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06/05/2019

Ifoam, welcome note 2019

Feeding Europe without pesticides is a realistic objective, and a full transition of our agriculture towards agroecology could reduce greenhouse gas emissions from the sector by 40% to 47% while at the same time preserving our biodiversity. These are the conclusions of the new report from the French think tank IDDRI (Institut du Développement Durable et des Relations Internationales), to which IFOAM EU contributed.

The TYFA (Ten Years for Agroecology) scenario is based on the generalisation of organic farming (abandoning synthetic pesticides and fertilizers), the extension of agroecological infrastructures such as hedges and the adoption of healthy diets, to feed 530 million Europeans by 2050 (despite a 35% drop in production). It leads to a 40% reduction in GHG emissions (35% for direct non-CO2 emissions), offers a potential for soil carbon sequestration of 159 MtCO2eql/year until 2035, and a reduction of bioenergy production to zero.

The scenario is not easily compatible with the objective of carbon neutrality, but offers many co-benefits: biodiversity, natural resources, adaptation, health which includes an amount of bioenergy production of 189 TWh/year, and a greater reduction in bovine livestock (-34% compared to 2010, compared to -15% for TYFA) and the controlled development of anaerobic digestion using grassland grasses and animal manure as feedstock, could lead to -47% of emission reductions.]

These conclusions are significant for policy-makers because it is the first time that a scenario examines in details, on a solid agronomic basis, the implications of a generalisation of a type of agriculture inspired by the principles of organic farming, and establishes strategies based on land sharing and agroecology as credible ones.

In contrast to most analytical models on which the European Commission relies to reflect on decarbonisation pathways of the agricultural sector, often based on unrealistic assumptions of future yield increases through further intensification of European agriculture, the TYFA scenario fully integrates biodiversity and soil health issues (beyond a single carbon metric), and takes into account the need to reduce our imports of proteins for feed so as to avoid imported deforestation. [This is why it foresees a significant reduction on pork and poultry production (-70%) but maintains a role for extensive livestock production on grasslands. Despite a drop in production of around 35%, the scenario also maintains an export capacity of milk products and cereals.]

Producing healthy food for all Europeans and preventing dangerous climate change should go hand in hand with the preservation of our biodiversity, soils, water and air, which is the root of organic farming.

The Common Agriculture Policy (CAP) provides Europeans with the financial resources and policy tools to accompany our farmers in this transition to more sustainable farming systems. But the CAP would need to be significantly reformed to better reward farming systems that have a positive impact on the environment. This is not the direction taken by the European Parliament Agriculture Committee, which voted on 2 April to defend the status quo.

With European elections on 25 May, let’s hope that voters will send to the next Parliament candidates who, whatever their political affiliation, understand the need to engage a full transition of production systems towards ecology, and that this will also be at the benefit of our economy.

The success of organic farming is the proof that change is already happening. On climate change, on the CAP like on many other issues, IFOAM EU will in any case continue to ensure that the voice of the organic movement is heard by policy-makers in Brussels, and convince them that we need a European Union which makes the ecological transition a priority.

Best regards,
Michel Reynaud

Source: IFOAM Newsletter

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