a reality. The time for EU agriculture leaders to recognise this is now. Short-term disruption from the Ukraine war must not deflect from the measures needed to achieve Europe’s long-term climate goals. Significantly reducing production of meat and dairy will help to meet those and to prevent the devastating climate projections detailed by the IPCC.”
How the EU Parliament is addressing the crisis
Following Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, a European Parliament resolution in March calling for an urgent EU action plan on food security contains provisions which dismiss the important role of sustainable diets and threaten the overall goals of the Farm to Fork strategy and the EU’s strategy for protecting biodiversity.
The resolution reflects pressure from the agri-food industry for more EU land to be given over to growing animal feed to compensate for the loss of cheap feed from Ukraine due to the war. This increase in EU feed production would involve sacrificing areas reserved for protecting biodiversity, with immense implications for the delicate climate system that is already under pressure from our unsustainable agri-food model.
The idea has been criticised by the chief economist of the UN Food and Agriculture Organization, Maximo Torero.
A crises-proof food system
The Ukraine war is a stark reminder that our broken food system needs to be converted urgently into one that is crises-proof and provides long-lasting food security. Shifting to plant-based diets has the potential to reduce agricultural land use. This land could then be used to rewild natural ecosystems, promoting biodiversity and removing years’ worth of greenhouse gas emissions from the atmosphere.
“This shift is crucial for creating a healthier and more sustainable food system that will help stem the climate crisis rather than continuing to fuel it as our current system is doing,” Olga Kikou added.
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