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EU food strategy: ambitious but also very much the same thing

By Casper Zulim de Swarte

Last Wednesday, the European Commission finally unveiled its long-awaited strategy for sustainable and healthy food: the Farm to Fork strategy. Usually the announcement of such a large European strategy leads to high expectations regarding a potential breakthrough. As it turns out now, the new food strategy is ambitious indeed, but mostly old wine in new bags.

On the one hand, the European Commission is committed to major changes for both farmers and the food industry. For example, a European food choice logo will be developed. First for healthy products, in the distant future perhaps also for sustainable products. There is a strong ambition to grow organic agriculture to 25% of the agricultural area (currently it is just over 4% in the Netherlands). There will also be new legislation allowing the use of insects and seaweed in animal feed, enabling livestock farming to reducing its CO2 emissions. Furthermore there will be new regulations to stimulate sustainable innovation for food packaging and to reduce food waste via new rules regarding expiration dates and sell-by dates.

On the other hand however, the new strategy confirms current policies. A European food choice logo is useful, but more and more countries are now opting for Nutri-Score. The Common Agricultural Policy (CAP) already promotes sustainable agriculture. The CAP rewards frontrunners, but if this will lead to adaptation of sustainable practices by most European farmers still remains to be seen. A European action plan for nutrients, pesticides and fertilization will be developed. In the Netherlands we already have a national soil strategy with similar objectives. Food companies will be obliged to include sustainability targets in their corporate strategies, but currently many companies already have the obligation to report on sustainability in annual CSR reports.

All things considered, it is great having a European strategy for sustainable, organic food and a healthy diet with healthy food. This leads the way for European regulation in agriculture, fishery, knowledge & innovation and investment. Still, Europe doesn’t create big changes. These come from entrepreneurs who are passionate to create a better world.


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