EU Farm to Fork Strategy: Collective response from food sovereignty scholars

On 20 May 2020 the European Commission (EC) released its new Farm to Fork (F2F) Strategy for a fair, healthy and environmentally-friendly food system. As scholars committed to supporting sustainable food system transformation, we commend the EC for delivering a  longer term vision, and proposing the development of a legislative framework for sustainable food systems by 2023. Binding mechanisms and coherent, integrated rights-based legislative frameworks are fundamental to ensuring compliance and meeting the proposed targets. We acknowledge that the F2F Strategy contains many positive points, but are deeply concerned that these remain embedded in an outdated framework.

The evidence overwhelmingly points to a need to move beyond the (green) economic growth paradigm. This paradigm, reified by the European Green Deal, perpetuates unsustainable lock-ins and entrenched inequalities. The Scientific Advice Mechanism[1] recently advised the EC to stop treating food as a commodity and start thinking about the implications of seeing food more as a common good.[2] However, the EC failed to take up this recommendation in the F2F Strategy.

We appreciate that the F2F Strategy presents a food systems approach, from primary production to the consumer. This is needed to tackle the complexity of food and associated challenges. We also appreciate that the F2F Strategy includes targets on chemical pesticides, fertilizers, organic farming, antimicrobial resistance and that there are rewards associated with soil management strategies that sequester carbon. We encourage the EC to put in place rigorous monitoring and impact assessments to enforce and reinforce these.

We are also pleased that the relevance of the ‘food environment’ to addressing many food-related challenges is highlighted. Here, the commitment to develop an EU tax system that can ensure that the price of different foods reflects their real costs in terms of use of finite natural resources, pollution, Green House Gas (GHG) emissions and other environmental externalities is very welcomed. We support the F2F Strategy’s commitment to create shorter food supply chains and the reduction of dependence on long-haul transportation, as well as on unsustainable crops to feed the intensive animal industry. We commend the EC forrecognizing that through imports the EU is promoting carbon leakage in other territories. We are encouraged to see the EC commit to developing policies that strengthen territorial networks, ecosystems and economies. Building on the premise highlighted by the F2F Strategy that all people need to benefit from a just transition, we insist that social inequalities within territories must be taken into consideration.

Recognizing these important contributions, we have a number of specific concerns about the F2F Strategy.

4 thoughts on “EU Farm to Fork Strategy: Collective response from food sovereignty scholars

  1. Reblogged this on Dr. Bukar Ali USMAN, mni and commented:
    Despite the fact that “F2F Strategy does not go far enough to ensuring diverse, sustainable and just food systems for all in the EU” Retallack (2013) was of the opinion that “Emerging evidence indicates that holistic management, aligned with agroecological principles, has a number of positive environmental impacts, including soil regeneration and carbon sequestration, fire prevention and biodiversity increases.”

    Retallack, G. (2013) ‘Global Cooling by Grassland Soils of the Geological Past and Near Future’ in Annu. Rev. Earth Planet. Sci.

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