• Agriculture,
  • Climate,
  • environment

The EU Commission is suddenly postponing the planned legislation on the use of pesticides and the renaturing of ecosystems. Left MEPs criticize this sharply.

No new European pesticide regulation, no renaturing / rewilding law. This is an alarming setback for nature conservation and biodiversity. The EU Commission has buckled. Ursula von der Leyen and her team are putting the Green Deal on ice and caving to pressure from the agricultural lobby.

It is beyond cynical to see this conflict serving as an excuse to delay or curtail the crucial transformation of our food system that urgently needs to help us halt the loss of biodiversity and combat climate change.

Global warming will not suddenly slow down and wait until the Russians lay down their arms. Without decisive action to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and protect biodiversity, the impact on both people and ecosystems will be catastrophic and irreversible.

The issue of food security is, of course, a sensitive one. No-one wants to see food prices go through the roof, shortages of staple foodstuffs or  the most vulnerable among us going hungry.

Instead, in the short term, the EU must change its priorities for this sowing season: No more burning food as biofuels and less feed, so that we can grow more food for people worldwide.

In the long term, the Commission’s decision harms food security. We need more nature conservation, less pesticides and more protected areas to prevent the extinction of plants and animals. This is the only way to secure food for humanity in the long term. Species extinction and the climate crisis will not tolerate a pause. We call on the Commission to put both projects on the table as soon as possible so that they can be discussed in public.

It is abundantly clear the EU must become more self-sufficient in agriculture. EU agriculture must be reoriented away from its current industrial model, to one that respects the planetary boundaries in which it operates, with less and better livestock production based on sustainable practices. 

The Commission must ensure that, in drafting their CAP strategic plans, member states face the reality in which we now operate, and tailor and amend their plans accordingly, so as to support sustainable food production, organic farming and short supply chains. The new Common Agricultural Policy and the National Strategic Plans must support farmers in the transition towards climate neutrality and biodiversity conservation, and the meaningful implementation of eco-schemes which include a funding mechanism to help farmers transition away from intensive animal agriculture, towards plant-crop farming.

The Commission must only approve CAP national strategic plans which clearly demonstrate a commitment to sustainability from the economic, environmental and social perspectives and are in line with the objectives of the European Green Deal, the relevant EU-wide targets and the Paris Agreement. For all the relevance of the  Green Deal and the F2F strategy, we must see results from the implementation of the CAP and its funding.

It is extremely disappointing that the industrial farming lobby has seized on the unfolding tragedy in Ukraine to push their agenda and undermine the  fairly limited environmental ambition in the new CAP.  All parties agree on the problems: too high a dependence on external inputs, feed energy and fertilizer. However, none of the solutions offered by Commissioner Wojciechowski address the core structural problems. This is simply more of the same. Planting areas reserved for nature with protein crops is a backward step, and triggering the crisis reserve to unconditionally support the same unsustainable practices is not the progress we need.

While farmers cannot change their practices overnight and food production must be ensured, particularly in times of uncertainty, we must face reality, and initiate a just transition, or else we’ll be making even more difficult choices in 20 years’ time. 

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