EU: Global pioneer for biodiversity

A nutritional logo on food, less pesticides on the fields, more protection for the harried nature: the EU Commission wants Europe to become the global pioneer for sustainable food and biodiversity. On Wednesday the authority presented its plans as part of the European "Green Deal" for a climate-neutral Europe by 2050.


"The Corona crisis has shown how vulnerable we all are and how important it is to restore the balance between human activity and nature," said Frans Timmermans, the EU Commission Vice-President responsible for climate protection, during the presentation. "Climate change and the loss of biodiversity are a clear and immediate threat to humanity," he warned. 

To address these threats, the EU has adopted a package of measures on species protection, consumer information and agriculture. To save living creatures from extinction, almost a third of Europe's land and sea area is to be protected by around 2030 - almost twice as much as today. 

A further aim of the Biodiversity Strategy 2030 is to establish binding rules for the conservation and restoration of damaged natural areas. At least 25,000 kilometres of rivers are to be renaturalised. In addition, three billion trees are to be planted by 2030. Farmers are to ensure that the loss of biodiversity, especially of birds and insects in their fields, is halted and the trend reversed. In future, at least 25 percent of arable land in Europe is to be reserved for organic farming.

"FARM-TO-FORK" STRATEGY

The "Farm-to-Fork" strategy, which is to serve as a guideline for future legislative proposals, recommends reducing the use of chemical and hazardous pesticides in European agriculture by half by 2030, which should help protect pollen carriers such as bees. By reducing nutrient loss by at least fifty percent, it should be possible to maintain soil fertility and reduce the use of fertilisers by at least 20 percent by 2030.

In addition, the sale of antibiotics for farm animals and aquaculture is to be reduced by half by that date. The introduction of guideline values is also planned to curb food waste. The EU Commission also announced uniform nutritional value logos on all food packaging.

NUTRITIONAL VALUE LOGO ON ALL FOOD

In the EU, there should soon be uniform nutritional value logos on all food packaging. "The Commission will propose mandatory nutritional labelling on the front of the packaging," the Brussels authority announced. The logo could be designed like the "Nutriscore" food traffic light.

"We want labelling to provide information in a harmonised way so that everyone can understand in the same way what nutritional value foods have," said European Commission Vice-President Frans Timmermans. In doing so, he said, the Commission would build on systems that already exist, "especially those of large producers".

 

The most widespread such food labelling system to date is the Nutriscore traffic light system. The food traffic light originally comes from France and is supposed to provide information at a glance about the sugar and fat content of food. The color-coded scale ranges from "A" for a healthier choice to "E" for a less healthy choice.

CRITICISM FROM NGOS

The two strategies of the EU authority are to be followed by concrete legal acts in the first quarter of 2021. Brussels estimated the costs for the EU budget at 20 billion euros per year. Overall, the Commission's plans have met with broad approval. However, there is also criticism of the package of measures from various sides.

With regard to the financing of the strategy, the WWF sees a lot of catching up to do. "The sums mentioned so far are not nearly enough. The problems of the climate and biodiversity crisis are far too great for that", warned WWF spokeswoman Hanna Simons. Another major gap is the lack of a concrete commitment to reduce subsidies that are harmful to biodiversity.

"The control of pests is an ecosystem service that can only be called upon if the necessary structures are created to bring biological diversity, including beneficial organisms, back into the agro-ecosystem," said Helmut Burtscher-Schaden, environmental chemist with the NGO Global 2000 - the poison must be removed from the system.

Animal welfare organisations criticise that the recommendation originally contained in the strategy to reduce meat consumption has been thrown out in the final version. 

 

MM