EuropaBio Comments on the Farm to Fork Strategy roadmap
EuropaBio welcomes the European Commission’s intentions to accelerate the transition towards a more sustainable food system that has a neutral or positive environmental impact, is capable of adapting to and mitigating climate change and ensures food security.
Biotechnology is a central pillar of innovation in Europe that can contribute to a more resource efficient, climate neutral and innovation driven knowledge-based economy that improves the health and well-being of people and planet.
As a foundational matter, EuropaBio underlines the importance of using meaningful and objective indicators to set sustainability objectives and measure progress. Such indicators include greenhouse gas emissions, (efficient) land use, soil conservation, and water and energy use, as well as acidification and eutrophication potential, regardless of the farming model.
With respect to the Commission’s intention to make food production more sustainable, EuropaBio considers it important to encourage the use of bio-based alternatives for sustainable crop cultivation, as well as innovation in plant breeding.
Biotechnology supports sustainable crop cultivation through biostimulants and biocontrols that provide an alternative to fossil-fuel derived products. It can also provide the tools to create more sustainable food processing and more sustainable, safe, healthy and nutritional end products. The EU should adopt concrete and pragmatic measures to support the uptake and use of such bio-based products, as well as innovative feed additives that can improve animal welfare and health, air and water quality, and reduce GHG emissions.
Innovation in plant breeding has the potential to bring several thousand new plant varieties to the market each year. Many of them are stronger and less dependent on inputs than older varieties and can increase yields, thereby ensuring efficient land use and carbon capture in soils. Likewise, climate change is starting to bring new pests and more extreme weather conditions, and new genomic techniques can provide much of the needed acceleration of plant breeding innovation for disease- and insect-resistant varieties. Finally, genome edited plants can bring important health and nutritional benefits such as soya for healthier food oils, coeliac friendly wheat and potatoes producing far less acrylamide when fried. These and more examples already coming on the market outside the EU can be found on the EuropaBio website.
With these many benefits in mind, EuropaBio welcomes the Commission’s ongoing initiative to assess the role of new genomic techniques and their status under Union law.
A science-based, proportionate and predictable regulatory approach to current and future biotech innovation, is urgently needed if the EU wants to have these and many more solutions on its market.
The Commission should also ensure that the CAP post 2020 is fit for purpose to incentivize the smart and sustainable use of biomass and encourage Member States to include concrete bioeconomy related measures in their future Strategic Plans.
In addition, EuropaBio calls upon the Commission to confirm an appropriate level of funding for cutting edge clean technologies such as industrial biotech under Horizon Europe, contributing to a sustainable circular bioeconomy and delivering solutions that advance the UN SDGs.
The Farm to Fork strategy can increase the contribution of innovative bio-based solutions in fostering sustainable agriculture and the bioeconomy, and empower the EU to further increase innovation, the role of new genomic techniques, sustainability and competitiveness.