The European Parliament has endorsed the demand for a fundamental shift in the way food is produced and consumed in the EU. The proposals by Left MEP Anja Hazekamp, rapporteur for the EU’s Farm to Fork Strategy, seek to move away from unsustainable practices with high environmental and social costs.

Recognising that the food system is broken, MEPs voted to approve a comprehensive set of measures to help meet the objectives of the EU’s Farm to Fork Strategy for a fair, healthy and environmentally-friendly food system.

Among them:

  • a Common Food Policy that is sustainable and holistic, aimed at reducing the environmental and climate footprint of the EU food system;
  • demands for legislation providing full regard to animal welfare, and a ban on cages for farm animals;
  • binding pesticide reduction targets, stricter authorisations and an end to the export of pesticides prohibited in the EU;
  • support for farmers to switch to more sustainable and animal-friendly practices alongside an end to funding of harmful agriculture and farming practices;
  • a call for ambitious emissions reduction targets in agriculture, an EU protein transition strategy, and support for agroforestry and nature-based solutions;
  • mandatory and harmonised EU front-of-pack nutritional label for foods, and support for maximum levels of sugar, fat and salt in certain foods;
  • food prices that reflect their true production, environmental and societal costs, allowing member states to exempt healthy foods from VAT.

The approval of Hazekamp’s breakthrough report came on the heels of heavy lobbying from agrochemicals corporations, in particular the EU farmers’ association Copa-Cogeca, to weaken the measures in the text and delay the vote – attempts which have failed.

Welcoming the vote, the Dutch MEP (Party for the Animals) said that this is an opportunity for the EU to use its influence on the food chain wisely, instead of actively fuelling the global climate, biodiversity and health crisis:

“A majority has voted for fewer mega stables, more organic farming, a reduction in livestock density and the promotion of a more plant-based diet. Parliament has recognised that intensive livestock farming increases the risk of zoonoses*. This is a historic moment because until now criticism of intensive livestock farming was a taboo in Brussels.

“Our food system needs to be reformed to function within the carrying capacity of our Earth. Intensive meat production and large-scale monocultures are currently too great a burden on humans, animals, the environment and the climate. The solution is food production that is more sustainable, healthy, animal-friendly and local. Clear and measurable goals must be set for this,” Hazekamp concluded.

*an infectious disease that has jumped from an animal to humans.

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