Almost a year since its launch, the Farm to Fork strategy, part of the European Green Deal, will revolutionise how we produce, transport and consume our food. Deputy Director-General Claire Bury discusses the strategy’s aims in the midst of the coronavirus pandemic.
In the economic fallout of the COVID-19 pandemic, will Farm to Fork continue to be an important priority for the Member States and the Commission?
Europeans care more than ever about the food they eat, where it comes from, and its impact on our planet. The Farm to Fork Strategy is a key priority of this Commission.
The coronavirus pandemic has had a major impact on all facets of our lives, including the EU’s farming sector and food industry. It has also reminded us of the strong links between animal health and welfare and public health, and of the need to consider these matters under a One-Health approach. Although COVID-19 has slowed us down in the short term, this strategy is for the long-term. It is designed to ensure that Europe’s food systems remain sustainable and resilient in the future.
The Farm to Fork Strategy includes a considerable cut in pesticide risk and use. How will this be achieved?
Farm to Fork sets pesticide targets to be adopted at EU level: to reduce the overall use and risk of chemical pesticides by 50% by 2030. We can achieve this goal by encouraging the use of alternatives, while at the same time, maintaining farmers’ incomes. We will leave no one behind. The Commission will take a number of steps, including revising the Sustainable Use of Pesticides Directive, increasing provisions for integrated pest management (IPM) and promoting greater use of safe alternative ways of protecting harvests from pests and diseases.
How will the recently announced Code of Conduct for food businesses benefit citizens?
Indeed, we have taken the first steps towards launching a ‘code of conduct for Responsible Business and Marketing Practices’ that will set out the actions that everyone along the food chain can voluntarily take to boost sustainability. This includes everyone between the farm and the fork, like food processors, food service operators and retailers.
These actions can be taken up independently or collaboratively, both of which can encourage industry peers and other food system stakeholders such as farmers and consumers to make similar changes. Together, we will work to provide citizens with more and better access to healthy and sustainable food options. The aim is to have the Code of Conduct ready for signature and endorsement by interested parties in June 2021.
Will Farm to Fork contribute to the enhancement of animal welfare in the EU?
Animal welfare is a topic dear to us in Europe. The Farm to Fork Strategy recognises the importance attached to better animal welfare and aims to make progress in this area. That’s why we are revising the EU animal welfare legislation to align it with modern science, making it easier to enforce and broaden its scope.
In addition, the Commission will consider options for animal welfare labelling, to better promote our values through the food chain and respond to consumer demand for transparency on animal welfare. As a first step, the Commission has established a new subgroup on labelling within the EU Animal Welfare Platform and will launch an external study this year to gather information on existing animal welfare labels.
Food labelling is important for consumers. Will Farm to Fork promote labelling that encourages healthier lifestyles?
Citizens want healthy diets from a healthy planet, and they deserve clear information to allow them to make informed choices. Farm to Fork priorities food information to consumers. Work is already underway to provide clear and easily understandable information on the contents of food in the EU, from how it is produced to its impact on health, the environment and on animal welfare.
We want to empower Europe’s consumers to make good choices but also encourage the food industry to offer healthy food products. To this end, the Commission will launch initiatives to stimulate product reformulation, including by setting up nutrient profiles to restrict the promotion via nutrition or health claims of foods high in fat, sugars and salt.